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A Deep Breath Is In Order

Dave MillsFriday, July 24, 2009
By Dave Mills

A well-penned article by Ken Belson, with assists from Ben Shpigel and Tyler Kepner, in today's NY Times is must reading for all Mets fans. It is aptly entitled: "A Disquieting Silence Envelops the Floundering Mets."

Things are not going well for the Mets and especially for the Wilpons.

Lets try to elaborate on the NY Times article and add some further doses of reality to the proceedings.

By some reports, the Wilpons, Saul Katz and the various Sterling enterprises may have lost as much as $700 million dollars to Bernie Madoff. This is not chump change. The significance of such a losses, especially when combined with various other losses most individuals and businesses have sustained during the past 10 months, is profound indeed. Remember, Sterling Mets, and other entities, have taken on enormous debt during the past three years, mostly associated with building Citi Field and payroll issues that go far beyond the third highest payroll in MLB.

The Mets are in no position to take on huge contracts. They are also not in much of a position to make deals, since they are fully exposed and not sure of whether they are buyers or sellers.

Even more on-point, the Mets are not in a position that allows them to be honest with their fan base, who will likely go running from Citi Field in droves upon the towel being thrown in. This affects Mets sponsors for radio and television broadcasts, as well as those who pay to advertise in the confines of Citi Field.

Omar Minaya has a very tough situation on his hands. He cannot be honest about much of anything and the scrutiny in NY is relentless.

No general manger could have planned for the disabling injuries that have plagued the Mets this season. And there appears to be no letup in sight as Alex Cora and Gary Sheffield could easily be added to the DL this week. He did a terrific job in ferreting out and acquiring inexpensive complimentary pieces like Sheffield, Cora, Fernando Nieve, Pat Misch and others. He stockpiled arms (Hernandez, Redding, Nieve, Misch, Figueroa, Dessens) and outfielders (Pagan, Reed, Tatis, Sullivan, Kielty and others). The key word here is "complimentary." None of these role players were supposed to be anything other than once or twice a week fill-ins and limited time players. In fact, going into spring training, there was no reason to believe that Hernandez, Redding and Figueroa were contending for anything other than to be the 5th starter or long man in the pen.

The minor league system does have some quality talent, very few of whom are ready for The Show right now. However, much of the talent may well be worth holding on to. In addition to Bobby Parnell, Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans (all of whom need some more seasoning), there is Fernando Martinez (now injured), Jon Niese (best pitcher in the minors since early June), Josh Thole, Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia, Brad Holt, Edgar Ramirez, Alonzo Harris, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee, Lucas Duda and Reese Havens, among others. Virtually every one of these young players are coveted by other organizations. To say the Mets farm system is depleted is absolutely incorrect. There is a huge difference between depleted and not yet ready for prime time.

While Roy Halladay may well be the best right-hander in the game and the perfect compliment to Johan Santana, no GM could give away too much talent for a pitcher who will command a Santana-like contract at the conclusion of 2010, or be on his way to another employer.

Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that a few of the Met injured will return to action for the final 50 games or so. We will likely see Maine, Putz, Wagner, Reyes and Delgado back in the fold. Beltran and Nieve are looking like long-shots at this point.

Ed Ryan at Mets Fever astutely points out that Ryan Garko could be available from the Tribe. Interesting grab if it could be made and right up the Mets' alley in terms of pieces and price. Ryan also correctly points out that Garko could platoon with Delgado through the balance of the season. A Garko platoon with Murphy or Duda could also prove interesting (and inexpensive) in 2010. Of course that would mean the Mets would need a power lefty bat in LF and Angel Pagan would become a very important 4th outfielder.

To this observer, the roster dilemmas pale in comparison to the staggering Mets financial losses that have already been sustained and are to come. Once the paying fans (those with season's tickets) realize the Mets are truly out of the races, which they are not as of yet, there will be a period of blowing off steam and a more complete understanding of "loss." You see, tens of thousands of season's ticket holders purchased tickets with the intent to sell many off to recoup the investment. Clearly, this is what is going on throughout dozens of ticket-selling websites. I will have more on this in the next installment, which analyzes Citi Field.

