Mets 2014: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves
“We’ll spend more…if the fans come to the games.”
Sandy Alderson, as quoted by Metsblog
Imagine any other product or service provider saying this to or about their customers! I am stunned that this comment hasn’t been more widely picked up on and discussed. Where is the outrage? Maybe most of the fan base has drifted into apathetic indifference. Granted, Metsblog is not the most reliable of sources. But, still…
Speaking of Metsblog, I had to chuckle at Maggie’s reaction to the PECOTA projection of 74 wins for the Mets this season. Mags worked real hard to put together an “if everything breaks right” scenario and ended up at 78 wins! That certainly made me feel better.
At the risk of sounding out of date, this offseason is an Epic Fail for the Mets front office. I don’t care how many phenom arms they think they have. If you can’t score runs, you won’t win ballgames. Project any starting eight for the Mets based on the current roster. No matter how you slice it, you get several players with .sub 225 batting averages strung together in the lineup. That makes for play that is both bad and boring.
If you can take it, check out last year’s offensive production. Met non-pitchers hit for a slash line of 244/314/379. That’s good for 14th, 12th and 14th respectively in the 15-team National League. That OPB was driven in part by 500 walks to non-pitchers, good for fourth in the league. But unless the plan this year is to string multiple walks together each inning, the Mets’ lack of speed and power, coupled with a propensity to strike out, (Met non-pitchers struck out 1,245 times, tops in the National League) offsets any benefit from the bases on balls. If an amateur GM like me can see this, then Sandy the Genius should be all over it, right? So who did he go out and get to boost the offense? Try Curtis Granderson, who slashed his way to 229/317/407 in 2013 and Chris B. Young, who finished 200/280/379. In other words, their only two offensive imports performed worse than the average Mets batter did in 2013. Yeah, I get it that Grandy was hurt in 2013, but his track record is littered with similar results. Young hasn’t been good since 2010. Oh, and they both strike out a lot.
So when the smoke clears, the Mets are very likely to have added between three and five new players into the mix of guys they used in 2013’s stellar 74-88 campaign. Three of them are locks: Granderson, Young and Bartolo Colon. John Lannan has a 50/50 chance to stick and I’ll give the 25th spot to NRI Anthony Seratelli because he’s the type of player Alderson and Manager Terry Collins seem to love. The rest of the team is that same crew that went 33-38 after the All Star break (not .500 as Sandy has been quoted saying) and 9-19 down the stretch against teams vying for a playoff spot.
To paraphrase Denny Green, players like Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young Jr. , Anthony Recker and Omar Quintanilla are who we think they are, which is either slightly above or slightly below replacement level players. With the possible exception the 23-year old Tejada, we have seen their best and their worst. Is Niese going to suddenly rip off a series of 17-plus win seasons? Will Parnell become a shutdown reliever in the Trevor Hoffman mode? Can Murphy ever hit .320 again or Ike blast 30 homers? At 27, will Duda ever “put it all together?” I’ll answer my own questions: no, no, no, no and no. Performances aside, none of them are the marquee names that fill the family mini-vans across the Tri-State area and get them pointed in the direction of Citi Field. And by the way, Parnell is still hurt.
I don’t get the adulation for Alderson. This is the silver anniversary of the only world title he ever won as a GM, (which was aided by both steroids and an earthquake). If you dare, Google the GM careers of his assistants Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi. Keith Law’s recent ranking of the Mets’ farm system at #6 sent a jolt through the blogosphere, but history cautions against too much euphoria over prospect rankings. Very few of them ever live up to expectations, due to injuries, major league scouting and their having to now compete against the very best.
My sense is that Jhonny Peralta was the big target for Alderson and Co. and by the time they recovered from sticker shock, it was too late. Wouldn’t it have been better if they signed him at his price, perhaps offsetting some of that money by non-tendering Ike, Duda, and Tejada? They could have easily picked up someone in the Lyle Overbay mold on a minor league deal to cover first. While the Brewers and the Orioles rejected an Ike-for-pitching-prospects deal, perhaps if the Mets substituted Murphy for Ike they could have pulled one of those deals off, leaving EYJ and Wilmer Flores to split time at second. They then could have waited out the market for Nelson Cruz instead of signing Granderson. This would be the equivalent of dropping a bomb on the 2013 team, which is what they promised to do at the end of last season. By my calculations, they could have done this for about the same (if not less) money. And I thought Alderson invented Moneyball.
PS: Pundits everywhere have written some fine Ralph Kiner eulogies since his passing, most of them focusing on his storytelling, his sense of humor, the fact that he dated movie starlets and his “what if?” baseball career. Not to be lost in the tapestry of these tales is/was his deep understanding of the game itself. His broadcasts with Tim McCarver in the mid 1980’s represent the zenith of baseball announcing, a banner that fortunately for us, has been picked up by the Mets current SNY broadcast crew.
Ralph’s eye for the game didn’t decrease with age. On July 26, 2012 Matt Harvey made his major league debut against the Diamondbacks in Arizona and Ralph was in the booth for that game. During Harvey’s 6-inning, 11-strikeout performance, Kiner stated that the Mets had found their next Tom Seaver. I remember chortling to myself over that remark and wondered if Jeffy hadn’t slipped Ralph a box of Cubans to say that.
My apologies for doubting your integrity, Ralph. Thanks for all the great memories, including this one.