For the first time in Major League history, the Cincinnati Reds are not hosting the first MLB game of the regular season. No, that tradition had to die so Major League Baseball could begin the 2000 season in Japan. That led to the Mets and Cubs playing the first two games of the season in the Tokyo Dome.
Everything about the game was bizarre. There were the players wearing advertisements on their jerseys to be reminiscent of NPB players. There was the the slightly expanded rosters to accommodate the teams traveling to Japan and having a slightly shorter Spring Training. There was also fans having to get up for a 6:00 A.M. first pitch.
Really, in terms of baseball, Bobby Valentine, who had managed the Chiba Lotte Marines before coming back to the US, was probably the only person comfortable. That would not be true for long as he would quickly become rather uncomfortable with the Cubs hitters looking very comfortable at the plate against new Mets ace Mike Hampton.
Before you could blink, it was 1-0. Hampton walked Eric Young to start the game, and he would quickly steal second allowing him to score on a Damon Buford (who previously played in Japan) RBI single. Mark Grace was hit by a pitch, and suddenly, you were cringing at the prospect of a Sammy Sosa homer.
While much changed about the Mets this past offseason, most of the greatest infield of all-time remained in tact. We saw that as they turned a 6-4-3 double play helping Hampton and the Mets get out of the inning without further damage.
This is pretty much how it went for the Mets all day. Hampton would walk the ballpark, nine in total over five innings, and the infield defense would bail him out.
After a lead-off walk to Shane Andrews in the second, he was immediately erased as Jose Nieves hit into a 6-6-3 double play. In the fifth, things would have been much worse after Hampton walked Andrews to force in a run had he not induced Nieves to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the fifth.
After that pitch, Hampton was done. He had thrown 103 pitches over five while allowing four hits and nine walks. He’d also throw a wild pitch while striking out two. If you are looking for a bright side, he was getting a lot of groundballs in front of what is still an amazing infield defense, and he did not allow one extra base hit.
While Hampton was fighting it throughout the game, Jon Lieber cruised through seven innings.
Believe it or not, the Mets real offensive threat early in the game was Rey Ordonez. He had a lead-off single in the third, and after Hampton bunted him over, and Rickey Henderson singled, he’d score on a Darryl Hamilton sacrifice fly.
The following inning, the Mets had an opportunity to break the 1-1 tie to take the lead with Ordonez drawing a two out walk to load the bases, but Hampton was not able to help his own cause.
Things were interesting and close into the seventh due to Dennis Cook bailing out Turk Wendell in the sixth. Unfortunately, Cook could not get out of his own trouble in the seventh as Andrews hit a two run homer to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead. That lead would grow to 5-1 when Grace homered off Rich Rodriguez in the eighth.
With Lieber out of the game in the eighth, Edgardo Alfonzo drew a lead-off walk off of Brian Williams, and Mike Piazza homered to pull the Mets to within 5-3. Unfortunately, this was not the start of a huge comeback as six of the last seven Mets recorded outs to end the game.
It was one day, but the moves made by Steve Phillips to take this Mets team over the top did not do much. Hampton took the loss while walking nine over five innings. Derek Bell, who also came in that trade, was 1-for-4, and Todd Zeile, who was signed to replace John Olerud, was 0-for-4.
Still, it is just one game, and it was an odd one by all accounts. We shall see how the next game goes as well as the rest of the 2000 season.
Game Notes: Bobby Jones and Al Leiter did not make the trip as they are preparing for their starts at Shea. This means Rick Reed will start the second game of the season. Henderson isn’t exactly endearing himself to fans as he followed playing cards with Bobby Bonilla with a demand for a new contract. He was, however, 1-for-4 with a walk.
Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.
When you break it all down, it appears the Mets had a high payroll. In fact, Spotrac had the Mets with a $146.3 million payroll which was the 12th highest in the sport.
For starters, David Wright‘s $15 million salary was included. As reported by Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, that was renegotiated down to $9 million with deferred money. That drops the payroll down to $140.3 million.
That alone drops the Mets from 12th to 14th in payroll. If you back out Wright’s entire $15 million, the active payroll would be down to $131.3 million, which would rank 16th.
