I don’t know about you, but this offseason has dragged on for as long as any I can ever remember since writing my first post about the Mets almost ten years ago to the day. As one who has chronicled this offseason word by word and sentence by sentence from it’s infancy in early October until it’s impending close which officially comes in ten days, I can’t help but feel as though there’s a sense of unrealized expectations for me as a Met fan.
Perhaps it’s because we go into this new season with the same infield we ended last season with. An infield that was promised to be revamped save for third baseman David Wright and to a lesser degree second baseman Daniel Murphy.
When Sandy Alderson took to airwaves after the 2013 season – with his team winning just 74 games and enduring it’s fifth consecutive losing season – I have to admit I was swept in by his vision of what lied ahead over the next 3-4 months.
The Mets GM said all the right things – upgrades at shortstop and first base – a cleanup hitter who can play a corner outfield position and give Wright the protection he’s lacked over the last few seasons – a starting pitcher to help offset the loss of injured ace Matt Harvey – a veteran reliever just in case Bobby Parnell wasn’t ready to begin the season – and finally a veteran backup catcher to ease his concerns with Travis d’Arnaud being able to stay healthy for an entire season.
If I had to create my own offseason to-do list, it would have been an exact duplicate – even down to the way he ordered his list by importance – asserting that first base and shortstop would be his top priorities.
Flush with an infusion of $40 million dollars to spend and also a surplus of minor league arms he could dangle for trade bait, Sandy was armed and ready for what I thought would be the preamble to a wild card run in 2014.
Step one – he signs Chris Young to a one year deal worth $7.25 million. One look at his five year decline and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this one caught me by surprise. I was a little dumbfounded. Where did Young fit in I wondered? He couldn’t play first or shortstop and he obviously wasn’t a cleanup hitter. Just like that 20% of our spending budget was gone and our shopping list still had no check marks on it.
The Curtis Granderson signing made me feel much better. Here was a key piece of the puzzle who would fit right in. This was the power-hitting corner outfielder our team has lacked and the bat our lineup sorely needed. His infectious smile and celebrated personality were added bonuses.
The Bartolo Colon signing came next and also addressed a key concern in the rotation. His presence would soften the blow of losing Harvey, and while there may be some age and weight concerns, it wasn’t a longterm commitment. Colon was a proven winner and a veteran presence – qualities that would have a positive impact on young pitchers like Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard over the next two seasons.
In the days leading up to the start of Spring Training came a flurry of minor league deals that would lead to the likes of Dice-K, John Lannan, Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde. These were the last minute signings most teams do after they’ve done all the heavy lifting. It was a clear sign to me that the Mets offseason was officially over.
In the last four months, I must have written dozens of posts about the never-ending Ike Davis trade rumors, and dozens more about the many shortstops that the Mets were being linked to. With every keystroke I was enjoying the hunt and was exhilarated by all the rumors. I found myself becoming emotionally invested in whatever change was coming to first base and shortstop. It didn’t even matter to me who we eventually signed or traded for, I was simply excited that we’d finally have some new faces in the infield – both of them significant upgrades.
So while I’m happy that a new season of Mets baseball is about to begin, and I’m admittedly flush with optimism as I am every Spring, there’s still a bittersweet feeling about this incomplete offseason that I can’t seem to shake. Do any of you feel that way too?
(Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)