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.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. Extragooey May 13, 2015 at 10:39 am
    Wait what? Upgrade at 1st? Cuz Duda is the problem right?

    I never expected the offense to be spectacular. I expected more from Cuddyer, Wright to return to a decent offensive player, Granderson to make a little more contact, Flores to hit better and give up some runs at short, and continued improvements from d’Arnaud, Legares, and Duda. That’s the offense I expected. And with the pitching staff, should be enough to win 85-90 games and compete for a wild card. I still think this can happen.

    I’d like to know how you propose to keep all the young stud arms and still trade for Reyes and Gomez.

  2. Dave May 13, 2015 at 10:43 am
    Is it really time to make panic trades? First of all Jose Reyes is one of my all time favorite Mets, but bringing back an injury-prone middle infielder owed a ton of money on the wrong side of 30 (hey, look at that, he’s on the DL with an oblique injury he tried to play through by batting only right-handed!) isn’t going to help anything. Ian Desmond and Starlin Castro are both probably superior players to Wilmer Flores but are also getting outhit by the young Met in the early season and would cost boatloads of prospects.

    As for the former Met in Milwaukee, All Star centerfielders tend to cost more than low-level prospects. At a minimum you’d be talking about a Lagares, a Syndergaard or a Matz, and other pieces to get him, and then you’re stuck in the same boat as before with two aging, overpaid veterans in the corners.

    Sadly the best bet is to stick (mostly) with what they have, turn second base over to Herrera, keep Duda at first (where he’s surprisingly adequate defensively), hope Wright isn’t done, and fast-track Michael Conforto who should be displacing a corner outfielder by 2016 at the latest.

    • Extragooey May 13, 2015 at 11:15 am
      I agree here with Conforto. Let’s see how he does while fast-tracked. He’s no Kris Bryant, but he’s similar in that he’s an advanced and mature hitter. May be able to provide 15-20 homers and a ton of doubles while getting close to .400 OBP. That I think is his ceiling. Let’s see if this can happen.
      • Dan Capwell May 13, 2015 at 1:08 pm
        Dave and E-G:

        So we should punt 2015? Let’s wait for 2016 and fast track a prospect/suspect and hope for the best?

        Maybe that annoying Pedro Martinez is right: we settle.

        Now, if you want to fast track anyone, I would look at Binghamton’s shortstop right now.

        • Extragooey May 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm
          I don’t think I’m punting 2015. d’Arnaud and Wright are still out. Black and Parnell are both still out as well. Yes, they’ve faded since the win streak, but they are still 7 games above. Sure, let’s get Gomez. But if you don’t think the Brewers would want any of the “pitching crown jewels”, i think you’re crazy.

          I think Conforto’s overall maturity as a hitter screams fast-tracking. It’s not because he’s hot in the minors, in fact it looks like he may be struggling a bit. Gavin Cecchini may finally be developing. Because of this, you don’t fast track.

        • Dave May 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm
          It’s not so much give up as not make a panic trade. Bringing in a Reyes or even a Carlos Gonzalez isn’t going to suddenly make this team better. MAYBE a Ryan Braun would be available for mostly taking on the contract but I’d really want him to come with a Biogenesis doctor too.

          The magic elixir may be Troy Tulowitzki but again your talking one of Harvey or deGrom, one of Syndergaard or Matz, plus other pieces to make it work. You can’t trade Dillon Gee and expect back an All Star unless someone wildly underrates a young player’s skill a la a Colin McHugh (d’oh!). So yes, you hope that as the season progresses the 23 year old Flores and 21 year old Herrera improve, Wright and d’Arnaud come back healthy and productive, and maybe spin some mid-level prospects for a Brandon Moss caliber player to upgrade the outfield if you can.

        • Mike B May 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm
          Harvery or Degrom and Syndergard or Matz… Pot must be legal in your state. You can get an All Star for less then that when that all star is on the DL every year and is making 20+ million a year.
  3. MATT May 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm
    Dan– too bad that you weren’t a Billy Joel fan when you decided to buy that house. “Allentown” was his 1982 hit describing the post-industrial, socio-economic decline that had already descended upon Allentown!

    I agree with your analysis. I think that those of us fans who have been paying attention since 2007 knew to expect that the wheels would fall off after April. The team can’t hit, STILL doesn’t have a shortstop, and effectively has outfield defense consisting solely of Juan Lagares. Hot pitching can only paper over all these glaring deficiencies for so long. It would be nice if the glimmer of hope that, at least temporarily, brought back some fans would be an impetus to address these problems by taking our immensely profitable (SNY) big-market team out of the bottom 10 in MLB payrolls, but I am not optimistic.

    • Dan Capwell May 13, 2015 at 1:06 pm
      We were sooooo proud of that song here!
  4. DanB May 13, 2015 at 12:47 pm
    I have an image in my head of Jeff Wilpon reading this analysis and saying over and over “he’s right, he’s right” up to the point it said, “all either deal would take is money”. Then I imagine him laughing and going back to judging his employees’ social life.
  5. david May 14, 2015 at 1:47 am
    Always enjoy your posts Dan, but you are missing the silver lining – we get a new manager by 4th of July! (*I am still pulling for Wally, and not bc he was an ’86er but bc he deserves it based on his performance). One of the interesting things to come out of this series is to see a John Maddon team vs. a Terry Collins team.

