On June 26th, Sandy Alderson said that when the Mets lose a few games, it becomes “Panic City”. This moniker has been plastered all over traditional and social media in the last week. Alderson had a point. The Mets’ fan base is fiery and passionate, and year after year rides the emotional rollercoaster that is a 162-game baseball season.
May 27, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson talks to the media before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Since Alderson created his municipality, the Mets have gone 3-3, most recently being swept in a 3-game series at Citi Field by the Chicago Cubs. Sweeps happen. However, in the series against the Cubs, the Mets played 29 innings, and scored one run. They managed just 15 hits. Most glaringly, they wasted solid starting pitching by Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon, and Jacob deGrom (who was not at his best).
So why has Panic City become Anger City? The Mets offensive woes are not new, and not a temporary aberration. The Mets are 27th in in the major leagues in runs scored. They’re 21st in home runs. They are fielding a sub-standard lineup every game, with the likes of Eric Campbell (.194), Ruben Tejada (.224), and Kevin Plawecki (.227). The players of whom the Mets were expecting much this season are also under-performing. Lucas Duda is hitting .255, and disappeared in June. Michael Cuddyer, the team’s biggest off-season acquisition, is hitting .243, and looks completely lost at times (and is now injured).
While the hitters struggle, the pitchers perform to and beyond expectations. The starting staff features the exciting arms of Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom. Niese and Colon have also pitched well recently. The bullpen, led by Jeurys Familia, has been generally reliable.
Now for the anger. Sandy Alderson has done nothing to address the offense thus far. The fan base realizes that with any semblance of an offense, the Mets would be far better than their current 40-40 record. The fans see that the division is there for the taking this year, and recognize that next year is never guaranteed. However, nothing is being done to import offense. Rather, we’re left with witty quips from a largely invisible General Manager.
In fairness, we don’t know what Alderson is or is not doing behind the scenes. We don’t know if he has any payroll flexibility. However, we do know what we see, and that’s inactivity. Before his Panic City comment last week, Alderson called the trade market “thin”. What does that even mean? Does it mean no one is selling, or that no one is selling at the price Alderson is willing to pay? Does it imply that Alderson is taking the “take it or leave it” approach, lacking creativity, and staunchly insisting on “winning” every possible trade? Alderson did say that he’s willing to overpay, but does he have ownership’s approval to do so?
There is a growing feeling among the fan base that the organization has already thrown in the towel on 2015. This does not ameliorate the anger. Rather, this perception fuels the agitation. The team’s poor fundamental play, and Terry Collins‘ claims that he’s doing all he can do only serve to make it worse.
What can Alderson do? In sports, the manager or coach generally takes the fall in situations like this. The Mets’ fate is not on Collins exclusively, but a new voice in the dugout could not hurt. The Mets have bad players, who are playing badly. A change in the manager’s office could address the second part. There’s not much left in Las Vegas, though I don’t see why Matt Reynolds hasn’t gotten the call yet (he has been dealing with nagging injuries lately). Reynolds could play shortstop (he can’t be worse than Tejada) and lead off (Reynolds at least has some speed). This would allow Curtis Granderson, the only productive hitter right now, to drop to a run-producing spot in the order.
Then there’s the other possibility. The Mets are probably shopping spare parts (Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon) and trying to receive a serviceable hitter. The Mets may need to bite the bullet and trade a stud pitcher for a solid hitter. Which one to trade? That decision falls on Alderson.
In any case, the status quo is not acceptable. The 2015 season is being frittered away, and the customers don’t like it. Something has to change, and what that change is will be determined by Alderson.
One thing has changed. Panic City has become Anger City. Anger City is not a good place to live.