For the past week, I have been working on a piece about Amed Rosario. Don’t worry, it’s still going to happen. However, something interesting happened while I was writing it. I’ve been up in Massachusetts for the past two weeks and on the train back to Queens I decided to get some writing done. I was pulling numbers from Rosario’s time in Binghamton and Las Vegas when something stuck out to me: the Mets farm system is rife with talent. This also came at the same exact moment that I saw a post on the r/NewYorkMets subreddit with this title:
“The Mets Are Too Optimistic”
Intrigued I looked into what u/see_mohn had to say and guess what, they nailed it, you guys. Here’s a section of his post:
“…Why are the Mets so oddly predictable? Why is it that the Mets went into the season with a bunch of injury-risk pitchers and aging veterans and said: “yeah, this should be just as good as it was last season”? Why is it that, almost every time someone gets hurt, it’s for longer than the initial estimate, or they come back too quickly and get hurt even worse?
And I think I figured it out.
Most of you probably know the saying “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” The Mets, as far as I can tell, subscribe to the idea of planning for the best, and shrugging off the potential worst-case scenarios. So naturally, when the worst-case stuff happened, here they are, and all indications are that their plans for 2018 involve More Of The Same. Hope the pitchers are healthy and effective, work from there.
Now, I will immediately concede that the Mets are not the only team to do this. And injuries of the quantity the Mets have had in 2017 would sink any team. But it’s frustrating as all hell that I’m looking at a team on pace for a 75-87 year, and the front office seems to be acting like the coffee-drinking dog in the burning house.“
This is the perfect summation of the problem with the 2017 Mets. Case closed.
…However, since there’s not much left in the 2017 season, let’s take a further look into this because if we’re gonna talk about a dumpster fire, we might as well dive in headfirst like Scrooge McDuck.
I want to start off by talking about Amed Rosario, because I think it’s worth while. At some point you’ll get a full peice dedicated to the man, but for now I’ll summarize. Amed Rosario has grown exponentially in the past two years. Every year he gets better and better and a speed that I’ve never seen before. I’m serious, when Rosario played in Single-A one year and moved up to the AA the next, he duplicated his numbers at the higher level. It’s a constant thing throughout his young career. Furthermore, Rosario’s minor league numbers are similiar to those of guys like Derek Jeter, Corey Seager, better than those of Josè Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, and he’s a year behind Carlos Correa, but y’all AMED ROSARIO IS THE REAL DEAL. And if the one main pattern in his stats stays true, Amed Rosario will be the Rookie of the year in 2018. With all of that in mind, the Mets were stil reluctant to call him up to the Majors. Why? Because of the crowded infield? Asdrubal Cabrera? What? This kid is the future! Let’s go!
This has been a theme within the Mets Organization for a few seasons now. Using prospects from Las Vegas and Binghamton as a solution to a problem on the Major League club is something that just isn’t done. They are hole fillers. Matt Reynolds was called up to replace Ruben Tejada in 2015, after batting .267 in the Pacific Coast League, a league known for being hitter-friendly. T.J. Rivera seemed like found money late last year, and he earned that starting job at second base. There’s depth in the Mets system, but it just doesn’t come to fruition at the Big League level. Don’t believe me? Let’s check out the rest of the league for fun.
The Mets are using their farm system as a band aid for their problems. Other teams like the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Cubs, the Cardinals, etc. All of these teams are using their prospects as solutions to areas of weakness on their team. When Pablo Sandoval was deemed unable to play 3rd base, the Red Sox brought up Deven Marrero and then Rafael Devers, both of whom flourished at the hot corner for the Sox. The Yankees needed to fill holes at first, in the outfield and in the bullpen. They used their homegrown talent. The Cubs brought up Contreras, Schwarber, Baez, Almora Jr., and Kyle Hendricks in order to round out their championship teams.
We have guys like Travis Taijeron (OF), Phillip Evans (3B), Dominic Smith (1B) and Amed Rosario (SS) waiting in the wings while we struggle to field a team that is strong offensively and defensively. Josè Reyes is sitting while Rosario starts at Short and Asdrubal Cabrera plays 3rd. The Mets are so inept at knowing what they have. I mean we were looking at moving Cabrera to third base FOUR DAYS before the trade deadline, in order to “widen the trade market.” Give me a break. You have the talent to change the course of the year, do it. Don’t sit there and say “what can we do?”
