The Mets have unwittingly created a new version of fantasy baseball for their fans. Call it, “Those Who Are vs. Those Who Could’ve Been.”
It’s a game you can play with any team, and in any season, but arguably more so this year’s assembled participants at Citi Field feature a cast that could have been vastly different under a myriad of circumstances.
Most of these circumstances revolve around dollars and cents, but doesn’t everything?
Let’s start a chart. On one side, list current Mets. Call it Team Here and Now. On the other side, we’ll pit head to head matchups – as is done in many fantasy leagues – with players from other teams who could have been Mets or players who positively were Mets and are elsewhere. Call it Team Maybe but Not.
At the end of the season, you can add up your rotisserie points – or in whatever manner you’d like to grade levels of success with wins and losses – and see which team wins. You can chart your standings at various dates throughout the season, either weekly, or perhaps monthly.
This is not an attempt to downplay every Mets decision. The hope here is that Team Here will grade highly, if not actually “win the tournament,” but many fans play out versions of this game in their heads, anyway. This hopefully serves as a viable and fun means to keep track of your thrills and disappointments.
The head to head matchups have already begun between New York and Pittsburgh, as in Ike Davis vs. Lucas Duda. Mets management dallied with a three-headed first baseman throughout spring training and into the season, but chose to go with Duda and that made Davis dispensable.
So they traded Davis to the Pirates for a player to be born later and a prospect they could have had for just $50,000 in December in the Rule V Draft, righthanded relief pitcher Zach Thornton. Actually, the prospect comes to the team with impressive numbers (2-0, 1.23, 8 Ks in 7.1 innings thus far), but he could already have been with the club in spring training had they made that selection.
And reportedly the player to be named is a good one, but likely won’t be named until June, as the “secret” which has been whispered about is that is a player the Pirates drafted last June and the by-laws state a draft choice cannot be traded for at least one year.
Still, this is another Mets decision about the future and not the present, and Mets fans are getting anxious (excuse me, not getting, already anxious and close to, if not already, ticked off) wondering when the future will arrive.
Davis is already helping the Pirates win games, evidenced by his second grand slam of the season Monday night against the Reds. The newest members of the I Like Ike Fan Club enjoyed seeing the lefthanded hitting first baseman become the first player in mlb history to hit grand slams for two teams against the same team, the Reds, in the month of April.
A quirky stat, yes, but nonetheless, one for the books. Rarely does anyone hit grand slams against the same team for two teams in an entire season, let alone a couple weeks apart.
Everyone wishes Davis well, including Mets management, believe it or not, as everyone universally agrees that Davis is one of the nicest and most sincere human beings you’d ever meet, but it does create this fantasy scenario of who will do better from here on out – Davis or Duda?
Fortunately, for Mets fans, Duda is also doing well (.268 BA, .350 OBP), having already popped three home runs with 9 RBIs (second on the team behind David Wright’s dozen ribbies), but we’ve got a looooooong way to go to see which way this fantasy game sways.
There are, however, other names you can add to your fantasy chart at the first base position. Try Jose Abreu, the Cuban import who signed a six-year $68 million deal with the White Sox this winter. Apparently, that was a little too rich for the Mets, who kept subscribing to the belief they already had surplus at first.
But isn’t it interesting that Abreu is already leading the American League in home runs (5), runs batted in (18), multi-hit games (7), runs scored (13), total bases (42), slugging percentage (.538), extra-base hits (12), is second in hits (19), second in doubles (6), and well, you get the picture.
He could have been a Met, and wouldn’t those numbers have been electrifying the Citi Field faithful at this point had the team opened up their wallets, but noooooooooooooooooo, they had a surplus.
Another position of note for the fantasy chart is shortstop. Mets management have clung to the notion that Ruben Tejada is their man, and while they did engage in talks with other teams about trading for a shortstop, and with super agent Scott Boras about his client, Stephen Drew, it looks like Tejada is here for the long haul.
