ohn Ricco, Candidate, Mets GM (John Raoux/AP)

Mets Starting Over: A Proposal For A Budget Conscious Plan

While yesterday’s column pretty much tore up the idea of the Mets winning anything in 2018, it lacked in providing possible answers as to how the organization can move forward with an eye to the 2019 season. This is a first attempt to correct that.

For the most part, yesterday’s column, “The Mets Should Cash In Their Chips And Start Over,” was well received with one major proviso. Several readers pointed out that the Mets have little or no chance to do anything more than finish at the .500 mark or slightly above, now and in the near future, as long as the Wilpon’s control the team.

Mostly right, though I would amend that to say it would be easier if the Wilpons disappeared, but it’s still going to be very possible to instill new players into the team while remaining conscious of the penny-pinching, don’t have a clue about baseball, ownership.

Someday, when the Wilpons have recovered the millions they contributed to Bernie Madoff by continuing to scalp Mets fans of their hard-earned dollars, they will sell the team and reap a gazillion dollars that is based more on the value of a franchise in the New York City market, as opposed to their own contributions. Be that is may,  that day is not coming soon enough, so it’s time to develop an alternate plan to recover from a job half done.

Sandy Alderson’s gift to Mets fans is to step “down” into an advisory front office position and to lobby hard for John Ricco, his current Assistant GM, as his replacement. Back in February, Alderson publicly endorsed Ricco in statements to the New York Daily News, based on Ricco’s credentials, as pointed out by the newspaper:

The New Jersey native has been an assistant to three GMs in the Mets organization: Jim Duquette, Omar Minaya, and Alderson. Before coming to the Mets, Ricco worked in the Commissioner’s office. He worked in the league’s waiver wire and then in player relations, which taught him the intricacies of contracts, arbitration, and the collective bargaining agreement.Kristie Ackert, New York Daily New

That’s step one. Alderson, at 70, has nothing to be ashamed of during his tenure with the Mets. He laid low with the Wilpons when someone else might have pushed harder, but this is the same forgotten man who introduced “Moneyball” to baseball when he was in Oakland and teamed with Billy Beane.

The Wilpons have no vested interest in objecting to this move. In fact, they’ll like the idea of signing Ricco to a contract paying him far less money than Alderson. The key, though, is Alderson and when he decides to make a move. My guess is Alderson will stick it out to finish this season before turning the reigns over to Ricco.

Still, there is work to be done this season, and it will be up to Ricco (under the tutelage of Alderson) to clear the decks in preparation for the “Class of 2019 Free Agents” who will take center stage following the World Series.

Yesterday’s column already delineated the moves the Mets should make starting now, continuing through the trade deadline, and even into the “waiver season” that starts immediately following the July 31 trade deadline:

The Mets plan can be to start in first gear at the trade deadline, disposing of Jay Bruce (there will be takers as there were last year), Steven Matz (wrong place, wrong time for this talented but injury prone pitcher), Juan Lagares (ditto Matz), Travis d’Arnaud (thankfully out for the season), Zack Wheeler (how far can they go with this guy?), Asdrubal Cabrera (free agent next year anyway), Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Jose Reyes (what in heaven’s name are they doing on this team in the first place?), and we’ll stop there.Steve Contursi, Reflections On Baseball

All of these players must go, clearing the deck for what will come during the offseason. You ask, who’s going to replace these players once they’re gone? Who the heck cares, and besides there may be some gold in them there hills in the Mets system if only these players were given a chance to put on a Mets uniform at Citi Field.

Which brings us to the Mets two main trade chips, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. Open up the phone lines. That’s all the Mets need to do. Let it be known the price is high, but we are taking calls, the same strategy that is being employed by the Orioles with Manny Machado, and the Blue Jays with Josh Donaldson, both free agents at the end of this season.

Answer the calls and listen. Sort through the spam Ricco will receive, but if you hear a name or two, or three, enter the conversation, study the map of players involved with an eye to restocking your depleted staff of starting pitching, and pull the trigger when it “feels right.”

The Tigers let Justin Verlander go, and he looks like he has plenty left in the tank. And the Pirates parted ways with Gerrit Cole, who may yet become the ace of the Houston pitching staff. Even the Mets at one time traded Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, both of whom now reside in Cooperstown. You do what you have to do.

Nevertheless, Syndergaard and deGrom are big chips that shouldn’t stand in the way of the Mets discarding the smaller chips mentioned above. The haul received from the players traded should be building blocks, and not necessarily a Gleyber Torres.

In this regard, John Ricco’s tenure with the Mets as General Manager should begin now. I’m giving Ricco the charge of finding prospects in other organizations who can be part of the haul to rebuild the farm system.

Over the weekend, I’ll take charge in helping him (please don’t laugh) by taking a look at the 2019 free agent class with an eye to finding players who can help the Mets immediately in 2019, while staying within the budget constraints imposed by the cheapo Wilpons.

It can be done, and in case you haven’t noticed the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, both of whom operate on a shoestring, and where they are positioned in the major league standings today, lo and behold, they have virtually the same record as the Mets.

Mets fans don’t want their team to be either the A’s or Rays, but the rebuilding process has to start somewhere.

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