Now, the title of this piece might be a little misleading if you did not follow football this year. This past off season in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles spend a crap load of money bringing in all types of talent. On paper, it looked like a fantasy football team. This prompted their backup quarterback Vince Young to call them the “dream team”. As the season unfolded, they played anything but “dream team” football, ending their year with an 8-8 record and out of the playoffs. Analysts had all types of reasons of why the eagles missed the playoffs but there was one overarching theme to all of them, “they had a collection of talent but no team”.
After Jeffrey Loria screwed the city of Miami to build his new stadium, he began a $191 million dollar spending spree that brought the talents of:
- Ozzie Guillen 4 years/$10M
- Jose Reyes 6 years/$106M
- Heath Bell 3 years/$27M
- Mark Buehrle 4 years/$58M
- Carlos Zambrano 2012:$2.5M, 2013:$19.25M(vesting option)
This splurge of spending and trading has put the Marlins on some analysts prediction to win the east and make a deep run into the playoffs. While this team as constructed has great potential to be a solid force in the toughest division in baseball, I wonder if they are missing the same piece of the puzzle that the Eagles were missing. Some of those issues already started to surface with Hanley Ramirez issues with moving to 3rd base to accommodate his FRIEND Jose Reyes. Carlos Zambrano and TEAM are no where near close to being mentioned in the same sentence, hell he announced that he was retiring after a bad game and just left the stadium! You have Guillen who is no stranger to ESPN post game rants about his teams play, which is a sharp break from what the veteran Marlins players are used to. These are real dynamics that I am not so sure have been really thought out all the way through.
You dont have to think back too far to see examples of BIG Spending or BIG Trading gone wrong, hell a perfectly good example are New York’s next door neighbors the Phillies. The Phillies last won the world series in 2008. There was no Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay on that squad. However, the squad that did win had been together for quite some time already and learned how to play as a team. Every man for the name in the front, not the back. A notorious example of acquiring a heap of top talent but never going anywhere is the Yankees. Think about the Yankee team in 2000 for a second…you had the talents of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettite, Paul O’neal, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. Most of those guys have been on the team for a long time and they learned how to be a team. Once they figured it out, they had a dynasty that no other franchise has yet to match.
What the hell does that have to do with the Mets? The Mets right now are in the process of making a team. Does finances play a part of that, of course it does. Do I think that if Sandy had Omar’s budget, would he acquire the same kind of talent? I think he wouldnt. I think the Mets may have finally turned the corner on the whole “big acquisition = championships” theory that has plagued many teams over the years. Teams win championships, not a collection of talent. That being said, there are growing pains that come with this strategy. The Mets may not be that interesting to watch regarding playoffs but if there is one thing worth watching the Mets this season is to start to see how they are becoming a team, how the new core is coming together. My bet is when the Phillies, Marlins and Nationals all figure out that big money doesnt win championships in the next few years, the Mets will be one step ahead with a team in a position to acquire “helping” pieces rather than “big money talent” while the other teams are stuck with bloated contracts that are unmovable. One thing that the Eagles have taught sports this year(and the yankees pretty much every year) is that a dream team on paper isnt necessarily one in real life.