It's the calm before the Mets storm. Enjoy it while it lasts.
In a few weeks, the conversation around the Mets will quickly turn from hypothesizing about GM candidates to getting real news about where ownership intends to take their franchise and who is going to get them there...
As it stands, assistant John Ricco and advisors Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi are essentially splitting the job after Sandy Alderson stepped down in June due to health issues.
Ricco was a guest Thursday on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio, during which he said the lack of set leadership did not impact how the trio handled the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
In talks with teams interested in trading for Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, Ricco said the three GMs and Jeff Wilpon agreed to only deal one of their elite pitchers if the other team overpaid and it was a deal any GM would have made."It had to be a no brainer," he explained.
Personally, I think this is the right approach, if for no other reason than I would prefer the next GM decide how best to leverage the team's most valuable assets, including Zack Wheeler, since all three pitchers are under contract through at least next season.
That said, I respect and understand why another fan might feel a significant opportunity to deal a pitcher for prospects was missed in July.
This is because the Mets are 40 games below .500 since making the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, which, according to Ricco, has mostly been due to injuries...
What has gone wrong the past two years?
"We never got to see the teams we put together out on the field at the same time and that's something we need to address," Ricco said, while also acknowledging that the Mets made changes last winter to protocol and personnel within their medical and training staff.
"Things don't change overnight," he explained, "because a lot of it is systemic," including adjustments from the big-league team down to the lowest levels of the minor leagues.
Nevertheless, he said he, his colleagues and ownership all share in the frustration being expressed by fans during the past two seasons.
So, what kind of changes does Ricco see the team making to be better in 2019?
In addition to continuing to address the health of the team, Ricco also said it's important for the Mets to get younger and more athletic in the field.
"If we're gonna go all in on pitching, we need to be able to catch the ball better than we have over the last few years," he said.
Obviously, this is easier said than done, because -- in addition to most fans saying the same thing each of the past few winters - Alderson had been saying the same thing each of the past few winters... and yet nothing ever changed.
In Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario, the Mets have three young position players that are smart, aggressive, marketable, and capable of being All Stars.
If youth, athleticism and better fielding are important, finding a second baseman with similar qualities to Conforto, Nimmo, and Rosario should be a top priority this winter. I'd like to see them do the same in center field, but that will require that they trade Jay Bruce.
Similarly, in an effort to create a new group of young leaders and advocates for a new team culture, Ricco said Mickey Callaway intends to spend extra time talking with Conforto, Nimmo, and Rosario, as well as other young players on the roster.
In the end, though, Ricco said the future of the organization will be determined one way or another by their starting pitching, which, in his estimation, "turned a corner this season."
In addition to getting a Cy Young-quality season from deGrom and continued success from Syndergaard, he believes we are finally seeing Wheeler and Steven Matz realize their potential.
"Wether we build around that pitching or turn them in to position players (by way of trade) there is reason for optimism," he concluded.
What does this all mean?
Honestly, not much. Ricco is being honest, but the above are just words.
I'm tired of hearing executives blame injuries, while saying they're excited about next season and that they still believe in their young pitching.
They said this before, during and after 2015 and 2016, and they said this before, during and after the past two seasons. The words now have no meaning.
Instead, most Mets fans and I want to to hear about a clear idea of what our favorite team wants and how its leadership intends to get there. More importantly, we want less talk, more action and to see them do things -- anything -- to help spur different results on field.
His work in baseball before joining the Mets, plus his time in Queens since 2004, make Ricco more than qualified and possibly the perfect person to be GM of the Mets. However, I'd also like to see them put above him a senior strategist, a director of sorts, or a "President of Baseball Operations," which is the title being used by other teams with this hierarchy.
Until that happens, though, the type of moves made during June and July are the only actions able to be taken until the franchise decides who will be leading them. Everything between now and then is just research and waiting...