It's been an exceedingly strange baseball offseason in New York.
The Yankees have been beaten out for every big name on the market for the first time since free agency came into the game, causing many of their fans to suddenly react as if the team's roster resembled the one the Mets have been rolling out on the field the last few years. It's not quite that bad, although those of us who like to wager a little money on sports have noticed that the odds of a World Series coming to the Bronx have gotten worse recently.
We've also noticed, with a good deal of surprise, that the Mets' chances of winning the Fall Classic have shot up from 40-1 to 35-1 since November 2nd. Explaining that one is pretty difficult. The Mets have signed three new players this offseason. Ronny Paulino is a backup catcher of no repute, Boof Bonser is a pitcher best known for being named Boof Bonser and relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco. The "J" in D.J. is for journeyman, by the way. Their biggest offseason signing, per a rather cheesy marketing video starring Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins, is you, assuming you choose to enter your name at the team's website.
In other words, there's no easy explanation for why anyone might think the Mets have a better chance to win the World Series. Yet nobody is getting their knickers in a twist about the uneventful Mets offseason. That's not what's strange, because you can understand reasonable people preferring doing nothing to doing the wrong thing. What's a bit strange is that people are actually thrilled to see the Mets, losers of 175 games over the last two years, doing absolutely nothing.
That's what life under Omar Minaya will do to people. There's only so many Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez signings a man can take before he's more than happy to call it a day after throwing Paulino into the shopping cart. It might not make them a contender for the playoffs or even a contender for a winning record, but it shows that the team is no longer operating under a philosophy that prizes shiny objects and headlines over actual thought about how to best construct a roster.
It might not be quite as tangible as a new iPad or diamond earrings when it comes to Christmas presents, but it's not a gift card to the day old bagel store either. If the Knicks have taught us anything with their 16-12 start, it is that there can be great value to building over the long term. The Mets might not be able to extricate themselves from Castillo, Perez or other awful contracts, but they won't be entering into any of them either and that's enough to make for a winning offseason in Queens.