As hard as it may be to believe, the calendar is ready to turn to September. Once again for the Mets, September will be a month to watch their young players try to establish themselves, while watching other teams engage in division and wild card races.
It has become a repetitive theme, like a popular song played over and over again on the radio. The Mets’ mantra from Labor Day on is that they need to evaluate what they have as they prepare for next year. The only thing is, next year is perpetual; it never seems to get here.
This will likely be the Mets’ sixth straight losing season. While that’s not even a third of the way to the Pirates’ former futility, the recent string of losing seasons has taken a toll on the fan base. The Mets are ninth from the bottom in terms of MLB home attendance. Let that sink in for a minute. In the nation’s largest market, where baseball remains über popular, the Mets cannot come close to filling Citi Field.
That fact is what it is. The fans are expressing their discontent. So how can the Mets make this September count for something, even it’s not postseason contention?
Here’s one idea. If evaluations are being made, let those evaluations lead to meaningful change. Take the case of Ruben Tejada. Last year, Tejada was clearly evaluated as not being the guy at shortstop. However, the Mets gave him the job this year, took it away, gave it back, then took it away again. If that’s the case, what did last year prove? There’s an old saying that nothing is a complete loss if there is a lesson to be learned. Let’s make the lessons of this September resonate.
For example, the Mets should be evaluating Travis d’Arnaud, since they have Kevin Plawecki waiting in the catching wings. A decision needs to be made on who the catcher of the future will be. September provides the forum for that. Wilmer Flores needs to be further evaluated this month. The team needs to know if Flores can hit at the big league level, and if so, either find a spot for him or showcase him for a trade.
Final decisions also need to be made on Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who have been up and down over the last couple of years. If the same Las Vegas to New York yoyo routine happens for these players next year, then this September will have not provided the clarity that the team needs.
Probably more than any other person in uniform, Terry Collins‘ performance needs to be reviewed this month. Can Collins hold his essentially Triple-A roster together as it faces superior competition? Will the Mets compete or roll over? The answers to these questions should factor into the overall evaluation that Sandy Alderson makes of Collins.
September of 2014 can have meaning for the Mets. It’s not the type of meaning that we want, but there are evaluations to be made and lessons to be learned. There is one thing for sure. The Mets cannot enter 2015 with the same questions they had in 2014. There has been far too much of this going on over the last several years. Letting September have true meaning this year can help change the meaning the month will have in 2015 and beyond.