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 ...
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.
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?
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.