Since the end of last season, the Mets have traded away the National League Cy Young Award winner while signing a smattering of second and third-tier free agents for the pitching staff.
They've ignored an outfield manned by a bunch of guys who would be battling for backup spots on most other teams and their best players other than David Wright are all in the nascent stages of careers that could develop in any number of ways. All of that would be alarming under some circumstances, but its fairly reassuring in the Mets' oft-stated position of building for the future.
General manager Sandy Alderson has always maintained that the process is going to be a methodical one devoted to making the organization as strong as possible. Which made it strange to hear him singing a different tune about the team this week.
"We're not that far away. It wouldn’t take more than a couple of moves to change the perception of things," Alderson said. "We’re at the point where we can make significant improvements in a hurry. If those things happen, I don’t think it’s a leap of faith to think we can be very good."
We get that part of Alderson's job involves selling tickets and stoking fan interest, but it's a bit jarring to hear him say this so soon after the team traded away R.A. Dickey. If you're that close to being a "very good" team, why in the world do you trade a pitcher like Dickey for the possibility that Travis d'Arnaud will be good?
If you're that close to being a "very good" team and you're interested in signing free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, which Alderson admits they are, why would it bother you to surrender a draft pick to get him? Teams don't have any guarantees that there are better tomorrows, so you strike while the iron is hot if it is indeed hot.
If you're "not that far away," why wouldn't you give Terry Collins an extension? Or, conversely, why wouldn't you fire him and hire a manager you're interested in keeping beyond the current season.
Alderson's words sound empty when compared with his actions. Obviously there are moves to be made that would change the perception of the team, but that's true of every team and totally meaningless unless the team actually makes those moves.
There's no window of opportunity to win championships. If Alderson actually believes what he's saying, he should be making those moves instead of talking about them as a hypothetical.
In d'Arnaud, Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, the Mets have a young trio with tons of potential and every reason to believe they are on the right path to a brighter tomorrow. Staying on that path and working to bolster it are approaches that Mets fans will likely accept, but selling them the prospect of contention being right around the corner is bound to blow up in the team's face.