Mets fans hoping for a shiny new present this holiday season were left sorely disappointed. Instead we were gift wrapped Alejandra De Aza, the equivalent of getting a pair of wool socks as a present – you’ll use them occasionally and might even be glad you have them at some point, but you’re extremely underwhelmed when you see what’s in the box.
The signing of De Aza seems to have ended the Mets’ pursuit of a big hitter, if such a pursuit ever even existed. Throw in the acquisitions of infielders Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the re-signing of 42-year old Bartolo Colon and Jerry Blevins for the bullpen, and you have an unexciting offseason that has re-ignited the ire of some Mets fans who were celebrating a National League pennant less than two months ago.
Most of the fans’ anger and frustration is directed towards the team’s owners, and rightfully so. The Wilpons won the lottery in the form of a great, dirt-cheap starting rotation, an unexpected World Series run and Michael Cuddyer’s sudden retirement halfway into his contract. Yet they still refuse to spend remotely like a team in the sport’s biggest market.
Howard Megdal recently reported that Fred Wilpon and co-owner Saul Katz are using team revenue to pay off their Madoff-incurred debt, which is a slap in the face to the fans that have supported this team through the (mostly bad) years. The Wilpons’ stinginess made re-signing Yoenis Cespedes or adding any other big time free agents impossible, unless any of them decided they’d rather play for free Shake Shack burgers than millions of dollars.
Still, Mets fans need to step back down from the ledge. I hate how the Wilpons operate as much as anyone, but once the rage subsides you’ll notice that this team should still be very good in 2016.
As of December 28, post-De Aza, the Mets had the fourth best World Series odds according to Odds Shark, one spot ahead of the defending champion Kansas City Royals. And chances are Sandy Alderson is not done with the roster, even if he only adds another reliever or bench player.
Yes, I would have loved to see Cespedes, or even Ben Zobrist or Denard Span, in the lineup next season. But while Walker and Cabrera were not sexy additions, they are both solid baseball players whose ability to switch hit should help balance the lineup. Walker may not replace Daniel Murphy in our hearts, but he is a good hitter with decent power and is an upgrade over Murphy at second base. Although Cabrera has declined at the plate, he is still similar to Flores offensively and, despite rating below average on defense, is still much more reliable than the shaky Flores at shortstop.
Those two join a starting lineup that may lack a major threat but should be good enough to put up runs and prevent the offensive abyss that almost doomed the Mets last summer.
Granted, there are some questions marks, particularly the health of David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud, and the inconsistency of Lucas Duda and Juan Lagares, but what team doesn’t have those same issues or concerns?
Plus with Flores and De Aza, who actually hits righty pitching well, on the bench, the roster has the depth to fill injuries and glaring holes. I won’t even get into the starting pitching, which is so good that it can carry any offense that isn’t being anchored by Eric Campbell and John Mayberry, Jr.
So be as mad as you want at the Wilpons; they deserve it. Make your signs, construct your billboards, and fly your banners. But don’t be so down on the 2016 Mets. On paper they are still a very good team and the class of the division, and paper is all that matters in January. This is still a solid team with an excellent chance that they will meet or exceed their tremendous potential