Let's face it, the Mets are just no good, not even in the lovable losers sense. They lose and look bad doing it. We're not getting anywhere until we can accept that one key fact, so get all of that anger and resentment out of your system now.
On second thought, let's keep the anger and ramp it up. We need fans who are emotional about the team, even if that emotion is pure vitriol aimed at the team and its players. Go ahead, let them boo, that's just more paying customers through the turnstiles. Soak in the hatred and the money that comes with it.
Going into the Winter Meetings, word from the Mets organization was that the payroll was expected to stay at about $100 million and that the Mets wouldn't be major players in the free agent market. Upon arrival in Nashville though, a calm and collected Sandy Alderson enters the main conference room with the demeanor of a Marine and then jumps up on a table, shouts "Psyche! We be spendin' mad cash, yo," and kicks it Gangnam style as the other executives look on in horror, assuming that two years as the Mets GM had driven Sandy completely insane. Alderson then challenges the other GMs to a freestyle rap battle and beats the pants off all of them, one literally. Still sharp as ever, the Mets GM's newfound spontaneity gives the other teams pause and sends a message that the Mets are getting serious. $110 million payroll, here we come!
With all that in mind, our first target becomes clear. Lock up Jason Bay for 8 more years! Just kidding, unless you mean in a jail for underperforming baseball players. Bay can spend his final year in pinstripes of the non-incarcerated type on the bench to be used as a defensive replacement or pinch hitter with the game on the line. Every time he comes into a game, the scoreboard can flash how much he is being paid to strike out or almost make a big catch ("This whiff brought to you by 100 Grand. No, not the candy."). Ladies and gentlemen, Jason Bay, enjoy him while you can. What do you mean he was cut? Like Terry Collins, I am now scrambling to fill the void left by the void that was Jason Bay. Thanks a lot reality, you suck.
No, our real first target is fan-unfavorite Shane Victorino. Victorino is the type of player who will do whatever it takes to win, even if it is expressly forbidden in the rulebook. Rules are for squares and nerds though. NERDS!!! Victorino eats nerds for breakfast (disclaimer: do not eat Nerds(TM) for breakfast). We'll give him $35 million over three years because we all know that 3/36 would be a bad idea. With Dictorino in center field, sales of beer in the outfield seats will soar to unimaginable heights. Fans will line up at the Citi Field gates for the chance to boo him and countless jerseys will be purchased to be worn ironically, bringing in more than enough money to cover his salary. Sure, it will get old in a couple of years, but that's when he will be traded to Miami to bring Jose Reyes back to the Mets.
Right field will be a pseudoplatoon of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker. What's that you say, it makes no sense to platoon practically identical lefty Dutch-named guys? Ah, but this isn't a real platoon, it's a swap between Citi and Vegas. Not only do they get to rack up a ton of frequent flyer miles, but it lets Terry play whoever is hot at the moment. One will wear #66 and the other will wear #99. Other teams will never be able to tell which is which, but they all look the same when they strike out. The pseudoplatoon will end when a masked man breaks the left wrist of one of them and a locker door malfunction lacerates the left hand of the other. Both will then come up in 2014 as righties.
With one more spot in the starting outfield and no viable options in the system, it comes down to trades or budget free agents. While there are plenty of ways to abuse the fanbase with this final pick, none could be as satisfying as bringing the Melk Man back to New York. Fresh off his PED suspension and failed web-based appeal scheme, Melky Cabrera is the kind of player that anyone can root against. His great start to 2012 shows his potential and the revelation that he was juicing should bring his cost down. A one year deal for $6 million would solidify the outfield and give Cabrera a chance to reestablish his value. Spoiler: he doesn't and leaves New York a disgrace in every way possible. But think of all the media attention the Mets will get!
Having a center fielder with a target on his back (literally, it mysteriously shows up on all of his uniforms before each game) means that there needs to be a solid backup, which this organization is severely lacking in. So how about another year of Andres Torres? He's not getting arbitration, but $2.5 million brings him back for a year to try and build some value. After all, something harder than a plastic cup has to come out of the outfield seats eventually, right?
