Opportunity is Knocking at Mets Door
As per legend, Joan Whitney Payson attempted to trade for Willie Mays soon after she became an owner of the brand new National League expansion team, the New York Mets, but was denied by the Giants. My humble interpretation is that Mrs. Payson believed that the key was to win baseball games, to hell with the cost.
Get the best players, build a team piece by piece, and win a World Series. Her dream came true. And what a dream it was. That 1969 team was built from scratch and shocked the world.
With the state of the Mets’ current search for a person to head up their front office — not exactly building from the ground up but remodeling the house, for sure — stuck in flux, a clear path needs to be set in stone for how to proceed.
As the 2018 offseason gets ready to kick off for the Mets, progress has to be the name of the game. Beef up scouting, beef up analytics, make winning championships the main focus of every single employee on the payroll — heck, it’s already the main focus of the fanbase — and create a championship culture.
I’m 100 percent serious when I say that this team is not incredibly far off from contention. Build a real bullpen around solid pieces like Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, as well as the young guns looking to make their mark in Daniel Zamora and Drew Smith.
This ridiculously talented rotation is not guaranteed to be together after this season, or through the offseason, for that matter. Giving Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, the rejuvenated Zack Wheeler, and steadily progressing Steven Matz, the luxury of not going into games knowing that their hard work could go all for naught once an inconsistent and undermanned bullpen gets a hold of things could give this scary-good group a new wrinkle — confidence in their teammates.
That, in turn, could alleviate a ton of pressure off of a young-ish group of pitchers and could potentially kick these guys into another gear. Wishful thinking, maybe. But certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Trade dollars on the penny for positional players who aren’t necessarily in the plans for the future of this team — Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas — then go out and replace them with guys who signify a renewed desire and commitment to winning.
Worrying over dollars and cents when baseball economics 101 in 2018 says to do the exact opposite — build to compete, the money will follow — in New York, of all places, is beyond bewildering. Alas, the Wilpons own this franchise and it figures to stay this way for a very long time. It is what it is, folks.
All we should be asking for, as fans, is that the Wilpons run this organization with one main focal point embedded in the front of their minds at all times — win championships. That’s what supports the foundation of an elite franchise. Rings. Chips. Victory parades.
With the right moves and a long-term commitment to winning wild-cards, divisions, pennants, and championships, the New York Mets can and will join the ranks of those other great franchises the Wilpons seem to adore so much like, say, the Yankees.
They, and only they, have the ability to make these changes. It starts at the top. Hand the keys to this organization over to a well-rounded, intelligent individual, let them make the necessary moves and decisions — always keeping the best interests of the NYM in mind, of course — and build a perennial winner.
Back in the winter of 2008, when they traded for and signed Johan Santana to a record deal, they made a clear commitment to winning and building around a championship core. They almost made the dream come true, too.
The pieces are different in 2019 but the game remains the same. Put the best team you can afford out there, win baseball games, draw fans, hope you do better than the other guys, get to the postseason.
That should be the goal every year. It is for other teams. Why is it different for us? It doesn’t have to be and most certainly shouldn’t be. Jeff Wilpon claimed to owe it to the fans to do the right thing. Here’s your chance.
All the glories, accolades, and fortunes the Wilpons so surely covet will undoubtedly arrive as a byproduct of investing in this team — their team — and putting on-field success at the top of their list of priorities.
I implore both Fred and Jeff Wilpon to ask themselves, “What would Joan do?”. I think you’ll find the answer comes to you quite quickly and without much mystery to it. Do the right thing, and things will turn out right.