There areonly a few times during the course of a baseball season when boundless optimism is both the acceptable and preferable state of mind.
There's Opening Day, of course, when the blank canvas starts to be filled in with 162 brushstrokes of varying color and texture. And there are the days before Spring Training, when the long winter chill is taken off with warm feelings about times to come.
That goes for Mets fans too. No matter how hard last season was or how many doubts you may have about the team for this season, this is a time to close your eyes and let hope run wild. Or, it would be if Omar Minaya stopped opening his mouth.
Minaya answered some questions about the team's plans for Mike Jacobs this season. Jacobs, a first baseman with a .297 on-base percentage, was signed to a minor-league contract, presumably to serve as an emergency option or pinch hitter behind Daniel Murphy. After all, the Mets spent the entire offseason running away from good first basemen because they love Murphy so much.
"He'll compete for the job," Minaya said of Jacobs. "I think it's fair to say that Murphy has proven himself worthy of being considered, but he's going to have to continue. It's an open competition."
There are times when it really seems like Minaya doesn't know what certain phrases actually mean. If you're willing to put a scrub like Jacobs into an open competition with a player that you already know, why wouldn't you go after a halfway decent player? Or, getting really crazy here, signing a righty bat to platoon with Murphy so that you limit Murphy's downside and make the Mets a better team? We won't even bother wondering why there's no such challenge provided for Luis Castillo at second base.
The answer is because the Mets made it clear that Murphy was a player they want in the lineup come hell or high water and that there wasn't any way to shake their belief. Until, with no new evidence to make them think they went in the wrong direction, they decided to tear up the plan and throw it out the window. That's not the way smart people and smart teams make decisions.
It's a bad time to get that reminder, but hopefully Mets fans can still find the bright skies in these days before camp opens. Omar, it would help if you'd just avoid microphones for a few days here.