After two down years and the prospect of minimal spending this offseason, expectations for the Mets in 2011 are low. So I did a double take when ESPN's Buster Olney, while discussing free agent Adrian Beltre's prospects, wrote this:
But here are the playoff-contending teams which don't need a third baseman: the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Phillies, Braves, Rays, Twins, etc., etc.
Which of these is not like the others? The other six teams besides the Mets are not just contenders, they actually make the playoffs in 2010 while the Mets won 79 games. In 2011, I just don't see how the Mets can be a serious contender without a healthy Johan Santana.
But if Olney is looking longer-term, say, over the life of a four-year deal for Beltre, I'm glad to see him upgrade the Mets to contending class. Maybe it won't be until 2012, when the payroll situation drastically changes, but the Mets do have a core of top players, a good crop of 2010 rookies and a significantly upgraded front office.
The Mets have earned a lot of criticism the last few years, but that's only because they are a big-market team that should be contending, not because they are the most hapless organization in baseball, as so many in the media seem to enjoy writing. At least someone is giving the Mets some respect. Now let's hope they can earn it on the field.
One of the things that gives me hope about the Mets is that, even if they had the money this year, the new regime would probably not go after Beltre, who hit 48 homers in his contract year of 2004, was a free agent bust with Seattle, and now has had another great season in another contract year. Buyer beware.