The Big Fix and the General Consensus
After an encouraging, 83-79 season and third-place finish in 2005, the Mets appeared to be just one or two pieces away from a playoff run. The general consensus was that the Mets might have won more games had someone other than Braden Looper been the closer. Thus, “the fix for 2006” would be Billy Wagner.
As you remember, the Mets came within one game from making it to the World Series in 2006. With Cliff Floyd aging and injury prone, the general consensus was that they needed just one clutch bat — a “professional hitter” — to take over in left field. Thus, the “fix for 2007” would be Moises Alou.
The greatest collapse in the history of baseball kept the Mets out of the 2007 postseason. When the dust settled, it was determined (by the general consensu) that the Mets needed an “ace” pitcher, or “stopper” — one who would prevent losing streaks. Thus, “the fix for 2008” would be Johan Santana.
Yet another collapse kept the Mets from making the 2008 playoffs. All fingers pointed to the personnel in the bullpen — the general consensus was that the Mets needed a bullpen makeover. Thus, “the fix for 2009” would be Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz.
So here we are at the end of the 2009 season and again the Mets are not playing meaningful games in October. The general consensus is that injuries were the reason. Thus, “the fix for 2010” is …. to be healthy?
Yes … and no. While in the past there was “only one piece missing”, or “one issue to address” (according to the general consensus), today there are several:
– a #2 starter
– a power-hitting left fielder
– a Major League caliber catcher
– a power-hitting first baseman
– a return to health for Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana, and the rest of the cavalry
Yes, some will argue that Omir Santos can be the #1 catcher and Daniel Murphy the first baseman. But I’m going with the low-level general consensus — the one that has driven the Mets’ offseason strategy for the past several years. And the “general consensus” believes the Mets need to fill those positions with new personnel.
Going from “one” issue to three or five is a big difference. And as we’ve seen in the past, addressing that “one” issue wasn’t enough to propel the Mets to the postseason — mainly because it was MORE than the “one” problem that the general consensus identified.
Which makes one wonder — is it really only these three, four, or five issues that need to be addressed? Of course not. Beyond the above generalities suggested by the mainstream, the Mets also still have a big problem with their bullpen (both the personnel and the management of it); there’s the issue of David Wright’s power shortage; many question the team’s overall mental approach / intestinal fortitude; the team needs to improve its fundamentals and execution; and the starting rotation is riddled with question marks –including Johan Santana, who is coming off elbow surgery and therefore no sure thing.
In the past, the Mets failed to build a championship team despite needing “only one or two pieces to complete the puzzle”. But this time around we should expect them to fill multiple holes and deliver a postseason appearance? That might be somewhere between wishful thinking and fantasy land.