“This is what QUIT looks like.”
That’s what came across my twitter time line shortly after the Chicago Cubs defeated the New York Mets by the score of 2-0 on Sunday, to complete a four-game sweep at Citi Field. It was the first time the Mets were swept in a four-game series by the Cubs in New York since August 2-5, 1991. The Mets have now lost nine of their last 11 games, and for the second time this season they have dropped six consecutive games at home.
The Mets now find themselves at their lowest point this season, sitting in fourth place, three games under .500 and seven games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves. I was asked yesterday if this is the Mets’ rock bottom, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that things can still get worse. Much worse.
It doesn’t make me happy to have such a pessimistic view of the team, however I look at the sad and pathetic state of the Mets and their myriad of problems, most of them self-inflicted, and I just don’t see things ending anything but badly. I’ve lost sight of any positive outcomes for a poorly constructed team that was doomed from the start. And sure we can blame the injuries for some of this debacle, but deep down inside you know the problems go way beyond a few ailing players.
Sandy Alderson and his front office are still too immersed in a dated and out of touch roster construction philosophy that continues to hurt the team, stunt their growth, and keep them from achieving any real sustained success.
Perhaps the most damning of all their sins, is the continued downplaying of the team’s overall defense and the negative impact it’s had on the pitching staff and their ability to hold and maintain any leads in a game.
This was on full display this weekend with several muffed double plays, errant throws, poor execution, failure to control the running game, and the cherry on top came Sunday, when Jay Bruce gave up on a shallow fly that could have prevented a run from scoring. He opted to let infielder Luis Guillorme make the catch with his back to the plate, allowing Cubs catcher Willson Contreras to easily scamper home with the second run of the game.
“It’s frustrating,’’ Mickey Callaway admitted after the game. “You’re giving them the game instead of them winning the game from you. And that’s hard. If you do things the right way and you get beat, you don’t feel great about it because you lost, but you can accept it and move on. We have to learn from those mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again.’’
That’s easier said than done for the new Mets manager, who is quickly becoming a very sympathetic figure in this train wreck of a season. How can you fault Callaway for trying to manage a team with so many defensively challenged players that once again is among the worst team in the majors with -38 Defensive Runs Saved.
Second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera may be having a remarkable season at the plate, batting .292 with a team-leading 10 home runs and 30 RBI’s. But most of that production is mitigated by his team-worst -11 DRS and his part in the Mets’ fewest turned double plays in the majors.
Cabrera’s counterpart, shortstop Amed Rosario, came up with the reputation of being an elite defender. However, as we’ve seen time and time again, he comes up deficient way too often on routine plays and even his occasional dazzling defensive gems cannot hide his appalling -6 DRS and -6.4 UZR/150. The Mets have the worst middle infield defense in baseball. Again.
You could see how frustrated Callaway was yesterday when the line of questioning turned to defense and another big stickler – lack of basic fundamentals.
“We need to shift our focus,” Callaway said. “We are not focusing on that part of the game very well. If we have to go out and work on cutoffs and relays and pop-ups… that is what we’ll do instead of being on the field doing hitting drills.”
Good luck with that Mickey.
It’s a shame that Mets starting pitchers have a 2.48 ERA over the last 16 games and the team lost four games in the standings in that span. Which brings us to our sad offense and their inability to mount any kind of a challenge against left-handed pitching.
And it’s amazing how all the teams have caught on and stack whatever southpaws they can find against us. As a team, the Mets have an NL worst 26.4 strikeout rate against LHP to go with an MLB worst .203 batting average and .578 OPS. Perhaps the return of Todd Frazier will help improve the situation, but let’s face it, they were still this bad before he landed on the DL.
The team looked defeated this weekend. In the other dugout I saw a Cubs team that was super motivated, super energetic, and playing to win. They had a swagger about them that was unmistakable and in comparison the Mets looked like a bunch of unmotivated sad sacks that were going through the motions of an inevitable loss.
So is this what QUIT looks like?
It sure seems and feels that way judging by all the outward appearances, body language, and of course the results. But I’m not entirely sure I want to go there yet.
Instead, I just want to know why the front office is always so slow to react at times… Why do they always wait until it’s too late to throw the team a desperately needed lifesaver?
For weeks the Mets have been in dreadful need of help on offense, and yet they squandered a perfectly good opportunity to bring up a red hot Jeff McNeil while Frazier was out, instead of giving Jose Reyes all that wasted playing time. Incidentally, McNeil is now hitting .335/.414/.665 with 14 doubles, 3 triples, 13 homers, 41 RBI and a 19 BB/22 K ratio after a 7-for-11 weekend that included a grand slam.
It’s stuff like that that really gnaws on me because it’s an easy fix that could have provided the same jolt that we saw when the Mets called up Michael Conforto. Maybe bringing up McNeil would have failed to provide the kind of boost the team needed, but at least you can say that you tried to rejuvenate the offense and add some life to a lifeless clubhouse.
One of the worst defensive showings in franchise history…. A debilitating lack of basic fundamentals… A suffocating and vastly inconsistent offense… A front office that is content being reactive instead of proactive… And an inexperienced rookie manager struggling to get his arms around all these problems….
This is what a train wreck looks like. Nobody is quitting. This is just a terribly constructed roster with more things going against them rather than for them. And I blame the front office first and foremost.