The Mets have been boring for a few years now, certain individual players notwithstanding, and it shows. It shows in empty seats at Citi Field, and it shows in the trenchant and justified cynicism of the fanbase.
The Wilpons are ultimately responsible for this. They are the gatekeepers—the ones who approve or mandate player acquisitions and non-acquisitions, and the result, for the vast majority of their time at the helm of this franchise, let alone the past few years, is that the Mets have fielded teams that are boring and frustrating—a deadly combination guaranteed to torch goodwill and ensure fans’ dollars remain in their pockets.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. Major League Baseball is flush with cash, but there would be even more if the Mets were good more than once every 5 or 10 years. And the hilarious truth is just that: The Wilpons are sitting atop a sealed gold mine that they very obviously have no idea how to render productive.
One need look no further for evidence than the online hubbub around the as-yet incomplete Cano-Diaz trade. Love it or hate it, fans are fired up—or at the very least, they’re engaged. Imagine what kind of buzz there would be around this team, and what kind of ticket and merch sales, if the Mets paired this trade with the signing of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper (or both!) and got a few more bullpen arms, the latter of which Maggie Wiggin made the case for here on Amazin’ Avenue yesterday. Suddenly, the Mets would be poised to shove in the National League, and maybe for years to come.
Citi Field was a roiling cauldron of jubilant insanity in the second half of 2015 all the way through the end of the World Series. It was exciting, and it was fun, and I’m sure it minted the Wilpons a hell of a lot of coin. That kind of energy and enthusiasm among a customer base is something that any business owner would love to have.
The Wilpons haven’t ever shown, save for a few rare instances, that they recognize the need to take a chance and give something up—namely, money—to catalyze that latent devotion. This offseason presents a rare combination of circumstances: young, generational talent is available on the free agent market, and the team has no money committed into the 2020s.
If ever there was a time to pounce and take a chance, it’s now. There are no guarantees of a championship if they do, of course; but there is almost certainly a guarantee of continued mediocrity and fan disengagement if they don’t.