If there is a team I have always rooted for to do well besides the Red Sox it has been the New York Mets. I think this is for 2 reasons. 1. I grew up 5 minutes from Shea Stadium and I probably have attended over 200 Mets games in my life. 2. Besides his family one of the things that gives my dad great joy is to see the Mets win.
So on September 28th, when for the 2nd year in a row the Mets collapsed down the stretch the question that my dad and all other Mets fans had was “what is wrong with the New York Mets?” The common answer and the scapegoat for their collapse was the bullpen. A bullpen era of 4.27, 29 blown saves, a save % of 60% and having Louis Ayala as your closer in the final month of the season makes for an easy scapegoat.
While Mets GM, Omar Minaya has done a good job of addressing the bullpen in the offseason with the signing of Francisco Rodriguez and trading for J.J. Putz, I believe the Mets problems run a little deeper. The Mets as currently constructed are lacking “Gamers”. Those gritty, dirtdog, get-under-your-skin types that every winning team has. The Yankees had them in the 90’s (Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez), the Phillies have them now (Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino), and so do the Red Sox (Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis). The Mets do not.
The Mets do not have a player on their roster who would punch a wall after he struck out, they don’t have a player who would take out a SS while sliding into 2nd and they certainly don’t have players who will run into walls to win a game. This is why the Mets need to trade for Eric Byrnes.
Byrnes is a perfect fit for the Mets. Besides the Mets needing a left fielder (it was clear last year Daniel Murphy can’t play left), the Mets need a player who’s nickname is the “crash test dummy,” they need a player who is a gamer and will get his uniform dirty every game and they need a player who brings energy and intensity to the ballpark everyday. Byrnes was the heart and soul of a Diamondbacks team that made it to the NLCS in 2007 and it is no coincidence that when Byrnes was lost for the season with a hamstring injury the Diamondbacks missed the playoffs in 2008.
The Mets have the talent, now they need the heart. Eric Byrnes has the heart the Mets need.