By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper
There’s this saying around these parts that New York City is NOT a place known to survive “rebuild mode,” that fans are too impatient, and that in big markets you can cover up mistakes by spending even more money.
I’m sure there wasn’t a chapter on that philosophy book on teams’ ownership getting their money tied up in a Ponzi scheme, but that’s besides the point.
Anyway, I got around to thinking, since I do that sometimes, about impatience with Mets’ players development. But I am going to see Scott Kazmir start tonight for Cleveland against the Yankees, and all this potential trade rumor talk about Carlos Gonzalez has me thinking of another CarGo in recent memory that the Mets gave up on – Carlos Gomez, who is currently tearing it up with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The only time there wasn’t any impatience tied up in developing players in Mets history was in the ’80s. That got them to the franchise’s second championship.
But it makes me pause to think, how much of media barking has led to cutting ties with prospects before their time?
The common mantra is “overpay for pitching” or “trade the future for right now,” yet see where those philosophies have gotten the Mets in its 50-plus year history.
Kazmir was out of baseball for 2012, and prior to that he pitched 1 2/3 innings for Anaheim in 2011, to the tune of the 27.00 ERA. Certainly, by 2011, we’d have gotten over the whole “Kazmir-for-Zambrano” trade which occurred in 2004. Hard to believe, it’s been nine years since Black Friday. Yet, I would contest that even inadvertently, the Mets destroyed Kazmir’s chances for a fair shot at the majors. By trading him to the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, he was thrust into a position to have Tampa showcase their newest hottest arm, and make the Mets look dumb (but of course, they did a fine job of that whole fixing Victor Zambrano in ten minutes…yeah…).
While Kazmir’s 12-8 record in 27 starts during the Rays’ improbable 2008 World Series run helped, he wouldn’t enjoy their successes as he was sent to the Angels in 2009. Injury prone, exactly as was predicted, Kazmir looked as good as done last season, not even affiliate with a major league ball club.
But now look. The Cleveland Indians have taken a risk, he’s now in the starting rotation, and while his ERA could be better (5.13) and WHIP could be even better (1.587), he’s participating in a Cleveland renaissance.
Speaking of a renaissance, not much was expected of Carlos Gomez when he was packaged in the infamous trade that brought Johan Santana to the Mets in the winter of 2008. A natural outfielder, Gomez was seen as surplus in an already inundated outfield with Carlos Beltran anchoring the centerfield role.
But hey, the Mets got Johan Santana…and subsequently got the first no hitter and probably one of the gutsiest pitching performances in Shea Stadium history, ironically the second to last day Shea hosted a baseball game ever.
Yet, look at the sunken costs we’ve seen that trade bring. Santana has been more injury prone than Kazmir AND is a money suck on the payroll. And before you go telling me you’d do that trade still any day of the week and twice on Sundays, take a look at our outfield today and tell me you wouldn’t want someone like Carlos Gomez and his .323/.367/.577 stats, over Lucas Duda or Mike Baxter patrolling Citi’s outfield, as examples.
Which leads me to this. According to Metsblog, there is a possibility the Mets could be buyers at the trade deadline this year. I guess I’m more of a “show me” person. But a name that’s been kicked around is Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. Someone, by the way, who was on my fantasy team a few years ago (and I loved him!). It would be a first, that the Mets would actually be trading for someone in his prime, as Gonzalez, like Gomez, is only 27 years old. The Other CarGo from Colorado would be a much appreciated upgrade, and if the rumors are true (that they covet certain players like Lucas Duda), I will gladly drive them to the airport myself to welcome Gonzalez.
Yet, it brings me pause. Sometimes, as a Mets fan, I feel as though the team reinvents the wheel more often than not. Instead of caring about what others wrote or thought about the team, maybe get a thicker skinned front office like Sandy Alderson and the “smartest guys in the room” could have saved this team from two monumental collapses and heart break bigger and bigger each year since the inaugural season of CitiField.
The truth is, everyone was in love with getting Johan Santana…till the predictions were true that his shoulder and arm would fall off before his contract ended.
Everyone tried to justify Black Friday, as it got a change in the guard by bringing Omar Minaya back into the fold as General Manager…but left the Mets with years of bad contracts that still haven’t completely come off the books.
Look at what happened last off season? R.A. Dickey netted one of the best pitching seasons in New York Mets history, for a team already rich in pitching history. In a year where the Mets had their first no-hitter in team history, Dickey overshadowed that by becoming the toast of the town AND of baseball, named Cy Young Award winner for 2012.
Instead of giving him whatever money he wanted, and whatever years, he was traded in a monster mega deal to Toronto…only to see him numbers dwindle, giving him an off year in 2013.
One of the mantras we’ve heard is that “rebuilding doesn’t work in New York,” yet guess what folks? That’s exactly what’s being done here.
By being buyers at the deadline, or the rumor of it, the Mets change in the philosophy will have full circle. Perhaps there was an emotional disattachment that was needed in order to grow this team.
And perhaps we’ll learn something from taking things slow and methodical, that things could work out if given the opportunity to shine and thrive.
Just ask Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez.