Eleven seasons have elapsed since the day former Mets partner Nelson Doubleday prophesized Fred Wilpon would run this organization into the ground, while additionally offering a less than kind opinion regarding Jeff Wilpon on his way out the door.
During the best of times spanning 2005 through 2008, the Mets amassed a 357-291 record. Otherwise, the Mets have played below .500 in the seven of eleven seasons since the Wilpon & Son era began in 2003, posting a 511-622 record to show for those sub-par seasons.
The worst campaign by far came in 2003 when the club posted a 66-95 record on the heels of the Steve Phillips and Bobby Valentine implosions. I guess if you compare where the Mets are now against when they launched solo in 2003, a bizarre case can be argued that overall progress has been made, with one N.L. East flag to boot. But I’m not inclined to be that kind. No compassionate or creative configuration of numbers or revisionist history will wipe away the tears cried over seven of eleven lost years, one almost glorious season, and a lengthy crippling organizational collapse that’s taken a lethargic snails pace through molasses to dig out from.
But THIS really isn’t about THAT, and I’m not necessarily going THERE, because there are too many years involved and too many details to rehash. But in the days before Sandy Alderson’s hiring, trust me, I was much less forgiving.
If you’re like me, then you believe that under Sandy Alderson, the Mets organization is finally being operated correctly, or at least the closest we’ve been to correct since (fill in blank).
With our collective minds now officially fixed on 2014 and beyond, all that’s missing from the newly installed standard operating procedure is the ability to spend like a confident New York National League team should. Over the course of the season, we have been reassured numerous times by the General Manager (who speaks for ownership these days) that significant spending will transpire.
Since taking over after the 2010 season, Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta have rebuilt the farm system. While pockets of Omar Minaya’s draft selections still remain within the system, proof of the new triumvirate’s overhaul lies in the numerous players drafted under their reign who passed through Las Vegas this season for the first time.
Within three years, Team Sandy has re-established an organizational flow extending all the way to Flushing. Not incidentally, as their handy work now permeates the entire scope of the system, a high measure of success was enjoyed by all of the Mets’ minor league affiliates this past season.
With respect to sustaining competitive longevity, this is the best way to keep things moving along. But for all their hard work, Alderson and Co. have yet to draft and develop a premium slugger. We think Omar Minaya left behind a premium pitcher in Matt Harvey. To date, Sandy Alderson has assembled what we believe to be a host of very good, complementary minor league players and pitchers, with perhaps a pair of premium arms. This is where we circle back to the owners.
In order to be a top flight major league team, you need smart people, good scouting and development, and the ability to supplement the major league roster with cold hard cash. So far, two of the three dynamics have been in place and working effectively.
I know what the GM said, but at the end of the day it’s not his money, and it may not necessarily be the Wilpon’s money either. Aren’t we really referring to the owner’s enabler’s money? Signing just one free agent in the coming off-season will not do. The Mets may need to sign two free agents (for arguments sake), and perhaps venture into the high end trade market as well, which is my preference. Either way, that will cost the Wilpons money. No one is necessarily saying everything needs to happen right now. But even over the next two years, I just do not see where ownership’s cash flow is.
Life off Flushing Bay hasn’t been easy these last eleven years, but Sandy Alderson has made considerable strides towards making things better. However, he needs help – but only the kind of help stable ownership can afford and supply. Fred and Jeff Wilpon got everything they needed in order to get themselves out of tough times: refinancing, smart organizational baseball people put in place, a rebuilt farm system, and a tolerant, or dare I say understanding fan base who managed to find favor with many new young players. That’s a rare alignment of the planets by any standard for any business owner facing any large scale dilemma.
Therefore, after a lengthy stay on the financially disabled list, the time has come for Fred and Jeff Wilpon to step up to the plate again. Anything less, and any player would be suspected of malingering. This should apply to ownership as well. Isn’t that what happened with Frank Francisco this season? He was suspected by a few of malingering, wasn’t he?
Despite what sometimes seems like a constant volley of slings, arrows, and overwhelming sentiment against the Wilpons, I think I speak for many when I say we as fans still largely appreciate the fact that this club has only been in the hands of two families, as opposed to some cold heart conglomerate, or other nefarious minded profit grabber. We’re cognizant of that.
There is still a chance the Wilpons and the greater fan base will reconcile their long evolving differences. But to that I say, nothing ventured, nothing gained – waiting for attendance to increase next year first before ownership jumps back into the game with both feet by the trade deadline is a risky game of chicken to play. So despite easing, yet continuing financial straights, I would suggest they still step up their game and lead their organization from the front like a risk manager should. A whole new image awaits.