Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Patience - or Lack Thereof

Much like this agitated cat, Mets fans are growing impatient. To use this picture as an example, Mets fans are the cat and the offseason (thus far) is the empty bowl.

Some fans are still calm as can be and others are edgy. A handful have taken to being negative for the sake of it, and the ones who are buying the doomsday scenarios and reckless vitriol being presented by the media are beyond help at this point. All, however, are waiting to be fed.

Before Roy Halladay was traded to the Phillies and John Lackey signed with the Red Sox on the same day, most fans were in agreement with the following notion: Of all the deals that had been made so far this offseason (trades and signings), there wasn't a single player they were upset about the Mets missing out on. To name a bunch of the major moves - 32 year old Chone Figgins signed a deal with Seattle, Placido Polanco (whose value is as a 2nd baseman) signed a 3 year deal to play 3rd base for the Phillies, the Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson, Randy Wolf signed with the Brewers, and the Braves signed two geriatric relievers (Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito).

If the Mets had made any of those moves, they would've been foolish AND they would've been blasted by the media. Figgins would've been seen as an older player with little power, Polanco as someone out of position, Granderson as someone who can't hit lefties, Wolf as too expensive, and Wagner and/or Saito as too old. Since those players all went to other teams, the moves were praised by the media around here and the Mets were painted as a team that had "missed out." Even though they didn't make an offer for any of those players.

When the Halladay and Lackey deals went down, though, lots of the fans reached their breaking point. Lackey didn't sign with the Mets, so to the media (and consequently the fans), that meant that the Mets were a terrible organization who Lackey didn't want any part of. Does that mean the other 28 teams in baseball besides the Mets and Red Sox are also horrible franchises? Because Lackey didn't sign with any of them either.

Halladay is a different story. He went to the Phillies. Does that move improve the Phillies marginally? Absolutely. However, to acquire Halladay, they traded 2008 AL Cy Young Award Winner and proven Postseason bulldog Cliff Lee (along with some of their top prospects). Halladay made it known that the ONLY team he was willing to accept a trade to and sign an extension with was Philadelphia. The Mets had no shot. Again, though, the media spun it as the Mets missing out (when 28 other teams missed out as well), and the fans got angrier and louder.

Today is December 23rd. As an intense and fiercely loyal Mets fan, here is my take:

The biggest need for the Mets this offseason is to find a corner outfielder/middle of the order bat. Right now, they have the best offer on the table for Jason Bay. People are speculating that since he hasn't accepted the Mets' offer yet, he must not want to play here. That may be true. However, using that logic, by rejecting the Red Sox' offer when it was the only one on the table, that must mean he didn't want to play in Boston either. What this appears to be, is a game of cat and mouse. The Mets want Bay, he wants a five year deal (while the Mets have only guaranteed four). Each side is trying to avoid blinking. I'm aggravated at the pace of the negotiations, and I'll be furious if the Mets miss out on Jason Bay and fallback option Matt Holliday. However, they're both still on the market and their suitors are minimal. One of them will probably be a Met in the coming days.

The Mets needed to address their bullpen, and they found one piece with the signing of 30 year old Japanese Reliever Ryota Igarashi. He throws in the mid to upper 90's, and was snatched up on a 2 year deal worth between 3 and 4 million - a very solid move for the Mets that was almost ridiculed because they haven't yet addressed the offense and rotation. If the Mets add one more power reliever (perhaps Octavio Dotel), their bullpen will be in very good shape.

That leaves the starting rotation. If you're a fan who's angry that the Mets didn't sign Jason Marquis (he of the career 4.48 ERA and 1.40 WHIP), I don't know what to tell you. The Mets need a solid #2 type starter to slide in behind Johan Santana, and Marquis is not that. Neither is Randy Wolf. The only #2 type starters on the market are injury risks (Ben Sheets to name one). And I'd much rather have the Mets take a chance on someone like Sheets, if the alternative is someone like Marquis or one year wonder Joel Pineiro. Low-risk, high-reward is the better bet than moderate risk-no reward.

Again, I'm antsy. I wish the Mets had done everything already...signed that power bat, acquired that #2 starter, finished upgrading the bullpen...but they haven't. I can't guarantee that the Mets will fill every hole. But I also don't believe that a team in New York with a brand new ballpark - a team that won 90 games on average from 2005-2008, only to suffer through the worst injury ravaged season in the history of baseball, is undesirable to free agents and as some writers have taken to spewing "a third place team even with Bay and others." I think that idea is a crock. If we're sitting here in a month and the roster is made up of retreads and R.A. Dickey, I'll have been proven wrong. And I'll be pissed. But it isn't January 23rd, it's December 23rd. Carlos Beltran signed in January, Johan Santana was traded in January. Mets fans should have a little more patience...not tons, just a little. See what happens.

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