Gil Hodges must’ve been crazy! The Mets had just lost 101 games and finished in 10th place, 40 ½ GB of the Cardinals. Yet when Hodges was hired by the Mets in the off-season of 1967 he stated, ‘I see a lot more right with the Mets than wrong.’
Hodges first year as skipper provided us 73 wins, most in team history to date. And we all know what happened the year after. He and Mets management had the foresight to see that the Mets had a good foundation to build upon. No one talked of ‘rebuilding.’
Ten plus years later the Payson family sold the team to Fred Wilpon and Doubleday & Co. The 79 club lost 99 games and was mathematically eliminated in late August, finishing 35 ½ behind the eventual World Champion Pirates. Over the previous 3+ seasons Mets management had traded away everyone worth a damn. They sat by while the Farm System fell into disarray and Shea became a very dilapidated 15 year old stadium.
At this point in time rebuilding WAS necessary. While the players on that team tried their best, never gave up and played with heart, they simply were not that good. Lee Mazzilli was our big RBI producer, knocking in 79 while Joel Youngblood was our HR threat with 16. Only 2 players on the team hit over 275.
The pitching was just as anemic. After Craig Swan’s team leading 14 victories no one else had more then 6. Skip Lockwood was our closer and ended the season with 9 saves.
It was clear that major work would be needed. Frank Taveras and Pat Zachary are NOT the kind of foundation you build around.
Three decades later we are rebuilding again. In 1979 it was necessary. In 2011 I don’t feel it is.
Do the Mets have issues? Absolutely. However, I see the Mets nowadays more reminiscent of 1967 then 1979. To echo Gil Hodges’ words, I also see more right with the Mets then wrong.
Perhaps I’m blinded by my faith to this team but when you have a ‘core’ of Wright, Reyes and Beltran and an ace like Santana, you’re never far away from being a legitimate contender. Granted, 3 of those 4 players have displayed an inability to stay healthy. But all things considered, I would gladly match a healthy Wright/Reyes/Beltran against the top 3 hitters on any team in the league. And on a good day I’d definitely match a healthy Johan against a Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay.
The big problem facing the Mets are attitude and injuries. No matter how much you spend, no matter if your GM is Omar or Alderson, injuries are an unavoidable part of the game. The point can be argued that had the previous GM provided us more depth things would be different. But when a player the caliber of Reyes or Beltran goes down no one from the bench can fill that void.
Am I the only one who sees this bigger picture? 1) The Wilpons lose tens of millions, if not more. 2) The Wilpons hire Sandy Alderson. 3) Alderson comes in and says we need to rebuild and stay away from signing big name players. 4) Mets fans agree.
In my opinion if it’s a choice between A) hoping Reyes and Beltran stay healthy or B) replacing those guys and praying someone else can have the impact they do, I’d quickly choose A. Would you rather wait for a healthy Reyes and Beltran or wait for some rookie to come up and hope he can become an impact player like his predecessors?
David Wright. Jose Reyes. Carlos Beltran. Johan Santana. When you start with a foundation like this, you don’t tear it down and start over. Instead you build a championship upon it. I am sure almost any other team in the majors would gladly build a winner and look to the future with these 4 players. But not Sandy Alderson and the Mets management.
In 2006 we were ready to build a winner around Wright, Reyes and Beltran. Now suddenly we are willing to build a winner without them?