Thursday, December 2, 2010

ESPN: Mets are 'playoff-contending team'

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.


Uncle Mike said...

Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Terry Collins should totally treat 2011 as a rebuilding year. Consolidate their prospects. Train the guys they already have. Figure out what's wrong with their stars. Get the hurt guys healthy. There's nothing dishonorable about "throwing away" one year with the intent of turning one thrown-away year into five, seven, or even ten good years.

What would be dishonorable is being .500 at the All-Star Break, and seeing the team, say, 8 games behind the NL East leaders and 6 games behind the Wild Card, and presuming that, hey, maybe we CAN make something of this season after all. If it happens, great. But don't push your luck by trading two or three prospects for a rent-a-player.

You know the old saying: "It'll never fit if you force it." It would be better for Met fans for their team to look like they're building for the future and finish eight games behind the Wild Card leader than to go for it now and finish one game behind. Because a close call like that would be seen as, "We came so close, but we failed again." Better to raise a smaller hope (i.e. the old Brooklyn Dodger cry of "Wait 'til next year") than a false one.

Jon Lewin said...

Yes, Uncle Mike, 2011 should be a rebuilding year. The last thing the Mets need is a rerun of 2004, when false hope led to the Kazmir-Zambrano debacle.

Uncle Mike said...

I've given this some thought, Jon: What if the Mets hadn't traded Kazmir? No need to do this in my "Otherwise Sports" blog, it's short and simple.

Anyway, I'm not sure Kazmir would've helped much in 2006, as the Mets needed a better bullpen that year; in the NLCS, the starters were not the problem.

In 2007, Kazmir might have made a big difference, except the "worst" Met starter that year was Pelfrey. Maybe Kazmir in his spot holds him back. In 2008, Pelfrey then takes the place of the injured Pedro, and maybe the Mets get into the Playoffs.

Kazmir doesn't help much the last 2 years, but he gets them into the Playoffs in '07 and '08, and then, who knows? Maybe the Mets turn into the '69 or '86 Mets, instead of the '88, '99 or '06 Mets.

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