According to Adam Rubin's post this morning on ESPN New York, the Mets "are not expected to vigorously pursue the free agents with draft-pick compensation attached -- whether the pick is protected or not, according to a team insider."
Now, first off, the segment of the fan base actually rooting for the team to lose has been a somewhat astonishing development. This is not the NBA, where one player can greatly improve the fortunes of a team immediately. Nor it it the NFL, where a franchise QB can do the same. Of course draft picks are important, very important, but in baseball the vast majority of even the most successful of draftees take years to develop.
On the other hand, as this writer believes, last year the draft pick issue was a giant charade used by Met management as an excuse to not sign Michael Bourn, who would have been a very nice fit for this team.
This year fans are once again clamoring for offseason action, and the same fans as usual insist that the team will finally spend the money "coming off the books" as if there is a vault with the $50 million or so that went to Johan, Bay, etc., in 2013 and it will be re-filled this offseason.
Alas, for a team with ownership in dire financial straits, revenue which is a fraction of what it once was, and by all accounts giant 9-figure debt payments due in 2014, this is just not reality.
If the Mets are not going to go after free agents of significance this year, that is their right to be sure. And frankly, it is more honest of them to come right out and say this now rather than repeat the PR charade they played out with Michael Bourn last year.
The point here really is that, if this is true, fans should stop pretending that ownership has winning on anything but the most remote and furthest back of burners. Selig announced he is retiring in just over a year, and does anyone think Alderson will not run to that job as fast as he can as soon as it is publicly acceptable to do so, assuming the job is his for the asking?
This writer has argued again and again with some of the wonderful, smart, thoughtful, and great people who make up our comment community. Some feel that there is indeed a "Plan" in place. Well, we can all agree on that. But the "Plan" is not re-stocking the minors or building a pitching-based powerhouse. The "Plan" is retaining control of the team for Jeff Wilpon to eventually own and probably run even worse than it has been run over the last 25 years. Whatever else happens is secondary at best and a residual of the real "Plan."
The Mets had to move their AAA club to its fourth location in under a decade. They recently have been declared team-non-grata on WFAN. How low does it go?
Some folks will argue, will defend Alderson despite his abysmal record as a GM for many years, and frankly will probably again put off hopes for improvement for another year.
The feeling here is not that Cano is the answer, or even that Choo or Pence will be worth what they probably will get. The feeling here is that the team is in the stranglehold of ownership which simply is not able to muster the finances to improve, and Rubin's report--if true--simply underlines once again the true nature of this team and its front office's "Plan." Which is survival as job one.
And the strong finish is nice, as was the good 50-game stretch in the middle of this season. But the team again started off horribly, and did its usual complete fade by late summer. And appears to be seriously considering bringing back Collins, despite his clear weaknesses.
No, spending does not ensure anything, as recent debacles in Miami and Toronto have shown. But the situation in the NL part of LA shows that spending most definitely can greatly improve fortunes, and sometimes rather quickly. The Dodgers and Reds have had great success with Cuban defectors. With the Met 1B situation, might a look at Jose Abreu not be a very wise move? Even an ideal risk? Does anyone think the Mets will be in on him?
People who think that this roster--without serious overhaul and with the same coaching staff--is going to show dramatic improvement in 2014 are simply in for another in an increasingly long line of orange and blue disappointments.
What is going to happen is even smaller attendance, even worse TV ratings, and undoubtedly lower radio numbers as well. Which really all may be great, as a change in ownership is the only thing Met fans really have to root for at this point.