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My Pessimism May Have Been Optimistic!

Barry DuchanMonday, December 21, 2009
By Barry Duchan


In my most recent posts to this site, I lamented how the Mets in one season went from a legitimate World Series contender to a distant also-ran in the NL East. I also speculated that financial constraints would restrict the Mets from making those improvements necessary to restore the team to contending status in 2010.

Although I would have liked to have seen the Mets make a legitimate run at the top free agents and trade targets, I felt that it would mostly be a lot of posturing and that the 2010 Mets would be a different Mets' squad, but not necessarily an improved one. But at this point, if the Mets had merely done what I predicted instead of what they have actually done, we would all be extremely grateful. Sure, there are still weeks before the team reports to spring training and a lot can be done in that time. But will it?

My predictions included the Mets making non-competitive token offers to all the prime free agents to show the fans they are trying to do something : Lackey, Holliday, Bay, Marquis and eventually signing Joel Pineiro. Of that group, only Bay got an offer from the Mets, and who knows how seriously they will pursue him? For some strange reason, they made it a point to tell the fans that they had analyzed both players' swings and preferred Bay, which kind of negates their chances of signing Holliday if Bay goes elsewhere. Pineiro will probably also be out of the Mets' price range. I also foresaw the Mets offering a package for Roy Halladay, one that would be turned down flat and countered with an offer that included a couple of the Mets' better established players (Pelfrey and Francoueur) as well as their three best prospects. No deal there. Not even any talk, only a farfetched rumor that Toronto wanted Jose Reyes.

Then, I saw the Mets inquiring on Carl Crawford, only to be offered and enticed by a package of B.J. Upton (who the Mets would build up as their next superstar) and Andy Sonnanstine in exchange for Pelfrey, Fernando Martinez, and 3 other top prospects (Flores, Mejia, and Nieuwenhuis, or similar). I gave this as an example of a BAD over-reaching move that Omar would make, but I'm beginning to think that no one the Mets will actually acquire will excite the fans as much as Upton would, if exciting the fans rather than fielding a winning team is the Mets' off-season goal, which it well may be.

I also saw Melvin Mora and Austin Kearns as 2010 Mets, not exactly difference-makers, but a whole lot better than Chris Coste and Mike Hessman. And Elmer Dessens has been re-signed? He was #1 on my list of players "certain" not to return.

About the only thing the Mets have gotten right this off-season is the hiring of Wally Backman to manage the Cyclones. Unfortunately, since Brooklyn's season doesn't start until June, if the Mets get off to a bad start and Manuel goes, Backman could hardly be considered a candidate to take over when he hasn't even started managing in the organization yet.

Maybe the Mets really will sign Jason Bay. I doubt it, but even if they did, it doesn't exactly make them a contender. Plugging him into leftfield, the Mets still need at least someone to platoon with Murphy at first base (Garko?), a guy for the bench with both defensive versatility and pinch-hitting skills (Mark DeRosa?), two starting pitchers at least one of whom is a legitimate #2, and some bullpen upgrades including one more lefty. The signings of Everts and Igarashi would normally be called under-the-radar moves that could pay off, but to date, they are the biggest moves the Mets have made since the season ended. Unbelievable.

Even Dave Mills' self-described restrained approach implores the Mets to go after players like Gomes, Capps, Escobar, DeRosa, Sheets, Wang, and Chapman. Like that'll happen. There's still plenty of time to make these moves and the players are out there. But will the Mets spend the money or make a shrewd trade? We'll see. I grow more pessimistic daily.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

Comments (7)

There are still eight weeks before pitchers and catchers report. Plenty of time to sign free agents and make a couple of deals. And there is still plenty of talent available. Why such pessimism?

The restrained approach I so fervently extoll is based on a number of important factors, not the least of which is--what do we have coming down the pike? In addition to healthy players (at least at the start of the season) and a very good core (Beltran, Wright, Reyes, Santana, K-Rod, Feliciano and Francoeur), the Mets have four prospects, who will be ready for 2011 or perhaps sooner, in Josh Thole, Jon Niese, Ike Davis and Fernando Martinez. Why block their development?

I am satisfied with stockpiling catchers and pitchers. I am certainly not espousing signing ALL the players I mentioned, but going after a Chapman and/or signing one or two of the arms coming off injury (Sheets, Wang, Escobar or even Pedro) would not be a bad ploy. After Marquis signed a two-year deal for $15 million, Piniero will cost way too much. Garland and Davis do not excite me. We can have plenty of arms for both Citi Field and Buffalo without overpaying and by stockpiling and building from within.

