Reese Kaplan -- Identity Crisis


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?


Peter Hyatt said...


What may emerge...the key word being "may" is this:

If the pitching staff becomes healthy, en masse, all at once, and remains that way, we will be gain the identity of the "arms."

If some young bats are given opportunity, and develop the way they just might...

Michael Conforto
Brandon Nimmo

we may be known as the team of doubles, manufacturing runs.

I know I am in the most slight of minority here, but I think the Cespedes signing may bite us...badly.

1. His attitude
2. His legs
3. How his attitude impacts his legs
4. His age (I think he is a year older than claimed, but that's another story).

Now if we could transplant Curtis Grandy's attitude into Yoenis, we would have a different story.

Jay Bruce is not a New Yorker. He may prosper elsewhere but right now, he is a New York Met and may have to prove something on the field in order to give us any trade value.

As to Juanderful and injuries...Travis and injuries, and so on...

we could go either way: fireworks or early bedtime.

I love your articles,

Peter Hyatt

Mack Ade said...

Peter -

As long as there are veteran players healthy on the roster, the Mets manager is never going to play Conforto and Nimmo on a regular basis.And, if he tried, Sandy would step in an prevent him from doing it. Kids do not get a fair shot on this team.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

In my heart, I still think this team, and where they finish, is based on the starting rotation.

Thomas Brennan said...

We have become the NY Transients. That's life in sports these days.

Peter, I think that Yoenis will be fine. I hope for him that his best few years are ahead of him. I am hoping he stays healthy and hits 40 this year (42 preferably, to surpass our team's anemic all-time record). I hope I am right and you are wrong.

How about we dump Bruce and Grandy and sign Edgar Encarnacion? Trade for David Robertson with surplus assets? Go to war against Red Sox and Cubs (and Nats)?

Reese Kaplan said...

Yes, Tom, we all root for laundry -- whomever is wearing the team colors at the timne.

Mack's Mets © 2012