The middle ground between short-term and long-term

Matthew Cerrone , Lead Writer

In a recent article for FOX Sports, columnist Ken Rosenthal declares that it is time for the Wilpons to start reinvesting in the Mets again.

“The All-Star Game could help the Mets’ bottom line, but in the end the team will need to produce a better product,” Rosenthal explains. “A better product costs money. And the doubts will linger, until the Mets start spending again.”

This is true. Or, at least until they start winning, whichever happens first.

I have no problem at all with Rosenthal or fans making this argument when it comes from an emotional point of view. The thing is, what are they really suggesting, from a do-this-do-that perspective? Rosenthal suggests that the Mets ink new deals with R.A. Dickey and David Wright, then immediately begin “back-loading free-agent contracts,” instead of waiting one year from now when significant money opens up in the payroll for 2014.

Really? Back-loaded deals… again? Haven’t we been down this road before. I mean, is paying Cody Ross a disproportionate amount of money in two and three years from now really worth the extra two or three wins he will bring in 2013? Is B.J. Upton really going to be worth $20 million a year when he’s 31 years old? This is exactly how the Mets got in this situation in the first place: by going on a haphazard spending spree and then toppling over with immovable contracts. Frankly, I’ve lost count of the number of times that playbook has burned this franchise during the last 20 years. I’m all for success in 2013. But, if it has to happen with spending on free-agent talent, I would rather the Mets just sign Ross to a traditional, balanced deal, paying him the same amount each season, so at least it’s less painful and more easy to deal with in two or three years if he’s terrible.

The thing I like about this current front office is that they don’t make decisions this way. Instead, they take the long view and look beyond our emotional needs.

The thing I don’t like is that Sandy Alderson and his staff don’t seem to be striking the right balance between making smaller short-term gains and still doing what’s right for the future. It often feels like their greatest strength is also their greatest weakness.

The Mets have lost more games each year that Alderson has been GM, and that followed what had already been three very painful, very dramatic seasons under Omar Minaya. I’m all for Cy Young Awards, batting titles and no hitters. That stuff is awesome and fun during those specific moment. But, I would also like to watch more wins than losses. I understand and agree that it isn’t wise to spend crazy money on a one-night stand for nothing. I’m OK sacrificing immediate, only short-term success for long-term, sustainable success. That’s cool. I get it. But, less losses each season? Really? There has to be a middle ground, right?