New York is not a patient city. You watch movies with traffic jammed up, every.single.driver honking their horns as though the cars are all of a sudden going to begin moving at a reasonable speed. You wonder why they all don't just simply leave earlier. They may be stuck in traffic still, but at least they can relax and listen to some good tunes or some talk radio. And ultimately, be on time.
The difference between the drivers of these vehicles, and say, the New York Mets, is that the drivers know when "on time" is. Work might start at 8AM, 9 AM. But there is a set time.
While Sandy Alderson and the Mets know work is perpetually going to continue, they don't know when success at the Major League level is going to rear it's beautiful head. It could be in 2014. Maybe 2016. No one really knows.
What we know is that Mets fans, along with Yankees fans, Red Sox fans, and a few other large markets, they just aren't patient. They need to win now. They view an organization as having money and past success and believe that automatically equates to present and future success. They aren't forgiving. They want want want. And they want it now.
But Alderson isn't going to just throw a bunch of money at free agents. And unless he has a solid core to build around, then he is going to lay low on the free agent market altogether, I would assume. A few small pieces to fill gaps, etc.
But about that core...In stepped Matt Harvey, who is arguably having the best season of any pitcher in baseball.
Following him was Zack Wheeler, less refined, but still a major talent that is going to work on finding his inner-Matt Harvey.
And preceding these call-ups, David Wright -- one of the ten best players in baseball was locked up at the hot corner to an 8 year, $138 million extension.
Useful players like Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and perhaps even Ike Davis (If he ever gets his swing together) were all part of Mets team -- pre-Harvey and Wheeler -- that may not have been a very good team, but at least had some solid pieces in place.
I don't know Sandy Alderson personally, I just know he's had some success, he's intelligent when it comes to baseball, and he seems to be patient. And that last characteristic, patience, is absolutely necessary when nearly rebuilding a baseball team. And it's even more imperative to display patience in a city like New York, as any baseball fan will tell you.
So there you go, I gave a you a vague description of what is going on with the New York Mets. There has to be something more to this, right?
His name is Jacoby Ellsbury. And when 2013 is completed, he will almost definitely be looking for a job.
And, ladies and gentlemen, the Mets have a nice gap in center field where Ellsbury would fit perfectly. Not like Mike Trout perfectly, but you get my point.
Let me add that after seeing what the Angels, Yankees and Dodgers did (via, in part, by the Red Sox), I would almost definitely stray away from ANY contract greater than five years. I'm not talking about extensions like Longoria, Tulowitzki or potentially Cano. I am talking strictly on the free agent market. Pretty much my only exception would be if a 90 win team on paper had a hole in, say, left-field, and there happened to be an excellent LF on the market that was going to command seven or eight years, then I might pull the trigger.
But this has nothing to do with the Mets. Right now, at least. They are the fourth best team in the National League East, perhaps moving up to third later in the year if Ruben Amaro does what he should do and overhaul his own team.
But the window where the Mets should be good, barring any significant injuries, terrible luck, or stupid transactions is closing in.
Johan comes off the books next season for a cool $5.5 million, which will free up even more money on a team that has money to spend already.
Even though Sabermetrics is all over the place now, and building a team from within is obviously the best way to go -- even for a large-market team. Spending money IS acceptable.
The Mets should do that. They should exercise their financial accounts and wire five years worth of money into Jacoby Ellsbury's Bank of America account.
So how many teams are will be good enough in the next few seasons, need a CF, and have the money to spend on a player such as Ellsbury? I count about five: Rangers, Giants, Cubs and maybe the Reds, depending on how much money they have available if Choo leaves via free agency. I may be forgetting a team or two. Or maybe a dark-horse wild-card of a team that needs a CF, but also needs like 20 other players to turn them into a contender.
To address Elsbury though, as a player, he is no sure thing. I like Ellsbury more than I liked the top tier CF free agents of 2012 (Bourn, Upton and Choo - because Choo wasn't a CF). The Bourn comparison is close though, especially even more in hindsight since he is playing well this season (But hindsight doesn't really count, now does it).
