Reese Kaplan -- How Low Can They Go?


Snakebitten.  Cursed.  Metsian.  Whatever adjective you choose, there’s no getting around the fact that Citifield’s finest are getting more than their fair share of injuries. 

So far this year they’ve lost the entire starting infield plus Yoenis Cespedes for long stretches of time.  They are down two potentially Cy Young considerable starting pitchers in Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey.  They’re without closer Jeurys Familia.  They started the season minus Steve Matz and Seth Lugo.  They’ve missed minor pieces like Josh Smoker, Juan Lagares (twice) and others.

Are they just incredibly unlucky?  Do they have a bunch of Frank Burns types in their medical corps?  Has someone simply been stepping under a lot of ladders onto the cracks in the sidewalk while observing an extraordinary number of ebony felines in reflections of a cracked mirror? 

While the answer is likely some combination of the above, the fact remains that the team is actually not quite as bad off as many had feared.  Going into Thursday’s action against the first place Washington Nationals they find themselves in second place, 8.5 off the pace and 4 under the .500 mark.  That’s not too shabby when you consider their lineup construction includes the likes of both Jose Reyes and Curtis Granderson with more ABs than Michael Conforto.  Their starting rotation is among the worst in the game yet they’re arguably within striking distance of the playoffs. 

There will be countless buyer or seller articles between now and the end of the July trading deadline but it does seem that the club is needlessly sacrificing both in CF and SS when alternatives exist that could produce at a higher level if given a chance.  After all, it’s not like Reyes and Granderson have set the bar very high.  In fact, you’d have to be a Caribbean limbo world champion to get much lower. 

There are some positive signs.  Robert Gsellman has shown occasional flashes of what made him successful (his last start notwithstanding),  Seth Lugo and Steve Matz both returned with a flourish.  Jacob de Grom threw something that’s almost as rare a no-hitter these days – a complete game.  Zack Wheeler had a rough outing the last time around but he’s been the best starter for the club all year.  Out in the bullpen Jerry Blevins has been a stallion of a workhorse.  Paul Sewald has been mostly very good.  Addison Reed had hit some bumps in the road but has come on strong of late. 

It’s too soon to tell where the Mets will be when the halfway point of the season arrives, but it’s frustrating to see Amed Rosario lighting it up in Las Vegas and the Mets are settling for some combination of Jose Reyes and Gavin Cecchini when they lost their keystone combo.   It’s almost as if they’re colluding with the Nationals to ensure their eventual victory.  But that’s crazy talk…nothing like that ever happens in the real world, right?

The madness continues this week with the illustrious Matt Reynolds getting the call one can only hope it spells the beginning of the end for Jose Reyes.  While not a Gold Glover by any means, Reynolds had been hitting well of late (.286 in AAA) which is a lot more than we can say for the former batting champion.  He's not distinguished himself in other trials in the majors, but then again how much worse than Reyes could he be?

Accompanying him is Brandon Nimmo who has not been hitting much but still showing a good eye at the plate with a high OBP.  He's a natural outfielder and theoretically takes the spot vacated by the once again ailing Juan Lagares.

So for a team reeling in the pitching department they have made the conscious decision to stockpile multiple middle infielders and instead of going short on the bench they will go short in the pen.  The more things change...

There are a lot of possible moves that could be made if they decide they are indeed out of it post All Star Break.  Many players are slated to leave as free agents and many others need to leave due to their level of performance.

On the other hand, should they find themselves closer than they are now to contention, would they try to gut an already thin farm system to obtain some extra reinforcements?  There's not a lot they can spare on the major league level without watering down an already flavorless product.  It's anyone's guess how they could improve.


Anonymous said...

Simply put , the charade is over in my mind. This is a deeply flawed team that lacks focus and is clearly second fiddle to the better teams in the NL (like the Nats who are squeezing the life out of us this weekend).

Yes, the injuries and seemingly bad luck do not help, but there are deeper issues here.

The management has been abysmal and is in desperate need of change (as you alluded to yesterday). The focus should be on run suppression (good defense, solid fundamentals) and scratching out runs any way you can, not "beer league" softball tactics that rely on home runs.

Use the rest of 2017 to get healthy, jettison the useless veterans (via trade or release) and see what some of the kids can do. In other words, an overhaul is needed and the thought of "getting back into the playoff chase" should be tabled for good this year.


