This is not what any of us envisioned. A crippled and one dimensional offense. Two runs in the last 27 innings. A lifeless sweep in a twin bill at the hands of two mediocre starting pitchers, a growing divisional deficit, and a return trip to October suddenly seeming uncertain.
With almost 40% of the Mets’ starting lineup (Lucas Duda, David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud) missing in action, Yoenis Cespedes unable to carry the increasingly heavy offensive load, Michael Conforto stuck in a tailspin and Asdrubal Cabrera reverting to his expected mean, even the Mets’ enviable starting rotation can not bear the burden of carrying this team to the promised land.
What is a General Manager to do?
This is not 2015, and the potential response by Sandy Alderson to a second straight June swoon represents a true conundrum.
Where exactly does Alderson make a move?
Is it not too soon to give up on Wilmer Flores at third base when almost anyone available to take over the hot corner would be a dubious upgrade, especially when it would likely come at the cost of rising talent in the system upon whom the Mets are counting for the years ahead.
Do you give up this soon on James Loney, he of the golden glove and questionable bat? There is a reason a small market team like the Tampa Bay Rays were willing to swallow $8 million and cut him loose, but more time is required to see if he can hold down first base for the many weeks until Lucas Duda returns (if he does at all).
Do you trade for a catcher such as Jonathan Lucroy – who the Mets will see this weekend in Milwaukee – when d’Arnaud is reasonably close to returning, even as serious questions about his durability persist? Kevin Plawecki has been a crashing disappointment, so the notion that he could at least hit enough to be a major league regular have all but gone by the board. His market value has tanked, and he will likely be demoted upon d’Arnaud’s return.
Alejandro De Aza is wasting away on the bench and could be viable trade bait, but with real uncertainty about the thumb injury to Juan Lagares, their enviable outfield depth would drop to zero. And with Curtis Granderson struggling mightily at an advancing age, the likelihood of him contributing as he did last season is diminishing by the week. And he is totally untradable.
There was a lively debate this spring about whether Conforto could hit lefties. He is 4-40 against the southpaws, so that debate, at least for the time being, has been settled. But he is obviously not going back to the minors.
Sure, Dilson Herrera might be ready to play regularly at second base and spark the offense, but do you really want to move the one guy who’s been a rock in the middle of the infield and the batting order, Neil Walker? A Kelly Johnson or Juan Uribe could certainly be acquired, but would that make any real difference?
Yes, the Mets’ toxic combination of leading MLB in homers while sitting near the bottom in runs scored – and correspondingly dreadful numbers with RISP – tells the story of an offense that lives or dies by the homer to a degree we have rarely witnessed.
And yet, there appears to be no obvious moves at this point. Especially when most teams are still believing they can compete for the ten available playoff slots and the trade deadline is seven weeks away.
Indeed, as deeply frustrating as this offense has proved to be, it seems the most prudent path forward for the time being is for Mr. Alderson to sit tight, and for Mets fans to do what they do best.