Two things would be best for the Mets right now. The first is unlikely to happen -- the Wilpons sell to anyone other than Donald Trump. The second will be the best for the team -- become quasi sellers and rid themselves of veterans like Hernandez, Redding, Sheffield, Tatis, Dessens and perhaps Putz, all of whom can help contenders in various limited roles. A few "B" prospects may come back in return. If they can pick up a Garko or Adam Dunn or a Cliff Lee for some prospects, so be it. Having four lefties (Santana, Lee, Perez, Niese) in the rotation with a Mike Pelfrey or John Maine in the middle may be just what the doctor ordered in a division with the Phillies (Utley, Howard and Ibanez).

Could the Mets acquire Garko, Lee and Dunn with a package of Murphy, Evans, Maine and two or three other prospects? Probably, but can the Mets take on the salaries? With Delgado and a few others coming off the books, these could be the types of deals Minaya will have to make. I would like to see Thole, F-Mart, Flores, Niese, Meija and Ramirez stay in the system.

Omar needs to promptly get rid of distractions like Tony Bernazard and send a message that bad behavior will not be tolerated, but Bernazard is not the real problem.

For real Mets fans, it's time to take a deep breath and show some sensitivity for the unfortunate situation at hand. Booing will not help these guys develop. The injuries were a terrible stroke of bad luck. Lets hope we can witness the blossoming of talent during the last third of the season. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jeff Francouer, Angel Pagan, Daniel Murphy, Omir Santos, Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, John Maine, Fernando Nieve, Bobby Parnell and Frankie Rodriguez are all 28 years-of-age or less. It is time to suck it up and cheer for some cream to rise to the top when given the opportunity. The Mets will certainly have a different look in 2010, but a dominant team may have to wait until 2011 or beyond. And that's the way it is!

About Dave: Dave Mills, born in Kew Gardens, Queens, the day after Willie Mays' circus catch in the 1954 World Series, is a devout Met fan since 1962. The first game he attended was Mets v. Reds at the Polo Grounds on September 14, 1962. With the game tied 9-9 in the 9th, Choo Choo ("Bub") Coleman hit a game-winning walkoff HR down the rightfield line on to the tin roof. The sound is indelibly etched in his memory! Dave lives on Oahu, where he markets and writes about golf. His company, HawaiiGolfDeals.com is the leading deliverer of golfers to the Aloha State. His take on Golf in Australia is in the Oct/Nov issue of Fairways & Greens Magazine.

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Comments (16)

Could Lee and Adrian Gonzales be acquired- Delgado needs replacing for next year unless we want to start the season wi a 38 year old at 1B. Maine, Perez(eat some $$), Parnell, a catcher, Castillo(eat some $$), some other minr leaguers?? I like Murphy, but dont see him as a star at any point. If I could type better I would say more..

This is a response to Dave Mills blog. I have to say that it is well written and really puts things in perspective. I, as well as many other Mets fans do react with much emotion because we are frustrated and exasperated. In one way I feel sorry for all people that were ripped off by Madoff butI would have preferred that the Wilpons had taken that 700 million and invested it in this team. I don't feel that there is a direction, a philosopy, or a vision with this organization. Who is really running the show? I don't think anyone knows.
I realize that being a GM is a very difficult job and there are many factors and issues that fans are not privy to but the very bottom line is results. As long as baseball is a business that has to be the bottom line. If an investor buys all blue chip stocks and they flop that's the bottom line. If a GM signs all all stars and they don't win, that's the bottom line. There is no magic formula except the end result should be a winning team, ie. a competitive team. If the Mets didn't blow two seasons in a row I think fans would be more understanding of the injuries. But look at how the injuries have been handled - not well to say the least. If the front office had been open and honest with the fans, had shown a direction, a plan, a vision I truly believe we, as loyal fans, would be more understanding. Look at how the Willie Randolph situation was handled. Whether or not one liked how he managed he was simply not trated right in the way he was fired. All of these things a re indicative of the utter turmoil and confusion demonstrated by this organization. Remember everything comes from the top down and I agree that the Wilpons should sell this team or at the very least have a CHAIN of command of experienced and visionary baseball people that know what they're doing.

