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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.

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Don't You (Forget About Them)

The New York Mets have thus far this offseason, when not trading reigning National League Cy Young Award winners, procured the services of the following players with non-Mets major league experience:

Josh Rodriguez, infielder, 28 years old, 7 MLB games (2011);

Jamie Hoffmann, outfielder, 28 years old, 16 MLB games (2009, 2011);

Anthony Recker, catcher, 29 years old, 27 MLB games (2011-2012);

Carlos Torres, pitcher, 30 years old, 44 MLB games (2009-2010, 2012);

Greg Burke, pitcher, 30 years old, 48 MLB games (2009);

Brandon Hicks, infielder, 27 years old, 55 MLB games (2010-2012);

Andrew Brown, outfielder, 28 years old, 57 MLB games (2011-2012);

Collin Cowgill, outfielder, 26 years old, 74 MLB games (2011-2012);

Aaron Laffey, pitcher, 26 years old, 148 MLB games (2007-2012);

and Brian Bixler, infielder-outfielder, 30 years old, 183 MLB games (2008-2009, 2011-2012).

Among them, these 10 players, born between 1982 and 1986, have played a combined 659 games in the major leagues since 2007. By comparison, I recently turned 50 and have attended, by my count, 582 games in the major leagues since 1973.

It would be easy to say, “I’ve never heard of these guys,” and, in fact, I will say it: I’ve never heard of these guys, even if that’s not exactly true. Josh Rodriguez was in the Mets system last year and I’m pretty certain I noticed his name during a Bisons telecast or two. And six of these fellows — Torres, Burke, Brown, Cowgill, Bixler and Hicks — are certified by Baseball-Reference to have played against the Mets in games I watched and sort of remember.

But mostly, I’ve never heard of these guys. It’s as if John Hughes had lived to write and direct Moneyball.

***

Monday, January 7, 2013
New York Mets Spring Training Complex
Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

Dear Mets Fan,

We accept the fact that you’ve had to sacrifice several seasons of contention for whatever it is the Mets did wrong. But we think you’re crazy to make us report to camp early to tell you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found is that each one of us is…

• a minor league free agent

• a waiver claim

• a cash-considerations purchase

• an agate-type acquisition

• and somebody you’ve never heard of.

Does that answer your question?

Sincerely yours,

The Afterthought Club

(We see Bixler walking across the baseball field as he thrusts his fist into the air in a silent cheer and freezes there. Cue Simple Minds.)

***

R.A. Dickey could rightly be invoked in this space as the unheralded December transactionee who delightfully surprises the smirk off our cynical faces, therefore proving rushed judgment should always be held in abeyance. Swell — but I’d heard of Dickey before we signed him in the kind of ink-conserving deal that brought us these fill-in-the-blanks. Of course I’d heard of Jason Bay, too, so glowing advance notices are not ironclad guarantees of anything.

Listen, if any given underknown quantity in this bargain-bin bunch works out by way of a key strikeout or a rally-extending hit, we’ll praise him as a good get at least until his unproductive outweighs his beneficial. If a very big moment transpires, the likes of me will swear years later that, no, this guy wasn’t totally worthless, he blasted that homer/won that game that time. And if he rolls out a success story even a twentieth the size of Dickey’s, well, we know who we’re nominating for Executive of the Year.

For now, though, I’ve never heard of these guys.

Then again, they’ve never heard of me.

7 comments to Don’t You (Forget About Them)

  • Jon Shafran

    Still stinging from Dickey trade. All for building the future through knowledgable drafts and wise trades but c’mon this was a guy the fans could watch every 5th day while the team grows and his immeasurable contribution to the young guys coming up has not been talked about enough. Knowledge and inspiration to the Harvey’s and wheelers is so important.

  • Dave

    Nah, a different soundtrack comes to mind for me…instead of Jim Kerr crooning “Don’t you…forget about me” I’m hearing Roger Daltrey sneering “So tell me, who the f*** are you?”

    Or for the overall state of the roster, particularly the outfield, cue the Beatles…”Help! I need somebody…Help! Not just anybody…” Instead we have to make do with what is this, a long lost Cowsill?

    We can cross our fingers and hope one of these guys turns out to be a Dickey, but we know that for every one of these signings that does, there are 10 (or 20, or 50) who turn out to be a Jason Pridie, a Fred Lewis, a who was that guy, I think he wore #90 in spring training…

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Congrats on your well deserved best writer award!

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Sorry this is going to be rather lengthy.

