By Joyce Mandelkern
The debate is raging on sports talk radio, in newspapers and blogs. It is raging in my mind and in my heart. Do we cave in and give in to the market and in this case to Scott Boras or do we sit tight and hold fast to what we have.
In truth I have been all over the place with the answer to this question. I am outraged by the contracts that have been given to mediocre talent, especially pitching, this offseason. I am outraged by owners such as Tom Hicks and general managers such as Jim Hendry who I believe are partly responsible for driving up the prices this winter. Much in the same way that I have always blamed George Steinbrenner for starting this whole out-of-control free agency mess to begin with (in terms of salaries).
Yet, I understand why they feel they had to do it. It wasn't too long ago that people were saying this about Omar when we signed Pedro and Carlos Beltran to what some considered outrageous contracts. Carlos seems like a bargain now doesn't he? I justified that by saying that we had to do that because no one wanted to play for us - we had to overpay to get them here and we needed players like that not only to give our team credibility but to attract other players of high caliber to want to play here. We had no choice. Especially given the fact that we compete in a market against/with a very high profile team that until now has exercised very little financial restraint.
Obviously, I don't have an answer as to whether or not to pull out all the stops to get Barry Zito. I admire Omar's restraint at the winter meetings and I trust him. I know we need starting pitching. I think it would be great to have Barry Zito in the starting rotation. However, I do not want the Mets to go overboard on a contract to get him. I know I am in the minority. I am concerned about going 6 or 7 years on a contract for lots and lots of money.
Last year we were one hit away from going to the World Series. We had a patchwork rotation for most of the year and the irony of the whole thing was that while we were all concerned that our pitching was going to doom us in the postseason it was our offense that did us in ultimately. We have young, unproven arms and a couple of old arms and our ace is Rick Peterson who seems to get the best out of everyone. Part of me just doesn't like being held at gunpoint by Scott Boras. Another part of me does not want the Mets to become the team that "buys" a team. I know I live in an idealistic baseball world that no longer exists but I just wish there was someway the Mets could help stop the cycle instead of perpetuating it. Wouldn't that be something?