Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Mets May Not Contend, But At Least They’re Trying To Be Fan-Friendly

Some brilliant mind in the Mets’ hierarchy, or maybe a few, decided that if the Mets weren’t going to spend any money this year and even pretend to be contenders, they would have to appease their fans in a new and different way.

So, what we now have are the spend-nothing but exceedingly fan-friendly New York Mets. Mets’ Bloggers i.e. the voice of the Mets fan, have been invited to participate in conference calls and meetings just like the writers. And how many e-mails has each of us already received telling us everything Sandy Alderson and staff are up to ? They’ve devised this cute, but corny video message that you can personalize so it seems like Sandy is actually making a personal phone call to you with your name appearing on the screen. His message ? Support your New York Mets, buy season tickets, or at least a package.

Now frankly, I didn’t expect the Mets to be players for Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, or anyone else costing $100 million. I did however think that this brain trust would pluck some low-cost intriguing prospects, even if it meant dipping into the independent league pool, signing a player coming off a terrible year, but still healthy (Kevin Millwood ?) or bringing back a player from a foreign professional league as the Rangers did a year ago with Colby Lewis. Unfortunately, it seems to me that even the player acquisitions so far have been made more to appease the fans than because Alderson and company have spotted some potential that no one else could see. Examples ?

If you checked out the message boards on the various Mets blogs prior to the Rule 5 Draft, you’d have seen that the most popular choices for players that the Mets should pick were Brad Emaus and Pedro Beato. Emaus, fans reasoned, because he could play second base and Ricciardi should know him from Toronto. Beato, because the Mets had drafted him, failed to sign him and saw him go to Baltimore. So, who did the Mets draft ? Surprise. How much scouting did it take beyond reading fans’ comments ? So, of course, after the Mets drafted them, everybody who suggested them was happy ! Again, fan-friendly.

Now we have the latest acquisition, Dodgers’ utility infielder Ching-Lung Hu. Do you remember Alderson’s introductory press conference when a female reporter from a Chinese newspaper asked if the Mets were going to get some Chinese ballplayers ? Sure, we have enough Latino utility infielders - that was Omar’s doing, so let’s listen to Flushing’s Asian community and get a Chinese one.

I’m not giving up on the Mets’ future, either short or long-term, but so far, I’m unimpressed.