Ernest Dove - How Nats Taught Mets To Go ALL IN This Season


  So, after completing what may have been the most important series in about 9 years the Mets now take their talents to Hotlanta to take on the not-so-hot Braves.   But I wanted to utilize this weekly post to talk a little more about what has occurred, how it has occurred, and how it important it may truly be that it is occurring.
  After years of futility the Amazin's find themselves within a couple  of weekly of securing the promised land of pure October baseball on the national stage.  And, speaking of national, how about the team they just swept and what they may have learned from the experience, and also learned overall the past 3 years from the organization over there in DC.
  Over the past 3 seasons, the Washington Nationals have averaged 93 wins. Including a highly successful 2013 campaign which brought out their highest fan attendance since becoming an actual DC franchise in 2005.   And it also started and coincided with the return of new staff ace Stephen Strasburg in 2012, who was coming back from TJS.  However, as we all know, the Nationals, even while looking around the league and seeing another NL east team putting their young post TJS arm in the April bullpen, the Nationals decided to ride their act from day 1.  Strasburg responded with some strong starts, 28 in all, with an extremely solid and per usual high K rate, to go along with a very respectable ERA  of 3.16.  Then the interesting happened. The team went from a sub .500 2011 season to an incredible 98 win mark, well on their way to the playoffs.  However, the team made the ultimate decision to not get crazy with skipped starts, 6 man rotations and some Jacob deGrom two week hiatus.  No, the Nationals simply shut down their ace, very respectfully gave a really good reason involving the long term health of their top arm, and their thought process behind have a true legit arsenal of other young core players all signed up and under team control.  But then a funny thing happened along the way.  The Nats fell in the 2012 playoffs, perhaps had the sting carry over into a down 86 win season in 2013, and then boomed in 2014 with another huge 96 win season, but no world series appearance or title the speak of.
  Now, none of this can possibly be truly seen as a downer for a franchise to go 3 straight winnings seasons (insert Mets jokes here).  What I'm getting out is the full idea behind utilizing talent, when you have, as you have it, and as soon as you have it, without true regard for the 'future'.  Because anything can and will happen.  This includes an utterly dominant 7 innings of work from a still young arm going through a 2015 season with an ERA hovering just under 5.00.  This also includes a core of young stars and high paid free agents who seemingly all took turns hitting the DL, not hitting at the plate, and not making plays defensively on the field.  So what have the Mets learned here, and are they truly paying attention?  Well, perhaps they have and are doing just that.
  We can argue all day about the state of the Mets offense from mid April to the trade deadline, but the fact remains that an initial and amazin 11 game win streak carried their team throughout this time almost as much as Familia and the starters.  And then came the deadline.  And, regardless of misses, hits, almost guys, crying ballplayers and frustrations about money rumors, the Mets went out and acquired multiple major league veterans, many of whom have contracts larger then most of the 25 guys that were on the roster already, and completely transformed the roster, team, organization and vibe in the clubhouse and stands.
  And so now enter the phase of the Strasburg situation with Matt Harvey.  Regardless of all the talk and media frenzy, the fact remains that the organization does conceivably have a plan, and an ok from the Dark Knight, to have availability in the.....gulp......playoffs.   Perhaps they could have used my crazy idea in a winter 2014 post and put Harvey in the bullpen.  Perhaps they could have given him a couple of two week vacations. Maybe they could have put him on the DL with 'arm fatigue'.  Either way, I believe have still learned something from the Nationals in this regard.
  Lets also look at the offensive side of things.  (I am in NO WAY comparing players in the following sentence)..... Perhaps have learned from the Nats by sticking with Michael Conforto as their Bryce Harper.
  Bryce Harper, upon bursting onto the scene during the Nats started run in 2012, has basically been asked to play every day (minus numerous injuries getting in the way).  Low and behold, the Mets, even despite all the possibly attempts to prevent the 22 year from showing up and staying, have now decided to at the very least play Conforto each and every day against right handers, which as know tend to be more prominent in MLB rotations. If you have a start in the making, lets find out.  (insert Wilmer pro/con arguments and playing time here).
  I bring all of this up to point at that I am completely on board with Mets seemingly going all in this year.  Top prospects or not, the Mets have unloaded NUMEROUS pitching prospects, which shows in their latest top 25-30 prospect lists within the organization. They acquired mostly guys who can be labeled as 'rentals', including the biggest catch of them all in one Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets, in a 2015 playoff run, may be conceivably going with a pretty large percentage of players who will NOT be on the 2016 roster.  Some because of money.  Some because of age.  Some because of both.  Mostly because the Mets, like all teams, end up going in many different directions each year even with a nice young nucleus. 
  The Mets find themselves within earshot of reaching the promised land.  The loved/hated manager is now throwing darts at a very large and friendly dart board showing a lot more high scoring points then its used to on it to aim form when choosing a lineup, and especially in September can trot out numerous righty lefty matchups in the lineup and in the bullpen (insert O'Flaherty insult here).
  The bottom line is that the 'year of the Mets' may always be NOW, and not for the remainder of the decade, despite the ages and contract status' of their rotation and core players.  I'm only considering 2015 as the year to go for broke.  To go for the division title, to make the world series, and to win the series.  I'm not saying they HAVE to win the series.  I'm saying its right, appropriate, cool, and good management to go ALL IN for this chance to begin with.
  The Mets will continue to have tough decisions to make here.  They continue to look over at the Nationals, and see their tail spin.  However, the Braves are a professional baseball team and I assume they won't lose every remaining game on their schedule.  And the Phillies statistically I assume have a strong chance of winning a game or two from the Mets after a crazy start in their head to head matchups.  But again I say look at the Nationals and what they are showing the Mets.  A strong world series pick of everyone in MLB team can be injuries and poor performances away from missing out on their long term goals.
  Bryce Harper is still only 22 years.  But you know what, their arms are getting older and closer to free agency and end of arb status then they were back in 2012.  Ian Desmond is a free agent.  Strasburg, despite all the attempts to preserve a possible very successful career, is having one of his worst, at least statistically and simply by not being able to stay on the field to make a large number of starts.
  The Mets can learn a lot from the Nationals, and their fans.  A crazed Mets fan may claw, bite, scream and criticize, but they are probably more likely to stay in the park for all 9 innings to do it and not leave early.  This is the year of the Mets.  This is the year for their fans.  And the Nats remain and continue to be the shining example of how important this season may be in the record books, minds of players, and memory of the fans.
  The Nats showed their ability to spend spend spend in the free agent market with Max. The Phillies eventually will be rid of the 'age' in their lineup.  The Marlins may get healthy and more consistencly from their youth.  And the Braves will try to become locked and loaded for their pending arrival in their new ball park.
  So the time is now for the Mets.  It's in their grasp.  They're playing happy.  They're playing with passion.  They have just stepped over the MLB favorites.  And I believe they have learned a huge and valuable lesson which veterans like the Captain himself especially will take to heart during this current season and the fight to winning on the biggest stage right here and now, because there may be no tomorrow as far as playoffs.  Right now, there's only today, tomorrow, and October 2015.



