Monday, November 30, 2009

What is a Laughing Stock?

Since the Mets' 2009 season mercifully came to a close, there have been quite the number of words/terms that have been used to describe them. They've been labeled pathetic, a joke, second class citizens, and a laughing stock. A great big laughing stock...

What IS a laughing stock? The 1962 Mets were a laughing stock. The Knicks since 2001 are a perennial laughing stock. The Detroit Lions are a laughing stock. But the Mets? Can one unbelievably unlucky injury plagued hell on Earth season make the Mets a laughing stock just like that? Many in the local and national media seem to think so.

The dreadful 2009 season the Mets had has somehow eliminated the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons. Jose Reyes is no longer a star on the rise -he's washed up at age 26 after being healthy for 4 straight seasons (apparently only players on teams other than the Mets recover from injuries in their 20's). The team that was picked by Sports Illustrated before last season to win the World Series is now dead in the water. They apparently have no direction (even though their farm system has been improving and is now around the middle of the pack). They have no hope (even though they sold over 3 million tickets, have pledged to keep a high payroll, and have a brand new ballpark and relatively new network). To the media and uninformed fans of other teams, they're a laughing stock.

From 2005 through 2008, the Mets averaged 89 wins per year. They came back from the dead in 2005, and were one swing away from making it to the World Series in 2006 (but were at a severe disadvantage after losing both their #1 and #2 starters before the NLDS - a fact no one ever brings up). In 2007, everyone knows what happened. In 2008, the Mets lost Billy Wagner in August and ended up missing the Playoffs by a game. Tough endings to seasons? No doubt.

From 1997-2009, the Mets have had 9 winning seasons and 4 losing seasons (three of those losing seasons were 2002, 2003 and 2004). They've made the playoffs 3 times during that span, and missed out on the playoffs by 1 game on 3 other occassions (1998, 2007, 2008). They've consistently been at one of the top spots in baseball as far as attendance is concerned. They've launched their own network, opened a beautiful new ballpark, continued to dwarf the team across town with their charity efforts, and have had no trouble attracting free agents.

But 2009 happened. Apparently, losing Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, JJ Putz, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Johan Santana, Fernando Nieve, Jon Niese, Ryan Church, Alex Cora, Gary Sheffield, Angel Pagan, Brian Schneider, Jeff Francoeur, David Wright and others for huge chunks of the season had nothing to do with the Mets losing over 90 games. They were a laughing stock again (even though they were contenders up until the point when the injuries got too absurd to combat in June). They were a joke of a franchise (even though they had a brand new ballpark, and a network with some of the best in the business as its voices). Their future was doomed and they needed to rebuild (even though their core of David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez was in tact). Their farm system was brutal (even though they have Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, Reese Havens, Josh Thole, Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia, Brad Holt and others on the horizon). All of these things somehow became fact after ONE injury ravaged season.

Now, according to the same drones in the media, it's going to be impossible for the Mets to attract free agents this offseason (even thought they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran after a brutal 2004). If that angle isn't good enough, the writers (New York Daily News, I'm looking at you) will claim that the Mets are in a financial freeze - that they don't intend to spend this winter...another notion that's a complete crock.

All of this hyperbole is enough to drive a regular fan insane. Since most Mets fans are already insane, my advice is to take all of this stuff and shrug. Laugh if you must, or just crack a small smile. Don't believe the nonsense that's being spewed. Don't let the negativity cause you to scale back your fandom. Don't fall for the trap. The 2010 Mets, barring injuries, will be what the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 teams were - teams that win more games than they lose. If they play up to their capability, they'll make the Playoffs. And if they catch the breaks that are necessary for a Championship run, they'll make one. Laughing stock my ass.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Are These Retro Enough?

