Will Mickey Callaway be able to reverse the fortunes of the New York Mets?
The New York Mets franchise has been around now for 56 years and in that time they’ve had more lows than highs. The Mets do have a pair of World Series Championships to their credit, but they have not won it all since 1986. And each time that the Mets appear ready to turn the corner, they have failed to get out of their own way. After the 1991 Major League Baseball season, the Mets went out and spent money on what was expected to be a “super team” as they acquired the likes of Bret Saberhagen, Bobby Bonilla, and Eddie Murray. But in the words of Bob Klapisch, the Mets got “the worst team that money can buy”. The late 1990’s saw the Mets become a contender once again which paved the way for them to win the National League Pennant in 2000. However in the World Series, base running blunders and the experience of the New York Yankees was too much for them. The Mets would once again make the playoffs in 2006, but they fell short against the St. Louis Cardinals. And who could forget the collapses of the Mets in 2007 and 2008 when they were in first place in the N.L. East at the start of September only to end up watching the postseason from home. The Mets would come out of nowhere in 2015 to win the N.L. East which paved the way for their first World Series appearance since 2000. The Mets had every chance win it all as they held a lead after the seventh inning in four of the five games versus the Kansas City Royals, but they simply fell apart. Injuries hindered New York last year, but they were still able to make the playoffs as a wild card team. However the optimism that the Mets had to begin 2017 is quickly fading into the New York night.
Through 55 games the Mets find themselves with a record of 24-31 which has them tied for second place in the National League East. The Mets are 11.5 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals, and 8 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks s for the final wild card spot in the N.L. The Mets haven’t been above .500 since April 16 with the lowest of their low points this season coming in late May when they lost two out of three games at home against the San Diego Padres who are one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball. In both losses to the Padres, the Mets had the potential game-tying runs at the plate in the ninth inning, but they were unable to execute as things are only going from bad to worse in Queens.
All season long the Mets have been dealing the injury bug at a very alarming rate. The Mets currently have seven players on the disabled list which includes some of their key players. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has been out of the Mets lineup since April 27 with a hamstring injury. The Cespedes injury has really hurt the Mets offense as he is one of the big bats in the middle of their lineup and he sets the tone. Relief pitcher Jeurys Familia began the season by serving a suspension by Major League Baseball due to an altercation with his wife last year. Familia returned to action the Mets on April 21 and was beginning to get into a groove until he was placed on the disabled list on May 11 after it was discovered that he had a blood clot in his right shoulder. And what the Mets are losing in not having Familia available for the ninth inning is a player who set a single-season club record for saves last year with 51. In April, starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard felt tightness in his biceps. Syndergaard refused to have an MRI and for some strange reason the Mets obliged. Syndergaard would then take the mound for the Mets against the Nationals on April 30 as he couldn’t make it out the second inning. The Mets would then place Syndergaard on the disabled list with what was diagnosed as a torn lat muscle in his right arm which will see him miss the majority of the season. And all that the Mets have been left with is a team that keeps finding ways to lose games while hindering their chances of making the postseason for the third consecutive year which would be the first time in franchise history if that were to occur. But aside from all of the injuries and the handling of it, the Mets simply have been their own worst enemy.
Starting pitcher Matt Harvey is attempting to make his way back from dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome in 2016. In 11 starts for the Mets here in 2017, Harvey is 4-3 with an earned run average of 5.43 as he is learning to pitch instead of relying on his fastball which has lost some zip. And unfortunately for Harvey this season, he has only completed seven innings once as teams to get to him the second time around in the batting order.
Overall the Mets starting rotation has been kept together with spit and glue and none of their starting pitchers have an earned run average under 3.25. Pitching was supposed to be a strength for the Mets coming into 2017, but instead New York’s team earned run average of 4.91 is 14th in the National League, while their 22 quality starts is tied for tenth. The Mets lack of quality pitching has put a strain on their bullpen which only has 12 saves, while tallying a league worst 11 blown saves.
Through Terry Collins’ time as the manager of the Mets, his management of his pitching staff has come under scrutiny from fans and media alike, and it’s once again the case this year as his bullpen is being run into the ground being that if a starting pitcher can give him five quality innings, it is deemed as a good thing.