Like with Wright, Yoenis Cespedes was injured and could not play. With him injuring himself on his farm leading the Mets to challenge and renegotiate Cespedes’ contract. All said and done, his $29 million salary in 2019 was reduced to $14.8 million.
Taking that money away from the payroll, which includes Wright’s renegotiated deal, the Mets payroll drops from the original $146.3 million to $126.1 million. That’s a figure moving the Mets to just the 18th best payroll.
Looking at the Spotrac calculations, it actually includes the deferred monies owed to Bobby Bonilla and Bret Saberhagen. When you remove those amounts, the payroll is reduced by $1.4 million. That $124.7 million payroll would drop them down to 19th.
That’s right. In terms of expenditures to players actually with the organization in some capacity, the Mets had the 19th highest payroll. That kept them JUST outside the bottom third.
Of course, if you back out the whole of Wright and Cespedes, who were insured and did not play, the ensuing $102.3 million payroll would rank 25th.
Depending on how you choose to analyze it, the Wilpons pocketed at least $20 million between Wright and Cespedes, perhaps more.
Fact is, the Mets actually spent money in line with the bottom third in the league despite mortgaging the future to try to win in 2019, telling the fans they were all-in, and boasting “Come get us!” to all of baseball.
By now, Mets fans are well aware playing in New York is just different, and there are some players who struggle with the experience. There are countless examples, and it is really difficult to ascertain who will struggle, and who will succeed.
Bobby Bonilla was kid from the Bronx who grew up a Mets fan. When he hit free agency, he wanted to be a Met, and it proved to be the worst thing that ever happened to him.
While he did have good years, he wasn’t the player we expected. It led to booing and probably worse. Things were so bad he had to wear earplugs.
Jason Bay handled Boston extraordinarily well, but he couldn’t quite handle New York. However, to be fair, there would prove to be extenuating circumstances like the outfield walls and concussions.
What’s really interesting is even being a Yankee previously isn’t an indicator of immediate success. For example, Curtis Granderson needed an adjustment year before taking off in 2015.
That adjustment year is something we’ve seen on multiple occasions. The most classic example is Carlos Beltran who went from complete and utter bust to Hall of Famer.
What is interesting with respect to these and other players who have struggled with the environment is they are not always upfront about how difficult it is to play and adjust to playing in New York.
To an extent, that makes Edwin Diaz unique.
In an interview with Nathalie Alonso of MLB.com, Diaz admitted to his struggles, and he also spoke about how he hopes Beltran can help him adjust. Certainly, it would make a lot of sense considering they have had very similar experiences.
What really stands out is he’s admitted to needing help learning how to handle the city and the need to prepare himself mentally.
While Diaz did not address the booing, it certainly had to be a factor. It’s hard to believe it wasn’t.
Considering his performance and the fans frustrations, you can understand their booing. In fact, you could say it was merited. However, now, we know it was the worst possible thing fans could’ve done.
On Opening Day, the fans need to give Diaz a standing ovation. We need to show our support of him and ease some of his anxiety. When he struggles, the fans need to refrain from booing him. Rather, the fans need to understand him.
He’s admitted to a struggle. That doesn’t make him mentally weak. In fact, it makes him strong. Anyone who admits a struggle and admits for help is strong. That said, he does need help.
It’s incumbent on fans to help the extent they can. Don’t boo him. Support him. Give him peace of mind. This is what fans need to do to help Diaz perform to the best of his ability, which at the end of the day, is all the fans want.
A reinvigorated Diaz returning to his 2018 form is something this Mets team desperately needs to succeed. Let’s do all we can to make sure that happens.
In 2004, Carlos Beltran was one of the best players in baseball. Between his time with the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros, he hit .267/.367/.548 with 36 doubles, nine triples, 38 homers, 104 RBI, and 42 stolen bases.
By WAR, he was the tenth best player in baseball. In the postseason, there was no one better than him as he hit eight homers in 12 postseason games.
This led to his signing a huge seven year $119 million contract. It was a contract befitting his burgeoning superstar status.
Only he wasn’t a superstar in 2005. Rather, he looked like a overpaid player who could make fans wonder if this deal would be as bad or worse as the Bobby Bonilla signing.
