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More Bad Luck

If the Mets didn’t have bad luck, they wouldn’t have any luck. Okay, I know I didn’t make up that phrase but it certainly is appropriate for the Mets in the wake of the latest injury news. That being that Steven Matz, the left handed pitching and hitting sensation from Long Island, will sit out the next three weeks with a partial tear of the lat muscle on his left side. He likely will not be back till the end of August or early September.

Once again, Mets fans are calling for the heads of management for toiling their mustaches while full well knowing their new star attraction was hurt. Of course the facts play out differently. Apparently Matz complained of slight stiffness after his first start with the Mets but really was of no immediate concern. Prior to his start against LA Matz felt fine then went out and threw six shutouts innings to prove it. Afterwards the stiffness was back so the Mets decided to check it out and that’s when the MRI showed the tear. Matz says he feels fine even now. So the injury is not serious but does require rest plus he was given a PRP injection.

To read some of the comments on the Metsblog post, you might come away thinking the Mets organization is a diabolical group hell bent on destroying their own players for the sheer joy of making their fans suffer. That’s quite a business model. Or is the other side of the story more true. That is that often the case, athletes in tip top condition still get hurt.

Look, Mets brass has made their share of blunders and I would be the first to point that out. Like making right center in Citi Field the farthest distance from home plate stripping their star third baseman of his natural opposite field power. Hey great idea Jeff. However, when it comes to injuries…well stuff happens.

Did the Miami media and fan base blast Marlins ownership when Giancarlo Stanton swung so hard at the plate last week that he broke his wrist? Maybe they did, I don’t know. The point is injuries happen and not just to the Mets. Teams with depth survive. Teams without it don’t. The Mets can actually survive Matz’s injury because pitching is the one area where the club is loaded with depth. Obviously we cannot say that about the offensive side of the game, at least not yet.

Why is it that the media always starts a witch hunt when it comes to the Mets? I think they sense the fan base is so fed up, they will be able to sell more by continuing to feed the frenzy.  Look, if you want to discuss the merit of giving up prospects or an ace pitcher for a mid-level bat, so be it. But where is it in the Mets’ best interest to throw caution to the wind and let their players play hurt?

Go to the MLB teams’ web sites and check out the rosters. Most teams have more than one player on the disabled list. Now no question the Mets have had some very tough luck this season when it comes to injuries but why all the negativity? Really, how does that do anything for your overall health? Why not look at it this way. With all the injuries, regardless how inaccurate the diagnoses were, with all the poor offense and defensive miscues, the Mets still find themselves in contention. That has to account for something. Unfortunately the fan base has become so negative, and not without reason, if the Mets lose the seventh game of the World Series, they will still be calling for Sandy Alderson’s head.

 

Half Way

At 42-41, the Mets passed the halfway point of the season two games ago. Here’s a report card for the first half of the season (including games 82 and 83)

Vs. the National League East –    23-15     A-
Vs. the National League Central – 8-15    D
Vs. the National League West – 6-7         C-
Vs. American League East -  5-4                 C+
Best record against one team – 8-1 Phillies  A+
Worst record against one team – 0-7 Cubs  F
Month of April – 15-8     A
Month of May – 13-15   C-
Month of June – 12-15  D
Sundays               – 10-4     A
Mondays – 7-1  A+
Tuesdays– 5-7   D
Wednesdays – 4-9           F
Thursdays – 7-4  B+
Fridays – 5-8       F
Saturdays 4-8     F
Scoring First 27-11            A
Scoring second or not at all – 15-30   F
Shutout – 6-9     D
Rubber games – 5-3 B-
Walk offs –  4-1 B+
One run games – 16-14 C+
Series Sweeps – 7-4 B
Vs. Righties – 35-35         C
Vs. Lefties – 7-6                C
Home – 29-14    A
Away – 13-27     F
Night – 24-30     D
Day – 18-11         B+

Overall, I give the Mets a C for the first half semester. Considering all the injuries, the many different call ups, the utter lack of offense and sucky defense, I think the Mets should feel good to receive a C.