Lucas Duda was shipped to Tampa Bay two Sundays ago, and yet Dominic Smith is still sitting in Las Vegas for what? For T.J. Rivera, Wimer Flores and Jay Bruce to get reps at first? Are you serious? Why? We have the future of the organization in Las Vegas. In an ideal world, the 2017 Mets Defensive Alignment was d’Arnaud behind the plate, Duda at 1st, Walker at 2nd, Cabrera at Short, Reyes at third, with Cespedes, Conforto, and Bruce from Left to Right in the outfield. This week the Mets started Cabrera at 3rd, Rosario at Short, Rivera at 2nd and Flores at 1st. That’s two shortstops and two second basemen on your infield.
TWO NIGHTS AGO, I WATCHED NEIL WALKER PLAY FIRST BASE FOR THE SECOND TIME IN HIS CAREER. MEANWHILE, DOMINIC SMITH PLAYED FIRST BASE FOR THE 103rd TIME THIS YEAR.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?!
There was so much talk these past two seasons about “the window.” For the ill-informed, when Mets fans, players, coaches and front office staff mention the window they’re referring to the young staff of Mets pitchers. Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Matz, the four horsemen of Queens, not even including Zack Wheeler, the other forgotten piece of this foursome, are all young and under team control. On paper, it’s an embarrassment of riches, but in reality, it’s been the downfall of the Mets season. The only member of the horsemen to not get bucked off this season has been Jacob deGrom, who has been nothing but dominant in 2017. Syndergaard is out with his torn lat, Harvey is out with a stress fracture in his scapula, Wheeler on the DL with a “stress reaction” in his arm, and Matz is pitching batting practice every 5th day.
This is not how we all thought the season would play out. I mean, if you did, in fact, say this would happen, then to you, I say, “get back on the 7, transfer to the 4 at Grand Central and get back to the Bronx, and enjoy your 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, and stop bothering us.” I’m kidding, of course, but still. We all thought we had a chance.
The idea of the window is simple. The Mets have had these 5 young pitchers under team controlled contracts since 2010. The earliest Mets pitcher to go on the free agency market is Harvey after next season, with Wheeler going in 2020, deGrom in 2021 and Syndergaard and Matz hitting the open waters in 2022. To assume the Mets re-sign all of the is insanity. If that were the case we wouldn’t be discussing the window. The Mets will probably keep two, three if we’re lucky. So when does this window close? With all of these pitchers firing on all cylinders, there’s one more year left, after that it’s a race to win without getting your fingers caught.
What happened this year? Injuries, injuries and just when you were off the 10-Day DL there’d come a knock on the door and it would be more injuries. The injuries dealt to the Mets would cripple any team in the league, so even without the decline in play, the injuries would have been enough to sink this team’s chances. However, there’s still been this decline in play that we’ve had to deal with. And it’s not as if the manager has done anything to help out with that.
Terry Collins has been grasping at straws for a while now. We’ve all seen those games where Terry has no feel for the game that was unfolding in front of him. Going to the bullpen a batter too late, or too early and bringing in a guy who can’t get the job done. Terry has also forced a lot of his struggling guys into very difficult positions and then throws them under the bus.
Hansel Robles has struggled in the past two months, but that wasn’t always the case. Robles was the go to guy out of the pen for the first month and a half, and then he started to crack. When Hansel Robles was brought into the 8th inning against Colorado, it seemed as though it was for one batter, instead Collins kept him in for the 9th and he never got an out, but instead got the L. TWO NIGHTS LATER, Terry puts Hansel in the same situation. Brings him in for two innings in the 8th and 9th and Hansel walks in the winning run, never getting an out.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?!
Here’s Joe Morgan discussing Terry Collins and hi managerial skills when he was with the Anaheim Angels. Tell me if this sounds familiar.
“Adversity is part of baseball; if a manager can’t cope with it his team will suffer. Terry Collins, the skipper of the Anaheim Angels learned this lesson when he was with Houston. The Astros were a talented team when Collins was there (1994–96). They finished second three times, but failed to make the playoffs because their manager exerted too much pressure on them. He was so uptight, his players thought each pitch was life-or-death. It wasn’t anything Terry said; it was his demeanor. Collins was edgy in the dugout during games, always looking like someone who was just waiting for disaster to strike. At the moment anything actually went wrong you could smell the panic in him. Players picked up on that.
