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The Mets are What We (Always) Thought They Were

TCdugout

Late in April my brother-in-law (a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan who now resides in D.C. and has adopted the Nationals as his second love) wrote me a short email. Here was the entire content of the message:

“So, are the Mets legit?”

Excellent question. The date was April 23rd. I remember exactly what went through my head before replying. Because I actually contemplated the response. The reason was simple. I am 37 years-old. I’ve been a New York Mets fan since I could crawl. Three decades-plus of Metsdom and all that accompanies it. I don’t want to assume or overplay the “martyr” role. Lots of fans have it rough. Still, I’d seen enough, particularly over the last few years, to step back a second before pounding the keyboard with a response. So, after careful consideration (OK, maybe a whole two minutes), here is how I replied.

I can neither confirm nor deny. But pretty fun to watch so far…

The response was an output of they very Metsdom referenced above. The reply was measured. Each word literally cowering in fear of any sort of commitment. The ellipses and “so far” almost foreboding. A psychologist could have fun with those 13 words. There was no way I was willing to say this team was a legitimate contender. I knew better. Yet, you also couldn’t ignore the early results and say it was definitively all a mirage. They WERE fun to watch.

Fast-forward only two months. It was a mirage…and it wasn’t. THAT team was at least semi-legit based on the below Opening Day roster:

Travis d’Arnaud
Lucas Duda
Daniel Murphy
David Wright
Wilmer Flores
Michael Cuddyer
Juan Lagares
Curtis Granderson
Anthony Recker
Kirk Nieuwenhuis
John Mayberry Jr.
Ruben Tejada
Bartolo Colon
Jacob deGrom
Matt Harvey
Jon Niese
Dillon Gee
Jenrry Mejia
Jeurys Familia
Carlos Torres
Alex Torres
Jerry Blevins
Rafael Montero
Sean Gilmartin
Buddy Carlyle

This is some of what’s changed/transpired since (note: the Mets have played 72 games this season).

Travis d’Arnaud (two stints on DL and 19 total games played)
Daniel Murphy (currently on  DL, has missed last two weeks)
David Wright (out indefinitely, has played five games all season)
Juan Lagares (playing through injuries, has bum shoulder and can’t throw)
Anthony Recker (in AAA)
Kirk Nieuwenhuis (waived, picked up and dumped by Angels, picked up again by Mets and in AAA…telling in and of itself)
Dillon Gee (in AAA)
Jenrry Mejia (suspended on April 11)
Jerry Blevins (on DL as of April 19th, appeared in 7 games)
Rafael Montero (went on DL April 30th, yet to resume throwing)
Buddy Carlyle (went on DL May 20th, hasn’t resumed throwing)
Appearances and major league at-bats for the likes of Danny Muno, Dilson Herrera, Darrell Cecilliani, Eric Campbell and Johnny Monnell.

Now, for the Mets fan, the question is WHAT NOW? The current lineup is legitimately quadruple-A. This recent six-game slide is a manifestation of what so many of us saw as inevitable as the paper-thin roster was punctured with holes and plugged with even thinner tissue paper. What’s more, the depleted roster has only helped magnify and further expose the inherent flaws of even the roster mainstays. Wilmer Flores is an awful defensive player at one of the most important defensive positions on the field. Curtis Granderson is the antithesis of a leadoff hitter, yet he hits at the top of the lineup and is tied for the team lead in home runs with 10. He has only 22 RBIs, despite those 10 HRs. He leads the team in strikeouts with 70.  His OBP is .340. Stop us when this starts sounding strange for a leadoff hitter. Michael Cuddyer has gone from sidekick and protection for his friend David Wright to a cleanup hitter to be relied on to consistently produce runs. Not so much. Our starting pitchers have correspondingly had to raise their start threshold from solid to superb to spectacular in order to get a win. And on and on it goes…

The “spirit” of the team, as well as perhaps its collective baseball sense, has also been seemingly zapped. Sure, losing takes the fun out of the game. But I recall those first months and thinking. This team is fun. This team plays hard. This team battles. This team plays the game right. There were the smiles, the car wash-style post-home run celebrations. Fist pumps and pick-ups. Now? Nothing. Lifeless. Lost. Lacksadaisical.

So, we again return to questions. The original. Are the Mets legit? Right now? HELL NO. Can they be? Perhaps. The second question. WHAT NOW? What needs to happen? Well, let’s not say health. Only so much can be done there (short of maybe firing Ray Ramirez as we seem to be a perpetually injury-plagued bunch, but maybe that’s a figment of my imagination and not a solution in and of itself). It starts to come down squarely on Sandy. Mr. Alderson. General Manager. The man not in charge of making players perform, but helping put together a roster that has the potential to perform. This roster, regardless of the reason, no longer has the potential to perform. Not at a playoff-contenting level and not even at a .500 level. One could argue if they can consistently compete at a Major League level.

Sandy, it’s your play. Hamstrung or not, don’t want to hear it. Bad luck, don’t want to hear it. Waiting for so-and-so to get back, don’t want to hear it. Rough stretch, don’t want to hear it. Address the issues…to the best of your ability. But act. It’s time. In fact, it’s past due. Maybe you’ve been dealt a bad hand, but it’s time to make a move. Otherwise, you might as well just fold…and call it (another) lost season.

Hope is a good thing. Maybe one of the best of things. But our hope for this season is dying, Sandy. Do something to resuscitate it.

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