Have to agree with Hess, this has been a colossal mess from the head down. I guess indicators in the off season were there when they did not sign Lowe and took the "cheaper" Perez, did not want to eat Castillo's contract and sign Hudson. Did nothing to boost the offense. So maybe Madoff did do major damage to their finances. So now I should blame Bernie Madoff for the Mets horrible season (lol). Wilpon just sell the team, you have made things worse since Doubleday left. Go Mets 2009!

Great article with some really good points. There will always be those out there that whether the team is doing good or bad will always have something to complain about and this situation, much of it out of control of Mets, just give them fodder to suggest trades and the always present, Fire so and so, like that will resolve the problem. I want to look at what's left of this season as a cup half full waiting for Jose to return followed by Delgado and maybe Beltran. Lets Go Mets!

For me this year, I am sad, as if the whole team was in a airplane crash, and they just had to find almost anybody to put on the field in their place. It will take time to recover from such a bad happening like that, first it would be a shock that nobody seen coming and then just trying to get over it and move on with what you have left.Hope for the best and get it behind you.Seeking support from friends and family would help. It will get better, little by little. We just have to give it some time.

Dave - Excellent points re: the mischaracterization of the Mets' farm system as depleted. They're ranked near the middle of the pack by most folks who follow the minor league universe. Holt, Havens, and Thole in particular are the brightest of the gems they should not let go under any circumstances.

Silly me. When the Mets drafted Havens, I thought out loud, "Don't we have a pretty good shortstop?" 20/20 hindsight indeed.

the wilpons got madoffed..and than the wilpons madoffed the fans with the outrageous ripoff ticket prices.if the mets continue to lose and fans don't show up for the rest of the year, maybe the wilpons will think of selling the team (though i doubt it).fred appears senile and jeff is an idiot.i went to yankee stadium for a game a few weeks ago and everywhere u turn, it reeks of yankee history and yankee colors.u go to citifield and it's like attending a road game.i won't even mention jeff wilpons idiotic outfield fences design.as mr. hess and mr. mills point out, in the front office, the lights are on, but nobody is home.the only good thing to come out of 2009 would be if the wilpons sell the team.

You know, if the author of this article is indeed correct, we should become major sellers. I mean get rid of everyone! I know this wouldn't be popular but would we be any better off with these guys? Reyes, if or when he returns, would get a healthy reyurn. Cora is doing just fine and we don't expect to be competitive for a couple more years anyhow. You know with the starting pitching the way it is, try to get as much as we can for Santana. Hey, you never know. Teams like the Redsox have great inexpensive prospects and that would really frost the Yanks! What do you guys think they could get for Beltran? Something I would hope. Pagan on some days, does a very adequate job. Castillo is batting 300, anyone need a second baseman? If we are not going to contend for a few years we might as well start over. The Marlins have proved that this can be done but you better have your head on your shoulder if you decide to go this route.

Dagget, do you really, really, really want to get rid of Johan, Reyes, Beltran, KRod, and Wright? Really?

I mean, blow the team up because they're horribly injured- and were playing pretty good UNTIL their injuries hit?

Need I remind everyone that the Mets problems the past few years were their bullpen? And not their lineup or really, their starting rotation?

Sure, I want to improve the Mets, but I don't think ripping the team apart is the right answer. Guys like Wright, Reyes, and Beltran don't come along often.

If you really want to see what the Mets would look like if they did this, check out the Islanders from 1994-2001. Do you really want that?

