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The End of the Mighty Mets?

June 25, 2017

     It is almost impossible to believe how distant in the past that magical 2015 season already seems, especially now that it has been largely overshadowed by last years all time great World Series, Before last year's media darling of an underdogs matchup was the original series of two historically lackluster franchises. That year the New York Mets surged out of a muddy rebuild to shockingly make the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons and reach the World Series for the first time since 2000. The unstoppable force of playoff Daniel Murphy and company however would meet the immovable object of Kansas City's  three headed monster of a bullpen, and the equally hot Royals (and also currently poor performing) would prove to be too much for the upstart Metropolitan to handles. The Mets, being of course no one else but the Mets, have simply not been the same team since. Following a shaky 2016 season in which the Mets had to go 27-13 in their last 40 games to make (and eventually loose in) the National League Wild Card playoff, the Mets are off to an even worst start this season. As we near the All-Star Break they are currently sitting at 33 and 41, 12.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card and 11.5 games behind the first place Nationals in the NL West.

 

     One does not have to look hard to see why the Mets have had more than their fair share of struggles so far this season.  While their offense has been largely mediocre, scoring the sixth most runs in the National League, their pitching and defense have been simply dreadful. According to MLB.com the Mets rank dead last in in Defensive Efficiency Ratio, have the second highest ERA, the highest WHIP, and have allowed the second most hits in the National League thus far this year. For a team that prided itself in its once highly praised young pitching core those numbers are a brutal reality check. Even when the Mets were contending, their defense was definitely nothing stellar, but the benching of stalwart Juan Lugares in center field to fit defensive stiffs such as Jay Bruce into the lineup and generally playing fielding minuses at nearly every position has done nothing to help an staff under siege by injury, drama, and underperformance. Noah Syndegaard, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Zach Wheeler, and Steven Matz have all hardly pitched this year and Harvey especially appears to be a lost cause to return to his once exceptional Cy Young level form. Coupled with injuries to David Wright and Neil Walker, as well as ineffective seasons from Travis d'Arnaud, Jose Reyes, and Asdrubal Cabrera, its no wonder that the Mets are nowhere near the caliber of team that they were last year, let alone the one that made the World Series. 

 

     As a result it is no shock that as Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported this week, the Mets are willing to listen to offers for its aging vets, especially those that are nearing the end of their deals such as Curtis Granderson, Cabrera, Bruce, and Addison Reed. In other words it appears, from the outside at least, that General Manager Sandy Alderson has decided to throw in the towel on this current Mets aging core and make the Mets sellers for at least the remainder of this season. While the Mets will likely struggle to get much of any return on Granderson and Cabrera, Bruce has been slugging away per usual at the plate and Reed has been probably the Mets most effective pitcher this season. It is hard to imagine that a contender or two wouldn't be willing to take fliers on these two rentals, (both are free agents following this season) between Bruce's nineteen homeruns on the season and Reed having his third straight season with a sub 3.00 ERA with the Mets, a team will bite. However it is hard to imagine the Mets will get much more than second or even third tear prospects in return, the equivalent of recouping the prospect investment they made to acquire the players in the first place. The good news Mets fans, Alderson has done an adequate job keeping the Mets prospect pipeline flowing as the team contended the past few years.

 

     While Alderson did give up some notable players such as young ace Michael Fulmer (though of course worth trading for the outstanding Yoenis Cespedes), he has managed to avoid completely mortgaging the future of the Mets as they now begin their next rebuild as this window of contention comes to a close. First and foremost it is impossible to ignore the budding star that is Michael Comforto. While he may not be the most famous young outfielder in New York, he is a full year younger than fellow starlet Aaron Judge and currently slashing .288/.406/.959 with 47 runs, 14 homers, and 41 RBIs. I think its safe to say Comforto is here to stay as the heart of the new order in Queens for many prosperous years to come. And he is only the beginning of the Mets youth movement. Amed Rosario is considered to be a top five prospect in the Major Leagues and should take the starting shortstop job from the player formerly knows as Jose Reyes any day now. First baseman Dominic Smith is another talented top 100 prospect, a young bat on the cusp of the majors. And at the same time, while the careers of the once highly touted Gavin Cecchini and Brandon Nimmo have stagnated the past few seasons, talent doesn't disappear over night and they still have the potential to provide the ever cash strapped Mets with cheap and serviceable Major League talent. Thats not to even mention all the talented under thirty arms the Mets still have, regardless of current injuries or lack of recent effectiveness. While some like Harvey may be lost causes (unless the New York nightlife suddenly starts saving careers), there is still plenty to like here. Alderson definitely needs to seriously reevaluate the Mets training staff, especially with regard to its embarrassing job at injury prevention for its young prized pitchers, but Matz, Syndegarrd, Wheeler, and Familia, are all still salvageable going forward, and Jacob Degrom and Seth Lugo are at the very least dependable and solid innings. While the future of the Mets still leaves plenty of question marks, Alderson is one the best in the business and don't be surprised if he once again brings the Mets back to contention sooner than later. At the very least they are clearly in a better position going forward than their former World Series foes over in Kansas City, and maybe there's the silver lining that Mets fans have been searching for for the past two years.

 

 

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