To alleviate the tension the manager was bringing to the clubhouse, they put added pressure on themselves to perform well, which invariably choked off their natural abilities so that they can’t play their best. It’s no coincidence that the Astros became a postseason participant once Houston replaced Collins with Larry Dierker. I don’t know if Larry knows more about baseball than Collins, but he does have a laid-back attitude that immediately puts his players at ease. Dierker kept the pressure off the team by reminding them that while the goal of winning is serious, the game is still essentially supposed to be fun. (By the way, I have been watching Collins since he joined the Angels and he’s a much more laid-back skipper. When I complimented him on this change, he said former Angel infielder-outfielder Tony Phillips had spoken to him about relaxing more and that it has really made an impression.”
The Los Angeles Angels did not do better with this relaxed attitude, instead, Collins resigned 29 games before the 1999 season was over, following a 51-82 season. Two years later the Los Angeles Angels would win the World Series under Mike Soccia, with half of their starting lineup still intact.
This idea of Collins being a lid for a teams potential seems to be about right. A week ago Collins said, “For those guys, there’s probably some thought process involved like, ‘Am I going to go, am I going to go this month?’ They’re not naive, they know that the possibility is still there. It could be in their heads, but like during the entire week before the trade deadline, I said, ‘Look, you’ve got to go play. You’ve got to put up numbers.’ Especially when you’re going to be a free agent, you’ve got to keep putting up numbers, whether you’re here or anywhere else.”
WHAT IS THAT. “Not sure if you guys know this, but you gotta get out there and play because we need to win games but also show that you are a valuable commodity.” No way, I’m not about that life. If you’re wearing a Mets jersey you should go out there and play for the Mets.
“You play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.”
– Coach Taylor, probably
I’m out. Terry Collins has given up. How many times do I have to hear Terry say “I don’t know” or “We’ll just have to see” in a press conference before the Mets find someone who does in fact know? This is a guy who has no concept of the team he’s managing. There’s so much talk about “how he’s gonna play these infielders going forward” and “how he’s gonna make due with what he has” is just flat out dumb. We have answers to these issues in the minors, call the kids up and let them play. Simple as that, because what we have now isn’t working.
We started talking about the Window and I’m done being optimistic about that being a reality. We’ve been slowly moving backward since 2015 and a lot of that falls on the training staff and Terry. It just does. This is a guy who lucked into an insanely talented team and instead of letting their talents come through into the open, he’s forced them into situations where it’s damn near impossible to succeed. That’s a problem, and I’m looking forward to when the new Mets manager changes the landscape and attitude of the clubhouse because Terry’s botched it for the past two years. I just hope it isn’t too late for this embarrassment of riches the Mets have going for them.
We all need to take a deep breath and realize that the 2015 Mets and their miraculous World Series run wasn’t the beginning, it was, in fact, an outlier. The 2016 Mets? Also an outlier. The 2017 Mets? Exactly who we thought they were. The difference between the 2015 team and the one we have now? Expectation. We expect this team to be in the postseason, but we never asked how do we get there? The Mets needed to sure up the bullpen to make a run in 2017, instead, they shipped out the one guy holding down the fort. In the offseason, the Mets were rumored to be shopping Jay Bruce around and now he’s the best offensive player on the team. Jay Bruce also has the most Defensive Runs Saved on the team, and it’s not even close! Jay “Get off my Team” Bruce is the only Met to have shown up in 2017. #ReSignJayBruce
OR NOT BECAUSE HE JUST GOT TRADED. WHAT IS GOING ON?!?
There’s a complacency that occurs when you are faced with the unexpected. A “this is fine” mentality begins to creep in. The acceptance stage of grief
The Mets need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and we the Flushing Faithful need to realize that the 2015 Mets are not coming back, they are not taking the field anytime soon, and we need to move on. The hesitant and skeptical looks from 2014 need to return because that’s how we got here in the first place. This team needs to earn the pedestal we’ve put them on. It’s time for us to turn our eyes towards 2018 and hope the Mets can return to Queens ready to win a championship, but more importantly, they need to win back the trust of their fans.