Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mets have bigger problems than Madoff

Forget the Bernie Madoff mess for a second. The New York Mets have many problems in their baseball operations to deal with.

The disappointing 2011 season led to a sizeable decline in attendance at Mets games, which has led to something even sadder: job losses. Not the jobs of the general manager, manager or the players, but of rank-and-file workers, the people who can least afford to lose their jobs. The Mets have always tried to position themselves as the team of choice for blue-collar New Yorkers as opposed to the New York Yankees, who embrace their corporate fan base with enthusiasm. That Mets image is certain to take a hit with the layoff news.

I fear that the fan defection will get worse with a bad offseason, particularly if the Mets fail to re-sign Jose Reyes. The Madoff-related lawsuits have been tipping in the Wilpons’ favor recently, but they could still be forced to part with hundreds of millions of dollars. That would make it unlikely that they would be willing to accede to Reyes’ likely expensive contract demands. Even if they had the money, I would understand a reluctance to sign Reyes to a long-term deal, even though he is one of the most dynamic players in baseball, considering the multiple leg injuries he has experienced in recent years.

If Reyes walks away, Mets fans will be stuck with only David Wright as a true franchise player and that’s if the Mets choose not to trade him away, which is not a given. Wright is coming off a sluggish year, especially power-wise, but perhaps the moving of the fences at Citi Field will help him find his power stroke again. Of course, that could be bad news for the Mets pitching staff, but the Mets have to try something to spur on their struggling offense and boost their attendance.

I worry that further deterioration of the Mets on the field will lead to more fan defections and job losses for the good people who work for the organization. Hopefully, that won’t come to pass, but I won’t hold my breath for a quick Mets’ revival.

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