Back up a truck.
—Giants manager Leo Durocher's player personnel report to owner Horace Stoneham, 1948
The Mets need a heart transplant, a new set of guts and a severe makeover. There are two trades that will never happen, probably couldn't happen, maybe shouldn't happen, but let's say they did.
1) The Mets send David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Tim Redding and Ramon Castro to Philadelphia for Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard.
2) The Mets send Carlos Delgado, Brian Schneider, John Maine, Brad Holt and Ike Davis to Toronto for Roy Halladay, Rod Barajas and Kevin Millar.
In concomitant moves, the Mets shift Daniel Murphy to third base, call up Fernando Martinez and have Oliver Perez and Bobby Parnell switch roles.
Our new starting lineup:
The bench would include Jeremy Reed, Omir Santos, Alex Cora and the platoon third baseman, leftfielder and rightfielder who aren't starting on a given day.
Rotation: Johan Santana, Roy Halladay, Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell and Livan Hernandez (until Jon Niese merits replacing him)
Bullpen: Frankie Rodriguez, J.J. Putz, Oliver Perez, Sean Green, Brian Stokes and Pedro Feliciano (with Nelson Figueroa on speed dial should another arm be deemed necessary)
Why would the Phillies go for it? Castro gives them some catching depth, with Ruiz recently injured. Redding, once he heals, is another arm for a club that desperately needs arms. Those guys are deadwood on this team. Obviously it's the three bigger names that will make this happen, three players with a world of talent and a pretty impressive track record, all of whom have produced at Citizens Bank Park. Reyes is younger than Rollins. Beltran is a bigger power threat than Victorino. Wright sends Feliz to first to platoon with Dobbs, potentially making up for Howard. They still have a batting order with four legitimate all-stars, including Chase Utley. Wright and Reyes are still relatively inexpensive for a while. That franchise has already won a World Series. The can think long-term.
Why would the Blue Jays go for it? They're not going to stay in first place. They're probably not going to compete for the playoffs. Halladay's a free agent after 2010. It's unlikely they'll hold onto him. Carlos Delgado is going for 500 home runs. He was a big deal in Toronto and his milestone march where he established himself would create great goodwill. That's for the short term. Maine and the two prospects are for the longer term, understanding you have to give up a lot to obtain a Roy Halladay.
Why would the Mets go for it?
All right, seriously, why not? Where are we going with the core we have? The core four, we can all agree, includes three of the most talented players in the National League plus an all-time power hitter with some legitimate pop left in his bat. But the Mets, it should be painfully apparent by now, aren't going anywhere as presently constituted. So why pretend anymore?
Rollins and Victorino are exactly the kind of players we're always crying out for, guys who talk the talk and walk the walk. Rollins isn't as fast or as dynamic as Reyes but he brings us similar dimensions, plus more power and maturity. Victorino is close enough defensively to Beltran and surely knows enough to slide. Wright, the face of this franchise, is becoming, no kidding, a frowny face. As productive as he's been, he may have peaked in New York. He's no longer draped in Teflon. Howard strikes out more than Wright (though not much more) yet he may possess the one power stroke in baseball that could thrive at Citi Field. We've already seen anybody can triple here, but he may be the only guy who can consistently homer here. We'll be down a little in overall power, but have you seen how this place plays?
Halladay is in Santana's class. The two of them, with a few runs behind them, give you a leg up in every series in which they pitch. You have Johan under contract, you get Roy under contract. Barajas for Schneider, I confess, is dog and cat. Millar, however, comes for much the same reason Victorino and Rollins do: fire, dirt, the whole bit we're always despairing we're missing. These are guys who play to win, not to simply get one more game crossed off the schedule. At this stage of Millar's career, that's almost his sole equity. It's a valuable one to have on this club.
As for the internal moves, if Fernando Martinez is going to be the future of this club (along with Ryan Howard), let's get him out there and see what he can do. You've got Sheffield for a year, so it's not all on the kid. Murphy needs to forget about left field. Eventually he becomes the everyday man at third. Until then, let him be spelled by Tatis, who deserves more at-bats and, more to the point, helps the club by playing, not sitting. Millar might not have much left, but let's maximize him and Church. Jeremy Reed should get some starts somewhere along the way as well. He and Tatis can add outfield depth should Martinez falter and need a brush-up in Buffalo or Sheffield go kaput (though his bat speed and eye still seem fine).
Santana and Halladay explain themselves. Pelfrey's too promising to trade, thus he stays over Maine if the Blue Jays want a pitcher. Parnell's too promising to waste in the bullpen; he was a starter his whole career 'til the end of last year. Perez is too risky in the rotation. He could be an incredible set-up man to Rodriguez in short spurts (Putz is only signed through this year and I can't believe he'll want to stay in an eighth-inning role). Like Castillo in the offseason, you simply can't move him, so you have to hope he finds himself and you have to help him find his way. With as much upside as this new rotation should have, let's carry one fewer pitcher in the pen and see what happens.
There. Done. New team. Grittier team. Less talented lineup but still capable (particularly in Citi Field) and probably way heartier — to say nothing of being able to throw two absolute aces every five days. You'd miss the guys you've grown to love, but there was a time you didn't love them. There was a time you'd never heard of them. You'd love a different brand of baseball, a winning brand of baseball, if it introduced itself to you, whoever was making the introductions. There was a time a couple of these new guys weren't your enemy. If they do for you what they've done to you, you'd grow to like them plenty.
These two trades are never going to happen. But let's say something like these trades were to happen. Seriously. How about it?
Don't wait on Omar to make this acquisition: Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.