Never give up, never surrender! It’s the catchphrase of Tim Allen’s character in the film Galaxy Quest and a good goal for the New York Mets in 2022.
The Mets found themselves (somehow) in first place for a good portion of the season in 2022 yet when the final two months of the regular season arrived, they decided it was time to start fading.
The trade deadline was the period when the Mets made the decision to wave the white flag. They did add Rich Hill. They also added Javier Baez to the lineup and picked up Trevor Williams for some pitching depth. Both good moves, they didn’t do nearly enough. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves completely rebuilt their roster and ended up as World Series Champions.
The 2022 Mets can learn a lesson from last year’s Braves team
Jacob deGrom getting hurt changed a lot for the Mets last year. His absence convinced the front office that maybe 2021 wasn’t their year even if they had the National League East in their grasp.
As soon as August arrived, the Braves and Philadelphia Phillies began to play better while the Mets started their tailspin. Had the Mets done a little bit more at the trade deadline, maybe it wouldn’t have ended the way it did.
That’s yesterday’s news. There’s no going back and changing it. Let’s move on.
But just because last year was lost doesn’t mean there aren’t some lessons to take into the coming season. The Braves’ decision to overcome a season-ending injury to Ronald Acuna Jr. and add a lot of outcasts at the trade deadline proved effective. Midseason acquisition Eddie Rosario was the MVP of the NLDS. In the World Series, Jorge Soler, another outfielder the team added at the trade deadline, won the MVP with his play. Let’s also not forget the play of Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson either.
The 2021 Braves were not an exceptional team. Many guys had down years. Their starting pitching depth was shallow. They played well enough to capture a playoff spot in part because the rest of the competition within the division was so weak.
Atlanta didn’t give up when there was a reason to do so. The blow of losing Acuna Jr. was gigantic. Defiantly, they continued on and ended up with a championship parade in the end.
If there’s one thing the Mets need to change from last year, it’s this. And if what they did in November before the lockout is any indication, they probably will.
The Mets have been shy about trading away many of their top prospects under this regime but that could be all part of the master plan. They can sign free agents now and trade away future talent for current help in July. They played the trade deadline very carefully and avoided doing much damage to their farm system.
Put them in the same situation in 2022, things may look different. The Mets could be a little more willing to take on players. And if the 2021 Braves are an example, you don’t always need to add the biggest superstars. You need to find the right mix of players.
The Mets should open the season with one of the best rosters in Major League Baseball. What matters far more is having one of the best records after game 162.