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Friday, November 02, 2012

Megdal: The Mets’ options, when it comes to David Wright, aren’t good ones

Metsolius…climbing/scaling.

The twin realities facing this Mets team, however, are that they need to keep people interested in 2013, and they need to add to their overall talent base. Simply signing R.A. Dickey and David Wright to long-term extensions freezes the roster in place for next season. The Mets will have a pair of marketable, even beloved stars. But they went 74-88 with both of those players having perhaps the best seasons they will ever have.

Dealing both Wright and Dickey, though, on the heels of letting Jose Reyes go, could crater the franchise. Just how many games will that same roster win without Wright and Dickey? And just how willing will other teams be to trade the Mets young, cost-controlled replacements for Wright and Dickey, when they can just, you know, keep the younger, cheaper versions of them both?

It is an extremely difficult position, a result of the financial problems that have prompted the Mets to strip the major league team of its talent without finding young players who can replace a Jose Reyes or a Carlos Beltran.

The best the Mets can do with Wright and Dickey, barring an offer like a Middlebrooks/Barnes combo from the Red Sox, is to sign them long-term. That’s probably what people around baseball are counting on when they assume the Mets will come through and do what is obviously right for the team.

Not a great assumption, though.

Repoz Posted: November 02, 2012 at 12:15 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets

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   1. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: November 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4291049)
Because they can be counted on to do the right thing (npi) every time out...
   2. depletion Posted: November 02, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4291060)
I still have some hope for Wright to be signed, but I'm getting more skeptical about Dickey as time marches on. I imagine he'd be very valuable to an AL team on the cusp (O's, White Sox, Angels, even Yankees). No one has seen his knucklers in the AL, basically. The Mets are probably looking to spend Chevy money and Dickey's thinking Ferrari.
   3. BDC Posted: November 02, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4291069)
I have never understood assertions that the loss of key players will "crater" a franchise. (Still less the use of "crater" as a transitive verb, or a verb at all, but that's another matter.)

It seems to me that teams dispense with star players very regularly, for calculations of money against projected performance. When franchises "crater," it's because they don't replace the stars with other stars. The Mets cratered when they traded Tom Seaver – still one of the most devastating losses, from a fanbase's perspective, that I have ever seen a team create – and a few years later they had Dwight Gooden and another World Series title and the crater was landfilled (until the next crater). I suppose it depends on your definition of "crater." If it's "risk being bad for a year or two while rebuilding and having every hope of success once again," that's cool.
   4. Darren Posted: November 02, 2012 at 03:53 PM (#4291073)
The Mets cratered when they traded Tom Seaver – still one of the most devastating losses, from a fanbase's perspective, that I have ever seen a team create – and a few years later they had Dwight Gooden and another World Series title and the crater was landfilled (until the next crater).


That's 7 years, though, until Gooden came along. Then 2 more until the World Series. Teams don't like be in a crater for 7 years.
   5. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 02, 2012 at 03:59 PM (#4291076)
No one has seen his knucklers in the AL, basically.


Dickey had become a knuckleball pitcher by the time he pitched for the Mariners and Twins.
   6. Darren Posted: November 02, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4291078)
And this is what cratering looks like:

Met Attendance ranking in NL:
2008 1st
2009 5th (New ballpark!)
2010 8th
2011 9th
2012 11th

They've shed payroll and gotten commensurate results on the field. Losing their two best players, and one of the most entertaining player in baseball, is going to keep that trend going the wrong direction.
   7. depletion Posted: November 02, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4291102)
Dickey had become a knuckleball pitcher by the time he pitched for the Mariners and Twins.

Yeah. However, I'm not sure he had the two speeds for knucklers at that time. And he certainly wasn't fooling too many hitters with it/them. Which is what I meant with the "basically" qualifier, if you'll pardon my inaccuracy.
   8. BDC Posted: November 02, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4291111)
Teams don't like be in a crater for 7 years

I take it you're not from Pittsburgh :)
   9. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: November 02, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4291128)
That's 7 years, though, until Gooden came along. Then 2 more until the World Series. Teams don't like be in a crater for 7 years.


I think it's funny how each individual fan base drastically misjudges its chances at a world championship. A fifteen year championship drought shouldn't even be considered a drought. That's just halfway to a championship if everything was completely random. There are THIRTY teams in the league.

