I think we can all agree that the Mets are heading in the right direction. The farm system has begun to feed the team with young, promising, top level talent such as we haven’t seen in over a decade. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Jenrry Mejia, and Travis d’Arnaud are just a few of the names driving this new Mets resurgence.
But despite all the positive vibes and a rejuvenated hope for the future, for many of us there still remains this bad taste in our mouths. There’s a smudge that as much as we try to ignore it, it’s always their blurring our focus. Why are so many Mets fans still so bitter or unwilling to completely buy into what could be a new and exciting era of Mets baseball?
I have been a dyed-in-the-wool Mets fan for the last 48 seasons. I have witnessed a lot of Mets history taking place as it happened. Yet my misery runs deep as well. When your franchise deprives you of joy for 39 out of 48 years one becomes jaded. As a result I (and perhaps you too) am skeptical to the extreme about anything relating to our beloved Mets. They have to prove it to me through actions, not words or rhetoric, and not just on paper.
Speaking for myself, I am not satisfied to make it to a .500 record. I am not patient enough to wait until next year, year after year. I am too old to believe the BS and the false promises. I don’t have time to wait for a rebuild that goes on forever and is akin to watching paint dry. I just want to root for a team that contends for the playoffs every year, and wins another World Series for us. Is that too much to ask?
For me to become a Giants fan is simply out of the question despite the fact that I lived in San Francisco for two years of my life and went to Candlestick Park several times a week. And maybe the Yankee fans, as Pedro Martinez so adroitly pointed out the other day, don’t “settle”, but I still can’t stand them, their arrogance, or their stupid team anyway.
So what do I make of this sudden upwelling of forgiveness and compassion that a number of Mets fans see fit to lavish on Mets ownership all of a sudden? This credit that is now being given to the Wilpons for a job-well-done in getting our Metsies back to being a credible baseball team again? I am amazed, and appalled at the gullibility and shortsightedness of some Mets fans.
For one thing this team hasn’t won anything yet. Maybe we should play some games before we anoint the 2015 Mets as a team-to-beat. For another thing, why are we designed to be a small market team when we are smack in the middle of the largest market in all of sports?
Why are we so lackadaisical about improving the major league roster? Because it costs money? The idea that you can simply get what you need from your minor league system instead of making trades and still be a contending team every year is ludicrous.
When the Mets were champions in 1969, it wasn’t just the home grown talent that got them the trophy. Sure the contributions of Seaver-Koosman-Gentry-Ryan were phenomenal. As well as the position players like Bud Harrelson, Ron Swoboda and Cleon Jones. But there would have been no world series victory if not for everyday players who were acquired through trades like Jerry Grote, Donn Clendenon, Tommie Agee, Al Weis, and Art Shamsky. And key pitching acquisitions like Ron Taylor, Cal Koonce, and Don Cardwell.
In 1986, that other magical year, there were contributions by home grown talents like Dwight Gooden, Roger McDowell, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Lenny Dykstra, and of course Darryl Strawberry. But the team was held together by the players that GM Frank Cashen acquired via trade. It is mind-boggling when you consider that in order to win that title, Cashen traded for Ron Darling, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Sid Fernandez, Jesse Orosco, Ray Knight, Bob Ojeda, Tim Teufel and Howard Johnson.
Does the current regime honestly believe they can be as competitive with a roster comprised predominantly of home grown talent? Of course not, but it costs less money. Do you wonder why Terry Collins was so quick to give the closer role back to Bobby Parnell? I mean the guy hasn’t completed his initial rehab from the TJS yet. And Mejia grew into the role very nicely last year. So why so quick to force Parnell back into the role? Finances.
If Mejia continues to rack up saves his value when he hits years two and three of arbitration will increase drastically. By limiting the number of saves he gets over the next couple of seasons they can keep his price tag down.
And why are the Mets so blase’ about the International Free Agent market? Every year the best International prospects get signed by teams like the Marlins, Indians, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Nationals, and Braves (to name a few). Meanwhile the Mets are left as bottom feeders to fight for the scraps. Can’t we make a splash in this market like when we signed Jose Reyes?
Vlad Guerrero Jr. just signed with a Canadian team for $3.5 million. Are you kidding me? Where were we when that was going down? On the outside looking in, just like we always are.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the way Sandy Alderson has rebuilt the farm system. He has done a very nice job of adding talent through the draft and that is significant and crucial in developing a perennial contender. But it is not enough to get a team over the hump and on their way to becoming an elite team.
There will always be holes that need to be filled, no team is perfect, no team is without needs. As Mets fans we know this all too well. But to add quality major league talent costs money, and lots of it and this team is not willing to part with it. They have patterned themselves as a small-market team which means not only won’t they pay to bring in premium talent, but they won’t pay to keep it either.
When the Mets up-and-coming young stars reach their respective paydays they will find themselves being extended by other teams not ours. Look how things are playing out with Daniel Murphy? If the Mets intended to keep him don’t you think they would have extended him by now? The fact that they haven’t speaks volumes. They are simply unwilling to pay for premium talent and will therefore be in a permanent rebuilding mode.
One more thing. The Michael Cuddyer signing makes no baseball sense whatsoever. For one, he will be 36 next season. During the last four seasons (age 32-35 for him) he has only averaged slightly over 100 games played per year, including 49 games played last year. Is this a player you spend over $20 million on, and bestow a two-year contract to? Let me just say that I would have never thought to offer him anything more than an incentive laden one-year contract with a $5 million base. But what do I know? And we sacrificed a first round draft pick for this?
Why did they make this ill-advised offer? Desperation. The Mets are mired in a public relations nightmare with their fans and have been for the last seven years. And signing Cuddyer was not the first player they bought merely to quiet an unruly fan base. They’ve been doing it for decades. Remember Kevin Appier? They gave him a ridiculous contract for over $50 million just to shut up the fans. That turned into Mo Vaughn, another fiasco.
More recently, you remember the signings of Jason Bay? Moises Alou? Or more recently still, Curtis Granderson and Chris Young? They were all done so the team could avoid criticism that they were standing pat. This is a despicable practice for the Mets to employ as it is insulting to the fans and detrimental to building a winning team.
Unfortunately, like all teams the Mets have their share of fans that see things through rose-colored glasses. Or schmears of Vaseline. Or simply refuse to believe that their team’s owners have better things to do with the National MLB TV money and bloated SNY revenues than putting out a superior product. Whatever the reason for this glass-half-full belief system, it is not as they believe it is, evidence of being a Polly Perfect fan. It is simply enabling the team’s ownership to continue giving us an inferior product and maintaining the status quo. Organizations like this are always waiting for next year. Demand better.