NEW YORK -- The New York Mets completed their fifth straight losing season Sunday with a 74-88 record. They are tied with the Houston Astros for the longest active sub-.500 streak in Major League Baseball.
And now they reward manager Terry Collins at a noon press conference Monday at Citi Field with a two-year contract extension that includes a team option for 2016 -- the correct move considering how hard his outgunned squad played.
Make no mistake: The focus in these days after the season should be on general manager Sandy Alderson, not Collins or anywhere else.
You can only sell the future for so long. Now, it is time for Alderson to deliver a winner as he enters his fourth winter in charge.
The past three years have been spent waiting for albatross contracts to expire. Now, those contracts -- and any excuses -- are all gone.
Johan Santana at $31 million (including his 2014 buyout) is off the books. Jason Bay at $21 million is gone, too. So is Frank Francisco at $6.5 million, John Buck at $6 million and Shaun Marcum at $5 million-plus.
After three years twiddling thumbs waiting for money to be freed up, it is time to act.
Free agency may not be a perfect solution, but it is time to show Mets fans something. Open the coffers. Do something. Anything.
In his first three offseasons as GM, the largest contract given by Alderson to a free agent is the two-year, $12 million contract to Francisco.
Isn't this New York?
Matt Harvey may still need Tommy John surgery, which would throw a big wrench into the 2014 plans. But if Harvey does continue to pitch at a high level without an absence, the Mets are in stellar shape rotation-wise with Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Niese, Dillon Gee and the prospects at the upper levels such as Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero.
But Alderson has to find some bats this winter. And there is no excuse to skimp.
In an ideal world, the Mets would add two corner outfielders this offseason via free agency or trade, pushing Eric Young Jr. to a quality fourth outfielder. They also would upgrade at shortstop and potentially even at first base.
But it's not clear where those bats are going to come from.
Alderson recently has suggested he does not want to trade his top pitching prospects, and now he may not be able to if Harvey ultimately ends up on the shelf in 2014.
Yet note this: It is no coincidence Citi Field attendance has declined each of the five seasons at the stadium, from 3.2 million in 2009, to 2.6 million in 2010, 2.4 million in 2011, to 2.2 million in 2012 and now 2.1 million this season.
Fans want something tangible. Fans want spending. Fans want winning. Or, at least, they want evidence the Mets are committed to winning now.