The Future of the Mets Is Hazy and Expensive

Reading the tea leaves and coming up with nothing

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Alex Cora, freshly released by the Mets, went on the radio Monday and slammed the team for being dishonest with their fans. He said that they should just come clean and let everyone know that they are rebuilding with hopes of contending again in 2013 or 2014.

    For a guy who loses his cool when he hears people laughing, Cora certainly has a good sense of humor. The implication that getting rid of Cora somehow means that a team is less interested in winning now is funnier than the last few Will Ferrell movies.

    While it is true that the Mets have turned to younger players like Ike Davis and Jon Niese this season, it has hardly been a case of choosing youth over experience. It has been a case of choosing youth over incompetence and choosing youth over nothing at all. The continued existence of players like Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur and Oliver Perez is all you need to know that the Mets haven't devoted themselves to youth.

    They don't figure to make any moves in that direction next seasone either. As Adam Rubin of ESPN New York pointed out Monday, the Mets are already committed to spending in the neighborhood of $120 million next season.

    That would be okay if those committments didn't account for just nine players on the current roster. Once you factor in arbitration raises for Mike Pelfrey, Angel Pagan and R.A. Dickey, you're going to be right at the $126 million payroll of this season.

    That clearly isn't rebuilding but it isn't a serious bid at contention either. The Mets could have added salary this season when they were actually involved in the battle for a postseason spot, but they chose not to make any moves. That impulse doesn't figure to change during the offseason when they realize the lack of revenue caused by a drop of more than 3,000 fans per game from Citi Field.

    How are the Mets moving forward? They could probably dump some of their worst salaries but that would almost certainly mean packaging them with prospects that have a lot more value as the team moves forward. They could spend more money and finally cut bait on Castillo and Perez, something that seems totally impossible unless they make radical changes to their front office. Or they could just sit on their hands and continue to straddle the line between a complete overhaul and a total push for the top of the mountain.

    It's like an episode of "Let's Make a Deal" where there's a painful torture device behind each of the three doors.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.