Today, in an e-mail to fans and in an official release, the Mets announced what had been known by most fans for quite some time: The Mets are getting a new "retro" home jersey for the 2010 season (the old bright white pinstriped jersey is no more).
In its place, is a jersey that is similar but is a lot closer to the orignial Mets home uniforms of the 1960's. The new jersey is a cream color - the drastic difference between the old bright white jerseys and the new cream ones is evident when you look at them side by side. The pinstripes appear to be lighter, while the blue and orange Mets lettering across the chest appears to be darker than the lettering on the old jerseys (which I thought was too bright). However, one thing about the "retro" jerseys is completely 1998.
The jerseys the Mets wore in the 1960's were cream with light blue pinstripes and Mets written in bold across the chest (just like the new "retro" jerseys). One thing those jerseys didn't have? Black drop-shadow encasing the Mets lettering across the chest. To the non die-hard fan, this isn't a big deal. To the fans who almost unanimously relayed their disdain of the black colors that appeared in Mets uniforms starting in 1998 (in surveys that the team sent out themselves). "Retro" jerseys - especially ones that celebrate the teams past- should not have black drop-shadow. Especially when the fans the team polled pretty much all hate the Mets' black hats and uniforms. Black was not an original Mets color. Their colors were blue (from the Dodgers) and orange (from the Giants).
This new jersey is very nice. If it's worn strictly with the blue hats and blue stirrups it will look great. In order to make it look fantastic, the Mets need to remove the black drop-shadow. Tom Seaver never wore a Mets uniform that had any black in it. David Wright's "retro" jersey shouldn't have black either. Make the change.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vomit Inducing Voraciousness

Today, Rational (sometimes) Mets Musings will focus its attention on a report about the team that plays across town -the team that plays in another league, but whose personnel moves profoundly affect the Mets and the rest of Major League Baseball.

In a report for, Jon Heyman relays the news that the Yankees recently reached out to the Toronto Blue Jays to express interest in acquiring their (and arguably the American League's) best pitcher. According to Heyman, in exchange for Roy Halladay, the Yankees are willing to include Phil Hughes and Catcher Jesus Montero (the Yankees' top prospect).

There are two parties I'm disgusted with. One of them is the Yankees...who after a World Series Title that came on the heels of one of the biggest spending sprees in the history of baseball, may attempt to add yet another enormous contract (Halladay will seek a 6 year extension worth over $20 million annually) to stack up next to the rest of their mercenaries. The Yankees cannot be faulted for this. It's disgusting, greedy, and absurd, but it's not their fault. They're simply trying to buy every single marquee player in their quest to eventually make the entire baseball season an irrelevant masquerade. The rules are the rules, and there is no hard salary cap. If the Yankees acquired Roy Halladay, their payroll would skyrocket to close to $250 million (almost double what the Mets' payroll is, and $100 million clear of the field).

Regardless of how recklessly the Yankees are acting during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the party I'm far more disgusted with are the Blue Jays and Alex Anthopoulous. For those who may not know, Anthopoulous is the new General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. In sharp contrast from his predecessor J.P. Ricciardi, Anthopolous has intimated that he has no reservations about dealing Roy Halladay to a team in his own division (namely the Yankees or Red Sox). If the Yankees - and to a lesser extent the Red Sox - were on the same financial level as the Blue Jays, I would agree with lots of Anthopolous' points.

Anthopolous states that if the trade packages are comparable between a team in his division and a team outside of his division, he would almost certainly deal his star player to the team that plays outside of his division. He goes on to say that if the markedly better package is from a team in his division (the Yankees), it's in the best interest of his franchise to deal his star player to that team. While this idea may not be totally absurd if the Blue Jays were the 2nd best team in the Division - making them a contender for the Wild Card each year - it IS absurd since the Blue Jays are also in a division with the Red Sox.

I'm not suggesting that General Managers refuse to deal quality players to the Yankees -that would result in cries of collusion, and create an enormous mess throughout Major League Baseball. My suggestion is that the brand new General Manager of a team in the same division as two financial behemoths, exhausts every single trade option before even considering dealing Roy Halladay to the Yankees. In a perfect world, there would be a hard salary cap in baseball (Maybe $200 million), that would prevent scenarios like Halladay to the Yankees from becoming a reality. With the absence of that hard salary cap, General Managers who outsmart themselves all the way to unemployment must be trusted to not let this situation with the Yankees get any more out of hand.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Ballpark

With the absence of any concrete team related news over the last few days, Rational (sometimes) Mets Musings will today turn its attention to our glistening new ballpark, and the unfair abuse it has taken during its first year of existence.

This weekend, it was reported that the bullpens at Citi Field would be renovated for the 2010 season. Instead of one being behind the other, the bullpens will be changed to a side by side setup. Both broadcasters and players of visiting teams complained throughout the season about the location of the visitors pen (which prevented broadcasters from seeing who was warming up, and prevented players from having a quality view of the game that was taking place before them). The renovation of the bullpens follows lots of other adjustments/corrections that were made to the ballpark in-season (some with lots of fanfare, some that no one noticed).