EDIT: I am working with a very rudimentary understanding of statistics. I'm guessing that in a random draw scenario with thirty teams, and each draw representing a year, each team would average out to having a chance of winning once every thirty years.
   10. Darren Posted: November 02, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4291137)
I agree with you that 15 years between championships is actually a good outcome. It drives me crazy to hear fans calling themselves "long suffering" because they haven't had a championship in 20 years (or whatever).

I was only responding to the idea that the down time after losing Seaver was no big deal. Fans and the owners likely would not have signed up for that.
   11. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: November 02, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4291146)
I became a Dodger fan in 1989. Once we hit 2018 I will have grounds to start complaining about a drought.

Some would argue the huge payroll increase should stack the odds, but come on, this is the Dodgers we're talking about.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: November 02, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4291158)
That's 7 years, though, until Gooden came along.

And as Howard sort of implies, the Seaver trade had nothing to do with that eventual un-cratering. (watch Bob's head spin!) In one sense, that trade was the sort of trade you never see today in that the Mets received 4 "ML ready" players, 2 of whom were actually pretty good (and one of whom was one of the worst players in MLB history). But none of them were around when the Mets got good again and, near as I can tell, they weren't even worthwhile in a "X was traded for Y who was traded for Z who was on that good team" sense.

I suppose it depends on your definition of "crater." If it's "risk being bad for a year or two while rebuilding and having every hope of success once again," that's cool.

But there's the rub ... when and how does the cratering help you in the rebuilding? Trading Seaver didn't help the Mets rebuild. I don't recall the money/contract situations so it's possible that Henderson and Zachry helped the Mets suck less over the next 4 years than they would have if they hadn't traded Seaver (who would have been an FA eventually I assume and was no longer TOM SEAVER anyway). But that trade didn't help the Mets rebuild into a winner. I don't recall that the Santana trade helped the Twins; the Halladay trade didn't do wonders for the Jays; I'm not sure the several Cliff Lee trades have helped any of his former teams.

The Mets won 74 games last year (75 pythag) and, by WAR, Wright and Dickey were worth 12 of those wins. Trade them for prospects and the talent level of the team is around 100 losses. That's a crater. As #6 notes, with the Astros gone and drunken Cub fans still showing up (well, buying tickets), the Mets might fall to last in the league in attendance. Of course they might end up there if Wright and Dickey stay in 2013 anyway.

It might be different if there was anything out there for the Mets to spend $20M this year and $40 M for the next few year on but it's not obvious there is. You can't really spend it on draft picks, you can't really spend it on international signings, there aren't many good FAs coming (no franchise changers I don't think), there aren't a lot of bad contracts out there to eat and why would you rather eat $30 M of somebody else's contract rather than extend Dickey & Wright?

It's spend money on these two or spend that same money on (e.g.) Swisher/Jackson/Lohse or put that money in Wilpon's pocket. Looks to me like the only reason you'd trade Wright and Dickey is if you get some really nice prospects in return ... and then you probably sign Swisher/Jackson/Lohse to hopefully hold the fort while you rebuild.

On the other hand, I don't buy this "the fans won't forgive you" stuff. There's a very good chance that, if the Mets sign Wright to the big money contract, Wright will be despised by the fans 2-3 years from now. Even if he continues to be good, we regularly see fans/media/teams blame their best player. And if he plays poorly ...

So, as the headline says, there's no good solution here.

Here's a chuckle -- guess who led the NL in PA this year? Jose Reyes ... remember when his lack of durability was a reason to stay away from him on the FA market. Baseball is a funny game.

   13. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: November 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4291182)
@12--yeah, but he missed two games :)

Interesting to see Reyes right around his career OPS+ in 2012, especially with his BABIP off a bit. Reyes was extremely durable, and Wright was very healthy. Did the Mets dump their medical staff after 2011? And does anyone have any idea how the Wilpons' finances are playing out?
   14. starving to death with a full STEAGLES Posted: November 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4291183)
Dealing both Wright and Dickey, though, on the heels of letting Jose Reyes go, could crater the franchise.
no. if you're a mets fan living in new york, what are you gonna do? root for the yankees? the phillies? the red sox?

no. maybe you'll stay away, or you won't watch them on TV for a while, but the next time the team is good, that bandwagon is gonna be full.
I agree with you that 15 years between championships is actually a good outcome. It drives me crazy to hear fans calling themselves "long suffering" because they haven't had a championship in 20 years (or whatever).

if you live in a town with teams in each of the 3 major sports (new york, chicago, boston, washington, detroit, dallas, atlanta, denver, miami, phoenix, los angeles, cleveland, minneapolis, san francisco, philadelphia), a 20 year drought is 60 combined seasons. if you go that long without any championships (and if you add in college sports or hockey, it's even longer), it really feels like ####.
   15. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 02, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4291192)
. . . if you're a mets fan living in new york, what are you gonna do? root for the yankees?

