Incompetence (noun): an inability to do something successfully; ineptitude.
As I attempted to rack my mostly-empty brain for the correct word to describe the ownership of the New York Mets — which consists of Fred and Jeff Wilpon — “incompetence” sprang from the darkest caverns and shot like a rocket to the front of my cerebral cortex.
You see, after years of watching the Mets being run like a small-market team, this was an assumed formality.
Most of the time, there was a hesitance to make a big splash and acquire a huge name on the market. Sure, there have been exceptions over the years whether it be Mike Piazza or Carlos Beltran or Yoenis Cespedes.
But competing in the largest sports market in the country across town from a team (the Yankees) that makes mammoth moves mundane, one would expect ownership and management to be a little more aggressive when it comes to making improvements to the team.
And why shouldn’t they go all in every year? Did you see just how crazy this city went when they won the pennant in 2015?
Yet a team poised to make runs in 2016 and 2017 did little to improve and then fell flat. Now, all of a sudden, the prospect of a pseudo-rebuild seems like a more feasible outcome for the Mets than competing for the National League East title.
It makes 2015 seem like a million years ago.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Mets did little at the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando. With glaring needs in the bullpen, starting rotation, first base, second base and even third, the Mets came away with reliever Anthony Swarzak.
That was it.
After all, general manager Sandy Alderson did state toward the end of the 2017 season that the team wanted to cut the payroll its $155 million. If anyone knows why, please inform the entire New York media, who are also searching for an amount of just how much the team can spend this winter.
Alderson attempted to explain why the Mets didn’t do more last week in Orlando, saying he felt comfortable with his bullpen and youngster Dominic Smith, whose status with the team looked to be in question after the team expressed interest in free-agent Carlos Santana (who signed with the Phillies).
Something didn’t add up. But Newsday’s Marc Carig just made things a whole lot more clear as to why the Mets are such a mess:
“According to sources, the front office has only a fuzzy idea of what they actually have to spend in any given offseason. They’re often flying blind, forced to navigate the winter under the weight of an invisible salary cap. This is not the behavior of a franchise that wants to win.”
So basically, the Wilpons and Alderson have the keys to a really nice car, not quite a Ferrari (I classify the Yankees under the Italian auto giant), and are tasked in driving it as fast as they can, to the best of their ability. However, they don’t know how much gas is in the car, what the top speed is, or how it’s been tuned.
For the first time since the turn of the millennium, the Mets looked as though they had something good going for them.
Sure, injuries and some downright bad luck have played a part in tempering those expectations. But an ownership group that is toeing the line of buffoonery (which is the nicest way I can put it), that can’t even figure out how much money their general manager can spend is in no way fit to own an Arby’s, let alone a Major League Baseball franchise.
But greed is a difficult thing to shake and the Wilpons, instead of putting the best interest of their club first and selling the team, are content on fielding a second-division club and stealing from their fans, who continue to turn up at Citi Field to see an inconsistent, frustrating product.