Let’s get this out of the way: Sandy Alderson’s front office and Terry Collins as manager have not brought nearly as many wins to the Mets organization as many Mets fans thought they would have by now. That is frustrating. Many of the team’s many losses have been in disheartening fashion. That’s even more frustrating. But I wonder what could really have been expected.
I remember when Sandy Alderson was introduced as the Mets’ General Manager. I remember a lot of talk after that opening press conference surrounding the idea of being in playoff contention within three years or so. But is that really realistic? Yes, teams often reload in one offseason, franchises can do a 180 degree turn in a shorter timespan, but most of those organizations didn’t have absurd amounts of money tied up in aging former-stars like Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez and Johan Santana. Most of those organizations also don’t have ownership dealing with the aftermath of a Ponzi scheme (thanks, Bernie!)
So, fans gave Alderson some leeway. After all, it made more sense to blame ownership and the previous front office. They were the ones who messed up the team’s financial situation.
Somewhere along the way, though, the fans gave up being patient. Every failure became a criticism of Alderson, every tiny success an accident.
You signed Frank Francisco and Brandon Lyon to reasonable deals? Traded for Ramon Ramirez? All three busted? Obviously you have no idea how to work a bullpen.
You signed Curtis Granderson after fans SCREAMED that you needed to do SOMETHING? He didn’t hit immediately? Obviously you don’t know how to negotiate deals or pick free agents.
Travis d’Arnaud is struggling in his first full season in the majors? Obviously your trades for prospects were overhyped and not meaningful.
It’s all craziness, and to an extent that’s how New York sports work. Alderson has failed to put together a successful bullpen. The prospects he’s acquired are either not yet in the bigs or have dealt with struggles. This is the fourth season that Alderson has run the Mets, and they don’t appear to have improved substantially over his first season in terms of on-the-field wins.
The point is that it’s totally rational to be frustrated by continued losing. It’s okay to criticize Alderson too. His moves haven’t (as of this writing) worked out. But take an honest stock of the organization. The Mets have, once Noah Syndergaard makes it to the majors, seven starting pitchers under 30 who are (or should be) capable of success: Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard. He managed to keep “face of the frachise” David Wright, acquired a potential cornerstone catcher (Travis d’Arnaud) who fans and scouts alike fawned over, appeased fans by trading Ike Davis and letting Lucas Duda play daily in a place that isn’t the outfield. The team has a potential stud in centerfield with Juan Lagares.
There’s talent in Queens. There’s talent in the minor leagues too. The Mets may still be just a 75-80 win team this year, and they will probably continue to lose in new, frustrating and “Metsian” ways. But to say that the direction of the franchise isn’t trending up? That’s just silly.
So, Mets fans, I understand if you complain about the slow going of this rebuild. I get that you’re frustrated by losing. I empathize with you entirely. Where we diverge, however, is the search for anything to complain about. I’d much rather watch a four-hour loss than not watch baseball. It doesn’t serve anyone to manufacture new complaints. To reserve a neurotic belief that Terry Collins is intentionally benching his best outfielder (Juan Lagares), or that he’s the worst manager this side of Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. Sometimes, guys, the players on the field need to perform. So far, the players on the 2014 Mets haven’t. And they may not do enough this year to meet Alderson’s 90 win “goal.” (Which, by the way, is a discussion for another time.)
What the Mets have done is improve their overall position. Imagine a car stuck in a ditch. Once you’ve extricate the car, you’ve got a long way to go. Sandy Alderson dumped the contracts that were acting as anchors around the Mets organization’s neck. Now he’s gotta build a team around the prospects and core. Three years was never a realistic timeline. Let’s just accept that and enjoy the baseball we’ve got. Because sooner than you realize, it’ll be the offseason and most of us will be counting down the days till Opening Day 2015.