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26 December, 2010

Mets off-season reaction 12/14

Lets start with the news of the day and the Phillies signing Cliff Lee. It's nothing but bad news for the Mets. Spinning it any other way is foolhardy. Philly is now positioned to dominate for at least two more years. The only "positive" with that team from the Mets fans perspective is age and money. Halladay 33, Oswalt 33, Lee 32, Rollins 32, Howard 31, Utley 32, Ibanez 38. Of all those guys, Rollins makes the least amount of money this year at 7.5 mil. So it is likely that in 2 years the Phillies current roster will start to come apart, but those pitchers could still be together and very productive. When Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine were 33,32 and 33 respectively they combined to go 44-28 and the Braves won 103 games. A 24 year old Millwod won 18 games. Even if Oswalt is gone, the trio of Halladay, Lee and Hamels is tremendous. 

  Speaking of 2 years from now, that's when I expect the Mets to start being competitive again. Last year was the first since '06 that I didn't predict the Mets to go to the World Series. Reality set in. I do believe that if the present roster is healthy and plays up to their potential, they can be a mid-80's win team. Last year the pitching staff was good enough to get them to the playoffs. A 3.73 era, 19 shutouts and a pretty decent defense behind them. However (insert Stephen A smith inflection), it's not a good idea to expect Dickey to be what he was last year. I think Pelfrey and Niese have 2nd starter stuff and could combine to win 30-35 games. I actually think Niese has a higher ceiling than Pelfrey, but consistency is an issue for both. Johan has now become an annual guessing game and the bullpen, like most teams, is a guessing game of who will have a good year and who won't. So that's a lot of question marks.
  As for the offense; a lineup of Reyes, Pagan, Wright, Beltran, Bay, Davis, C, 2B can be very productive. We just need to see it day in and day out. Their hitting in the clutch was atrocious. As I said during the season, I know designated drivers who get more people home than the Mets did last year. I don't know if a new hitting coach can make that better, but it can't get worse. 
  I would expect Beltran to be a July trade that maybe brings back a pitching prospect. I think Reyes only gets dealt if the season is a full blown disaster. 
 Patience is a virtue, right? It seems to me that most Mets fans have been begging for the Mets to grow players, give them a chance, etc. I believe in that too. But this requires patience, which seems to be in short order with Mets fans. At the end of the year every day there were 6, 7, 8 home grown Mets in the lineup. It was refreshing but you can't expect that group of players to be great, or even good, right away. Watching the Yankees core over the years has fooled most of us into thinking "if they can do it, why can't we?" It ain't that easy. So if you want to grow from within, you have to be willing to wait. But so does the front office. I applaud them for not dealing Niese, Pelfrey or Davis last year. We'll see if they can be that patient this year. But one nice thing about the current group of home-grown guys is they are cheap. After this year, when Ollie, Castillo and Beltran come off the books, there should be more fiscal flexibility.

  Speaking of money. Everyone who says "the Mets aren't spending money!" is wrong. They spend it to the tune of 130-million dollars this year. What they do is spend it poorly. I can't blame the team for not going out and giving out more big contracts and making matters worse. If you renovate your home, you set a budget and stick to it. You don't start saying "you know what, let's knock down this wall and make the living room bigger too. And while we're at it, lets put an addition over the garage." The Mets are renovating. Hopefully the Three Wise Men (Alderson, Riccardi and DePodesta) can turn things around with smart contracts, trades and successful development of players. The Mets need to become a team players want to play for. That is not the case right now. I believe that the Three Wise Men can change that, in part by convincing the owners to let them do their jobs. They have more than enough credibility to earn that right.  
  I have no clue if Terry Collins will be good or not. My gut says no. But Phillies fans hated the hire of Charlie Manual. Sox fans wanted no part of Terry Francona. So we'll just have to wait and see.

  No doubt about it, Mets fans are going to take some lumps next year and probably the year after. My default line about every season when expectations are middle to low is "I want them to play hard and be entertaining." We saw that in '05 and it grew into something in '06. Last season there were too many games where there was no fight, no hope. Baseball is all about hope. So if they can at least show me something in '11 that gives me hope, I can wait for the talent to blossom and the Phillies to get old.

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