Ellsbury, like Bourn and Upton, is a good defensive center fielder. And we all know the value of good up-the-middle defense and up-the-middle quality players in general. Like the other two players, Ellsbury can steal bases and run the bases well in general.
The difference between Ellsbury and the other two CF's is that, if healthy, Ellsbury is probably less reliant on his legs. BJ Upton is a mess right now and in past years he was solid at the plate. But is he ever going to be the players the Braves thought he could be? Forget about what scouts thought he could be, for that is long gone. There's plenty of time left on that Upton contract for him to redeem himself and turn back into an above-average player. The one the Braves played for.
As for Bourn, his value is almost entirely made up of great defense and great base-running. He adds just enough with the bat to make him a pretty good player, as of now.
With Ellsbury though? If he is consistently healthy -- and I understand that is a BIG IF -- then he can do everything.
He's not exceptional at anything at the plate; hits for average, gets on base some, average-to-a little above-average power. But he's shown us something the likes of Upton and Bourn have not: Greatness.
Yes, I know it was an outlier but his fWAR in 2011 was the best in not only the AL, but in all of baseball.
He will never be that good again. Period. But who's to say he can't put up a 5 or 6 win season -- or two -- over the next five years? It's possible.
And in the years between that historically great season, he couldn't stay on the field, playing in only 92 games, accumulating a total of 1.2 wins. There is definite risk, as with any large free agent contract. But that "risk," his inability to stay healthy all the time will drive his total price down.
But aside from all that, 2013 is a new year, or at least it was on January 1st. And so far, Ellsbury has been legitimately good. He started off slow, making everyone wonder what was wrong with him. But as of now he has a .334 wOBA, is playing good defense as usual, leads all of baseball in stolen bases and is 24th in baseball in WAR. Not too shabby.
Last year, Michael Bourn waited too long and received 4 years, $48 million this past offseason. BJ Upton was sought after rather quickly by the Braves and was handed 5 years and $75 million.
Ellsbury has the luxury of being the only true free agent CF on the market next season. Granderson is better off in a corner these days, although I suppose he COULD still play center. And Shin-Soo Choo is, well, a right fielder. Perfect for right with that laser arm.
And if I'm the Mets, I would be quite determined to lock up Ellsbury -- given he stays healthy and performs adequately for the rest of the year -- and just give the guy the damn money.
They aren't signing him for next season. They are signing him for the next five seasons. When the Angels signed Pujols, they knew they were really getting him for maybe 7 years or so, then he was most likely just going to take up a roster spot.
Ellsbury will be turning 30 before the 2014 season starts. So the Mets would effectively be paying him through age 34. Assuming, he would take a five year contract. And it's fair to consider that the aforementioned assumption may not actually turn into reality, based on his agent and the fact that he might very well be coming off a good season.
So would 5 years, $90 million do it? 5 years, $100 million? If either offer will get it done (more likely the latter), then if I'm Alderson, I do it.
That would give them a lineup where Ellsbury leads off, they can effectively bat their best hitter in Wright 2nd, where he belongs. Fill out the rest of the lineup with whomever. Have your 1-2-3 starters set.
All for the next five seasons. These spots would be secured for five years. That is a base. A core. The core that every team needs to win baseball games.
And that, if I am Sandy Alderson, would be very comforting.
As a Mets fan though, I'd probably still be unhappy. Because after all the excitement of signing Ellsbury, the Mets still might find themselves in 3rd place in June of next year. And baseball fans, generally speaking, have very short-term memories.
Alderson can't worry about what the fans think though (Even though signing Ellsbury would certainly generate some excitement).
If the Mets throw in the money, they would be getting a good baseball player, who has handled a large market well -- and has had plenty of criticism flung his way already.
And they would get a defender that covers a lot of ground, in a park that has a lot of ground to cover.