Not to get the new year off on a needlessly negative foot, but I'm not a fan of January. Mind you, I don't like December all that much given that I spend so much of it waiting for the old, inevitably disappointing year to end (while quietly resenting that millions throng Times Square to count down to the moment my birthday is over), but January's too full of consequence-laden unknowables to make me welcome it with any sense of ease. I'm not big on the near future in the generic sense. Never have been, likely never will be. Don't trust it, really. Give me some year in the past that can't hurt me anymore except maybe by way of repressed memory — and let's face it, I don't repress much. Plus it's cold and it could snow and who needs the flu?
But anyway, I said I don't want be a downer right out of the box, so here's a reason to embrace January:
The Mets sometimes do something. Good even.
It doesn't seem like they will right now, not after a month when their big acquisition was no particular Brewer, their big photo-op showcased some random fan named Schneider displaying the personalized jersey he presumably won in a contest and their big goodwill gesture the decision to hike ticket prices just because they could. And it wasn't like they were covering themselves in brilliance in the preceding months.
So let us, as I do when confronted with the uncertainty that lies ahead, take a bit of comfort in what has transpired in the relatively to authentically distant past.
Duaner Sanchez, John Maine and Carlos Beltran were all January babies where the Mets were concerned. Recent January babies, in fact. All they took, respectively, were Jae Seo, Kris Benson and a Brinks Truck of money…three great moves by the same GM who has brought you Matt Wise and little else of late.
Bernard Gilkey's one good Met year started in a January 1996 deal.
Tim Teufel, half a World Series platoon, came in a swap for Billy Beane in January 1986, one accomplished without Billy Beane ripping off the Mets.
Rafael Santana, whose autographed bat I treasure, showed up as a free agent right around the time Tom Seaver was lost, in January 1984. Not much in the way of compensation for compensation, but Ralphie did start at short for a world champion, occasionally alongside Teuf. And I do have that bat (though I received it during a December).
OK, the January haul doesn't add up to much historically. But it does present proof that the hot stove doesn't absolutely freeze prior to pitchers & catchers, that there's still hope that something positive might get done in the course of the next four weeks and that there is no longer a free agent compensation pool to which we could cleverly expose Maine.
If all else fails, there's always February.