In today’s New York Post, Mike Puma cited “a baseball source with knowledge of the team’s thinking,” who stated the Mets could possibly have extensions in place with both David Wright and R.A. Dickey before the World Series gets underway. It’s important to note that the validity of the source’s statements are not certain (as is the case with all unconfirmed reports). However, this report seems to mesh with what Sandy Alderson said a few days ago. Basically, he continued to stress what he has been stressing for over a month: The Mets want both David Wright and R.A. Dickey in Queens long-term, the team has the money to make it happen, and they’d like to get the deals wrapped up in the near-term.
After the news broke this morning, I suspected that the majority of the fanbase would have a positive reaction. What I’ve seen instead (in comments on blogs, reaction on the twitterverse, etc) is a large portion of fans reacting negatively, calling the potential extensions “insanity” and claiming that the Mets are “caving in to public relations.” Now, it’s OK for certain fans to be against signing Wright and/or Dickey. Today’s reaction seems a bit peculiar, though. It’s almost as if anything the Mets do will be received negatively. For instance, if the story was that the Mets wouldn’t be signing Wright or Dickey long-term (instead trading them for prospects), these same fans would likely be screaming about how the team is broke and all hope is lost. Well, you can’t have it both ways. Complaining for the sake of it is extremely annoying and gets old rather quickly.
Here’s how I see it: The majority of the second half of the Mets’ 2012 season sucked. It was a horror show. Still, this team isn’t a lost cause. The roster isn’t barren. In actuality, the Mets already have a starting rotation that’s Playoff caliber. They have a bunch of solid offensive pieces in the infield, but clearly need to address the situation in the outfield. Likewise, the bullpen needs to be addressed. The payroll is locked in for next year, and will again be around $100 million. There is a huge chunk of money coming off the books after 2013, which will give the Mets added flexibility. Here are the Mets’ options:
Option 1 – Trade both David Wright and R.A. Dickey for prospects you can only pray will pan out, while re-allocating the dollars you would’ve used to sign Wright and Dickey to the current free agent class. To me, that’s a horrendous idea. Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino. Those are the “cream of the crop” guys who are out there. A solid offensive player who’s about to get egregiously overpaid, a world-class talent who happens to be both past his prime and a recovering, at times relapsing alcoholic and drug addict, and a past his prime Shane Victorino. Anyone like that idea?
Option 2 – Trade both David Wright and R.A. Dickey for prospects you can only pray will pan out, while not spending any significant dollars to improve the roster for 2013. Whether it’s a rightful reaction or not, doing this would likely use up any last shred of goodwill the fans have toward this franchise, while leading to a steep drop in revenue (which is the reverse of what the Mets need if they plan to spend big going into 2014). Now, this option is acceptable if David Wright and R.A. Dickey refuse to sign even in the face of a great effort by the Mets to lock them up. As of now, there is no indication that Wright and Dickey are against staying. That is why the next option is the one the Mets should choose (and it appears they’re going to).
Option 3 – Sign both David Wright and R.A. Dickey to reasonable contract extensions as soon as possible. Hope to compete in 2013, but realize that 2014 is the year the Mets will be able to spend significant dollars in order to add pieces via free agency or trade. With Johan Santana and Jason Bay‘s contracts coming off the books after 2013, the Mets should be able to re-enter the marketplace in a serious manner.
Blowing up this team is not necessary. What’s necessary, is fixing what’s broken (the outfield and the bullpen). David Wright and R.A. Dickey are part of the solution, not a symptom of the disease. Wright will turn 30 in December. He’s coming off his best defensive season. While all players will tail off as they exit their prime, David Wright is still clearly an extremely valuable asset at the plate and in the field. He’s also the face of the franchise. Indications are that he’s hoping for a contract that will take him to the end of his career, but is not seeking to bleed the Mets dry. This is a player who clearly wants to stay as long as the Mets are serious about competing. If the Mets aren’t serious about competing -i.e. spending – starting in 2014, they shouldn’t sign Wright and he shouldn’t want to be here. I believe, though, that they are serious about competing and that their plan will be relayed to Wright and Dickey.
R.A. Dickey was arguably the best pitcher in baseball in 2012. Dickey will turn 38 in October. He throws a harder knuckleball than those who have utilized the pitch in the past, so it’s impossible to say whether or not the wear and tear on him will be equivalent to the wear and tear on someone like Tim Wakefield. Still, any pitcher can break down for any reason at any time. There should always be hesitation when discussing large dollars and years with pitchers. However, there’s no indication that R.A. Dickey is about to break down. If he’s not looking for an insane contract, he and the Mets should be able to agree on deal that’s fair for both sides.
I believe signing Wright and Dickey is what the Mets have to do, and what they will do. It’s the right move baseball wise, and that’s all that matters (even if it will have a positive effect public relations wise). At the same time, it’s not acceptable to sign these two players if the team isn’t prepared to spend what’s necessary either during the 2013 season or before the 2014 season to surround Wright, Dickey, and the rest of the team with players who address areas of need and help lead the team to legitimate contention.
The Mets can legitimately contend in 2014, perhaps earlier. I feel that Sandy Alderson and Co. are in the final stages of the plan that will bring this team back to respectability and hopefully prosperity. David Wright and R.A. Dickey should be part of that plan. If the Mets manage the roster wisely and astutely, this will pay off. There simply needs to be less reactionary nonsense, and a little more patience.