The Mets, like any other team, have had periods of success and periods of down years. From 1969-1976, the Mets averaged 84 wins, only finished lower than third once and those 7 years earned us 1 World Championship and 2 Pennants. For the glory days of 1984-1990, we averaged an impressive 95 wins, never finished lower than 2nd place, won 1 Championship and 2 pennants. From 1997-2001, the Mets averaged 90 wins and in those 5 years, we won 1 pennant and 1 wild-card.
It is clear that we are once again in the midst of a successful run. For the last 4 years, we have averaged 89 wins but have just one Division Title. I am wondering where exactly we are in the midst of this run. Are we still ascending towards the mountaintop and working our way to a Championship? Or has that opportunity already passed? Are we on the upside or the downside of the hypothetical curve?
It seems that the last several off-seasons, Omar Minaya was spending the winter fine tuning our club. A tweak here, a tweak there and we seemed on our way to late October baseball. There is still plenty of time for our club to make some moves this winter. However, it is clear that there is more needed than just some “fine tuning.” A simple tweak will not work.
Heading into the 05 season, Omar brought the Mets back to respectability by signing future Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. It was clear the Mets were back in the business of winning. The 05 season ended with hope for the future when we finished in 3rd, only 7 games back. Omar went to work, did some more fine tuning and added Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner, a major upgrade from Doug Mientkiewicz and Braden Looper.
However, the last 3 seasons have all ended sooner (and more bitterly) than any of us expected. After Yadier Molina broke the hearts of Mets fans in 06 and a heartbreaking collapse in 07, Omar went to work yet again. He went out and signed the most coveted free agent to the biggest pitching contract in history. Who among us did not expect to send Shea into the history books with another trip to the Fall Classic? Or at least a NL Pennant.? With the acquisition of Johan Santana, it seemed like the 08 season was just a formality.
Now, after a second disappointing season that once again ended in Game 162, where are we? The big names, such as Sabathia and K-Rod, are still out there. However, other teams have already begun ‘tweaking’ and fine-tuning to meet their own needs. The Giants picked up Renteria, Khalil Greene will be in STL, Demspter re-signed with the Cubs and Javy Vazquez has entered the NLE with Atlanta. None of these moves are sure to guarantee a championship but teams are moving in the right direction.
I believe in Omar. I have faith in Omar. I feel confident our 2009 club will be stronger. However, are we running out of time? Is the window of opportunity closing? Minaya has spent the last several off-seasons fine tuning. Suddenly, we are in need of more than just a minor adjustment. We need a closer, we need an entire new relief core (sans Joe Smith), a strong corner outfielder, at least 2, maybe 3 starters and a major upgrade at 2nd. Is it too much to ask for in one winter? Is it possible for Omar’s mind and the Wilpon’s money to fill these many holes before Opening Day?
Coming into the last few seasons, it seemed like we were just one or two players away from winning it all. Now, however. it almost seems like this may be our final stand. If, in fact, Omar can wield his magic wand, fill all or most of the holes, and we STILL don’t win in 09, one can assume that we will once again enter ‘a rebuilding phase.’ I cant help but feel that these next several months will determine the course of this club for the next 5 years. I am cautiously optimistic. If anyone can do it, we can. We have the GM and we have the money to spend (if the Wilpon’s choose to) The future hangs in the balance.