Posted by Reese Kaplan at 10:00 AM
The Mets team ERA is a sparkling 3.26 but they are only scoring 3.4 runs per game. Lately it’s not even been that much. That’s a recipe for finishing right around .500. 2015 was supposed to be the year of meaningful games in September. It’s gotten so bad that even the announcers are tuning out the team during the broadcasts and giving us discourses on the state of the Greek economy. As soon as the other team goes up by 2 runs, most fans feel the game is pretty much over. For the past month the team (not an individual -- the entire team) is batting .218 with a .618 OPS -- both worst in the National League.
Lucas Duda is just plain lost. Yes, he’s a veteran. Yes, he’s coming off a very solid 2014 campaign which made everyone believe he would be an offensive cornerstone around which to build. Instead, he’s on pace for a new franchise record of 169 strikeouts, surpassing such legendary whiff artists as Dave Kingman. He’s hitting .111 for the month of July. Send him to Las Vegas out of the spotlight and let him get his head on straight. It’s not like we’ll miss his bat.
Who would replace him? Gee, could anyone else deliver more than .111? My nomination would be recently returned Zach Lutz who had several solid years in the minors but never got more than a handful of ABs in the majors. He could play 1B and leave Murphy at 3B, or flip-flop them. For that matter, you could even try Dilson Herrera again for awhile (who’s hitting .340 in AAA) and shift Flores to 1B.
Speaking of the man who used to be shortstop, have you noticed his defensive play has been better than average at 2B? His offense still is not clicking at full potential, but since making the July 1st transition to that position he’s hitting .305 with a .340 OBP. The power has been down, but maybe the scrutiny of his play in the field was indeed interfering with the offensive side of his game.
Ruben Tejada is a lightning rod for polarization among the fan base. Supporters point to his .OBP, his defense and his recent hot streak of hitting. Detractors point to the long track record of futility at the plate, his mental gaffes, his lack of baserunning speed and his defense being adequate but not exactly Rey Ordoñez-like to justify a nearly identical career batting average. The fact is even his most vocal “he’s underappreciated and misunderstood” types would concede that on most teams he wouldn’t start. If so, why is he starting here? Blame Sandy Alderson.
Daniel Murphy is picking an especially bad time to phone in his performance during his walk year. He’s currently sitting on just a .267 AVG though his power numbers of 10/30 are not that far off from what he normally produces. I know people have grown weary of his mental gaffes, too, both in the field and on the basepaths. I think the only reason he’s still here is because David Wright is not. Even so, unless they plan to issue a $14 million qualifying offer, peddle him for peanuts because without the QO you don’t even get the empty shells. His offensive contributions are not that outstanding. I’d rather gamble on an outfielder or shortstop from another organization delivering more (at less money, too). Again, Flores could go to 3B and Herrera could go to 2B.
Kevin Plawecki is certainly starting to come around with the bat, but the overall numbers are not impressive. Still, he’s earned a right to be here and could be a solution to the 1B dilemma when Travis d’Arnaud returns. He could slot in there to keep his improving bat in the lineup during Lucas Duda’s desert sabbatical while d’Arnaud plays behind the plate. A lot of people are screaming for d’Arnaud to learn a new position to reduce the strain on his body. While that’s probably a good long term plan, you can’t just toss the guy a left fielder’s glove and say “have at it” without bad Todd Hundley flashbacks giving you nightmares.
Speaking of the “What outfield?”, the team needs at minimum two new bodies there and arguably a third with Curtis Granderson still woefully underperforming his career norms. Why the team is not disabling the two obviously injured folks patrolling LF and CF probably has more to do with service time clocks for Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto than it does with fears they couldn’t handle the big leagues. I’ll give Sandy Alderson one bone here…maybe he’s concerned that if they finish AA with good numbers, then they become viable trade chips, but if they struggle in the majors they diminish their value and thus his flexibility to move them to improve the team.
The bench includes five sub-Mendoza hitters in Eric Campbell, John Mayberry, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Anthony Recker and Danny Muno. That is almost unfathomable that they can’t even find a good bat/no-glove type of guy who can be relied upon to deliver when needed. Even as bad as Bobby Abreu was last year, he could occasionally look like a major leaguer. His .248 average would make him a cleanup hitter this year!
The most galling statistic I’ve seen regarding the futility of the offense is that the record setting ineptitude of the 1962 Mets actually scored more runs per game than this bunch do! If I had any hair left, I’d be pulling it out. It’s gotten so bad I even feel sorry for the skipper who’s asked to lead this crew. True, he still does dumb things like force lefty relievers into LOOGY roles when their numbers show reverse career splits, but hey, he is what he is – Sandy’s puppet. That won’t change either.