New York Mets 2011: The Worst Team Money Could Buy, Part II
The Mets have a the fifth largest payroll in baseball. They have a shiny new stadium, they play in the largest market in America and have a roster loaded with talent.
For all this, the Mets are terrible. In every way imaginable.
The Mets won a total of 79 games last year—23 games behind their "enemies" the Philadelphia Phillies. They ranked 12th in attendance, despite the new stadium, and behind decidedly small market Milwaukee. They averaged over 12,000 less people per game than their crosstown rivals, the Yankees.
The Phillies, like the Mets, made trades for veterans, signed big contracts and generally succeed in their plan to win now. While that plan worked for the Phillies, it failed miserably for the Mets and only left them in a spiraling losing funk with an albatross of a expensive roster.
Let's take a look at the Mets roster. Johan Santana, the ace the Mets traded for, finally blew out the shoulder that scouts have said for some time that he would. The injury, which comes from long-term wear, brings with it not only a long rehabilitation, but accusations of the Mets overusing Santana.
Santana had been complaining about his arm as early as late June. Yet the Mets continued to throw Santana out there every fifth day until early September, even though the Mets were completely out of the race by mid to late July. By the time Santana comes back in 2012, he will be 33 with three years left on his contract.
Carlos Beltran, who was an overpaid centerfielder to begin with, has mercifully only one year on his contract. A empty of husk of his former self, Beltran has played 125 games the past two seasons and has already injured himself in spring training. He batted .255 last year. He makes $18.5 million this year.
Jason Bay, who the Mets signed to a large four-year, $66 million contract before last season, looked completely uncomfortable and intimidated in the spacious new CitiField. One year after hitting 36 home runs in Boston, Bay hit a pathetic 6 home runs in 95 games before concussing himself running for a fly ball.
Gary Matthews batted .194 last season before being cut by the Mets. He is set to earn $12 million this year.
One-time face of the franchise Jose Reyes, who at one time was getting press that he would be the new "Best Shortstop in New York," is reportedly playing for a trade. Reyes, who made seventh on the MVP list in 2006, has been beset by injuries, a bad attitude and declining skills both at the plate and on the bases.
Last year, Reyes had a Dave Kingman-esque OBP of .321—not what you want from your "speedy" shortstop. Reyes speed is also in question as he only stole 30 bases last season and was caught a third of the time—a far cry from his heyday of 2006-2007. Reyes will make $11 million in what his probably his last year as a Met.
Which brings us to Oliver Perez. Perez, who was signed by the Mets in 2009 to a $36 million, three-year contract. Reportedly, the Mets competed only against themselves for the services of Perez, which was meant to solidify the rotation after Santana.
Since the contract was signed for that $36 million, Perez's record is 3-9 with an ERA of 6.81 in roughly 100 IP. Perez has been in the minors both in 2009 and 2010 to work on his wrecked mechanics. Perez, having completely lost any confidence he may have had, has lost velocity and abandoned his fastball as well as his curveball, which he didn't use last year at all. His fastball and changeup are 4 mph apart.
The Mets recently gave up any idea of using Perez in the rotation this season and have sent him to the end of the bench in the bullpen. Price tag: $13 million.
In 86 games last season, Luis Castillo committed 11 errors and batted .245. Price tag: $6 million.
And then there is Francisco Rodriguez, he of the dramatic mound gestures. While his on-the-field play has generally been good, it's the other part of his life that the Mets wish they could make go away. Having no real reason for a high-priced reliever, the Mets would do well to trade K-Rod. Except they can't.
Since being signed, K-Rod has had tussles with opposing players, his own coaches and, most well-known, his girlfriend's father, whom he punched in the face.
Adding salt to the wound, Rodriguez injured a ligament in his thumb from the altercation and needed season-ending surgery. Rodriguez was ordered by the court to stay away from his girlfriend and he family; Rodriguez violated the court order, though he did escape further punishment.
The good news is that a ton of this payroll baggage comes off the roster next year. The bad news is that the Mets don't have a ton of talent on the way. Keith Law recently put the Mets' minor league organization at 26 out of 32. The Mets didn't have one prospect ranked in the top 50.
Also, the Mets have been accused of rushing their recent young talent too quickly, with Baseball Prospectus writing: "The Minaya regime wasn’t particularly successful at any aspect of developing or handling prospects."
Put it all together and what you get is a big, expensive gooey mess. The Mets will go nowhere this year; the season already having been written off. And with the Madoff scandal having struck the Wilpon family fairly hard, it is tough to see the Mets being big free agency players anytime soon. So, to recap:
1. Terrible free-agent signings.
2. No young talent coming up the pike.
3. Disgruntled and fading stars.
4. No free-agent help for the forseeable future.
The original Worst Team Money Could Buy was about the 1993 Mets who won 59 games. The 2011 squad might give those guys a run for their money.
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