The Mets cannot afford to be at the back of the line in being aggressive on trades and free-agent signings. And that task falls squarely on the shoulders of Sandy Alderson and his ability to push the Wilpon Brothers into the 21st Century.
Mets fans know better than most big league teams that ownership is everything. By definition, owners of major league franchises are rich and powerful. They can be hobbyists like Charles Finley, who the New York Times described in his obituary as “the contentious and colorful former owner of the Oakland A’s who challenged baseball tradition by championing changes like bright-colored uniforms and the designated hitter.”
Or, owners can be in it only for the entertainment of the fans as was the case with Bill Veeck. The Veeck who rattled commissioners and fellow owners with a barrage of stunts, including once sending a midget up to bat and organizing what he called a Disco Demolition Night which caused near riots when popular disco records were burned on the field.
More familiar to fans of New York baseball, perhaps is George Steinbrenner, who is recalled here in his New York Times obituary for his fierce competitiveness and a big heart. All he wanted to do was win. And win he did, often digging deep into his pockets to buy and support a team which brought four World Championships to the city of New York in five years.
By contrast, we have the Mets
By contrast, Mets ownership, over the years, can be characterized in one word – bland. At times, the players on the field have risen to new heights, despite the lack of active involvement of ownership. The 1986 New York Mets, who turned the city upside down with a cast of characters forever etched in the lore of New York baseball. And more recently, the 2015 Mets team led by Terry Collins, who came within an out or two of bringing a championship home.
But overall, Mets fans have been forced to support and root for a team which is not set up to compete in the brand of baseball played in the 21st Century. And whether we like it or not, home runs and bullpens rule the game. Power comes with a high cost and, increasingly, bullpens come with an even higher price.
The Mets big splash last offseason was the signing of Yeonis Cespedes for a gazillion dollars. As far back as 2015 when I was writing for Call To The Pen, I questioned Cespedes ability, and more importantly, his demeanor, indicating let the buyer beware. Ownership, and more particularly in this case perhaps, Sandy Alderson took the plunge and now Cespedes, with his I’ll play today but just pencil me in for tomorrow, grasp on the Mets already presents a colossal challenge for Mickey Callaway to overcome.
Short of Ahmed Rosario and Michael Conforto, the Mets have no one in the lineup they present in 2018 who qualify as bona fide major league position players. They’ve lost Lucas Duda, and Jay Bruce during the July trade deadline purge of salary and the Mets have no one to replace the loss of their run production.
Peruse the list of 2018 free agents for a minute. The players are out there who can help the Mets now. But first, Alderson needs to convince the Wilpon Brothers to spend some of their less than hard-earned money (they even made money from their “relationship” with Bernie Madoff), by putting an ante in for the Mets fans who have lived with this for long enough.
Mets fans should be ready to take to the streets
Excuse me, but fans of the Yankees would never put up with this. When the Yankees were sputtering along playing .500 baseball during June and July, fans erupted and even Hal Steinbrenner, who is almost as bland as the Wilpon Brothers, too to the stage to declare the Yankees were in it to win it in 2017. They failed, of course, but not for the efforts of Brian Cashman to answer the call with a rash of trades that brought players in instead of leaving.
Fans of the Mets have been loyal, and with extravagant TV monies coming in and decent attendance numbers, the team manages to keep their head above water financially. But is that all there is when it comes to the Mets?
Name me one Mets player in their minor league system who can contribute to the team and is ready in 2018. You can’t and neither can I or any of the pundits who rate major league teams up and coming players for a living.
Tell me, if you are a fan of the Mets if that doesn’t grate you a bit. Or even, a lot!
So, what is left? The team can attempt to sell the idea of a “rebuild,” so don’t expect too much for at least a couple of years. Or, the Wilpons can step up with an attempt to challenge their cross-town rivals by challenging Sandy Alderson to “do something – or else.”
Fans of the Mets have the power to force the issue if they want to. The question is, though, are they as bland as the ownership?