Things are never so bad that you can't imagine them being any worse, which I suppose is what keeps me from digging a trench to lay down in whenever I contemplate the 2012 Mets. To be certain, there's not a lot about which to be optimistic these days. To recap:
- Mets ownership is in dire financial straits, the team itself is losing tens of millions of dollars annually, but commissioner Bud Selig thinks everything is fine and sees no reason the WilKatzes shouldn't keep on owning the Mets.
- The corollary to #1 is that payroll will shrink to around $100 million in 2012, leaving Sandy Alderson very little money to work with in order to improve upon a team that lost 85 games in 2011.
- re #2, there's little reason to believe that $100 million is the payroll floor for this franchise, particularly without doing something about #1.
- From the abovementioned 85-loss 2011 team, take away Jose Reyes and most of Carlos Beltran.
- The Phillies haven't gotten any worse, nor have the Braves, really, while the Marlins and Nationals have gotten better.
It casts a haunting pall over 2012 and beyond, and the only thing that keeps me going most days is that I respect and admire the acumen and perspicacity of the gentlemen in charge of baseball operations. To the extent that they can keep ownership out of the way I expect that the front office will make sound baseball decisions using their brains primarily and their guts only as a last resort. I feel sorry for the humorless toads who have already dismissed this front office for reasons they (the toads) must have a hard time convincing themselves of; without the knowledge that there are sensible adults running the show I'd have startlingly little to hang my hat on.
It's difficult to conjure a scenario where the Mets finish any better than fourth place in the NL East, though that point hardly precludes them from being entertaining this season. They were generally fun to watch last year despite finishing 25 games behind Philadelphia, and there should be plenty to enjoy this year as well, even if it is a transitional (or a transition to a transitional) one for them.
- Johan Santana will be back. Or might be back. He didn't pitch at all in 2011, so that shouldn't be too hard to improve upon. He's aging and rusty and owed an awful lot of money through 2013, but he's a helluva lot better than Kevin Mulvey.
- Ike Davis will be back. Or should be back. He was terrific through the first month-plus last year, but then David Wright stepped on his foot — or his ankle — and a day-to-day bruise turned into a season-long injury. I'm as excited to see Davis back on the field as I am to see anyone else this season.
- David Wright might hit some home runs again. They're renovating Citi Field as we speak, moving some fences in and making the ballpark more hitter-friendly. Wright is a hitter, therefore Citi Field will be more friendly to him than it has been in the past. In other words, quit being a jerk, Citi Field!
Mike Pelrey something something.
- If R.A. Dickey survives Mt. Kilimanjaro (roughly translated as "kills men and eats them like churros"), he'll be back, which is a good thing because he's introspective and funny and sincere and modest, which places him in stark opposition to most athletes on all of those points.
- The bullpen should be better. It'll definitely be taller. And less punchy.
- Jason Bay should be better. He ended the season on a high note and the new outfield dimensions will probably help, perhaps contingent on whether Bay can still reasonably be referred to as a "hitter" without stripping that word of all but its most literal interpretation.
A full season of Ruben Tejada at short.
- A full season of Lucas Duda in right and Big Lebowski references on Amazin' Avenue.
There are others, too: Andres Torres's defense, Josh Thole's patience, Jon Niese's development, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia, and so forth.
What are you most looking forward to this season?