With 2012 drawing to a close, and my small but devoted legion of fans crying for one last blast of sarcastic, caustic, cynical bile about the Mets before the calendar turns, I have emerged from my long but somewhat unplanned hiatus to accommodate my loyal followers.
The reason I have not written since mid-September, if you so care, had little to do with a scarcity of material. The Mets provided plenty of inspiration, right through to the questionable (yes, questionable) trade of R.A. Dickey. Nor was I gravely ill or otherwise indisposed. Sadly, there were a few nights when my intention to write was boxed out by my desire to imbibe. Truth be told, I can’t effectively drink and write, which I suppose exposes me as some kind of fraud, as sports bloggers go, but so be it. And contrary to accusations from some who know too much about my unhealthy passion for the Flushing Nine, I had not given up on my team. Hell, no. Not after 44 seasons marked largely by fits and frustration — with a few miracles sprinked in to keep me engaged.
The fact is, I had a wicked streak of writer’s block. Much to say, but unable to express. A constipation of the mind that no mental laxative could readily ease. Blogging is supposed to an easy fix for this ancient malady, correct? You just grab your laptop or iPad and unload your thoughts, observations, mutterings, blatherings. I have a healthy supply of all. But I just. . . couldn’t. . . put . . .two. . .sentences. . .or. . .words. . . together. Too many distractions. Other priorities. The fear that maybe nobody would listen? Who knows. And who cares. I really need a drink.
Heh. Just kidding.
So — how did I finally emerge from my “creative” doldrums to craft one last (or maybe next to last if we’re all so blessed) blast of steam before 2013 arrives? For starters, I’m not working this week and at the moment, stone sober. I also heard a little voice in my head while going for an unusually clear-minded run earlier this week. It sounded like a cross between Woody Allen and Larry David (annoying, but effective), harping that I was in danger of losing my status, albeit questionable, as a baseball blogger if I did not get my ass back to the keyboard and offer something of substance or a close facsimile thereof. Anything. Just to break the ice.
So for a variety of dubious reasons, ranging from voices in my head to a brief encounter with sobriety, Off the Foul Pole is off the respirator (which is more than I can say for the Mets’ outfield — more on that shortly). At least until the cobwebs begin to form once again in the part of the brain that controls nasty, cynical thoughts about your favorite baseball team.
Okay, enough of my self diagnosis. You came here to delight in my ruminations about the Mets recent moves and non-moves, however, you may be a bit disappointed as I’ve arrived to the game in the proverbial bottom of the eighth inning. I mean, how much more can be said about Wright, Dickey and such that hasn’t already been offered and beaten around like a punch-drunk eight-round club fighter with two bad eyes?
Well, let me give it a shot, in 200 words or less:
Dickey was one of my all-time favorite Mets. He defied all odds by winning the Cy Young. And he’s a good man, which counts for something in baseball and most other pursuits (except politics). Without him, the Mets win 60 games, finish last and are totally irrelevant after Santana’s no-hitter. I get why the Mets traded him. They can’t really afford him — not after handing Fort Knox to Wright –and jumped at the chance to get some top tier prospects and build for the future. But I’m highly skeptical of any move the Mets make. Sorry, but the Jason Bay train wreck has me a bit skittish, not to mention all the other bad decisions over the past 6-7 years –actually the better part of the past 40 years, but I don’t have time to dig that deep into the muck. Travis D’Arnaud may turn out to be the next Buster Posey or Mike Piazza. And Noah Syndegaard may be a flame-throwing stud in a few years. But my tongue is not wagging like most of the media who hailed this trade as a no-brainer. Bill Madden of the Daily News, who is one of my favorite baseball scribes, was making comparisons to the Gary Carter trade and I’m thinking, are you kidding me? Carter was practicaly a Hall of Famer by the time he reached Flushing. And he was surrounded by a lot more talent than the current group. To me, D’Arnaud is a guy, a prospect, who’s been in the minors for six years, is coming off knee surgery and was laid up two years ago with back problems. Yes, I’m a bit suspect about this prospect. So ask me in 3-4 years if I really like this trade. Maybe my opinion will have shifted by then.
The Wright signing was a no-brainer, although they overpaid for him and both parties will likely be unsatisfied with the state of things within four years. Long term deals involving 30-plus All Stars never work out well over the length of the contract. Besides, Wright can’t carry a team, so I trust the Mets will build talent around him that will complement his considerable skills and lay the foundation for a championship club. I use the use the word trust in a highly aspirational manner because I hardly believe what I just wrote. Wright had a plenty of leverage being the only marketable player (with the Mets pretty much intent on unloading Dickey all along) on a struggling team desperately in need of maintaining some star power over the next five years while it attempts to rebuild. Again, a reasonable approach, if you’re Oakland, or Baltimore, or Tampa, which I guess the Mets have become, minus the recent success (hah, small detail!).
Aside from Dickey and Wright, it’s maddening (but not surprising, really) that the Mets have not yet addressed other pressing needs. Then again, they would need three off-seasons to do so. Do they have any intention of shoring up an outfield that ranks among the worst (the worst?) in baseball? And how about the bullpen, which has been water-boarding every Mets fan for much of the last decade? If it was me in Sandy Alderson’s chair, I would nuke the entire group and start all over. They can’t possibly think they can roll out Frank Francisco (coming off elbow surgery, which is a scary thought), and Jon Rauch, and Bobby Parnell, and Josh Edgin, and any number of guys named Ramirez, and think the fans won’t at sometime storm the field and riot! I know that sounds extreme (even for a guy who hears voices in his head) but that’s how I feel when I watch one guy after another pour kerosene on late inning leads. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Alderson, tear down this bullpen!”
Okay, I went way over my 200-word limit, but that sure felt good. I should do this more often.