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All We Want for Christmas is More

Even Eartha Kitt, whose memos to the North Pole were famously insistent [1], would be grudgingly impressed with what the new general manager of the New York Mets has done seven weeks into his term. He’s brought us a renowned middle-of-the-order bat; a dazzling reliever to close ninth innings; a familiar reliever to take care of an inning or two before that; and now an upper-tier catcher who didn’t cost us our left fielder, right fielder, shortstop or fireballingest starting pitcher.

And it’s not even Christmas!

Still, if you understand Eartha’s tastes, you sense she wouldn’t be satisfied yet.

Santa Brodie, you’ve been doing a decent job so far
Things were awful last year
Santa Brodie, so hurry with more hitters ASAP

Good point, Ms. Kitt. If we were adding Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos [2] to an already dangerous lineup, that would be like topping our big, bold tree with a star or two. But we’re not really at the point of merely trimming our relatively humble Balsam Fir and thinking we’re ready to jingle bell rock. The 2018 Mets were more Linus Van Pelt than Rockefeller Center. It may not have been such a bad little tree by September, but Al Roker wasn’t coming out to emcee its lighting.

Which was why you couldn’t be hastily cutting down its Nimmo, its Conforto, its Rosario and especially not its Syndergaard, not if you weren’t going to know how to replace all of those foundational branches when several of them were not yet completely sturdy themselves. Visions of the Marlins’ backstop dancing in our heads proved only surreal (or surrealmuto). Sure, a Realmuto would have shimmered — and the stories about how our jolly GM was going to deliver it to us were keeping us up at all hours with anticipation — but what good is bringing home the most sparkling of catchers when you’ve inadvertently made certain there won’t be enough surrounding it?

A less jolly older gentleman might have advised you decorate the tree you have, not the tree you might want or wish to have at a later time. Cultivating the tree so it can support every conceivable ornament would seem most ideal. I remember a tree that one December suddenly had a catcher named Carter added to its splendor. You think a Realmuto shines? You should have seen this Carter. Not easy to procure such a gem these days, but the Mets in those days knew how to transplant a catcher in a most arboristically responsible manner. On Hubie, on Fitzie, on Youmans, on Herm! On to Montreal they were delivered. In their stead, a Kid would lead us.

That’s heartwarming history. Unfortunately, they rarely make Decembers or catchers quite like that anymore. Signing Ramos [3] for two relatively economical years wasn’t as flashy as some of the much-discussed modern alternatives (no J.T., no Grandal, no Grote types), but it strengthens the tree without undermining its roots. Our trees used to be known for their catchers. Maybe this tree will be to some extent, too.

Nevertheless, Ms. Kitt likely still wouldn’t be sated.

Santa Brodie, the bullpen leans a little to the right
Matchups we sometimes fear
Santa Brodie, go get us some more pitchers pronto

Ramos will catch Edwin Diaz late, Jeurys Familia prior and Noah Syndergaard, among others, every fifth day. The editor of the New York Sun, circa 1897, would delight in informing its most inquisitive reader that yes, Virginia [4], there is a Noah Syndergaard on the New York Mets. He exists as certainly as deGrom and Wheeler and Matz exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy. Well, deGrom does — and Wheeler in the second half last year. Syndergaard can be Christmas cheer incarnate in July as well. He can also sap the spirit straight out of a game with one too many baserunners stealing a few too many bases. When those runners are naughty, it definitely isn’t nice.

Ramos with his skills so bright is here to help young Noah guard against such bad behavior. Tweak his few flaws, direct his focus, keep him away from children who haven’t the most sanitary of hands, feet and mouths…Wilson could definitely guide Noah’s sleigh most nights. Still, Thunderous Thor can make you wonder what might be in our stocking (and our seasons yet to come) if we could bear to part with the gifts his right arm projects to keep on giving.

You can’t help but think about it if only because it keeps getting rumored about.Trade Thor? To Miami to nab us Realmuto? Or to a team as distant as San Diego for prospects who might someday be as good as Thor? Or to the Bronx because we apparently lack sufficient holiday anxiety? Alas! how dreary would be our world if there was no Noah Syndergaard! Worse yet, if there was Noah Syndergaard, but he fell into the wrong hands, feet and mouths! Brodie Van Wagenen at his best may be evoking St. Nick this month. But does he want to go down for all of eternity as a latter-day Harry Frazee, the Red Sox owner who legend has it thought selling off Babe Ruth so he could finance No, No, Nanette was a splendid transaction? Different centuries, different players, but singular characters who excel are not to be dismissed lightly.

Syndergaard pitching for somebody else? No — Noah a Met. Rosario and Nimmo and Conforto, too. Nevertheless, Eartha Kitt demands that while we hold on to our most valuable chips, we continue to make the grandest of deals.

Santa Brodie, you said that we will be a win now team
Haven’t won enough of late
Santa Brodie, so make with the improvements at once

The Christmas rush doesn’t necessarily apply to baseball. December 25 doesn’t even take us to the Baseball Equinox. No, that annual landmark midpoint between the final out recorded in the last Mets game of last season and the first scheduled pitch of the next Mets season arrives a short spell after all the tinsel and the wreaths begin to overstay their welcome. This year’s Baseball Equinox makes its presence felt at precisely 3:12:30 AM EST on Saturday, December 29. Leave out some milk and cookies for it. Or, if you’re Orthodox, some Rheingold and chaw.

Even if commercials don’t inundate us with Equinox sales and radio doesn’t deluge us with Equinox carols, we should be internally grateful that as next season approaches in earnest, although Santa Brodie’s shopping isn’t yet done, we haven’t missed it. Sure we want a fully operable bullpen and a dependable center fielder and a fortified bench…and we want it now…but there’s still time. Still time before Spring Training. Still time before Opening Day. Still time to dream. It may be too much to dream that we can wake up one morning and discover someone has seen the light and purchased us the free agent equivalent of the prize turkey hanging at the poulterer’s on the corner — not the little prize turkey; the big one marked “Harper” or maybe “Machado”. That’s probably not going to happen, yet we can keep dreaming that Van Wagenen can keep scheming and all of us can look forward to greeting the season we care about most.

Until then, enjoy this one. It just needs a little baseball.