Entering August, the New York Mets were 55-48 and were two weeks removed from winning a series against a very good Toronto Blue Jays team. They were also in sole possession of first place in the National League East.
Fast forward a week and a half.
The Mets are now in third place in the NL West, behind both the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. They are 1-7 in August, lost 3 of 4 against Miami and were just swept by Philadelphia.
There is still a lot of optimism for this team. They are in the first year of new ownership and Steve Cohen looks like he cares about owning a baseball team (which is more than a lot of teams can actually say).
How did the Mets get here?
This front office was given an unlikely scenario this trade deadline. They were instructed to beef up their roster with great pitching and a great position player who could beef up the team’s runs per nine inning statistic.
Somehow, they needed to do this while contending with a broken farm system.
Newsday’s Tim Healy points this out in one article. He notes that the Mets simply do not have enough draft picks to work with. Going forward? The Mets might have been better off not doing anything.
Here’s a list of the Mets’ first-round draft picks in the last six years (they had no first-round pick in 2015): RHP Justin Dunn, LHP Anthony Kay, LHP David Peterson, outfielder Jarred Kelenic, 3B Brett Baty, outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, and RHP Kumar Rocker. Dunn, Kay, Kelenic, and Crow-Armstrong were all traded away. Rocker didn’t sign.
They also refused to extend an offer to their second-greatest pitching asset, Zack Wheeler, who just threw a complete-game two-hitter against New York.
First-round picks don’t make a farm system and the Mets have more depth in their system than a lot of teams can say, but not having organizational depth on your first-round picks is a nightmare that teams avoid at all costs.
Much of what fans were expecting from the Mets seemed impossible.
They added Rich Hill, which was a decent grab. They also acquired Javier Báez, who they received for first-rounder Pete Crow-Armstrong. Báez is a rental, so the Mets only have him until the end of the season. He may re-sign and the Mets may have a reason to keep him. Most fans aren’t sold yet, and they’d be right to be concerned. He has a high home run rate and a high strikeout rate. But if his performance drastically improves after playing with Francisco Lindor, I’d want that chemistry around next season.
Fans also shouldn’t be upset that Báez isn’t performing at the high level he was in Chicago. They say hitting is contagious. The team just isn’t getting it done, not at all. They’ve scored less than 2.9 runs per game this month alone. Báez can’t be relied on to be the only one.
So what happens now? Should the Mets have sold?
That’s actually a great question – and no, not in the sense that the Cubs or Nationals did. The Mets were in a tricky position. They were in first place, but any sort of slump could’ve sent them spiraling.
This isn’t to make any excuses for the team, but was anyone expecting them to make a World Series run? It would’ve at least been nice to see them win out the NL East.
In theory, the Mets should not have won as many games as they did. They performed on the heels of really great pitching, timely hitting from their depth, and some good luck. If it helps, the Mets should not have been in a place to win the division this year. It just wasn’t in the cards.
Still, the Mets should not have sold. But going forward, some restructuring may be in order.
The first move here is to let Conforto go. He hasn’t performed all year and that doesn’t make a strong case in the last year of your contract. They’d be wise to keep Brandon Nimmo, Dom Smith, Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil. James McCann and Francisco Lindor are still under contract through 2022 and beyond.
Re-tooling this lineup could be beneficial for the Mets. A more controversial move would be to re-sign Javier Báez. Time will tell over the next two months, but Báez could be an asset to this team. The Mets could trade away JD Davis and find an upgrade in outfield.
If the DH comes to the NL next year, they could also move Smith or Alonso to DH and play the other at first base. This would allow the Mets to find two upgrades in the outfield. JD Martinez, Nick Castellanos, and Starling Marte are all possible free agents. They could also keep Smith in left field if they’re satisfied, DH Alonso, and buy Freddie Freeman, who becomes a free agent this offseason.
We’ve discussed all of these possibilities as far as the DH goes.
A re-tool seems the most likely. New York also needs to work on strengthening their pitching staff and re-signing Marcus Stroman, who has proven to be a vital aspect of this team’s success.
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It’s unclear as to what the Mets will do this season, but prior ownership is to blame for setting this ownership up for failure.