Jason, Good point! I really do not want to part with most of them either. I look at it this way, we need more support and have not, and are not getting it from the front office. The ownership is making this perfectly clear. Omar is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He has been directed to lie to us fans by saying they will increase payroll if it makes sense. That, my friend, is a total crock. The Wilpons will not spend another nickel on this team until players come off the books. That means no help with the offense for the second straight year at the deadline. I do expect them to do some things this off season. Delgado, Putz, our wonderful catcher will be goners, no doubt. I expect them to hand Murphy the first base job. They have survived without an effective Putz for so long that they will not pick up the option. They will let Schnieder go to. That one is cost savings and really won't affect us because the way he performs, we can pick up almost anyone to fill that hole. What you need to beware of is what they do with the left field situation. This will tell you if they intend on competing right away. My bet is they will tell the fans that F-Mart will be ready next year. I do not believe that he is ready for the majors this year or next for that matter. He is overwhelmed, period. Please do not think this kid is the second coming of Darryl. He is not that type of player. Look at his minor league stats. Until this year, i haven't seen anything that would suggest he is a power hitter. That is what we are going to need next year to compete. Delgado's home run production will be lost. All the front office will tell us is that they are giving the job to F-Mart and that he is ready to step up. They will try to fool us into the thought that they only needed a player for maybe one year and couldn't find one. We will need a power hitting left fielder for more than one year. So, if thats the case, I would rather strip this team and get a number of major league prospects and roll the dice. At least it would be easier to go through growing pains than be misled. That is what is happening to us now. Another thought to ponder. How do you think the boys acrosstown would have dealt with nine players that were on the opening day roster on the shelf? Also with a new stadium and a t.v. network bringing in revenue??

The Mets probably will be buyers at the trade deadline, but they'll be looking to move payroll, as well. If they can get someone to eat Wagner or Ollie's contracts, they'd make the move to trade for other guys.

In the offseason, the Mets will have Wagner, Putz, Schneider, Tatis, Cora, Feliciano, Schoeneweis (yes, they're still paying for him), Livan, Sheffield, and Delgado's contracts off the books. That's alot of money they'll have free. I'd consider the Mets keeping Delgado for alot less, but I doubt it. The key will be who replaces Delgado's position in the lineup, OR who they get to add into the lineup if they decide to keep him.

And the Yankees did deal with having alot of injuries last year. They missed the postseason, and retooled their lineup this year. They didn't hit the panic button, and even then acted to rebuild the parts of their lineup that NEEDED to be rebuilt.

The team's also not sold on F-Mart. He keeps getting injured, and while he's got ALOT of promise (not as a power hitter, but more akin to Reyes), they're more likely to trade him. About the only "untouchables" in the Mets system are Ike Davis, Jon Niese, Wilmer Flores, and Josh Thole. And even then, one could make the arguement for trading them.

Matt Holliday would be great to sign in the offseason, but the Mets could A) do a stopgap move of Johnny Damon (I know, I know) B) trade for Alex Rios (only if the Jays take Ollie's contract) C) Come up with something out of the ordinary. You add in 1B or Delgado, and then a hitter like Holliday or Rios, and that Mets lineup suddenly looks competeitive for 2010- Reyes, Castillo, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Holliday/Rios, Francouer, Thole, pitcher.

Let's also not forget that the Mets have Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Castillo, and Francouer signed for the lineup, and will probably bring up Thole as catcher very soon. That leaves them with 1B and LF open. Next year, the rotation will have Johan, Pelfrey, Maine, Niese, and a 5th starter (Ollie? Livan? Holt?) With over $40 million coming off the books in the offseason, that should easily get them good free agents OR help them through trades.

Jason, I do agree with much of what you have said. I just get the feeling that the Wilpons will just pocket the cash and leave Omar out there to lie to us fans as he has had to do this year. For this reason, I'm in favor of wheeling and dealing. By the way, Maine's career could be in jeopardy. Click on the home page. I'm sure the Wilpons have insurance against this type of thing but they will end up crying the blues to the media. That is where some of the cash coming off the books will be justified. Watch and see if I'm not right. I hope I'm wrong but feel I've figured them out. The only reason daddy built a new stadium is because he is obsessed with Ebbets field. He doesn't care what is playing in it. He definitely doesn't care about us. He just lets Omar keep lying and take the bulk of the heat from us fans for not helping the team out. It is absolutely bull that there is no one out there who can help us this year. Do they honestly believe that everyone that is on the disable list will come back at full strength? We need help now and they are not going to get us any. Look at what the Cards have done. I will ba a Mets fan long after the Wilpons sell this team as I started following them in 1969. I'm just a realist and am sick of being lied to. I'm sick of how they are letting Omar take the hit for them. I just want them to be honest with us. I would have no problem with them tightening their belts if they just admitted the reason why they can't spend cash to improve the team. I believe the main reason they are using Omar to lie to us, is the fannies will leave the seats empty and they will lose big time. Don't worry about Omar getting fired. They won't pull the plug and let him finally tell the media what is really going on there.

