It’s a shame that a New York Mets season that began with such glimmering hope and high expectations has devolved into such a disappointing year. I guess it was sometime in early June, that the realization really sunk in that the Mets were not going to win those 97 games I had predicted for them. But to look at the National League standings and see that only three teams have won fewer games than the Mets presents a sobering reality I could have never imagined in any of my worst case scenarios. Are we really this bad?
It may be too simplistic and a little misguided to point at the injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia and blame that misfortune as the catalyst for this 90+ loss season. But the depth of what led to this 2017 train wreck goes far beyond injuries alone, and an honest appraisal reveals many glaring problems beginning with an outdated front office philosophy that places no emphasis on defense at a time when the rest of the league has grasped how good pitching needs an interlocking defense to meet or exceed projected performance levels.
It pains me to say that Mike Puma was right when he said that “the only people who think they can navigate a 162 game season with five of their starting pitchers coming off surgery and a sixth pitching with a UCL tear, all work in the Mets front office.”
The writing was on the wall as one by one they all ended up on the disabled list with some missing three months of action or more. The scary part is that we may just hit the reset button again in 2018 with this same group of arms once tabbed the Fab Five. Nobody calls them that anymore.
Onto the bullpen. Some would argue that the resulting domino effect of a rotation fraught with too many six inning or less pitchers, is an overworked and grossly ineffective bullpen. But I’d like to raise the specter that Hansel Robles and Josh Smoker are simply overrated and mostly ineffective. Or that Fernando Salas and Neil Ramirez simply suck.
I don’t believe a healthy Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard would have improved the performance of any of those relievers, not by a long shot. And what’s the plan for this offseason? Will we sit on our hands as we did last Winter and bring the band back? I hope the thought process is not that AJ Ramos replaces Addison Reed and that we’ll muddle through with those four untested bullpen arms we received for Reed and Lucas Duda. But I wouldn’t be shocked if that’s what they try to sell us this offseason.
What’s the plan at third base for 2018? Is it the same plan we had in 2017 and 2016? Sooner or later the front office just needs to view David Wright and his contract as a sunken cost and fill the third base position with a legitimate full-time option and stop selling this notion of a patchwork solution until Wright gets back. He’s not coming back, it’s time to move on. And please stop… Asdrubal Cabrera is not the answer either, so just stop. His production was barely adequate at shortstop, and his 93 OPS+ would make him an MLB-worst third baseman. Get the checkbook out.
When the Mets opened up their wallets and signed Yoenis Cespedes to that landmark $110 million dollar contract, nobody expected to see their top run producer sitting with just 30 RBIs on August 6. Are the quad and hamstring problems something that will hang over Cespedes for the duration of his career or will the Mets find some magic fix to get their slugger back into lethal form? Both Cespedes and the team seem to think they know the problem which they both attribute to Yo’s heavy weight training last offseason. Let’s hope they’re both right because this team is impotent without the real Yoenis Cespedes.
Then of course there’s Terry Collins, the target of many of my diatribes the last two seasons who saved his worst for 2017. Collins is a good guy who is simply out of his element at this stage of the game. Some of his moves this season wreaked of desperation, but rather than rehash all of his many shortcomings, suffice it to say that he will not be back next season. Even Sandy Alderson and big-time Collins supporter Fred Wilpon can firmly see that this season is Terry’s last rodeo.
I’ve just laid out a few of my big issues with this team as we look toward 2018, but it’s really not as bleak as it may seem. There are still plenty of things to get excited about and chief among them is the emergence of outfielder Michael Conforto who is enjoying an incredible breakout season.
The arrival of shortstop Amed Rosario brings a promising bat but more importantly an impactful defensive shortstop who can help solidify our up the middle defense.
Jacob deGrom continues to outshine all those previous top Mets pitching prospects of whom much was expected. Whatever the final rotation looks like next season, you can bet deGrom will be a big part of it.
I’m really looking forward to this offseason – an offseason in which Sandy Alderson should have roughly $70 million to spend. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he spends it all in the right places.