What we’ve come to

Look: Einstein was sweet, don’t get me wrong. This site respects smart dudes and independent thinkers, and he was undoubtedly both those things.

But his famed quote about the definition of insanity is, as far as I’m concerned, a blemish on his record. Not due to any fault of his own, really — just because of the frequency with which it is used in baseball discussions, to which it absolutely does not apply.

For the record: The definition of insanity is not “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Look it up. There are a bunch of different definitions, but none of them is that.

I say the Mets should tender contracts to Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey, and that they shouldn’t trade David Wright. And you say, “well… that’s the definition of insanity.”

No. No. For one thing, it’s baseball. You’re not talking about controlled laboratory experiments, you’re talking about a sport dominated by randomness.

Hell, look at Mike Pelfrey’s career statlines. Mike Pelfrey mostly throws only one pitch. Mike Pelfrey tries the same thing over and over again and gets different results. In 2007, he did bad. In 2008, he did good. In 2009, bad, in 2010, good again, and then in 2011, bad.

And was Pagan trying to do something expressly different in 2010 than he was in 2011? He suffered through some injuries, so that could explain some of the dip in production. But it’s possible he too tried the same thing and got different results. After all, at least some of Pagan’s struggles must be explained by the near 50-point drop in his batting average on balls in play from 2010 to 2011.

Anyway, I’m getting away from the point. Bringing back Pagan, Pelfrey and Wright (and Jose Reyes, which I’d also advocate) in 2011 won’t mean trying the exact same thing again.

Players change from year to year, and young players (hopefully) improve. There’s some turnover: Carlos Beltran is gone now, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda should be in the lineup somewhere come Opening Day. Players returning from injury should help the club’s offensive fortunes. Opportunities given to injury replacements in 2011 should benefit the team’s bench in 2012.

This is, of course, me looking at a nearly empty glass and pronouncing it full. There are a lot of issues with this club, and it’ll take a whole lot to go right for the Mets to win anything meaningful in 2012.

But since given the team’s financial inflexibility, there’s no single feasible move or series of moves that could catapult the club into certain contention for this season, it does not seem at all insane to suggest the Mets make a couple of inexpensive, short-term moves to return players who could bounce back.

Crazy would be… well, crazy would be advocating the Mets non-tender Pagan in favor of signing Rick Ankiel, who is not as good as Pagan.

Here’s what you have to hope happens: David Wright flourishes in the cozier Citi Field and hits like he did from 2005-2008. Ike Davis returns from injury and locks down the cleanup spot in the Mets’ lineup. Daniel Murphy finds a position — at second base, I guess — and keeps hitting like he can. Pagan returns to something closer to his 2010 form on offense and on defense. Josh Thole puts his defensive struggles behind him and again puts up decent offensive numbers for a catcher. Lucas Duda hits like he did in 2011 for a full year in 2012 and either a) plays well enough with shorter fences in right field to avoid entirely embarrassing himself or b) moves to left field when Kirk Nieuwenhuis kicks down the door from Buffalo (assuming Jason Bay is still struggling).

Or Bay, too, benefits from the closer walls, maybe. And Reyes… well, I guess if you’re hoping all that stuff happens you might as well hope Reyes can’t find a better deal than whatever it is the Mets are offering and comes back home to his adoring fans. Oh, and Jon Niese lives up to his peripherals, Pelfrey posts his 2010 line, R.A. Dickey pitches like he did the last two seasons, Dillon Gee holds it together, and Johan Santana resembles at least a league-average starting pitcher.

Sandy Alderson and the SABRos cobble together a better bullpen with scrap-heap guys and Rob Carson types, and come deadline time one of the pitching prospects appears ready for primetime, so Pelfrey can be moved to help address the team’s most glaring need.

That’s what we can cling to, I guess. If everyone in the lineup returns to their best form or enjoys their best possible year — kinda like the way the 2011 Cardinals did, say — then it would be one of the best in the league, and that rotation, if healthy, should be good enough to keep that lineup in games.

Is it all likely to go that way? Oh hell no. But that’s what we’ve come to.

It’s sub-optimal, I know. But I wouldn’t say all hope is lost yet, and I wouldn’t advocate silly moves just for the sake of change. As I’ve said before: The change we’re seeking has already been made. Because of the Mets’ financial circumstances, it’s going to take the new front office some time to make more of an impact. But it’ll come. No need to force it.

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