In the last seven days, I've talked to a handful of Mets insiders, none of whom believe Tim Tebow will be with the team next spring in Port St. Lucie.
I've heard several different reasons behind their thinking. But, in the end, everyone agreed that -- if he's still with the organization -- he's more likely to show up in St. Lucie when minor-league camp starts, as opposed to when big leaguers arrive in February. This is good news ... if you ask me.
Tebow during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today).
It's nothing against Tebow, who has every right to pursue a career in baseball. It's just, the Mets have real goals, and real business at hand, as they try to right their ship and get back to the World Series. I expect Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and the team's other young players to hit 2017 super focused, serious and motivated in a way we didn't see a year ago, when they were high on hope overachieving, and the experience of playing in October. This time around it'll be different...
Last season was unfulfilling. I know from talking to them that these young men were not close to satisfied with what happened last season. They expect more from themselves (individually and as a group). And, I think that'll show next spring. In other words, we're not going to see a lot of horses and elaborate cars next February. Instead, I expect a lot more work, and a lot less talk.
Tebow would detract from this. Tebow will bring a media circus, and again make the focus about himself. He will make camp more about entertainment, less about baseball. Again, I wish him well and respect his effort, but the Mets don't need him distracting from what they're trying to accomplish.
So, why did the Mets sign him?
I believe signing Tebow was probably a goodwill gesture to baseball, and -- more importantly -- his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, who also represents Yoenis Cespedes, deGrom and other Mets.
Actually, I talked about kissing up to Van Wagenen at length with Brian Mangan and Roger Cormier on their Good Fundies podcast during September. And, I'm hardly alone, I recall people theorizing about this the minute Tebow ended his introductory press conference.
Also, this whole thing is the perfect narrative and backdrop for Tebow, who recently released his new book, "Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms."
Re-read that title. It's a book about discovery, personal journey and pursuing your dream.
"It's fine if people look at me and say, 'This is what he should be doing,' but they're not me. Dreams are based on what's in your heart, they're based on passions and things you want to go try, not on chances," Tebow said yesterday, while promoting his book on ESPN. "I'm so grateful that I get to go pursue something, even if it's a long shot. ... I think that's something that's unfortunate in society that a lot of people just go do what they feel they should do, they go live by the status quo and live by all these rules and accept your average 9-5 rather than striving for something."
Tebow runs the bases (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports).
"The ultimate goal isn't to succeed or fail, it's to give it everything you have for something that's in your heart and a dream and pursuing that," Tebow continued. "And, if you get to live out your dream every single day than the result doesn't matter. I'll be able to look back 20, 30 years from now, look back at this time and say, 'I gave everything I had to football, I gave everything I had to baseball, and I was able to live out some dreams.' And, in my opinion, that's pretty awesome."
In other words, Tebow's current baseball experiment is the perfect backdrop for his book, which he's reportedly been working on for more than a year. If he's not pursuing his dream of playing baseball, if he's sitting at home or - worse - struggling at football, it's out of sync with the book's subtitle: "Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's Storms."
By going after his 'long shot dream,' he gets to go on ESPN, as well as Good Morning America, Jimmy Fallon, etc., and give the above answer, which is - oh, by the way - also the exact subject of his book.
I don't doubt that Tebow is being authentic. I'm not a Tebow-hater. I appreciate his outlook on life. I'm also not playing conspiracy theorist here. I just think his baseball experiment is well timed, not just for his book release, but also for the Mets, who get to do his agent a favor in advance of negotiations with Cespedes and deGrom, among other Mets. At the same time, by signing Tebow, not only do the Mets help him create a context for his book, they give him and his agent a shot to showcase his talent to 29 other teams.
In 24 at-bats, spanning seven games during the AFL, Tebow has two hits, a run scored, one RBI, two walks and eight strikeouts, while playing only left field and getting ripped by most scouts that have watched him.
My hunch is that the Mets have Tebow playing in the Arizona Fall League, which is usually reserved for top prospects, in hopes that he's so bad it gives them cover to not invite him to spring training next season. Because, the Mets have bigger goals than Tebow and can't afford to get off track when pitchers and catchers report in less than four months.