A comment on the report card might read: Although the Mets executed poorly for much of the first half, their effort was solid. They seem to care and always say the right things. However, for the Mets to improve in the second half they will have to catch and hit the baseball better. This might involve the front office actually going out and acquiring a bat or two. While no one is expecting an all-star to be brought in, a bat or two to platoon and be able to put the ball in play will hopefully help the Mets to achieving the realistic goal of concluding the season with a winning record. While a playoff position is still a possibility, achieving that goal would be considered a monumental achievement considering where the team is at the halfway point.

 

Panic City

That’s how Sandy Alderson refers to the media and the fans when it comes to the Mets recent woes in regard to the 2015 season. And he is correct that we Mets fans do panic quite a bit.

What Mr. Alderson must realize is that we are starved for a winning team in Queens. We have had six consecutive losing seasons since the Mets moved into Citi Field. There was a lot of hype and promise for this season. And the Mets backed that up with a very good spring training and a great start out of the gate. But since winning eleven in a row in April the Mets have gone 27-34, and have fallen out of first place and the wild card lead. While they remain a juggernaut at home (29-11), they are abysmal on the road (11-26).  They can’t score a run if their life depended on it and if it wasn’t for the bat of Steven Matz on Sunday, the Mets would have not scored more than three runs in a game since June 20th and that was a game they lost.

Another issue is defense. The Mets have difficulty catching and throwing the ball. That has played against them as well. However, their defensive woes are made more glaring by their inability to score runs. The Mets are tied for 5th in the league based on fielding percentage, actually having made two fewer errors than the Nationals. Their fielding percentage of .984 is exactly the league average. Of course this stat only accounts for physical errors and we know the Mets make a lot of mental ones. Their lack of quickness in the infield has contributed to not making a lot of double plays other infields do. And this season, it seems like every time a play is not made that should have been made, it blows up in their face.

So yes, we have a lot of reason for panic. And with the Mets about to embark on series against the Cubs (39-35), the Dodgers (43-35), and the Giants (42-35), the last two on the road—excuse me for panicking just a bit more. The Mets are just 11-19 against teams over .500.

Okay, but having said all that I am very glad that Mr. Alderson is the GM and it’s because he doesn’t panic.

It would be so easy for Alderson to make a move for the sake of making a move. But what does that actually accomplish, especially in a trade market that has not developed yet because it’s too far from the trade deadline? Now with two wild cards, more teams are unwilling to unload the bus because there remains a chance that their team could still be in the hunt come August.

Today there are five teams in the American League within two games of the second wild card. In the National League there are two, including the Mets who are two games out. Even the White Sox, the worst team in the AL is only 7.5 games out with 88 to play. Cincinnati, who the Mets just swept, remains six out of the second wild card with 87 games left.  That leaves the Rockies, Marlins, Brewers, and Phillies as the candidates least likely to make the playoffs.

Do you want Alderson to trade Jacob deGrom or Steven Matz or perhaps both to the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki and to assume his huge contract?  That would be a move that gets the Mets a lot of press and makes the fan base excited. But the reality is Tulo is not the same player he used to be. Plus he’s injured an awful lot. We already have a bunch of injured players. So let’s give up one or two of our stud pitchers for an aging all-star short stop who will cost the Mets a fortune further limiting their ability to make other moves. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but that’s just me. And when I see alleged professional writers suggest the Mets should make a move like that, it makes me wonder what has happened to journalism in America.

The purpose of a trade is to hopefully make both teams benefit. The Rockies would certainly benefit from getting a Noah Syndergaard. Not sure how much the Mets improve by replacing Flores or Tejada with Tulowitzki. Maybe for a while but there’s that injury history. All GMs are saying the market is thin. But somehow we continue to hear things like the Mets need to make a move because they are a big market team or because they need to show their fans they care. The fact that Alderson is not making a move for the sake of making one shows that he does care. He’s willing to take the heat because in the long run, the Mets are better off keeping this fantastic pitching staff together. I really wish some of these people saying the Mets need to make a move outline something that makes sense.

Let’s not forget one important fact in what has happened this season and that is all the injuries. To this date, David Wright has only played in eight games, Travis d’Arnaud has missed 58 games and counting, and more recently Daniel Murphy has missed 22 games. That is a big hole in this lineup. The Mets have had to play with half a triple A lineup for a long time. They also have another free agent who is struggling with first year in New York syndrome, and that’s Michael Cuddyer. Frankly he’s been awful but in his defense he’s putting undo pressure on himself to justify his signing with not much protection behind him.