For any Mets fan, Shea Stadium was a place that was filled with memories - a place that shook with anticipation and excitement, and a place that was loved even though it was absent of charm and was lacking in most areas. The ramps were steep, the escalators were usually broken. The corridors were cold and dark, the seats weren't angled properly, and the blue exteroir that was unveiled in the mid 1980's turned to purple after a while. Nevertheless, the ballpark was loved despite its deficiencies - treatment that Citi Field has not received.

What is Citi Field? It's a brand new ballpark that was built for baseball. It is the home of the New York Mets, who wear Blue and Orange. Like its predecessor, it is a distinct pitchers park. The outside of the ballpark is beautiful, and is a nod to the exterior of Ebbets Field. The seats, for the most part, aren't absurdly priced, and are angled toward the field (there are some blind spots, like there are in every ballpark). There are lots of advertisements, a tremendous food selection, a train that lets you off at the entrance of the ballpark, and pictures of past and current players that take up just about half of the left side of the exterior of the ballpark. Sounds nice, right?

Lots of Mets fans (and New Yorkers) chose to ignore everything that was great about Citi Field, and attacked everything they felt was wrong about it. The most deafening screams came from those who claimed the ballpark was a nod to the Dodgers, and nothing more (simply because the rotunda was named after Jackie Robinson). Those people failed to take into consideration that the Mets are descendants of the Dodgers and Giants (we'll get to the other old New York NL team in a second), whose fans are in turn descendants of the fans of those late, great teams. The fans complained because the seats were green (ignoring the fact that when Shea Stadium opened, the seats were pastel colors). They complained that the walls weren't blue, but were the black and orange colors of the old New York Giants (ignoring the fact that the walls were green when Shea Stadium opened). They complained that there were (gasp!) seats where you couldn't see every inch of the playing field. The last complaint is a circumstance of going to a ballgame. There isn't ONE ballpark in Major League Baseball that offers unobstructed seats from every location in the joint.

There were a bunch of issues that the fans complained about, and those issues were addressed. It was noted by season ticket holders that the LED Boards that ran along the Promenade Level were blocking the view for some fans in the first row. The Mets responded by lowering the boards. The fans complained that there weren't enough pictures of Mets greats adorning the ballpark (even though there were pictures ringing the entire outside of the ballpark to go along with the enormous mural that covered the left field entrance, not to mention the silhouettes of great moments in Mets history that were at each main entrance). In turn, the Mets added MORE pictures to the inside of the ballpark. After all of these complaints were addressed, the only thing left to yell about was the fact that there wasn't enough blue and orange throughout the park.

Ballparks, these fans claimed, were filled with the colors of the home team's uniform (even though that claim is false). Without those colors, the fans roared, it's impossible to know whose ballpark they were at (just like the fans in Fenway Park who forget where they are because of all of the green). With the fans and talk show hosts continuing to roar through the offseason, the Mets announced that they would add orange and blue to the bare walls that enclose the staircases at Citi Field. This, they thought, would please the fans. Wrong. The same fans who screamed about the lack of Mets colors at Citi Field are now screaming because they're worried that the staircase walls (that they haven't seen, and have no idea how the Mets will paint them) will look tacky. Plain walls were an indication that the Mets didn't care about their history. Walls that contain orange and blue are tacky. Note to whoever builds the next Mets ballpark in 50 years: Don't build walls.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Justice for Wally

After being out of Major League Baseball since his unceremonious firing by the Diamondbacks five years ago, Wally Backman has finally (and deservedly) been welcomed back to manage the game he loves. In a story that was reported online at New York Baseball Digest, it was announced today that Backman has been hired to manage the Brooklyn Cyclones (one of the Mets' single A affiliates).

Although Backman is not immediately returning to manage the big league team, one would think he's relieved today that his five year nightmare is finally over. After ripping through the Minor League managing ranks (drawing raves from future stars Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin - who Backman managed in the minors), Backman was hired to manage the Diamondbacks in 2004. Just days later, citing concerns over certain information they claim Backman didn't share during the interviewing process, the Diamondbacks fired Backman.

Wally Backman isn't a saint. He and his wife don't host game night with other couples. He's had some issues with alcohol, and he's had some issues with his finances. With that said, he did not deserve to be hired and fired by the Diamondbacks in the manner that he was back in 2004. After that firing, he certainly shouldn't have been blacklisted by Major League Baseball.