The Mets offense hasn’t fared much better as they’ve been up and down. The Mets are fifth in the National League in home runs with 75, but they are 11th in batting average (.244), and 12th in on-base percentage (.317). The bright spots of the Mets lineup have been first baseman Lucas Duda, along with outfielders Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce. In 35 games for the Mets, Duda is batting .269 with 10 homers and 21 runs batted in. Conforto is emerging as a star as he is leading the Mets in batting average (.308), home runs (14), runs batted in (36), and on-base percentage (.410). Bruce is only batting .248, but he has plenty of thunder in his bat as he has 13 long balls and 36 runs batted in. However aside from this trio, it has been pretty pedestrian like for the Mets.
Age is catching up to Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson as the 36-year old is gutting it out through his worst season in Major League Baseball. Granderson is only batting .201 with 4 homers and 19 runs batted in, while striking out 46 times as his timing at the plate has simply not been there. The same can be said in regards to veteran infielder Jose Reyes who is only batting .190 with an on-base percentage of .263. And once you add up the struggles of Granderson and Reyes, to go along with stints on the disabled list for catcher Travis d’Arnaud and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, as well as Cespedes who is currently in witness protection, you get a lineup that is either outhouse or penthouse; with the majority of the games seeing them in the crapper.
The past few years have seen the Mets be one the better second half teams in baseball, however this time around there isn’t as much optimism. The Mets keep blowing games and there isn’t one part of their team that is dominant, along with the fact that other teams in the National League have improved which makes a third consecutive trip to the postseason highly unlikely. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson isn’t yet ready to wave the white flag as he would like to see what this squad can do if and when they healthy. However with so many players such as Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the season, the Mets could become sellers real soon which would be a far cry from a team that had postseason aspirations not that long ago. But if you’ve followed the Mets throughout their history, you’ve learned to accept heartache.
At the end of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, second baseman Neil Walker became a hot commodity. Walker had spent the first seven years of his MLB career with the Pittsburgh Pirates which included a trip to the postseason in each of the last three years. But with Walker scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2016, the small-market Pirates didn’t want to see him leave town without them getting something in return. This notion led to Walker being traded this past off-season to the New York Mets in exchange for starting pitcher Jon Niese.
Walker is making the most of his season with the Mets as he is one the verge of surpassing his career-high in home runs (23) which he set in 2014, as his 22 homers are currently tied for the team lead in the category. Walker is also batting .279 with an on-base percentage of .341 as in my opinion he should be the team’s MVP. Walker was supposed to be a cog in the wheel for the Mets as they are looking to get back to the postseason, but he has been the team’s best player as injuries to third baseman David Wright, first baseman Lucas Duda, and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes have put him in the spotlight as the go-to-guy in their lineup. Walker’s hustle and slick fielding have made him a fan favorite in Queens, and he could be forcing the hand of Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to fork over a large amount of money to him in the off-season.
When Walker came to New York, he was charged with replacing a fan favorite at second base in Daniel Murphy. Murphy had spent the first seven years of his Major League Baseball career with the Mets, and although that he wasn’t the most talented player in the world, he could never be accused of not giving maximum effort. Murphy enjoyed a career year in 2015 as he hit 14 home runs with 73 runs batted in which helped the Mets win the National League East for the first time since 2006. But Murphy would make his mark in the postseason where he became the first player in MLB history to hit a home run in six consecutive games as he helped the Mets reach the World Series. The Mets were not willing to give Murphy the long-term contract that he was seeking which led to him leaving as a free agent to join the Washington Nationals. And now Murphy has become one of the better hitters in baseball as he has a new career-high in home runs (22), and runs batted in (87), while his .344 batting average is tops in the N.L.
Walker isn’t going to make the folks in the Big Apple completely forget about Murphy; especially since the Nationals are well on their way to winning the National League East, but he really picked the opportune time to have the season that he is currently having.
During the off-season the Mets took some flack for allowing Murphy to leave which came down to money and the fact that Alderson didn’t believe in his defense at second base. And yes the Mets will have the opportunity over the winter to offer Walker the same salary arbitration that they did to Murphy which would enable them to receive an additional draft pick should he leave, but Walker has New York right where he wants them.