So it will be a tough stretch to the All Star break. But if the Mets can get their players back for the second half, then maybe just maybe, a shot at the post season will still be there come September. And as the Mets start the second half, perhaps things will open up and maybe some players that make sense for the Mets become available.

 

Time For a Stress Pill

Well Matt do you want Alderson to trade away Comforto, Nimmo, and Matz for a short term solution that will stem the tide of panic or do we need to be patient yet a while longer? Look, I’m as frustrated as any Mets fan right now but no one figured on all of these injuries as part of this year’s projection. Who would have thought that David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and now Daniel Murphy would miss all this time in the lineup? Tell me this lineup wasn’t far different with these players than without. The AAAA guys have all been exposed now because they have played too much. Cuddyer is feeling the pressure to carry the team and at 36 years old he is failing, Granderson is well, Granderson, a streaky aging hitter who is incapable of caring a team. Flores is not a shortstop, etc… So the question is do we blow it all up and start again or stay the course even if it means this season becomes (if it hasn’t already) another bust? I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion but I think we need to be patient longer. There are talented hitters coming just like the pitchers we have today. I agree with what you are saying that we want a team that sustains success like the Cardinals and the Giants. So to me the scary thing is not how this team is playing right now. It’s what the Wilpons may do in a panic because the season is slipping away. Remember the Kasmir trade. How did that work out? Turning this franchise into a perennial winner takes years and we are almost there but it looks like it will take a while longer basically because of bad luck. I know we will hear the cry of “the Wilpons need to sell”, “Terry needs to be fired” (although I am not entirely against that), and “Alderson should be fired” too. But just how does that help the Mets get better right now? It’s a rough stretch, no doubt. It’s the antithesis of the 11 game winning streak back in April. But as you said, there are 90 games left, still a lot of time to make this season meaningful. But realize this season was always going to be a stepping stone to greater things. If anyone thought the Mets were going to win a World Series this year even with the good start they had, they were being delusional.

 

Above was my comment in response to Matt Cerone’s post from earlier this morning. There was quite a bit of negativity flying around Metsblog after last night’s sixth consecutive loss. The Mets are now at .500 and the angry Mets mob are marching toward Citi Field carrying lit torches screaming Frankenstein must die.

I think this is a crossroads, a kind of test for the Mets, their management and us, their fans. Many of us never liked the idea of rebuilding to begin with and could not figure out why the Mets just could not spend their way out of this situation to begin with. I am not one of those fans. I am on the side what of Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta and JR Ricarrdi has been doing the last five years. That is to rebuild the organization from the ground up. From a farm system perspective, the Mets have gone from having one in complete shambles to now having a first class system. If you analyze teams like the Cardinals, Giants, and Red Sox up until recently, this is how those organizations have achieved success.

Here’s an example and it relates to the Red Sox now trying to buy their way back in. They signed Pablo Sandoval to play third. The Giants having just won their third World Series in five years said okay, we don’t think he’s worth what he’s asking and let him go. They in turn filled in at third with prospect Matt Duffy. He’s hitting .285/.338./775 helping the Giants get back into contention playing very well after a slow start. The Red Sox, with all their winter signings remain in last place in the AL East, one of the worst teams in baseball. The point is the Giants were able to replenish from a deep farm system and the Red Sox with all the money in the world have not been able to fix their problems from a year ago. The George Steinbrenner years of free agent spending to success are over and have been for a long time.

Now I am not suggesting the Mets should never make a trade or not sign a free agent. But I am saying that patience remains in order. If they panic now and blow it all up, I’m not sure how that gets us where we want to be any quicker. In fact, it probably will set us back years.

I have been following this team for over 50 years. There has been just one time when they achieved success on a yearly basis and that was back in the 1980s. Since then, under the reign of the Wilpons mostly, they have always reacted to the highest flame, worrying about what the fans think, what the media thinks. Finally they let someone come in and rebuild the organization.  Does that mean I agree with everything they have done? No but on the other hand, I’m not sure what else they could do. Fans scream for a trade but never say who. Or they offer ridiculous ideas like giving the Marlins our also-rans for Giancarlo Stanton.  Will fans be happy to trade Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Steven Mats for Aramis Ramirez. You think that’s a good deal. You want Troy? At what cost for a bloated contract and injury prone player who compiled lots of stats in Coors Field. Think people.