The reason the Diamondbacks fired Backman, was because he had failed to disclose that he had once filed for bankruptcy (not a crime), because of a "domestic disturbance" he was involved in (an altercation with his wife where she struck him, and where Backman was found to have done nothing wrong), and due to the fact that his struggles with alcohol had let to an arrest for Driving under the Influence.

Again, Backman is not a saint. However, filing for bankruptcy is something millions of people go through. It's not something that anyone would ever bring up in an interview with a prospective employer, and it's not something that should trigger a firing. Being involved in a domestic dispute with your significant other is ugly and embarrassing. However, when it's determined that you have done nothing wrong, it should remain ugly and embarrassing, but allow you to keep your job.

Driving while under the Influence is a whole different story. In that instance, Wally Backman was wrong. He made a mistake, and he paid for it - and he was lucky his idiotic decision didn't cause anything more severe. No one would (and no one should) ever condone getting behind the wheel after too many drinks. Tony La Russa (he of the multiple World Series Titles) has made that mistake, so did Billy Martin before him, and a countless number of athletes. While some of those men have a longer resume than Backman, it doesn't make them better people. And it certainly doesn't entitle them to have the jobs they deserve, while Backman is forced to sit on the sidelines begging for another shot.

After five years, Backman has that shot. It's not in the bigs (for now), but it's his chance to do what he loves again. It's his opportunity to take advantage of. For many Mets fans, Backman becoming manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones isn't satisfying because it reminds us of 1986 (I was only 3 when the Mets won that year). It's satisfying because Backman is one of us. He's a human being, and he's made mistakes (and paid for them in full). If Backman takes over the Cyclones with the same fire he displayed as a player, managing in the minors, and managing in the independent leagues, his potential is limitless. If he loses his temper and falters, he will most likely have ruined his best shot at making it all the way back.

Congratulations Wally. Keep your priorities straight, and go kick some ass.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To Whoever is Feeding Crack and Assorted Hallucinogens to the New York Daily News Staff: Please Stop.

It's been irritating enough being subjected to moronic trade ideas from both the hosts and the first time caller/long time ignoramuses on WFAN. To them, the cure for a team that is ravaged by injuries is to trade one or both of its franchise's cornerstone players.

Although misguided and generally absurd, the hosts and callers making themselves heard on WFAN were at least hypothetically trading Jose Reyes and/or David Wright for other young cornerstone players who were under contract. They wanted to trade Jose Reyes for Tim Lincecum or deal David Wright for Kevin Youkilis. Those deals are still something I (and most rational Mets fans) would never consider, but they pale in comparison to the idiotic proposal that was spewed today from the mouth of William "The Bitter Bill" Price of the New York Daily News.

Mr. Price's article, he suggests trading David Wright to the Blue Jays as part of a package for Roy Halladay, and then signing Chone Figgins to play third base. Price claims that his proposed trade "makes sense on several levels." He cites Citi Field as a place where "power - especially from the right side - isn't going to get it done in Citi Field." He claims David Wright had a year that was "horrible" overall in 2009. Price goes on to suggest placing Fernando Martinez in a second deal to acquire a "second tier" Left Fielder (even though there are second tier free agents on the open market). It's hard to pick one aspect of this article to pick apart, so I'll deal with several:

Mr. Price thinks the Mets should deal David Wright as part of a package for Roy Halladay...there are tons of things wrong with that idea alone. First of all, if the Mets were clueless enough to even consider doing that deal, it would be a one for one. As it stands, teams are balking at including even one top tier PROSPECT in a deal for Roy Halladay. If the Mets called up and offered David Wright for him, Wright alone would be the price. Second, Roy Halladay will be 33 years old this season...and he will be asking for a 6 or 7 year extension worth over $120 million dollars. If you're trading David Wright, you trade him for a player that is entering his prime, not exiting it. And if you trade David Wright, you do it after a season where he was near his best. You don't do it off a season where his power numbers sagged because of an adjustment to a new ballpark, the complete lack of protection around him in the lineup, and because of a fastball to the head.

Moving on, Mr. Price claimed that David Wright had a "horrible" season. His home run numbers were down, which brought his RBI numbers down. Aside from that, he was at or near his career averages in every other category. If David Wright played an entire season with the proper players around him (Reyes, Beltran and Delgado), he would've most likely ended up with close to 20 homers and 100 RBI's (to go along with his very good average and OBP). Contrary to lots of hyperbole filled uninformed reports, Citi Field IS NOT a place that saps power from right-handed hitters. According to Bill James, it was actually 10 percent easier for righties to pull home runs in Citi Field than in any other park.