Mack Ade said...

Good morning, Reese.

Today is my oldest granddaughter's wedding day so there will lots of dancing in the streets of Austin, Texas.

As for your post, we will all continue to write about a lot of different spins about this team this year, but the bottom line is this year's version of the Mets simply can't compete with the Nationals. Take those games out of the win-loss column and we have a real race on our hands.

We simply can't compete with those three starters without our three healthy and pitching back at the same level.

Gary Seagren said...

Congrats Mack and hope you have a wonderful day. So I guess this weekend kinda puts us where we belong which is definitely not good enough and having Murphy as the exclamation point just makes this that much more painful. The big problem is our pitching staff which was supposed to take us to the promised land and instead has been woefully disappointing but the real issue is does anyone have any hope at this point that we'll ever see that dominant starting staff we were all promised? Also when will management finally admit were done and start thinking of what to do with this club now to better prepare for 2018? I guess it's good thing we didn't sign Harvey long term a couple of years ago to buy out some of his free agent years and we will be able to shed 50 million or so going into the off season but were all thinking the same thing: how will management screw this up.

Gary Seagren said...

Also with Reyes going 2 for 3 with a HR last night we can count on at least a few more weeks of everyday play for our .191 hitting starting SS.

Thomas Brennan said...

It is bleak, blokes.

Reese, I wrote yesterday that Nimmo has been fanning at simply an alarming rate...I am no longer confident he is more than a den Dekker, Campbell, and Kirk. Add in lackluster Cecchini and Reynolds (even Plawecki) as high draft picks picked poorly and yes, it is time for big changes. By the way, the Yanks used a pretty high pick to select a guy named Aaron Judge. Maybe you heard of him.

You could not trade the 6 Mets and former Mets mentioned above for Judge. Who wants "meh" quality? High quality picks are what count.

Adam Smith said...

I'm starting to believe that the worst possible scenario would be hanging around just on the fringes of contention, tempting management to trade off more of the farm at the deadline for immediate "help" to make the fans believe that they still have a chance this season so they can sell a few more tickets in August. This team screams makeover, and that's the best we can hope for. If you're not going to bring up Rosario, and here I'll give the FO the benefit of the doubt that they believe he'll benefit from more time in AAA, I'd seriously consider bringing up Guillorme, who is a year older, I believe, and would at least solidify the atrocious IF defense. He hit well in spring training, is at around .290 now, and showed with that bat catch that he's an un-intimidate-able badass. If he could hit .150 in the bigs and play his usual defense, that would make him a legitimate upgrade on Reyes. The Lagares injury is very disappointing, as I was hoping he's make his case for the starting CF spot next season. Trade Bruce, Grandy (hah!), Reed and Duda for whatever prospects you can get. I'm pretty sure that Walker won't come back healthy soon enough to have any deadline trade value (the final indignity of the Murphy non-sign) so I guess your stuck with him, which is useless at this point. Bring up Amed, Smith and Guillorme, with Flores at 3B as your staring IF for two months. There are of course no OF worth looking at. Fine, give Nimmo some reps, but really, he doesn't look like the answer to anything other than the trivia question of the first (and probably last) first round pick from a state w/o HS baseball. If Harvey returns, put him in the pen - which might be his best shot at a career going forward - and see what you have. Cespedes, who might never play more than 120 games in a season for us, if obviously your LF next season, Conforto in RF, and, well, really, this team looks like a mess and it seems unlikely that they'll be able to do enough in one offseason to get competitive again, unless they spend their freed-up cash very, very wisely this winter. And then only if you can make an insurance/retirement deal with DW. Speaking of whom, I'd seriously consider making him the manager, with Ciola as pitching coach. Terry's gold watch should already be on order.

Adam Smith said...

Excuse the typos. The letters on my phone are so damn tiny, and my thumbs aren't what they used to be. Ask Lagares about that problem.

Thomas Brennan said...

Good line, Adam.

I had really pulled for Lagares a few years ago....thought he might become a star...but you cannot build a team planning for an OF who misses enormous amounts of time with often avoidable injury. For Pete's sake, they trailed 5-1 when he tried his latest circus act, leading to his latest injury, and likely will now miss 2 months. So unhelpful to the cause if you get recklessly hurt.

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