The blog for Mets fans
who like to read

ABOUT US

Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

Got something to say? Leave a comment, or email us at faithandfear@gmail.com.

Need our RSS feed? It's here.

Visit our Facebook page, or drop by the personal pages for Greg and Jason.

Or follow us on Twitter: Here's Greg, and here's Jason.

Live Long & Maybe Eventually Prosper

Before heading out in short order to the Mets’ holiday party where I will eat their sweetmeats and drink their wine — part of the organization’s alleged co-opting of my judgment and objectivity — I need to digest this Cliff Lee news.

Oh, that did not go down easy.

Whenever it was that the Nationals laid a Washington Monument-high stack of cash at Jayson Werth’s doorstep, I told a friend, well, at least the Yankees didn’t get him. My buddy reminded me that (contract excesses aside) having one of the better hitters in baseball remain in your division to torment your pitchers nineteen times a year wasn’t really a preferable alternative. Yeah, I suppose, I said…but at least the Yankees didn’t get him.

I told myself the same about Lee when I first heard he was going to the Phillies last night. Then I nodded off. When I woke up, I realized Cliff Lee will be pitching for the  Phillies in the same rotation as Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jim Konstanty and that computer-generated extra Roy Halladay they’re going to pick up at the trading deadline in exchange for Joe Blanton.

Man, that’s a deep rotation.

Advocate for fair play that I consider myself, I’m still reflexively thrilled Cliff Lee didn’t take the mint and scurry to the Bronx despite Hal Steinbrenner’s promise to spit money at his wife. There’s something life-affirming that not every ballplayer yearns to be a Mark Teixeira-type robot fueled by millions upon zillions of Steinbucks. Not that Lee will be sweating mortgage payments in King of Prussia or wherever Philadelphia royalty holes up, but he took less than he was offered by the Empire to go where he presumably enjoyed himself the season before last. That, if you ignore the downside for us, is moderately admirable.

What kind of man enjoys being a Phillie is a whole other matter, but at least the Yankees didn’t get him.

It’s bad news for the Mets in that the merry band of Phillie moundsmen will account for the vast majority of nineteen starts against the swingin’ Hudge Heads. The good news, once the Yankees not getting him is factored out, hinges on petty thoughts about age and injury and overwhelming long-term commitments to unpredictable human body parts like arms and backs.

Really, there’s no tangible good news for 2011 except that 2012 will follow it. That’s the entirety of the Sandy Alderson appeal, that the Mets will be reconfigured for competitiveness a mere 163 games from now. Larding on megacontracts this offseason while the clock ticked stubbornly slowly on Perez and Castillo and even our beloved Beltran was not really a viable option. If we were one star pitcher away from meaningful games in April and other months, we wouldn’t have needed a new GM. The last guy knew how to throw multiple years and multiple millions at free agents. It didn’t work.

The overall effect of watching other teams wheel and deal at the Winter Meetings while ours sat back in what appeared droll amusement was to make me think we as Mets fans were being sent to bed without supper. The Aldersonian approach (before he conference-called sweet nothings into my ear) had me emotionally uneasy even if it struck me as logically sound. Sandy and his boys were an occupying force with their we’re new here, but we know what’s best for you demeanor. Others greeted them as liberators. I wasn’t so anxious to make with the rose petals.

Yet I’m honestly convinced what they’re doing — and not doing — is the correct course of action (or inaction). 2011 may be something of a lost cause, but it was probably going to be anyway. Waiting it out and clearing the books of massive commitments to the aged, infirm and inept while laying the groundwork to move forward and invest…it’s exciting. You just can’t put it on the cover of a pocket schedule. What’s the marketing theme going to be for this year: STAY HUNGRY?

I was revisiting one of my favorite gripes late last season for another friend, kvetching about Omar Minaya’s tendency to scour the bargain bin for “fifth starters,” as if the games put on the shoulders of his endless stream of Liván Hernandezes and Tim Reddings and Pat Misches were worth less in the standings than those entrusted to Johan Santana. My retroactive solution was we should’ve beefed up the pitching following 2008 by going after CC Sabathia. It would have been worth it.

