Hey loyal readers. Long time no speak. Sorry I’ve been absent from this space for awhile. I promise that it’s not because I’ve been purposefully avoiding having to write a postscript on this mess of a season. My duties covering that other team that plays in the Bronx have rendered me travel weary and a bit short on time to be able to dissect some aspects of the end of the Mets season and beyond. In fact, right now I am concocting the beginning portion of this post from about 35,000 feet somewhere over Arizona on my way back from Anaheim.
Enough of that other team for now. Bringing mention of them only makes the end of the Mets season that much more depressing, though some may look at it as refreshing. The string has finally been played out and the misery that was 2009 was finally able to a attached to a large cement block and dropped to the bottom of Flushing Bay. Speaking of Bay, Jason is now a free agent and I think he would look pretty good manning the Black Hole that is left field at Citi. The burning question is….will the Mets be in the market for any of the top guys to hit the market?
If you believe what Jeff Wilpon had to say during his in studio interview with Mike Francesa back on sept 30th, the organization will be major players this winter for the prime free agents. I mean, what was the owner gonna say to the huge audience likely listening to him that afternoon….that the team was satisfied with it’s roster and ha no intention of trying to improve itself. That sort of proclamation would have been business suicide. In fact, it appears the news of the Wilpons financial demise may have been a bit premature. Check out what CBSSports.com’s Ray Ratto had to say a few days back. I just hope they have a few good lawyers in mind to employ. Seems like they may need ‘em.
The team finished with a putrid 70-92 record. Obviously, with the number of man hours missed by most of their most important players, that record would have conceivably included 15 more wins or so. That would have put this bunch at around 85 wins, which would not have been good enough to overtake the on the cusp of being dynastic Phillies. The reason I highlight all of this is because it is clear the Mets not only have to spend some money in the offseason, but they have to bring in the right guys.
Look at the Phillies. Yes they have studs in Howard, Utley and Rollins, but they also astutely brought aboard guys like Werth and Feliz and of course Ibanez who have blossomed. Some of it is luck (Werth has been a godsend). Yet, all the guys I mentioned not only are talented but they have the mold of winning players. They are gritty and tough and especially in the case of Ibanez, they are wonderful pieces in the locker room. Is anyone saying that about any of the Mets core or guys they have brought in in the last few years? The lone exception may be Jeff Francoeur, but he’s only had a few months in NY to have his apparent grit and fight rub off on some of his Mets teammates.
Having said all of this, this winter’s free agent market is not a stellar one and there is seemingly no rising young star in the Mets farm system who could be a savior-type piece for this floundering organization. Of these top names: Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey, Bobby Abreu, Randy Wolf…which one gets you really excited? Which one can the Mets not afford to let slip away?
After watching Lackey pitch Game 5 of the ALCS vs. the Yankees live at Angel Stadium, I would say he intrigues me the most. The guy is a flat-out bulldog and is in the prime of his career. He just turned 31 yesterday. Let’s not forget he won Game 7 of the World Series back in 2002 as a rookie. Lackey is a heck of a competitor and his mettle has obviously been tested in some big spots. From what I can surmise, the big Texan is going to cost a bundle not just because of his ace-like resume but because he is by far top starting pitcher on the open market. If A.J. Burnett, a guy with half of Lackey’s accomplishments, can bag a five-year/$82.5 million contract, one would think Lackey’s asking price would start at around $100 million for the same five years. To me the Mets have to make him priority number one and put him behind a healthy Johan Santana for the best one-two punch in the N.L.
More to come as the hot stove gets cooking in a few weeks. For now, I’m off to a rainy Yankee Stadium to see if the Bombers can close it out and complete the other half of the Turnpike Series.