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Thursday, 28 March 2024 14:23

New York Mets fans need to stop complaining and just enjoy the ride in 2024

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Opening Day usually brings optimism. It’s a new and fresh start. Every team is in the same wins and no losses. But the New York Mets have a fan base that has needs, wants, and desires. And a relentless need for criticism.

The comments on the threads of social media are filled with complaints and derogatory remarks about the Mets management and ownership. The new president of baseball operations, David Stearns, has been more maligned in his few months on the job with the Mets than he was in the eight years he spent at the helm of the Milwaukee Brewers. Hey…welcome to New York City David! Steve Cohen was already aware of what he was getting into…I mean…he was already in it and watched while the Wilpons were being hung in effigy.

“If the Mets don’t sign ‘fill in the blank’ then I am turning in my tickets.”

“Steve Cohen fooled us…”

“If they don’t sign Pete Alonso to a long-term deal I am done with this team…”

And that’s the mild stuff. Fans are entitled to make complaints. That’s a huge part of being a fan. But if you want to make a complaint…come on…be somewhat knowledgeable and try to have SOME objectivity.

The Mets organization has been in a state of flux for a very long time. More than people probably even realize it, if only because they happened to land themselves in a World Series in 2015. But the dysfunction goes pretty far back…believe it or not…all the way to 1991…when the Frank Cashen era ended…and Nelson Doubleday was about to throw in the towel. It was like handing the keys over to the inmates and they just ran amok.

When Steve Cohen came in, he tried to accommodate the fans by thinking and behaving like a fan. He spent big bucks trying to put band aids on the open wounds. It didn’t work. The money spent on Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander – two shoe-in Hall of Famers – was great for publicity, but bad baseball decisions. The only consolation will be if something comes from the garage sale items picked up in exchange for sending them away. There weren’t very good, or very healthy, anyway.

That’s what fans should be looking at. He tried the short play…but it became evident that it’s got to be the long play. Fans are envious of the Atlanta Braves? Well…you want to overtake the Braves? Then you have to do exactly what they have been doing – accumulate and develop young, athletic talent. And then lock ‘em up long term.

It’s not all about spending money, ya know. Take the Los Angeles Angels, for example. They have had the two best players in Major League Baseball, for years, in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. And what did they do? They added Anthony Rendon after he had a career year. How did THAT work out? And how many championships have the Angels won…oh…in the last few years? None. Ask Angels owner Arte Moreno how HE feels over there.

So then what do you do about Pete Alonso playing out the string in 2024? It would be blasphemy for any true Mets fan to suggest trading the guy who has become the face of the franchise. But given the true state of the organization, is it worth it to give a 31-year-old one dimensional player a guaranteed contract longer than three years? Remember the Yoenis Cespedes ordeal?

I love Alonso. But, then, my favorite Met ever is Lee Mazzilli…also a face of the franchise. And you know what? Mazzilli was traded. The return was Ron Darling and Walt Terrell. And then Terrell was flipped for Howard Johnson. So…in essence…the trade of Mazzilli brought to stars and fan favorites in Darling and HoJo to the Mets. Now I am not saying that’s a guarantee…because in this day and age of “rentals,” Alonso is not going to bring back a huge haul. But the idea shouldn’t be totally dismissed.

Common baseball sense tells you that the 2024 season will be frustrating and even a bit exasperating at times. Sure, there will be some excitement because Alonso and Francisco Lindor will undoubtedly put on their usual offensive shows. And how could anyone not be excited about Francisco Alvarez? That’s the guy to watch who is bound to make everyone stay in their seats when he comes to bat.

The rest of the squad is rather pedestrian. Brandon Nimmo has, on the surface, been improving every year offensively. However, while his HR numbers are going up, his OBP numbers have been going down. And that was always his game. Even though he didn’t steal a lot of bases…he doesn’t steal ANY bases…he was on base machine – single, walk, hit by pitch – he managed to get on. He’s not the same player.

Jeff McNeil is great for the Mets because he can be placed anywhere in the lineup and on the field…and not hurt the club. But he, too, has gotten away from his strength and, rather than spraying the ball around, he is trying to lift it and hit for more power. It hasn’t translated well.

Starling Marte was one of the best all around talents on the roster. But the word “was” is key. Marte could do everything but he has been injury prone since coming to the Mets and he has only gotten older and he can’t be counted on for much until he proves otherwise. And even then, it won’t be for long.

Brett Baty will get another chance to be the starting third baseman, just like he did in 2023. He has the abilities but he will be on a very short leash. And that is really not the way it should be. The young players like Baty, Alvarez, Mark Vientos should all be given the chance to prove that they could emerge as MLB caliber players the same way the Braves young stars have done.

Ah, but there you go. Alvarez will obviously get the chance, and Baty too. But Vientos won’t.

The Mets sudden last minute signing of J.D. Martinez was an emotional pick up to…if nothing else…quell the rantings of Mets fans. Because in no way is the signing of Martinez meant to be the final piece of the puzzle enroute to a 2024 championship. It just ain’t happening.

The presence of Martinez is not going to make a difference. And you wanna know why? Come on…you know…shout it right out when you know the answer. Why? Because the pitching is awful. So no matter how much offense the Mets produce…it will be nullified by the lack of pitching.

Yes…yes…we all know that Edwin Diaz is back. But two things are and will be true – 1) we don’t know how effective he will be after an entire year off and coming off a serious injury and 2) even if he IS even relatively close to being as dominant as he was in his career year of 2022, it won’t make a hill of beans of difference if there is no lead to protect. And other than Diaz…you’re playing Russian Roulette.

Look…anything can happen with the new playoff process based on the National Hockey League…everyone gets in. At least that’s what it feels like. But the point is that they Mets could very well qualify for post season play.

However, if you are like George Costanza and believe you can be the general manager of a baseball team, then you might just realize that the team is not really constructed well. The organization has a number of talented prospects, but just about all of them are position players. The pitching depth is kind of non-existent.

Oh…and who is Carlos Mendoza?

It’s going to be a rough season…so buckle your seat belts and get ready for a wild ride.

Read 1047 times Last modified on Saturday, 20 April 2024 12:26
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Alan Karmin is an award-winning journalist and author. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and spent most of his life growing up in the New Jersey suburbs. Alan's family were avid Brooklyn Dodgers fans and when the Dodgers moved west, the Mets became the team to root for. The Mets have always been a true focal point, Alan even wrote a term paper in high school to analyze what was wrong with the Mets. While at the University of Miami, Alan honed his craft covering the, gulp, Yankees during spring trainings in Fort Lauderdale for a local NBC affiliate, as well as the Associated Press and UPI. He broadcasted baseball games for the University of Miami, and spring training games for the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos. New York Mets Mania is a forum for Alan to write about his favorite team and for baseball fans to chime in and provide their thoughts and ideas about New York's Amazin' Mets.