Jon Heyman’s latest column ranks the potential Prince Fielder post-free agency destinations. In order: the Orioles, Cubs, Rangers, Nationals, Dodgers, Brewers Mariners Cardinals and Marlins.
Question: would Prince Fielder really want to go to most of these teams? The O’s, Cubs, Mariners and Marlins are in the competitive wilderness right now. The Dodgers are broke. The Cardinals would be intriguing, but they happen to have a first base free agent they’d likely prefer to keep. The Nationals are likewise intriguing in that they’re probably closer to competitiveness than the other losing teams, but they’re not exactly poised to win now. Not yet.
The Rangers are the most interesting name in that they’re a winning team and one who has signed big names before, but I don’t know that we have anything close to a clear idea if they’ll be a big player in free agency. A new TV deal in place could mean that they’ll spend more, but not necessarily.
I guess what I’m seeing here is that, with the Yankees and Red Sox likely not a big player for a first baseman, the market is as murky as hell. Assuming that like most free agents, Prince Fielder wants to play for a winner, there’s no clear-cut destination. Some teams may win, some teams may pay, but it’s hard to identify anyone who would do both.
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.