8/26/15

Reese Kaplan -- Rollercoasters Are Not for Everyone

4 comments


The 2015 baseball season has not yet concluded, yet there have been thrills, spills and more time in the infirmary than anyone had reasonably expected to have happened, yet somehow as August draws to a close the team finds itself five games out in front of the NL East.  No one could have predicted the rapid collapse of the Washington Nationals just as no one could have predicted Steady Sandy Alderson suddenly doing his best Bob Barker impression in late July and early August.  Take a moment to review just how this season unfolded:


Opening Day Roster
Player
Position
Travis d'Arnaud
C
Lucas Duda
1B
Daniel Murphy
2B
David Wright
3B
Wilmer Flores
SS
Michael Cuddyer
LF
Juan Lagares
CF
Curtis Granderson
RF
Anthony Recker
BE
Kirk Nieuwenhuis
BE
John Mayberry Jr.
BE
Ruben Tejada
BE
Bartolo Colon
SP
Jacob deGrom
SP
Matt Harvey
SP
Jon Niese
SP
Dillon Gee
SP
Jenrry Mejia
RP
Jeurys Familia
RP
Carlos Torres
RP
Alex Torres
RP
Jerry Blevins
RP
Rafael Montero
RP
Sean Gilmartin
RP
Buddy Carlyle
RP

Today's Roster:
Player
Position
Travis d'Arnaud
C
Kelly Johnson
BE
Daniel Murphy
2B
David Wright
3B
Wilmer Flores
BE
Michael Cuddyer
1B
Juan Lagares
BE
Curtis Granderson
RF
Anthony Recker
BE
Michael Conforto
LF
Juan Uribe
BE
Ruben Tejada
SS
Yoenis Cespedes
CF
Jacob deGrom
SP
Matt Harvey
SP
Jon Niese
SP
Noah Syndergaard
SP
Bartolo Colon
SP
Jeurys Familia
RP
Carlos Torres
RP
Hansel Robles
RP
Tyler Clippard
RP
Eric O’Flaherty
RP
Sean Gilmartin
RP
Logan Verrett
RP

Quite a few names have changed…in fact, only 15 of the 25 players are there who began the year coming north from Florida (and that includes minimal contributions from long-injured players like David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Cuddyer and the demoted and promoted once again Anthony Recker).  

Then there’s the record of the club…it started out so well for the team.  After beginning the first five games a lackluster 2-3, they went onto an 11 game winning streak which brought them to a high water mark of 13-3, 10 games over .500 for the year.  All seemed to go better than even the most optimistic fans among us would have hoped, but then the injuries began to take their toll.  Furthermore, the lackluster bench at one point included five sub-.200 hitters (and it showed). 

On June 22nd a 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers officially returned the team to mediocrity as the 10-games over .500 had evaporated during a 7-game losing streak and the club was left sitting with a 36-36 record.  Scoring runs became a major challenge to the club and it had gotten to the point that even a 2-run lead seemed insurmountable. 

Give credit to manager Terry Collins for holding the team together, maintaining that .500 mark for the next month or so.  Yes, there were always the bizarre lineup decisions and bullpen mismanagement that could likely have resulted in a few more wins here and there, but given what the team provided in terms of roster talent, they still remained within striking distance. 

Then uncharacteristically Sandy Alderson went on a trading binge to try to reshape the roster to drive towards the team’s first post-season appearance since 2006.  Tyler Clippard became the first significant addition.  He was certainly most welcome, but many fans felt that a team bereft of offense shouldn’t necessarily be spending its trading chips on high end relievers when the pen already included Jenrry Mejia for the 8th inning and Jeurys Familia for the 9th.  Apparently a little birdie told Sandy Alderson that Mejia’s days were rapidly coming to an end as he was cited for a PED suspension just a day after the trade was made. 

Alderson wasn’t done yet.  He acquired pieces to fortify the bench in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, veterans who individually were having much more productive seasons for Atlanta than the aggregate of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Eric Campbell, John Mayberry, Danny Muno, Darrell Ceciliani, Anthony Recker and Johnny Monell had for the Mets. 

Next came the aborted near-trade that would have reunited Carlos Gomez with the Mets, giving them power, speed and defense.  It included the tearful revelation to Wilmer Flores during the game in which the trade had been leaked by Milwaukee to its affected players, but ultimately fell through over (depending on who you choose to believe) disputed medical records or disputed salary dollars coming once the foundation for the deal had already been set. 

Mets fans were once again pushed to the brink of ecstasy through the acquisition of an offensive force only to have the rug yanked out from under them again. 

Two days later Gomez was on the move, but this time to the first place Houston Astros and the rabbit Sandy Alderson pulled out of his hat as consolation prize at the 11th hour was Yoenis Cespedes coming to the Mets.  Granted, Gomez was under contract beyond 2015 and Cespedes is thus far just a rental, but the two acquisitions couldn’t have gone in more opposite directions.  Cespedes is hitting well over .300 as a NY Met and Gomez is around .180 for his new employers.  Friday’s game in Colorado in which Cespedes had 3 HRs, 5 hits and 7 RBIs demonstrated he could carry the team on his back when necessary. 

The last piece acquired was an attempt to fill that LOOGY role that Alex Torres did not nail down during his Mets tenure.  Eric O’Flaherty had been a shutdown reliever for the Atlanta Braves before injuries hit.  Thus far he’s off to a rocky start, with a 14.73 ERA over 6 games.  Some are quick to point out that he’s been hit hard by right handed batters (which is not his forte), but that failing belongs to his manager who, like other relief pitchers before him, has used him in a suboptimal manner.  Right handers are batting an embarrassing .431 against him.

While the flurry of activity can be picked apart for what has and what has not worked, the fact remains that on August 24th the team begins its week with a 67-56 record, 11 games over .500 – the highest they’ve been all year – and a 5 game lead over the favored Washington Nationals.  David Wright returns to the lineup today, Steven Matz is likely back after his Wednesday appearance in Binghamton, and optimism reigns supreme.  If they keep up this .545 winning percentage they will finish the season 88-74, not exactly the stuff of dynasties, but a surprisingly strong finish after the malaise of May through July. 

4 comments:

Thomas Brennan said...

Terry Collins is a genius. Just needed guys who could hit.

The team needs to go to 25-12 to hit my pre-season target of 94. I'm holding at 94.

Let's hope this roller coaster finishes its ride like in 1969.

Lew Rhodes said...

This season is proving again that the manager has little outcome on the actual games

Collins should get credit for keeping the team somewhat afloat during May / June

Reese Kaplan said...

@Lew Rhodes -- and I did give him credit. It was looking mighty dire for awhile.

Mack Ade said...

This might have been the most pro-TC Kaplan post ever :)

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