Sandy Alderson is a transaction away from catching Washington

A few years ago, Sandy Alderson targeted 2014 as the season the Mets would achieve competitiveness. When it became clear they’d miss the mark, Alderson reset the clock for 2015.

Last spring, Alderson spoke internally of shooting for a 90-win season, but the Mets failed to hit that mark as well, falling 11 games short.

The reasons why were many. Chief among them were the struggles of David Wright and Curtis Granderson, the absence of Matt Harvey, the failed signing of Chris Young, and the fact that closer Bobby Parnell was lost for the season due to surgery.

Harvey’s situation was understood, and no one was necessarily anticipating sub-par seasons from Wright and Granderson. However, heading into 2014, Parnell’s status was already in question.

Around this time last year, the run on free agent relief pitchers was taking place. The average rate being doled out for a quality reliever was roughly $4.5 million per season. I hoped that was a price range Sandy Alderson would find agreeable. However, because I feel he acted hastily in signing Chris Young to an irresponsible contract, Alderson was reduced to a non-participant in the reliever market.  He instead was forced to wait till the bottom dollar days of February to sign Jose Valverde, and March to sign Kyle Farnsworth.

As luck would have it, Bobby Parnell‘s season ended after the Mets first game of the season, when it was determined shortly after blowing a save opportunity against the Nationals that he needed Tommy John surgery.

From April through June the Mets posted a .446 winning percentage and by the end of May, both Farnsworth and Valverde were released. Upon their respective signings, and subsequent releases, I felt the situation flew in the face of the Mets 2013 finish in which they posted a 50-50 record over their final 100 games.

In a pleasant change of events, the 2014 bullpen then evolved into a team strength, led by Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia. From July through September, the Mets posted a .532 winning percentage with a 42-37 mark.

In hindsight, I’m certain signing a reliever last December could have contributed to a better first half. However, I’ll admit signing a reliever would perhaps have done little to change their fortunes against the Nationals.

The Mets failure to achieve 90 wins last season can be partially blamed on their play against Washington, and to a lesser extent, the San Francisco Giants.  The Mets posted a 4-15 record against the Nats, and were just 1-6 against the Giants.

The good news is the Mets posted a 34-23 record against the rest of their division:

  • 11-8 vs. Miami
  • 13-6 vs. Philadelphia
  • 10-9 vs. Atlanta

If you subtract their combined 5-21 record against the Nationals and Giants, the Mets were 63-53 against the rest of the National League.

The competition has certainly been busy this off-season, and some might even argue a few transactions in the N.L. East have helped the Mets. Jimmy Rollins, Jason Heyward, and notorious Mets killer Adam LaRoche are now out of the division. And Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, is switching over to the junior circuit next season.

I feel the Mets have enough talent in place to at least snap their string of six consecutive sub-.500 seasons, but with regards to closing the gap against Washington and the other National League top contenders, Sandy Alderson is still a transaction away.

I’m nevertheless looking forward to this team playing meaningful games in September for a change, led by a talented and deep starting rotation that once again features Matt Harvey, with Bobby Parnell returning to an improved bullpen, and Michael Cuddyer, David Wright and Curtis Granderson producing at least to their career averages at the plate.

If their combined talent excels, 2015 can indeed produce a September to remember for the Mets.

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