In fairness, Tejada has improved his defense, and is working very hard at being a better hitter, but as he flirts above and below the Mendoza Line, is he really the best option that could be manning the six slot?
Especially if a certain general manager whose name rhymes with Alderson truly believes his club can win 90 games?
Yes, the only reasons Drew isn’t a Met are dollars and days. Yes, the Mets wanted to sign Drew to a one-year deal, supposedly along the lines of what he was already making in Boston, around $9 million. But that is conjecture, not necessarily fact.
Yes, Boras endorsed the decision by Drew to not accept Boston’s qualifying offer of $14.1 million, which would have represented a significant raise, but super agent likely bragged he was going to get Drew a multi-year worth more than that per.
And yes, that qualifying offer would have triggered the Mets losing a draft pick, another factor in their non-decision. There is, though, a date in June related to this year’s amateur draft where qualifying free agents can sign and the team no longer has to yield a pick, so that marriage might still occur.
Don’t hold your breath, though.
Personally, playing GM for a moment, a three-year deal worth some $25-30 mil probably wouldn’t be such a bad investment. Only problem is that Drew – or Boras – is seeking at least three years in the $45-$50 mil range. Again, conjecture.
It is quite amazing that no team has chosen to size Drew for a uniform, considering he rung up impressive numbers in Boston last year – 442 ABs, 112 hits, 57 runs, 29 doubles, eight triples, 13 homers, 67 RBIs, a .253 avg., .333 OBP, with 124 strikeouts. The same aforementioned factors are affecting everyone, and many teams already are locked in at short anyway.
By not acquiescing to Boras’ demands, is Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledging he believes that Tejada will even come close to matching those numbers? If he is, then yes, that is a fantasy.
Should some team other than the Mets be forced, or influenced, via injury or other need, to sign Drew for a short term deal, then line him up for Team Maybe on your fantasy chart.
Another chart comparison could be the Mets’ newest rightfielder, Curtis Granderson vs. dare we mention his name? Who? Carlos something. Rings a bell. Used to play here, or so they say.
Yes, we’re talking about Mr. Bat-On-The Shoulder Carlos Beltran. And only because Beltran and Granderson are now making about the same amount of money for this season, some $15 mil per.
It was a non-trade of sorts. The former Mets outfielder signed with the Yankees in the offseason, by way of San Francisco and St. Louis, and is now playing rightfield in the Bronx – .288, with four homers and 11 RBIs as this is scribed. Oh, and only 16 strikeouts. While the former Yankees outfielder is struggling at a .116 clip, with one home run, five RBIs, and at least 24 punch-outs.
Everything we’ve learned about Granderson is that he is one of the most generous and kindest, and friendliest – and all those other nice superlatives – ballplayer who has ever played the game – a throwback who gives back every day – but it sure would be beneficial to the Mets if he gets back on track. And cuts down on those strikeouts.
And Beltran did bring the Mets Wheeler in return.
This fantasy chart could run up and down the lineup with all kinds of comparisons. And we haven’t even started with the pitching staff. Try Jose Valverde vs. Joe Nathan. Kyle Farnsworth vs. another familiar name, Frankie Rodriguez, who is leading the NL in saves at this time.
How about Bartolo Colon vs. Bronson Arroyo? Hey, the Mets are ahead in this contest.
Fair or not fair, the Mets are what they are at this time because that’s who they choose to be. All of the fantasy alternatives are not here due to financial and other considerations. (Do you really think they were going to bring back F-Rod after the trouble he caused around here? No way.)
The Mets are actually holding up quite well at this time, ten up and ten down after their first 20 games, considering they lost their closer after Game One and after facing clubs all targeted for the postseason – Washington, Cincinnati, Atlanta, St. Louis, (even the Angels are regarded as such).
But there will always be fans who wonder what could have been with who could have been here. Have fun with your fantasy charts.