Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes:
Here the New York Mets go again, throwing money at a big-name free agent who they misguidedly convince themselves will solve their troubles.But only a week ago, Passan argued that the current market for Bay and Matt Holliday made them "incredible bargains":
Boston understands value. Its proprietary formulas say something like what all of the publicly available metrics affirm: Holliday is one of the most valuable everyday players in the game, and Bay’s bat is a mighty force. And when assigning a dollar amount to their valuations, the Red Sox are saying: Right now, Holliday and Bay are incredible bargains.Even if Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright are all back at full strength in 2010, the Mets still need a big slugger in the middle of their lineup to replace Carlos Delgado. There were only two top hitters on the market and the Mets landed one of them. That is great news for the Mets.
Will Bay's bat be the same "mighty force" in Citi Field? Probably not. But that does not mean the Mets were better off with Angel Pagan. The Mets needed a big upgrade in left field or at first base and now they have it.
But what if Bay turns out to be the next George Foster, as Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman believes? Pearlman and Passan both believe the Mets would have been better off spending the money on John Lackey, and I completely agree. But there is no assurance that Lackey wanted to play in New York, or that they would have been able to outbid the Red Sox for his services.
Even if the Mets had managed to land Lackey, they would have ended up giving a five-year deal to an over-30 pitcher who has been on the disabled list at some point the last two seasons. So how is signing Lackey less of a risk than signing Bay?
Both Passan and Pearlman buy into the notion that the Mets have a dreadful record when it comes to giving players big contracts through trade or free agency. But the Mets were in contention from 2006-2008 because of the big contracts they were willing to give out. Some moves obviously worked a lot better than others, but where would the Mets be without Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez?
But if the Mets are going to maintain a winning organization, they need to drastically upgrade their farm system. Passan writes:
Since 1985, the Mets have signed and developed five players who later wore their uniforms in an All-Star game. Five. Wright, Reyes, Todd Hundley, Edgardo Alfonzo and Bobby Jones. Even Kansas City can say it has passed eight homegrown All-Stars through its system. . . .
New York spent $3.1 million on the amateur draft in 2009. It was the lowest figure in the game. Ramping up their spending in Latin America – which has netted them their three top prospects, Fernando Martinez, Jenrry Mejia and Wilmer Flores – doesn’t excuse going skinflint stateside.
All very true, but as the Red Sox and Phillies have shown, it is possible to have a payroll around the size of the Mets' payroll and still build a great farm system.
But until that day comes, at least the Mets signed Jason Bay.
Happy New Year. Here's to a much better 2010 for the Mets.