By Rich Coutinho
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The Mets got better in the last 24 hours.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have Jose Reyes. But Sandy Alderson really improved the team with these moves. Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco have ability — pitching late innings in the AL East really does test your skills.
The trade of Angel Pagan was necessary. There were rumblings in the Mets’ clubhouse that Pagan’s attitude changed dramatically in the second half of the year after the exodus of his mentor, Carlos Beltran. Andres Torres is not the athletic specimen that Pagan is, but he is a much better defensive center fielder and a great off-the-field guy. He has speed and could bat leadoff, although the Mets may have other ideas about that spot.
The crown jewel though could be Ramon Ramirez, who has a nasty slider and good heat. More importantly, the Mets have rebuilt their bullpen with three guys that could be penciled in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Add in Tim Brydak as a lefty specialist and Manny Acosta, who impressed in August and September, and you might have something here. It also affords New York the luxury of having swing-and-miss guys in the pen — and I think not having a solid bullpen cost the Mets at least 10 games last year.
Clearly there is still much work to do, but Alderson gets rave reviews from me on a night in which he both reshaped and strengthened the Mets’ bullpen. We’re not talking flashy moves. What is important to note here is the length of committment — no more than two years — and that fits in with the master plan, a long-range vision where the Mets will be able to pencil in some of their pitching prospects on the major league level.
Couple that with the big contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana being erased off the books in 24 months or so. At that point, the team will be able to add in some high-ticket items.
In the meantime, this team has a couple of stars who certainly have the pedigree to put up numbers. Players like Bay, David Wright and Santana have been All-Stars in their careers. And Alderson will continue to pepper in some low-risk options to try to complement those guys.
The bullpen looks solid. Not flashy, but solid. The defense in center field has improved, which is important when you consider an inexperienced Lucas Duda will be patrolling right field. If I were Sandy, I’d look at someone like Rich Harden coming off a sub-par year as the type of plus-stuff guy that could flourish in New York. (That is just one idea and I am sure Sandy has better ideas than me.)
On Wednesday, we will see Jose Reyes in a Marlins uniform at a press conference. In short order, once the season starts, that will be an emotional transformation for sure. But the Mets got better last night in an area that blew 21 games last season in the eighth inning or later. Alderson is clearly at the controls of this organization baseball-wise (even if the finances are in a state of disarray) and I think he is the right man for the job.
He began to prove that last night.
Are you happy with the moves Alderson made late Tuesday night? Sound off in the comments below…