The Atlanta Braves are dealing with the loss of Kris Medlen for an extended period of time. How are they dealing with it? By taking quick, decisive action of course. The Braves (or Barves, as you might know them from the Internet) have signed free agent Ervin Santana to a one year $14 million deal. The immediate impact for the Mets is that he will probably strike out at least ten Mets per game in his brief time with Atlanta.
The side effect seems to be that this has caused more angst at the Mets for not signing Stephen Drew, who has been out there to sign for four months, to upgrade their shortstop position while the Braves basically took three days to decide to spend $14 million on Santana. I get this. It's tough to see the rich get richer while the team in New York takes a more measured approach. Trust me, I can go all day and night about how the Wilpons put this franchise in such disarray that they let Jose Reyes go to the Marlins without so much as a box of chocolates.
Let's face it, it's fun to lash out. And trust me, the Mets will give us plenty of opportunities to let loose with the insults and the jokes. I for one, am looking forward to that day. I'm sure many of you wish that David Wright would step up and voice frustration instead of continuing to be the nice guy that David is. But Wright gets paid a lot of money to be happy so for him to lash out wouldn't do him any good. It would only invite criticism, which is counterproductive.
But there are some things that need to be understood here ... that we need to be reminded of when it comes to the current compellation of the Mets. If we've learned anything about Sandy Alderson, it is that he is risk averse. If you look at pretty much every transaction that Alderson has made up until this season, the risk involved has been minimal. Trades like Beltran for Wheeler and Dickey for Syndergaard and d'Arnaud are risk averse in the sense that even if none of the players back in the deal work out, at least the Mets aren't going to have to see Beltran and Dickey kill them for 20 years. As far as free agents go, Curtis Granderson probably represents the biggest risk that Alderson has ever taken, but Alderson bought low on him. And even that seems like a move that isn't going to murder them like the Jason Bay contract did simply because even the Mets couldn't be that unlucky, could they?
(Don't answer that.)
The risks that Alderson takes are in conjunction with the level of improvement the risk provides. Granderson is a slam dunk improvement over what the Mets had in the outfield. Stephen Drew? Sure, he'd be an improvement over Ruben Tejada. But how much? And at what cost? And for what benefit? First answer: Tejada would have to really be a disaster in the spring for Drew to be a significant enough upgrade. Second answer: Scott Boras is Drew's agent. Third answer: If Matt Harvey was in the fold this season, I think Stephen is playing behind John Lannan and Carlos Torres today. Because then there would be a real chance for the Mets to contend beyond the usual "if everything goes perfectly and Mercury Retrograde doesn't go that badly this season the Mets might contend to be the road team in a hokey one-game playoff" chance. Now? Why lock themselves into Stephen Drew past this season when there might be better options for 2015 and beyond?
This seems to be what Sandy Alderson is thinking, in general and specifically. Of course I say this without a lick of knowledge of the inner workings, but going with what we know, I'm comfortable with the above paragraph. Is Alderson right? I'm not sure but I understand. Do Mets fans have a right to be frustrated at this? Same answer: I'm not sure, but I understand. Look, the Mets have always done what's necessary lately. Granderson was necessary to replace Marlon Byrd. Bartolo Colon was necessary to replace Matt Harvey. That extra signing that adds victories on top of that? The Mets haven't done that lately. And that makes Mets fans want to bash their heads into the wall. I remember when the Rangers signed Wayne Gretzky and Neil Smith basically said that he signed Gretzky as a "treat" for Rangers fans. More so than what Gretzky could do for the club. (The mistake was not getting him a real winger but that rant is for another blog.) The Mets always seem to only do what's absolutely necessary. That extra step hasn't been in the Mets wheelhouse lately. I think that frustrates Mets fans more than anything, especially after going through what can be termed as "the five years from hell". Where's our treat?
(And yes, I'm perfectly aware that Stephen Drew has no similarities to Wayne Gretzky except that they both had brothers who played in the league.)
What this really comes down to is how Mets fans feel about how bad Ruben Tejada is and will be. He's had a terrible start to spring training, but I'm not sure how much that has to do with anything. I, for example, have this fear that Ruben Tejada's 2012 might be a fluke. I wonder if others have the same fear, and want an upgrade this season before Tejada proves that theory with a second bad year after one good year. If that happens, and Drew goes somewhere in June and helps that team make the playoffs, people are going to storm the castle with pitchforks and blowtorches.
If Tejada merely splits the difference between his good season and bad season, it might not be worth the millions of dollars one would pay for a modest upgrade for Drew. I understand it if you might think that Tejada isn't even going near that middle ground. I have my doubts as well. But it's important to know that while nothing is off the table, the Mets signing Stephen Drew would be a departure from Alderson's norm. And it's also important to know that while the Mets are probably trying to talk Scott Boras down, and that Drew would still be a possibility if Tejada's bad spring extends past one or two horrible games, the main issue seems to be that the Mets don't think Drew is a premium talent or a big enough upgrade from Tejada rather than the issue being purely money. I could live with that a lot easier than I could live with the Mets not signing Drew because they're broke.
So I'll save my lashing out for another day.
As for Wednesday's game, the Mets lost 6-4 to the Cardinals as John Lannan made a case to be on the big club with a very good outing ... four innings, five strikeouts, two unearned runs. The bad news is that the bullpen continued to be hilarious as Kyle Farnsworth gave up a bomb to Kolten Wong in the seventh to go along with the two runs Jose Valverde gave up yesterday, and the home run by Giancarlo Stanton on Monday off Jack Leathersich that still hasn't landed. Well, I wanted hard throwers in the bullpen, didn't I ...