The Mets don’t have anyone in their minor-league system that is ready to be a quality everyday second baseman; especially since they traded Dilson Herrera to the Cincinnati Reds last month to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce. Walker has been a defensive upgrade to Murphy, but he is also a switch-hitter which increases his value. And after allowing Murphy to leave town last year, the Mets are going to have to really overpay to keep Walker in Queens.
Alderson will have some decisions to make as Cespedes has the option to opt out of his deal with the Mets during the off-season and it could come down to the Mets re-signing him, or Walker.
And although that winning the National League East here in 2016 is a bit far-fetched for the Mets as they are stuck in third place of the division with a record 60-61 which finds them 11.5 games behind the Nats, they are 4.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the final wild card spot in the N.L. If the Mets find a way to get back on track and sneak into the postseason, Walker will more than likely have a hand it, which will undoubtedly force the hand of the Mets who will have no choice but to pay him. Walker could then thank Murphy for the money that he would receive as he would be getting paid off of what the Nationals current second baseman did last October, and what he is doing now in D.C.
The New York Mets came out of nowhere in 2015 to win their first National League Pennant since 2000. And although that the Mets fell short of winning the World Series, the expectations for them were still high when the 2016 Major League Baseball season began. But all season long the Mets have been an up and down team which started when they began the year with a record of 2-5. The Mets have not been under .500 since April 17, but each time that they appear ready to take that next step, they have come crashing back down the earth.
Three times this year the Mets have had the opportunity to go 10 games above .500, only to lose on each occasion. The most recent opportunity for the Mets to go 10 games above .500 came this Friday night when they lost to the Washington Nationals 3-1 which was the prelude to them losing three straight games in the series and falling six games out of first place in the National League East. The Mets have series victories over the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, the San Francisco Giants, and the Chicago Cubs. But the Mets are 7-6 against the lowly Atlanta Braves while also being swept by the Colorado Rockies who themselves are eight games under .500. And after being swept last month at the hands of the Nationals, the Mets appeared to be heading into a tailspin until they righted the ship last weekend in sweeping the Cubs in a four-game series.
However the Mets lost three of four games this weekend at home to the Nats and as they are now trailing Washington by six games for first place in the National League East heading into the All-Star break, they are also tied with the Miami Marlins for the final wild card spot.
The strength of the Mets success is their pitching staff which is what propelled them to the National League Pennant last year. But it hasn’t been all systems go for the Mets pitching staff here in 2016. Starting pitcher Matt Harvey was the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2015 as he posted a 13-8 record with a 2.71 earned run average after he had missed the entire 2014 Major League Baseball season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Harvey hasn’t been right all year as he has attempted to pitch through pain and criticism. Harvey’s record in 2016 is 4-10 with an earned run average of 4.86. Harvey’s season came to a screeching halt last week when he opted to have surgery on his shoulder after he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are each dealing with bone spur issues in the elbow, while Syndergaard won’t appear in this week’s All-Star Game after he was removed in the fifth inning this past Friday night with what the Mets are diagnosing as “arm fatigue”. And those golden arms that the folks in the Big Apple were drooling about in spring training are now spending more time in the infirmary than they are on the mound which is crippling the Mets chances.
And just like year, the Mets offense is still anemic. The Mets are second in the National League in home runs with 122, but most of those have been of the solo variety as they are 13th in runs scored with 335 which includes them scoring two runs or less on 34 occasions this season. The Mets have been without the services of their third baseman and captain David Wright for the majority of 2016 as he has a herniated disc in his neck which will sideline him for the rest of the season. First baseman Lucas Duda is still sidelined with a back injury which has kept him out of action since May 20, while outfielder Juan Lagares recently returned to the roster after suffering a thumb injury. The Mets have talent in their lineup with the likes of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but they’ve been unable to consistently put it together as a team as it has either been outhouse or penthouse with this offense. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has done several things to shake up the offense which has seen him demoting outfielder Michael Conforto to the minors, and signing infielder Jose Reyes. But just like this time last year, the Mets have been consistently inconsistent, while the Nationals are not the same team that they were at this point in 2015, and the same can be said about the Marlins.
The Mets are far from being dead in the water as they are right there in playoff contention and alot can happen between now and the end of the season which is still two and a half months away, but they must find a way to put it altogether. I do foresee Alderson making more moves between now and the trade deadline as there will soon be some teams that’ll wave the white flag and become sellers which will help a New York team that can use another starting pitcher.
