Sunday, December 15, 2013

When the light at the end of the tunnel is Bartolo Colon

How is it that the Mets' free-agent signings indicate they are spending again? The payroll currently projects to $83 million, which would be lower than last season. And the Mets' next offseason goals appear to be dumping Ike Davis and perhaps Daniel Murphy because they are arbitration-eligible.

The Mets need bullpen depth, especially with Bobby Parnell still recovering from herniated disk surgery, but they let LaTroy Hawkins go because they didn't want to pay a 41-year-old $2.5 million. And yet they are willing to give Bartolo Colon, who turns 41 in May, $20 million.

The signings of Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Colon would be a lot more exciting if the Mets were actually adding pieces, but they still appear to be treading water. If trading Davis and/or Murphy can improve the club, great, but Davis has much more upside than Lucas Duda and Murphy is a career .290 hitter. The Mets hit .237 as a team in 2013 and new additions Granderson and Young both hit below that last season.  Even if they both manage to hit homers in Citi Field, it will be nice to have someone on base.

On the plus side, the signing of Colon shows that the Mets are not simply writing off 2014, but are willing to make a short-term investment to strengthen the rotation in Matt Harvey's absence. Signing Granderson does offer hope that the team will have hitting for the next two or there years, and if they are lucky, four years.

Young is a gamble. Billy Beane's front office is as smart as any in MLB, and they elected to let both Young and Colon go.

When Granderson joined the Mets, he said that people tell him that true New Yorkers are Met fans. I'm not even sure what a "true New Yorker" is. I'm a native, and I've always been a Met fan, but one could argue that the hordes of people who come to New York because that is where they want to be are equally true New Yorkers as those of us who never left.

What is less debatable is that a true New York team is willing to spend money, since New York is the biggest of the big markets. As New York fans, including Met fans, know all too well, spending money does not always translate into victories or even good teams.  But Met fans also know that the last time the team ramped up its spending, they won 97 games and made it to Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006.

If the remainder of the offseason does not result in an increased payroll, let's hope it at least does not consist mostly of salary dumps.   

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