Rumors of 2012 being a time to rejuvenate the franchise were the talk of the town last offseason, as it seemed fans were willing to sacrifice 2011 in order for a brighter future. The plan, so we thought, was to invest all of the saved money the team had received from the bloated contracts of K-Rod, Beltran and others finally being off the books.
Instead, it looks like 2012 might be even worse.
But maybe that’s what is needed. Maybe Omar Minaya’s mismanagement of the franchise was more deeply rooted than someone could fix in one year, or maybe the Wilpon’s financial situation is worse than originally expected.
As it stands now, the Mets will head into 2012 with a payroll that hovers around $100 million, with or without Jose Reyes playing shortstop. Every move General Manager Sandy Alderson makes seems to be geared toward patching up holes until our prospects are ready to compete at the big league level.
Despite Alderson saying the Mets won’t “punt” next
season away, each move – or lack thereof – proves that the front office’s eye is not fixated on 2012, but beyond. Maybe that’s the best idea; the team’s lack of a reliable starting pitcher, relief pitching, catching depth and overall quality is evident. Not to mention most of the team’s payroll is stocked with underachieving veterans like Johan Santana and Jason Bay. Perhaps Alderson’s plan all along was to slowly strip down the exterior and work towards a more sustainable future while putting together a team that barely keeps fans interested.
It’s hard to argue with that sentiment when the general belief is that the Mets will not go over two-years in a contract for a closer and will not spend more than $8-10 million in late inning relief. The idea would be to have the team sign two pitchers battle it out for the closer position, with the loser taking over the eighth inning role.
This idea resonates with some because it allows the Mets to be flexible in the future, while still shoring up the back end of the ‘pen. The need for a closer, or at the very least a lights-out reliever, is evident in today’s game and the Mets would be wise to have someone with more experience than Bobby Parnell take the ball come the 9th inning.
By allowing their contracts to expire in the next few years, it once again points to the Mets shooting for 2013-14 and having their signing act as a stop-gap for the coming years.
Every move in Alderson’s reign as GM has been one that has an eye on the future, with a stress on the team bridging toward that future. But why has Alderson’s tenure been marked only by low-risk free agent signings? Why can’t the Mets be creative with their trading abilities and look outside the organization for someone who will help build toward that future?
It’s becoming increasingly obvious the Mets are in a rebuilding mode, we just aren’t fully aware of it yet. It will likely hit home when Reyes signs elsewhere and the Mets use the compensation draft picks for “high impact” picks that might help us down the line.
It’s obvious that Alderson has a plan. It might not be the most attractive plan and it might not be the easiest to swallow – but it is a plan nonetheless. Perhaps in the next few years the Wilpons will magically regain all of the money they lost in the Madoff scandal and perhaps the Mets will be able to find some value in the ungodly contracts that weigh down the team. The fact of the matter is the Mets are a mess and one day they should be able to dig themselves out of the hole they have dug themselves into. We can only hope.