Right now (and as previously mentioned), I would much prefer Omar sign Jonny Gomes to platoon with Chris Carter, especially with Angel Pagan in the outfield mix. Pagan could be a key role player spelling Beltran on day games after night and against tough right-handers in RF. We also could not go too wrong with Ryan Garko in a platoon with Murphy. I can't, for the life of me, understand why so many Mets pundits are ready to give up on so much of the young talent like Maine, Pelfrey, Parnell and especially Daniel Murphy. How many are aware that Mickey Mantle (and others) were sent down after far less auspices debuts than Murphy?

The real issue is whether Mets pundits and fans are willing to give the old adage--good things come to those who wait--a chance. And since we do have real talent almost ready and a bumper crop of free agents hitting the market after next season--patience is a virtue--might be more than just a saying!

Lord give me patience, and give it to me right now!

I agree completely Dave

I agree completely Dave, if the Mets come away with a few small moves by the end of this winter i won't throw myself off the G bridge "YET" but they should at the very least make 1 nice move. I believe if the Mets can pull a trade for Brandon Phillilps with Bronson Arroyo and sign Molina this winter wouldn't be a complete wash.

Keep Pagan in left with Frenchy in right, let Ike Davis and Murphy get some experience and evaluate at the end of season. If it works "highly doubt it" then least you go into next winter knowing what the top priorities should be. Obviously everyone knows what the free agent pool will be next winter and i believe thats where the money should go, if im going to over pay then it has to be for top talent. This is what the 2011 Mets should look like with these moves

jose reyes, brandon phillips, beltran, prince fielder, wright, frenchy, pagan/fernando martinez, Molina/Josh Thole

Speed, defense, power and you save money with martinez and thole

The pitching will be an interesting one, if i had it my way i'd go for it ALL in 2011 and overpay for Beckett.

Josh Beckett, Johan Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Olli/Niese, Big Pelf

Now do the math crunch the numbers and with the right salaries given per year to certain players you got yourself a potential world series team with a payroll at about 155 to 165 million. Can anyone else do better with the Wilpon budget ???

I know this is the holiday season and everybody is in good spirits but how long can we patient?
I have been drinking the orange and blue kool-aid for years but it is now closer to the start of spring training then the end of last season. And what do we have under our tree? 2 back up catchers, a back up middle infielder and a unknown commodity billed as our set up man from Japan. Based on past performance, how could anybody believe that Omar and the Wilpon's will do the right thing?

On the day after another disastrous season ended, management was in full damage control mode. Besides the annual William Ianniciello missive sent to season ticket holder's promising the world, ticket prices were also lowered and we were treated to Omar, Jeff and Hondo Howard on with Francesa promising they would do everything in their power to improve the team.

Based on this committment, a disgruntled fan base and $30 or so million coming off last year's payroll, THIS OFF SEASON WAS NOT SUPPOSE TO BE ABOUT PATIENCE. One would think that management and ownership would have some sort of plan to right the ship and be decisive. Surely after their promise on a radio and TV show and the last 3 years of disasters, one would think that management would be pro-active and committed to improving the club. Now here it is on December 22nd, nearly three months after their season ended and 2 months after the Series ended and they have done nothing. As each day passes, more and more available players are picked up and they have done nothing. Everybody else is making moves and attempting to improve their teams and again they have done nothing.

Now we are told to be patient. And not only that, we have been told there is a plan. And on top of that there are multiple plans. All of which included Bengie Molina. Which brings us to our current state of being reduced to hostage negotiators with Bay and Molina. How about the other 5 or 6 holes we have and why can't they be filled? Why do these negotiations prevent us from doing anything else? Can't Omar multi-task? And how about our clueless owners?

If the current deafening silence Met fans are absorbing this off season from management continues it will be repaid with deafening silence at the Citifield turnstiles in 2010.

Im convinced things will not get better until a new GM can see things from a different view. A lame duck is what we have now and thats never good.

Well, I have been waiting for Upton's name to emerge. I think the Mets should consider him if he comes cheap, and only if. And he just might; the Rays have his replacement in place.

Sonnenstine, no interest; so far as I can see he has guts but little else. But I bet you Jamie Shields could be made available. Like Upton, a cheaper replacement is waiting in the wings.

I would like to see the Mets dealing with the Rays, but I wonder if Omar is capable of coming out with a favorable trade.

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