What’s wrong with Mets?
If you’re wondering who’s responsible for the current mess, look at ownership.
Look to the owner’s suite, where it is presumed the Wilpons still reside. You don’t see them much since the entire Bernie Madoff episode began, sending the family ownership into disarray. One former Met said the Wilpons, while well-intentioned, have done the franchise no favors by going silent since then, through the ugly series of revelations and lawsuits, on to the settlement and the sale of shares of the franchise.
Mets fans are accustomed to hard times, used to feeling like second-class citizens to the Yankees’ nearly 100-year dynasty in New York. Maybe the fans are even used to days such as June 24, when the Mets lost their sixth game in a row in particularly embarrassing fashion, watching a procession of relievers make their way to the mound while serving up seven home runs.
The Wilpons don’t need to set unrealistic expectations, don’t need to tell you that someone such as Jerry Blevins, the starter June 24, is a great option on the mound or that this season can turn around, but tell the truth.
If that truth is that the franchise has to do things on the cheap, then say it. That might be answered with a realistic answer from the fans: Sell the team if you can’t do business in New York the way the market demands.
The Mets payroll has lingered below the league average since the Madoff scandal set the team into a financial spiral downward. They have jumped the payroll this season, although part of the problem is just how they chose to spend the money.
The Mets have $56 million in salaries among the 25 players on the active roster and a staggering $89 million on the disabled list — they do lead the majors in spending on the DL right now, so that’s something.
“I understand the fan base’s frustration,” chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon told the team’s beat reporters in January, breaking a three-year silence. “We have the same frustration — not only myself, but the rest of the baseball department and the rest of the staff here at the Mets. We certainly want to win. There’s nobody going out there trying to not win and not do their best to put us in the absolute best position to win.”
That might be true, but the Mets have shuffled the deck chairs for a decade and it has all looked very much the same. They have spent on free agent failures, stayed out of the running for the real talent and, perhaps most alarming, crafted a farm system that has little hope of providing help.
When the Mets reached the World Series in 2015 it covered up some of the issues but left a reality — that the bulk of that team’s success was made up of leftover assets from the previous front office.
The “Five Aces” never panned out. Matt Harvey shone briefly, and whether it was inju- ry or attitude, he was sent packing. Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have spun their wheels trying to get their production started. Noah Syndergaard has been stuck on the disabled list for a month now, and only Jacob deGrom has actually seemed to move forward in his career.
The pieces with which general manager Sandy Alderson has backed the starting pitching, even when it’s a better option than Blevins, have been hardly inspiring, whether from free agency or the farm system.
Yoenis Cespedes can make a difference in the lineup if he gets healthy, though even he speculated he couldn’t save this team.
Jay Bruce was signed rather than some of the young, more athletic and yes, more expensive options over the winter, and he’s on the DL, too.
David Wright and Jose Reyes are left as grim reminders of what once was.
“I think as an industry, investment in older players is diminishing,” Alderson said last week. “On the other hand, older players can present a real value and, from a performance standpoint, improve the team. But at the same time, you have to recognize that with age comes some additional challenges physically. What we have to do, more importantly than anything else, is figure out a way to address those issues as they arise or before they arise.”
The Mets haven’t exactly moved quickly to address those issues, and that’s how they get to where they are now, languishing among the bottom of the major leagues and just 2043 after an 11-1 start to the season.
Moving one of their few star pieces could start the Mets back on track, accumulating pieces for a system in need of it.
If they did, would you be sure they’d get it right?
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has not been able to find the right balance in New York.