Best Investment Is Now The Future

We've been here before. About 11 months ago, we were hearing the same thing. "It's still early." "We're battling, and we'll be fine." "Its just one game." Well, that doesn't fly anymore. When you're paying $119 million to a 4-8 team that has exactly one, count them one, hit with runners in scoring position the past three games in a bandbox stadium, you know its time to change direction.

Really, Mr. Wilpon, we appreciate your efforts to bring us a winner. We really do. $119 million is a heck of an investment. But you know what would be a better one? The future.

Thankfully, it seems you realize that, despite your second spending spree winter in a row. You had Steve Phillips keep Jose Reyes, wunderkind shortstop prospect. Not only that, but you demanded that the team not deal away the other four prospects from "the big five", the five Met prospects who made it into the top 75 slots of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospect list. Those players, including pitcher Aaron Heilman, who should be up by June; third basemen David Wright, catcher Justin Huber and last year's first round pick, flame throwing Scott Kazmir.

However, we beg you to go further. This team is old, slow and over the hill. Roberto Alomar, Pedro Astacio, Jeromy Burnitz, Rey Sanchez and Armando Benitez all are free agents at the end of the season. Please, don't re-sign them. Take the draft picks and run. After 2004, Mo Vaughn, Al Leiter, Steve Trachsel, and David Weathers are all free agents. Once again, take the draft picks (if you even get one for Leiter and Vaughn, who will probably retire) and draft the best possible players. Contrary to what you may believe, rebuilding will show the fans you care.

When David Wright and Justin Huber are driving in Jose Reyes and Scott Kazmir is striking out batters by the dozen, you'll get better attendance than ever. Of course, that is, unless those guys pull another Generation K.

As mentioned earlier, the Mets plight stems from their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Yes, Armando Benitez has been disgraceful in the clutch, but in games like Sunday's, if the Mets could score, then he wouldn't have to be perfect all the time. In the eight inning Sunday, the Mets had the bases loaded with one out for Jay Bell and Cliff Floyd. If Jay Bell could have put the ball in the air or even walked (he worked the count to 3-2), a run would have scored. If the $26 million man Cliff Floyd could have gotten a hit or walked, a run would have scored. Since neither of those things happened, Jose Vidro's homerun sent the game into extra innings, where the Mets eventually lost. The Mets have not been able to get the clutch hit since their third game of the season against the Cubs. They continually leave men on, if they even get them there. Mike Piazza is flailing at outside breaking balls, Mo Vaughn is 1-17 in his last 18 at bats, and Cliff Floyd is popping everything up. I don't know if this is going to remain a pattern like it was in 2002, but it doesn't look promising right now.

About Armando Benitez, his time seems about up in New York. No one is denying that he has great stuff, but the constant criticism and pressures the fans, media and team (constant pitching, trying to save one-run leads) seems to have gotten to him. I wish the guy good luck, and I hope he can nail it down in the clutch one day. Just with another team, that's all. Theo Epstein is thinking about giving Robert Person the fireman's hat after his "bullpen by committee" blew up in his face. He also has a great infield prospect named Hanley Ramirez. You do the math.

I'm going to say it in four words: bench Roger Cedeño, start Timo Perez. Roger Cedeño is batting .146; Timo Perez is hitting .316. Roger Cedeño is a butcher in centerfield; Timo has great range and a rifle arm. One problem: Roger Cedeño makes $4 million; Timo Perez makes the league minimum. Looks like Steve Phillips did the wrong math.


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