It’s quite possible that the Wilpons do have a plan. It’s a long term plan and you might not like it because it doesn’t include trying to win at all costs in 2010.
Maybe the main concern that Mets management has is the health of their current star players. Carlos Beltran is hurt and Jose Reyes is coming back from a major injury. Carlos Delgado is not worth re-signing due to his age and chronic injuries. Johan Santana is returning from elbow surgery. John Maine is returning from shoulder surgery. Oliver Perez is returning from knee surgery, plus he is a head case. Nobody including the Wilpons or the players know for sure when they’ll be back and if they will play at full strength.
Additionally, David Wright is coming off his worst year as a major leaguer. Only time will tell whether he can regain his old form and possibly be the comeback player of the year. Mike Pelfrey regressed last year too. At least Wright and Pelfrey have been healthy.
Why spend money on injury plagued free agent pitchers or other mediocre pitchers if the backbones of the team will not perform up to expectations. Ben Sheets, Chien Ming Wang, Erik Bedard, and John Smoltz, “if healthy”, only raise more questions. Can Joel Pineiro succeed without Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan at his side. Are Jason Marquis and Jon Garland enough of an upgrade if our current pitchers aren’t effective and healthy?
No free agent signing will make this ball club true contenders if our injured players do not come back and have successful years. We need Reyes, Beltran, Santana and Wright to be like their old selves. Otherwise we’d be mediocre at best regardless of who was signed.
One proof that the Mets are hedging their bets in 2010 is that they have not made any trades that involve their minor leaguers. Our upcoming stars, Fernando Martinez, Jerry Mejia, Ike Davis, Josh Thole and others have not even been the subject of trade rumors this off season. That is, unless you count rumors originated on blogs.
The second piece of evidence that this dysfunctional behavior by ownership is part of a grand plan is truly an amazin’ one because it hits directly in the pocketbooks of the Wilpons. Ownership seems totally unconcerned about decreased ticket sales. This is an unheard of strategy by the Wilpons. Every season the Mets make a big splash by December so that when that letter goes out to season’s ticket holders, a positive spin can be put on the upcoming season.
Season’s ticket sales are reportedly way down. Many fans have vowed not to support the team financially. But there has been no panic in the front office. There doesn’t seem to be a heir of desperation. No attempt to keep up or catch up to the Yankees. No one could accuse the Mets of risky, fruitless spending.
The Wilpons and Minaya have not been apologizing to fans for this winter’s failures. Fred, Jeff and Omar have said nary a word. They even have the courage to sign Fernando Tatis and “show interest” in Josh Fogg when everyone is clamoring for a major signing. Could the Wilpons be of sound mind to put a long term strategy in place, even at the expense of short term profits? They already take so much heat from fans and the press that this new reason for criticism shouldn’t matter.
Nobody can claim that the Wilpons haven’t spent money on this franchise. Most would postulate that it has not been spent wisely. The economy and the Wilpons questionable financial status might indeed be the impetus for this 180 degree reversal of their approach to running the franchise.
I’m not commending or condemning this proposed new strategy. I’m just offering a possible explanation for concerned and confused Mets fans who only see the answer as blaming our clueless owners and begging them to sell the franchise.
The Mets plan for this 2010 season might not be a bad one. It is realistic and practical. It does not involve throwing money and the farm system away. The grand design is to look towards 2011 and beyond. What’s difficult for Mets fans to accept is that our psyches and hearts are deflated even before the season has begun. But it also doesn’t create false hopes and expectations for this season. Too bad the Wilpons couldn’t have been honest and straight forward about their intentions.
In any case, if the Mets stars do have comeback seasons, the Mets are a competitive team. And if they stay in the race through July, the strategy might change and the Mets might be buyers at the trade deadline. Let’s hope so. Otherwise, our spanking new Citifield will turn into a morgue. Only the most faithful will be there and in mourning.
On the bright side, there will be no waiting at the Shake Shack.