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Changes In New York

It is widely expected that this weekend will be Omar Minaya’s last stand as the General Manager of the Mets. A disappointing team performance will almost certainly lead to changes in the front office and on the field, with the franchise looking for a new direction. The new guy, whoever he is, will have some interesting choices to make.

The first thing he’ll notice is just how many players he will inherit that are going into their final season under contract to the Mets. After next year, Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Jose Reyes, and Luis Castillo will be eligible for free agency. In addition, the club will almost certainly decline their option on Francisco Rodriguez, setting him free as well. Of those five, only Reyes seems like he has any chance of staying in Queens long term, but even that is not a given.

Those guys represent a huge chunk of the Mets committed salaries. For next year, they don’t have a lot of money to spend without expanding the budget, as they’ve already guaranteed $109 million in salaries for 2011, and that doesn’t include arbitration raises for Angel Pagan or Mike Pelfrey. Yet they have only$61 million in guaranteed money for 2012. Next winter seems to be the time when the new administration will really be able to put their mark on the roster with wholesale changes.

The opportunities for change will leave the new guy in an interesting spot. He’s essentially going to inherit a roster that he didn’t put together and that he can’t do much about. There’s just not going to be much flexibility in how the team is constructed for 2011, unless the organization is willing to eat money in order to move Castillo, Beltran, or Rodriguez a year early, and even then, none of them will be in high demand.

Based on the legacy contracts given out by Minaya, his influence will extend even after he’s gone. Mets fans are going to have to be patient with the new guy, who simply won’t be able to work miracles and transform this roster overnight. The 2011 team is what it is. For the most part, they’ll have to ride out this roster for one more year before they can get into the work of building it right. It won’t be a quick fix in Queens.