In case you missed it, FOX and MLB Network contributor Ken Rosenthal said last week that the Mets won’t contend until 2015, at the earliest. I am not a big fan of Rosenthal but I agree whole-heartedly with him. Yes, it’s nice to think that things are about to turn around, but that notion is more rooted in feelings and not on facts.
Just pause for a moment and reflect on what has been revealed so far this season about the Mets. They have no discernible strengths. They don’t hit well or consistently. They have no speed. They field poorly. They lack versatility. Three of their five starters can’t get out of the 5th inning. They have no proven LOOGY, set-up man or closer. Their manager is a lame duck and the coaching staff is a collection of empty uniforms. Their owners are among the worst in baseball and the front office is over-rated. All of this adds up to bad, boring and uninspired baseball. It is hard to get excited about a cast of characters that with few exceptions, we have no future with. A recent comparison of this season to the 1983 season makes me laugh. For those of you who don’t remember, 1983 was the last losing year before the run to the 1986 championship began.
I was there in 1983. That team had Darryl Strawberry breaking in to the majors, Keith Hernandez getting dropped onto their laps and Doc Gooden striking out 300 in the Carolina League. Right now, most of the Mets top prospects are either injured or struggling (putting an AAA team in Las Vegas is an unfolding disaster). Even if another Hernandez or Mike Piazza, aka a star player in his prime becomes available, what from the current front office’s track record indicates that they will do anything besides snooze through the opportunity?
Matt Harvey, Jon Niese and David Wright are the only current Mets that could crack any starting lineup. Harvey clearly would be a star anywhere he goes. The other two, while solid, are also being pressed as they need to pick up the slack for drop off behind them. Just look at Wright’s face after he makes an out. Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Bobby Parnell, Daniel Murphy and Jordany Valdespin might be able to find supporting roles on some contenders. The first four are on the verge of diminishing returns however, as they enter their arbitration eligible years. The rest of the team probably won’t be in the majors by 2015.
What we are seeing, in my opinion, is the last year of the deconstruction period. The rebuilding starts next year, when the team should have some more financial leeway and if all goes well, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud are added to the Harvey, Niese and Wright core. Five decent players is a start, especially if three of them are starting pitchers, but where can they find the other twenty? That’s what makes me think the next winning season is still a long ways off.
There are a finite number of ways to acquire ball players. And right now, none of these avenues look to promising as ways for the Mets to get much better quickly.
•The Farm System: Unless they really fall apart, we should see Wheeler and d’Arnaud playing prominent roles by at least by this time next year, if not sooner. How soon they can be counted on is another question entirely. Plus do you think d’Arnaud could perform any better than John Buck is right now? And who else is out there? Wilmer Flores has been underwhelming so far and he lacks a true defensive position. Josh Satin has certainly hit well enough to warrant some consideration, but we have seen that movie before. I get the feeling that Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Robert Carson and Josh Edgin have already flamed out. Looking deeper into the system, Rafael Montero probably needs another pitch and there is no one else in Binghamton worth a second thought, which is disturbing. Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo are still in A-Ball and at least two more years away.
•Free Agents: The 2014 Free Agent class is probably the worst one in several years. It is deep in back of the rotation starters, which the Mets have plenty of. It is almost bereft of any outfielders capable of being the long-term solution, unless Jacoby Ellsbury or Nate McClouth gets you excited. I really don’t see much value here, except in a few one year deals for cheap replacements for some of the arbitration-eligible current Mets. Would that be progress?
•The Trade Market: And so we come to the area that has created the most angst among the remaining faithful. Buck aside, GM Sandy Alderson has shown an inability to creatively acquire any useful major league parts to date. This is the biggest disappointment of the Alderson era, at least for me. I had high hopes for several canny Moneyball type moves. Instead, it has been a string of failures, most noticeably in the bullpen and the outfield, but everywhere else as well. The inactivity during last year’s trade deadline was dumbfounding and he no longer has an RA Dickey or Carlos Beltran to dangle for prospects. This is the probably the year he gets forced to move some of the aforementioned gang of four. Based a previous soft market on these guys, the returns are likely to be minor leaguers, so he should try to grab a few speedy, good glove types that the home ballpark screams for.
•The Roads Less Traveled:The International Market is also dry this offseason and considering the team’s lack of success in this venue, that is probably a good thing. Counting on the Rule V draft or the non-tender market for serviceable additions is the equivalent of buying a single lottery ticket in the hopes of winning millions. Like the trade market, the team has an extended track record of ignoring the non-tender market anyway. I guess the June Amateur Draft is another option, but I seriously doubt anyone drafted next month is playing for the Big Club next year (nor should they be).
1983 Again? Sometimes I think we are looking at another 1980. If I can end on a high note, they did crawl out the woodwork in 1997 based mainly on some heads-up managing by new manager Bobby Valentine. Rosenthal also reports that the Angels are considering a parting ways with Mike Scioscia. In my estimation, bringing in a proven winner like that might be a good place for the Mets to start with some course adjustments.
What do you think? Sound off below.
About the Author
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 Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.