Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:30 AM
If my (brief and lazy) research is correct, then it was 10 years ago today that the Mets, and their now forever known cheap owners shelled out what was at the time only the 10th $100+ mil contract. They signed outside free agent Carlos Beltran on January 9 2015 for 7 years, $119 Mil. I feel like this day in history has some kind of intrigue/irony/significance to the Mets, and their fans.
Here we are, 10 years later. There are more then 10 measly $100 mil contracts at this point. Heck, many have approached and gone beyond $150 and over $200 mil. However the Mets, who of course still reside in the New York market, only have one player currently playing through such a contract. And he also happens to be the homegrown captain and face of the entire franchise. So, where have they as a franchise come to in this new era, a decade later?
Now, in 2015, the big divide between the front office, ownership and their fans seems to center around the almighty dollar. The fans want their team to spend more of it. Ownership, who history has shown has made the effort to pay out the big bucks, only to still watch disappointment on the field, and backlash from the fans anyway because of failed expectation from high priced free agents since Beltran.
I, like many in Mets universe, remain conflicted about what is truly best for the franchise. Even if ownership gave into public demand, sold the team, and some Mark Cuban type owner shelled out 3 or 4 $100+mil contracts immediately, would that satisfy the masses? What if such contracts were signed, or taken on, with guys like Tulo, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and company, only to possibly watch those guys spend large portion of their tenure visiting the DL and underperforming their contract? What would the fan reaction be? Who would you blame? The GM for choosing the wrong guys, even though they were/are all impact players with All star resumes (see Jason Bay).
Is there the other theory that some are floating around, which is the idea (plan) of stockpiling young talent, trade packages of that talent for one or two selected and needed all stars, and/or saving the big money to use in locking up those top prospects who pan out in the major league level (See Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom and the like).
Either way, I guess what everyone wants is to know the plan. Sure, business is not about telling the public your secrets. However, even though Baseball teams are all pretty much individual businesses, they are also meant for entertainment. And, if the target customers are not entertained, and don't support the product, then there is a problem for that business.
The Beltran signing was the sign of the times for the Mets franchise. It seemed to be about acquiring anything and everything needed to compete for the playoffs yearly, which I assume should come close to being the goal for every franchise, no matter the budget. For example, the NBA Clippers and their now ousted long time owner Donald Sterling was long since well known for making every effort to maintain his business as profitable, year to year, and not taking any kind of losses as other franchise are reported to take, in order to provide that target audience with a 'winning product'. However just prior to being sent packing, Sterling himself had finally started to loosen up the purse strings and give out those 'max contracts' to keep homegrown talent (so to speak) with the organization.
We have now since spent the past few years watching the Mets seemingly be in rebuilding mode. However, many would also argue that during this time, the front office was also for some reason given permission to sign guys like Marlon Byrd, John Buck, Dice K, Chris Young and others to go along with homegrown talent, rather then give those 25 man spots to more homegrown prospects, seemingly in order to provide veteran experience and not totally give up (again so to speak) on each season during the rebuilding farm system process.
Stuck in my Orange and Blue, yet still somehow 'rose-colored' glasses, I envision this team heading in the right direction. Every team needs talent. And you can never have enough talent. Sure, many of the talent may still be in their teenage years, but they are still 'talent' until proven otherwise. And if that 'team controlled' talent starts to pan out in bigger numbers, such as guys like deGrom and Lagares especially, then you will seemingly find yourself with an almost limitless form of great commodities of which to work with.
But again, whether the commodities are meant to be maximized, fully preserved, cherished for over a decade (High David Wright) or traded for other types of goods to meet another need, the idea of having the sought after commodities should remain the ultimate goal.
I prefer to look forward to what 2015 brings. Yes, we are not entering the season with a fancy new Carlos Beltran on the roster, but this team will be entering the season with some form of hope, youth, freshness, and other commodities being shipped in throughout the season to further add to the supply.
The team doesn't need a $200 million dollar payroll to entertain its customers. Yes, a truly stated direction full of Xs and O's may help a few people put their mind at ease, but either way we will still end up buying what they are selling, because that's who we are. We are Mets fans........