At the end of each month, the Rising Apple staff will look back and weigh in. Here are our thoughts on June, during which the Mets had a record of 11-15:
Danny Abriano, Editor:
After opening June by going 2-9, the Mets closed it out strong, going 9-6 over the second part of the month to head into July with a 33-45 overall record. That’s certainly nothing to gloat about, but the Mets played a more inspired brand of baseball in the latter part of June after opening it with a whimper by getting thoroughly embarrassed by the Marlins in two separate series.
After their second poor series effort against Miami, the Mets shook things up by demoting Ike Davis, Robert Carson, and Mike Baxter to AAA Las Vegas. Later in the month, they injected some speed into the lineup when they acquired Eric Young, Jr. from Colorado for the DFA’d Collin McHugh. Young has been tremendous so far, and has added a spark to the top of the order that hasn’t been there in quite some time.
While it’s unlikely that Young will become “the answer” in the leadoff spot, he should absolutely be in consideration to be a piece of the puzzle moving forward. Another player who should be given every opportunity to continue to prove himself is center fielder Juan Lagares. His plus plus glove in the outfield is tantalizing, and Lagares has been a bit better at the plate recently. He’s still not selective enough, but hopefully that improves with repetition.
As has been stated numerous times throughout the campaign, big things were never expected from the 2013 Mets. Early in May, though, their season nearly slipped completely into the abyss. They had the fortitude to prevent that from happening, and have given the fans some exciting moments along the way. With Ike Davis in the minors, Ruben Tejada rehabbing, and Lucas Duda hurt, Josh Satin, Omar Quintanilla and Andrew Brown have stepped in and kept things steady. None of those players is ever likely to be more than a backup on a contender, but the production they’ve given shouldn’t be ignored.
Matt Harvey continued his incredible pitching during the month of June, and has put himself in line to be the starter at the All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16th. He’s also the current Cy Young Award frontrunner. After two years of hype, Zack Wheeler came up a few weeks ago and was solid in his major league debut. Two rough starts (amidst pitch tipping) followed, but it should be a thrill to watch Wheeler in the majors during the second half of the season. Another piece of the future, Travis d’Arnaud, is making his way back from a broken foot, and should join the team sometime in August. d’Arnaud’s promotion would displace the badly struggling John Buck.
With the Playoffs obviously an extreme long-shot, the Mets should continue to focus on playing the solid brand of baseball they’ve been exhibiting for the last month or so. If they do, the wins will come. With the trade deadline approaching, the team should also attempt to unload players who don’t appear to be part of the future in return for minor league pieces – players such as Marlon Byrd, LaTroy Hawkins, and Shaun Marcum. Sandy Alderson should also consider dealing Bobby Parnell for a young impact outfielder (think Nick Castellanos or Jackie Bradley, Jr.) if the opportunity presents itself.
Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer:
It seems every time we get to these month in review blurbs, Terry Collinshas given me yet another reason why he shouldn’t be the long-term solution at the managerial position. So, there. I got that out of the way.
Since the likes of Rick Ankiel got released and Ike Davis got dispatched to Vegas, the Mets have become more of a contact-oriented team. I still think Ike is a star and made for this town, and when he is at his best, you take his K’s. He will be returning sometime in the near future, so it will be interesting to see how the Mets offense looks with a hopefully revived Ike Davis.
I believe that the success this roster has had recently is not a fluke and that they are capable of performing at that high of a level, my feelings on Collins notwithstanding. It is clear with June’s end and as July begins that the biggest issue the Mets currently have is winning at home. Being just about 10 games under at Citi is inexcusable, especially with the cynicism that the last 5 years have created. Success at home will go a long way to second half success.
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer:
When you think Hot Streak, 9-6 may not seem like much. But when the team in question went 2-9 just before going 9-6, you’ll take it. Such is the case with the Mets in June 2013. Yes, there were some pretty awful things that happened, not the least of which being the mass demotion that included Ike Davis’ fall from grace. But instead of dwelling on all of that, why not take the time to focus on all that went right?
Let’s instead focus on the success of the starting rotation. Let’s focus on Matt Harvey being business as usual, Jeremy Hefner‘s Pitcher-of-the-Month-esque turn of the calendar, and strong supporting performances from Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum. Let’s focus on Zack Wheeler‘s arrival to the big stage and flashes of greatness that come from promising, albeit raw, talent.
Let’s focus on Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ wake-up walk-off on June 16 that set our recent hot streak in motion. Let’s focus on the emergence of a new collection of hitters in the New York lineup: on Marlon Byrd, who slugged six home runs this month to establish himself as the Mets’ second-best offensive threat; on Juan Lagares, who hit .288 this month to establish himself as the team’s starting center fielder; on Eric Young, Jr., who since his acquisition has been a sparkplug on the bases not seen since Jose Reyes; and on Josh Satin, who has finally gotten his chance in the big leagues and so far is making the most of it.
Finally, let’s focus on how David Wright, our captain, seems destined to start at third base next month in our All-Star Game, and how Matt Harvey himself may be taking the hill to start.
It was certainly the best of times/worst of times for the Mets in June, but with an influx of talent and players playing to their potential, the best of times seem keen to stick around for longer than the worst of times.
Rich Sparago, Staff Writer:
This June recap goes back to May 26th. Since that date, the Mets have played .500 baseball. That’s not bad at all, as the time period represents a little more than 1/3 of the season. And we should not be surprised that the Mets have been at baseball mediocrity for over a month. Certain things have happened that have improved the ballclub to the point of respectability.
