Wednesday, March 07, 2012

N.Y. Mets ~ The High Road is a Dead End

From the desk of:   HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

NEW YORK METS:  It's Amazin that...



Isn't it funny how the game itself, and a win, can make everything go away, even if for only three hours at a time?  Because let's face it, the best thing to happen to the Mets so far this year was Johan Santana's two innings and twenty-nine pitches, as Tuesday marked his first time back on a mound and facing live batters again since September of the 2010 season.

Instead of embracing more celebratory matters like the 50th Anniversary season of the Metropolitans, far too many things have gone sadly, badly, wrongly and awry for the Mets already.

We recently lost our first member of the 1986 championship Mets.  Sadly, Gary Carter has departed us.  And the Club will fittingly wear a patch on their uniform sleeve in honor of a great All-Time Met.  I'm sure his former team mates in the booth will have many memories they will share with us over the course of this upcoming season.  And it will be with heavy hearts that we'll spend a summer remembering Kid.

But at the same time, it's nice to have several of those '86 players still involved with the club.  Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, and his multi-colored scorecards are back for another season.  Wally Backman will be in Buffalo and Tim Teufel has been promoted to the big club's third base box after paying his dues in Brooklyn; Savannah; and Binghampton.  For another Met hero of 1986 however, things could be going better for Lenny Dykstra.  Nails is going to jail for a myriad of offenses; real degenerate offenses may I add.  What happened to him?  Even though his actions and resulting consequences are far away from, and unrelated to the Mets today, the news of his fall still adds to the sense of gloom around the Mets; if only because the news about Lenny is untimely.

So while it is indeed a new Spring, that darned black cloud is still hanging over the Club.  The Wilpons' money woes continue to dominate every aspect of the Club.  Slashing the payroll by $50 million dollars has left the Empire City's National League's fan base customary champagne tastes with nothing more than beer money to quench their thirsts for quality baseball.  And IF, the jury sides against the Wilpons later this month, Citi Field will be B.Y.O.B.

This Spring has also taught us that the Mets' continuing Medical Malaise is never far behind.  The malaise is more about us, the fans, being punch-drunk with ongoing medical misfortunes and misdiagnoses.  And upon hearing about Wright and Davis, although relatively healthy and their status way over-blown by the Media, the news was still met by most with a roll of the eyes.  By the way, did Ike Davis look good to you running to first base Tuesday?  Is that overkill?

Okay, let's see what happens when we try to take the high road for a second.  Tuesday was a glimpse into the future, and a blast from the past.  We saw a little bit of Brandon Nimmo.  It was nice to see former Brooklyn Cyclone Darryl Ceciliani on the field.  And we had some Quality Familia Time.  That grand slam Familia gave up was strictly a Terry Collins Spring Training creation.  So no concerns there.  But best of all, we saw the return of Johan Santana to live game action.  It was only two innings and 29 pitches.  But it was a start.  And it was a good start.  I don't want him ready by Opening Day.  I just want him well.

....Well enough to trade that is.  As you see, my "high road" is a dead-end.  Do you think the Mets; Wilpon; Alderson; really want Johan Santana on the books?  There's precedent to trade him you know; many even.  Remember all that money the Colorado Rockies swallowed to get out of Mike Hampton's contract?  Or all that money the then soon to be bankrupt Texas Rangers committed to Alex Rodriguez' departure.  Trading Johan Santana and eating a portion, even a substantial portion of his contract, will still save the Mets (make that Fred Wilpon) many millions of dollars.  And the fact is, that's what the owner is all about right now.  If you take Fred Wilpon and Sandy Alderson on their word and/or at face value, they have both clearly stated they want nothing to do with onerous six and seven year contracts.  So that means Johan Santana, and that means David Wright as well.  I'd throw Jason Bay in there, but no one wants him.

In David Wright's situation, what are we going to do - sign him; trade him; or just let him walk away like we did with Jose Reyes?  Sandy Alderson and the Mets never made Jose Reyes a qualitative offer.  And when you consider the $20 million dollar shares recently sold by the club to raise operating capital, and a judge's recent decision to at least make the possibility real that $83 million dollars could be debited from the company coffers, Wilpon's original intent to raise cash has not only been offset a tad, but has been considerably compromised already.  At least that's my opinion.  But to suggest the Mets will commit long term to David Wright, perhaps in the manner in which the Nationals committed to Ryan Zimmerman; or maybe even at a higher rate, doesn't fit into the budget, nor the grand scheme of things, now does it?

