This year was hardly one to remember for Met fans. Wit the team strangled in debt and scandal, it was hard to find positives in anything regarding the orange and blue. First, I’ll start off with the top three negative storylines of 2011, just to get them out of the way:
3) Johan Santana’s injury woes– Before being traded to the Mets after the 2007 season, Johan Santana was widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball. He had dominated in the American League, winning two Cy Young Awards as well as a triple crown. There were expectations of even greater things for Johan once the trade went down in December of 2007. However, since the trade, he has been riddled with injuries and health concerns. This season was no different. After having a surgery that cut 2010 short, he missed all of 2011 recovering. He attempted to come back to the Mets twice, but failed. He suffered setback after setback until there was no use trying.
2) Jose Reyes leaves for the Marlins– In his highly public, highly controversial time as a free agent, Reyes was courted by the Marlins from the very beginning. They went after him hard, offering more money and more years than anyone else, including the Mets, could or were willing to. Miami emphasized the South Florida lifestyle, which appealed to Jose so much that even a box of Sandy Alderson’s deluxe chocolates could have pried him away.
1) The debt– I feel this needs a picture of some big black ball of goo ominously oozing out of Fred Wilpon’s office. (Someone should work on that.) Luckily, the huge amount of money the Wilpons were being sued for by Irving Picard in the Madoff case was lowered. The Wilpons can still lose a few hundred million dollars, however. Despite the lowering of the suit amount, the financial situation of the Mets looks so much worse than a year ago today. The team lost $70 million this season, and with SNY, a TV company that the Wilpons own 65% of, as well as the team piling up debts, it is looking more and more like the team will be sold. David Einhorn agreed in principal to buy 40% of the team, but the details of the deal caused it to fall by the wayside. Now, the Wilpons, in a last-ditch effort to keep the team they have had a stake in since 1980, are offering 4% stakes in the Mets for $20 million. That hasn’t been going so well either. They have reportedly not sold any stakes in the team. If the Wilpons don’t get this done by Opening Day, they will likely be forced to sell.
Now, the positive stories…
3) Luis and Ollie are gone– Early in Spring Training, Sandy Alderson won over many Met fans with the release of both Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. Castillo will forever be known for “he dropped the ball!” He wasn’t terrible for the Mets, but you couple that moment against the Yankees with the fact that he was ridiculously overpaid, and you have a disliked player in the Met fanbase. Oliver Perez… was just a disaster. He had two decent seasons when he first came to the Mets via trade in 2006, but everything has fell apart for him since his two decent seasons that I mentioned. He could not focus on the mound. He couldn’t get his head straight. Perez also had trouble with walks. In 2009 and 2010, he went a combined 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA and was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball. Despite both of them still being paid by the Mets, getting them off the roster helped the team move on.
2) The Beltran trade– I loved Carlos Beltran during his time in New York, but everyone knew that 2011 would be about building up his value for a trade. Luckily for Sandy Alderson and the front office, he had a wonderful half-season with New York, which increased his value and enabled the front office to receive a big-time prospect in return for him, which they certainly did. More on this in the next story…
1) The youth movement– The Wilpons and Sandy Alderson were somewhat forced to opt for young players as opposed to veterans due to financial constraints, but nonetheless, there is still a youth movement going on with the Mets. Before going down with an injury, Ike Davis was having a fantastic year, hitting well over .300. Daniel Murphy was on the verge of possibly winning the NL batting title when he too went down with a season-ending injury. Lucas Duda also stepped up and showed that his power is not a force to be reckoned with in the future. Young righty Dillon Gee was the last undefeated full-time starter in baseball this season and showed that smarts, control, and maybe a decent changeup can win games. Down on the farm, young guns Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, and Jeurys Familia pitched fantastic in the middle levels of the minors. Familia could debut in the middle of 2012 with the other two following him ether in September or sometime in 2012. After a few years of widely being considered one of the worst systems in baseball, the Mets organization is starting to rebound. Expect to hear a ton in the near future from the player I’ve mentioned.
Overall, not a great year. There are positives we can take from this year though, such as the plethora of young talent on the big league team right now. Happy New Year Met fans and keep looking forward!