Even the most casual observer of the New York Mets notices that something isn’t right.Â The Mets currently have 9 players on the disabled list.Â There is no specific timetable for any of these players’ return to active duty, just some general references to “the All-Star break.”Â So there is a dilemma.Â The roster needs help, and it needs help now.Â But almost anyone who is acquired essentially effects the roster twice:Â once as soon as they are acquired, because someone has to be dealt and/or sent down to make room; and then again if/when the injured players come back.
Adding to the dilemma is the understanding that while the Met farm system has some talent in it, it is not overflowing with trade-able commodities, and how much of the perceived future can fairly be mortgaged for a player or players that may or may not propel the team to the top or even help keep it afloat, let alone fit on the roster beyond the All-Star break.
Compounding things is the new ballpark, Citi Field.Â While the dog days of summer may show otherwise, so far for the most part the park has kept home run numbers down.Â A recent article at ESPN.com based on a study by hittrackeronline.com suggested that Citi Field has so far this season thwarted 16 home runs by the Mets, and 20 by their opponents.
One potential long term solution for the Mets is to build a roster to best take advantage of their new ballpark.Â A roster built on pitching, speed and defense.Â For those old enough to remember (or inclined enough to do a little research), a roster like that of the mid-1980′s St. Louis Cardinals.Â Their 1985 NL Pennant winning lineup featured Vince Coleman and Willie McGee in the top 2 spots.Â Only 1 person on the roster hit more than 13 home runs (Jack Clark, 22).Â They had 5 players who stole at least 31 bases, topped by Coleman’s 110.Â Starting pitchers Joaquin Andujar and John Tudor each won 21 games.Â The team won 101 games.Â A team can win a lot of games without hitting a lot of home runs, it just has to have the right players.
Clearly the Mets cannot assemble a collection of talent like that of the 1985 Cardinals overnight.Â But they can start down that path next week, and it shouldn’t cost them anything significant but money.Â Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez is about to return from his performance enhancing drug use suspension.Â Juan Pierre is going to be relegated to their bench when that occurs.Â Hitting .323 with an OBP of .384, Pierre is being paid $10 million dollars this season, and is owed $18.5 million over 2010 and 2011.Â He is only 31 years old.Â The Dodgers don’t want that kind of money on the bench.Â They won’t require much if any talent from the Mets for taking that money off their hands.Â The Mets can send Fernando Martinez back to the minor leagues for more seasoning.Â Pierre can play CF while Carlos Beltran is out.Â When Beltran returns, Pierre moves seamlessly to LF.Â Ryan Church and Gary Sheffield can platoon in RF.Â The Mets can get started on the transition toward a roster that better fits their home park.
In the short term, Pierre can team with his old Florida Marlins running mate Luis Castillo as a track team at the top of the lineup.Â Pierre and Castillo batted 1-2 for the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins, scoring 100 and 99 runs, stealing 65 and 21 bases, and with OBPs of .361 and .381 respectively.Â In the longer term, imagine Jose Reyes and Juan Pierre 1-2 in the lineup.Â Imagine the Mets taking advantage of their home park, and of opposing starting pitchers.Â Imagine good outfield defense in left field.Â It can happen.Â And acquiring Juan Pierre is the first step in that transition.
UPDATE 5:30pm – If you don’t think Juan Pierre will help, don’t you dare suggest Jacoby Ellsbury instead, because according to The Hardball Times Ellsbury is rapidly becoming the same player.