There was his rolling over on pitches hitting weak grounders to second. He had this inexplicable propensity to bunt. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, he and Mike Cameron dove for the same ball in San Diego leading to one of the more horrific collisions you’ll ever see.
Overall, Beltran only hit .266/.330/.414 with 34 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, and 78 RBI. The 97 OPS+ would be the third worst of his career. Things were so bad Beltrán was booed lightly during player introductions on Opening Day in 2006.
That 2006 season proved to be the best season of Beltran’s career.
The 8.2 WAR was the best of his career, and frankly, he was flat out robbed of the MVP award. His 41 homers tied Todd Hundley for what was then a Mets single season record (surpassed this year by Pete Alonso). He was an All-Star in addition to winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
This was easily the best season any Mets outfielder ever had, and it is in the conversation for best ever season by a Mets position player.
After the complete and utter disaster that the 2005 season was, Beltran immediately turned things around, and he set himself on a path which will eventually lead to his Hall of Fame induction.
In 2018, Diaz was arguably the best closer in the game with a Major League leading 57 saves with a 0.791 WHIP and a 15.2 K/9. He was so great that year the Mets admitted to including Jarred Kelenic in a deal just to keep him away from the Phillies.
Like with Beltran in 2005, things were horrid for Diaz.
In addition to blowing seven saves and losing the closer’s role, Diaz allowed a career high 15 homers. To put it into perspective, Diaz allowed 15 homers over the 2017 and 2018 seasons combined.
He’d have a career worst 5.59 ERA, 9.0 H/9, 36 ER, 73 ERA+, 4.51 FIP, 1.379 WHIP, and other categories as well. It was a nightmare of a season which led to Mets fans first being frustrated and later booing him.
Through it all, like Beltran, Diaz remained incredibly talented. No matter how much people want to over emphasize the effect New York has on player performance, ultimately talent wins out in the end. No one knows that better than Beltran.
With Beltran now Diaz’s manager, he can pull his former Puerto Rican World Baseball Classic teammate aside and impart the wisdom which helped him overcome the adversity he faced his first year in New York to become a Hall of Famer.
Remember, Beltran is one of many who experienced struggles in his first year with the Mets, and he’s one of the few who overcame it and became an even better because of it. With him at the helm, he can make sure Diaz can have the very same transformation.
In an effort to make the All Star voting more enticing and draw interest to the game, Major League Baseball has changed the voting for this year. Essentially up until June 21, the fans get to vote like they always did. After that, there will be a “Starters Election.” The Staters Election has the fans vote for the starters from the now reduced list over a 28 hour window.
This is a change for its own sake, and it gets it partially right (more on that in a moment). Really, if Major League Baseball wants to get fans interested in the game, let the fans pick their own All Star. In this instance, their own All Star means the player they want to represent their favorite team.
Take the Marlins for example. Are any of their players really All Star worthy? Maybe Brian Anderson who has a 1.8 WAR this season. The problem there is Anderson is 10th among NL third baseman in WAR meaning if he’s selected a worthy player is going to be left off in his stead.
Now, that’s the way it is and will always be so long as every team is represented. If this is going to continue to be a fan spectacle, you do want to see every team represented. After all, even a team like the Marlins, who draw worse than some Triple-A teams, has fans, and you want them to tune in to watch. You want to see Anderson, or whoever their representative is play in the game.
But if you’re going to want to entice the Marlins fans to watch, why not let them pick who they want to watch. For them, it could be Anderson, Miguel Rojas, Caleb Smith, or whomever else it might be. If you boil it down, if you are keeping a representative for every team to keep fans engaged, let them pick their representative.
By doing so, you not only keep them engaged, but you also prevent them from seeing a player they don’t want to see in the game. For example, Mets fans saw Bobby Bonilla as their lone All-Star in 1993 and 1995 despite the fans likely wanting to see players like Dwight Gooden, Rico Brogna, or John Franco in the game. Remember, if you are trying to entice fans, you should entice them with players they want to see play.
That includes being able to vote for pitchers. There are logistical issues with pitchers being available to pitch in the game. However, that should not prevent fans from having their favorite players on the roster even if they cannot participate in the game.
