In the game of baseball, there are going to be good teams and bad teams. At the end of each day, there are going to be winners and losers. Some teams are better equipped and/or more talented than others and that is just the way it goes. Even the best run franchises have to retool or rebuild and have seasons that don’t go well. It doesn’t take much for a season to go sideways from an injury to a key player to a few players not performing to expectations. These things happen.
And then there is the New York Mets.
Despite on paper having a stellar rotation that features Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zach Wheeler, the Mets have been exceedingly poor over the last couple of seasons. Since the beginning of 2017, the team has gone 114-151 and has been in the bottom half of the league in pitching fWAR (18.5) and batting fWAR (26.8 fWAR). There is also not a team in the league that has been worse defensively over that same time period based on Defensive Runs Saved which currently sits at -146 DRS.
All of that said, being bad isn’t always a team’s fault. Sometimes a team has to be bad to get higher draft picks and rebuild from there and other times injuries or other unforeseen issues cause problems and the Mets have had their fair share of those. David Wright was supposed to be a franchise cornerstone and his body gave out on him. Three of the four pitchers early not named DeGrom have dealt with varying ailments over the last several years. Now, we have Yoenis Cespedes who has a chronic issue in his heels that is going to require surgery. Plus, there was the whole Matt Harvery thing which was part injury and part “Matt Harvey makes very poor life decisions at times”.
However, where the problem comes in is in how the organization has responded to these shortcomings and who is making these decisions. When the powers that be that are supposed to be shepherding the franchise through this difficult time are the same ones that refuse to reinvest David Wright’s contract money into the team despite the fact that they have recouped most of it via insurance, have given Jose Reyes significant playing time this season despite the fact that it is clear that he is one of the worst players in baseball at the moment, and sent out one of their better trade pieces in Jeurys Familia in what looks more like a salary dump than a look towards the future.
How the Wilpons managed to keep their team after they got swindled in the Bernie Madoff scheme is beyond reason. It has been clear since that whole fiasco that ownership has been interested in getting as much money out of the team as possible while putting as few resources into the organization as they can while surrounding themselves not with baseball people that know how to run a professional baseball team, but folks that are loyal to ownership to a fault and will unquestioningly execute the Wilpons’ wishes.
That brings us to the trade deadline that just passed. The Mets were bad last year. They are bad this year. The top prospects they have had have been mismanaged or have underperformed and all of their pieces are one year closer to leaving the organization and many have significant question marks next to them. Any other sane organization would see the writing on the wall and consider selling off pieces so that the whole franchise will be better.
Instead, the Mets did nothing towards that end. They traded Asdrubal Cabrera as a rental, sent Jeurys Familia out of town to save a little cash and….nothing. Zach Wheeler would have been a fine piece to move at the deadline, but the Mets’ asking price was too high especially given his injury history and spotty track record that one wonders if the Mets ever had any intention of moving him. The Mets could have moved Jacob DeGrom and no one else and gotten a king’s ransom in return which could have jumpstarted the franchise towards being competitive again especially with the trade market devoid of appealing starting pitching options.
So here we are….the Mets front office is trying to sell their inaction at the trade deadline not because they are cheap (they are) or that they are delusional as to how good the team is or how valuable their players are (they are), but that because they plan on being competitive in 2019. We have heard this song and dance routine before.
“Just wait until next year”
“We are going to challenge for the division”
It is clear that not only does the team not know who they are, but that they think fans at large are fools. Their payroll, which is already likely lower than it should given their market, is glutted with bad contracts and ownership, despite getting a windfall on some of them, isn’t going to do what it takes to bring this team into contention. They haven’t demonstrated any ability to develop healthy and productive major leaguers on a regular basis and most of the league is in awe of the ineptitude in the front office in both its personnel decisions and their ability to communicate with the public.
The Mets are a comedy of errors and that continued through the trade deadline. Many opposing fans repeatedly say or tweet “LOLMets” with good reason. That isn’t likely to change any time soon.