    Many say those moves are just temporary measures serving as stop-gaps and are part of the bigger picture – a well thought out plan of rebuilding. The following were viewed as the necessary first steps to achieve that goal:

    1) Traded a veteran outfielder for a top ranked pitching prospect
    2) Traded a veteran pitcher for a top ranked catching prospect and a highly regarded A-level pitching prospect.
    3) Replaced a shortstop with questionable health issues that could short-tail his career with a young and physically more dependable player.
    4) Allowed other promising youthful position players the chance to play rather than obtaining older veterans to win now at first (Davis. second (Murphy) and left (Duda)
    5) Also allowed other promising young pitchers a chance to pitch on a regular basis instead of obtaining older veterans to win now with starters Gee, Neise, Harvey and reliever Parnell.
    6) By not going after older veterans has additional pitching slots available to be won by Wheeler, Familia and Mejia.
    7) Retained an all-star third baseman now in his prime not just for performance but to be a leader for a young team.
    8) Only committed himself to one or two year “fill-ins” for certain positions while waiting until certain young kids being counted on are ready.
    9) Recognized the need for the Port St. Lucie Rookie Team and admitted he made a mistake by closing it down last year.

    But are not more steps required for rebuilding hat haven’t yet been taken? Those being:

    1) Signing as many draft picks within the alloted MLB spending cap so to stock the minor leagues as much as possible with potential major league talent.
    2) Obtaining one or two young free agents entering their prime who are deemed could fit into the team’s mindset of playing and fill certain holes now so they can begin blending in with the kids now being called up to mold together as a unit so 2013 and even 2014 could be used as growing periods for the years ahead.
    3) Still retaining some veteran players not also because they are still capable of producing for a few years but for the same reasons they retained their third baseman
    4) Gradually replacing veteran playersas they get older with younger players when required so not to….
    5) Depending too much upon too many prospects to fill too many holes at one time.
    6) Keeping a scout in the Pacific Rim in order to make more qualified evaluations of young talent in lieu of future international amateur drafts.

    That first list is easy to initiate because it really does not take money to accomplish. But with the second, that does require money. And list number one has to be accompanied by most all of list number two (Pacific Rim scout debatable) to be considered as part of a concise thought out strategy of rebuilding.

    So is one wrong to conclude that the moves in the first list were not part of an overall serious attempt at rebuilding? Consider the massive amount of debt that has to be dealt with in order for the Wilpons not to face liquidation and based on the steps they have – and have not – taken, and it appears for the time being the Wilpons and Sandy have determined that the only way to accomplish this and not lose money at the same time is though massive and permanent cut backs that makes fielding a competitive team now and in the immediate future nearly impossible during in this modern age.

    Are then then simply stocking the team with as many highly regarded but still unproven – and tremendously inexpensive – prospects and just hoping it might hit pay dirt?

    Many times I’ve been asked the question of don’t I think Sandy Alderson wants to win. My answer was of course he does, but there are certain priorities he has to deal with that makes winning become secondary. However, after reading the attached about the corporate nature of the modern day general manager, my answer is more that it’s not a question of wanting to win as it is the question of winning being almost irrelevant.

    He is a business person concerned with not just making money for his bosses but to keep them from not being able to meet their financial obligations. If that means having to do so with the team on the field having to suffer, so be it. He isn’t here to run a baseball team, he’s here to run a business. Had circumstances been otherwise, he would have looked at it from a financially cost-effective standpoint and then allowed his baseball people to act accordingly within it. But with things being the way they are – and will be for quite a number of years to come – if getting his bosses out of the red and allowing them to meet their massive debt obligations means extensive cut backs in spending that will most likely produce mediocre ball clubs, he will do it. This is not a moral judgement on Sandy – this is what he was hired to do.

    In 2007, the teams that made the most money were – get this – Florida and Washington. Both fielded lousy teams. Between the period 2007 through 2010, all teams made money but one (no, not the Mets). The sad fact is that a franchise can make money with a losing team as much as it can with a winning one. Owners have the money to spend on players – it’s a matter of whether they want to reinvest the capital or keep it as earnings. Some teams want to do both (which I think is sincerely true with Fred and Jeff) while others care only about the bottom line.

    I think many will find the attached a fascinating read. Sandy is from the new generation of general managers that do not see baseball as a game but as a business and run it as so.

    At the same time, the onslaught of this new type of general manager makes me very sad – for obvious reasons.

    http://www.cigaraficionado.com/webfeatures/show/id/The-GM-Revolution_8672/p/3

    • Joe D.

      … just have to add that one should be cautious about the author’s own knowledge of the game itself. He starts off emphasizing Billy Beane’s money ball efforts for Oakland in 2002 not taking into account the team was literally the same minus the MVP Giabmi and Damon – and that with the deepest and best pitching staff in the majors and other excellent hitters, the replacement players (Justice and Hatteberg) were supporting players but that was it. And the majority of the team was not yet eligible for free agency so the payroll was going to be low. That great team came not from Billy Bean’s reliance on computer stats and money ball – it came from his great eye for talent and knowledge of the game.

      He also makes it appear that those not knowing the game can learn it from the study of advanced stats and even Bill James acknowledges the limitations on that.

      So those are two examples of overstating facts. So just be cautious when reading it.

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