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.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike October 9, 2009 at 9:37 am
    This is why I keep asking if Mets fans are willing to sit through another mediocre year if it meant getting things fixed. Trading away what talent they have in the minor leagues is just another “big fix.” It doesn’t solve the problem. So demanding a winner will only result in trading away some what is being called, in some circles, the most underrated farm system in the MLB (by actual scouts, not just the Mets FO). If Mets fans are serious about supporting a team that does things right then fans must demand Omar and co. stand pat with the trades, add where they can through FAs, and possibly trade away veterans for young talent. I’m not suggesting a break up the core strategy. No in fact I’m suggesting the opposite. I say bring in good MLB talent on 1 or 2 year contracts and try to trade Luis Castillo or JJ Putz for anything you can get. I just doubt this FOs commitment to doing things right.
  2. gary s. October 9, 2009 at 10:25 am
    the minute i saw that line drive get dropped by holliday in the game last nite in murphyesque fashion, i pictured the ink drying with his name on a 5 year 80 million dolllar contract with the mets..what a crushing defeat for the cardinals.Now they know what we felt like on the last day of the season for 2 years.Of course, they are still alive, but that loss last nite was really a bad one
  3. Wendy October 9, 2009 at 2:16 pm
    Gary, could not have said it better myself, that was an incredible ending, Holliday was no doubt chewed out by La Russa, not that he needed to be reminded, the look on his face and body posture said it all.

    No doubt the fans in St Louis will give him tons of grief, how he handles the adversity will tell how long he will be a part of the team.

  4. Furioso October 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm
    I’m willing to sit through 5 or so bad years if I see progress being made towards building a long term winner.

    But it will NEVER happen so I may as well demand quick fixes and settle for the 1 in every 8 years this team is good

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  6. Living in the Past : Mets Today March 1, 2010 at 7:57 am
    […] touched on this early in the offseason, when we discussed The Big Fix and the General Consensus. In that post, we surmised that the Mets believed they were only “one piece away” from […]