As I sifted through the dumpster fire that is #metstwitter the other day I came across the yet another conversation of the payroll. It started with the a scoop from New York Post beat writer Mike Puma that free agent Mike Moustakas most likely isn’t in the cards for the Mets. While he would be an obvious upgrade, I’m not crazy about giving him the deal he requests but that’s another story for another day. As the conversation moved along to the blame game, as it usually does, it landed two people ( or I guess parties in this case) the Wilpon’s and for some ungodly reason David Wright. The 7-time all star is set to make 20 million dollars this season even though he is nowhere near worth it due to his injuries. Reasonable people understand that not only was the captain on his way to a borderline hall of fame career, but even if he walks away which so many seem to think will solve the issue, he still gets paid. So if Fred and Jeff are an frugal as we think a playing Wright is no different than a retired one. This conversation brings my thoughts to the unfilled potential of the 06-08 teams. All the talent in the world but all plagued with one issue or another.
2006 is by far my favorite season as a fan. The team dominated from start to finish. It was the most enjoyable summer of Mets baseball I’ve experienced even though it ended in heartbreak. 97 wins, the division title never in doubt and then as the playoffs began, all hell broke loose. While the pitching was never a strength, they ranked 20th in baseball in runs given up, they could out score anyone. It was clear the was a pitching staff built for the playoffs though anchored by 2 first ballot hall of famers in Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez and one of the best postseason pitchers of his time Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Unfortunately Pedro slipped down the steps during a start at the end of May, never fully recovering and ultimately was found to have a torn calf and a torn rotator cuff, ending his season. El Duque on the other hand was named the game 1 starter for the NLDS but tore a calf muscle running sprints the day before the game. This forced youngsters John Maine and Oliver Perez into starting playoff game and the team never recovered. Even with all of that and a woefully ineffective Steve Trachsel, they were in a position to advance to the World Series. We all know what happened but a trip to the World Series would have significantly changed the course of things for the franchise. The rest as they say is history. 2007 ends with one of the worst collapses in baseball history blowing a 7 game lead with 17 to play and Galvine as the teams ace giving up 7 runs in 2/3 of an inning with the season in the line in game 162. 2008 got off to a slow start, Willie loses his job in June and Jerry Manuel takes over. Less of a collapse but a horrid bullpen due to an injury to Billy Wagner causes a September division lead to vanish. The wild card disappears as well when CC Sabathia puts the brewers on his back and Shea Stadium closes with a warning track fly out by Ryan Church. Maybe the collapses of 07 and 08 don’t happen if 06 ends with at least a pennant. Maybe Willie Randolph, who in retrospect I think was fired too early, keeps his job through 2008. To me Wright is the player Whis legacy took the biggest hit because of the teams failure. He was the leader and the best player on all 3 teams and the 07 collapse may very well have cost him an MVP. In the end one of the more talented and successful runs in team history ended in nothing but heartbreak and just a division title to show for it. 2009 brought nothing but injuries and inconsistent play and we were all left wondering what the could’ve been.
These what if scenarios drive us crazy as Met fans to this day. What if Duaner Sanchez never got in that cab accident and started the spiral of trading Xavier Nady and began the Ollie Perez era? What if Johan Santana stayed healthy and dominated? What if Ike Davis had never fallen that night(or gotten valley fever the next off season) in Colorado which somehow derailed what was looking to be a promising career? I can go on all day and all the way up till the current crop of starting pitchers. I’m not a religious person but life has shown me time and time again that things happen for a reason, and while sports is most definitely the toy department of life, I can’t help but wonder what could’ve been for a franchise seemingly doomed for mediocrity.