The Wilpons are not selling. Get that through your heads. And if they fire Sandy and Terry and Jeffey starts to pull the strings again, you honestly think we will be better off? Take a stress pill. Relax and try to see the bigger picture.

 

It’s Just Painful

The plunge below the .500 line and another season into the abyss is fast upon us. Likely by the time the Mets return to Citi Field on Friday, they will have a losing record and it will likely continue to be that way for the rest of the season. This season that had started with such promise has turned into so many other campaigns we are all too familiar with. Once again, we have been fooled into thinking things had changed. But in fairness we were promised that things had changed. There was all this great young pitching that would make all the difference. The only problem is the front office forgot some of the basic rules of the game. You know, that a team needs to outscore the other team in order to win a game. That requires players that know how to hit, move runners along, do the little things necessary to be able to score a run once in a while.  It also requires that on a regular basis, the fielders make three outs, not give the team one or two extra.

Take Sunday’s brutal series sweep ending contest, a game that saw Matt Harvey pitch his heart out. The ninth inning was a microcosm of what the season has become, much promise but little else. Two runners on with no one out, down by a run. Lucas Duda hits a lazy fly ball to left for the first out. In that situation, the batter must at least move the runners to second and third if making an out. I know it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers and sure, a three run homerun would have been dramatic. But knowing how the team is struggling to score runs (6 runs in five games and four of them came in one), how does manager Terry Collins not have Duda bunt there. He has been in a slump and everything possible must be done to get the tying run across the plate.  Then Michael Cuddyer, this year’s top pick for the Jason Bay award, trying to pull everything in sight hits into a game ending 5-4-3 double play. Excruciating!

Matt Cerone’s criticism of the Mets in Monday morning’s post on Metsblog,com was spot on. However, I will take an exception to one of his comments. He states that there are four guys in the starting lineup who are not every day players. While I agree with that, it’s the guys who should be in the lineup every day that are killing this team. Duda, Cuddyer, and Curtis Granderson have been horrid of late, automatic outs.

Then of course there is the defense and I am being generous using the word defense with this team because there isn’t any. They bobble balls, throw to the wrong base, and take too long to make the pivot, not able to make the routine double play if there life depended on it.  In short, they are just not very good defensively except at a couple of positions.

Here’s how I see it. The front office did a great job of rebuilding the farm system. However, there is an imbalance in terms of pitchers and hitters. They have some very good hitters coming up, most notably Michael Comforto and Brandon Nimmo, both now at AA Binghamton and raking. Problem is while the young pitching is ready, the hitters require more time. And I have to point out that although the scouts like these players, there is no guarantee they are the real deal once they get to the major leagues.

But just look at how bad the Mets have been over the past two months.

Since the beginning of May, the Mets are 21-27, 23-32 since the eleven game winning streak ended in the middle of April. On the road this season, they are a dismal 10-24, having lost the last five in a row. That’s a .294 winning percentage folks. Against the National League East they are 23-15. That’s good, but consider that the Mets are 14-5 combined against the Phillies and Marlins. Against the Braves and Nationals, they are 12-10 which is still pretty respectable since those are the two other contenders (well the Braves are now thanks to the Mets visit to Atlanta this past weekend).  Against the Central, the Mets are 4-10 having yet to play the Reds and they are 4-6 against the West, not yet playing the Dodgers and Rockies. In interleague play, the Mets are 5-4 so far.

What all this means is that the Mets really are not much different than they were last year and the year before. We have been swindled by a very good start during the month of April. But now with a good sample size of 71 games played, it’s obvious this is not a very good team—again.  Good teams have a leadoff hitter that gets on base and does not strike out like Granderson does.  I blame the manager. Why is Granderson still leading off? Why isn’t Cuddyer sitting out a couple of games? Let the young Darrell Ceciliani play left for a few games. Geez, shake up this mess for crying out loud.

It makes me wonder what is Alderson’s braking point with Collins. If the Mets continue on this trend, fall under .500 and completely fall out of contention, Citi Field will be emptier than it already is. Will Sandy pull the trigger and make a change. Well I for one think he should.