Let's recap: Mr. Price wants to trade David Wright AND others (coming off a down - for him - year), for a soon to be 33 year old pitcher who will request a contract extension, then sign a proven complementary player with no power who's never been a star (Chone Figgins) to replace him at third base. He then wants to trade one of the organization's top prospects (Fernando Martinez) for a second tier left fielder, even though there are outfielders available via free agency.

At the end of his article, Mr. Price states that the Mets are a "doomed" franchise, because he suspects if the Blue Jays offered Roy Halladay straight up for David Wright, the Mets would decline. That mindless statement wraps Mr. Price's excuse for journalism up in a nice little bow. The Mets are "doomed" because they would hypothetically not trade their 26 year old franchise player for a soon to be 33 year old pitcher who would demand a 6 or 7 year contract extension worth over $120 million dollars. Right.

Near the end of his article, Mr. Price claims that the Mets "won't even sniff" a championship without a pitcher like Halladay in the rotation. Unless I'm confused from being on the same stuff Mr. Price is on, the Mets already have a pitcher just like Halladay in the rotation (Johan Santana). The one that's already in the rotation is also 2 years younger than Roy Halladay, and has proven himself in New York - much like David Wright has. Wright is a player you build franchises around. He's a guy who's idolized by young Mets fans and beloved by the older ones. He's someone you hold onto. Sometimes I'm worried about the fact that Omar Minaya might make some rash moves, but today I'm comforted knowing that if he ran into Bill Price and heard about his idea, he'd laugh in his face.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Minaya and Boras Meet to Discuss Matt Holliday

Despite earlier reports in the Daily News claiming that the Mets would be focusing on 2nd tier free agents, Omar Minaya and Scott Boras met for 45 minutes last night to discuss Matt Holliday. In Joel Sherman's report in the New York Post, two Mets executives are quoted as saying they wouldn't be averse to going after Matt Holliday full bore (while executives from other teams are quoted as believing the Mets may be more cautious with their dollars).

According to Sherman, a power bat for left field is number one on the Mets' offseason priority list. After the 45 minute meeting with Minaya, Scott Boras did his best to discount the notion that Holliday would be negatively affected playing 81 games a year at Citi Field - going as far as to guarantee that Holliday would be a 100 RBI/100 Run man if he signed with the Mets.

This is just an initial meeting, and Boras wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't paint the Mets as serious suitors. However, as I stated yesterday, it would be shocking if the Mets didn't explore what it would take to bring Holliday to Queens. Boras has likened Holliday to Mark Teixiera (and indicated that he should receive a contract similar to the one Teixiera signed last year with the Yankees). Again, this is Boras' job. If a psychotic team bites on Boras' initial demands, he'll sign elsewhere. If not, the Mets should be right in the thick of things.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Believe Everything You Read

In a report that appears in today's Daily News, Adam Rubin (with Omar Minaya in the picture at right) cites mine and your favorite, the team insider (or team source), depending on which paragraph you believe more, while spinning the notion that the Mets won't be going after free agents Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. While that's not a completely outlandish statement, it seems to be a complete departure from every indication we've gotten from the Mets since the season ended - specifically Jeff Wilpon's statements about the payroll after the last game.

While the article itself sits under a headline that states that an "Insider says Mets won't pay top dollar for pricey top-tier free agents," the link to the story offers up the more alarming (if you're a Mets fan hoping for a big bat or arm) headline of "Mets won't pay top dollar for free agents." Well, which one is it? Is it a claim being made by a team insider, or is it a fact that was signed in blood by Fred Wilpon? The link to the article suggests the latter, while the headline above the article itself leads the reader to believe the former is the case. Let's give Adam Rubin the benefit of the doubt, and realize that a frisky Daily News editor probably didn't realize he/she was creating two completely different headlines for the same story. Now, let's take a look at the content of the article itself:

In the article, there is not one quote from anyone in the Mets organization that states that the team will be priced out of the top-tier free agent players. The juiciest quote comes from the team insider, who says that he "expected the salary demands of Matt Holliday and Jason Bay to be too high for the Mets." That's it. He expected their salary demands to be too high. He's not relaying information from Jeff Wilpon or Omar Minaya or John Ricco. He's not revealing what the Mets' offseason plan is, and he's not quoting potential salary demands from the two players mentioned. He's simply assuming that two free agents (who won't even be able to negotiate new contracts with the rest of Major League Baseball for another 10 days), will have demands that are too high for the Mets' taste. If you believe something as vague and poorly worded as that, you're probably one of the millions who believed the Mets had no shot at acquiring Johan Santana.

