Still Looking for Good News About the Mets

More financial wheeling and dealing from the Wilpons keeps focus off baseball

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Jan 4, 2013  |  Updated 8:59 PM EDT
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Still Looking for Good News About the Mets

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Lucas Duda will be back in the outfield by default this year.

Someone is going to be in the outfield for the Mets on Opening Day. 

It might be the Alou brothers, it might be the Baldwin brothers or it might be Colin Cowgill and two fans chosen randomly from the stands before the game, but they will have an outfield. The question is whether the identity of the players in the outfield is going to make you laugh or cry. 

All of that depends on how much value you place on the team's record. If you're the sort of person who finds yourself watching every pitch of a September game to see if Dillon Gee can pull the team within 10 games of .500, you're probably going to cry. 

At least you've got plenty of practice. These last few years of Mets baseball have been a study in suffering to rival any that have come before. 

Oh, there have been plenty of Mets teams with worse records and fewer stars but none of those teams were also operating as if they were a small market team while playing in the biggest market we've got in this part of the world. And there doesn't seem to be any big change coming. 

Bloomberg News reported Friday that Fred Wilpon and the rest of the Mets ownership have taken out $700 million in loans to refinance older debt, presumably so that they had more cash on hand for the day-to-day operations and so that they could push any big payments that might threaten those reserves further on down the road. This comes amid word that the team's suite revenues were actually up 11 percent last year, although that's mitigated by the fact that the team's owners are the ones buying more of the suites. 

This isn't any way to run a franchise that should be reaping the same kind of financial rewards that have turned the Angels and Dodgers into teams that scoff at making do with the Yankees' payroll. You certainly don't need to take that approach to team building, but even the Royals and Pirates are taking on salary thanks to the booming revenues in baseball. 

Mets fans have every right to feel excited about Zack Wheeler's potential and the prospect of Travis d'Arnaud giving them excellent play behind the plate, but you can only sell potential for so long. The most optimistic of projections for the current Mets roster put them on the fringes of the playoff picture (and take a combination of events that could charitably described as unlikely), something that would be acceptable for a year or two. 

This season will be the fifth year of life under these conditions and it's not like 2014 looks like it will be considerably better, which is the clearest of the many signs that something is terribly rotten in the state of Flushing. Sandy Alderson has done a pretty good job with what he's been given to work with, but no man could spin this group of ingredients into a feast. 

It would be nice to say that Bud Selig will become alarmed that a marquee franchise in New York City acts like a Double-A team in Akron, but there's no reason to believe that's true because he hasn't shown the slightest bit of concern about the Mets to this point. It's all left us wondering if it is more remarkable that David Wright actually chose to devote his baseball life to the team or that the Mets actually had the money to pay him. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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