A rose by any other name is still a rose, right? Conversely you could say the same thing about bullshit. No matter what you call it, it still stinks to high heaven. That became as apparent as the nose on your face on Tuesday afternoon, when Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon treated the team’s beat writers to a free lunch and, let’s face it – who doesn’t like a free lunch?
After months of taking significant heat for ducking the media and not making any public statements about payroll since 2014, Wilpon felt it was time to address the stinging sensation that was emanating from the nether regions of his posterior.
But if Wilpon thought this was going to be some sort of self fulfilling cleansing ritual or an attempt to deflect years of incoming fire, he was sadly mistaken. Oh I’m certain that he brought himself some good will from the usual suspects who were always too afraid or reluctant to blast Mets ownership publicly as I have for nearly as long as I’ve been running the site. But for the most part, steadfast fans that I spoke too weren’t ready to start guzzling the Kool-Aid just yet.
The stone cold truth about what took place yesterday is that Jeff Wilpon was simply marking his territory no differently than a lion spraying his urine all over the bushes and trees in his realm at dusk and again at dawn. In this particular case, Wilpon was simply scent marking the Mets beat instead of the landscaping outside of Citi Field. After all, what better way to try and change the message than by seducing the messengers with a delicious piece of grilled salmon and a light salad…
By the end of the lunch break our Twitter feeds were bursting full of choice nuggets of empty banter and hollow messages, enough to warm some of the cockles of your hearts on a cool and rainy January day. What a perfect prelude to the start of spring training in 19 days.
While I would love to expend 3-4 thousand words and take apart everything that was said by our not so trusty leader, my time is limited today, so I’m just gonna cut to the chase and dissect some of the more outlandish things that were asserted during that table side chat.
The Old Standby
“Looking at what is coming back and should be coming back, who were hurt last year, I think that’s tantamount to signing some free agents actually because we didn’t have them for most of the season last year,” Wilpon said.
“In the terms of Syndergaard, Matz, Harvey, on down, it’s a great number of innings that can be coming back and I think from what I hear from the baseball department and Mickey and Dave, those are quality innings that can be coming back.”
Believe it or not, this argument is tried and tested and can still suck fans into the gumbo. We’ve heard this as recently as last offseason and the one before that as well. Instead of actually acquiring a bona fide arm to bolster the rotation, just cross your fingers and pray that everyone returns healthy and it’ll work just the same but for a whole lot less. Just like it worked last offseason… Oh wait.
While I think it’s a safe bet that Noah Syndergaard will return to form, can you really bet the 2018 season that Matt Harvey (6.70 ERA), Zack Wheeler (5.21 ERA), and Steven Matz (6.08 ERA) will have big comeback seasons after foolishly relying on a similar strategy last year? And when it all blows up in your face what are you gonna do next Fall, fire the pitching coach and trainer all over again?
And when it becomes apparent that our broken wings haven’t healed or that Mickey and Dave’s magic didn’t work, are we going to give starts away to Gsellman (5.19 ERA), Montero (5.52 ERA) and Flexen (7.88 ERA) again? Or do we just pick up a Tommy Milone (8.56 ERA) off the dung heap? What could possibly go wrong?
I’m sorry, but any chance that Jeff or Sandy are serious about contending for a playoff spot flew out the window when they slathered that bunch of malarkey on us yesterday. If you want to contend this season, go out and get yourself an Alex Cobb, otherwise spare us the postseason hullabaloo.
Show Us An Urgency To Win
According to two reports, Sandy Alderson said there is a chance the team may not add any more players before spring training. That doesn’t mean we won’t bring on a couple of players on minor league deals or that we might have enough money to sign one more significant piece. But what an odd thing to say when we still have needs at second or third base, the starting rotation, and one more arm for the bullpen.
“We’re happy with where we are. We’re not sure where we’ll end up, but we’re not done looking, we’re not done investigating, we’re not done listening,” Alderson said.
With payroll currently sitting at $135 million, roughly $20 million less than last opening day, Jeff Wilpon tried to deflect the perception that they are unwilling to spend what it takes to build a winner.
“I understand the fan base’s frustration, and we have the same frustration. There’s nobody going out there trying to not win, and not putting the best person in the absolute best position to win.”
Well Jeff, actually what some of us are saying is that nobody is going out there trying to win. Instead we do just enough to contend, and if by some stroke of luck we are still in it at the trade deadline, then we may or may not make a move to bolster the team and its chances. Why can’t we be more proactive about building a winner rather than reacting if by chance luck shines down on us?
With Nelson Doubleday there was always the sense that he was doing everything he could to fund a winner, and ever since you bamboozled the team away from him we just don’t get that same urgency from you.
“I’d rather look at what we can do in terms of wins and losses,” Wilpon said regarding payroll. “We were in the top five in payroll, and I don’t think that won us a World Series. We set out to make the playoffs. We’re trying to win the World Series, not trying to be in the top five.”
Nobody is asking you to be in the top five and nobody is saying to spend for spending’s sake. That’s a tired argument and one that has never held water. All we’re asking is to not spend like a low market team. And by the way, don’t insult my intelligence with that World Series line. Yes, spending in the top five doesn’t guarantee a title, but more than 80 percent of the time a top 10 payroll gets you into the playoffs and then anything can happen in a short series.
But to go back to my earlier argument, why not invest in a player like Alex Cobb to solidify our chances of making the playoffs? Rather than relying on the unlikely event that 60 percent of our starting rotation is going to come back better than ever? This isn’t a move that will break the bank. And again, that’s just one example.
Look, I don’t hate you. I just hate how you run the team. I hate how you raised ticket prices after a 92 loss season but then you’re looking to cut payroll as well. Why should we pay more for less? When is that ever okay? Mets fans are optimistic by nature, but some of the things you do suck all the optimism out of us. You leave us angry, perplexed, and flat out frustrated.
You say you care. You say you want to win a World Series. You say you feel our pain. I don’t believe you, mostly because your actions say differently. That’s why me and tens of thousands other Mets fans believe we would be better off with new owners. Sell the Team.