Nothing Is Decided In December

An article by posted on December 19, 2012

Yesterday evening, GM Sandy Alderson insisted that his team can be competitive in 2013. I heard the calls, I’ve read the tweets, and I’ve seen the comments. It seems almost unanimously fans seem to think the opposite.

Some may say I’m a dreamer or some may say I’m an apologist for a general manager. I say nay. I am a Mets fan, and I’ve learned over the last few years that nothing is decided in the off-season.

Whether it’s the 07 and 08 Mets who were ready to break out and win a title, the 2010 Phillies who just got Halladay and were a lock to win it all, the 2011 Phillies who added Cliff Lee and now had the best rotation ever or the 2012 Marlins who added hundreds of millions in payroll because they were ready to be a contender.

I watched the 2012 Oakland Athletics trade away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, and Andrew Bailey last winter only to have everybody write them off as a team that was almost trying to lose games.

Don’t remember what the “experts” said right before spring training?

Athlon Sports said, “The A’s have managed to win at least 74 games in the five seasons since their last playoff berth, and they’d probably be ecstatic to win that many this year. More likely they’ll be fighting to crack 70 victories.”

AOL Sporting News said, “Oakland could lose 100 games in its latest rebuilding season.”

Bill Madden of the NY Daily News predicted the A’s to lose 98 games.

Greg Johns of mlb.com said, “Coming off a 74-88 season, Beane appears to be punting the immediate future in an effort to line up his forces for if and when the A’s can get their stadium issues resolved in Oakland or San Jose.”

Albert Chen of SI.com said, “They’re not going to be playing meaningful games in July — but they’re better positioned for the future.”

Buster Olney of espn.com said “Early in the season, Oakland ownership gets word that the move to San Jose is a done deal, and the Athletics funnel all their efforts into building the team for 2015-16” after he predicted them to finish last.

And one of the greatest prognosticators of them all (no, not Punxsutawney Phil) Las Vegas posted the Oakland A’s over/under win total at 72 and their odds to win the AL West were +3,500. For those non-gamblers out there, that means if you went to Las Vegas and put $10 on the A’s to win the division you just won yourself $35,000.

After their June 30th win in Los Angeles, the Mets were 43-36, just 4.5 games out of the division and a half game back in the wildcard hunt.

Now I’m in no way going to sit here and tell you the Mets will make the playoffs. I am going to tell you that it’s not unreasonable to think they have a chance.

A lot of the Mets most recent critics are those who believe that baseball is about more than numbers on a piece of paper. I agree with them, but I find it inconsistent to assume the Mets are “punting,” based on pieces of paper.

The Mets still have work to do this off-season, nobody should deny that. They absolutely need a RF who can hit for power, and they undoubtedly need to identify arms for the bullpen whether through the farm or by any means necessary.

Much of the Oakland A’s and even Baltimore Orioles success was based on the unknown. The Orioles bullpen went from awful to incredible without changing a lot of personnel. The A’s went from trading Cahill and Gio to having a bunch of rookies who performed brilliantly in 2012.

When R.A. Dickey left, one of the key critiques was “how do you replace 20 wins?”

That’s a fair point, but can somebody tell me it’s impossible for Gee, Niese and Harvey to each win 15 games? If they can, then you just made up Dickey’s 20 games with Johan, another pitcher and possibly Wheeler to spare.

Let’s not forget about our two cornerstone infielders, Wright & Davis. Can any Mets fan tell me it’s impossible for Ike Davis to have an OPS higher than .659 after the first 81 games? What about Wright? Is it possible that he could have a better 2nd half if the games become more meaningful?

It’s very logical to think that by May or June, Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler will join this team if healthy. What impact can they have infusing more youth into the club?

I think with today’s availability to information has made fans of all sports pessimistic by default. It used to be “get em next year,” and now it’s “we’re punting.”

The Mets have talent. If d’Arnaud comes up and can be as good as the Philadelphia Phillies director of scouting says then the Mets could have one of the best overall infields in the National League.

“I hated to lose him,” said Marti Wolever, Philadelphia’s scouting director. “He can be the centerpiece of an organization for a long time.”

“He’s a very confident kid,” Wolever said. “People can take that the wrong way at times. But he’s confident in his abilities. Some people might misconstrue that as arrogance.”

“I’m happy for him,” Wolever said. “But I hope we figure out a way to get him out.”

If Matt Harvey steps up like Parker and Milone did, this rotation looks a lot different than it does on paper. If Ike Davis comes out of the gate strong, this lineup looks a lot different.

Sure, the word “if” is a scary word when talking about a team’s chances. But, that word still gives me hope. It still makes me DVR Opening Day avoiding all communication with the outside world until I get home to watch, it still gives me a feeling that maybe we can surprise people this year?

I believe the future of this team is 1-2 full years away, but I also believe there’s a possibility that we can witness something special in 2013. I’m not giving up on 2013. I’m not giving up on the Mets.

I don’t believe the 40+ men in uniform will report to spring training and say “we’re punting.” I think they will go there looking to win baseball games, and no piece of paper, expert, or fan is going to convince them of doing anything else.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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