In our town, the New York Mets constitute one of four major local sports teams that have reached rock bottom and are on the rise. The Giants with Joe Judge and Logan Ryan, the Rangers with two 1st rounders, the Jets with $75 million in cap space and the Knicks with their draft picks and the new regime.
Over the past few days, I have watched an interview on MLB Network with David Cone on High Heat with Chris Russo and I also heard one of the radioheads on WFAN in New York talking about the big James Harden trade to the New York Nets. Not only did they speak about their teams and winning games but, according to Cone, how important it was for George Steinbrenner to win the back pages and how the Brooklyn Nets are doing the same.
This got me thinking. Do Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson want to build the Mets the “right way” by building a strong farm system, making smart trades and being fiscally responsible or must they and do they give any thought to winning the back pages of the local newspapers especially against the NY Yankees. Is it a real balancing act? Can it affect their decision making?
Do the N.Y. Mets with the Francisco Lindor trade in their back pocket have to consider different options for filling CF and rounding out their pitching roster now that the Yankees have re-signed D.J. Lemahieu?
Did the Yankees sign LeMahieu because the Mets have Lindor? They do not compete in the same division or even the same league. What was the catalyst for the signing so quickly after the trade?
Do the N.Y. Knicks need to make a move to counter the James Harden trade to the Nets? What about DeShaun Watson to the N.Y. Jets? Do you think that will win the back pages? This is a problem unique to New York and to a lesser degree in Chicago and Los Angeles as well. I believe the Mets have the right people in place to not get in to a newspaper back page war while building their team.
N.Y. Mets management must stay focused. They trade for Lindor and Carrasco and almost immediately the Yankees sign Lemahieu. It seems like five minutes have gone by and it is announced that Corey Kluber is going to the Yankees. Before you know it, it is announced the Mets are close to signing Brad Hand.
As most are aware. that didn’t happen and he eventually signed with the Washington Nationals but why was it fodder so quickly after the Kluber announcement. Is this pure serendipity? Do the Mets have to respond with a move or not because the Nationals don’t command the New York back pages.
Should we expect the Mets to now spend on a big name free agent because the Yankees are winning the PR war? I hope not. Sandy Alderson must stay the course and build for now AND the future. Signing Michael Conforto, extending Pete Alonso, Noah Syndergaard and Dom Smith should be their priority and whatever the New York Yankees do should not affect the Mets plans for building a championship team.
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In New York, sometimes winning on the field is secondary to winning the back pages. We can thank George Steinbrenner for that. I hope the New York Mets don’t fall for that old trick.