    Winning teams must, must, must get the runner home from 3rd with less than 2 outs. Flores failed to do it twice today. Ticket to Vegas, Matt Reynolds this is your chance. Of course, its not Flores fault no one taught him that he can’t hit a 3 run HR every time but 11, 12 times of pop ups and fly balls has to send a signal to someone.

    And while I did not see the game, Terry’s use of the bullpen again makes me squirm. Why did C Torres come out for the 9th inning if Familia was available? And if the idea was to rest Familia, then why bring him in at all? Goeddel has been lights out, and Leathersich should have been in the ‘pen except for someone’s incompetence.

    This team is headed in the right direction Dan, and dare I say it a better direction that your house in Allentown. Look at these struggles as important to compel the moves that turned the ’84 Mets into the ’86 Mets, to borrow an analogy I saw on this Blog some time ago.

    • Dan B May 14, 2015 at 8:46 am
      The 1984 analogy is interesting. On the field, I can see your point. In the the front office, they are miles apart. Frank Cashen’s reputation for bringing in players who can help the big league team immediately dwarfs Sandy Alderson’s. Nelson Doubleday was controlling interest owner and could deflect Fred Wilpon’s actions. But most importantly, in 1984 Jeff Wilpon had just finished community college and had no input in the Mets. If you don’t think Jeff Wilpon’s position as COO has any effect on wins and losses, then you are not paying close attention. Right, Pedro Martinez?
      • DaveSchneck May 14, 2015 at 10:52 pm
        Any word on how Jeff’s kid did at U Penn this year? I’m still holding out hope that your generation-skipping gene theory is accurate and Fred’s grandson will save the franchise.
        • Dan B May 14, 2015 at 11:13 pm
          I couldn’t find stats on him but I read a report on his efforts to raise money to help kids fighting cancer. What Jeff Wilpon lacks in baseball intelligence he seems to make up for it in parental skills.
  6. Colin May 14, 2015 at 7:42 am
    Its not the same old Mets, its the same old Mets Fans. Lets take it easy. Do not panic. Little slumps are going to happen.
    • Dan Capwell May 14, 2015 at 8:50 am
      “Little” slumps are 4-5 games. 18 games is a trend. Every issue this team has had for the past 18 months is still an issue. Shortstop, defense, speed and the bullpen are all lacking. How much further must this go on before it is finally addressed?

      Flores and Murphy are not the answer up the middle. They lack power and speed so they need to play station-to-station offense with a bunch of poor hitters. In fairness the Jerry Blevins injury re-opens an issue that had been somewhat fixed, but the bullpen is still weak. There is no one they can count on to come off the bench. This could have been written back in 2013 and yet it is STILL the case today!

  7. Bat May 14, 2015 at 9:22 am
    I’m surprised at the negative outlook from Cappy and others.

    I think the Mets have a lot of depth and I think they’ll be in the fight for the playoffs, and might even be successful. For example, if Flores can’t do the job, I think we’ll see Reynolds. The better player of Murphy or Herrera will play 2B. TDA will reclaim his spot at C when he comes off the DL, but if he goes into a tailspin, which I don’t suspect will happen, Plaw is waiting in the wings.

    The Mets have lost Wright for an extended period of time, and have had a lot of injuries on the pitching staff: first, the starters – Wheeler (more serious), and Montero and Gee (less serious) and currently have an entire pretty good bullpen on the DL – Parnell, Mejia, Black, Edgin, and Blevins. And they have persevered okay.

    The Mets haven’t played particularly well the past 18 games, but the baseball season is long and I’m confident the Mets will come around.

    I don’t know why everyone wants to trade Murphy to “some team that wants to play him as a super utility guy.” I think this is where Murphy’s true value lies, and rather than seeing him do that on another team, why can’t the Mets keep him to do that? And please don’t say because of money. If Herrera is making the league minimum at 2B, the Mets can afford to pay Murphy to be the first guy off the bench; from a monetary standpoint, this is just as if Herrera (or Campbell) is on the bench making the league minimum, and Murphy is playing 2B.

  8. James May 15, 2015 at 7:06 pm
    I agree with the silver lining reply. Terry may actually get fired in July and Wally will finally get a shot. All wally does is win and all Terry does is lose. Are the Cubs that good that they show great promise and confidence and are starting to absorb and display Madden’s type of team? The Vegas kids play awesome under Wally no matter who they have playing for him. Send someone down see d’arnaud….he finds his way. Plawecki..Flores..on and on. They absorb Wally’s fire and play the right way. Same with Terry. They absorb his ways and under achieve. The only silver lining is keep losing and most likely nothing will happen….but just maybe Wally will get a shot. Then watch what happens.
  9. Phil Salzman May 31, 2015 at 12:49 pm
    Perhaps this will teach fans to ignore eary NY hype whcih usually proves to be misplaced.