Mets fans, this may be a special week. A sad week.
No, not because the childhoods of many feel a void without a Harry Potter movie to look to in the future. But, this in some sense is the end. The end of The New Mets.
The Mets trotted out a sad lineup yesterday, that included none of Jose Reyes (hamstring), Carlos Beltran (flu) and David Wright (back). The first two are expected to be back today, while rumors have been that depend on how the rest of the week goes, Wright could be back as early as Friday.
Friday is July 22nd. The trade deadline is July 31st.
The Mets play a game every day in that span. Soak it in, or at least I’m going to, because depending on how those games go and whether or not the Mets make a surprising run and convince the front office they’re contenders, it looks like Beltran can (and probably should) be traded.
It’s sad, it really is. With Beltran’s signing came a wave of optimism. He wasn’t just an All-Star centerfielder, he was a vision and hope for this organization’s future. He said it himself in his introductory press conference. He wanted to be a part of the “New Mets.”
2006 was, indeed, new. Although it ended prematurely in the NLCS, it was magical. The craziest part of it was that when it was over, Mets fans seemed to look at each other and say, “Oh well. At least this is the sort of team that will be making it this far for the next five years, we can wait.”
Wait we did, wait we have, but obviously these last five years weren’t what at least I envisioned after watching Beltran buckle at Adam Wainwright’s curveball. Two collapses and two middling seasons later, the Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2006 and are now preparing to say goodbye to the centerfielder who joined them along with an ethos of optimism and confidence.
It’s weird to think that these next few days could be the last time Wright, Reyes, and Beltran put on a uniform together. That optimism and that confidence have long since faded, but they still make up the famed “core” that everybody knew would eventually bring us a ring.
And sure, Beltran being traded is far from a foregone conclusion. If Sandy Alderson isn’t offered a decent return, I sense he’ll keep him for the season and maybe even consider resigning him. Because, if he’s not getting a decent return, then Beltran is being undervalued. The Mets front office is all about value.
So, maybe I’m just a fan clinging onto a long-since faded dream of optimism. Maybe the New Mets are now the Old Mets and romanticizing it is foolish. But, in the nine games from July 22 through July 30th, maybe something magical can happen.
Maybe they’ll win eight and recapture the hearts of Mets fans. Maybe they’ll win nine and move from sellers to contenders. A lot can change in a week. The New Mets have unfortunately been victims of that, rather than the victors in those situations. In 2006 - and even to some extent 2007 - the Mets sat as comfortably atop the NL East as the Phillies do today. The Phillies look insurmountable right now.
But, so did the Mets, we know how that turned out.
Yes, the odds are low, percentage points small and faith probably smaller. But when Wright, Reyes and Beltran put on a Mets uniform together - hopefully this Friday - I won’t be ready to call it the end of an era quite yet. At least until I watch all the games, enjoy every last moment of it, I’m not going to admit it is over, even if it seems like an inevitibility.
And then, there’s here’s to hoping they rekindle some of that magic…because as long as these three are still together…who knows…I sure don’t…but I can’t wait to find out…
With the Mets having traded Francisco Rodriguez this week, the major question people seem to be asking is, “Are the Mets sellers?”
“Buying” or “selling”, however, is a false choice.
I think there is a good chance the Mets trade Carlos Beltran. To whom, I don’t know and more importantly we don’t know for what. What I think is most important to note is - a trade doesn’t have to just be be a “buy” or “sell”. A trade isn’t always just trading a proven player for unknown prospects, or vice-versa. There are other options, other players who can to be moved, and would be good fits on the Mets for the next two to three years, rather than two to three years from now.
So, here is some pure speculation as to some players I think would be fun for the Mets to look at in a trade involving Beltran, or other pieces they may look to move at the deadline (such as perhaps Jason Isringhausen):
- B.J. Upton - formerly one of the top prospects in baseball who was seen as an untouchable, the Rays are considering moving him, and his combination of speed and athleticism could help rejuvenate his career in the spacious Citi Field. Mentioned in a recent ESPN Insider piece as a buy-low candidate, Meds could be a good trade partner as the Rays could use a powerful outfield bat such as Beltran’s to try and replace him. Especially if the Mets cover Beltran’s costs for the season, this could be a very attractive option to the small-market Rays. MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes recently listed the Rays as a team potentially looking to add a big outfield bat, such as Beltran’s, at the deadline. More and more, with the success of Reyes this season, it seems to make sense that the Mets should build a team around athleticism, and Upton fits right into that mold, despite his struggles.
- Gordon Beckham - also listed in the above ESPN piece, Beckham is like Upton in that he was a top prospect whose team is growing increasingly frustrated with his inconsistent play. Despite being a game below .500, the White Sox are only five games out of the lead in a shaky A.L. Central and GM Kenny Williams is never afraid of making an aggresive deadline deal. According to Dierkes, the White Sox are looking for an outfield bat and could be interested in Beltran, and perhaps they would be interested in a short term upgrade at 2B with Justin Turner while the Mets could invest in the long term potential of Beckham, who has more upside than Ruben Tejada or Turner.
- Madison Bumgarner - especially due to Brian Wilson’s comments at the All-Star game, Beltran-to-the-Giants is the most popular rumor these days. One name commonly thrown around is the Giants’ top pitching prospect, Zach Wheeler, though it isn’t known if the Giants would actually pony up that much for a rental. Perhaps, though, they would be willing to move Bumgarner, who since being arguably the top prospect in baseball, has proven to be good but not great thus far in his MLB career. This year, he has been the weak-link in the Giants rotation with a 4-9 record and 3.87 ERA. The Giants also will have a dillema on what to do with their rotation once Jonathan Sanchez comes off the D.L., and maybe they could keep their top prospect while moving Bumgarner, a lefty who I’d bet the Mets would be thrilled to take.
