We've looked at what the Mets lineup might look like next year, and what the Mets rotation might look like next year. You might have noticed from those two posts that, all told, next year's team isn't going to look dramatically different from this year's. That could end up being a problem.
For this first year of general manager Sandy Alderson's and manager Terry Collins's tenures, there has been little to no pressure. The fanbase has understood — generally — that 2011 was for clearing out the dreck of the Minaya era and waiting for $30-some-odd million of payroll to clear out. Alderson and his brain really faced only two major decisions this year: What to do with Carlos Beltran, and what to do with Jose Reyes? (A third: Could they figure out a way to get Francisco Rodriguez off the team? Mission accomplished!)
Alderson aced the first test — sending Beltran to San Francisco for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler RIGHT before Beltran broke down — and can ace the second one if he figures out a way to keep Reyes. And that's the first decision for the Mets: How much do they pay for Reyes? The hamstring injury made him cheaper (probably), but still, the Mets, if just for their fans, need him badly to return and may have to (over)spend accordingly. But since Alderson didn't trade Reyes when he had the chance, he better bring him back.
Thing is, though: That might be the only card Alderson has to play this year. As we showed earlier this week, there just aren't that many changes the Mets can make this off-season. It's a weak free-agent class, and the Mets have a ton of positions filled anyway. The smart play — and the play Alderson is likely to make — is to keep building up the farm system and waiting to strike when the free-agent iron is hot (i.e., not this off-season). Will that be enough? Are Mets fans patient enough to wait another year? Omar Minaya would have never thought so. He would have felt the need to make some sort of big-money move. That's how the Mets got into this mess. Alderson has to hope that Mets fans remain patient and let him do his job, because it's gonna take more than one year. It may even take more than two.