By Rich Coutinho
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Two things have been readily apparent in the latest Mets slide — the bullpen needs an overhaul and Jose Reyes has been sorely missed. And, not coincidentally, those two things will be Sandy Alderson’s top priorities once the Mets start constructing their 2012 roster.

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The Reyes issue is the more important of the two because first of all, signing him to a long-term deal helps both on the field and at the same time, sends a clear message to the fan base. How much is Reyes worth? To be honest, I am never good with those calculations but I would say six years, $120 million is a good starting point and I would not balk at a seventh year especially if it has a vesting component to it.

The i perception that Alderson is not a Reyes guy is insane and I do not even know how that grabbed momentum in the media. I remember speaking to the Mets GM in spring training and he called Reyes a “game changer”. Now, I do understand that the two sides are entering into the negotiation phase of the process so both parties will play this close to the vest but the reality is the Mets need Reyes and it makes no sense to play footsie here with Jose. There are many reasons for this that are obvious but they are some subtle reasons as well.

With Reyes, the Mets will have enough offense especially if Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy rebound from their injuries and Lucas Duda continues his development at the plate. The starting rotation will get a real lift from the return of Johan Santana with Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese stepping in behind Johan based on the priceless experience they both received this season. RA Dickey deserves a spot somewhere in the rotation with the #5 spot up for grabs between Chris Capuano, Mike Pelfrey or any other hurlers Alderson might pick up as low-cost, high return propositions. The future is bright for this area of the team with Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler leading a group of pitchers in the organization that may be ready come 2013 to burst onto the scene.

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A Reyes signing will also allow the Mets to concentrate on re-shaping a bullpen that is in desperate need of an overhaul. They need more lefty specialists in that pen if for no other reason than this division is loaded with left-handed bats — Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward and Logan Morrison (despite his demotion he can flat out hit) just to name a few. The problem with having only one lefty is the issue is always — use him in the sixth or save him for later. With two southpaws, you could mix and match twice which is essential in the NL East.

They also need more quality from their set-up men and oh yes–there is the issue of a closer. Normally, I would get the closer first and work your way backwards constructing the bullpen but there are so few quality closers out there. Both Heath Bell and K-Rod (though getting reunited with the Mets is a longshot) are out there but both will cost at least $9 million a year and that might not be the best way to spend. The troubling thing is none of the pitchers on the roster seem to be closer-worthy but quite honestly, neither Bobby Parnell nor Pedro Beato have been given much of a chance. Terry Collins needs to find out if either of them can do it but has seemed reluctant in taking that role away from Jason Isringhausen. There is no doubt that it will cost the team wins but you simply can not go into the winter being unsure about the roles these pitchers might have on the 2012 Mets.

Once Sandy Alderson knows that, he could start to see how he can import enough arms to make this bullpen less of an eyesore. And once he signs Reyes, he will know how much money he will have at his disposal to do just that. Like I said, these 2 things will be the top priority come November. That, my friends, you can take to the bank.

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What moves will the Mets make in the offseason? Leave your comment below.