- Daniel Bard - say hello to the Mets closer of the future? Like the above teams, the Red Sox could have serious interest in Beltran and who knows what they might be willing to move for a shot at the title this year? Although current closer Jonathan Papelbon is a free agent at the end of the season, the Red Sox could try to resign him and have other internal options that might be able to fill Bard’s bullpen role, enough so to make it worth acquiring Beltran’s big bat. Maybe, the Red Sox would also be interested in Izzy or other pieces the Mets have to sweeten the offer.
Now, to be clear - this was just all speculation from a guy who would be interested in making a deal that isn’t neccesarily labeled under “buying” or “selling”, because moving Beltran and/or other pieces for players like these isn’t morgating the now, but it’s helping the team adjust its priorities to win over the next few years rather than only having a great talent who can help now. I’m not a GM. I’m not saying teams could do these deals straight up, but it’s fun to think about because players like these can get dangled at the deadline and could be right up the Mets alley, especially when they have arguably the best trade chip on the market.
Leave your tips in the comments or reblog with them. I say skip the long Shake Shack line and go to the Taquiera, or get Korean fried chicken at the World Marketplace. As far as good cheap seats: Pepsi Porch
I’ll be traveling to your beautiful stadium for the first time in the near future and I’m looking for a few pointers. Where’s the best place to sit that doesn’t cost a few hundred dollars? What’s the best food to eat (other than Shake Shack hamburgers which I’ll be eating an abundance of)? Are there any quirky bars or shops that I just must visit located near the stadium?
Shoot me an email or drop one in the comments, if you’d be so kind.
Before the season started, Jose Reyes was coming off two seasons in which he played a combined total of 169 games.
Conversations (in the media) about signing him to an extension floated numbers like 5-years, $75 million, maybe a bit more. Nobody knew his exact value because of his streakiness and injury history, so some speculated it to be around there while some placed it a bit higher.
But then, the season started. What did Reyes do? Reyes hit. And hit. And hit. His MLB-leading .354 batting average is 26 points higher than Hunter Pence’s whose is second in the NL at .328. With every tick up in the batting average, his speculated free-agent contract followed suit.
Yet, there was a pop.
A pop in his hamstring, and a pop in the dream of Mets fans who were seeing one of the most dominant seasons for a leadoff hitter in recent memory. And now, whether or not the Reyes or Mets camp is willing to admit it, the conversation has changed. (And I’m not talking about “secret negotiations”)
The injury doesn’t neccesarily devalue him on the open market (though, I suspect it does on a small scale), but it’s a crude reminder of the inherent risks that go with contract negotiations. In a now-regular poll on Mets Blog, Matt Cerrone asks fans whether or not they would top a 7-year, $140M contract offer to Reyes. This offseason, Reyes and his agent probably would have accepted one year and $40M fewer in a heartbeat. Two weeks ago, they would have sneezed at such an offer.
Nonetheless, we’re here again after another Reyes injury unsure as to how much he’ll command on the open market.
The issue isn’t that Reyes is injury-prone - he’s had trouble staying healthy, but that isn’t a fair label for him; some of the injuries such as the Thyroid one have been freak in nature. Yet, it serves as a universal reminder of why it is so inherently dangerous to offer somebody a giant contract, regardless of how good he is. There can be a good case made for Reyes being the NL MVP to date, but baseball is a game with injuries, and nothing is worse than paying the big bucks to a guy who can’t play. The Mets, just as much as any franchise, have been victims of financial dead weight either due to over-valuation or injuries.
To reiterate - it’s not because of Reyes’ injury history in particular that they should be wary, just the fact that general fiscal prudence warns against signing anybody to that large of a contract. Just look at Johan Santana. From 2004-2008 he was the epitome of consistency and good health, starting in 33 or 34 games every season, only to now have his career in question.
The trade for Santana prospect-wise was still definitely a steal, but the long term contract the Mets gave him and fans didn’t think twice about questioning now is a major albatross.
The Mets and Sandy Alderson are unfortunately stuck in a tough situation. On the one hand, the fan base so clearly wants a change in philosophy from the Omar Minaya years in which handing out expensive, long-term contracts was the status quo. Yet, now, we sit here praying Alderson does just that in order to keep Reyes around, when (as good as he is, which is very good) it is likely he will be overpaid. That’s not a knock on his skill, just that the great majority of expensive, long-term contracts in baseball end up being very player-friendly.
And, the last thing the Mets need is more dead-weight on the books. Signing any player to a long-term contract, no matter how good he is, poses the chance for that.
This is not to say the Mets’ shouldn’t resign Reyes, because I hope they do just as much as the next person. It’s just that an injury, even a minor one, serves as a cruel reminder as to the realities of the game. It’s tough to think about because Reyes’s season has hardly seemed like reality; after all, when was the last time Mets fans could sit down and watch a player, and expect him to get multiple hits in a game? On some level, it feels like regardless of the money and risk, the Mets need him for those hits, that energy and the excitement he generates in the fan base.
Fortunately, this is also a cruel reminder to Reyes. Whether he’s worth $75M or $150M, one bad crack of a bone or snap in a muscle makes him worth $0. So, here’s to hoping he and the Mets find a reasonable middle-ground, because taking risks in life is only worth it when you’re doing it with the right people, right?