>What Could Have Been.


This is not the post I wanted to write. I wanted to say that Roy Halladay is no big deal to the Mets, that he is only a marginal improvement over Cliff Lee. I wanted to say, hey look, Halladay was only 0.7 WAR above Lee in 2009. I wanted to say that it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom and teeth gnashing for the Mets, because this move doesn’t make the Phillies that much better, that it’s the difference between the Phillies having the ace of clubs and the ace of spades. I wanted to say that the Roy Halladay deal shouldn’t make anyone want to
immolate themselves in front of the Wilpon mansion.

Only there is something really depressing about the Roy Halladay deal. It’s not that it puts the NL East out of reach; it’s more that it made me realize how far out of reach the Phillies already were. The Phillies aren’t just better than the Mets. The Phillies are Indiana Jones and the Mets are that guy doing sword tricks who Indiana Jones shoots for humorous effect; the Mets are no threat to the Phillies because it’s like they’re not even fighting with modern weapons. It has become clear over the past years that the Mets’ methods of player evaluation are inferior to those of other teams. While the Phillies surrounded their core with talent, the Mets surrounded their core with age and ineffectiveness. I don’t know if the Mets use advanced statistics, tradition scouting, or some combination of both. I suspect that they don’t like to look at numbers, but that’s not important. What is important is that whatever methods the Mets are using, they need to change them now because they are leaving them lightyears behind other teams. It’s painfully obvious that the Mets are still wildly flailing medieval weapons while the Phillies are loading up with Doc Halladay.

Look back to 2007, when the Phillies had their big three of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, and the Mets had their big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen – sorry, wrong big three – the Mets had David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran. The teams were about evenly matched back then, but look what has happened since. The Phillies have surrounded their big three with Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Placido Palanco, and Shane Victorino; the Mets have added Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy, and Luis Castillo. The Phillies have Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and J.A. Happ in their rotation. The Mets have Johan Santana, Adrian Monk, Brian Wilson*, and the Mad Hatter in theirs. Metland can still claim that the Mets’ top four matches favorably up with the Phillies, but does anyone really want to claim that Pelfrey matches up with Hamels? Or that Jayson Werth, the best right fielder in the NL, is on par with Jeff Francoeur? It was maddening to watch the Phillies become the class of the NL because it so easily could have been the Mets. They both had talented cores, but the Phillies watered their core with more talent and the Mets doused theirs with Gatorade because Gatorade has electrolytes.

*the crazy Beach Boy, not the Giants’ closer. Mets should look at Dr. Frasier as their next pitching coach because there is some potential on that staff, but way, way more crazy.

I have a lot of critical things to say about Omar Minaya and his administration, but I will give him his due: Omar Minaya is exceedingly talented at getting his man. He was able to bring in the big names, Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Frankie Rodriguez, and Santana and make the New York Mets relevant again. However, today felt like such a dark day in Metland because it became certain that Omar wasn’t going to be able swoop in and save the Amazins, or for that matter himself. I had some vague hope that somehow he could figure out baseball alchemy and turn the Mets roster into gold, but that hope went away with Lackey and Halladay, and, to me at least, it became very clear what a mess this team will be in 2010. There are no longer any quick fixes for this team and the Mets are once again a joke. Whereas Santana approved a trade to the Mets just two years ago because he felt they were contenders, Roy Halladay reportedly wanted nothing to do with this organization because he was looking to play for a winner. Omar can’t patch holes with big names anymore because the Mets aren’t considered contenders anymore.

*Takes a deep breath* 

Of course it’s not all brimstone and sulfur. Any team with Beltran, Wright, Reyes, and Santana will be competitive, and with a few good moves the Mets should be in the wild card hunt. I’ll hope Omar Minaya accidentally bumbles his way into buying low on Ben Sheets or Erik Bedard, and I’ll hope that some even sillier team, if there are any, snatches Bengie Molina away from the Mets. Roy Halladay on the Phillies is not the end of the world. The sun will rise tomorrow, and it may even shine on Flushing. Still, every time the Mets play the team from down the turnpike in 2010, I’ll have to watch Utley, Howard, and Rollins play with Halladay, Werth, and Ibanez, while Wright, Beltran, and Reyes struggle to carry the Mets alone. I’ll feel that same twinge I felt yesterday. It’s the sadness of seeing what the Mets could have become but didn’t. And now it’s too late.

* * *
Because anything to do with Philadelphia is depressing anyway:

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