Anonymous said...

I was one who did not get too frustrated with the pace that Sandy moved at because I was willing to reserve judgment on him until such time that upgrades were available and meaningful. It can be argued that moves could have been made earlier in the season, but I am not sure that the acquired talent was available. Sandy had a strategy to build inhouse inventory for the field and for trades, it may not have been fast enough, but I think what he did at the trade deadline demonstrated that he was actually willing to take chances. His acquistions did not cost any ML talent and outside of Fulmer, he was able to get the necessary pieces for secondary talent. With regards to Fulmer, he would not have been able to get you YC at the beginning of the year because he had not yet risen and we were able to keep the Fab Five in tact. If he is able to sign YC, there is a lot of offensive and bullpen talent on the come, so this team is well situated for the near future and is right in the middle of it this year, which frankly I didn't think was going to happen. Could individual moves been done differently? sure, but the overall strategy is playing out quite nicely right now and patience is being rewarded
Anon Joe F

Ernest Dove said...

I agree Joe F

Many of us (me included) wanted change, even though not knowing what exact change...... David and TDA were still injured and Conforto wasn't here yet.
Perhaps Mets took that risk of doing "nothing" until certain players and their injuries/issues were resolved. They were resolved. Team stayed afloat. Whether they win division by 1 game or 15 the goal is to win the division.

Thomas Brennan said...

Sandy made the right moves, several of them, and the Nats have skid marks on them as the Big Met Machine ran over them. For once,the other guys got run over. Sweet.

Lew Rhodes said...

Joe you are on the money - I argued that position ad nauseam on this site

He had a plan, and he didn't deviate from it until the opportunity was there - if the Nationals were on pace to win 95 games, I doubt he makes the trades he did

This season is the perfect example of a GM taking a leap when the opportunity was there - and, where Sandy really should get credit is for building the farm system and foundation that made it possible to make the moves he made this year

Anonymous said...

Dear Mets' fans (From a from-day-one Nats' fan),

Congratulations on a superb season. Without a doubt, you deserve the division far more than we did. We had too many injuries, but more importantly, the team played arrogantly; they thought themselves "too good" to lose.

I knew that when you traded for Cespedes we were toast, partly because of the quality of that player but mostly because unlike the Nationals the Mets were willing to go all-out to win in 2015.

I think the division is going to be "choose-em" between the Mets and Nats for a couple of more years. But we are looking like the Phillies of a few years ago, encumbered by aging and brittle players with huge and untradable contracts.

Good luck in the playoffs.

Farid Rushdi

Mack Ade said...

Thank you, Farid.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said Farid....let's hope that for your sake, the Nats don't follow the Failin' Phils
Anon Joe F

Anonymous said...

I think I have been fair and balanced with Sandy over the years, though many might put me in the critical corner.

I thought the Mets had a shot and it was frustrating to see him fail to address clear holes. This first half was especially painful.

That said, wow, when it came time to transact, he did it beautifully and relentlessly. He addressed holes and moved to fill them. A great job at the deadline in 2015.

Could he have made some of those minor moves in earlier years? I think so, but that's water under the bridge. He didn't trade Jacob deGrom, for example, and maybe three years ago I would have been okay with that.

Like anyone else, he has strength and weaknesses. But in 2015, I think he's GM of the Year.

James Preller

Mack's Mets © 2012