However the All-Star break came at the right time for the Mets as players such as Cespedes and outfielder Curtis Granderson who are attempting to gut it out through nagging injuries need to rest for a few days. And being that Cespedes has the option to opt out of his current contract with the Mets after this season, I do see him getting on another vintage tear at the plate like we witnessed during his two months in New York last year.
The Mets will begin the second half of the season with a nine-game road trip against the Philadelphia Phillies, Cubs, and Marlins. But it really won’t matter who the Mets will face as they can be their own worst enemy at times if they are not hitting. So far we’ve seen plenty of Dr. Jekyll from the Mets, but at some point Mr. Hyde needs to consistently reappear in Flushing in order for this team to get back to the postseason.
The New York Mets entered the 2016 Major League Baseball season with high expectations after winning the National League Pennant last year. After a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on May 30, the Mets found themselves with a record of 29-21. But since then the Mets are 2-5 and they’ve also been dealing with a glut of injuries. In the past two weeks the Mets have seen third baseman David Wright and first baseman Lucas Duda sent to disabled list with injuries that are going to see them each miss a significant amount of time. Wright has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck, while Duda is dealing with a stress fracture in his back. This past weekend saw outfielder Yoenis Cespedes scratched from the Mets lineup due to an issue with his hip, while outfielder Juan Lagares suffered a partially torn thumb ligament while making a diving catch against the Miami Marlins. And once you factor in that catcher Travis d’Arnaud has been on the disabled list since April 25 with a shoulder injury, the Mets are now down four starters from their opening day roster.
The Mets offense has been painful to watch as they’ve only managed to muster 3 runs in their last three games which has seen them fall in the standings. The Mets are now 3.5 games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East, while they have a 0.5-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final wild card berth in the NL.
The Mets have one of the top pitching staffs in baseball as their team earned run average of 3.15 is second in the National League entering play today. But you cannot expect the pitching staff which is loaded with studs to constantly put up dominant outings without giving them some run support.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson now finds himself in a very tough spot as he needs to make some moves to improve his team’s offense, but we’re at a point in the season where teams aren’t willing to wave the white just yet. And as they know that the Mets are desperate for a bat or two, their asking price is going to be astronomical.
Today the Mets were able to acquire utility man Kelly Johnson from the Atlanta Braves. The Mets had previously acquired Johnson from the Braves last summer, and he was used as a bench player for them during the stretch run. But Johnson’s return to the Mets is only going to serve merely as being another body in the lineup as he is not the difference maker that they could use.
There are some teams that already appear to be out of contention such as the San Diego Padres, Cincinnati Reds, and Braves who have players that the Mets could use, but Alderson is attempting to hold off of on making a mega deal for now. Padres outfielder Jon Jay has picked the right time to have the best offensive season of his career as he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this winter. And even though that the Padres are in last place in the National League West, I doubt that they’ll pull the trigger on a deal now as they will more than likely want Jay to represent them in the All-Star Game next month since it will be held in San Diego. The Reds have a first baseman that the Mets can use in Joey Votto. But Votto is in the midst of his worst Major League Baseball season, while he is still owed nearly $175 million on his contract which runs through 2024. The Braves also have a first baseman that the Mets could use in Freddie Freeman. However I don’t see the Braves making a move that would keep Freeman in the NL East.
Now we get a chance to watch baseball’s version of high stakes poker as teams are attempting to call Alderson’s bluff. When healthy Alderson knows that the Mets are a World Series contender. But even if the Mets are able to make it back to the postseason, it won’t be easy since the National League has greatly improved from last year. In the NL East alone, the Nationals have found new life under manager Dusty Baker and they don’t appear to be the pushovers that they were last year. Wright and Duda aren’t coming back anytime soon, and although that Cespedes can carry a lineup, he only gets four at-bats per game, while he is also currently attempting to fight through an injury. Alderson cannot simply wait around for guys to get healthy as the small holes that are currently in the Mets dam are not going to stay like that for long if they aren’t properly addressed. And a season that began with so much promise for the Mets could get away from them in a New York minute if they don’t take care of their business.