Then how about Cliff Lee? my friend asked. It was the same principle, yet it didn’t sound right entering 2011. The Mets before 2009 seemed the right piece away from not just contending but winning. The Mets after 2010 seemed a mess that no single personnel infusion could help measurably, unless it was a general manager who wasn’t going to behave like Omar Minaya.

That we’ve got. Lee we don’t.

The Mets with $20+ million annually devoted to Lee for the next five, six, seven years…who knows what it would have wrought here? It wasn’t going to happen, it didn’t happen, it’s not happening. This year we’ll match Lee, Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Whoever with…not those guys. I keep trying to see a 2011 downside for the Phillies, like they won’t mesh, or their egos will get in the way, but then I remember it’s baseball, not basketball. They’ve already meshed in various combinations. They’re going to mesh fine.

Mesh vs. Misch. I know whose chances I like best in the short-term.

Long-term? All I can think about are those stories of the elderly Red Sox fans who hung on through the 2004 postseason, warding off the Great Beyond in a sustained effort to experience, at last, what had eluded them and their Nation since 1918. Not until the Sox won the World Series could they, per New England’s own Andy Dufresne, get busy dying.

STAY HUNGRY is one possible theme for 2011, though KEEP YOURSELF ALIVE might be more apt. Or LIVE THROUGH THIS, with the implicit promise that IT GETS BETTER.

It has to, eventually. I mean, c’mon, at least the Yankees didn’t get Cliff Lee.

26 comments to Live Long & Maybe Eventually Prosper

  • Rob D.

    How about “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here” ??

  • March'62

    At first I was worried/annoyed that the ‘team to beat in the NL East’ added another #1(b/c/d) pitcher. But then I did some fact checking and believe it or not Cy Young, Mathewson, Alexander, and even Whitey Ford never beat the Mets. If they couldn’t, why should we worry about Lee, Halladay, Hamels et al? Of course some of those HOF pitchers toiled in the AL but then they weren’t able to beat the Mets in any WS games either. Additionally, the Fillerups rotation enmasse were never able to retire Dave Hudgens. So even short term I wouldn’t worry.

    As for 2011 slogans:
    1. We ain’t the Detroit Lions
    2. Baseball like it sorta be.
    3. Enter at your own Sisk (oh wait, that was used already)
    4. When we throw in the towel, at least it will be Terry
    5. The Mets: sometimes we play pretty Citi (but sometimes we don’t)

  • Charlie

    Smart Philadelphia royalty lives across the river in South Jersey so that the Philly wage tax doesn’t apply to road games. King of Prussia is all just shopping centers.

    I hear that native New Yorkers are always looking for a deal. Could I interest you in Fat Joe Blanton and $24 in beads for R.A. Dickey?

    Seriously, you will be back again someday.

  • Rob D.

    Blanton apparently on his way to the BoSox.

  • Lenny65

    Lee and Halladay don’t worry me; it’s the rookie minor-league journeyman making his second-ever start that ends up spinning the two-hit shutout vs. the Mets.

    The only slogan I want to see is: “Your 2011 NY Mets-now 100% Ollie-free!”.

  • Ken

    As a marketing slogan, how about “Accountants in your Camry’s, the Mets are the budget conscious team you can identify with.” Or maybe that’s a little wordy.

    You say “Waiting it out and clearing the books of massive commitments to the aged, infirm and inept while laying the groundwork to move forward and invest…it’s exciting”

    As a business person, I need to dissent. That’s not what real businesses do. If spending another $20m on payroll puts the Mets over .500 and put us in the wildcard race, and helps sell another $25 million in tickets and tv ads, then it should be done regardless of where the payroll stands. The game is incremental operating profit, not sticking to a budget. I’m not saying you have to spend that on Cliff Lee, but getting us up to 90 wins will pay off big time, probably more than the incremental cost in pitchers.

    Also, you have to get pieces when they are available. Who will likely be a free agent after 2011. Not any ace pitchers. So what do we do with all the money then?

  • Matt from Woodside

    Maybe they could play “Taking Care of Business” after home losses next season.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    “Battle for the Basement….4th Place or Bust”

    Do you think I can get a refund on my Spring Training Season Tickets?

