One constant since Sandy Alderson came on board has been the preaching of patience and doing things right. The idea is that a full-scale overhaul is going on and that the fans in New York have to bear with living in a trailer park for awhile because a fabulous penthouse is being constructed on the Citi Field grounds. Now it’s no fun living in a trailer park, and every once in a while it makes you cranky. But there are a lot of smart Mets fans, and a large segment of us want to give Alderson the benefit of the doubt. Plus, no matter what the owners said publicly, we all knew they were tapped out and scrambling to just keep the lights going and a hose connected to the outhouse.
So on July 13, 2011, when the Mets were still relevant in the pennant race and had star players Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Francisco Rodriguez, I understood when the team dumped K-Rod. In return they received a vertically challenged left-handed pitcher who had zero chance of being successful in the major leagues. But by trading K-Rod, the team was no longer on the hook for a $17 million option for 2012, and I understood. The owners were broke and needed short-term relief, so I hung in there, even though the bullpen immediately imploded and the 2011 season was effectively done. Next Alderson traded the great Carlos Beltran for prospect Zack Wheeler. Forget understanding, I cheered this. I knew Beltran wasn’t in the future vision and was pleased to now have a pitching prospect such as Wheeler added to the organization. But make no mistake, this move also made the 2011 team that much harder to watch, and again, the Wilpons saved immediate millions. Those savings were not passed along to season ticket holders as rebates, trust me.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who were in a similar situation as the Mets on July 13, won the 2011 World Series. Shortly after that, homegrown star Jose Reyes, only 28 years old, left the Mets to sign with the Marlins. Given Reyes’ age, the idea that signing him would be an impediment to future success rang hollow. I had a harder time swallowing this one but kept my emotions in check. The reality was the Wilpons still had huge immediate financial problems. As the 2012 season began, the Mets set records for how large the payroll had dropped in just one season, but mostly I got it. A new core of young players would be developed, and then talent would be added. Deconstruction was still going on, why spend yet? And you can’t spend what you do not have. At this point, the year 2014 started to get thrown around a lot. I understood.
Mentally prepared for a bleak 2012, I received some nice surprises. Johan Santana pitched a great first half of a season, and R.A. Dickey perfected the art of the knuckleball and became a beast. The Mets hung around the playoff picture until mid-July again, even though the bullpen was still the mess it had been since the K-Rod trade one year earlier. Given the option of making a move that might add salary to improve the situation, the Mets passed. Even after what had happened the year before, I understood. The odds were not worth it, and sure enough Santana broke down and the team totally fell apart. With Beltran and Reyes gone and no new stars brought in, the team was not only bad but boring. No speed and no power. But good things come to those who wait, and I stayed patient and rooted for Dickey.
R.A. did not disappoint and finished 2012 the Cy Young award winner. However, Dickey would be a free agent in 2014 and was already 38 years old. As the foundation was still being built, I was asked again as a fan to forget about today and accept a trade of Dickey. But this time, now two years in, Sandy Alderson made sure to let fans know he did not expect our patience to be unending. While shopping Dickey at the winter meetings Alderson said:
“To move Dickey, it has to be for a ‘difference maker.’ Are we punting ’13? Absolutely not…If we do something, we want whatever comes back to us to have impact on us as soon as possible.”
And then Dickey was traded for two players, Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. By now this blog was up, and I not only understood, I praised the move, even though it meant the end of watching Dickey pitch as a Met. Next, our principal owner Fred Wilpon emerged from exile to let the fans know that all of our sacrifices helped his family out greatly. He has no personal debt and is in wonderful financial shape.
Now it’s March and it’s March 2013, not March 2014. And I get it, I’m still supposed to be hanging in there, it takes time to build a penthouse. But even patient people don’t want to live in a trailer forever. Because that is what the Mets are trying to sell me for 2013, the trailer again, and for no good reason. Can I just come inside? I’ll wait for the kitchen to get finished. I’m talking about the “difference maker” now, Travis d’Arnaud.
Somehow it is becoming accepted logic that it would be a good idea to send him to Las Vegas in April. We are being told it is because he is not ready for the majors, only that’s hard to understand. So now — I do not understand. I do know that if he stays long enough in Las Vegas, the Wilpons can save some money years and years from now, maybe. That is not a good reason to me. And any other reason does not ring true to me.
David Wright played less than 400 games total in the minor leagues.
Jose Reyes, who started out even younger than Wright, played only 348.
What about a catcher though, right? I looked up Brian McCann, who plays for a team called the Atlanta Braves. We should be lucky enough to ever develop players as well as the Braves. McCann played 310 games in the minors and skipped Triple A completely.
Travis d’Arnaud has played 483 games in the minor leagues. He is already 23 years old. He has nothing left to learn in Las Vegas except how to get in trouble at night. You can do that very easily in New York City too, so no issue.
I’m not expecting a World Series team this year, or even a playoff squad. I do have patience. But I’m not a patsy either, and I know when someone is trying to play me for one.
It’s time to stop counting mythical future pennies and do something for Mets fans in New York. It’s time for Travis d’Arnaud.