The Mets looked like a million dollars after that series. Although they lost the series, every game was close and played evenly, no blowouts, no lopsided scores, nothing but great baseball. The Mets had a great battery, a solid well rounded outfield, a good infield and got a late season spark from the unknown Timo Perez. This was their second straight year in the playoffs. Steve Phillips and Bobby Valentine were signed to long-term contracts just after the season ended, then something went terribly wrong.
During the off season the Mets send their heavy hitters into recruiting mode. Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile, Turk Wendell, Al Leiter, Mookie Wilson, Tom Seaver, Jerry Grote and Ed Kranepool worked the phones trying to lure every major free agent to
Nobody wanted to sign with the Mets. A-Rod came to watch a game at Shea during the World Series and dissed the stadium and the fans. Before long the Mets pulled out of the A-Rod sweepstakes. Coincidence? I am not so sure, but neither here nor there for purposes of this discussion. The Mets tried to resign Mike Hampton, who said he would only sign with a championship caliber team, and the Mets couldn’t sign him. He signed with the
On a side note, I never want to hear another athlete claim he wants to play for a winner then sign simply the highest offer made to him, it is hypocritical and alienates the fans. Both A-Rod and
The Mets then went after Mike Mussina, and lost out to their cross-town rival the Yankees. Legitimately Moose wanted to stay in the
The only thing the Mets had going for them this off season was David Wells’s desire to play for the Mets, and that got quashed when the Jays dealt the over weight and gout prone Wells to the White Sox for a broken Mike Sirotka. Yet another strike against the Mets in the off season.
Now the Mets are languishing in last place, 4.5 games behind the Phillies. Now I know that this lead is not insurmountable this early in the season. However, I don’t know how the Mets are going to compete in this now rough and tumble division without a major blockbuster trade (Gary Sheffield? David Wells?). They are lacking depth in the outfield, the weak hitting Rey Ordonez is back from the disabled list and the rotation is no more than 3rd best in the NL East.
I have never been a huge Bobby Valentine fan. I am not one who thinks he is a baseball genius. But I think he got screwed by the front office for not signing these players or maybe it is a perception in baseball that the Mets are a second rate organization, that you just don’t want to play for. I honestly don’t understand this, but the reality is now the Mets are looking like Archie “Moonlight” Graham in Field of Dreams, a player who could get so close to his dream that he could touch it, but was never given the chance to see go the distance, which is the real shame for 2001 Mets.