With Saturday’s loss, the Mets have clinched themselves a protected draft pick. However, it is starting to seem like this will be irrelevant. Reports on Friday indicated that the Mets do not plan on pursuing any of the top free agents, with the possible exception of Shin-Soo Choo, who will likely cost more than what the Mets seem ready to offer.
The Mets were horrible this season, so you don’t need anything but common sense to see that unless things improve significantly, they will be horrible next season as well. But does the Mets’ Front Office have the common sense or wherewithal to stand and deliver? If they do, I would like to see it.
Year after year I have watched this team put up with increasingly unbearable won-loss records while misleading their fans through the media to create an artificial sense of hope, asking us to ignore the crippling nature of their financial problems, and expecting improved results from a “plan” that I don’t believe exists. This was apparent yesterday, when news broke that the Mets plan on giving Terry Collins a contract extension despite the fact that the team’s record has gotten worse during each year of his tenure. It was apparent Friday, when news broke that the Mets do not plan to sign any free agents who would cost them a draft pick— even if their draft pick is protected. It has been apparent since 2009, when the Mets began a string of five straight seasons with fewer than 80 wins— a streak that will carry into and ever-more-possibly through 2014.
There is a reason why a team that won without spending money got a best-selling book and a movie starring Brad Pitt made about them: because it was such a rare occurrence. There is a reason why nobody bats an eye when the Yankees win one of their 27 championships, but everybody goes nuts when the Marlins make big offseason splashes and then finish last: because the teams that spend usually win. Big payrolls do not guarantee wins. Small payrolls do not guarantee losses. But I’d much rather take my chances with Prince Fielder than Brandon Nimmo, and if the Wilpons don’t figure out that most of the other passionate fans who have begun to stay away from Citi Field feel the same way, their revenue will continue to shrink.
In short, the Mets need a change. Bringing in guys like Collin Cowgill and then talking about their “advanced stats” does not constitute change. When you are losing, the only thing that constitutes “change” is winning. To win, you need a good rotation, reliable relievers, tight defense, a lights-out closer, and a mix of consistent contact hitters and dangerous power hitters. You also need health and depth.
If the Mets plan on 2014 being “the year”, they need to make major moves. The team needs to be open to overpay for certain players if that’s what it takes. They also need to be willing to be flexible enough to do what it takes to land star hitters on the trade market. Good players will not fall into their lap. The Mets have to go and get them, or else they can watch the team continue to lose games, attendance and relevancy year after year.
David Wright will be on the team next year. So will Matt Harvey, although he might not throw a pitch all season. Bobby Bonilla will also be on the payroll, and Terry Collins will again be in the dugout, for better or worse. Everybody else is a candidate to be traded or heading to free agency, so take a good long look at everyone you see on the field Sunday, because, if the front office is finally being sincere when they talk about “change”, it might be— it better be— the last time you ever see players like Omar Quintanilla in a Mets uniform.
But I won’t throw out my Mike Baxter jersey just yet, because the team has yet to give me a reason to believe more players like Baxter won’t be in the starting lineup next April.
Hopefully, underperforming players who don’t belong will be shown the door, and players who do (such as Murphy, Wheeler, d’Arnaud, Niese, and a few others) will be retained. But Alderson & Co. should consider nearly anybody as trade bait if a team with a star caliber performer comes calling. If the Mets want to let Robinson Cano steal $300 million from another team, that’s fine, but they had better invest in several mid-tier free agents to make up for it. We need to have power in the lineup, we need to have guys ready to step in when injuries occur, and we need to have enough depth. The market isn’t ideal, but the answers are there if the Mets are willing to look for them.
The Mets’ season ends today. I have enjoyed writing game recaps for you guys since I joined MMO during the second half, and I look forward to writing articles during the offseason. No matter how frustrating this team can be, I will never desert the Mets and I appreciate all of you who feel the same way. Hopefully we will be seeing more guys like Carlos Gonzalez and fewer guys like Rick Ankiel wearing the Orange & Blue soon. Very soon. But for the meantime, at least we don’t have to worry about bandwagoners.
Let’s Go Mets!