The remaining outfield bench spot is obvious. Mike Baxter gets the spot after spring training despite comments from insiders that the organization might go in a different direction. Once on the bench though, Baxter rides it unless injuries require him to play, to the point that he begins decorating his section of bench. When the starting outfield disappoints, chants of "We want Baxter!" and "Mike from Whitestone!" erupt from the stands every time an outfielder fails to deliver. The Twitter hashtag #baxterwouldhavecaughtthat trends worldwide despite being rather unwieldy. Baxter is dealt to the Orioles in July for "future considerations," which end up being seafood takeout whenever the Mets have interleague games in Baltimore. Nieuwenhuis or den Dekker gets called up to replace him because all those flights between New York and Vegas are getting expensive.
What's that you say, where's Lucas Duda? He's toiling in the minors because hey, it's Vegas, baby! Despite his inflated offensive numbers in the PCL, the Mets find no takers at the non-waiver trade deadline and call Duda up in August out of desperation, hoping to boost his trade value in the process. Duda gets into the starting lineup after the freak "accident" to the pseudoplatoon.
David Wright is obviously back at third base, but the team won't be able to work out an extension before the season starts. Trade rumors persist from the first days of spring training until the August 31 waiver trade deadline, with the Mets organization putting out vague hints that every home game could be Wright's last as a Met. Wright signs a team-friendly contract at the last minute before he is eligible to declare free agency, but he foolishly agrees to a no-traid clause instead of a no-trade clause and is immediately dealt to Oakland.
Ruben Tejada shows up to spring training in December because he can't figure out how early he has to show up to be "on time," only to find nobody there and the stadium locked. Confused, he spends the next two months wandering the swamps of Florida, finally returning on the non-pitcher mandatory reporting date clad only in fresh snakeskin. Nobody ever criticizes him again. Ever.
Ike Davis finished with decent numbers despite a terrible start to the 2012 season, so it would be crazy to trade him now. We'll keep him around, but he'll be shopped to other teams in July. He is starting to get expensive after all. There won't be a deal for him during the season, but look for him to be dealt in next year's AAOP when he could be on the verge of becoming a legitimate star.
Daniel Murphy is lazy, always lying down on the job. Look at how few home runs he hit! Clearly, he does not have the right work ethic for this team. He shows up to spring training in 2013 a full week early, which is the new late. Terry Collins throws Murphy under the bus. Literally. Supposedly it was to retrieve a bat that had rolled under it, but the media spun it as attempted murder, then backed off and attacked Murphy, saying he deserved it. Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Hansel Robles are traded to Oakland for Tom Milone and Michael Choice. When Josh Satin is initially rumored to be part of the deal, Jeff Paternostro begins calling the Mets front office every hour on the hour asking for comment. He then posts several stories consisting entirely of the words 'satin' and 'milone' in various combinations. Nobody is concerned until this goes on for a week.
Jordany Valdespin is named the starting second baseman. #youhavegottobefingkiddingme trends on Twitter.
Look, nobody is touching the pie guy. He's good for morale! You will watch Justin Turner start occasionally at first, second, third, and short. And in right field once. And pitching in the bottom of the 13th with the score tied 22-22 against the Rockies, where he gives up a walkoff grand slam. The Rockies congratulate him for his effort with a pie to the face.
Josh Satin is given the final bench spot so Jeff Paternostro will stop calling the team. Seriously Jeff, I don't know how you got Sandy's personal cell phone number, but please stop calling at 3am and whispering "Call up Josh Satin" over and over in an attempt to subliminally influence the team's decisions. Satin gets the starting job in May when Valdespin gets benched for walking too much.
From there it's a revolving door of infielders at second base. Pick a name, they get a shot. Zach Lutz? Injured in his first inning. Jefry Marte? On Taxi Squad the next night, but Lutz isn't put on the DL until after the game. Marte, upset over getting yanked around between Las Vegas and Queens, plays with a bad attitude and gets sent back down after five games, batting .450 with three home runs. Reese Havens? Taken on waivers by the Astros when he gets dropped from the 40-man roster, spends the rest of the year getting dropped and claimed by 10 more teams.
The team insists that Wilmer Flores isn't going to be rushed and is expected to spend the majority of the season in the minors. Flores boards a plane for New York 10 minutes before the Mets release this statement and is the starting second baseman from the next day until the end of the season. His passable performance at second base is a figurative middle finger to everyone who says that he doesn't have the speed for the position. His literal middle finger is his sign to Victorino that he's got a shallow fly ball. He'll start at third base in 2014.