Remember that this would create a pool of just 15 players on a 34 man roster. That’s just seven additional players. Certainly, you could accommodate this by adding six more roster spots if deemed necessary. After all, September rosters are 40. If a manager can handle 40 players in September, there’s no reason he cannot handle that in an exhibition game where managers try go get everyone into the game.
Really, when looking at it that way, there’s no real reason why fans couldn’t or even shouldn’t pick their own team’s representative. Let the Marlins pick their one guy. Mets fans seem to want to push for Pete Alonso. Let them see him in the game. Let Yankees fans send CC Sabathia for one last All Star appearance before his possible Hall of Fame career ends. Again, let fans see who they want to see who they want.
You can do a results show on MLB Network announcing those players. You can then do another show announcing the pool of elected players. Then, you can do the Staters Election Major League Baseball has implemented. Only this time, fans are picking from the actual All-Stars. Then, you can hold the results until the game.
You get fans tuning in a little earlier to find out exactly who the starters are because they won’t know until player introductions. If all done properly, you get more interest because fans are seeing who they actually want to see, and you get more people tuning in earlier in order to see the results. Ultimately, this is the best way to handle every team represented and creating the highest possible level of fan interest in the game.
Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.
There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.
To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .
Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.
That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.
Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:
- Amos Otis for Joe Foy
- Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel
- Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga
- Jason Isrinhausen for Billy Taylor
- Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.
With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.
Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.
Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.
So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.
Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:
Super Bowl XXXVI
After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.
What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player. Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.
As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.
As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.
Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.
Super Bowl XXXIX
With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:
The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1
Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.
Super Bowl XLIX
The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.
Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.
Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.
As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.
Super Bowl LIII
This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.
The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.
Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.
Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.
In Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, it would have been hard to believe Oliver Perez would eventually be a pariah. That notion seemed all the more bizarre when you saw Perez have a strong 2007 season and with him doing all he could do to help prevent the Mets from having a second straight collapse in the final game played at Shea Stadium.
But that wasn’t the whole of Perez’s tenure with the Mets. He signed a big free agent deal with the Mets which blew up as every expected it would. The Mets would eventually shut him down in 2010 when he refused a minor league assignment. The final indignity was throwing Perez into the 14th inning of the final game of the season just so everyone could go home.
Perez was released, spent the 2011 season in the minors, and he would re-emerge as a left-handed a reliever. Surprisingly, he’d emerge as a pretty good one.
Over the past seven seasons, Perez has generally had a good reliever. He has made 397 appearances as a reliever pitching to a 3.47 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 116 ERA+, and an 11.0 K/9. In the relevant time frame, he is in the top 10 among relievers in both K/9 and strikeout rate.
While he struggled to start the year with the Nationals, he rediscovered himself with the Indians. In 51 games with Cleveland, he was 1-1 with a 1.39 ERA, 0.742 WHIP, and 12.0 K/9.
If his name was Oscar Palmer instead of Oliver Perez, Mets fans would be interested in him. Instead of seeing Ollie, they would see a cheap left-handed reliever who could contribute in their bullpen.
But as we saw with Bobby Bonilla returning to the Mets in 1999, Mets fans cannot and will not forget. The shame of it is Perez could actually be a solid option in the Mets bullpen next year. Hopefully, whoever the Mets get instead of Perez is going to be just as cost effective, more reliable, and not going to garner the same visceral reaction from Mets fans.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.” While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise. There are several reasons why:
- Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
- With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players. You don’t need three.
- Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
- The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
- With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
- Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series. After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets. If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
- The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus. You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
- For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
- Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
- It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.
So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?
In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players. With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.
As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.
The Mets did start well. On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division. Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres. No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.
It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.
Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested. Problem was, they weren’t interested.
After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division. While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza. Their assault was relentless.
While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act. After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes. The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.
The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season. They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues. Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.
Now? Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.
He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money. He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors. That is patently false. Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.
The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll. Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.
Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations. That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.
Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors. With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th. Yes, a New York market team, who is currently refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.
For his part, Francesca defends this. He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well. Nothing backs this up remotely. Nothing.
Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization. He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.
And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him. After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done. And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.