Both the Mets and Yankees are refusing to enter the high stakes free agent gambling game presented by you know who. They should be commended, not chastised.
The Mets and Yankees, along with a precious few other teams, recognize that baseball is a game of monkey see – monkey do. Whether it’s “The Opener, the shift, hitters altering their swing to create “loft”, or stuffing your pitching staff with bullpen artists who stand ready to take over the game from the fourth inning on, both the Mets and Yankees make conscious decisions as to whether or not they are going to participate – or stay home.
We are now in the 75th day since free agents declared themselves, and still, the cream of the 2019 crop, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, is nowhere close to signing with a team. The ownership of teams is spoken about as though they have created something more potent than OPEC to control the distribution of the only resource they have – which is money.
The word collusion is thrown around as though it’s a foregone conclusion this is what owners are up to. This, despite the fact the dictionary defines collusion as, “secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially to cheat or deceive others.”
There’s nothing secret or illegal about the Mets and Yankees, or any of the other teams, shunning Harper and Machado, both of whom have yet to fall back to earth from previous advertisements about themselves. How inane, for instance, were the claims back in 2017 that Bryce Harper would be baseball’s first $600 million player sound now?
And what did Manny Machado believe was going to happen following that odious show he put on during the World Series? Just say I’m sorry, and life goes on? Gimme my money?
Uh-uh. Ownership, and in particular general managers, have wisened up to the fact that one plus one plus one equals way more than one.
Brian Cashman signs DJ LeMahieu, J.A. Happ, and now Adam Ottavino all for the price of Manny Machado, and that’s collusion? No, that’s smart. Or Brodie Van Wagenen brings Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Wilson Ramos, and now Jed Lowrie on board without a six to a ten-year commitment to any of these players, and that should be declared a conspiracy?
Both the Mets and Yankees have their own well-established brands. When you think of the Mets, automatically Jacob deGrom, Cano, and Noah Syndergaard come to mind. With the Yankees, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, superstars in their own right jump out. Who needs a Bryce Harper?
The White Sox and Phillies need Harper and Machado desperately because they have no brand. The Padres and Reds might like a piece of that action too.
In days not too long ago, both the Mets and Yankees would have been heavily in on the bids for both players – just because they are the Mets and Yankees. A good portion of both team’s fans still expects them to “spend the money” – come hell or high water.
Happily, at least from this perspective, both the Mets and Yankees are taking a more sober, but still a very practical way, to build their teams for 2019.