By Mike Steffanos
Back when I had more time to do this blog I frequently used to post my reaction to items I came across in my reading. I had a couple of extra minutes today, so...
Mike Pelfrey as potential trade bait.
Pelfrey is coming to the end of his somewhat "cheap" years, so it would be logical to explore the possibility of moving him, particularly if you can find someone willing to give you a couple of high-ceiling pitching prospects back in return. That's a big "if", of course, given how highly valued pitching prospects are today.
I'm with Ed Ryan on wondering if Pelfrey would be less up and down as a pitcher if he was left in the minors for even a couple of years to develop naturally. We'll obviously never know that.
I do think he has potential to be a solid number two starter for a winning team, and he knows what pitching in this market is all about. Even if Alderson can work a great deal for Pelfrey it will mean a step backwards for the Mets in the short term. They are unlikely to immediately replace him with someone as good, even if the deal ultimately makes them better down the road.
I like Pelfrey, but I have to admit that the Mets would be foolish not to at least consider offers. Still, I can't see making a deal just for the sake of making a deal. It's got to be the right deal to trade a young pitcher who, while at times frustrating, is a useful contributor to this team. As Ed points out, the question in any Pelfrey trade scenario is will the bounty he brings in return be enough.
Maybe the Mets don't suck.
Not everyone in the media believes the Mets are predetermined to play bad baseball and finish last. From Rob Neyer:
In their first game against the Philadelphia Phillies -- heavily favored to win the National League East title, if not the whole shebang -- the New York Mets, widely regarded as something of a joke, made the Phillies look like Little Leaguers.
Cole Hamels, one-fourth of the most vaunted pitching rotation since the 1990s Atlanta staffs (at least), was particularly abused by the Mets last night, giving up six runs in the process of getting kayoed in the third inning. The Phillies' particular abuser was giant right-hander Chris Young, who's been limited by shoulder injuries to just six major-league wins in the last two seasons, but tossed 5-1/3 solid innings against Philadelphia in his Mets debut to earn the victory.
Granted, we may probably guess that Hamels will finish the season with better statistics than Young, and that the Phillies will finish the season with more wins than the Mets.
Do the Mets have to be a joke, though? Should they completely give up, in early April, on perhaps making some noise in the Wild Card standings?
I am not convinced that they should.
Neyer goes on to list some aspects of the team that he feels are being somewhat undervalued right now, and makes a reasoned, non-hyperbolic case that the Mets have a chance to be decent this season.
Many of the local writers seem to feel that the Mets fan base needs to have their hopes and expectation tampered down. Look, we all know Mets fans who react to most things in an emotional manner and tend to read too much into good or bad stretches of play.
I do believe, however, that most of us have fairly realistic expectations for the season, and are honestly getting tired of the constant negative refrain.
I don't think the Mets can compete with the Phillies and Braves on talent, nor can they put out the same quality of starting pitching that the Marlins do on a nightly basis. But to dismiss them as a team destined to be a laughingstock is wildly premature. There is some talent, and I want to see how everything comes together before I write off the season.
No one should take what has happened the last three games and allow delusions of grandeur to form. But, then again, no one should have taken the game one loss and read so damned much into it.
Whenever I make an evaluation of the Mets, I consciously take into account that I am a fan and want to see them succeed. My Mets fan instinct is to look for the best because I want to believe. If anything, this makes me feel more reserved and restrained in my expectations when I am writing something for this blog.
It's an interesting balance between writing as a Mets fan for other Mets fans without being just a fan. I am trying to make sense of something for both myself and those of you who read my stuff. I try very hard not to be the guy who just says what I think you want to hear any more than I allow myself to believe something just because I want to believe it.
I understand the concerns about this team, I really do. I'm not seeing visions of a championship dancing in my head. I'm not convinced that the current ownership won't eventually prove to be an obstacle to this team's long-term success. But, at the least, the 2011 Mets really do have a chance to be a pleasant surprise for their fans that are badly in need of a pleasant surprise from their team.
Finally, Ken Davidoff on the men who have been running the Mets for the past couple of decades and the new guys at the top:
By choosing ineffective leaders, not giving people enough authority, forcing together bad GM/manager mixes or some combination of all three, the Mets haven't come close to maximizing their resources, despite making the postseason in 1999, 2000 and 2006.
The more we watch Sandy Alderson in action, the more apparent it is (to me, anyway) that he's their best hire since Cashen, and that he will ensure that the Mets get the most out of what they have; ironically, what they have financially isn't as much as it once was.
Terry Collins? So far, so good. As we keep saying, let's see how he looks after a five-game losing streak. But at the least, he is capable of running a ballgame. Even when you disagree with a move, you at least understand why he made the move.
Amen. So much of the negativity that still surrounds the expectations for this team is rooted in bad personnel decisions by ownership. Just like their bad decisions with their investments have cost them in both money and credibility, their poor hiring choices have doomed this franchise to mainly mediocrity or worse.