“Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today! We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.” The New York Mets are born again with one stroke of a pen, too. And just like that, the entire culture of the team is transformed.
The Mets signing of Todd Frazier to a modest two-year deal worth $17 million, of course, is the reason that reminds of John Fogerty’s anthem for baseball, “Centerfield”. And it’s not just the fact the Mets beat their cross-town rivals in the Bronx to the punch for once, it’s more about the package the Mets have acquired in Todd Frazier, the person.
Gone are the worries about David Wright, who is likely to be placed on the 60-day disabled list as soon as next week. Gone too is the void left in the clubhouse when Wright is not around. All wrapped in one, the Mets now have a legitimate third baseman and clubhouse leader in Frazier. A brilliant and fantastic move by the Mets. And as you know by now, I don’t get to say that very often.
Most Mets fans probably did not have a chance to closely follow what happened to the Yankees when Todd Frazier joined the team in August. But it was like a gleam of light hit the team and the doldrums of July disappeared. Frazier’s smile was everywhere in the dugout, and later he created, along with a fan from Queens, the now famous “Thumbs Down” rallying cry that propelled the team into the playoffs and beyond.
Get ready, that same act is coming to Citi Field. Except it’s not an act, it’s genuine. Todd Frazier is a local boy from Jersey whose Little League team once won the World Series (see featured image above). He wants to be here. He wants to play baseball in New York. And that alone speaks volumes about the impact he will have on the Mets.
Whether he bats .214 with 30 home runs and 90 driven in, or .270 with 25 and 80, it’s hardly going to matter when the intangibles he brings to the squad begin to expose themselves as the season begins. It would be fair to say the Mets have been rudderless on a day to day, game to game basis since Wright went down.
Neither Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard seemed eager to accept the mantle of team leader. Matt Harvey had his chance and blew it to the point now where most fans say, “Matt, just go out there and pitch. And keep your mouth shut and your face off Page Six”.
But here comes Todd Frazier just in the nick of time when frustration with Sandy Alderson was reaching an all-time high and it was looking like the Adrian Gonzalez pick-up from the trash heap was the only significant move that was coming from the team.
Rest assured, though, Todd Frazier is not likely very popular with the player’s union (MLBPA) today, having taken considerably less money than his value as a free agent third baseman was projecting. Not coincidentally, Tony Clark, the union’s leader, fired another salvo across the bow today:
Excuse me, but Todd Frazier has two small children and a family to look after. He is his “own brand” so to speak, as all professional players are. Could he have signed elsewhere for more than $8.5 million a year? Probably. But Todd Frazier did what any man would do in his shoes. He took the best deal offered to him in a city where he had set his heart on playing in, and both sides won. What the hell is wrong with that?
Finally, we can say…what a great day for fans of the New York Mets.