The Mets took a couple of small but necessary steps to gain some much needed respectability the last few days when they released two players who summed up their recent futility: Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.
They are the symbols of the regime of Omar Minaya and the Wilpons, and they had to go. Period.
They were probably the two worst signings in the history of the franchise, and neither had any place on the Mets, especially Perez, who was given every opportunity to make the team this spring and promptly blew it. He had an awful winter in Mexico, so I surprised to see him in a Mets uniform this spring. But he was making $12 million in the final year of his three-year deal, so obviously the Mets were reluctant to eat that kind of money. They will be munching down $18 million between the two, but they did what was necessary for the franchise and that was a good thing.
The Phillies claimed Castillo off waivers on Sunday, with Chase Utley having knee problems and may start the year on the DL. My guess as to Perez' next stop: independent ball. (I saw a stat the other day that Derek Lowe, who the Mets were close to signing three years ago, is third in the NL in wins over the past three years. The Mets passed on him because he wanted a four-year deal and resigned Perez for about the same money per year. Ugh.)
More and more, I believe the Mets are at a point the Red Sox were in during the 2001 season: they need to be sold and fresh, new blood at the top needs to run the team. (And we know how the sale to John W. Henry went.) I believe Sandy Alderson as GM is a good move, but he needs a full season to evaluate players and shake up the franchise. The two players being released this weekend also tells me that Alderson is calling the shots as far as personnel moves go, and that is a very good thing for the franchise.
But having the Wilpons at the top is a black cloud over the franchise, and even if they beat this $1 billion lawsuit that's hanging over the heads concerning the Madoff Ponzi scheme, it won't change most fans' minds about the way the team has been run. It's been shoddy at best, with awful player and front office moves that have sunk the Mets into a laughing stock position.
I predict the Mets will be sold by the Wilpons by the time 2011 is over, as they will finally have no choice to but to get as much as they can. This lawsuit will get very messy for them. And for the fans, it's the best thing that could possibly happen.
The last few days have been a glimmer of hope for Mets fans. The team got rid of some deadwood, but more of it needs to go. Like at the top.