I think the Mets are in for a better season than the Wilpons, though I wish them both the best.
The change in the front office and the manager’s chair I think are all strongly for the good: Though he’ll surely wear out his welcome at some point, Terry Collins appears to have given the group the jolt of energy it needed after a sonambulent tenure under Jerry Manuel, and Collins remarks at least suggest we won’t be in for another season of 8th-inning fetishes, unexplained doghousing and first-inning bunts. In the meantime, Sandy Alderson and his crew appear to have made some pretty good personnel decisions against a limited budget: The bullpen (churn!) looks very promising, and I like the new bench players, particularly Scott Hairston. They may have stretched out the Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez storylines longer than I had a stomach for but I think the decisions on them were correct. I don’t think we can predict what Chris Young or Chris Capuano will do, but both are looking like good selections for a team on a budget.
I worry, as always, about the offense. I’d almost forgiven Jason Bay for being such a kitten last season when his sudden injury this week reminded me he still owes us. I’m surprised to see Carlos Beltran make it to opening day and worry that continued health struggles will suck the energy out of the team again. On the other hand, I quite like Angel Pagan, David Wright, Josh Thole and Ike Davis, who I think can do some real damage in 162 games. And if Jose Reyes shows he’s the kind of player worth agonizong over a long-term contract for, then we’ll probably be having a good year. Brad Emaus could be could be a rookie of the year. He might not either, but it’s not like he’s taking an MVP from Castillo. All upside there.
The Wilpons I think , are facing some real trouble. Not necessarily as a result of the clawback lawsuit, but that they, like a lot of troubled companies today, borrowed heavily upon assumptions that the economy would continue to sizzle at its mid-90s pace (and also, that certain investments would continue delivering 12% returns). The Mets are certainly exhibiting behaviors of businesses headed toward a crisis: They’re deep in debt, revenues are falling, and they are haunted by high legacy costs. They’ve exhausted their credit with an untraditional lender (MLB) which appears to have insisted the club appoint a turnaround management firm. That’s how it happens.
I don’t think a bankruptcy would necessarily be a bad thing for the Mets. It would likely cost the Wilpons control of the team but provide the opportunity for the next owner (there’s evidently no shortage of interest) to restructure the balance sheet to better compete in an economy without magic returns and $500 seats. We never asked for that.
In number news: Rule 5 reliever Pedro Beato has requested he be outfitted in No. 27. He’s been wearing No. 70 this spring. Here’s the cool thing: Adam Rubin of ESPN reports Beato requested it because he wants to honor Juan Marichal.