Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Mets aren't toast...yet.

Back on May 11 I blithely suggested that "[s]hould the Mets play .500 ball for the rest of the season, they would end with 86 wins, which could give them a shot at the wild card." I took this as a baseline assumption, based on .500 being the pre-season consensus of what their prospects were this year. I went so far as to say they seemed likely to do better than that, assuming the reasonably prompt return of David Wright and others from the D.L., and no plethora of new injuries.

I didn't expect the Mets to go into a vertiginous nosedive in which they would lose ten out of fifteen, including losses in all their road games; swept 4-0 by the Cubs and 3-0 by the Pirates. On top of this came the news that Wright had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis. G.M. Sandy Alderson is trying hard to seem optimistic, saying "I'm hopeful that we'll see him back sooner than some are speculating."

The Mets' travails had me in a bit of a funk. I remembered this Crain's editorial, and thought about the long series of players the Mets had acquired as free agents or in trades--Kevin McReynolds, Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray, Roberto Alomar--to name some (and, yes, I'd include Mike Piazza in the list), in search of quick fixes that didn't happen. I wondered if Granderson and Cuddyer would be added to that list. I also wondered about the decision to go with Wilmer Flores (photo), with his nine errors so far this season, at shortstop. This seemed to be grounded in a privileging of offense over defense, in turn based on the theory that it's home runs, not crisply turned double plays, that draws crowds to the stands.

In any event, the notion that the Mets could simply outscore their opponents despite having sketchy defense clearly wasn't working. In the fourteen games from May 11 through 24 they were outscored 68-42. Part of this is the fault of poor outings by pitchers at the top of the rotation, but problems at the plate were obvious. Some of this could be attributed to Wright's absence, but those who had done much to make up for that earlier in the season--Duda, Flores, and Lagares--were now having trouble reaching base.

It occurred to me that one contributing factor might be the sadistic-seeming string of twenty games without a break, beginning on May 8 and continuing through tomorrow, May 27, But the longest string of losses--five in a row from May 11 through May 15--happened early in the long march. This did make me curious enough to find out if a couple on Staten Island (possible Yankees fans?) were still doing the MLB season schedule. The answer is: no, they're not. In 2004 they were replaced by The Sports Scheduling Group, a company located in Butler, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.

The Mets' win over the Phils yesterday brightened my spirits a bit. Colon, who got shelled the last time he was on the mound, got his seventh win of the season, and his second hit. Should he return next year, he will be denied any trips to the plate if the NL adopts the designated hitter rule. No, I can't write a baseball post without mentioning my disdain for the DH. Also, Flores' bat proved decisive with a three run dinger, and he made no errors. It's not the end of the world just yet.