Part of being a fan of Baseball, or in our case the Mets, is the fact that as fans, we’re granted the protection from the responsibility of any half-baked, cockamamie, pie-in-the-sky fantasies involving the team we’ve come to love so much. It’s a responsibility so intimately seductive and often practiced here on blogs and bars all across the five boroughs by us fans – the fanatics – where all of us know exactly what’s right for the team, 5 shots of Tequila in. Fortunately our fanaticism shields us from the realities that men like Sandy Alderson deal with dispassionately and with no semblance of protection on a daily basis.
For someone like Alderson, there is no room for being a fan, no rooting for an individual player, even on your own team. It’s business pure and simple. Players are cut, traded, sent down to the minors to forever toil, sold for cash or to a foreign country or even worse, traded for the infamous player to be named later. When Bart Giamatti said that this game is designed to break your heart, part of me wonders if he had men like Alderson and his contemporaries in mind, all whom have far greater responsibilities beyond that of your typical fantasy beer league. It’s a bit tragic if you ask me but that’s just the fan in me speaking.
As we come to the traditional half way point of the season the Mets find themselves in the precarious position in the standings of being a bit too good to have players sold off piece by piece to the highest bidder yet not quite good enough to acquire a player of significance who can take them to the next level. In all fairness, the trade deadline over the last few seasons hasn’t yielded many blockbuster trades that have had much of an impact for any team.
I look at it this way: Alderson — being the former Marine — is disciplined enough in his thought process that he’s already played out the possible scenarios in his mind and to his staff. His thoughts on this are probably more taught than the skin on Joan Rivers’ face. I see 3 possibilities, all of which exclude any transactions regarding injured players:
- Scenario One: The Mets continue to play slightly above .500; they entertain offers for Beltran and execute a trade only if offered a top-ten minor leaguer from that organization. They should try to negotiate an extension for K-Rod that would nullify his $17.5 million vesting option.
During the July 7th game in Los Angeles, Alderson joined the SNY team of Gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the booth. One of the most revealing moments came when Cohen asked Alderson if he could envision a scenario where the team would let Francisco Rodriguez’ 17.5 million dollar option vest. Alderson’s response, thought out and neutral, was meticulously crafted like a seasoned politico.
It gave me – not to mention the broadcasters – a bit of a chuckle as he essentially said, without really saying it, that K-Rod’s ticket out of Queens is all but cleared with the TSA at this point. You have to admit if anything, Alderson is quite the master of the English language. However, unlike most lawyers who tend to obfuscate and play fast and loose with the truth, Alderson, so far, hasn’t shied away from telling it like it is. That being said, if an extension is all but impossible then no matter the condition the team is in the standings, Alderson must try to deal Rodriquez before his contract vests. Good luck with that.
- Scenario Two: The Mets continue the trend of the past few seasons and collapse after the All-Star break. This may prove to be the simplest of all possibilities or at least the one possibility that permits Alderson to initiate transactions without as many constraints or fan backlash.
Expect to see Beltran gone along with R.A. Dickey, whose value could help earn the team a decent prospect. Essentially there wouldn’t be anyone off the table, including Reyes, however I doubt any team would be willing to part with a top-5 prospect for what could be a two-month rental.
- Scenario Three: The Mets play well above .500 and seriously contend for the Wild Card in the National League. Wright and Reyes return in August along with Santana in September. Beltran isn’t traded and plays out his contract. The K-Rod situation remains the same – renegotiate or trade regardless of the standings. Attempt to acquire bullpen help and a bench player.
Of course that is the most positive outlook possible. I’m sure some would consider it fantasy. It’s hard to argue that with the recent history of the team. However as a Met fan it’s a bit ingrained in our DNA to have a positive outlook, to believe. Giamatti once again said it best,
“And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date.”
I believe in possibilities, for better or worse. Yes I believe and have believed that the Mets would eventually make Reyes an impressive offer and that all of the stories in the media have been, in my opinion, indirect messages sent by both parties to one another. Alderson knows the value in keeping information as close to the vest as possible. It just makes good business sense really.
Yes this team, this game, will break your heart. But I refuse to be absent – just for the sake of not having my emotions toyed with – especially when that one special moment arises when everything in our solar system, our Met-universe, aligns and the impossible becomes tangible. Yes I know I’m a sucker for this game, just like the rest of us. And I’m quite ok with that.
About the Author
I'm just your typical married father of a beautiful baby girl who's in training to be a Met fan. Indoctrination starts early. You can check out my work over at Metsmerizedonline.com as well.