Lets face it: this team isn't very good. They have some good pieces here and there, but overall they are not in the elite of baseball, and last year proved it. Five players, however, embodied exactly what is wrong with this team. Whether it is through controversy or simply bad play, these are the five players who have been monuments to everything that is currently amiss with the team.
Jason Bay watches after his concussion
There is nothing wrong with Jason Bay as a person. His four-year, $66 million contract seems pretty good after this offseason's contracts for outfielders. However, his price tag embodied one thing wrong with the Mets: expensive players not yielding any results.
Bay played in only 95 games last year after he spearheaded into an outfield wall attempting a catch. Injuries happen; but Bay had serious problems before this. Known as a solid slugger, through 348 at bats he had a mere 6 home runs. By comparison, in 2003 he had 87 at bats and had 4 home runs.
His .259 average was also almost 20 points lower than his career average. He proved a non-factor for the 2010 season, and another reminder of how paying a player big money does not necessarily yield big results. Luckily, he will have his chance at redemption for the upcoming 2011 season.
Kelvim Escobar's lone appearance in Met uniform
What's that? Doesn't look familiar? This makes sense. After all, this man has only thrown five innings since the end of the 2007 season; and no, none of those five innings were with the Mets.
He got a $1.25 million, one-year contract for the Mets which was obviously a risky signing at the time. The problem isn't necessarily the money; he would have been a good low-risk, high-reward candidate if he came back healthy.
The problem instead is that he certainly was a risk. And this was money that could have been spent on a known quantity, instead of unknown. Even from the get go rumors were floating that his arm didn't feel right, which immediately led to the declaration that he would miss the beginning of the season.
Well, this was quickly debunked when missing the beginning of the season turned into missing it all. Still, this was probably an acceptable risk to take at the time but in hindsight I can't help but feel the Mets should have spent that money on a cheap starting pitcher (much as they have this year) instead of investing it into a relief pitcher with no assurance he would ever play a game.
Luis Castillo confused
I don't hate Luis Castillo. During the 2009 season he was arguably the best player on the team, amassing a .302/.387 stat line (along with that lone monster home run he hit). It is his 2010 season that is troubling, and telling of the team's initial refusal to bench him.
Ending the season with 86 games played and a poor .235 average, he embodies the refusal by management to take him off the roster and put a player who could actually be use on board. Let's face it: this is not the player who hit .314 en route to his second World Series ring in 2003. His ridiculous contract (four years, about $25 million) left me sick at the time and, 2009 aside, has left me in the same relative state.
But his play, or lack thereof, is another embodiment of an aging player with a bad contract that did not yield results. He couldn't hit and he absolutely could not play defense anymore. I don't blame him personally; age is what has taken his abilities.
Still, the fact that he was put out there day after day to start and be a defensive liability is another telling example of one thing gone wrong in the decision making process of last year.
We all knew this was coming. In mid-August K-Rod had his infamous assault of his girlfriend's father following a Mets loss at home. Very troubling at the time, this incident proved a serious dent in his record as an elite closer. However, the worst part would be reported days later (worse as in on-field consequences, not off-field). It was reported that during the assault he tore a ligament in his thumb which effectively ended his season.
It was almost laughable at the time (almost). Had the team not suffered enough embarrassment? The whole thing was outrageous and still remains one of the eyesores of last season. He effectively embodied everything wrong with the players on the team through his own poor judgment off the field.
"Someone, help me"
Oliver Perez. I have tried for years to defend him, but to no avail. If K-Rod is the embodiment of what is wrong with the players, then Perez is the embodiment of what is wrong with, well, everything. I did not necessarily hate his contract at the time; three years and $36 million does sound like a hefty amount, but the Mets needed him (or Lowe, their other target). He has been the albatross of the team, the symbol of what it means to be a bad player in all aspects of the game.
His first two years of that contract? He has averaged a 6.81 ERA. He has three wins compared to nine losses. I could go on, but the point is clear: he is terrible. It truly is a shame as he had a good 2007 Mets campaign before completely losing it. I felt bad for him at the time. However, this quickly eroded when it was discovered that the team asked him to go to the minor leagues for help but he refused.
I understand that it was his right to refuse...but why? Instead of going down and getting him to fix his woes, he instead decided to stay on the team, stealing a roster spot, and becoming the most hated player this team has seen in years.
He is the product of everything wrong with this team. A lot of money for a terrible player, holding a roster spot while not playing, refusing to be sent down to get help, and more. If there is any one player who has been the symbol of the Mets' struggles, he is it. He is your No. 1 worst embodiment of the New York Mets.
If you needed any other proof, you need not look further than the last game of the season. Perez, with all other options exhausted, was brought in on the 14th inning of the final game of the season against the Nationals. Perez went on to do what he does best. He hit the batter and then proceeded to walk the next three batters, effectively ending the game 2-1. He slumped back to the dugout in a storm of boos.
And through all of his troubles, I felt pity. I felt bad for him. Yes, he has brought this on himself by refusing to get help, but I still felt sorry. I can't imagine what it must feet like in that moment. Even now I would like nothing more than to see him come back, rebound and completely turn himself and his career around. And so, while he certainly embodies everything wrong with the team last year, he has a chance for redemption.
And boy oh boy I will be wholly surprised if he even makes the team this year.