  • Matt from Woodside

    In all seriousness, though, I like Alderson’s approach. Minaya always appealed to my optimistic side (if we just get this ONE more piece, and everyone stays healthy for 162 games, we’ll make the playoffs!) but obviously there are problems with the organization that one or two big free agent signings would not have solved. Got to give the guy a chance to clean house before passing judgement.

  • Kiner's Coroner

    How about “Moneyball, New York Style – Lots of Money, Not So Much Ball”??

  • Joe D.

    Since Jeff is such an old Brooklyn Dodger fan, why not simply steal “wait till next year” as this season’s motto.

    Or, since he is now in-tune with our desire to retain our own sense of club history, how about “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? – come see for yourself”.

    But I also agree that if this is going to be used truly as a re-building year without those fill-ins we got in the past, that is fine and so be it. 2012 could be a good mix of young players like Thole, Davis, Hernandez, Neise, Parnell, Gee and possibily Duda, with young veterans like Reyes and Wright (who will be 29), Pagan (who will be 31 and older veterans like Bay (who will be 33) and Santana (who will be 32) at that time.

    Who knows. If the kids start developing well next season it won’t be a loss at all and then we would be wondering if Omar wasn’t all that bad after all (since he’s the one who put the prospets together).

  • LarryDC

    How about

    Wait ‘Til Next Year! (No, Really: Wait ‘Til Next Year)

    • Toward the end of The West Wing, a year mysteriously disappeared from the narrative. It was now “the final year of the Bartlet administration” even though there was no fast-forwarding of the narrative. Because it was known it was the final season for the series, it was accepted as one of those things.

      So let’s just call next year 2012 and get on with it.

  • Dave

    So now the Phils have morphed into the Yankees…so they’ve gone from knuckle-dragging Neanderthals to soulless dementors, casting no reflection in mirrors. A strategy of over-30 big headline big money free agents, in case they hadn’t noticed, guarantees you nothing. Will they be hard to beat in 2011? Yeah, and we’ll deal with it (as in there’s no way I’m going near the stadium when they’re in town so as to avoid the puke-on-little-girls phans on drunk driving road trips). Will they have an aging team and no payroll flexibility by about 2013/2014? Yeah, and they’ll have to deal with that.

    • Well-Meaning Phils Troll

      Lee is our only Free-Agency ‘Purchased’ Starter.

      We usually take a bunch of chartered buses up for road trips (Although, in the spirit of honesty, the bus drivers may very well be drunk…)

      The Mad Puker was from Jersey. They’re not allowed on the buses, and you guys are smart- you make your bridge tolls cost prohibitive for them.

      ; )

  • Andee

    I immediately flashed back to that post you did a few months ago about 1988, where you talked about Jack Lang waxing rhapsodic about how that awesome (young!) rotation and great lineup were going to dominate the league for a long, long time. The Phillies have an awesome (mostly old) rotation. And that’s IF Hamels doesn’t revert back to 2009 form AND Oswalt doesn’t have the injury bug AND Halladay and Lee don’t suddenly have all those CGs catch up with them. Nah, who am I kidding. They’re not snakebitten like us, they can print WS tickets for the next three years. In fact, I really wish they would.

    ETA: And what kind of player really prefers being a Phillie? One who has a lot of friends on that team, AND doesn’t have to worry about being the ace of the rotation, assuming no catastrophic injuries.

  • boldib

    Folks, a healthy Reyes/Beltran, a rebound from Bay, Ike/Angel continuing to grow, and the Mets are a good squad.

    A lot to ask? Maybe, but not completely delusional either.

    “15 pretty darn good ballplayers”

    Fill a hole or 2 and the Mets field as good a regular position player team as anyone’s, save the Yanks, Phils.

    And frankly, Cliff Lee’s numbers just aren’t that good since 2008. I’ll take a young Niese for a ton less money.

  • Jackabite

    The Phils can have him. Who knows how long a pitcher will last these days anyway? Six years?? Nuts!
    And while we’re on the topic of “how long”, how long can baseball sustain this insanity with these guaranteed contracts? We pay for them ultimately with $8 beers, $20+ parking, and $100 tickets – not to mention the cable/sat TV rates. It’s madness, it’s not sustainable, and it’s clearly no way to run a business. You want $20M a year? Fine. Earn it. Then we’ll talk again next year.