ORLANDO, Fla. – Cape Canaveral is just 100 miles east of the J.W. Marriott Grande Lakes.
Surely Scott Boras had that in mind when he was asked about the New York Mets on Wednesday as the general managers' meetings came to a close. Meeting with a pack of reporters in the lobby of the resort hotel, Boras suddenly became the Prince of Puns when asked about the Mets.
"The Mets are like NASA," the high-powered agent said. "They have big rockets, a lot of platforms and very few astronauts. Astronauts are hard to find. They've got one guy with the Wright Stuff and a lot of Arm-strongs but they need more astronauts.
Boras, of course, was referring to third baseman David Wright, the franchise cornerstone and young right-handed starters Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Harvey, a Boras client, will miss next season, though, after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last month.
The Mets have had five losing seasons, including consecutive 74-88 seasons. Despite playing in the largest market in the country, they again will not big players in the free agent market this winter as the franchise is still recovering from the fortune owner Fred Wilpon lost in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
The Mets' projected outfield, at the moment, is Eric Young Jr. in left field, Juan Lagares in center and Lucas Duda in right. Yet the Boras said the Mets have not expressed in signing two of his clients who are among the top astronauts, er, outfielders on the open market in Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.
Ellsbury's 52 stolen bases led the American League this year while he batted .298 with nine home runs in 134 games for the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox. Choo hit .285 with 21 homers, 20 steals and a .423 on-base percentage in 154 games for the Cincinnati Reds.
Boras' expectation is that both players will sign nine-figure contracts.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson took Boras' remarks in stride and even jokingly said he was going to meet with an undisclosed free agent for a "Sonic burger."
"I'll just say I'm not sure Scott has his intergalactic analogies completely correct or even if I understand what he meant," Alderson said with a smile.
Boras was also willing to share his thoughts on another large-market franchise that has lost with regularity in recent seasons – the Chicago Cubs, who have gone a combined 127-197 over the last two years.
Boras believes the Ricketts family has put a greater priority on renovating Wrigley Field than winning since buying the club for $845 million from the Tribune Company in 2009. The Cubs haven't had a winning record in the four full seasons since the sale.
"You're developing the infrastructure but fans don't come to see seats, grass and cement," Boras said. "They come to see players. They've got a really good core of young players coming but you expect more when a family buys a major-market club than what they've done on the field. It's disappointing."