Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Great Chicago Fire Sale Can Benefit Mets
The city of Chicago has seen its share of hard times. In 1871 they had a massive fire that lasted for days. It destroyed everything in it's wake. The city rebuilt though and once again became a prominent destination in the United States. Both economically and competitively.
They have had sports teams struggle in mediocrity and succeed to the heights of their profession. Among their teams, are the Bears who have such a storied history in the NFL, that it speaks for itself. The Bulls, who have won multiple NBA championships and were the dynasty of the 90's. Most recently, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the most prized trophy in the NHL, just a week ago.
Both the White Sox and the Cubs have tasted success as well, although the White Sox remain the only one of the two teams to win a World Series in the past century. These days, despite all that success, the city is preparing for another fire of sorts, a fire sale. Both of the baseball teams are mired in over-sized contracts for players and underachievement as a team.
Both the Cubs and the White Sox have openly discussed the possibility of trades for several players on each of the teams. This rebuilding stage for these teams has led to other players wanting to be traded. The uproar has and will create a domino effect within the next month as the trade deadline looms closer to us all.
As these teams unload their highest paid and most attractive talent, the frenzy can benefit a contending team. Providing that there are teams that have a savvy general manager, there are several that can grow stronger from the Chicago fire sale. If a team is close to first or second place in their division and in contention, expect them to become possible buyers for the talent that Chicago has to offer.
One such team is the New York Mets. They have a few weaknesses that despite being a few games over the .500 mark, are still noticeable. They do need another starting pitcher to go along with their two aces, Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. The rumor swarm is buzzing all around the internet that the Mets are in serious contract talks with the Seattle Mariners for Cliff Lee.
However, the Mariners will be asking for a lot in exchange for the services of Lee to Queens. In particular, they would want the man who just last week joined a small list of Mets pitchers to throw a one hitter, Jon Niese. To many fans, that will be too much to ask. Allow me to propose another alternative.
One player that does not want to stay around for the rebuilding in Chicago, is Jake Peavy. Lee will be a free agent at the end of the season and the Mets are not guaranteed the chance to resign him if they pull the trigger on that trade. So they would give up Niese and others for Lee for a half of a season.
Peavy may command just as much for the White Sox, but he is still under contract for several years. If the Mets have to include Niese in any package for a top tier pitcher, than it should be a pitcher under a contract like a Jake Peavy or a Roy Oswalt. Both have recently been rumored to be open to trades to contenders like the Mets.
Personally, I think the Mets should only pull the trigger if they can keep Niese and include someone else. There will be many mid-level starters open to trade as the deadline nears. Starters that would cost the Mets far less and still be productive for the team now and in the next few seasons.
These major trades are the hardest to pull off. The Mets would be more prudent if they were to think of small splashes instead of major tidal waves. With this in mind, the Cubs have expressed interest in trading several players also. Players like Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukodome would cost far less for the Mets to acquire.
The Mets don't have a need in the outfield so Fukodome would not be worth any interest, but Theriot proposes an intriguing proposition. He is currently a .289 hitter with 14 stolen bases. He has been on winning teams, so he knows what that winning experience entails and what it takes to get there.
The Mets do need another starter, but they also need another utility infielder with a solid bat. They have tried Frank Catalanotto, Mike Jacobs and Gary Mathews Jr. among others to fill that void on the bench. Struggling defense or cold bats have led to all of them being demoted or released. The Mets still search for a bat to contribute in that part time role.
Theriot could be just that bat and the Mets could get him with only giving up one player. Perhaps that player would be Nick Evans. I wrote on Evans being wasted in the minors. If the Mets don't want to promote him to the majors or even to AAA to face better pitching, then perhaps they should consider using him as trade bait.
There are several players the Mets have to choose from at the minor league level. Despite the opinion of some, the Mets are deeper than most think in the farm system. Nick Evans makes more sense, though, because he has some experience at the major league level.
The Mets have a short list of untouchables. That list includes Johan Santana, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez, Ike Davis and Reuben Tejada. Just about everyone else is up in the air. There are some players that no team would take off their hands. That list includes Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and John Maine.
The Mets have to be smart when they decide to make a move. They must consider financial restraints, roster depth, minor league depth and impact on the current team. These are all factors. They can't over spend and be stuck with an enormous contract.
They can't trade too many prospects and leave the cupboard bare. They can't tinker with the current team's chemistry and cost them the confidence and unity that they have developed in recent games. However, they need to improve on a few aspects.
If the Mets can use the desperation of teams like the White Sox and Cubs to their advantage, they may be able to improve and not over spend or give up too much. They must act with wisdom and patience if they are to make the right move for this current team. Otherwise, by the wrong deal or inactivity, they could be burned by the Chicago fire sale.