If It Weren't for Bad News, We'd Forget the Mets Existed

Is there any end in sight for the negativity around the Mets?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    You know that you're in some pretty dire straits when confirmation of Oliver Perez's departure from the race for a starting job qualifies as good news.

    That came on Wednesday, as if there were a soul in the world still operating under enough delusion to allow themselves to believe that Perez would be allowed to start a regular season game in 2011.

    He'll be pitching relief now and his release shouldn't be too far away, a moment that will be greeted with the kind of glee usually reserved for 4-year-old kids on Christmas morning.

    It seems like a small victory, but cut Mets fans some slack here. There is absolutely nothing else coming out of Port St. Lucie or Queens that can be spun as a positive for the 2011 season.

    For starters, you've got the battle to become the starting second baseman between Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner and zombie-esque Luis Castillo. Word right now is that Castillo is the front-runner by default even though he's been accused of moping around camp because he's being forced to compete for a job.

    Hate Castillo if you like, lord knows there are volumes of reasons, but that's a pretty damning review of the work done by the other three players.

    Next up is the status of Johan Santana. Pitching coach Dan Warthen thinks the team will get around 12 starts from the lefty this season and all but admitted any work he does this year will be designed for getting him ready to help the team in 2012.

    That's prudent, to be sure, but it does very little to make you excited about the 162 games to come before that season can get underway.

    There's other smaller stuff to make you roll your eyes as well. Carlos Beltran's got issues in both knees now, the investigation into former equipment manager Charlie Samuels's gambling and theft is continuing and the next piece of encouraging news about the comeback of Jason Bay will be the first.

    All of this is moot against the overwhelming story of the season, however. 

    That's the Wilpons and their financial problems, of course, and there's more bad news rolling down that hill. The Times reported Thursday that the Mets owners started having issues with cash flow and were looking for investors long before the Madoff lawsuit came down the pike.

    If true, the debt levels are astronomical and it beggars belief to suggest that the owners can get out from under it anytime soon. That they continue to insist otherwise promises to keep this on the front burner and, more importantly, keep the team stuck in the muck they find themselves in right now.

    A distraction from that mess would be divine, but the roster doesn't look capable of providing one.

    Hold onto that Perez news, true believers, because it might be a while before there's another smile coming down the pike.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.