Before a recent game, Mets outfielder Mark Canha happily recognized the drink in his locker.
He didn’t specify the tea in his paper cup, but it was clear he appreciated his availability in the Mets clubhouse. The same goes for food.
“Every meal here is amazingly good,” Canha said. “Quality food, at every meal. It’s just amazing. I feel blessed to be here, honestly. It was easy play here. »
Canha, 33, found himself discussing the differences between life with the Oakland Athletics, his first team, and the Mets. He didn’t have much upside in the first seven years of his career at Oakland, where Moneyball tactics often kept the A’s competitive despite minimal financial investment in the team.
Now, after signing a two-year, $26.5 million contract with the Mets this offseason, Canha plays for a team at the opposite end of baseball’s spending spectrum.
The Mets’ opening day payroll of $264.4 million, funded by owner Steven A. Cohen, trailed only the Los Angeles Dodgers’ $280.8 million, according to baseball contracts from Cost. The A’s, after trading several top veterans, opened with a miniscule $47.7 million payroll under John Fisher’s ownership. Only the Baltimore Orioles, at $43.6 million, had a smaller budget.
Money doesn’t always equal wins, but the Mets had the best record in the National League East until Tuesday after pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the roster. Canha’s former team was in last place in the American League West.
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“Relax, okay? Don’t try to hit everyone. Withdrawals are boring! Besides that, they are fascists. Throw balls on the ground, it’s more democratic.
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“It’s very difficult to fight when you’re not spending money,” Canha said. “What the A’s and the Rays have been able to do is admirable, but usually the teams that spend, especially these days, are the ones at the top.”
Canha, who was hitting .287 with .758 on-base plus slugging percentage, three home runs and 13 RBI heading into Wednesday’s scheduled game against the St. Louis Cardinals, is one of three current Mets who have played for the A’s. last season. Outfielder Starling Marte also signed as a free agent, while Chris Bassitt, an All-Star right-hander, became one of several athletes to be traded in Oakland’s latest pursuit. Pitcher Sean Manaea and infielders Matt Olson and Matt Chapman were also shipped out of town.
“I understood the direction I thought they were going to go,” Bassitt said at the time of his trade. “So I wasn’t surprised.”
The A’s have moved in that direction before, but this particular time in the franchise’s history has sparked grievances that go beyond the departures of fan favorites. The A’s are last on average at Oakland Coliseum, a product not only of abandoned talent and an underdog stadium, but also of rising ticket and parking prices, public distrust of the direction of the team and lingering questions about which city the team will call home in the near future.
For a Bay Area native like Canha, it hurts to see his former team stuck in a state of uncertainty. He loved his time at Oakland, but he began to feel the “cloud of mystery” that covered the club towards the end of his tenure.
“It’s just kinda sad, and it ruins the whole experience because my time with the A’s was so special, and I will always have it and always remember it fondly,” said Canha, who is born in San Jose. “I always wonder what’s going on. What’s going on behind the curtains with all this? Because they say a lot of things in the media. There are so many reports about the stadium stuff and where the team is going to be located and all that, but it’s so much noise that you don’t know what’s really going on.
Canha added that the athleticism’s reputation is well known throughout baseball and that the team’s aversion to expense and limited resources aren’t exactly appealing.
“It hurts them in that regard because players hear stories and they’re like, ‘OK, I’m not going to Oakland unless I have to, unless it’s my only choice,'” said Canha. “I don’t think it’s a desirable destination for a lot of players for that reason.”
Funding is not an issue in Queens, not for roster upgrades or for refreshments in the players’ lounge.
“Whatever we want, we get. He wants to win,” Bassitt said of Cohen when he joined the team. “We all want to win, so we all have a common goal, literally from top to bottom.”
While Canha was unaware that the team was negotiating with Eduardo Escobar and Marte at the same time the Mets were working on a deal with him, or that Max Scherzer would eventually be drafted as well, he said that after meeting with Billy Eppler, the general manager, and Sandy Alderson, the team president, he understood what to expect.
“They’ve made it known that they plan to spend and be competitive,” Canha said.
Needless to say, the A’s have never done business this way.
Now, looking on from afar, Canha can’t help but feel sorry for those who cheered her on.
“I know a lot of fans are really disappointed with the organization,” he said of the A’s. “It’s a situation that’s a bit disappointing from my perspective, as someone who grew up in the Bay Area.”