I'll be the guy with the Mets logo avatar
I think I'm ready to talk about it
You may have seen some Mets fans referring to Sunday's loss as something of a relief, coming as it did on the heels of an often difficult season of baseball to watch. They might have told you that this particular band of New York Mets was somehow unlikable or that the players had "quit" on us, the fans. Maybe they think that the bullpen would have gotten this team slaughtered in October. I am not one of these fans. This hurt.
This past Sunday ranks right with 1999 NLCS Game Six and July 30th, 2004 among the darkest days of my Mets fandom. The fact that the Mets spent the last week of August and the whole month of September blowing chance after chance to put the division away only means the agony was prolonged. The Mets could be playing a playoff game right now if Marlon Anderson had slid a little closer to second base or Billy Wagner could get six outs without giving up three runs. In the end, the Phillies were one game better than the Mets, but the way we reached that conclusion couldn't have been any more painful. The fact that we had to watch the Yankees stage a comeback from sure defeat at the same time didn't help any.
The Mets had a pretty good team this year and chances are they'll have almost exactly the same pretty good team next year. Willie Randolph will be back, but Paul Lo Duca and Shawn Green likely won't be, so Willie will have two fewer chances to choose experience over ability every day as he did so many times this year. The bullpen, a weak point both in September and in terms of Randolph's managerial tactics, will return largely intact. Giving Willie fewer terrible relievers to use in key situations in big games would seem like an easy way to improve this team, but Scott Schoeneweis and Guillermo Mota are both under contract for at least one more year. If Omar Minaya could spend his way to a great bullpen, I'm sure he would and even if he can't, he might try. But relief pitchers are inherently unpredictable and going out to spend a bunch of money on proven veterans is how you wind up giving multi-year deals to the Motas and Schoeneweises of the world.
The Mets are rich, they have reasonable expectations of contending for a division title next year and they're coming off a historic collapse. This seems like a recipe for a wild offseason. But there won't really be many flashy free agents available at positions where the Mets have need, like the starting rotation, or might think they have need, like catcher or right field. So, while I'm sure the next few months will be filled with stories that Omar is about to send every prospect the Mets have or ever will have to Minnesota in exchange for Johan Santana, I think the time between now and Spring Training might turn out to be fairly quiet. Which is a good thing. I could use some time to recover.