Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote a great short story about a mousy woman and a non-descript schlemiel who only came to life as players in the community theater. The title of the story and the refrain from one of this unlikely duo was, “Who Am I This Time?”
This literary moment came to mind when I was thinking about the identity of the New York Mets as a team. Starting with the the 1986 hard partying crew, and then the 2000 era bunch still had remnants of the greatest infield ever with Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura doing what they did best (along with Mike Piazza) and pitching headed up by Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, Armando Benitez and John Franco. Then came the lean years where there wasn’t much to watch except David Wright and Jose Reyes (part one).
It wasn’t until the arrival of Yoenis Cespedes in 2015 that the team seemed to gain a new identity. Sure, they had the formidable starting pitching when healthy, but there was never that driving force in the lineup that other teams would fear until the man with the chartreuse sleeve swaggered up to the plate.
Even now as the team holds its breath about David Wright’s back and neck, Lucas Duda’s back, Neil Walker’s back, Yoenis Cespedes’ legs, Juan Lagares’ shoulder, nearly every pitcher’s arm and Travis d’Arnaud’s everything, the team really seems to be lacking a solid identity. Right now what springs to mind when you say NY Mets is “Disabled List”.
Going forward, how will they be known? Will it be only for stellar starting pitching? Will it be the home run power? Will it be a fight-from-behind attitude? Surely they won’t be known for defense, speed, small ball or brilliant managerial strategy.
What’s a shame it is that as the team strives to develop an identify for itself, David Wright will likely have fallen between the last contending squad and the current one due to bad timing and ill health. Who is emerging to give them that new identity? Is it Noah Syndergaard, Jacob de Grom and Matt Harvey? Is there anyone on offense other than Cespedes who could become one of the faces of the franchise? When you consider that the rest of the team are on one to two year commitments, it’s hard to wrap yourself around an Asdrubal Cabrera (as good as he’s been) as the new face of the Mets. Will it wait for the arrivals of Amed Rosario and Dom Smith? Is it a hodgepodge of short term people coincidentally wearing Mets laundry until then?