I (love) loved David Wright at hello; back to when he was a new call-up at the tail end of the 2004 season.  I am as big a fan of his as you, or anyone else. We are equals in that respect.  But I am a life long Met fan first and foremost.  And the sensible part of me says explore the smartest deal and trade David Wright.  Ditto goes for Johan Santana.  Albeit, Johan's situation is considerably more difficult because of his contract.  This is what I believe is in the best interest of the team.  Again, that's just my opinion.

The Mets have tip-toed around the word rebuilding at all costs; no Wil-PUN intended.  And no, I do not think they have gone far enough towards that effort.  Sure there are many new young faces that have come to populate the Mets clubhouse.  And I like it.  But the players purged from the roster last season were let go without garnering a return.  Regardless, like other moves they made, ridding the team of Ollie and Castillo were necessary at any cost.  But part of any smart rebuilding plan is to trade assets for what you hope is a good package of future hopefuls.  If some; not all; pan out, success will come in both quality and quantity.

The Mets most definitely dropped the ball with Reyes.  And more cynically, they dabbled the proverbial carrot on a stick to entice fans to go out to the ballpark and root-on Jose Reyes while he chased a batting title.  Met fans won't be duped again.  And I didn't appreciate it last season - not at these prices.  But hear me Mr. Wilpon, I will pay to see these young players grow up, as will many of us fans.  Just stop playing us for fools with money hoping we'll bail you out at the gate.

That said, I'd like very much for the Mets to continue and finish this rebuilding, and continue purging remnants of the prior era.  When the time comes to start moving on as an organization, I believe in making clean breaks.  The time has come (for me specifically, the time is LONG over-due) to turn this team over to the new blood.  They must learn to play together and form their own nucleus.  They shouldn't be made to follow David Wright, or Johan Santana.  So as far as I'm concerned, the Mets still have moves to make.

David Wright is not Keith Hernandez.  There!  I said it.  And this rebuilding does not coincide with the continuing rebuilding efforts of 1983, when we traded for the Cardinal first baseman in order to lead a bunch of vastly more talented kids.  Keith Hernandez won an MVP and a championship prior to coming to New York.  David Wright overly celebrated a N.L. East title in 2006.  My point?  Many are thinking the now seasoned veteran, David Wright, can be the Hernandez of this era if the Mets can just resign him.  I would rather take my chances on a quality return for his value, while he still has some before free-agency.

Otherwise, Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole, Daniel Murphy; and Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Mike Pelfrey, and Bobby Parnell are all welcome faces to me.  They are all very familiar to us at this point.  And now with another season of experience under their belts, I do have reasonable expectations for them moving forward.  I am indeed expecting progression on their parts.

I will also spend another season patiently awaiting the arrival of some more of Omar Minaya's draft picks he made before leaving.  I am looking forward to a day guys like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jonathan Malo, Reese Havens, Dylan Owen, Henrry Mejia, Wilmer Flores, Darryl Ceciliani, Cory Vaughn, and some others make it to Flushing.  By then, Sandy Alderson, Paul DiPodesta, and J.P. Ricciardi should have a steady stream of minor league prospects flowing through the system.  Already, there's much anticipation for guys like Brandon Nimmo, Zach Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia.  There are other promising kids not mentioned as well.  So, I am happy about the direction we are taking.  But like I said, I feel we should do more to affect a complete turn-over.  I'm OK with what the Mets will be putting on the field this season in terms of the young players.  And I'm even more optimistic about the future.

It's just a damn shame, so much more hangs over this organization's head than just who will be on the field.  There's real problems, imagined problems, and perceptual problems that still dominate this team's outlook.  If I can keep my attention on the field, I'd be OK with that.  But the Wilpons make that virtually impossible right now.  This house is still not in order.  And the Wilpons need to be reminded of our discontent on a daily basis.

It's a good thing Hope Springs Eternal.  Right?

Let's Go Mets!


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