Look, I like Terry Collins and I think he’s done a fine job of helping the young players develop. But he is a development guy and I don’t think he has what it takes to motivate this club to win.  I think everyone is under pressure in the clubhouse and maybe Terry just isn’t the guy to make people relax and feel comfortable. I honestly believe that Wally Backman is that guy. Just about everywhere Wally managed, be it affiliated minor leagues or independent, he has fostered winning ball clubs. Look at his work as Mets minor league manager. He has won at every level. The Las Vegas 51’s have had players shuttled back and forth to New York all season due to the many injuries but yet, Wally has managed to keep that club in first place. Even recently when the 51s almost fell to .500, they have picked up and are eight games over now. Wally’s players have nothing but praise for him. They would run through a wall if Wally asked them to. But alas, he will never get the chance to manage at Citi Field for this reason. He’s not a Sandy type of manager. Wally is a guy who think for himself and does not want (or need in my opinion) to be told how to manage his players by the front office.

Prior to Sandy Alderson, the General Manager who made the biggest impact on this franchise was Frank Cashen. So far, Alderson has done one of three things that Cashen did to turn the Mets into a winner. Alderson and his staff have built an elite farm system. However, Alderson is yet to make an impact trade like the ones Cashen made, specifically for Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. And another thing Cashen did that Sandy needs to consider is to bring in a manager who may not agree with everything the GM says but one who knows his players will respond too. Cashen brought in Davey Johnson. It was the right thing to do even though their personalities were so different. Alderson should do the same with Davey’s disciple, Wally Backman.

Of course if that were to happen, changing the manager that is, it would not happen right now. It’s not too late for Collins to right the ship but the trend is not looking good. And if things do not start to turn around fast, you can forget all that nonsense of taking back New York. The Yankees are doing their part to make sure that doesn’t happen and for now, so are the Mets.

 

Nelson Was a Good Man

Nelson Doubleday, the second owner of the New York Mets, died earlier this week from pneumonia at the age of 81.

Nelson Doubleday was the reason the Mets won their last world series almost 30 years ago. That’s because he was the one who hired Frank Cashen and bankrolled the team. For all of you who think the Wilpons are the devil, then you are too young to remember M. Donald Grant and the way he drove the Mets into the ground during the mid to late 1970s.

Grant was the chairman and minority owner of the Mets after the first owner of the club, Joan Payson, passed away. He was the one responsible for getting rid of Tom Seaver and turning Shea Stadium into a ghost town in the late 70’s while the Yankees dominated the back pages. It’s the reason Shea was called Grant’s Tomb during those years. Again, if you thought the last few years were bad, then you simply did not experience the late 70s on the National League side of town when the Mets won no more than sixty-six games a year and with no hope in sight. Mets fans breathed a sigh of relief when it was learned that Lorrinda deRoulette, Payson’s daughter who inherited the team, would finally cry uncle and sell the team.

After the 1979 season, the team was sold to Nelson Doubleday Jr. Doubleday of the Doubleday Publishing empire came to the Mets with deep pockets and light was finally seen at the end of a long dark tunnel.

Many Mets fans were hoping for a George Steinbrenner type owner who would turn the Mets into a champion overnight. That didn’t happen. Instead, the quieter Doubleday hired Frank Cashen as general manager and instructed him to do what he needed to do to build the Mets into a winner, and a winner for a number of years. Doubleday would provide the necessary funds to support Cashen’s effort. But instead of signing free agents in an attempt to battle for the back pages with the Yankees, Cashen rebuilt the farm system, made keen trades, and used the free agent market to supplement what he was building. The result was a team that won 95 games on average per season from 1984 through 1990.

It was somewhat disappointing that the Mets only made the post season two of those seven years winning the World Series once in 1986 and a division title in ‘88. But the Mets were in contention every year and battled some very competitive division rivals at the time, most notably the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates. Plus had there been a wild card then, the Mets would have been in the post season from ’84 through ‘90. They finished in first or second place in the NL East for seven consecutive seasons.

Think about the players that came through the system, were traded for, or signed during that first decade of Doubleday ownership. Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Bobby Ojeada, George Foster, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Kevin Mitchell, Kevin McReynolds, Howard Johnson, Ray Knight and many others all where there thanks to Cashen, thanks to Doubleday. Without a doubt, 1984 through 1990 were the greatest years the Mets franchise has ever had.