In the offseason of 2008, there was one reason after another that was spewed out by the local and national media alike, hammering home that the Mets had no shot at Johan: The Mets have nothing in their Minor League System; the Mets can't outbid the Yankees and the Red Sox; Johan doesn't want to be a Met; the Mets won't commit the money needed to extend his contract....It went on and on and on. However, one difference between all of those assertions and the assertion in Adam Rubin's article today, is that the Yankees and Red Sox actually DID have better prospects than the Mets. At least some of that nonsense was based in reality.

As recently as last offseason, it was forced down Mets fans throats that the Mets would be priced out on Francisco Rodriguez. How'd that work out? It's November 10th. The Mets have a gaping hole in the lineup and a vacancy in left field. They have over $30 million dollars coming off the books. Matt Holliday seems like a perfect fit for this team, and I refuse to believe for one second that they won't pursue him. His agent is Scott Boras. The second November 19th becomes November 20th, Scott Boras will start bellowing to anyone who will listen that Matt Holliday wants $20 million dollars per year for eight years - as is his right. If any team is insane enough to entertain those demands, he won't be a Met. However, if this offseason resembles the last two, no team will be insane enough to let Boras completely dictate the market.

There will be thousands of rumors, blogs, tweets, and articles between now and the time Matt Holliday signs his new contract. Some of them will paint Holliday as a city boy at heart, eager to embrace the big stage. The next day, an unnamed friend of Holliday will claim that the slugger wants no part of the big city. Boras will float rumors of mystery teams and enormous salary offers. General Managers will float nonsense to their beat writers. Fans will create ideas and circulate them on internet message boards. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is where the players ultimately end up. Until that happens, don't believe everything you read, or hear, or see...

Monday, November 9, 2009

2009 Was An Aberration...In 2010, The Mets Seek Redemption

With the General Manager's Meetings kicking off today, this seems like as good a time as any to begin analyzing why things went so terribly wrong in 2009, and to figure out what needs to be done to ensure that the Mets' 2010 season bears little resemblance to the disaster that came to an end five weeks ago in half empty Citi Field.

Most fans of the New York Mets are die-hards, so the strong reactions that have been echoing from them have been expected. However, it seems that way too many (fans and the media alike) have quickly forgotten that from 2005-2008, the Mets (with their returning core of Jose Reyes, David Wright and Carlos Beltran) averaged around 90 wins a year. Last season was so awful that it's been clouding people's judgement.

According to the fans that have lost all hope, other teams have struggling young players who will reach their potential, while the Mets have washed up 24 and 25 year olds who will never meet theirs. The sentiments have been insanely overly pessimistic. People are so angry at the disaster that was 2009, that they refuse to accept the fact that it was one thing that sabotaged the season. To them, it's much easier to condemn the organization as a whole than to face the facts. Yes, the Mets played sloppy ball at times. Yes, they couldn't hit home runs. Yes, they made tons of baserunning mistakes, and saw a potential game winning single turn into a game ending triple play.

With all that happened to them, the reason the 2009 Mets finished 70-92, was because their players were knocked off the field at a rate that was so absurd that it became comical by August. The Mets didn't get decimated by injuries because they had too many old players, or because of a lack of conditioning, or because players were dogging it. They got hurt in ways that ranged from annoying to ordinary to plain frightening. Let's analyze the afflicted (in rough order of when their injury happened):

Johan Santana - His elbow acted up in March, causing him to miss some time in Spring Training. By most accounts, he pitched hurt the entire year before going down for good in August and going under the knife.

Oliver Perez - Also went down in Spring Training with knee issues. After roughly 3 months, he came back and pitched hurt before being shut down for good.

John Maine - Went down in June, and missed pretty much the rest of the season with shoulder issues.

JJ Putz - The man who was supposed to be the Mets' setup man, went down with elbow problems in late May and never returned.

Francisco Rodriguez - Missed time with back spasms in May.

