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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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Leaves of Grass

There’s been a breach of security. A Chicago Cub has seen our northern suburbs. Talk about intelligence falling into the wrong hands.

Ben Zobrist was made intimately acquainted with the leafy cul-de-sacs of Westchester and Fairfield counties by the management and ownership of the New York Mets. This is as bad as the Russian ambassador seeing the Big Board in Dr. Strangelove. They just let this…this…erstwhile Royal…look out the window from the back seat of a luxury SUV and form images in his head of Greenwich; of Rye; of Larchmont.

Of Larchmont, for crissake. God help us all.

And what is Zobrist, the new second baseman on the National League Championship Series runners-up going to do with this precious information? That’s the disturbing part. He’s going to share his impressions of Westchester and nearby Connecticut with Joe Maddon, and Joe Maddon will immediately proceed to work wonders.

He always does, except when playing the Mets in October.

Maddon will find out about the lush lawns of Mammaroneck and ride a mower into the Cubs’ next team meeting, loosening up his squad and sparking a nine-game winning streak. He’ll learn of the Rockefellers of Tarrytown and hand out canvas sacks marked “$” on them, but being Maddon he’ll fill them with gourmet candy. The Cubs, propelled by a high-end sugar rush, will storm out of their clubhouse and reel off ten wins in a row.

Zobrist’s bag will have actual $ in them — 56 million over the next four years. That plus a reunion with his once and future skipper plus the appeal of the bucolic ivy on the Wrigley Field walls (where Wilmer Flores’s Game Three triple went to lose 33.33% of its value) apparently add up to why Ben’ll be the Cubs’ second baseman and not the Mets’ next year.

I can’t believe the T#m Gl@v!ne memorial upscale “New York’s not really New York” tour didn’t win him over.

Phooey on Zobrist for spurning us and turning down whatever else the Mets were going to give him and only him. I found the Mets’ entire “BEN! PLEASE COMPLETE US!” approach rather unbecoming, quite frankly. Behave like league champions. Show him the money and show somebody else the money. You had enough money to take him to a fancy neighborhood. Maybe you have enough to go after somebody/anybody else? “No obvious Plan B” is the word from Nashville. Next year, let’s try to imagine the apple of our free agent eye won’t be impressed by expansive backyards and in-ground swimming pools.

Would I be singing a different tune if Zobrist decided it was his childhood dream to get paid by the Mets? You bet my hypocritical ass I would. Honestly, I had no strong baseball opinion about obtaining his services. I know he’s been a unique WAR producer and I know he’s a little too shall we say experienced to merit a four-year deal. I could have seen his arrival helping in the short term and morphing into “once Zobrist’s contract is off the books, the Mets can fill other desperately pressing needs” before long. Nothing personal against this guy, but all eight-figure contracts seem to become that after a couple of years. Cuddyer’s contract is that and it’s only a two-year deal.

I’ll also cop to a slight ick factor in that I didn’t want to start rooting for a guy I just spent the last five games of my life rooting against. I suppose that would have dissipated after a nice introductory press conference and a couple of Metcake photos in his new garb, but I really dislike anything to do with the Royals in this hot stove winter of 2015-16. I’d like to ride that bitterness a little longer.

My only genuine disappointment in this — besides discovering it never occurred to the Mets to target another player just in case Benny the Z said nix to them — is that we were pretty much guaranteed he was going to be a Met. Whether I really wanted him or not is immaterial. I bought into the proposition, going so far as to mentally dress him in our colors. Instead, we are left with a new second baseman on the all-time Never Met team (take a hike, Grudzielanek).

So let Zobrist be a Cub; let Starlin Castro, who was also forever rumored on his way here, merge into the wrong lane on the Triborough and find his own palatial estate wherever American Leaguers in these parts reside; let Don Zimmer maintain his spot at the end of the franchise’s alphabetical roster, where he’s been bookending, in chronological order, Craig Anderson (1962-1964), George Altman (1964-1967), Sandy Alomar (1967-1968), Tommie Agee (1968-1989), Don Aase (1989-2013) and David Aardsma (2013-present). The front of the line keeps changing, but Zimmer’s been bring up “z” rear from the very beginning.

We don’t necessarily need a new Met to play second base. We’ve got Dilson Herrera, about to enter his third season as the Next Big Thing. We’ve got Wilmer Flores, albeit in a walking boot at the moment. We’ve got Daniel Murphy…no, we don’t, but nobody else does yet, so rule nothing out.

We ruled Ben Zobrist in prematurely and see where that got us.

I was part of a rousing roundtable discussion on the Rising Apple Report the other night, which I hope you’ll listen to while ignoring the part where we all heartily agree Zobrist is going to be a Met any minute now.

8 comments to Leaves of Grass

  • Great read, Greg. I was so convinced he was heading to Flushing that I was 500 words into an article on where he should hit in the lineup vs LHP and RHP.

    Honestly, I wasn’t that sold on him as an addition and preferred a power bat in Cespedes instead. But the Mets fan in me accepted the fact he’d be a Met and I slowly came around on him and was actually so excited covering the updates and the build-up on Tuesday.

    When the news broke the Cubs got him I was stunned and emotionally drained.

  • wooferson

    Bring back Murph. It’s that simple.

  • kdbart

    I liken the Zobrist Affair to the Gomez Affair. So many built up Carlos Gomez as the perfect fit for the Mets that they went crazy when the trade was nixed because someone had issues with his hip. Turned out to be a blessing. I wasn’t sold on 4 years for Zobrist feeling that you would have $15M tied up in a 39 year old utility guy just when the bill really comes due on all your starting pitching. I can see Herrera being the equal of Zobrist in a couple of years at 1/15th the cost. Resign Johnson and Uribe for the bench and reinvest the Zobrist dollars in upgrades for the outfield and bullpen.

  • Inside Pitcher

    Welcome back Greg – your voice has been missed!

  • 9th string catcher

    Kdbart totally nailed it. I think Zobrist could be useful offensively, but failed to see why you would give an older middle infielder $60M. If you’re going that route financially, I’d rather double down on Cespedes. You’ll get more people in the seats and have a quicker road to the playoffs. Ces is not as great as he was in the season, not as bad as he was in the playoffs, and he makes your lineup powerful. Zobrist really doesn’t do that much.

    But my number one target would still be Chris Davis. Better power and average than Duda and does for your lineup what Ces did last year. You need a big bat in the lineup and Duda is not it.

    Or, sit with what you have and make another midyear push. They still have more starting pitching than anyone else.

  • Dave

    What 9th said about Zobrist (and about Yo). Zo is a good ballplayer, does all the proverbial little things that beat you, but not like he hits .320 or drives in 100+. What really turned me off was his insistence on being a one-position guy…his best attribute is his versatility, so if he’s a $50 stock selling for $100, he should be used the way he’s going to be most helpful. Like a year of Neil Walker better.

  • Eric

    He was good in the WS, but I still think we dodged a bullet.