I realize this is the unpopular counterpoint, but…
1. We’re Broke
Look, I don’t have access to the Wilpon’s financial records. There are so many reports on the state of their finances that it’s hard to tell fact from fiction, but actions speak louder than words. The Mets are either unwilling or unable to take on salary.
How do I know that? Well, if we could have, then we would have been able to get everyone cheaply. But we didn’t. Finances are what’s governing this team right now, and changing GM’s wouldn’t make a bit of difference. Every player that we did not get, you could point the financial finger in some capacity at it.
2. Certain Players Would Help, But Not Enough
Note, I’m not saying an acquisition wouldn’t help, because they obviously would, but we’d have to pray it’s not a bandage on a geyser. What good would Brett Myers do when the offense gives him a 2-0 loss. Or what if Ted Lily hands a tie game to the bullpen on the road, only to see it end in a(nother) walk-off loss. How does it help us if Kevin Gregg is pitching to empty seats in mid-September.
Yes, a starter would put Takahashi back in the bullpen, and make the pen much better, but is that enough? There’s too much inconsistency on this team.
3. The Price on Relievers Was Insane
When the Minnesota Twins hit the Send button on the horrible Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps trade, it guaranteed that the Blue Jay trio of Gregg/Downs/Frasor was staying put. You think Alex Anthropoulos (Toronto GM) was asking for Kirk Nieuwenhuis before that deal, well how bout after the Capps/Ramos deal set the market price at “top prospect.”
After that, it turned into a mix of salary dumps (Farnsworth and Wood), and specialist rentals (Ohman). And Octavio Dotel. Trust me, we’ll get to Dotel soon.
4. Going For It And Failing Is Worse Than Standing Still
And this is one of the big reasons. Losing prospects on a failed task is worse than just failing the task. Better to not commit to a bad trade than to commit to a dim hope and miss the playoffs. What happens if we do make a trade, and then go 1-5 next week against the Braves and Phillies.
5. Too Many Teams To Jump
We’re 6.5 out in the division and the Wild Card on August 1. That is right on the periphery of contention. It’s an either-way scenario that usually ends in defeat. We’re in no man’s land, standings-wise. Not buyers, not sellers.
6. We’re Not “One Piece Away”
Teams like the Phillies, Yankees, and Rangers can trade like there’s no tomorrow, because they’re right at the cusp of a pennant. We’re not. Who on the wish list, other than Cliff Lee, could have made this team World Series ready? Those teams can live in the moment, because they have less issues and are just better.
7. Let the Prospects Get Another Year In The Minors, Even If They’re Busts
Most of our prospects will be busts. I’m not saying that for the sake of insulting our front office, I ‘m saying that because the failure rate among all prospects is so high. Even among top 100 lists. Yet still, prospects are the top currency among teams. Being that so few A-list prospects move, it means that B-list and C-list prospects are the ones that are bought and sold. It sounds weird, but B and C-listers are the most important in trades. Letting the low-minors talents stew for another year will help their value, as long as they’re not overexposed or struggling at higher levels. It’s not much, and most of them will fail anyway, but their stocks should be at least marginally better next year.
8. Don’t Repeat 2004
Jim Duquette made two desperate moves to delude people into thinking we were in it. The second of those moves will not be mentioned here. The first was the Kris Benson and his wife for Ty Wigginton and Jose Bautista (yes, that Jose Bautista). By the time Benson made his first start, the Mets were 8 games back of the Braves. After that, it got worse.
This ties in heavily with Number 4. We’re in such a similar place. A big rental would merely be an illusion of false contention.
9. The Best Trades Are The Ones You Don’t Make
We should be lucky that the Cubs said no to the Castillo/Ollie for Zambrano trade. Not only would we be picking up a far worse contract, but we’d be picking up a faded pitcher who could implode at any second. If Zambrano were still a front-of-the-rotation starter, he would not have been relegated to the pen or suspended.
10. We’re Not A Contender, We’re Just Not
And this is the big one. What is this team, the horrible road team, or the strong home team? Maybe the answer is right in the middle. This has been going on since April. A huge homestand masks the problems that we have on the road. A miserable road trip nullifies what we did on the last homestand. This team is horribly inconsistent.
We should have been a contender, but it’s stupid things that have killed us. We’ve wasted 7 Santana starts due to offensive sleepage. We give up so many walkoff losses because the bullpen …well, that’s a blog for another day. We may be able to get one or two systems working at one time, but never all of them. If the offense hits, the pen gives it up. If the pen holds tight into extras, the offense goes hitless. If Santana exits after 100 pitches with a tie or the lead…well, you know.
There are so many games in which we hung in, but got away. The season ended on that West Coast road trip. I don’t think a significant move was ever really going to happen. The road trip just gave an excuse.
The problems that this team has, like road woes or bad contracts, can’t just be fixed by some acquisition.
And One Reason Why Standing Still Was A Mistake
While the Smoak/Lee trade was the boldest, I think the best trade was one consummated by one of the best run franchises in the league, the Angels. The Angels trade for Dan Haren puts them in a really good situation for the next two years. They jumped on a weak market and got themselves an ace under team control through 2013.
This is the Mets mistake. They had the chance to help the team for next year, Octavio Dotel is under control for 2011, and we had the chance to get him for a fringe prospect (who got shelled in AA last night). His $4.5 million option for 2011 is reasonable for a set-up man like him. But we get into finances again.
While it’s hard to believe that the Mets would have been willing to beat the Angels offer for Haren, it would have given us a second ace for less than the Red Sox are paying Lackey. But of course, no way the team takes on a big chunk of payroll.
If you’re playing for next year, then make a move that can help next year’s team. But of course, we get back to Number 1.
Feel free to shoot the messenger.