There's an old joke, and I wish I could remember the whole thing, the jist of it surrounds this question: "What do you want? What will you settle for? What do you think you'll get?"
This is the premise which most recent off-seasons, this one included, are based upon. Gone are the days where Mets fans can not only dream of high end acquisitions, but actually have reason to believe that some of them might find their way to Queens (say ... Johan Santana. Now, once a player rises to the top of the free agent class, all of us en masse have been conditioned to say "yawp ... out of our price range." (Now is a good time to remind you that the Mets play in New York.)
This pisses me off. It pisses a lot of people off. And this is why when the Mets kick off their most important and most cash-infused off-season in years by signing a 30 year-old minor league utility player from New Jersey, we go macro on everybody's ass. It's not because Anthony Seratelli is going to make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but it's because we know what history tells us: which is that the Mets will most likely improve so marginally that Seratelli, who is supposed to be a mere depth guy, is going to wind up being the every day two hole hitter by July. And we're all going to cope with this with emotional displacement ... transferring our severe disappointment over another wasted season into overjoyous celebration of a marginal player because he's from New Jersey. (Think Mike Baxter, but from Edison.) Overcompensation ... if you will.
(It should be noted that the other guy the Mets signed ... pitcher Joel Carreño ... has become the leading candidate to start the last game of the regular season after everybody else either reaches their innings limits, gets injured, or arrested. The one in which the other team could give a rat's ass about and gets shut out. Think Pat Misch, Nelson Figueroa, Miguel Batista, etc.)
"Every Mets fan goes through four phases during the off-season: excitement, heart break, anger, and eventually acceptance." -Mitch Petanek
Sounds familiar. That's why I go straight to acceptance ... I accept that this team is going to screw me. Let me break it down for you:
Who I Want: Troy Tulowitzki. Remember the days when the Mets would swoop in and take advantage of a smaller market team by giving them mid-range prospects in exchange for top tier talent by being able to, you know ... afford people? Santana? Gary Carter? Mike Piazza? Yeah, neither do I. Now the Cardinals are probably going to trade Peter Kozma and the old tarp that broke Vince Coleman's leg for Tulo, who will become part of The Cardinal Way Cult and start handing out pamphlets on the street corner detailing the proper way to apply eye black, in between hitting 30 home runs and running his own Rally Squirrel Shelter.
Who I'll Settle For: Jhonny Peralta. Look, I don't like putting the h in front of the o any more than you do. But learn it. Because Stephen Drew is represented by Scott Boras who thinks the Mets are "impossible to deal with" (code for "broke"), and is going to want Drew to sign a seventy-five year deal. Peralta will come for three (thank you, steroids) and is a good enough upgrade over the month old bag of pork rinds that played the position last season.
Who I Think I'll Get: Rafael Furcal. Like I said, Seratelli will be the two hole hitter by July as the Mets sign the only shortstop in recorded history to miss a season with a pitcher's injury. (This may or may not be a fact.) Also, the Mets could further torture me by acquiring Cardinal Way leftover Pete Kozma, because he got a hit off a National one time, making him useful in the division. That's right kids ... logic.
Who I Want: Jose Abreu. I know what you're thinking: "He's not going to bitch and moan about a guy who's already off the board, is he?" Yes he is! Because this was the only upgrade at first base that was worth discussing, and he's gone. Gone to Chicago where every home run he hits will carve out another piece of my soul. Yoenis Cespedes was a revelation. Yasiel Puig was a sensation. Abreu is the next big thing to come out of Cuba, but we're good with Josh Satin. Great. Let me spray insect repellant straight into my eyes.
Who I'll Settle For: Corey Hart. If for no other reason, he's close to a .900 OPS guy against lefties. And thought I wouldn't want to see any current first baseman return, a Hart platoon with Ike Davis, assuming he gets his head on straight, would be pretty damn spectacular.
Who I Think I'll Get: Lucas Duda. Because let's face it: Ike Davis isn't going to get his head on straight. And Duda can take a pitch out of the strike zone. Which is great until the straight fastballs that are in the strike zone are swung on and missed with such force that my Box Frites will blow out of my box and all over the floor. And I'm left with bacon dip in my lap. Prediction: Keith Hernandez is going to have a grave installed in the broadcast booth so he can roll over in it every time Duda waves at a slider and misses.
Who I Want: Shin Soo Choo. Because Choo is a steak. And we only shop in the frozen foods aisle. Scott Boras is everywhere.
Who I'll Settle For: Curtis Granderson. Let's not be under any false pretense that Granderson's 40 HR power from 2011 and 2012 is going to translate into balls flying into the Pepsi Porch. (His home run split over the past three seasons were 53-38 in favor of home dingers.) More alarming is that his career averages seem inflated by a couple of good seasons. But as long as we're settling, Granderson is an upgrade over what the Mets can find in their corner outfielder stock right now. That doesn't speak well for what the Mets have in stock.
Who I Think I'll Get: Raul Ibanez. Because Moises Alou wasn't old enough.
Who I Want: Matt Harvey.
Yeah, I know.
Who I'll Settle For: Bronson Arroyo or A.J. Burnett. Truthfully, I don't think either is going to be a Met when all is said and done. But Arroyo puts up decent numbers in a hitters park, and A.J. Burnett seems like a good influence on younger pitchers. Zack Wheeler could use a positive influence as his career is getting started. Who better than Burnett to provide a road map to harnessing his stuff ... even if that road map reads "kid, don't do what I do." In reality, pretty much anybody but Shaun Marcum. Because screw that guy.
Who I Think I'll Get:
Because clearly, God hates me.