Jon Niese - After showing promise, ripped his hammy from the bone while covering 1st base.

Fernando Nieve - Much like Niese, went down in July after showing tons of promise.

Carlos Delgado - Hip trouble sidelined him in May. He never returned.

Jose Reyes - A multitude of lower body issues cost him the final 4 months of the season.

Carlos Beltran - Missed nearly 3 months with knee trouble.

David Wright - Missed 2 weeks after getting drilled in the helmet by Matt Cain.

Alex Cora - A torn thumb sent him out in May and ruined the rest of his season.

Gary Sheffield - Missed nearly half the season with various ailments.

Fernando Martinez - I bet most people forgot he was even injured. Missed the last 3 1/2 months of the season.

...I left off Brian Schneider, Tim Redding, Angel Pagan, Ramon Martinez, Omir Santos, Ryan Church and Jeff Francoeur...It was getting too painful to recount these atrocities.

After reading that list, anyone who attributes the Mets' 2009 season to an overall organizational failure is delusional. Any team that loses 5 of its 7 starting pitchers (depth chart wise), 3 of their MVP caliber core players for the vast majority of the season, and the 4th MVP caliber player to a beaning, their setup man, their top prospect, their starting catcher, TWO backup shortstops, 2 different right fielders (Church and Francoeur), and a host of others is screwed. There's not a single team in baseball that would've been able to deal with the amount of injuries the Mets suffered (considering the severity of the injuries and the players they happened too). Any other team would've been just as screwed as the Mets. Say it again. Any other team would've been just as screwed as the Mets.

With that in mind, I'm obviously not of the opinion of some others - which is that the Mets should rebuild. That notion is absurd. A team that has a core of David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez does not rebuild...especially when there's a very taleneted crop of minor leaguers on the horizon. Among those that may be ready to contribute in 2010 or early 2011 are Fernando Martinez, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Jon Niese, Brad Holt, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Niuwenhuis, Ruben Tejada and Reese Havens. Lots of "experts" continue to claim that the Mets have a terrible farm system. That claim is false.

Since it's 70 degrees today in New York (making me hungry for a baseball game I know won't come for over 4 months), and I'm on my lunch break at work, I'll continue this post instead of cutting it in half. Above is why I believe the Mets can contend next year. Below is what I feel should be their course of action this offseason.

Immediately after the season ended, Jeff Wilpon stated that the Mets would continue to have one of the highest payroll's in the National League. The Mets probably have around $30 Million to play with (before taking into account any potential trades that could bring substantial salary relief). They have declined JJ Putz's option, and are preparing to cut ties with Carlos Delgado.

Now, Rational (sometimes) Mets Musings' Plan:

Catcher: The rumors are that the Mets are looking into Bengie Molina and Rod Barajas. Pass and Pass. Molina is 36, and Barajas isn't good.

Your 2010 Mets Catcher Solution: Platoon Omir Santos and Josh Thole. Some think Thole needs some more seasoning behind the plate, which is an accurate take. However, with Reyes, Wright and Beltran returning, and the Mets upgrading the offense in other areas, there's no need to go after Bengie Molina.

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez is out there. He's young, plays great defense and has tremendous power. There's no doubt that he'd be a tremendous addition for any contending club that's in need of a first baseman. However, there are two big reasons why the Mets shouldn't trade for him. First of all, since he's still under contract for another two years, he'll cost a fortune in prospects - prospects the Mets don't have to deal since there are power hitting options available via free agency. Second, one of the Mets' top prospects (Ike Davis) should be ready to contribute at the big league level by midseason.

Your 2010 Mets First Base Solution: A Daniel Murphy/Troy Glaus platoon, which eventually gives way to Ike Davis around midseason. Yes, I got the Troy Glaus idea from Marty Noble. I think it's a great low-risk option - especially with Ike Davis waiting in the wings. Do I think Daniel Murphy would be better suited being a jack of all trades (1B, 2B, 3B, PH) off the bench? Perhaps...and if Davis continues to hit, that's exactly where Murphy will end up.

Second Base: As of now, the Mets are still locked into Luis (I love bunting more than sex) Castillo. Castillo DID have a decent year - his lack of range and terrible baseball IQ not withstanding - so teams in need of a second baseman could be interested.

Your 2010 Mets Second Base Solution: Trade Luis Castillo for two lower level a couple of million dollars if it's necessary. Sign Orlando Hudson. After becoming invisible in Los Angeles, Hudson should come cheap.

