After the Mets surprisingly won another game Tuesday night, the news came down from Sandy Alderson and David Wright that they were shutting him down for the balance of the season. While everyone probably applauds this decision, it’s not without questioning why it took so long to do what was obvious and necessary. Anyone who observed Wright struggling over the past few months could tell something was fundamentally wrong with him beyond the putrid results on the field. While he’s never been the hitter he was back in his Shea days, it certainly seemed plausible that something was ailing the man and affecting his ability to perform.
Over the years there have been many who have suggested the team’s medical staff would prescribe amputation for a hangnail, but this particular time I would hold them harmless and instead ask questions of the front office and the coaching staff who are responsible for protecting their $135 million investment. At what point does the feckless attempt to sell a few more tickets instead of facing the reality of the team’s performance finally sink in? It was fiscally irresponsible to allow further damage to occur instead of letting your captain – the face of MLB – to heal.
Doing the right thing (albeit months too late) provides the Mets with multiple other benefits as well. While many people have become enamored with Dilson Herrera’s bat and have already packed Daniel Murphy’s bags, they have the chance to play them both by shifting Murphy to his natural position of 3rd base. This maneuver allows for a longer term evaluation of which of these players should be starting for the team in 2015. Furthermore, should Daniel Murphy prove to be the odd man out, allowing him to showcase some positional versatility might increase his trade value.
Of course, this obvious solution is not necessarily a fait accompli. Remember who is filling out the lineup card. There are other options at his disposal named Josh Satin, Eric Campbell and Ruben Tejada. For all we know he may want to shoehorn Eric Young, Jr. into 2nd base to “get him going” as he’s been anemic for, well, his entire Mets career. Here’s hoping the adults in the room dictate to the manager who should be playing the majority of the time.
As the season winds down there are a few things to watch for the future. There’s Lucas Duda’s quest for 33 HRs so he can put an exclamation point on his season as it would have bested Ike Davis’ best output. There is the aforementioned play of Dilson Herrera. Wilmer Flores has been off and on with his bat, but his defensive performance has been better than advertised. There is the outstanding season put together by Daniel Murphy. There is the ongoing mad scramble of Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis for their Mets’ lives. There is the theatrical play of Juan Lagares in CF. There’s even lately been some flashes of productivity from Curtis Granderson.
On the pitching side of the ledger you have Jacob de Grom’s quest for Rookie of the Year. Tuesday’s performance had to help a lot. Zack Wheeler has been pitching to a 2.21 ERA for most of his season after a slow start. The veterans Dillon Gee and Jon Niese are also pitching for their Mets lives. Bartolo Colon is probably going to be there again next year doing what he does – throwing strikes and maintaining his even composure win or lose. Rafael Montero is getting another start to show whether or not some humidity and lower altitude are more conducive to pitching success. Jenrry Mejia appears to be in a bit of a mini-slump, but his celebration dance upon saving a game is worth the price of admission. Jeurys Familia has demonstrated he is a major force on the mound (unless the throw is to first base), and the return of Vic Black means the power armed trio will once again entertain late season fans.
Jim Bouton once described himself as having the optimism of a robin with a ten foot earthworm in its beak. Unless you are of a similar mindset, the season has long been over. Let’s play out the string, evaluate some fresh faces in new roles and see if 2015 can become meaningful after all.