Author: Peter Portero
Articles Category: Baseball
Fans of the New York Mets still cringe when they think of 1993, the “Hardball is Back” era. Trying desperately to reclaim the glory that had eluded them since their 1986 World Series victory, they spent over $15 million (real money in the 90s) to draft a team headed by five proven free-agent superstars. In short order, two of them became more-or-less permanent members of the disabled list, one of them injured another player by hitting him accidentally with a golf club, and their new young pitcher set a new record for straight losses. The book The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse Of The New York Mets eventually immortalized the whole experiment.
This year, General Manager Omar Minaya seems determined to prove that the “throw money at the problem” theory can work. While it’s true it cost a lot to assemble the new lineup, there’s no denying the fact that the new Mets have what money can’t necessarily buy; raw talent.
Minaya has added more beef to the Mets’ bullpen with Jorge Julio, Billy Wagner and Duaner Sanchez. With Paul Lo Duca as catcher and Julio Franco and Carlos Delgado dominating the infield, the 2006 team has a real chance. Star pitcher Pedro Martinez is still plagued by the big toe injury that kept him sidelined so often last season and isn’t guaranteeing he’ll be ready for the first game, though Nike is designing a cleat to help him pitch painlessly.
In fact, the only perceived downside to the team is the continued disappointing performance of second-baseman Kaz Matsui. Many fans are hoping that Matsui, now in the final year of his $20 million contract, will be benched in favor of rookie Anderson Hernandez. If Minaya can pull this off, he just might achieve for the Mets what money can’t buy: a winning season.
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