Initially, he traded the slumping Roberto Alomar for Royce Ring, Edwin Almonte, and Andrew Salvo. That trade with the White Sox was a good starting point for Duquette. Alomar was just going through the motions, and wasn't getting any better or any younger for that matter. Since then he has been replaced by a tremendously talented and young middle infielder by the name of Jose Reyes. On the flip side of the Alomar deal, the Mets received a potential closer in Royce Ring. Should the recently signed Braden Looper falter in his closer's role, Ring could prove to be adequate insurance.
Jim sent another veteran packing when he dealt Jeromy Burnitz to Los Angeles for Victor Diaz and Joselo Diaz. Once again, the Mets got younger and received tremendous upside in Victor Diaz. The young man can flat out hit! I have personally seen him play numerous times in Binghamton and he can hit to all fields. He is not the best second baseman yet, but he can handle the bat, and the Mets will find a spot for him on that basis. So those results weren't bad. The team flushed out two expendable players and replaced them with young talent.
Duquette also realized that Armando Benitez was useless to the Mets after blowing save after save. He was shipped across town to the Yankees for Jason Anderson. So far it doesn't seem like Anderson will be a player of consequence, but Jim freed up some space for players that just might one day help the Metropolitans. That also boosts the importance of receiving Royce Ring and signing Braden Looper. Jason Anderson might develop as well, thus strengthening the bullpen further.
So far, it hasn't been a bad off season for Duquette. He has filled some pretty significant holes. He signed Japanese import Kazuo Matsui, who will team with young Jose Reyes, and should give the Mets a terrific double play combo.He should spark the offense as well with some power and speed. The Mets had a gaping hole in center field with only sub par players available. Jim was able to ink Mike Cameron who, while not a superstar, is a pretty good upgrade from Jeff Duncan. In Cameron, Duquette obtained an athletic player that is still young.
Even though Duquette has done a very capable job so far, there is room for improvement. The subject of starting pitching still needs to be addressed. Unless Tom Glavine can become the "old" Tom Glavine and Steve Traschsel can record a 15 or 16 win season in 2004, it looks like the Mets might have pitching difficulties. Duquette has to be complimented on bringing pitching coach Rick Peterson to New York. What an excellent acquisition! Peterson is one of the best pitching coaches in all of baseball. He molded Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, and Mark Mulder into one of the best starting units in baseball. With his unique pitching philosophy, hopefully he can turn the Mets' staff around as well.
Jim Duquette didn't try to overpay players, rather he pursued the road of youth. In a few years everyone will realize what a job he has done. When you witness exciting baseball at Shea in a few years, you will be satisfied with the road Duquette has taken the Mets. He is attempting to get the Mets geared for the future, rather to live in the past. Paying big bucks for big risk is not his style, and won't get the Mets to the World Series. Bringing in young players with talent will make a difference in a few years will give the Mets a solid nucleus. Everyone believes that the Yankees win by spending money, which is not entirely true. A lot of their players are homegrown such as Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and Alfonso Soriano, all of whom were once Yankee prospects. By taking the road of youth and prospects, Duquette gives the Mets a chance to form a player core capable of winning a championship.
Given the chance, I would hire someone like Jim Duquette in a minute. Why? He has a plan that's both logical and feasible: Stop trying to fix the team overnight and instead build a nucleus of young, athletic and talented players that might one day bring you a championship. That philosophy the Mets have been lacking the past few years and I think it will soon turn the team around. My advice to season ticket holders is don't rip up your invoices because the Mets didn't get Guerrero. Instead, give Duquette a chance and see what he can do and one day your seats will be gold!
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