Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Shredded Season Preview

I just read the 2011 Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue. After I soaked up their predictions (that had the Mets in last place at 74-88), and read their idiotic words regarding the Mets, I decided to rip it to shreds - literally (see picture above). I was going to immediately light it on fire, but decided it would be more fun - and more symbolic - if I brought it with me to Opening Day at Citi Field next Friday and set it aflame in the parking lot. Their piece on the Mets didn't offer any insight and didn't incite my anger, it was the quote from the "rival scout" that they attached to it that set me off. Observe this gem:

Their motto should be Trade Anybody - no one on the roster should be off limits. The system is thin at the minor league level. I don't see an impact player there, and they have to do something to change the climate. If they're smart, they would blow up the club and start over.

I'm at the point where I'm about to swear off all print journalism entirely. It's gotten that bad. There was an Editor at Sports Illustrated that signed off on this appearing in his or her magazine. And if this type of illogical, thoughtless nonsense is going to be printed, I refuse to read it. This "rival scout" obviously has zero knowledge of the farm system since Jenrry Mejia, Wilmer Flores, Cesar Puello, Reese Havens, and Matt Harvey are all potential "impact" players, of whom he claims the Mets have none. He calls the farm system "thin," without noting that Jonathon Niese, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Bobby Parnell, and Josh Thole were recently produced by that system. He says they'd be "smart" to "blow up the club and start over" by immediately dealing anyone on the roster.

If the Mets are out of contention at the All Star break, dealing Beltran makes sense (if he's healthy). Still, how much can be gotten for a perennial injury risk in the last year of his contract? Beyond that, who would it make sense to hastily trade? Johan Santana is not tradeable, neither is Francisco Rodriguez or Jason Bay. Aside from them, the majority of the "older" players are on 1 year deals - Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Tim Byrdak, etc. Should they trade RA Dickey? What would he bring back anyway? The rest of the players are in their 20's with varying degrees of upside, and other than the face of the franchise, cost next to nothing.

Should they trade Josh Thole? Ike Davis? Brad Emaus? David Wright? Angel Pagan? Mike Pelfrey? Jon Niese? Bobby Parnell? Pedro Beato? Daniel Murphy? Blaine Boyer? Jenrry Mejia? Matt Harvey? Wilmer Flores? I don't get it - and this scout isn't the only person who thinks the Mets should blindly "blow up" the roster, apparently not taking into account that the majority of the players who are signed beyond next year are both in their 20's and inexpensive. The only long term/high priced players are Jason Bay and Johan Santana. No one is taking those contracts. The other older players are either 1 year deals, moderately priced, or both. The rest are the names listed above. I simply can't fathom how it would make sense to deal productive Major Leaguers in their 20's for unprovens to "change the climate." The change that was needed (releasing Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez)has been taken care of.

The Mets won 70 games in 2009, and 79 in 2010. The offense projects to be much better in 2011, as does the bullpen. The rotation as a whole is deeper than it was entering 2010. There's new Management in the dugout and in the front office. Why would this team (barring catastrophic injuries) regress to the point of winning 74 games? It makes no sense whatsoever.

If the "experts" want to say that the Mets will win somewhere around 80 or 82 games, that's more than fair. They, like every other team in Baseball, have question marks. However, the constant doom and gloom articles that are getting churned out are so alike and so ridiculous that it seems as if the baseball writers of America have colluded for the sole purpose of hitting a franchise while it's down. I know that's an absurd thought, but that's what it feels like.

The other notion present in these doom and gloom pieces is the belief that the cloud of the silver haired swindler, Bernard Madoff, will haunt the Mets and make it impossible for them to lift their bats or close their gloves. The horror! Going hand in hand with the severe underrating of the Mets' on field personnel is this moronic belief that the players on the field give a damn about the Bernard Madoff issue. Yes, some of the players who are close with the Wilpon's will care (such as David Wright), but why would it have any impact on their on-field performance?

Let's put this out there for all to decide: If the Owners of your company were in some type of financial distress, but your job wasn't in danger, your title wasn't about to be changed, your salary wasn't being impacted, what you do on a daily basis was staying exactly the same, the location of your workplace wasn't changing, and the long-term prospects of your company were the same as when you were hired (regardless of if new Owners came in), would you care? Of course you wouldn't care. This is something the writers aren't able to grasp for some reason. The Madoff situation is a Public Relations nightmare, but the players don't care. The on field personnel is vastly improved, but the writers don't seem like they want to give the team any credit for putting a solid roster together. A positive or even fair story affects the hits their articles will receive, and the amount of attention they'll get on twitter.

If the Mets do what many fans think they can do, the writers will have no choice but to churn out positive and/or fair pieces. In the meantime, feel free to join me at Citi Field on Opening Day as I set the Sports Illustrated preview issue on fire, and watch it and the "experts'" opinions disappear as the 2011 Season gets underway.

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