Curiouser and curiouser. The story of how NYC’s two teams — with the most potential revenue in baseball — could have been shut out of deals involving the three best free agent pitchers in baseball seems as baffling today as it did yesterday. For now, let’s focus on the Mets.
According to John Harper in today’s Daily News,
“The Phillies were highly attractive to him [Toronto pitcher Roy Halladay] because his home is in Florida near the Phillies Clearwater training camp, and more so because the two-time defending NL champs give him the chance he desperately wants him to win a World Series.” Regarding the first point, the Mets’ training camp is about a two hour drive from Halladay’s home; for the kind of money we’re talking, couldn’t the Mets have promised to send a limo back and forth for a few weeks?
As for the second, did you ever think a few years ago that players would choose the Phillies over the Mets as the best chance to make a World Series?
Let’s put it this way: the Mets need to sign at least two other free agents — Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay, who could add 35-40 home runs to the Mets’ offense, and Bengie Molina, a solid defensive catcher. If the Mets hadn’t dawdled so much and made these deals already, would that have been a strong sign to Halladay that the Mets have their house in order and are poised to contend this year? Add those two to the roster and the possibility of having Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Johan Santana there for a full season, and the Mets might have had a pretty strong pitch.
Now the Mets are faced with the task of playing catch-up and signing Bay to an oversized contract just so Omar Minaya can make the case that they tried to upgrade the team over the winter. Everyone knows that this is the result of: a bankrupt minor league system that had no prospects to dangle in front of Toronto. As Harper puts it, “There is something about Halladay going to the Phillies that symbolizes the huge gap between the two teams at the moment.”