Read this first.
According to various reports, the New York Mets -- so crippled financially that they not afford to pay Bobby Bonilla, and had to defer his $5.9 billion into the next decade -- are rich. This is remarkable and not at all surprising. The Mets are located in (the outer reaches) of the largest city in the country. They have a lavish stadium. They charge $10 for parking. And despite their recent NLCS loss with Bonilla and Rickey Henderson playing cards while it happened, the team has a rich history as a Major League expansion team made good. Two titles in thirty-five or so years -- you could do worse. Ask a Padres fan. The team may be valued well over $250 million -- that’s a lot of money! -- if only they could finally get back to the World Series. Last year, the team jumped its payroll from $49 million to $71 million, but with the Bonilla moved, it’s clear they’ve overreached a tad. Bonilla’s dead to them, and fellow card playing fool Rickey Henderson is, too. And speaking of dead outfielders...
Forget B.J Surhoff, Mets fans. Forget Jose Canseco, too; he’s closer to Disney World. Not even Wil Cordero is walking through that door. Jay Payton, Benny Agbayani, and Derek Bell: These are the men for our times. Knights. Legends. Warriors from an ancient guard sent to protect us.
Just kidding. They suck.
Last season, according to FanGraphs, the Mets’ outfield ranked 26th of 30 teams in total outfield wins above replacement, with just 4.3. Henderson and Roger Cedeno, two players who combined for 4.2 of this 4.3 wins, are now or soon to be playing elsewhere. The Mets’ outfield were 25th in some stat I can’t seem to define using normal English words. A handful of teams we worse -- the A’s, Twins, Rockies, and Devil Rays -- but no one considers those guys to be real MLB teams or play in real cities. They’re less pro sports franchises and more of a socioeconomic thought experiment, amirite? And the prospect of running out two late-20s AAAA types and Derek "Operation Shutdown" Bell, LOLLERCOASTER. This winter, Mets GM Steve Phillips was asked about the team’s plan for the outfield, but was too busy doing things with interns which are not acceptable for us to republish on these hallowed pages. Instead, we’ll just link to this Google search.
These things are funny but also evil. But they have value -- they help distract us from the fact that in thirteen years, Baseball Prospectus’s pre-season odds report will give the Mets a 25% chance at making the 2013 playoffs, but we’ll still make some joke by putting the words "no chance" in parenthesis, just like this: (no chance). And they raise important questions, like, why would ESPN hire Phillips later on? But unraveling the psyches of extraordinarily wealthy media conglomerates is akin to asking a baby to read Infinite Jest -- good luck getting the book open! It also demands cross-platform comparisons. Are there worse contemporary disaster units in sports? The Cleveland Browns are an expansion team but they could barely get off the Couch all year. Will the Los Angeles Clippers still be terrible in 2013? I surely hope so because it’s really easy to make fun of Donald Sterling. Maybe Wayne Huizenga will buy back the Florida Marlins and take them on another Bonfire of the Vanities bender? But these comparisons might be too mild, too encumbered by the metrics of sports. Look across the aisle, at culture. Who is as woeful as the Payton-Agbayani-Bell triumvirate? Maybe Adam Sandler will show us that Big Daddy isn’t the worst movie he can make. Maybe the studio forces behind Jar-Jar Binks have an insufficient UZR. But those are the products of floundering entertainment models -- Denise Richards in an action movie? With lines that mater? REALLY? Baseball is experience its biggest power boom ever -- McGwire! Sosa! Chicks dig the long ball!!! -- but that is not life for the 2000 Mets. Instead, they will test the limits of terrible. Because let’s end this with a total non-sequitur.
(By the way: The 2000 Mets outfield put up 7.4 fWAR.)