Jason Miller/Getty Images
Bourn has been superb on his new team, and the Mets lineup desperately could have used his presence.
Rumors were swirling about the Mets going after free-agent Michael Bourn this offseason, before he eventually signed with the Cleveland Indians.
The well-documented reason why the Mets did not want to sign Bourn was because he was a Type-A free agent. Signing Bourn would have meant the Mets would give up their first-round draft pick (No. 11) as compensation.
Add in the fact that the 30-year-old Bourn wanted a five-year deal while the Mets were only willing to do a three-year deal, and the Mets felt Bourn was not worth the trouble.
There is some validity to the Mets’ reasoning.
A No. 11 pick can produce a superb player and potential All-Star down the road. And the 2013 draft is very top-heavy with power pitching, which GM Sandy Alderson certainly covets.
But there are two overarching reasons why the Mets still should have signed Bourn this offseason: The Mets have an awful lineup, and the Mets have a recent propensity to draft high schoolers in the first round.
The plan for the Mets has always been to contend in 2014. They have patiently spent little to nothing over the years so that the team now has the money to spend when they are ready (next offseason).
But why not start a year early? Bourn may be a speedster now in his early 30s, but even if his speed declines, he is still a great hitter and incredible center fielder.
Furthermore, reason No. 1 for signing Bourn: The lineup is awful. Following a 7-5 victory on May 3, the Mets have scored more than four runs just once in 15 games since. Even then, the Mets only managed five runs that game.
Other than Wright and Daniel Murphy, the team has no hitters. John Buck’s pleasantly surprising April has vanished, and Lucas Duda’s pleasantly surprising .436 on-base percentage in April has become a .222 on-base percentage in May.
Bourn would have been a much-needed addition to the lineup. He is currently hitting .305 with five doubles and five stolen bases.
Mets leadoff hitters, where Bourn presumably would have hit, currently rank 30th in batting average, 29th in on-base percentage and 29th in slugging percentage. The Mets are so desperate that they are even hitting Murphy at leadoff now.
In the end, the Mets decided that the No. 11 pick was too valuable to sign Bourn.
Which brings me to my next reason for signing Bourn: The Mets’ recent tendency to draft high schoolers in the first round.
There is nothing particularly wrong with drafting high schoolers. They are usually talented, athletic and raw, and scouts drool over what “could be” with a high school prospect.
But again, the plan for the Mets was to contend in 2014. A high school prospect will not even sniff a major league roster until the end of this decade, simply because he needs more time in the minors to develop.
On the other hand, a college prospect is much more major league-ready. The Mets should draft a first-rounder who will be ready to produce for the team by 2015 or even 2016.
Even more, who was the most recent first-rounder out of college to make the Mets roster? Matt Harvey. And the most recent high school first-rounder to make the Mets roster? Lastings Milledge, who recently signed a three-year deal with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
No one outside the Mets front office knows for sure who the Mets are looking for at No. 11. But based on past history, that No. 11 pick is not worth the trouble. The Mets should have been willing to part with it for a player who is ready to help the team now and beyond.
Moreover, the current roster is terrible. Aside from Murphy and Wright, no one is worth being on a major league roster.
Bourn alone would not have turned this team around. But if the Mets supposedly have the money, they should spend like the big-market team they are.
When this rebuilding process comes to an end in the coming years, Bourn’s presence at the top of the lineup would have helped the Mets win a lot more games for years to come.