For most people the holiday season is over but for baseball fans we are anticipating our holiday season, the day pitchers and catchers start stretching out hammys and arms in what is really (no offense to those who like to use rodents as weather prognosticators) the first sign that daylight will be longer and temperatures higher, spring training. As Mets fans we are entering a new era in the history of the franchise with Team Alderson running the Baseball Ops and I don’t know about you but I’m still trying to figure out the direction in which we’re headed.
Alderson has a lot of Clint Eastwood movie role qualities, he seems to never get rattled or sweat. In fact I bet if Alderson were advising Mayor MoneyBags during the worst snow removal operation, we would not have had the disaster, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the late 1970’s when John Lindsay forgot that Queens was not part of Nassau County. The problem we have here though, the Mets fan base is the exact opposite of the front office.
The NY Jets fan base has bought in to Rex Ryan’ bravado and bluster. Knicks fans are starting to boast about having a top 10 NBA team. NY Rangers fans are looking with admiration of their team as it has become a real blue collar bunch that works it’s ass off. Even NY Giants fans are still believers in their head coach (some, not all I know. Even though I’m not a big Coughlin fan I agree with John Mara bringing him back next season. I bet he gets a one year extension and then retires) I just wonder if Mets fans will ever take on the persona of Sandy Alderson ?
Most of us Mets fans are feeling very antsy about the pitching staff, there are two starting spots open along with at least three spots in the bullpen, and just a few shekel’s available in the Skill Sets budget to fill the spots. There are also six bench spots that have to be filled as well and all I keep thinking is “How is Sandy going to do this”? Not only how but how and make this team competitive?
Adam Rubin did a whole roster breakdown and of the starting eight, only second base is an open competition. The outfield is set with Bay, Beltran, Pagan so the only question here is who will play centerfield and who will be in right? Talking to Carlos Beltran, he feels fine and looks fit but the biggest obstacle I see is that big bulky brace he will have to wear for as long as he plays baseball. I got the impression from Terry Collins, that Beltran will be given every chance to win the CF job but if he and his staff feels he’s not up to it, he’ll be the RF’er with Pagan taking over CF. What choice does Beltran have if this move is made? None.
The second base quagmire is most compelling. If Luis Castillo can’t beat out the competition he’ll be given his release. The feeling I get is Alderson hopes he craps out so he can release him. Castillo fits on this team about as well as a eunuch in whorehouse. I’m very interested in seeing Brad Emaus play as I think he’s the guy the front office wants to win the second base job. Dan Murphy will get reps at second as well but he looks to be more a utility guy and lefty bat off the bench. Same with Nick Evans as his righty counterpart who can spell both David Wright and Ike Davis and maybe play a corner spot in the outfield as well.
That still leaves about four spots to fill the bench. One player who won’t be a benchmark is Lucas Duda and that’s a good thing. Duda needs to play every day and that can only happen in Buffalo. It’s a win-win for the Mets, if Duda hits like last year, he’s prime trade bait or he is the first call up if the any of the three starting OF’ers go down injured. How about signing Andruw Jones as a fourth outfielder? Maybe the longer he’s unemployed, the easier he could be to sign for an incentive laden contract.
The storyline that will be most prominent in 2011 will be what becomes of Jose Reyes beyond this season. I’d say it’s a given that no matter how well he plays, this is Carlos Beltran’ last season as a Met, in fact we could be talking months as Alderson will have to decide if it’s worth trading Beltran for prospects or taking the draft pick? With Reyes it’s a lot more difficult decision. What Jose Reyes will we see in 2011? If it’s the Reyes of the last two seasons, where injury and production limit his playing time, then no way you go long term, in fact if 2011 is a carbon copy of 2010, then Reyes will be an ex-Met but if he bounces back and has a 2008 type season, then Sandy Alderson will have a real tough decision to make. Let’s hope Reyes has a 2008 type season as that would mean not only seeing how Alderson handles a tough decision but I’m sure the Mets will have better season than most fans think they’ll have.
The Francisco Rodriguez saga will be compelling as well. What happens if Rodriguez is closing in on the magic 55 games finished and the Mets are out of contention? Do the Mets hold him back and damn the consequences of a grievance? What if everything starts to fall into place and this team is still in post season hunt? It’s the $17.5 mil dollar question.
I’m getting mighty itchy for some positive Mets news. This front office is keeping its plans very close to the vest and all the leaks in the organization seemed to have been plugged so we sit here waiting for a moves to be made so we can analyze and try to track how this team will go forward. Please Sandy, throws us a bone!