FLUSHING, NY – Another year, another collapse and unlike last season, the Mets winter may be much colder as they put the finishing touches on Citi Field.
After the Mets went quietly into the night last year, they – through no work of their own – were able to pretty much hide during the winter months because of the stories coming from other organizations.
Think about it. After the Mets were eliminated in 2007, the Yankees collapsed to Cleveland during the Divisional Series. Then the Joe Torre fiasco took hold for the next three weeks. When that was over, the Alex Rodriguez opt out became the story.
The Mitchell Report starring Roger Clemens was next after A-Rod went back to the Bronx, which brought us into 2008. After the Yankees exhausted their headlines, the Giants began their Super Bowl run, which gave the Mets enough time to acquire Johan Santana and everything was right in Queens again.
Don’t look for that this winter. Joe Girardi seems to be safe for now and A-Rod has a comfy 10-year deal. As far as we know, there will be no other steroids reports coming. Sure the Giants can go on another run, but will it be as big of a story as last year? Probably not.
And don’t forget the Knicks already fired Isiah, so that’s out too. Maybe the Mets can offer to pay Stephon Marbury’s salary just so he can wag the dog for them.
Of course I kid and winter 2008-09 seems to be a boring one for New York. Brett Favre will put up a few headlines and you have the Giants, but really that’s it. After the first two weeks of the Mike D’Antoni honeymoon the Knicks will fall back from the spotlight. The Nets will be terrible and hockey just doesn’t get the coverage it deserves around here.
That leads us back to the Mets. Instead of quietly hiding until something happens, general manager Omar Minaya will have to earn his four year extension this offseason. He will need to be aggressive because his disillusioned fan base needs to be reassured Citi Field won’t be the home of the collapse in 2009.
Re-signing Jerry Manuel is the first step, but the Minaya needs to take a long look at the coaching staff. Luis Aguayo has been terrible at third base and he needs to go. Manuel also deserves a bench coach of his own choosing.
Then there are the player moves. Minaya will need to find takers for Luis Castillo, Scott Schoeneweis, Aaron Heilman and pretty much everyone else in the bullpen. The Mets need to rebuild that bullpen from the ground up starting with the ninth inning.
The team also needs to make a decision on Carlos Delgado and find a corner outfielder if Daniel Murphy will be the Met second baseman next season.
Let’s not forget the starting staff. The Mets will probably need one, if not two starters this offseason because both Oliver Perez and Pedro Martinez are free agents. Maybe Jon Niese is an answer, but that still leaves one huge hole.
So the Mets are in the spotlight this winter. It’s going to be very tough to hide after two collapses in a row. No matter how you spin it they will need be proactive and aggressive, because there will be nothing else going on to distract from their failures.