After the Mets won 73 games in 1968, their biggest offseason move was acquiring Wayne Garrett in the Rule 5 draft. Then again, 1969 was a miracle.
It's going to take a lot more than Henry Blanco to turn the 70-win 2009 Mets into contenders next year. But it is too early to call this offseason a failure. If the Mets end up with Jason Bay, Bengie Molina, a half-decent, not-too-pricey starter and the return to health of all the injured stars, 2010 will look a lot better than it does now.
That is, of course, a lot of ifs.
I really wanted John Lackey on the Mets, but I can understand balking at a five-year deal for a pitcher who is over 30 and has been injured at the start of the last two seasons.
ESPN's Buster Olney has a chart of the 16 starters since 1990 who signed free agent contracts of at least five years. The list has a lot more busts (Mike Hampton, Barry Zito, Chan Ho Park, Kei Igawa, Darren Dreifort, Denny Neagle) than big successes (Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina and maybe Kevin Brown).
Olney adds that it is too early to judge CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Daisuke Matsuzaka's contracts.
The list does not include non-free agents who signed contract extensions, such as Johan Santana.
Even after reading the list, I still wish Lackey were a Met, but if the Mets end up with Jason Bay instead, at least it will be easier to justify giving a position player a five year deal if it comes down to that.
The most difficult thing to justify would be giving Molina, who turns 36 next season, a third year.
I also have a bad feeling about giving Joel Pineiro a big contract, just as I'm glad it was not the Mets who gave Randy Wolf almost $30M for three years.
But I don't think the Phillies' getting Roy Halladay drastically improves them, not when they had to give up Cliff Lee. Of course, the Phillies were already a good deal better than the Mets.
But with the Dodgers in disarray because of the ownership issue and the Cardinals possibly losing Matt Holliday, it is not clear how many other NL teams are a good deal better than the Mets.
There is still reason to be hopeful for 2010.