Ho, hum. The Mets did not make the playoffs for the seventeenth time in the last two decades. But the win that counted came off the field.
The Mets will be watching from home as sixteen teams, some better than they are, some not, take the field beginning tomorrow for the 2020 postseason.
Typically, in recent years especially, New York radio station telephone lines are overwhelmed with calls from disgruntled, and occasionally angry Mets fans who are egged on by various hosts to be even more irrational.
It’s all part of the required ritual that executes last rites on another season that circled over the drain until it was appropriately wrapped up with the Mets getting shut out in the final game of the season.
Mets: There’s Something Different In The Air Today
The temperament appears to be different this year. There is a widespread disappointment regarding a talented Mets team that never gelled, but little assessment of blame.
You also get the sense that Mets fans are ready and eager to move on, leaving behind all the sins and crimes of the past – a litany far too long to list here.
You know where I’m going with this. Because no one can overestimate the impact of the Mets sale in terms of the energy, it’s producing within the organization.
Pieces of the puzzle concerning the type of owner Steve Cohen will be are slowly being unfolded. Cohen’s immediate outreach to Sandy Alderson eases the fears of many as a signal that baseball people will run his team, not his cronies from the financial world.
We’re also learning new aspects of the sale that are encouraging. Cohen will be assuming control of three Mets farm teams, Brooklyn, Port St. Lucie, and the Triple-A club in Syracuse.
More good came from the announcement the Mets are sending sixty minor leaguers to an Instructional League, some of whom are already at the Mets training facility in Port St. Lucie.
Note: Read more on these developments in yesterday’s article, Mets New Era: Alderson/Cohen Dialing In On Minor League Development.
All of this indicates that Cohen realizes the need to completely overhaul the Mets organization.
Supporting sixty players, coaches, medical staff, etc. for three weeks or more of training is no small task financially.
The Wilpons never saw anything but the change in their pockets today, whereas Steve Cohen recognizes the applicable cliche – it takes money to make money – and an investment of this kind sends a clear signal he sees tomorrow with the same vision he has for today.
Mets On The Field 2021
Along those lines, the Mets do have immediate personnel needs at the big-league level that need to be filled this winter.
Most agree the most glaring hole rests with the starting rotation. It’s not likely Rick Porcello or Michael Wacha will be offered a contract, and Steven Matz is a basket case sure to be traded.
This leaves only Jacob deGrom and David Peterson to man the staff, with Noah Syndergaard a question mark as to when he will return from Tommy John.
Thus, the Mets will be active in the free-agent market for starting pitching, which opens for business five days after the World Series ends.
In an article published last week, I made two recommendations the Mets should consider (Masahiro Tanaka and Taijuan Walker), but each was underwhelmingly received based on comments that came in.
For free-agent position players, one name stands out, and he happens to be a catcher, something the Mets sorely need as the player who can represent the “soul” of the team on the field.
That player is, of course, J.T. Realmuto, and he will be highly sought after by any number of teams, including the Yankees, who finally appear ready to file for divorce from Gary Sanchez.
Even Bryce Harper has joined the circus, issuing one of those “sign him or else” orders to the Phillies.
Realmuto fits the description of the “big splash” Steve Cohen may be looking for as a welcoming gift to Mets fans.
He’ll need to be careful, though, because Realmuto (30) and his agent, Jeff Berry, are believed to be seeking to eclipse Joe Mauer‘s $23 million average annual salaries, a record for catchers.
Decisions And More Decisions
Also on the table is the contract situation of Michael Conforto. Coming off a career season, Conforto (pictured below) is entering his walk year before he is a free agent in 2022.
A contract extension for Conforto is undoubtedly in order.
Still, the X factor is his agent, Steve Boras, who has been known to push the envelope by encouraging his clients to play out the 2021 season, going full strength into the market as a highly sought after commodity in 2022.
To Boras’s credit, though, the final decision always rests with the player. Conforto has hinted he has no desire to play for any team other than the Mets.
Another area where movement is likely is in the Mets bullpen. Seth Lugo has been unimpressive in seven starts this season, and as much as he wishes to be in the rotation, Lugo best belongs in the bullpen, or possibly with another team in a trade.
Similarly, Robert Gsellman is a misfit with the Mets. Held back by injury, he did not perform in any of the roles Luis Rojas placed him in when healthy.
Edwin Diaz had an almost perfect rebound season from the debacle he faced in 2019, and Jeurys Familia was not far behind, making them the mainstays in the bullpen.
The Mets also need to figure out what to do with Amed Rosario, whose situation at shortstop with the team is tenuous at best.
Rosario is as much a failure of the Mets farm system as anything else. He a poster child for everything the Mets are trying to set right now.
Entering The New Mets Era
But as indicated before, the real action by the Mets is taking place as organizational moves that have been long overdue.
Mets fans should be encouraged by the first steps taken and look forward to more as the new team, led by Cohen and Alderson, devote themselves to establishing a winning culture, not only on the field but throughout their organization.