As we get ready to begin the 2012 season, there is a lot of negativity surrounding the Mets. Some of it is warranted, but some of it is the product of misconceptions and misrepresentations. I think a lot of it comes from living in the bubble of being fans of one particular team, so everything gets judged with the limited scope of only seeing that team. I’d like to take a crack at setting the record straight in a few areas. Then, hopefully, we can have some productive discussion.
Some people are saying they are a 100 loss team and comparing them to the 1962 squad. Those are people with either short memories or simply not aware of just how bad a team has to be to reach those marks. The Mets aren’t even the worst in the National League, never mind all of baseball, which is pretty much what 100+ losses means.
What people need to realize is…
1. The 2012 Mets Don’t Suck
No, really. They aren’t that bad. In reality, they are pretty middle of the road. Talent wise, anyway. There is a notable difference between being awful and being mediocre. The biggest problem for the Mets is that they are an average team in a really good division (on paper).
Just because they are expected to finish last in a tough division doesn’t make them terrible. Put them in any other division except the AL East and they would probably finish 3rd or better with an above .500 record. They might even be able to win the NL West. There are plenty of teams significantly worse than the Mets. The Cubs, Astros, Padres, Dodgers and Pirates are all a lot worse than the Mets and that is just in the National League. The Mets could also hang tight with the Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies, Reds and maybe even the Brewers and Cardinals (if things break right, anyway).
So, even if they aren’t a very good team, that doesn’t make them a very bad team. It just so happens that they directly compete with 4 other teams that on paper are measurably better. Even then, I wouldn’t be shocked to see at least one of those teams take the Mets preordained spot in the NL East cellar.
One reason the Mets might be able to sneak past one of those teams is…
2. The Mets Pitching Staff (Including Mike Pelfrey) Doesn’t Suck
Don’t believe me? Have you seen some of the pitchers being signed a week prior to the season? The Yankees coaxed soon to be 40 year old Andy Petitte out of retirement because they don’t trust their rotation. The Braves, with their vaunted rotation of young studs, still saw it necessary to give 37 year old Livan Hernandez a spot on their team, even after the lowly Astros released him. The Indians are picking up $5 million of Derek Lowe’s salary. The Rockies recently not only signed 49 year old Jamie Moyer, they even made him their #2 starter.
A lot of playoff contenders are scrambling to fill out their rotations. The Mets problem isn’t that they have bad starters. They just don’t have any really good ones. No #1 or #2 guys. Much like the whole team, they are average starters. The are back of the rotation guys. 3,4,5 type pitchers that can look really good on occasion and get bombed on others.
That includes Big Pelf. I know he has had a rough Spring Training, but he always does. And if you look at him over the years, his hit, walk, and strikeout rates all stay about the same. His Home Run rates fluctuate, so that is the main area of concern. But, when you take away all the hype that surrounded him, all the inflated expectations and all the nonsense and see him as a #4 or #5 guy, you’d see he’s fairly average.
Of course, one thing that is going to be a huge boon for this average pitching staff is…
3. The Offense Will Score a Lot of Runs
Even with the loss of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, this team is in a position to light up the scoreboard. If they stay relatively healthy, the middle of the order will have 3 potential 30 HR hitters in Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and David Wright. And believe it or not, Mets fans, Jason Bay reportedly was that type of hitter a long time ago in stadiums far far away. Murphy will be a solid #2 hitter and if the 2010 Andres Torres shows up and stays healthy (until Kirk Nieuwenhuis arrives), there will be plenty of RBI opportunities for the power hitters.
If Ruben Tejada proves last year was no fluke and Josh Thole remembers what he did in 2010, this is going to be a solid line up top to bottom with no easy outs and a lot of ways to wreak havoc.
Remember, this team was in the top half of runs scored with Reyes missing a lot of the second half and being hurt when he did play. They also missed Davis for almost the whole year and Wright for a good chunk of it. A full year of them plus Duda should more than offset the loss of Beltran.
Also, off the bench, Scott Hairston and Justin Turner both proved themselves to be good pinch hitters that can come up big.
Another thing we need to accept as Mets fans is…
4. Fred Wilpon is Not the Worst Owner in Sports
I don’t like a lot of things he has done. His arrogance and cronyism have gotten in the way of a lot of potential success for this franchise. It came to a point where I was part of the chorus of fans at Citi Field chanting “We Want Cuban” at the end of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. But, now that I’ve had a chance to get past the emotion and look at the big picture, I realize, he really isn’t that bad.
He’s not even the worst owner in the division. Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Marlins, is a real life Rachel Phelps. The Braves owner, Liberty Media Group, is a corporation that sees the Braves as a marketing tool and asset. They have no intention of putting real money into the team to make them true contenders or even retain most of their own stars.
Fred Wilpon is also not the worst owner in this town. Personally, I’m glad the Dolans are too busy crashing the Knicks to pay any attention to the Rangers. And ask an Islander fan how he or she feels about Charles Wang.
You can look around sports and see what horrible owners really look like. Owners who abuse and disregard their players and fans, swindle their cities and hold them hostage. We’ve got owners that move their teams in the dead of night to get cushy stadium deals. Corporations that just don’t give a damn if the team ever wins, so long as in “synergizes their brand awareness” or whatever the buzz words are.
When Citi Field was being built, Fred Wilpon worked out a reasonable repayment plan for the various loans and such he took out. He didn’t have friends in the mayor’s office undervalue the land to lessen the property tax. He didn’t destroy public parks while insisting on keeping the old stadium up. Say what you will about how the stadium itself turned out, the deal was relatively tax payer friendly, unlike the scams that went down in the Bronx and Miami.
Keep in mind, crazy old guys make the best baseball owners, and Fred Wilpon is one of the last of those. I think he does truly want to make the Mets a successful franchise, he just went about it the wrong way. Hopefully, the experience with Irving Picard and almost having the franchise go bankrupt will teach him some humility and to let his baseball people make the baseball decisions. Then, we’re going to be in for one hell of a ride.
One last thing Mets fans and a lot of New Yorkers need to realize
5. Shake Shack is Ridiculously Overrated
I just do not get the hype about this place. Are hamburgers and milkshakes in one place really that mind blowing? Just because you saw something on TV or in a movie does not make it great. The burgers are only OK and they don’t even offer bacon as a topping. Seriously, how can you be a legitimate burger joint and not have bacon? Considering how long that line is and how much that stuff costs, Shake Shack is really disappointing.
So, I hope this helped to improve some outlooks on the upcoming season. It is not going to be an easy season, but it won’t be a terrible one either. While we may not have to worry about reserving tickets for October already, we’ll have the opportunity to see some good baseball at a good price. You can even look at this as a time for the real fans. A chance to earn your stripes. Our crucible. Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff and find out who really deserves to be called a Mets fan.
But, if you’re still one of those pessimists that is determined to be down about the team and won’t make the trip to Flushing to see them live, all I can say is…
Fine, more beer for me.
This Fan Shot was submitted by MMO reader, Donal Murphy. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over ten-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask about being a regular contributor, and share your opinions with an engaging community that loves to debate.