On Behalf of Mets Fans: It’s Time to Face Reality
The sobering truth is that the New York Mets will not and are unwilling to make any upgrades this winter. It’s a shame. Rather than invest, the team seems content with their current roster and is prioritizing putting money back into their own pockets.
Fellow Mets fans, unfortunately, it is time for us to accept the sobering truth: there will be no major free agent signings this offseason.
This is a decision that comes from the top down, as ownership and the front office have made it abundantly clear that they are content with their current situation and would prefer to gamble, yet again, on a once promising but now shaky pitching situation as opposed to paving a more realistic path to success.
For the Mets, this signifies a lack of caring. The Wilpon family, Saul Katz, and Sandy Alderson appear to have conceded the battle, as evidenced by their lack of willingness to expand the team’s budget.
Last season, the Mets set a franchise record with a payroll of about $155 million. By no means was that number in the same stratosphere of dollars that clubs such as the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers were willing to spend, but it meant that those running the Mets felt that they could compete in 2016. By making it a point to reduce payroll by roughly $20 this coming season, it appears as though the Mets brass feels far less confident about the club’s odds in 2017.
And why might this be? Likely, if not definitely, because the Mets fans care more about the team’s ability to win than the people running the show.
It is asinine to think that ownership could have witnessed the city of New York go as crazy as it did during the Mets improbable World Series run in 2015, flood the gates for a season that ended in the 2016 National League Wild Card game, and then do absolutely nothing to ensure that the club reaches that point once again in the years to come. On top of that, it becomes even more maddening once you consider what steps the Yankees have taken to win a title following their run to the American League Championship Series a year ago.
Rather than doing what it takes to keep up with the Yankees, the Mets have become a punchline. It’s sad, really.
If the Wilpons and Saul Katz do not want to spend the type of money required to build a winning baseball team, then what is the point in owning one? There are only a few potential truths.
The first is that Mets ownership views the team as a cash cow and nothing more. They know how passionate Mets fans are, and feel as though because the fans care so deeply about the team, they will show up to the ballpark and buy merchandise no matter what. It is quite possible that the Wilpons are simply taking advantage of our passion. Because there is little to no reason to believe that they have any.
The second is that there is a distinct lack of faith in this group of ballplayers. In a way, this would signal a waving of the white flag if this were to be the case. Perhaps Mets ownership thinks that the team has no chance in 2018 no matter who they could sign this offseason, and would rather keep the money in their wallets if the team isn’t going to win either way.
Lastly and least likely, Mets ownership would prefer to save the cash in order to get in on the loaded free agent class of next winter, that includes players such as Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Dallas Keuchel. For a team playing in the New York market, saving money for the future should never be the case. But perhaps it is, even if it is hard to believe. Either way, it is impossible to be hopeful for this scenario because the Mets have been anything but transparent on the reasoning behind their financial decisions.
The Mets do not deserve the benefit of the doubt, especially considering the club has only qualified for the postseason twice in the last ten years. There are no laurels, besides failure, to rest on. There is no precedent for success, and the team does not seem eager to set one.
It is unclear which of these truths, if not a combination of them, is the guiding force behind the Mets decisions this winter. But the bones of a winning team do exist within the Mets despite their apathy.
As long as Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom are healthy and can headline the rotation, the Mets are a team that can pitch with anyone in Major League Baseball. Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes are both All-Star outfielders that most clubs would gladly insert into their starting lineups. Prized prospect Amed Rosario showed flashes of his potential in his brief big league stint last season. And Jeurys Familia, A.J. Ramos, Jerry Blevins, and Anthony Swarzak provide a formidable bullpen.
But this is just the start, and there are too many “ifs” about this team to guarantee anything beyond a run at the Wild Card.
Until the Mets make the conscious decision to win, they cannot and will not compete with the Washington Nationals for the division, and certainly not the Yankees for New York.
Maybe the Mets will prove me wrong. Maybe they’ll stay healthy and look more like the 2015 version than the 2017 one. But right now, there isn’t much reason to believe.