Doug’s Dugout: Mets Put The “Off” In Offseason
Now that the Mets have thrown (John) Debus under the bus, maybe it is time to start reshaping this sub-.500 team. It’s a revelation that the bullpen coach was at the forefront of the teams’ woes and that GM Sandy Alderson swiftly extracted him (and a few other scapegoats, such as fan favorite, Mookie Wilson) without rancor.
This is tantamount to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Or shuffling the stack of papers on the over-worked underpaid office worker’s desk.
Here is a novel idea: how about giving the fans something to get excited about in 2012 besides re-configuring the obnoxious Citi Field dimensions or sprucing up old uniforms with a new 50th anniversary patch (that’s one World Championship every 25 years).
Furthermore, I am getting a tad tired of playing armchair bean counter. Let’s see, how can we slash more payroll? Yes, let’s keep Angel Pagan because he is a bargain (at a potential $5 million), and overlook the fact he dogged it most of the season. And, Chris Capuano has priced himself out of a Mets (new-old) uniform because he proved his arm is sound.
My feelings have nothing to do with Jose’ Reyes impending departure (technically he’s already gone). It’s about being pro-active. That does not mean shopping David Wright, who still has two more years in a Mets uniform.
(Alderson is trolling the waters to see if someone bites on Wright. Otherwise he would’ve squashed the scuttle from the get-go. His modus operandi is to save the Wilpon’s money, first and foremost).
Maybe Sandy needs a hearing aid because the off-season bell has rung and he didn’t hear it. Reuben Amaro did. The Philadelphia GM has already signed an insurance policy for the injured Ryan Howard at first base, Jim Thome and doled out $50 million for a new closer, the pursed-lipped Jonathon Papelbon.
Oh, I forgot, the Mets plight should never be compared to the team directly south. Amaro has made it his business to distance his club from the sagging franchise to the north. So today our expectations are very different from the Phillies.
Once upon a (long ago) time the Mets ate the Phillies’ lunch. But, that was when Wilson was avoiding getting hit by Bob Stanley instead of the ax, or trickling a ball through Bill Buckner’s creaky pins. The Mets have been living on the fortunes of the 1986 team for over a quarter of century now, and therein lies the problem.
It’s heresy in these quarters to mention the Mets and the Phillies (Yankees, etc.) in the same breath. Soon it might also include Miami, Atlanta, and Washington. Hey, we are so low the curb looks enticing.
If Alderson wants to revamp the bullpen then target the pieces and attack. For the fans’ sake, don’t wait to sift through the scraps in the bargain basement bin. For goodness sakes man, you are a general manager not a magician. Not everyone can be had for a one-year contract.
Want Joe Nathan or Octavio Dotel, go get him. Instead Alderson plays the waiting game and hopes the price drops and the Brad Lidge’s of the world lands in his lap. Or he thrusts the “IF” scenario out there, ‘IF Johan Santana is healthy or IF Ike Davis recovers from the most prolonged ankle injury in history, the team has a shot,’ babble.
Where have I heard that rationalization before? Oh, last season when speaking about Jason Bay, Johan Santana, Chris Young and a cast of castoffs.
Every year it seems the rebuilding process (management shuns the term) gets moved back a year. Now the projection is 2013 that the Mets will be back in the hunt. By the middle of the summer it will be 2014.
How do you fix an ailing club? Well, you don’t allow your primetime players to depart in their prime. Draft picks be damned. Projecting high school and college players to the ultimate level is harder than finding a stand-up administrator or coach at Penn State.
I would love to see the Mets beat another team to the punch for talent for a refreshing change (and to be realistic, I am not chanting for Albert Pujos or Prince Fieldler), instead of being punched in the gut all winter.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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