Meet the Mets: "Horrible contracts, late-season collapses, devastating injuries, public-relations fiascos, and, just for good measure, an inextricable connection to one of the most notorious financial frauds in American history." The Mets are not only predicted to lose a lot of games this year but, as the New York Times reported last week, they are projected to lose a lot of money, $50 million or more.
As Will Leitch writes in New York Magazine, however, there is cause for optimism. He contends that with the hiring of Sandy Alderson and his brain trust, the team is in "safe, capable hands." The bloated contracts of over-priced players seem to be a thing of the past, and once the worst of prior management's contracts expire, the team will have far more payroll flexibility. This will allow Alderson to follow his successful and sensible model: "develop a base of homegrown talent, then supplement it with free agents."
The moves, thus far, have been promising. First and foremost, the two albatrosses: Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. They both remained ineffective this spring and were mercifully released despite years and money remaining on their contracts. Jennry Mejia, the Mets top pitching prospect was inexcusably brought along far too quickly last year to merely flounder in the bullpen. Now he thankfully has been returned to the minor leagues in order to develop as a starting pitcher. In addition, as Leitch also notes, the Mets are allowing their younger players to "compete for big-league jobs rather than stick with past-their-prime veterans to provide 'leadership' or, more likely, 'losses.'"
As for this year, Leitch recognizes that the Mets are a "younger team, in transition, with young stars being filtered up through the system, more money spent on the draft, more importance placed on development." While the Mets won't win their division, "it won’t be a team that trots out Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Fernando Tatis either." In addition, we will get a good look at promising young players, like second baseman Brad Emaus, catcher Josh Thole, and knuckleballer R. A. Dickey. And "let’s not forget that David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, and Johan Santana are still on this team."
Leitch predicts, and I don't disagree, that "a long-shot wild-card run might not be out of the question." But even "if this year is a write-off, the team will be more enjoyable to watch than it has been the last four years, if only because the franchise is finally moving forward."
If you are a Met fan, it is not unreasonable to continue to fear the worst. But, come on, the season hasn't even started yet.
[Related posts: Hope Springs Eternal]