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Hey Mets: Think Different, Be Different

Mike SteffanosTuesday, November 8, 2005
By Mike Steffanos


A continuation of my previous posting on the possibility of Manny Ramirez coming to the Mets.

I wouldn't be totally against this if the Mets were in a position to absolutely steal Manny from the Red Sox for second-tier talent, i.e. a salary dump situation. I wouldn't be absolutely against trading top prospects if the Red Sox were willing to take on a substantial chunk of Manny's salary. What really bothers me the most about this thing is that it appears that the Mets are going to do the Red Sox the favor of taking on Manny's bloated contract and give the Red Sox their top prospect and more in return.

I know that those of you out there that are in favor of this move would tell me that Lastings Milledge is only a prospect. Well, every player in baseball was a "prospect" at one time. David Wright was a prospect just a little more than a year-and-a-half ago. I'm sure many out there would have been glad to move Wright in a package for Manny 2 years ago, but how many of you would make that trade today? Wright is going to be a star in this league for years after Manny is gone.

I will concede that the argument that "you have to give up something to get something" is valid. I will give you that Manny will be a huge shot in the arm to this Mets lineup for a year or two. I will grant that Lastings Milledge could very well be mediocre or even a bust as a major-leaguer. But I'm just plain tired of the fact that the Mets always seem to be pushed into high-risk deals as a shortcut to being a contender. I've watched stuff like this for 15 years now.

You can make the argument to me that the Mets have no history of developing their own stars. You can throw "Generation K" in my face, along with other names like David West or Alex Ochoa; players loudly touted as potential stars that ultimately fell flat. I can counter with names like Bobby Bonilla, George Foster, Mo Vaughan and Vince Coleman.

My point is the Mets have put no real priority on a consistent basis into developing their own stars. Because of that, they are forced to pay through the nose -- either through trades or inflated free-agent contracts -- for players that other teams with more vision have produced. My question is simple: is it possible for the New York Mets to develop their own stars if they make a commitment to doing business in this way? I mean really make a commitment -- not just for a year or two, but a true ongoing organizational effort. Start now.

Is it possible that over the long term this would make for a healthier team with more payroll flexibility that can compete year in and year out for a title? I think the Braves have already answered that one -- and the advantage the Mets have if they pursue this method of doing business is that, unlike Atlanta, they would have enough money to keep their players once they develop them. Players with big contracts on the Mets can be players that have already proven that they can produce in New York. What a concept!

Frankly, I just think the money that you would have to lock into one player to get Manny on the Mets could be spread out to solve several needs. In my opinion, this would make it more likely that the team would be a more legitimate contender for next season and beyond. Is this just crazy, or does it make sense? Think about it, you don't have to worry about running into a situation 2 or 3 years down the road where you can't afford to address a need because you have no salary flexibility.

If Manny comes to the Mets I will root for him and hope that I am wrong about everything. I hope he plays so well for the length of his contract that it makes me look foolish for not embracing this deal. I'm a Mets fan, after all, and I want them to do well more than I need to be right.

Just consider this: since the collapse of the mid-'80s championship team, the Mets have been consistently chasing the quick fix, the big name, the shortcut to success. All too often this has backfired. We have had high payrolls and precious little to show for it. It hasn't worked. Let's try a new approach. Pass on Manny Ramirez.


You can't make this up
Now apparently Manny's agent is saying again that Manny doesn't want to come to the Mets. This is really silly. Stay tuned for the next episode of this annoying soap opera.

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