Mets Drop Ball Again

by John Furgele

Let’s face it:  the 2011 Mets did not enjoy a banner season.  The season began with the Wilpon family mired deep with the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme scandal.  The question remains how much money the Wilpons will have to fork over to the fruad victims.  Next, was the advertisement that the Mets were looking for a minority partner to infuse them with the cash. They appeared to find one, but of course, that didn’t work out either. 

Next, was the on-the-field play.  The Mets won 77 games, but they did hang in there despite numerous injuries.  Star shortstop Jose Reyes won the batting title, but spent two stints on the DL.  Despite his “controversial” bunt then leave the game, he was derserving of being the first Met to win a batting title.  I didn’t see anything wromg with what Reyes did.  He is not the first player to “protect” his average.  Many players—-too many mention to mention—-have done it.  John Kruk, in 1995, singled in the fifth inning of a gem while a White Sox, getting his career average to .300.  He retired right after the inning, the fifth inning to end his 10 year career. 

David Wright has regressed to the point that the Mets should listen to offers and consider trading him.  He seems permanently spooked by Citi Field and the hitch in his swing also appears permanent.  The Mets have to make decision of resigning Reyes or letting him become a free agent.  We know what will probably happen.  If they let him go, he will likely bat .310 with 25 triples and become a perennial all-star for year to come.  His hamstrings will never ache again.  On the other hand, if they resign him, he will likely be plagued by leg injuries and a .266 batting average.  Remember, this is a team where Ed Kranepool, an ordinary player is the all time hit leader with 1418 hits. 

If I were the Mets, I would let Reyes go.  They won 77 games with him, they can probably win 77 without him.  They should look at Carl Crawford as the blue print.  Both are spark plug players that rely on athleticism and speed to be productive.  But, how did Crawford do in year one on Boston?  Sure, he will get better—he has to—but $140 million better? 

The Mets also suffered another PR blow by saying no to the Yankees.  The Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, the Yankees Triple A affiliate has a problem.  Their stadium, PNC Field, is being torn down and rebuilt, leaving the team homeless for 2012.  The team wanted to play its 72 game home schedule in Newark, New Jersey.  But, to do so, the Yankees needed permisssion from the Mets to relocate, since Newark is in the Mets territorial rights area.  The Mets, always lurking in the Yankees shadow, vetoed the idea and as a result, the SWB Yanks will play home games in Buffalo, Syracuse, Batavia. Lehigh Valley, Pawtucket and Rochester, which will host 37 of the 72 “home” contests.

Were the Mets really afraid that the Triple A team was going to hurt them at the gate?  Why not approve the move and score some much needed PR points in the baseball crazy New York metro area.  As Yankees GM Brian Cashman, the team was certainly within their right to say no, but why not say yes.  I don’t think the Triple A baseball fan is the same as the MLB fan.  Because ticket prices are so expensive, a Met game is more of a bring your friend proposition, where a Triple A game is a bring your family event. 

I think the Mets could have co-existed with the Newark/SWB Yankees, but the Mets would have none of it.  Sure, the Long Island Ducks play in Islip—-also Mets territory—but Newark, forget about it.  The Mets once again, dropped the ball.  It would have been fun to see Triple A baseball back in Newark, a city with a long history of minor league success, but the Mets had other ideas.

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