In 1986, a deal was struck where minority owner Fred Wilpon became equal partners with Doubleday. Whether it was a coincidence or not, things started to change for the franchise. I’m not saying that Wilpon was a villain and that’s why things went south but things did begin to sour regardless. Perhaps it was disappointment and frustration that the Mets did not achieve more with the talent they had. On paper, the Mets could have won the World Series three years in a row starting in ’86. However, in 1987 there was a host of injuries and of course, Doc’s drug problems that took him from the team while he attended rehab. The Mets rebounded in ’88 only to be shocked in the NLCS when everyone expected an A’s – Mets showdown. Ironically it was the A’s who started a consecutive three year run to the World Series led by GM—yep, Sandy Alderson.

Whatever magic worked under the Doubleday ownership didn’t work so well under the Doubleday-Wilpon ownership. There have been many stories over the years how the two owners despised one and other. Was it always that way?  Who knows but things simply did not go as smoothly as it had during those first several years of Doubleday’s ownership.

Again it was Doubleday who changed the Mets fortunes for the better in the late 1990s. Nelson was the reason the Mets traded for Mike Piazza in 1998. He instructed Steve Phillips, the GM at the time, to get Piazza at all cost while co-owner Fred Wilpon pledged allegiance to Todd Hundley.  And after the Mets traded with the Marlins for Pizza, Doubleday insisted that Phillips give Piazza whatever he wanted in a contract extension because the Mets needed him. Piazza agreed and became one of the greatest Mets of all time. Piazza lead the team to two consecutive post season appearances, the only time that has happened in Mets history.  He set the record for hitting the most homeruns as a catcher and eventually will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap.  So it appears that the second period of success, the late ‘90s had more to do with Doubleday’s efforts than Wilpon’s.

In 2002, Wilpon bought out Doubleday and it’s the Wilpon family that has owned the team since. There were stories of court battles over the team’s worth but eventually Wilpon got the funds in place to take over the team for good. Most Mets fans do not have a positive feeling toward the Wilpons but the Mets last post season appearance, 2006, when they narrowly missed going to the World Series, happened entirely on Wilpon’s watch, both Fred and young Jeff who is really the acting owner these days. But the following season saw the worst collapse in Mets history followed by another season of falling short to make the playoffs.  Since the middle of last season, the team has been dreadful.

In fairness, the Wilpons are now presiding over the potential for some outstanding years ahead having let Sandy Alderson rebuild a mostly dysfunctional organization from the ground up much the way Cashen did thirty years ago. And it was Wilpon who wanted a new stadium as early as 1997 when rumors to move out of Shea Stadium first appeared in the New York Post. By contrast, Doubleday favored renovating Shea which really would have been putting lipstick on a pig. Now if anyone thinks Shea was better than Citi Field, then you a) have not been there yet or b) you are simply not going to give any credit to the Wilpons regardless of anything they do.

Regardless of which owner you favor, neither one will enter the Hall of Fame as a great baseball owner. I think it’s fair to say that neither man distinguished themselves as outstanding baseball owners. In a city where they lived and worked in the shadow of George Steinbrenner, how could they? For me as a fan, the one thing I find the most disturbing about the Doubleday/Wilpon ownership was that they built a juggernaut of a team in the 1980’s only to let it fall into decay in the 90’s that allowed an opening for the Yankees to take over. To this day, even with the promise of all these young kids the Mets have, the Amazin’s remain a second class citizen in New York. Still the Yankees outdraw the Mets even now while the Mets are in first place.

But regardless of all that, Doubleday was a decent guy, a regular guy who just happened to be worth millions. He treated his players like family according to Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling and was much beloved by his players. Doubleday will always remain an important cog in the history of the New York Mets and I think it’s fair to say he should be enshrined into the Mets Hall of Fame in the very near future.

 

Expectations

With their dramatic walk off win last evening, the Mets were able to push their number of games above .500 back to three. Had the Mets lost, they would have been just a game over. The realistic expectation for this team is that they finish the season with a winning record, something that has eluded the Mets since they moved into Citi Field from across the parking lot six years ago.

