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New York Mets face many hurdles in another challenging June

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 04: Todd Frazier #21 of the New York Mets loses grip of his bat swinging against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning at Citi Field on June 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 04: Todd Frazier #21 of the New York Mets loses grip of his bat swinging against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning at Citi Field on June 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
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The New York Mets entered June hoping for anything but a repeat of the failures from 2018. Unfortunately, things have started off poorly.

For the New York Mets, the first week of June has been tumultuous, to say the least. Coming off back-to-back road series losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, the Mets returned home to take two-out-of-three against the San Francisco Giants, proving their resilience by getting back up after being knocked around.

While the lows have certainly been low, the highs have been high, thanks to Pete Alonso tying Mark McGwire’s rookie home run record (19) before the month of June, and Jason Vargas’ unforeseen emergence as the ace of this ballclub, owing to his 1.88 ERA since April 14.

Still, the standings haven’t experienced any drastic changes in either direction that would make the status of this Mets club clear. It’s still uncertain whether the orange and blue are on a definite path toward success or a downward spiral that would make how we assess the team’s upcoming buyer or seller status once July hits.

If they somehow find a way to rein in their intractable season and become buyers, something must be done to help staunch the bleeding of their bullpen, which currently owns a horrendous 4.56 ERA, and reinforce their injury-ridden roster.

Therefore, the pressure should rightfully fall on Brodie Van Wagenen’s shoulders to find talent, and not exclusively on Manager Mickey Callaway’s to get this team back on track.

Since Van Wagenen’s name was first mentioned as a candidate for the New York Mets General Manager position late last year, fan reactions have continued to be a mixed bag of emotions ranging from blind acceptance to intense skepticism. How a former player-agent would handle the strenuous and highly criticized job seemed impossible to foresee, as it had never happened before in Major League Baseball.

Van Wagenen’s bold promises to build a winning culture and deliver a World Series title to this city certainly tempted many disgruntled fans who had grown accustomed to disappointment to believe in this team’s potential.

Prior to the start of the 2019 season, many, including myself, believed the Mets were poised for success due to Van Wagenen’s efforts in both the trade and free agent markets. By the end of Spring Training, they had a roster laden with young talent, seasoned with veteran leadership, and were being hailed as having one of the best bullpens in the league – thanks to their 8th and 9th inning one-two punch between set-up man, Jeurys Familia and closer, Edwin Diaz.

Despite these factors raising fan expectations, two months into the season – and many injuries later – the Mets started June below .500 at 28-29 and with no clear signs of improvement in sight.

While Yoenis Cespedes’ injury was a huge blow for the Mets, it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Two of the Mets biggest acquisitions, in Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie, have not paid off as advertised; what with the former’s early-season struggles and multiple IL stints and the latter, who has yet to play a single game in Mets colors.

Meanwhile, Brandon Nimmo, one of the Mets young stars and integral players, is currently serving an IL stint with no definite timetable for his much-needed return. Their bullpen also continues their struggle to adjust since losing Luis Avilan and Justin Wilson to injuries.

Despite all of this turmoil in recent weeks, I don’t agree that it’s all Callaway’s doing – although he is not blameless. After all, Van Wagenen and his team are the ones in control of the lineup card (not Callaway), which is why the focus should be on him to restructure how this team operates on the field.

I, for one, am waiting for Van Wagenen to supply Callaway with talent before calling for the manager’s head, specifically bullpen relief.

The fact of the matter is that if they don’t have a great June and enter the all-star break above .500, the Mets will have to face reality and start planning for the 2020 season. It might also mean the end of Mickey Callaway’s managerial term in New York.

And after starting the season with such high hopes and optimistic feelings for this retooled roster, I hope it doesn’t come to that. Perhaps the Mets are able to turn their bad play around so that baseball might mean something to their fans come September and maybe October?

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