Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
I couldn’t help noticing the batting averages of the Chicago Cubs players as they came to bat in this series. With the exception of (surprisingly) Jason Heyward, there are no easy outs. It seemed like nearly everyone was over .280 with power. Ithey lose a Kyle Schwarber and up comes a Willson Contreras.
t got me to thinking about the New York Mets and how few homegrown hitters they’ve developed over the years. It makes you wonder the reason for the greater success in honing pitchers than in finding guys who slug the ball. Also, the dearth of hits with runners in scoring position points to another flaw in the winning formula. Remember how the Royals seemed to make every at-bat a tough out? How many tough outs are there on the Mets?
How much of this offensive dearth is the result of bad drafting? How much of it is bad talent evaluation on the trade front? How much is the result of bad coaching? How much of it is the pressure of being asked to play in New York? How much of it is the manager benching the players that are hitting until they grow cold and create a self fulfilling prophecy for why they’re not starting? Or is it a combination of all of the above?
Then there’s the question of hitting philosophy. It seems the Mets have precious few players who know fundamentals like hit and run, hitting behind the runner, bat control and working the count. Again, how much is on the player, how much is on the hitting coach and how much is on the manager?
Anyone who’s watched the team doesn’t need to know the actual numbers to underscore the difficulties, but bear with the most obvious ones. Asdrubal Cabrera who has had a fine season overall has not had a hit with a runner in scoring position since May 23rd. Curtis Granderson has clubbed 16 HRs this year but has only 29 RBIs to show for it. Is it any wonder the Mets are at or close to the bottom in just about every offensive category? David Wright still leads the team in steals with a whopping total of three!!!
Of course, the club is doing itself no favors with the AAA club in hitter-happy Las Vegas. Look at the roster of high .300 hitters who have flourished there and it’s filled with luminaries who have gotten a look such as Ty Kelly, Eric Campbell, Josh Satin, Brandon Nimmo and Johnny Monell. Then there are those hitters who for reasons of 40-man roster status do not get a look, including T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron and Gavin Cecchini. The problem is that the stats are so over inflated that you don’t know whether or not the gaudy numbers will be replicable in the majors.
The flip side is the number the altitude and dry air does to the minds of the pitchers. There are a great many who hit the wall while playing for the 51s, including Rafael Montero, Matt Bowman and Darin Gorski. Some move on and become productive players (like Bowman) while others may be beyond repair. News came out today that the owners of 51s are looking to get a new stadium on the outskirts of the city with proper cooling, luxury boxes and all the accouterments of a modern minor league franchise. It doesn’t change the weather nor the altitude, however, so it is akin to putting lipstick on a pig.
Today it was announced that Lucas Duda will return to light baseball activities starting Monday with an eye towards returning him in September when the rosters expand which would allow them to keep both he and James Loney around. It’s ironic that Loney, a singles hitter above .280 is likely being shown the bench when the team can't put men on base, but Wilmer Flores can tell him what it’s like to do your job and only get to watch..
By the way, did you happen to catch Jose Reyes’ mental gaffe in the 9th inning vs. the Cubs last night? With runners on 1st and 2nd the batter hits a spinning bunt down the 3rd base line which was headed right into foul territory but Reyes’ shortstop instincts likely kicked in and he felt compelled to field it. To add insult to injury, he didn’t get the batter running to first and it loaded the bases. Jeurys Familia tap danced out of the bases loaded and no one out situation to preserve the win, but it was sure looking ugly.
To be fair to Reyes, he did pull a triple to RF which lead to the Mets’ first run, but the offensive road has been a rough one for the guy so far. If he’s not hitting and not fielding and not drawing walks, why is he playing every day? I know, I know…Collins has just got to get him going. It’s going to go down in Mets’ history as a derisive refrain alongside “We battled.”