I trust everyone enjoyed their bird last week. Thanksgiving always whets my appetite for the funtime follies of the off-season, the Winter Meetings. This is the MLB uber-convention. This is the time of the year when owners, GMs and their staves, writers, hangers-on, wannabe executives and even the stray ballplayer or two converge on a hotel somewhere warm for four days and we on the home front wait breathlessly for news. What’s going on? Who are they talking to? Is there a deal to be had there? Who are we going to sign? Funtime.
I have heard some grumbling among the Mets’ fan base, though, that GM Sandy Alderson isn’t doing anything. They say this like it’s a bad thing. For me, I’ll take the apparent “inactivity,” right now for several reasons. First of all, it’s a refreshing change from past regimes, for whom it was all about the “splash.” The concern was about keeping the team in the headlines in the cold winter. The focus was on beating the Yankees to the back page. The idea was to create the perception that there was plenty of money to throw around, even if they were throwing it at the absolutely wrong players – the Vince Colemans, Bobby Bonillas, Jeromy Burnitzes and Luis Castillos of the world, if you will. The rumors would swirl and within hours of the start of the Winter Meetings, there would be a press conference draped in orange and blue, and a player nobody really wanted would sport the cap with the curly NY. Not so this year.
Another reason to rejoice in inaction: whatever money is left is going towards the all-important scouting/drafting/development arm of the operation. If you’re a successful franchise – which the Mets, at this stage, most assuredly are not – this is your goldmine. Historically, teams have looked on with envy at organizations like the Yankees, Dodgers, Royals (Yes, it’s true: they were once envied), Twins and Braves who have consistently rolled out a steady stream of homegrown talent, either to help them win themselves, or as a trading chit for a final piece or two to a pennant winner. The Mets would now like to join that company. Actually, they have no choice at the moment, but they are at least recognizing that fact and not signing free agents for its own sake..
Finally, while we fans almost universally hope for a quick resolution to the Jose Reyes situation, it’s been clear from word one that that was never going to happen. Reyes was going to test the market, no matter what the Mets offered initially. Bravo to Sandy for reacting to the market, rather than setting it. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that the Reyes camp is going to give the Mets the final phone call – the last opportunity to better the last, best offer.
In short, if all the Mets end up with is a quality closer, some middle relief help and Reyes, I’ll put the 2011 Winter Meetings in the “success” column.