2012 Player of the Year: New York Mets

Jeff Zelevansky

Sure, the Yankees are in trouble. But things could be worse: they could be the Mets!

There was a lot to like about the 2012. After 50 years, they finally got their no-hitter. They're probably going to boast the National League's Cy Young Award winner. David Wright reëstablished himself as one of the best third baseman around, and perhaps a future Hall of Famer. Young starting pitcher Matt Harvey made his début and racked up a bunch of strikeouts.

But when you play in New York and lose 88 games, you're doing it wrong. Which is why we'll have to look elsewhere for the New York Mets' Player of the Year ...

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In 2012, the Mets sported a relatively large payroll: $94 million (not including those monthly checks that Bobby Bonilla's grandchildren will still be collecting someday when the robots are in charge). Granted, that figure was way down from 2011, when the Mets spent nearly $143 million on their players.

Blogger Perspective: Amazin' Avenue

by Eric Simon

If you're looking for one player who best represented the 2012 Mets, who was emblematic of their season -- both good and bad -- baby-faced shortstop Ruben Tejada is your guy. Last winter, the Mets watched occasional superstar shortstop Jose Reyes sprint southward for a big-money deal with the Marlins. So the post-Reyes Mets needed a post-Reyes shortstop, and Tejada was their guy.

A microcosm of the Mets' season, Tejada was surprisingly good early on, struggled with infirmity in the middle, and completely fell apart toward the end. He was hitting .305/.362/.400 on May 6 when he tumbled running down the first-base line, strained his right quad, and missed the next seven weeks. The Mets were surprisingly competitive and quite fun to watch over the season's first few months as they nipped at the Nationals' heels. Alongside Tejada, the Mets also lost Johan Santana, Frank Francisco, and others due to injury in the soft middle months of the season.

The latter part of the season was a disaster across the board. The Mets lost nearly all of their games while their young shortstop hit .269/.306/.322 after the All-Star break.

For more Mets coverage, visit Amazin' Avenue.

Still, $94 million seems like a lot for 88 losses. Just imagine where they'd have been without R.A. Dickey, who won 20 games while earning $4.25 million.

The Mets have all sorts of issues (madoff) despite a management team with a generally impeccable pedigree. So how did they lose 88 games while spending $94 million?

Dead money.

Their closer, Frank Francisco, made $5.5 million while saving only 23 games, with a 1-3 record and a 5.53 ERA. He's signed through 2013.

Their best-known (rather than best) starting pitcher, Johan Santana, made $24 million. After missing all of 2011, Santana opened 2012 in style. In his first 10 starts, Santana won just twice but owned a 2.75 ERA. And In his 11th start, he threw the first no-hitter in franchise history. Sure, it took a blown call by a third-base umpire to make it happen, but why quibble?

We may quibble, however, with Santana's post-no-hitter performance. Maybe it was throwing 134 pitches in that game and maybe it wasn't. But Santana made only 10 starts the rest of the season, and went 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA.

He's signed through 2013.

But there's hope for Francisco, and Mets fans will always have Santana's no-hitter.

It's hard to find any silver lining in Jason Bay's performance, though. Granted, he does serve budding baseball executives as a textbook example of what not to do with free agents. That's probably little solace to the current front office, though. Bay played well for the Red Sox in 2009, which was enough to get him a $66 million contract with the Mets. He was injured in 2010, but hit almost adequately when he did play. He played more in 2011, but worse. And then, 2012: in 70 games, Bay batted .165 with eight home runs and 20 RBI. While earning $16 million.

Oh, and he's signed through 2013. The Mets still owe him $19 million (including a 2014 buyout).

That's what it was like, running the New York Mets in 2012. And alas, 2013.

In case you missed any previous entries in this EXCITING SERIES, here's the archive.

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