In years past, the New York Mets have been notorious for making deals that don’t pan out. While it’s still too early to determine whether Chris Young and Curtis Granderson will have a big impact for the team, one thing is for sure—they haven’t put up the numbers Nelson Cruz has so far in 2014.
Cruz, who was on the Mets radar during the offseason was passed up on—to many fans dismay. Fans felt that being a proven star in previous years with the Texas Rangers would merit a signing from the New York franchise. But it was not to be, as is the case with the Mets in previous years.
If you recall, when Jason Bay was signed, Matt Holliday was an option on the table. Both had put up big numbers in the previous year and, at the time, deserved similar money.
Ultimately, Holliday chose to stay with the St. Louis Cardinals regardless, but both men were thought to have the same potential. Holliday, who still plays for the team, would go on to be an All-Star-caliber player, hitting at least .300 or close to it in all four years. On the other hand, Bay would go on to be one of the biggest busts in franchise history.
This is not to say the Mets could have known what the result of Bay's contract would be, but the club always seems to be in a similar situation with these types of deals. A bad contract is dished out, and the team is stuck with a player for several years.
And here we are again; the circumstances feel all too familiar—like deja vu. The Mets passed up Cruz for Granderson and Young; the results haven’t been pretty thus far.
Granderson is hitting a meager .206, with six home runs and 20 RBI. Additionally, he’s been a strikeout victim far too often, as he has accumulated 48 in 155 at-bats. Additionally, Young hasn’t performed up to his potential either, as he has been seemingly lost at the plate. Young is currently batting .206 with three home runs and 11 RBI.
Granderson was a more understandable signing for the team because some of the tremendous numbers he put up with the New York Yankees. However, the fact that the Mets could have picked up Cruz for virtually the same price as Young still has fans puzzled.
Though initially Cruz asked for more money and years than his current deal, a bigger contract might have also been worth the money for a hitter who had shown he was reliable in years past. The Mets could have been more patient on the market and saved the money for when the season grew closer to get Cruz or even Stephen Drew.
Young’s numbers in 2013 with the Oakland Athletics were below par. He hit .200, with 12 home runs and 40 RBI over 107 games. On the contrary, Cruz hit .266, with 27 home runs and 76 RBI over 109 games in the 2013 season.
Both have almost identical contracts, with Cruz making $8 million for one season and Young making $7.25 million.
Young in years past has never hit over .260 and is a very streaky hitter. He has shown decent power, but it has hardly been enough to elicit a contract worth $7.25 million. On a positive note, if he continues to struggle at the plate, the contract is only for the 2014 season.
On the other hand, Cruz has been one of the better power hitters in the league since 2009 and has held a steady batting average through that time. Perhaps the downside and maybe the Mets took this into consideration, was the fact that he was suspended for using PEDs last year. This could have factored into their decision for not picking up the 33-year-old from the Dominican Republic.
Should the Mets have tried harder in the offseason to sign Cruz?
The Mets did need to make a splash in the offseason to please the fanbase, which they did. But for fans it always feels like the team is doing a cannonball into the wrong pool—not getting the best players it possibly could.
The organization needs to thoroughly mull these offseason decisions over and make better choices with its contracts. Even the casual fan could have known that signing Cruz would have been the better option over Young. But for a team that constantly makes the same mistakes with player contracts, it comes as no surprise.
Stats are courtesy of BaseballReference.com and MLB.com.
Follow Evan on Twitter @Emoneyball22.