Once you make the transition, everything becomes easier - Mystique & Aura, as well as The Magic of Pinstripes, all on your side. Besides, what better way to stick it to Wilpon? Come on, you know you want to!
   16. manchestermets Posted: November 02, 2012 at 06:24 PM (#4291217)
Whilst a fanbase has no right to demand regular championships, being competitive would be nice. On the same basis that a randomly distributed championship would come every 30 years, now that there are 10 teams in the playoffs teams should be looking to get there once every 3 years. A team in a market the size of the Mets' shouldn't be in the current position where that's pretty much unimaginable.
   17. Conor Posted: November 02, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4291227)
This is nothing more than my gut feeling, but I think Wright gets signed and Dickey gets traded.

   18. BDC Posted: November 02, 2012 at 07:19 PM (#4291247)
Everybody makes good points here, but I think my initial feeling (not well-expressed, perhaps) was, take the long view. A "franchise cratering" seems to me to be the situation in Pittsburgh or Kansas City, where after long spells of being as competitive as anybody else, the franchises have dug themselves holes that fall in on them faster than they can try to climb out. That is not the Mets' situation, and never has been, and unless they compound bad decisions indefinitely, it won't be again. It is only by the standards of the other NY team that the Mets' troubles are anything to write home about.

I was only responding to the idea that the down time after losing Seaver was no big deal. Fans and the owners likely would not have signed up for that

As I said, losing Seaver himself was the worst deal ever. But though Walt correctly notes that the trade didn't help them reload, keeping Seaver probably wouldn't have helped either, at the rate they were collecting talent in those days. The point, as Walt notes, is to make better decisions; without that you'll stay perpetually in the crater. But if you make good ones, the fans will be back in droves. How many fans refused to root for the mid-'80s Mets because the mid-'70s Mets had traded Tom Seaver? There was my sorehead friend Lenny Farinola, sure, but who else? :)
   19. Benji Posted: November 03, 2012 at 02:38 AM (#4291473)
I want them both kept, and if the Wilpons can't swing it, there are plenty of ownership groups that would like to buy the Mets. A lot of Met fans seem to have developed Stockholm Syndrome, worrying that this guy would cost too much and how much we need to find cheap players. Why? Why are these fans choosing the f'n Wilpons over having a team worth rooting for? We need to band together like we did in the late 70's, when we forced Grant and the DeRoulets out.

But back in reality and being stuck with this group of creeps running the team let me offer them advice. If you're going to trade either of them, the fans would probably prefer Wright moved. Dickey gave us somebody to pull for, making his starts appointment TV, getting begrudging compliments even from the Yankee and Philly fans I know. To dump him right after the stellar season he had will thoroughly disgust the great majority of fans.
   20. Swedish Chef Posted: November 03, 2012 at 06:36 AM (#4291491)
no. if you're a mets fan living in new york, what are you gonna do? root for the yankees? the phillies? the red sox?

Committed fans no, but new fans in the market for a team grow up all the time. You don't want to lose mindshare with kids with a decade of suck in a contested market. "Dad is so embarrassing, he's a Mets fan".
   21. Walt Davis Posted: November 04, 2012 at 01:06 AM (#4292421)
if the Wilpons can't swing it, there are plenty of ownership groups that would like to buy the Mets.

I've got to admit I'm at a bit of a loss as to why they're holding onto them now. The Dodgers were a debt-ridden, bankrupt mess and sold for $2 B. The Padres -- I have no idea if they were debt-ridden but they sold for $800 M. The Wilpons got off pretty easy in the Madoff mess in the end. What better time to put the team on the market, collect your $1.5+ B, pay off your debts and ride off into the sunset of your retirement with $500 M and change.

I understand that for a while there, the Mets were the only asset they had. I suppose they're still the only asset they have but they also now know what their debt burden is. It seems a great time to settle up to me. Are they waiting for a TV contract to end?
   22. Benji Posted: November 04, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4292425)
Supposedly Fred wants to hold on to the Mets until Jeff is ready to run the operation. That could be 50 years. Plus he thinks he has great leverage with the various media outlets and can get a jumbo deal like the Rangers and Dodgers did. Problem is, back on earth, WFAN is dying to snatch the Yankee rights and either relegate the Mets to some tiny satellite or dump them totally. Then what?

Sell the m'fing team!!

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