Sandy Alderson makes big waves when he announces during the Winter Meetings that the Mets are committed to improving their production at catcher and are prepared to spend, spend, spend! And then he scraps that plan and announces that Josh Thole will be the primary starting catcher for he foreseeable future. Sandy's crystal ball apparently doesn't go past next Tuesday though, because A.J. Pierzynski is signed to a two-year $14 million contract less than a week later. Fans are initially put off by Pierzynski's style of play but are won over when he tackles Victorino in the outfield for no apparent reason. Two runs score on the play, but everyone is too busy making GIFs of the latest Victorino blooper to notice or care.
Eh, let's go with what we've got. What, were you expecting me to deal R.A. Dickey with the Joshes (Thole, Edgin, and Satin) for the next incarnation of Gary Matthews Jr.? Well, we tried, but the Angels weren't willing to eat enough of Vernon Wells's salary and Dickey's expendability goes poof when Milone needs Tommy John surgery in the offseason (Curse you Billy Beane!). That means we're stuck with R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, and however much of Johan Santana can be scraped together and stuffed into a not-pinstriped uniform. Fear not though, because waiting in Las Vegas with suitcase in hand is none other than... Mike Pelfrey! He gets non-tendered but comes back on a minor league deal for a guaranteed $2 million plus incentives and 350,000 Delta SkyMiles, with a handshake deal that he will be the first pitcher called up when a starter gets injured. And all of his flights are routed through Atlanta when he gets called up on taxi squad in advance of each scheduled Santana start, even the flights to the west coast. He never actually appears in a game and Zack Wheeler gets called up in August when Johan Santana's arm finally falls off. Scott Boras cries foul and nobody cares.
After some early shellacking that had "fans" calling for him to kill himself, Jon Rauch surpassed his career averages in 2012, suggesting to anyone with a spreadsheet and a pulse that he'll be in for some serious regression in 2013. So we're bringing him back on a one-year deal worth $4 million. Because the guy's a freaking superhero. No, not because of his height; his super power is that he's immune to criticism (and if you get that reference, well, I thought I was the only overlap in those demographics). Seriously, what are you going to say when he stinks up the joint next year? Kill yourself? Been done. Hope you get a really nasty splinter? Lame. There's really nothing left for the secretly self-loathing basement-dwelling losers who feel the need to relentlessly mock a stranger who is actually out in the world doing something to say to him at this point. Tell you what, if you have something to say to him, say it to his face. The step stool is over there.
As for the rest of the bullpen, it's all a crap shoot. Frankie the Frank is getting paid to be a closer already, so we'll let payroll dictate game role. Parnell makes progress and almost gets the closer role, losing it when he blows his first save opportunity when Lucas Duda boots a routine ground ball to second; nobody will ever know why Duda was in the infield, sources blame Justin Turner. Hefner gets to be the long man. Familia's in the mix as a reliever after switching back to a starter in spring training. Edgin and Carson can be the lefties, we'll see if we can burn them both out in 2013. Tim Byrdak joins the WWE as the Big Bad Byrd because it poses less of an injury risk than being a LOOGy for the Mets.
The Mets go to the World Series! Of Poker. Well, not the actual World Series of Poker, but an event in Las Vegas that bills itself as being kind of like it, but not really; they finish the baseball season 76-86 (good for third place after the Marlins rent out their stadium for funerals to liven it up and the Phillies can't figure out why throwing the same players out onto the field isn't getting them wins) despite ending the season on a 12-game winning streak. After making it through the first two rounds without losing a hand, Jon Rauch is eliminated when it is revealed that he does not know the rules to the game and his opponents were all too intimidated to call. R.A. Dickey was an early favorite, but he leaves the table when someone offers to donate $5 million to charity if he climbs the Luxor. Robert Carson, who narrowly avoided injury after setting a new team record for appearances, makes it to the final round before suffering an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery. The final winner is Justin Turner, whose goofy expression was impossible to read. He walks away with $25 million, retires as a player, and takes a job as the Mets clubhouse manager with full authority over pies.
Here's a bunch of numbers that may or may not resemble 2013 salaries. It should work out, more or less. Nobody is really sure what the $5 million marked "Other" is for. Nobody who asks about it is ever seen again. Minor league call-ups and other little expenses should add another $2 million, pushing the Mets over the $110 million mark for the first time since the long-forgotten days of 2011.
|Kirk / MDD||RF||0.50|