The eleven game winning streak from April 12th through 23rd seems like a century ago. This season has really become about survival. The main themes have to be injuries, bad defense, and little offense. Generally when you add all those things up, your team is faced with a challenging season. But in spite of being no-hit Tuesday night and the Dark Knight looking like a mere mortal on Wednesday, the Mets fought a gritty come from behind battle against the surging Giants. When all was said and done, they managed to end the evening back in first place. Just when you think the Mets are done, they surprise you with a game like last night’s series salvaging finale.

So here on June 12, 2015, the Mets are 32-29 and in first place by one half game. As I pointed out in a previous post (see below), if we were to look at the standings after the eleven game streak ended to today, a much different picture emerges. So moving forward what can we expect?

If history is a guide then I would say there is no sure bet that the Mets finish this season above .500 no less winning a playoff spot. If you think this season has been much different from the last several, you need to take a closer look.

This is not the latest date during a season the Mets have been at or above .500 since they last played at Shea Stadium. It only seems that way because all of those seasons ended so poorly. In 2011, Sandy Alderson’s and Terry Collin’s first year running the club, the Mets were sporting a winning record as late as August 10th when they were 58-58. Up to that point, the Mets were a few games under or above the .500 mark, hanging around the middle of the pack before dropping out of site in late August and September.

In 2012, the Mets had a very nice first half of the season, actually better than this year. At one point, the Mets were 45-38 after a stunning walk off win against the Phillies when David Wright singled in the winning run against Jonathan Papelbon. After that game, the Mets were in second place 4.5 games back of the Nationals and tied with the Giants for the wild card lead (only one then). Heading into the final series against the Cubs before the All Star Break, everything was looking rosy. So what happened?  The Mets started losing on a regular basis until on July 22nd when they went under .500 and stayed there for the remainder of the season.  So two years in a row under new management, the Mets fell apart the last half of the season.

The last two seasons were worse. The Mets went under .500 on April 26, 2013 and never resurfaced. Last season they teased early but by May 14th, they had enough of keeping their head above water. The Mets never played above .500 again but did end last season very strongly creating much higher expectations for 2015.

So why should we think that this season will end any differently that the last few? What about being 32-29 could make us feel so secure that a winning season is reasonable conclusion?

Well for one, and as stated above, the Mets have managed to remain competitive even with all the injuries to key players*. The reality is the Mets may not have David Wright at third this entire season although there is hope he will return at some point. That means the call ups have done their jobs. None of them are going to be elected to the All Star team. However, they have played a key role in keeping the team competitive.

Another reason is the young players that are being counted on for the future are getting more and more experience every day. Would you rather have Josh Thole behind the plate or Travis d’Arnaud who himself just came off the disabled list this week. Lucus Duda continues to grow as one of the league’s best first baseman. Juan Lagares already has won a gold glove and looks like he can become a perennial all-star in the future. And while we were all moaning and groaning a short while ago about the foils of Wilmer Flores, quietly he is now making the plays and has been a very positive force with the bat. All the scouts say that Dilson Herrera will become an all-star second baseman. Right now, he certainly has the defensive skills to warrant staying at the major league level.

The number one reason why things could end differently this year though is pitching. Even with Matt Harvey struggling, the Mets still have one of the best pitching staffs in the league. The bullpen, anchored by Jeurys Familia as closer, has been strong also. So in a nutshell, the big difference between this season and recent campaigns has been depth. The Mets appear to have that now. In past years, losing a Zach Wheeler, a David Wright, and a Josh Edgin would most certainly have spelled doom. But with those players and others spending more time on the disabled list than on the field, the Mets have managed to stay relevant because of the many call ups. And the good news is there are more on the way although except for Steven Matz, they are likely not going to make an impact this season.

Is there any guarantee the Mets will finish the season with a winning record? Nope, none at all. There are many things that could continue to go wrong or get worse. But with all that has gone wrong so far, the season has become far less than what the expectation became after that eleven game winning streak. But this seems to be a year, at least right now, where the division is up for grabs. So who knows? Best to enjoy each game, one at a time then we’ll see where we land come September. There are still 101 games to go, so much baseball left to be played.

*Mets currently still on the disabled list

Jerry Blevins – broken forearm
Buddy Carlyle – lower back
Josh Edgin – Tommy John surgery  – out for season
Jenrry Mejia – Suspended for PEDs
Rafael Montero – Shoulder
Zach Wheeler – Tommy John surgery  – out for season
Daniel Murphy – Quad
David Wright – Spinal Stenosis