First, the Lucas Duda in the outfield experiment has seemingly come to an end. This means no more multiple-run misplays in the outfield, essentially taking the Mets out of games. Second, the injury to Ruben Tejada has enabled Omar Quintanilla to provide more, if not good, production from the shortstop spot. Third, the starting pitching has settled in nicely, particularly with the addition of Zack Wheeler. And finally, the bullpen has been signifiicantly better in June. All of this, plus the acquisition of Eric Young, who brought desperately needed speed to the team, adds up to a Mets team that should be able to maintain a .500 pace for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the Mets will not win 81 games, but the improvements should allow for a more enjoyable summer for Mets fans.
July should be the most interesting month of the 2013 campaign. Sandy Alderson has promised activity at the July 31 trading deadline. We are anxiously awaiting the General Manager’s moves. We hope that Alderson will be able to land a young outfielder to help address the team’s most glaring weakness. We wonder if that potential acquisition may cost Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard, and if trading one of these young studs is the right thing to do. Mostly, though, as fans we have something to anticipate. Ever since the promotion of Wheeler (and to a lesser degree the addition of Young), we have started to believe that the team may not be that far away from contention, as our GM has assured us is the case. July will be a very important month for the Mets. Not because the All-Star Game is at Citi Field. Not because of the games that the Mets will play this month. July is important because the future will continue to take shape. And that’s just plain exciting.
Dan Haefeli, Staff Writer:
Despite the 13-2 laugher the Mets were the victims of to end June, the team was able to finish the month on a high note with a 9-6 record in their last 15 games. Matt Harvey has continued his full-fledged assault on the National League pitching hierarchy, heading into July with a 2.00 ERA and 1.99 FIP. David Wright, similarly, is riding a career high 157 wRC+ after hitting .343/.402/.608 this past month. Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner both had strong months. Despite being ‘fringe’ candidates to be demoted with Zack Wheeler’s promotion, they have exceeded their given “back-end” labels. Outside of Gee’s 5-ER performance in Philadelphia, they combined to allow only 11 earned runs in 61 innings, good for a combined 1.62 ERA (2.18 including Gee’s Philly start).
What will be important now is to see how the team moves heading toward the trade deadline. The current success of teams like Colorado and Los Angeles will make it unlikely that these teams will be willing to part with an impact outfielder, but moves for well-regarded prospects like Jackie Bradley, Jr. or Nick Castellanos, among others, could fit Sandy Alderson’s goals to improve the team and maintain a low budget. With the possibility for closer Bobby Parnell to be included in such a deal, I’m keeping a keen eye on reliever David Aardsma. Aardsma, who collected 69 saves in two seasons in Seattle before having his career derailed by injury, has been an excellent reclamation project in the Mets’ pen and could quite possibly be kept going forward at a reasonable price.
I don’t expect the team to land an impact outfielder this month, but that’s not the fault of Alderson. In the meantime, guys like Andrew Brown and Eric Young, Jr. should be given ample time to see if they can be a part of the future.
Lastly, congratulations to outfielder Mike Baxter and his wife Diana who welcomed their first son, William, into the world a few days ago.
Andrew Battifarano, Staff Writer:
With the back end of a series where the Mets got swept by the lowly Miami Marlins, everything in the month of June looked bleak. The team was mired in a terrible slump, and was unable to deliver any sort of clutch hits. It was difficult to watch the team go through lumps at the plate, especially when Matt Harvey was on the top of his game.
For most of the month I was furious. It was tough to watch a team which basically had one major threat at the plate, and the rest of the bunch get set down quite easily. However, one day changed the tide of the month, and hopefully for things to come.
In the bottom of the ninth on Father’s Day, the Mets were on the verge of getting swept by the fourth place Cubs. However, with the help of Marlon Byrd and later Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the Mets walked off with the win, upsetting the likes of Bob Costas.
After that game, the team brought up pitching phenom Zack Wheeler, and the rest of the rotation looked strong. Matt Harvey was Matt Harvey, and looks like he’s deserving of the start in the All-Star Game. Wheeler was solid in his first start, but has been kind of roughed up in his last two starts, especially one to end the month.
While Matt Harvey has dominated the spotlight, two pitchers for the Mets have been on the money as well. Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner have provided a much needed boost to the rotation, and have been solid at the back end. Hefner, who was not even supposed to be in the rotation to start the year, had a great June, pitching to the tune of a 1.80 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
The pitching has not only been strong, but the offense has gotten a tremendous boost in Eric Young, Jr. His speed and hustle in all facets of the game are a joy to watch. Marlon Byrd has also been a pleasure, and with his June might be the best current outfielder on the trade market.
As they go forward, I would like to see if Alderson will deal for any of the high caliber players he’s promised. While Lagares, Young and Byrd have been strong in the outfield, I doubt it will be the one you see in the near future. While he’s been hurt, Jonathon Niese also needs to step up as the team goes forward. He has been incredibly inconsistent this year, and needs to step up as he is a big part of the rotation as the team moves on.
Hopefully Zack Wheeler can command his fastballs and have a good go-to breaking pitch as he continues to adjust to life in the majors. I know he’s still young, but I don’t like seeing him get lit up like he did against the Nats. Still, it’s nice to see some things come together and to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.