Daggett, I think you've bought into the whole "Wilpon needs to be George" hype that's been going on since the 90's. The Mets have a team that has NOT had a losing season since 2004, and Minaya has brought in Pedro, Delgado, Lo Duca, Johan, Beltran, Castillo, Maine, Ollie, Wagner, KRod, Putz, Schneider, Livan, Sheffield, El Duque, he's brought up Pelfrey, FMart, Parnell, Stokes (sorta), Niese, Murphy, Evans, Santos, has young minors, Davis, Niesen, Stoner, Holt, Meija, Thole, Flores, and he's also signed Wright and Reyes to long-term contracts that make sense.

This translates into Wilpon spending alot of money on the Mets, and also building his on sports channel (SNY), a new stadium (Citi Field), a new minor league team (Buffalo), extensively scouting the Caribbean, etc. He's put alot of money into the Mets. They're still not then Yankees or the Red Sox, and never will be. And that kind of money that has been put into the Mets means that Wilpon DOES care about a winning product. And he has put it on the field- and they'd probably have been an odds on favorite for the World Series had their bullpens not collapsed when they did. Sure, the Mets have had problems. But so have the Yankees. Their Operating Principle since 2000 hasn't changed, and it's also gotten them jack squat.

You keep saying you're in favor of wheeling and dealing, but that won't make the Mets a better team. Getting rid of guys like Beltran or Wright will hurt them in the short AND long term. I know you're angry about the last two seasons, and the injuries to this season. That still doesn't make it smart baseball sense.

You need to stop comparing the Mets to the Yankees. It doesn't work. One of the biggest problems in New York is that the sports media is heavily Yankees oriented (and I suspect that's Minaya's biggest gripe in his press conference), and thus they're more than willing to write bad articles about the Mets whenever they can. Guys like Sherman and Matthews need to stick to their Yankees beat, and admit their bias, and walk away from writing about the Mets.

Once again, if you're looking for a winning franchise, yes, the Yanks have won. But so have the Mets. The Mets are 82-80, 97-65, 88-74, 89-73 since 2005. Yes, they didn't make the postseason in 2007 and 2008. But they're still winning- and still making money. They'll get there eventually. 2010 and 2011 look promising. Daggett- hate the Phillies, Yankees, and the Braves more than the Mets. Put it back where it belongs. And know that at the Mets will never be the Yankees- but they also won't be the Pirates. And be content with that.

sorry! this has become a chat room between dagget and jason b?

LOL Rev Al! Sorry if it looks like it's a chat room between Dagget and myself!

But I agree with your previous comments, Rev. The Mets will just have to play the string out and see where it goes.

Jason, I am also sorry to think this is just between you and I. The rev. also brings a lot to the table. Rev, jump right in. I always read comments here and you are one of the vets!! Back to Jason, I am just venting. Sometimes I just get frustrated. I have a habit of trying to read what I really can't see. For this I apologize. I know I have a lot of company this year. I do hate to think that it may be a couple of years before we contend again. When the Phillies traded for Lee, that one hurt. Does one guy make a team? No, but it was a huge pick up for them. There seemed to be something brewing with the Indians concerning Martinez. If we don't have to deal Parnell"SOMEHOW i THINK HE COULD BE ANOTHER RYAN TYPE IN THE ROUGH" we should seriously think about making that trade. As far as Crawford is concerned, why are the Rays shopping him?

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