We’ve now spent over four months watching the Mets and trying to determine whether they are actually in contention for a playoff appearance, or whether that perception from June was simply the result of two prolonged hot streaks that weren’t an indication of the true ability of this team. Now that we’re past the Trade Deadline, Omar Minaya and the Wilpons have pretty much made their decision as to whether they expect this team to seriously contend or not. The question now is, what do the fans think? (and more accurately, what SHOULD the fans think?)
Obviously, this team is flawed, we all know that. There are players that don’t belong on a Major League roster, there are players under-performing, and there are flawed people in charge from the Ownership to the General Manager to the Manager.
Jeff Francoeur would best be served learning plate discipline. Oliver Perez would best be served in the minors. Luis Castillo would probably be best getting foot rubs on a beach in the Caribbean all day. Jerry Manuel makes for a nice calming influence, I’m sure, but his strength is NOT as a tactician. The team not only has all these flaws, but I’m sure that everyone from the Wilpons to Omar Minaya sees them, there just isn’t much they can do to solve them right now.
The Mets are not committed to Francoeur or Manuel beyond this season, and in all likelihood, neither will be back next year (a stupendous conclusion to this year notwithstanding). Perez and Castillo (along with Carlos Beltran, who could and should be shopped in the offseason) are under contract for just one more season after this one. Perhaps next year they could actually be moved to a team looking for a half season rental/reclamation project?
As much as we (like to) believe otherwise, Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya are not idiots. They may not always make great (not even always good) decisions, but the truth is they both want the Mets to be successful. Truth be told, the thing that impressed me the most at the Trade Deadline was Omar Minaya. He knows as well as we do that over the rest of this season and next, his job could be on the line at any moment. Let’s be honest here, put in a situation where we know that any lack of success could have us fired, most of us would make a flashy change (whether for the best or not). Omar resisted. Omar decided (correctly, in my mind) that Roy Oswalt/Kerry Wood/Scott Downs/Ted Lilly were not going to save the 2010 Mets, and to give up 2011 Mets like Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis, Jon Niese, Josh Thole or others would be simply looking out for his own security and not the team’s.
And that kind of decision takes guts and integrity, if you ask me. We can argue all day whether he should or shouldn’t have made a trade for a star pitcher and said prospects be damned. But, at the end of the day, if he and his scouts came to the determination that there was no one player that would be the difference between the 2010 Mets as constructed right now and a Championship….then good for him for not panicking.
So, as constituted right now, the Mets are probably not playoff contenders. Their playoff odds are just 4.5%. They have 3 teams to climb over in the division and 5 in the Wild Card. Their team is full of players not living up to their worth (ex: Jason Bay), players struggling to return to form (ex: Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo), and players who just aren’t very good (ex: Francoeur, Cora, Perez, Castillo). The Manager is terrible at utilizing a bullpen and at times seems ill-fit to manage a McDonalds, let alone a Major League Baseball team. This team is at a point where even though they gave us hope in June, they are showing us now what they really are.
Omar Minaya has been (deservedly) criticized for many things, but one thing that he should not be massacred for is his judgment of talent. Certainly he’s given out bad contracts, but those contracts aren’t bad due to the players earning them as much as they are bad due to the annual salary or the number of years.
Luis Castillo’s contract would have been tolerable if it were for just 2 seasons (and been done after 2009). Oliver Perez would have been tolerable at 3 years/6 million per season. Should he have succumbed to the contracts that these players got? Absolutely not. Should he have instead found cheaper options with arguably less upside? Absolutely. But Omar has built the Mets’ farm system from a laughingstock to league-average. He’s not the utter failure he is made out to be by some fans.
The Mets may not be a power team, but they still have a very solid core of Wright, Reyes, Santana, Niese, Pelfrey, Thole, Davis, Pagan, and even K-Rod. The Mets will almost assuredly not be playing come October 2010, but by not making a move, even if it meant infuriating fans, they may have given themselves more hope for 2011.