By Mike Steffanos
I had an email this morning asking me if, after my extended layoff from blogging, I was going to weigh in on all of the blathering that WFAN's Mike Francesa has been doing about the Mets this off-season.
I have to admit that I haven't listened to Francesa -- with or without his partner -- for a long, long time. I used to listen a lot, as I work out of my home and there are often times that I am plugging away on something to which I don't need to give my full attention.
Then one day I spent the better part of a two hours listening to the fat one bloviate endlessly on the shortcomings of David Wright and Jose Reyes. I'm not a hero worshipper and I understood very well some of the shortcomings of these two kids. The stuff that Francesa was talking about -- obviously working to antagonize Mets fans -- wasn't even real. I won't go into details, as anyone who has listened to him at all is familiar with the shtick.
I realized that I was in the same place with Mike and the Mad Dog that I had reached with cocaine years before. I had some great times partying in the eighties, but I realized after a few years that I was spending a good amount of time (not to mention money) chasing memories of some great times that had become mostly a distant memory.
It got to a point where I every night of indulgence became dull and predictable rather than exciting. In its own way, listening to Francesa and his partner was equally predictable and unsatisfying. So, as I did with cocaine, I weaned myself away from an unpleasant addiction.
Of course, I am aware of the things Francesa has been saying thanks to friends who still listen and some of my fellow bloggers.
I guess Mike Francesa is scrambling now without his partner around to stir things up. One thing Francesa has always been able to do is get Mets fans fired up with outrageous assertions about their key ballplayers. I'm not surprised that he elected to play that card, particularly in a year when some fans are wondering if the team needs to make wholesale changes.
Look, I think there needs to be changes to this team after two years of failing to seize their opportunities. On the other hand, if you trade away a Wright, Reyes and Beltran, you have to replace them. The idea that you can just shuffle the deck and automatically come out ahead is not a guiding principle in building winning clubs.
Along with some bad luck the past couple of seasons, the Mets have also come up short in the supporting cast they've placed around their core. The bullpen woes are well known, as is an overdependence on older players.
As is our blogger's duty, we will be contributing our two cents to what we think the Mets should do this off-season. At least in my mind that will not include shuffling the deck for the sake of doing it.
Outside of who they pick up for closer, I'd like to see the Mets get a big arm for their bullpen. For two years that lacked a guy that can come in and strike out the side.
I have no problem with Marlon Anderson returning if he is fully healthy, and I heartily agree with bringing back Fernando Tatis. That's the start of a solid bench, along with Endy Chavez. I'd love to see them have one guy off the bench who is a real long ball threat, however.
It looks like the Mets aren't intent on bringing back Pedro, and who knows what Oliver Perez really wants to do. If it comes down to replacing two starters, I wish they'd get over their stubbornness about Aaron Heilman. It seems to me the choices with him are to change his role or trade him, and his trade value is do diminished I can't see doing that unless the brain trust really believes he can't come back as an effective pitcher. I always hate selling low on a guy.
Finally, if I was the GM I would settle any Ryan Church "controversy" this way: I'd call him up and ask him if he wanted to be here next year. If he said "yes", that end said controversy in my mind. Since, by all counts, that is what Church wants, that's good enough for me. If it's not good enough for Francesa, that's just too bad.