Punchless Mets are Fading Fast
Over 25 years ago, I purchased my first house, a 2-bedroom row home in Allentown, PA. I was assured that this was a fine investment, one that would pay off handsomely in just a few years. Instead, the post-industrial, socio-economic decline that has plagued many American cities descended upon Allentown and put my investment under water. Unable to sell and unwilling to start a family in this environment, I became a landlord. Instead of hiring a property manager, I did the repairs myself. More accurately, I put off doing the repairs myself until it was no longer advisable to do so!
One of the issues was mold in the bathroom. I thought I could just paint over it, but in a short amount of time, my beautiful new paint faded and was pock marked with the same old mold. Repeated paintings did no good and eventually I had to tear out huge slices of the shower walls and rebuild.
The Mets fast start to the season and their glittering new pitching arms reminds me of that situation. For quite some time (including the second half of last year and the entire offseason), it was very apparent that the team lacked speed, played defense poorly and had a paper-thin bench. Their entire batting order consisted of mismatched parts, with no true lead-off, #3 hitter, cleanup or RBI-spot guys. At best, the lineup is a group of six-hole hitters forced into roles that they really aren’t suited for. There has been plenty of time to address this and yet nothing has been done.
Instead, the glittering paint of their starting rotation and the closer-by-accident, coupled with some incredibly timely hitting, dazzled everyone for the month of April. This week at Wrigley Field the Mets are finding out that Good Young Hitting > (Good Young Pitching – (Poor Defense + No Speed + No Depth + Poor Management)). Since their 11-game winning streak, the Mets have lost 10 of 17. The moldy reality has set in and they are likely to be out of first place by Memorial Day, below .500 by Father’s Day and looking for a new manager by Independence Day. Another lost season, made particularly damaging because folks have come out to see them and they were presented with the Same Old Mets. It may take longer for some these casual fans to ever come back again.
It’s time to make a move. Yes, the return of their injured starters will help, but they need to start ripping out the mold, starting in the middle infield. They could also begin looking for another corner outfielder and let the two slumping incumbents split time at one position. Dare I say it—but if they can upgrade at first base, they should. They have become boring and are bordering on irrelevant (and this while they are still in first place).
Their brainy front office guys are being paid in the millions, so they need to start earning it by fixing the mold. They can keep their pitching crown jewels, IMO and still get the bat (or glove or legs) they need. I would start with a certain ex-Met outfielder in Milwaukee, train wreck of a team if there ever was one. There is another ex-Met in exile in Toronto who is owed $50+ million that might be interested in a reunion. I think all either deal would really take is money and few A ball prospects. The Mets have plenty of both, we’re told, but their willingness to part with either is the big question.
Oh and the Allentown house? In the end, I sold it at a loss, but was I grateful just to get it out of my hair. If only the same sentiment could reach the owner’s box at Citi Field.