“Wait ‘til next year!” As I’m sure we’re all aware, that was the ancient rallying cry of the Brooklyn Dodger fan after yet another World Series loss to the Yankees. With the Mets being the spiritual brethren to those Dodger teams – with far, far less success, I’ll grant you – it’s been trotted out a time or two by this fan base. Trouble is, this year, we started saying it around Memorial Day, as player after player went down with one malady or another. This blighted season is playing itself out under a cloud. To wit: last night’s starting third baseman was Travis d’Arnaud, who has never played third base before on any level. This was necessitated by the fact that infielders Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores had both come up with the same rib cage injury. It turns out that d’Arnaud never had to handle a chance in the field, because manager Terry Collins kept flip-flopping him and Asdrubal Cabrera between second and third, depending on from which side the batter was swinging. All we can do is shake our heads and mutter “Unreal!” over and over. In any case, we have turned our eyes to 2018 and after a series of late-season trades the Mets have added about $10 million or so to the off-season war chest. Couple that with the expiring contracts of Curtis Granderson, Jerry Blevins and Cabrera, you would think the Mets would be well-equipped for a major foray into the free agent market, or be willing to take on a big money contract in a trade.
It appears you would be wrong.
GM Sandy Alderson met with the media before last night’s game and was asked – according to the always stellar Marc Carig of Newsday – whether all that money saved will be spent on players next season. Alderson gave a long, shambling answer that boiled down to “maybe.” At best. He said “…from an operational standpoint, I look at it this way. If I persuade the owner that it’s best to spend the extra $10 to $15 million to go for it – but I also assure him that if it doesn’t work out, I can move $9 or $12 million – having actually done it gives me a better case going forward.” It is a sad state of affairs when owners of a franchise in New York, the biggest market of all, would have to be convinced to bring their spending level up to that of a Pittsburgh, a Kansas City or a Tampa Bay – especially when the team on the other side of town is licking their chops for when Bryce Harper or Manny Machado hit free agency and can be added to their impressive existing collection of young talent.
Owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon are purported to love the team and love the game. Ask anybody who has ever worked for them – heck, ask people who’ve been fired by them – and they will all tell you that the Wilpons want to win as badly as anyone you could imagine. If that’s the case, they sure have a funny way of showing it. They look like misers, derisively nicknamed the Coupons by non-fans. They have a reputation for being close to a buck, even without their well-documented Bernie Madoff association. Until or unless they can provide Alderson with the resources he needs, we will all be hamstrung in this limbo, whole seasons depending on fragile arms and raw kids. This piecemeal approach is leaving us fans starving.
It’s a shame.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.