Despite the Mets lack of big offseason signings, the departure of Jose Reyes and the news that the payroll is being regulated strongly for the first time in years brings most Mets fans into a dark, dreadful place. Talks about boycotting Citi Field, putting an inferior product on the field and expecting the fans to pay and even the latest media-slam against writer of “Wilpon’s Folly” Howard Megdal have given Mets lovers less to love.
You know what though? Maybe how the team is being constructed and trotted out onto the field isn’t so horrible after all. A few points I plan to make all revolve around things that have not been common in recent Mets’ campaigns, and could show a large ideological change for both the players, management and fans.
1. No Big Signings, Room For Player Development
As with most big-market teams, when positions open up in the bullpen or in the starting lineup, the first way it is attempted to be filled is by the free agent market. The only time that doesn’t seem to occur is if a team is sitting on a can’t-miss prospect – which at the moment the Mets do not possess. However players like Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole, Dillon Gee and Daniel Murphy will be given every chance they can to prove they are valuable MLB players. To a lesser extent, prospects like Zach Lutz, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Robert Carson and Matt Harvey may have a shot at playing for the 2012 Mets at some point. The Mets have logjammed some prospects in their system due to contractual obligations in the past, but this season offers a chance for fans to see the potential future of the Mets
2. No Player Drama
Regardless of the “David Wright Saga” people are trying to create since it is this year and then an option year left on his contract, it isn’t a concern. David has said he wants to play in New York, and regardless of his streaky play has been nothing but positive and the face of the Mets. Last year began with Castillo/Perez still being on the team and being grossly overpaid, hogging up roster spots. Beltran, Reyes and K.Rod were on the hot-seat, due to expiring contracts, bad blood between the team and the players and albatross contracts. This year seems to offer none of the chaos that the 2011 season gave to Mets fans.
3. Another Year of Terry Collins
After being given a team in flux, being built by a previous GM and geared towards Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins came in with an entirely different attitude. Terry Collins was passionate, dealt with the fact he was going to have to part with K.Rod and Beltran before the deadline, and dealt with major injuries to his three star players, and then Daniel Murphy. The players seem to love and rally behind Collins, and how he manages the bench shows he has a better feel for managing then his predecessor. He defends his players the same way he defends his own logic for plays, and never leaves someone else holding the bucket for his decisions.
4. It’s Baseball
I am not what you would call a fair-weather fan of any of the teams I support. I will be a Mets fan if they go 0-162. I am a fan of any kind of baseball, whether it be good baseball, bad baseball, winning baseball or losing baseball. Its still a game, and the slowest 5 months are in between the World Series and Opening Day personally. While everyone predicts teams to win X amount of games for Y factors, it always goes back to the saying that the game isn’t played on paper, its played on the field. The NL has lost major offensive players to the AL and everything is up for grabs. The Phillies are a few injuries away from not being the juggernaut in the NL East. Nobody will know how good the Mets are, until they get on the field and show what they can bring on a day-by-day basis.
So look on the bright side, the Mets will be playing baseball again and trying to give new hope and really make us believe. So what if the believing just starts as the fans believing that the Mets are going in the right direction as a franchise. Its a start, isn’t it?