Mets: Playing meaningful games in July puts onus on ownership
With Wednesday’s defeat of the San Francisco Giants, the Mets wrapped up a very successful West Coast trip against the N.L. West’s top two teams.
The Amazins are now returning home to open one last series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday prior to next week’s All-Star break.
Feb 23, 2015; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets co owner Fred Wilpon looks on during spring training at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
They will be on the road when play resumes on July 17th against the St. Louis Cardinals (whom presently sport MLB’s top record), and against the N.L. East leading Washington Nationals.
Then after hosting a rematch against the N.L. West leading Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets will welcome the San Diego Padres.
That will bring us to the non-waiver trade deadline which falls on Friday, July 31st, at 4:00pm. Later that evening the Mets will open another series against the Washington Nationals.
The Mets have 16 games remaining till then, and 6 are against Washington.
The Cincinnati Reds and Nationals were postponed in D.C. on Wednesday. Therefore, the idle Mets will begin Thursday’s action trailing the Nationals by 3.0 games in the standings, and 3.5 games out of a Wild Card.
Both the Mets and Nats are 5-5 in their last 10 games, and so the race is on to make that post-deadline series a particularly meaningful one. With good play and a little luck, the Mets will open August hosting Washington in the midst of a battle for first.
The Mets are presently 44-42 largely due to their strong starting pitching and the performance of closer Jeurys Familia.
Otherwise, the rest of the bullpen has been ravaged by injuries since Opening Day. Bobby Parnell only recently returned, however, Vic Black and Jerry Blevins remain out. Several farm hands have filled in admirably, Rule-V acquisition Sean Gilmartin has worked out well enough, and Jenrry Mejia is back from suspension, but, Carlos Torres is clearly an overly taxed reliever and the Mets depth is worn thin.
As we know, the Mets are a poor defensive team. They own the National League’s 6th worst fielding average. However, the recent infield realignment should help. Wilmer Flores looks far more comfortable and competent at second base, Daniel Murphy is similarly better suited to play third, while Ruben Tejada is clearly the best defensive shortstop the Mets have.
In the outfield, the Mets are old at the corners, and because of Juan Lagares‘ nagging injuries, all three outfield positions sport weak throwing arms. In my opinion, Curtis Granderson‘s poor throwing arm in right is an outright liability.
Moreover, teams usually run on Mets catchers at will.
They’re a grossly fundamentally flawed team under Terry Collins as well. From failing to lay down a bunt, to piss-poor base running, to not covering second base on a stolen base attempt (just to name a few recent instances), they’ve been dreadful in this respect.
Offensively, they’ve played minus Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright for a majority of the season. Even with them in the line-up, the Mets would still lack team speed, and true lead-off and clean-up hitters. Without them, they’ve ranked last, or in the bottom third of the National League in most offensive categories.
297 runs scored – last
662 hits – last
.232 team average – last
.356 team slugging – last
.293 team OBP – 14th
32 stolen bases – 13th
66 home runs – 11th
227 walks – 9th
The Mets are only 39-40 in 9-inning games, and are now 30-39 since starting the season with a 13-3 mark. Their 4-2 record in extra-inning games is what has the Mets playing barely above the .500 mark. They’re additionally 16-14 in 1-run games, but a weak 9-14 in games decided by 5+ runs.
One would be inclined to think continuing to play meaningful games in July would inspire upper management into taking a very proactive approach towards improving, and even optimizing the team’s situation.
If the 2015 Mets have proven anything, it is that they are worthy of the risks involved with making even seemingly reasonable deadline acquisitions.
These are not the 2011 Mets, who went 46-43 through July 8th, only to end the season with a 77-85 record. Nor is this 2012, when the Mets were 46-40 on July 8th, but finished the season with an even worse 74-88 record. Those teams were still too close to the Madoff implosion in order to secure any kind of support.
The Mets were 38-48 by July 8th in 2013, and 41-49 by this time last season. It can be argued neither of those teams warranted any reinforcements.
This year is clearly different. At the moment, however, the Mets stellar starting pitching is being offset by an anemic offense. That demands upper management’s action. Their support could greatly enhance more than just a winning season in Flushing.
Therefore, general manager Sandy Alderson has till the end of the month to contemplate any potential transactions. Very simply, he’ll either sit tight, or be active at the deadline. Should he act, Alderson needs to improve at least two of the aforementioned issues hampering the Mets. Otherwise, all this accumulated pitching will be wasted.
Financially speaking, we also know Sandy Alderson’s limits are set by ownership. It is the Wilpons, then, whom should spend the next two weeks reflecting on their own standing.
The fan base already thinks little of them. Most are already preconditioned to believe if the Mets play well this month, that would allow upper management to justify any potential inactivity through the deadline.
That would be a dangerous game to play!
This is ownership’s time to take control of their enterprise, make a real difference, and positively impact a seemingly competitive team with action.
If they don’t, and this team flounders down the stretch, I expect the fan backlash will be wicked.