More from Jessica from Take the 7 Train on our current opposition.
1. Did the right guys get fired or was a more/less thorough house cleaning in order to fix the Mets' problems?
As poor as the timing was, Willie Randolph definitely needed to go - his in-game strategy left a lot to be desired, he never showed much of a willingness to trust young players, and the media frenzy over his job security was a distraction that I really feel was detrimental to the team over the past month. That being said, some of the problem stems from those above Willie - Tony Bernazard, the VP of Player Development and a close confidant of COO Jeff Wilpon, is widely seen as having done all he could to undermine Randolph - and I strongly disagree with the firing of pitching coach Rick Peterson, an intelligent man who was good at what he did and got a bad rap from comments that were taken out of context nearly four years ago. If the Mets wanted to fire a coach, hitting coach Howard Johnson would have been a better choice - pretty much the entire team suffers from a poor approach in high-leverage at-bats - but because of his status as a member of the '86 team and one of David Wright's mentors, that wasn't going to happen.
2. Your team is in pretty decent shape for a stretch run at around .500 and less than five games behind the Phillies and Marlins, as well as within hailing distance of the Wild Card. If you were Omar Minaya, what move(s) do you think you could make that would fuel a last half surge?
The Mets are somewhat limited in what they can do in terms of making a trade because of how weak the upper levels of the farm system are - Fernando Martinez is the one stud prospect left in the system, and he's likely to be the asking price in any move for one of the big names on the trading block. The biggest need is a corner outfielder - Moises Alou's inability to stay healthy has left a gaping hole in the lineup, and until Ryan Church is fully recovered from the concussions he suffered earlier this year, the team can't count on him as part of their plans. I think the asking price will be too high for someone like Jason Bay or Xavier Nady (trading Martinez for one of them would just continue the cycle that got the team in trouble in the first place), but if the Mets could trade for someone like Matt Murton or Juan Rivera, that would upgrade the left-field situation at a lower cost. First base is also an area where the Mets could use a little help, and while picking up a righty like Rich Aurilia or Kevin Millar to platoon with Delgado would be ideal, a left-handed bat like Frank Catalanotto (who may become expendable to Texas once Hank Blalock returns) could be useful as well.
3. A lot of money is coming off the books this offseason and the Mets seem poised to make several player agents very happy, what free agents would be on your Christmas Wish List?
The big prize of this free-agent class is Mark Teixeira, who provides premium offense and defense at a position of need for the Mets. The problem, of course, is that the Mets aren't the only team in New York interested in Teixeira, and I'm sure that Boras will find other teams for the bidding war as well. If they lose the Teixeira sweepstakes, Adam Dunn would be a nice option at first (given the flyball tendencies of the pitching staff, he would be less of an asset in the outfield). Since there's already a big-money southpaw on the roster, I don't see the Mets going after Sabathia, and I have a feeling that either Pedro Martinez or Oliver Perez (but not both) will be re-signed. Given the way the team has been burned by talented players with injury concerns over the past few years, I don't know how hard they'll go after Ben Sheets or A.J. Burnett, but I'm sure they'll at least kick the tires, and I'd rather go for the high-upside risk than the "proven" mediocrity (Jon Garland, I'm looking at you).
I'd like to thank Jessica once again for taking the time to answer these questions.
I think the Mets have an interesting dilemma coming up that's not that different from the one the Giants find themselves in, in that they look like they'll wind up with a couple of extremely talented young superstars, but not enough of a supporting cast to surround them. That said, I also think they're in a better financial situation to exercise a quick rebuilding. At the moment, it looks to me like Santana's health is the biggest risk this franchise has right now, and a decent one to take given his past performance. If he stays healthy, they should be near/in contention every year. If he breaks down, I could see a protracted stretch of sub-mediocrity on the horizon.