This is not a repeat: don’t expect the Mets to spend big this offseason

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The Mets have gone into the offseason in each of the past several years with no plans to spend money. Not real money, anyway. And certainly not the sort of money fans in New York, who are accustomed to sports teams spending big, would like them to spend.

On some level this has been understandable and even wise. Plunking down a ton of money on a big name free agent is not the best thing to do when you’re rebuilding, and spending money just to spend it makes little sense. On the other hand, there are lots of ways to spend less-than-top dollar that still help a club around the margins. This past offseason, for example, the Mets did little to bolster the bullpen despite there being a number of arms available in free agency relatively late into the offseason. Would that have put them over the top? No. But fans don’t exclusively expect to have the team be put over the top. A few more wins here or there does make paying good money to go to the ballpark a bit more enjoyable.

But, once again, it seems, the Mets are going to play it conservatively this winter. Yesterday Sandy Alderson made comments about the team’s plans, and while he gave some lip service to “flexibility” and being able “to do some things,” the message was nonetheless clear: don’t expect us to chase the big names:

“It’s gonna be prohibitive, but improving a team isn’t always a function of just dollars spent . . . Most of the improvement that came from the Mets this year had little to do with the overall [spending] … so it doesn’t equate. We’ll have some flexibility. We’ll be able to do some things. We just have to see what’s there . . . In addition to the young players that are coming through, we need to add maybe one or two veterans next year . . . That’s the thing about free agents, you’ve got to be careful because they don’t all work out … the quick fix isn’t always the best.”

Expectation management 101.

Again, none of this is unwise on its face. Prudence and the avoidance of big mistakes on the free agent market is smart. But this is also New York. And the Mets, despite sharing the game’s largest market and holding ownership in a lucrative regional sports network, have pretty consistently taken the approach of a mid-to-small market team. This has to grate on fans whose expectations are not the same as those in another city, for better or for worse. And whether that’s fair or reasonable, that’s who the Mets’ fans are, and for a long, long time they have not felt like they are getting what they pay for in terms of ticket sales and in terms of their loyalty.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.