With spring training only weeks away, this is usually the time of year when baseball fans are given the opportunity to dream about the season to come. An off season full of additions and subtractions have primed their teams for a run at the pennant. At the very least, its baseball and anything can happen. That is unless, at least from my perspective, your a Mets fan headed into 2012.
Truth be told, the franchise has never recovered from the September 2007 collapse that cost the Mets the division and a trip to the playoffs. Since that time, on the field problems have been compounded exponentially by off the field problems that threaten the very existence of the club as we know it. The result..an ownership group likely on its way out, a team poorly equipped for the 162 game season ahead, and a fan base which finds itself in a very dark place right now.
So, what does all this mean for the upcoming season? Unfortunately, I think it means more of the same. There have been no motions taken to remove the Wilpon ownership group. At this point, whether it be by way of bankruptcy or a team take over, the transition will not be a speedy one, likely causing for additional uncertainty and even less stability than we're all wading through now. None of those conditions will aid in returning a championship caliber ball club and will probably force even more changes before the Wilpons are through.
From the way I see it the biggest change of the off season, the outfield walls of course, will do wonders for the value of David Wright. That increased value, combined with the fact that he'll soon seek an expensive contract extension, will see David Wright in another uniform by the all-star break with Daniel Murphy sliding over to third and Reese Havens called up to fill the void. Yet another obstacle for the Mets offense, tasked to endure its first full season with out Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, to struggle through.
Then there's the pitching...oh dear lord the pitching. I know I make a comment every year about the team not having enough pitching depth, but this season will set the bar pretty low. As it stands today, the team doesn't have five healthy starters because no one can provided a definitive answer on Johan Santana. Even if he is ready for opening day, someone will eventually fall to injury. The Mets will be left with...with who? The Mets are so thin at starting pitcher that I fear they may prematurely promote from within when their less than mediocre "major league ready" options run dry.
Everything from top to bottom at the big league level is in such disarray that there appears no route to anything even resembling a decent season. Lump all of this onto a growing number of fans who already plan to steer clear of Citi Field this season and what are you left with? The Mets need money. Money the Wilpons don't have and money the fans aren't prepared to part with. Will 2012 be the start of the rebound, or another step downward? I honestly can't tell you, but I don't see how a 70 win campaign could possibly help.
Time won't heal these wounds, only wins can. The 2012 season appears to be another of regression for the Mets, who should flounder greatly amidst a NL East that has made great strides around them in recent years. And honestly if you think its bad now, imagine Citi Field in late August with a team 15 games out of first place that has no star power and a pitching staff running on fumes. I hate to think it, but 2012 just appears to be another stop on the road to more dark times for the New York Mets faithful.