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The Bourn Inconsequence

The Bourn Inconsequence

By: Matthew Wolfe

Mets fans, take a breath—a deep breath. Take the name off the front of the jersey. Look at this team through the lenses of a skeptic, not those with blue and orange tint. Shed your optimism or your pessimism, and relinquish your fandom into pure, unadulterated realism.

Michael Bourn signed with the Cleveland Indians for four years (five with a vesting option) at $12 million per year. That’s $60 million that the Wilpons, Sandy Alderson, and the Mets faithful don’t have to stomach for a player who won’t hit double digit home runs, won’t hit .300, and by the time the contract is over, probably won’t steal 30 bases in a season. Fans have been clamoring for a big free agent signing, and Bourn was all that was left, but his decision to head west was a blessing in disguise.

Before the Bourn nonsense, think about what this team had to offer for the 2013 season. The Mets traded their Cy Young, 20-game winning pitcher R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays for a major league ready catching phenom in Travis D’Arnaud, an erratic fireballer in Noah Syndergaard, and catcher John Buck. On a 78-win team, none of those 20 games are coming back with any of these players. The lineup looks as follows:

1) Ruben Tejada, SS
2) Daniel Murphy, 2B
3) David Wright, 3B
4) Ike Davis, 1B
5) Lucas Duda, LF
6) Justin Turner, RF
7) John Buck, C
8) Kirk Neuwenheis, CF
9) Pitcher

As for that 9th spot, the slated five-man rotation at the moment is Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey, Shaun Marcum, and Dillon Gee. What do you see here? Three injuries, a hot-and-cold Niese, and a very young, though enticing, pitcher. Santana, Marcum, and Gee will be lucky if they get 50 starts between them, Niese will have an ERA of 3.85 with 17 quality starts, and while Harvey’s fastball/splitter combo is reminiscent of a young Roger Clemens, that is a lofty bar to set. We’ll see Zach Wheeler later in the season, but he’s still just a prospect. This rotation is full of ifs.

Now put those together. Can this team win 78 games again? Maybe. Can it make the playoffs? No. Not without Davis raising his average to .280 and hitting 35 home runs, Duda miraculously learning how to play the outfield, every pitcher hitting his 2013 ceiling, and the unmentioned bullpen being worth a damn.

Add Bourn to this mix. If he made Flushing his home, would the Mets really have been in contention this year? Does a .280 singles hitter who depends on his speed put this team over? As he ages, would he continue to be a contributor or would he end up an albatross? No, no, and the latter.

The Mets can now keep their 1st round draft pick (which would have been compensation for the deal unless the union successfully appealed the loss), use this $12 million for the 2014 free agent period (the Mets have just $40 million on the books after this year), find out precisely what they have in their farm system, and get another top-10 pick for next year. The Mets are building a contender organically, and though it’s taken a while, fruition is on the horizon.
Fans, put your blue and orange glasses back on. Don’t watch this team with expectation, but with anticipation. With Bourn in Cleveland, a trip to Citi Field isn’t a viewing of the present, it’s a look into the future.

Ya Gotta Believe.

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