The Mets opened camp for pitchers and catchers on Monday and already my head is spinning with cynical, skeptical thoughts. It’s only mid February so by April, I should be curled up in a corner somewhere muttering to myself about blown saves, passed balls, bases loaded strikeouts, and torn labrums.
Here’s what has me pissing vinegar right out of the gate:
- The Mets “lose out” on Michael Bourn to the Indians — allegedly, because they would not give Bourn a vesting option on a fifth year. I say “allegedly,” because last week, their reluctance to signing Bourn, who would have provided them with at least one true major league starter in the outfield, was that they would surrender the rights to their first round pick, thanks to a ridiculous quirk in the collective bargaining agreement that enables sorry franchises like the Pirates for being cheap and risk averse. But this week, after being outspent by the Indians — which is kind of like being outdone in a hot dog eating contest by a runway model — there was nary a word about the draft pick. Only the fifth year option. Frankly, I think it’s all a smokescreen. The Mets should actually thank the Pirates and the Indians for gift wrapping them with a pair of convenient excuses for not pulling the trigger on Bourn, who has much of what the Mets covet: speed, a glove, a high on base percentage — experience, even!. So here’s why the Mets will instead enter the season with the punchless platoon of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill (who is he?) in centerfield: they had no intention of spending anywhere close to $48 million on Michael Bourn. Or anyone else for that matter, with the exception of David Wright, who they really had no choice but to re-sign at an inflated, but understandable, price. Just as they had no intention of signing Jose Reyes last year. They simply made a long, drawn-out show of chasing Bourn to appease their frustrated, suffering fans. Trust me: I’ve worked in PR most of my life. I know how these things work.
- Yesterday, Mets owner Fred Wilpon shows up in Port St. Lucie and merrily declares that he’s all but free of debt (yes, and Nebraska is free of corn) and ready to start spending again. Huh? Kind of strange that Fred would say this after what happened with Bourn. Actually, it makes a lot of sense. Wilpon is under no obligation to spend this spring, as there is nothing left to buy — unless the Mets are looking for more 40-year-old retreads to mold away on their bench. And next year, with the onerous, bloated contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana (assuming his absurd vesting option does not kick in) coming off the books, he’ll have plenty of cash on hand (especially if he finds a way to open that gambling casino in Flushing, which of course is not a sign of a man who needs to enhance his cash flow. No, not at all). So keep talking Fred. We all know talk is cheap. Especially with interest rates so low.
- Predictably, Frank Francisco, the latest installment of failed Mets closers, shows up in Florida with an ailment. Good to see he took care of himself this off season. That’s what you get when you hand $12 million over to a guy who is not worth half that. Maybe he just doesn’t give a crap, nor should he, considering he has little talent and probably lives like a sultan. So . . . the Mets start floating the preposterous (frightening, actually) idea that Bobby Parnell will step back into the closer role. Which is kind of like saying Manti Te’o will be opening a new match.com account real soon. I realize the Mets have slim pickins to choose from, but what have they seen over the past two years that leads the to believe that Parnell should be handed a baseball anytime past the seventh inning? Try Brandon Lyon. or Jheurys Familia. Or maybe Armando Benitez is out there for the taking. Just don’t make us suffer the indignity of more Bobby Parnell blown saves.
It’s only February, for heaven’s sake!