In today’s New York Post columnist Joel Sherman wrote an article about the Mets being too top heavy and needing to strengthen the roster in positions 11-25 and through the entire 40-man roster. So far so good. But then Sherman proposed a trade of Jose Reyes to the Angels for Jose Arredondo, Erick Aybar and Joe Saunders.

Usually when a reporter or talk radio host makes a trade proposal, it is ridiculously one-sided in favor of the home team. It was good to see Sherman deviate from the typical script.

It’s going to take a great package to make trading Jose Reyes a good idea and this is simply not that package. One of the Mets’ top strengths this year was the offensive firepower of Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Carlos Delgado. If you feel the need to break up that core, why trade the youngest, least expensive one and the one who plays the most important defensive position?

But the real problem with Sherman’s proposed solution is the return. Let’s look at them one by one.

Jose Arredondo – a lightly regarded reliever coming into 2008, Arredondo had a fantastic season in middle relief, going 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 52 games. Prior to the year, prospect maven John Sickels called Arredondo a head case and gave him a grade of “C”. Now, one successful season later (one almost completely out of line with his minor league profile), we’re supposed to make him the centerpiece of a deal for Jose Reyes?

Arredondo has a legitimate mid-90s fastball and a decent-to-good changeup. But he was also the recipient of some good fortune in 2008. He had a sub-2.00 ERA despite allowing 3.25 BB/9 innings. The chance of Arredondo repeating those numbers going forward is virtually nil. His FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded.) this year was 3.10, a truer indication of how well he pitched.

And even that 3.10 FIP was recorded with a home run rate that is likely unsustainable. Arredondo allowed just three home runs in 61 innings in 2008 for a remarkable 0.44 HR/9 ratio. Last year in the minors he gave up seven homers in 63 IP for a 1.00 HR/9 or over twice as many as he did in his first stop in the majors.

Erick Aybar – the replacement for Reyes at shortstop if this deal were to go through, Aybar has played parts of three seasons in the majors. In 580 at-bats, roughly one full season of playing time, he has a .262/.298/.348 line. If that seems underwhelming, it’s because it is. That works out to an OPS+ of 70. Jose Reyes had an OPS+ of 120 last year and that doesn’t take into account his 56 stolen bases. Aybar had seven steals.

Clearly, in a 3-for-1 deal you are not going to get a player equal to the one you are giving up but Aybar is such a huge step down that he would immediately be a player that you would want to upgrade. So why bother including him at all, especially since the point of the article was that the Mets needed to improve the bottom part of their roster?

Joe Saunders – perhaps Sherman views Saunders as the key part of the deal, rather than Arredondo. Saunders had a fantastic year in 2008, going 17-7 with a 3.41 ERA. But again, I question whether Saunders can duplicate his breakout 2008 season.

The group of pitchers who can succeed year-in and year-out with a low strikeout rate is very limited. Saunders had a 4.68 SO/9 IP ratio. Fausto Carmona won 19 games in 2007 with a 5.73 SO/9 IP ratio and then followed that up with an 8-7 season and a 5.44 ERA. Carmona and Saunders had identical 1.21 WHIPs in their big seasons and very similar walk rates (2.5 for Carmona and 2.41 for Saunders).

Another troubling thing for Saunders is that he put up his big year with a .267 batting average on balls in play. What happens next year when that returns to a typical .300 mark? In 2006 Saunders had a .305 BABIP and it was .336 in ’07. And his FIP was 4.36, nearly a run higher than his real ERA

Finally, you can always use a 17-game winner in the rotation but isn’t starting pitching a relative strength of the club? Doesn’t the team have its eyes on some of the top free agent pitchers to back up Johan Santana, John Maine, Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese? Wouldn’t it be better to target a second baseman (Howie Kendrick) or a catcher (Mike Napoli) since those are areas where legitimate upgrades are needed, especially if Daniel Murphy can’t make the grade at second?

Ultimately it comes down to a bad idea to trade Reyes because he’s such a valuable commodity at a key defensive position. Jimmy Rollins won the MVP award with a 118 OPS+ in 2007. Reyes had a 120 OPS+ in 2008 and some people feel he was a disappointment.

The Mets can add to their depth with a couple of free agent signings, both impact and lower level. The easiest way to add depth is by not carrying dead weight as your reserves. Let’s hope Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya bring a better cast of characters than Marlon Anderson, Robinson Cancel and Argenis Reyes as bench players. That combined with a free agent pitcher or two will make an immediate improvement and it won’t cost Jose Reyes.