Offering effusive praise for the fiscally-handcuffed New York Mets’ hirings of Sandy Alderson, Paul De Podesta and J.P. Riccardi, New York Magazine’s Will Leitch contends that while the 2011 season is already a write off for the Amazins, entertainment and/or respectability isn’t far down the road. “Alderson is here to do the same job, essentially, that Donnie Walsh was brought in to do when he took over for Isiah Thomas three years ago,” suggests Leitch, and while that’s a somewhat soothing analogy, keep in mind, at no point has it been suggested in the last 3 years that Cablevision HAS NO MONEY.
This won’t be a team that wins the National League East—though with all their injuries, the Phillies look more wobbly than anyone might have thought—but it won’t be a team that trots out Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and Fernando Tatis either. (That’s addition by subtraction right there.) Fans will get a good look at promising young players like 2B Brad Emaus (above) and C Josh Thole and the entertaining knuckleballer R.?A. Dickey. Let’s not forget that David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, and Johan Santana are still on this team. Each of them has had issues, but if they were to play even close to their expected levels, a long-shot wild-card run might not be out of the question. Even if this year is a write-off, the team will be more enjoyable to watch than it has been the last four years, if only because the franchise is finally moving forward. It’s going to get better, soon. I promise, this isn’t a scam. You are forgiven for fearing otherwise. This is, after all, the Mets.
This is one of the rare instances where I don’t believe Leitch is thoroughly full of shit. For all the talk that you cannot rebuild in New York, the majority of the Mets fans I know have some understanding that under Omar Minaya and Tony Bernazard, player development was a mess and in desperate need of repair. That said, there’s world of difference between the measured expectations of a rebuilding era and being unable to keep the lights on. Or for much of the past two seasons, being unable to field a major league product. If Wright, Reyes, Bay and Santana rebound nicely, can the Mets play what Fred Wilpon likes to call “meaningful baseball” in September? Sure, but the “issues” Leitch describes extend to Bay’s recovery from a concussion, Santana’s shoulder rehabilitation (expected to keep him off the big league roster until July at the earliest), and Jose Reyes — auditioning for a 2012 contract — being the franchise scapegoat if injured, the subject of frequent trade rumors if healthy. In short, I was right there with Leitch until he offered false hope for the near future.