Though the season is a little more than two weeks old, the New York Mets have already shown that they are not afraid to pull the trigger if a player is underperforming.
The combination of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins is attempting to light a fire under their players. Part of the way they’re going about this is by letting players know that if they don’t show up, they’ll be sent out.
The first instance occurred with Blaine Boyer.
Boyer pitched his way onto the Mets roster in spring training and looked to be a good find. His sinker was working great, which caused him to get a lot of ground balls. Such would be extremely valuable late in games if the Mets were in dire need of a double play.
Boyer pitched so well that the Mets asked fan-favorite Jason Isringhausen to go to extended spring training. Izzy did have injury concerns, which also aided in this decision.
However, things didn’t work out so well for Boyer. He appeared in five games and went 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA. He gave up eight earned in just 6.2 innings—not exactly what you look for out of a reliever.
Rather than ride out Boyer’s hot start in spring training, the Mets cut ties with Boyer in favor of Izzy. Boyer opted for free agency rather than accepting a minor league assignment.
In the most recent example, the Mets sent Brad Emaus back to the minors and called up the rightful owner of Emaus’ roster spot: Justin Turner.
After winning the second base competition basically by default, Emaus couldn’t handle major league pitching. He hit just .162 with one RBI in 37 at-bats, and his fielding wasn’t what it was hyped to be.
Maybe Emaus can turn himself into a Major League player, but it won’t be with the Mets.
Earlier last week, Terry Collins announced that he would give Emaus a set number of at-bats in which to evaluate him. Well, that number turned out to be just seven at-bats; Emaus was 0-for-7.
Daniel Murphy has hit well and surprisingly fielded well, turning in some highlight-reel plays. He and Turner will form the new second base tandem.
The moves of Boyer and Emaus show that the Mets will have a short leash this year. Since they don’t have the personnel or depth of the Philadelphia Phillies or Atlanta Braves, the Mets will need significant contributions for every member on their roster if they expect to compete.
One or two slip ups is all it takes for a fringe team—which the Mets are—to fall way out of contention.
You may be thinking that the Mets aren’t even good enough to be a fringe team. In my opinion, every team right now is a fringe team at least early on in the season.
The teams that got off to fast starts can fade, and the teams that started slow can get hot. That’s the great thing about baseball. That’s the reason they play all the games.
This homestand will prove if the Mets are serious. They play the Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks—two teams that aren’t exactly knocking on the door of a World Series title anytime soon. If the Mets can’t take at least 4-of-6 from these teams, then it may be time to consider panicking.
Even so, we’re still in April, so panic really shouldn’t set in until the summer.
I do have to say, it’s a positive sign that Alderson and Collins won’t tolerate mediocrity. Though the team may not have the strength to make a run this year, the fruits of a winning organization are slowly but surely being planted.
Follow me on Twitter @JMMancari.