A Question of Competition

By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper

It’s tough to imagine a big market team’s fanbase being content with being just “competitive.”  Sometimes, I wonder why I continue to justify it, but I guess because we’ve been through several roller coasters of seasons with this team, I figure, why the Hell not?

After 2003, I think we would have been happy with the Mets just “competing,” till we got to 2006 and they were more than just competitive…they were winning and it looked like the division, and perhaps many championship titles were on the horizon.

Then 2007 happened.  Then 2008 came and went.  We survived 2009, 2010 and 2011 by dint of the power of “competition.”

We’re a few days away from 2012, and…the headlines say that the Mets believe they have the pieces to “compete.”

Then I really started to think.  Is this the best we can do here?

Terry Collins is entering his sophomore year as Mets manager, coming off a season where finishing under .500 was considered “successful.”

We’re going into 2012 without Jose Reyes in a Mets uniform, and Ruben Tejada taking his place presumably.  This also is coupled with a decidedly weaker “up the middle” in the infield…well, at least at second base.

Angel Pagan was traded a year later than he should have, but his replacement in Andres Torres is also a “placeholder” till “Don’t Call Me Captain” Kirk Nieuwenhuis is able to fill in.

Lucas Duda playing right field full time, eh?  As Richie says, that scares the beejeezus out of us (at least in the field, his bat is pretty good).

We’re looking forward to the return of Ike Davis for his bat and his glove, but then Jason Bay is a complete question mark at the plate.  David Wright may or may not respond well to the moving of the walls.

And Josh Thole is Josh Thole.

Don’t get me started on the pitching staff, where the best pitcher is a dude who hasn’t pitched in almost two years and is a gigantic question mark. But hey, at least the bullpen is shored up.

For a change, though, there’s less of an emphasis on defense, and more of a placement on offense.  As evidenced by Daniel Murphy and Duda.

If.  If.  If.

This is par for the course for the Mets.  Every season, there seems to be more questions marks than exclamation points.  We go in thinking the best but expecting the worst.

And the Mets are expecting to be “competitive?”

I’m not saying there is much that could be done.  If Sandy Alderson had seriously considered trading one of the following of Jon Niese, Ike Davis or David Wright, he’d have felt the Wrath of Coop equivalent of a five-state killing spree.

It’s hard to be competitive when there’s a lack of flexibility and ruining the team for the sake of making moves is not something that I want to see either.  In fact, this team has done everything opposite to what

I feel like there’s a question of competition in a team that may not compete at all. We can look at the bright side of things as much as we want.  There’s a difference between being competitive and being optimistic.  We can be hopeful about the season and root our team to win.  After all, we are fans and that’s what we’re supposed to do.  It’s hard though to imagine this team as being competitive with so many restrictions being put on them, whether financial or simply waiting for the young guys to grow into the team.

I like the attitude that they can believe in competition, but I guess I’m just expecting very little.

A decade ago, I would have been content with just the idea of competing.  I would now as well, but if they win 70 games, I guess that’s considered a success.  My dad even joked a few months ago that the Mets might be a lot worse than we think in 2012.

Is that competing?  Not really.  But I guess we gotta hang our Mets hats on something, right?

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