Shortstop: Jose Reyes

Third Base: David Wright

Left Field: The Gary Sheffield experience is over. Fernando Martinez is coming off of season ending surgery (though he still has tons of potential). Moises Alou is peeing on his hands somewhere else. Hideki Matsui is a DH at this point of his career. Manny is staying in Hollywood. The Mets need some more toughness. The Mets need some more power.

Your 2010 Mets Left Field Solution: Sign Matt Holliday (6 years/96 million). Holliday is 29 years old, and he's a perfect fit for the Mets. The vast majority of his homers and doubles were pulled, and according to Bill James, it was 10% easier to hit homers to Left Field in Citi Field than it was in the other National League Parks. Invite Holliday to Citi Field on November 20th. Have David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez and Johan Santana greet him in the rotunda. Get it done.

Center Field: Carlos Beltran

Right Field: Jeff Francoeur - The additions of Orlando Hudson and Matt Holliday should drop Francoeur to 7th in the batting order - which is exactly where he should be.

The Starting Rotation:

1P: Johan Santana

2P: Roy Halladay is a beast. Roy Halladay is available. However, much like Adrian Gonzalez, Roy Halladay will cost a fortune in prospects. He will also be seeking a 7 year contract extension worth $20 million dollars annually. At this point in his career, Mike Pelfrey is not stable enough to serve as a # 2 starter. John Maine has the stuff to do it, but has legitimate health concerns. Randy Wolf isn't a bad pitcher, but he's not a #2. Neither is Jason Marquis. Rich Harden has tremendous upside, but can't be relied on.

Your 2010 Mets # 2 Starter Solution: Sign John Lackey (5 years/$85 million). Lackey will be 31 on Opening Day. He has the same mentality as Johan Santana, but comes at you from the right side instead of the left. His ERA's the last 5 years in the American League have been 3.44, 3.56, 3.01, 3.75 and 3.83. He won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, and has a career Postseason ERA of 3.12. He screamed and cursed when the ball was taken from him in Game 6 of the ALCS. I'd love to see him screaming and cursing while getting taken out of a game by Jerry Manuel in 2010.

3P: John Maine

4P: Mike Pelfrey

5P: Jonathon Niese/Oliver Perez - Here is where lots of Mets fans will start to scream. "You can't trust the 3 through 5 spots of the starting rotation to question marks," they'll say. My response? With Johan Santana and John Lackey at the top of the rotation, you have more room to take chances. There are NO guarantees in baseball. The Mets are NOT the Yankees. They're not going to commit over $200 million dollars to payroll. If the Mets acquire Matt Holliday and John Lackey, they'll be adding roughly $35 million dollars. After that, it's time to get creative and to put some trust in the players you've developed.

The Bullpen:

Closer: Francisco Rodriguez

Setup: JJ Putz - Potential glutton for punishment scenario? Yes. Best option since the Mets will have very little to spend if Holliday and Lackey are acquired? Probably. JJ Putz wants to close. JJ Putz is also coming off back to back injury plagued seasons (that very well may be completely behind him after having surgery this fall). Lock him down with an incentive laden deal, and give him and Frankie the do-over they deserve.

Lefty Specialist - Pedro Feliciano - Ideally, someone will emerge in the Rule V draft or from the Minor League System who can partner with Feliciano.

Middle Inning Righties - Bobby Parnell, Fernando Nieve

Long Man - Nelson Figueroa

The Bench:

Catcher: Omir Santos/Josh Thole

Infield: Daniel Murphy/Troy Glaus

Infield: Alex Cora

Outfield: Angel Pagan

Outfield: Xavier Nady - The final bench spot goes to Nady, who should be affordable coming off an injury plagued couple of years. On days when Troy Glaus starts, Nady would offer some needed pop off the bench, and could fill in for Holliday and Francoeur as needed.

....That's it. That's the plan. Nothing too insane, since nothing insane is really necessary. The Mets need a power bat (Holliday). The Mets need a legitimate #2 starter (Lackey). The Mets need a Major League quality bench. Most of all, the Mets need to be healthy and to have some things break their way for a change. I don't want accolades if the 2010 Mets closely resemble the above idea, and I don't want to be ridiculed if the above idea isn't close to what the team is come Opening Day. The only thing I want is a winning ballclub. The offseason bell has rung...get at it.