And, of course, there is this checkbook, and all the unknown glories potentially available. He’s been a good cop in it all.
Sandy Alderson might not be the bad cop here, but he’s definitely the careful cop, the world’s tired cop, the cop seen it all, the cop who’s been around the block once or three. So maybe 15 minutes into the Zoom conversation started on Monday, when he introduced himself as the Mets’ baseball boss, he was perfectly willing to take on the role of buzzkill.
He was asked: Are the Mets a player away from contention?
“I don’t think we’re a player on the sidelines,” he said. “I think we would need more than that. Do we have a good base? Yes, I think we have a great base. But I think we have multiple needs at this point and we are more than a player on the sidelines.
And then, as if Alderson hadn’t done enough to water down the drinks that spilled during the Mets’ month-long happy hour, their old friends and opponents in Atlanta jumped in for the ride. The Braves took the notable first step of the free agent season, signing Charlie Morton to a one-year, $ 15 million contract, returning one of Tampa’s most trusted October mainstays to the organization that drafted it 18 years ago.
It’s not that Morton, 37, is winning anything for the Braves. But he adds a fifth name to what is arguably the NHL’s biggest rotation, joining Max Fried, Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson and Drew Smyly.
And it’s a helpful reminder that the Braves are already the three-time defending NL East champions who are also loaded up and down in batting order, which gave the eventual Dodgers champion their greatest terror. post-season before giving up a three. the top games of the NLCS.
You start looking at the Braves roster, even since the safe removal in November, and you begin to understand that Alderson wasn’t just suspicious in his self-assessment on Monday. There is a deep rift there. You start with Freddie Freeman, the fresh-minted MVP (and eternal Mets slaughterer). There’s Ronald Acuna Jr., who will almost certainly collect a few of these plaques before he’s done. Go forward. Keep on going.
(And if you really want to sour your mood, ask yourself: are the Mets really better right now than the Nats, who never pulled their engine at all in 2020? Or ask: the Phillies can They underperform as badly in Year 2 under Joe Girardi? Or remember: the Marlins made the playoffs this year and won a round.)
OKAY. The good news in all of this? This checkbook. This owner and his stated commitment to making the Mets a competitor. It is good that its money is earmarked for important long-term upgrades, in infrastructure, in analysis, in national and international scouting.
It also helps that there are players available who can improve the Mets – and immediately narrow the various gaps inside the NL East. So far, it has mostly been an abstract dream landscape. But the Braves, as they will, moved early and aggressively, pulled the first shot and wrote the first check. They were already better than the Mets, and they just got a little more on Tuesday.
It will soon be time for Alderson and Cohen to respond.
An ESPN report said on Tuesday that the Mets will not limit themselves to one item on the player buffet that includes George Springer, Trevor Bauer, JT Realmuto and Francisco Lindor.
This is both in keeping with the personality of the new owner and the belief of the old (and new) general manager that the Mets still straddle the silver medal stand – at best – in their own division.
For the first time in years, this appears to be a repairable sinkhole. Now all they have to do is fix it.