Mets In July: Beginning Of The End Or Just A Bad Couple Of Weekends?

The Mets have looked awful the last six games. No sense being coy about it. Since the glorious Fourth, the Amazin’s have looked decidedly less so. In fact, four of the six games were a horror show. Listless hitting, shoddy defense, sub-par starting pitching, bad medical news, possible mishandling of a prized prospect – this is all starting to feel a little too 2010-ish for your intrepid columnist’s liking.

I am reminded what a fragile thing a baseball season can be. All it takes is an extended poor stretch to give a feel-good story the bums’ rush. The Mets have built some goodwill and the perception of the team among the general populace has started to shift, but the play surrounding the All-Star break has reminded more than a few die-hards that this club always seems to be teetering on the precipice of irrelevance. In its present position, this team cannot afford to appear to be mailing one in. But that’s exactly how they looked on that Sunday game against the Cubs (7/8) and the first game against the Braves after the break.
That the All-Star game – the putative Mid-Summer Classic, which featured a surprising amount of Met-focus – was bracketed by such limp performances is pretty disheartening to those of us true to the orange-and-blue. That R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana were pretty well cuffed around by a Braves team that’s been scuffling for runs all season throws up a bright red flag that all that goodwill and good pub may have been built on sand. That a senior member of the coaching staff had to resort to bad-mouthing an ump in the wake of a five-run loss is nothing short of an embarrassment.

Of course, I am a fan, so in the midst of this stretch, it’s going to seem to me that this is it, the end of this particular party. That the 2012 New York Mets are, indeed, done. That this is the post I never want to write, but have to every year. I know there are 73 games remaining – two-and-a-half months of what could still be some glorious baseball. I know that there is a run or two left in this bunch. I know they can make me look back at this post and laugh at my Polo Grounds pessimism. I know this could just be a rough patch on a road to 90 wins. That’s what my head says.

I also know that the last several Julys have been most cruel to the gang from Flushing. Years of Met-watching has my heart sink at this 1-5 stretch, feeling – on the verge of “knowing” – this is the first tone of 2012’s death knell. At the very least, I’m most certain this stretch will be the difference between sprinting to those dreamed-of 90 wins and a struggle to achieve a pedestrian 81.

I sure hope I’m wrong.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

18 comments for “Mets In July: Beginning Of The End Or Just A Bad Couple Of Weekends?

  1. Doug Parker
    July 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    The pit of my stomach shares your fears, Charlie…

  2. Name
    July 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    It all comes down the starting pitching, and they have not been good the past 6 games with 5 of the 6 games the SP giving up 4 ER or more.

  3. Doug Parker
    July 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Part of my concern regarding the pitching is that I fear that Dickey is turning into a typical very-good knuckleball pitcher, which history would suggest translates into a .525 type of guy. His period of dominance was magical and probably unprecedented for a pitcher of his type, and it had to end at some point…

  4. Chris F
    July 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I think 90 Ws was a pipedream in the best of circumstances. We go to 46 with extraordinary pitching from the starters, but that was not going to last. RA was never going to get 25+ Ws. So, basic reality dictates that the second half would be less productive. Its a long season, we have a lot of people not likely to go 162 without some tiredness creeping in.

    But I say we need to celebrate 2012. I dont see 81 wins as “pedestrian” by any means. I think if at the end of spring training, after shedding $50M in salaries, we had the chance — to go 500, have a magical run with pitching that will likely yield a 20-game winner, a no-no, some surprising magic from call ups, a shortstop that has more than filled in the reyes departure, a borderline MVP season for David Wright, 3 selections for the ASG, palpable turn around in fan support, and a real glimpse that genuine Mets magic is looming — Id have taken that without blinking. And I have, even though series’ like the Yankees, Cubs, Braves eats me alive.

    I want another Championship as much as any Mets fan. Sure, the race has been captivating—and we all are so desirous to be highly competitive, but numbers are numbers, and 90 W is just not this team. We clearly have progress to make in the pen. We will get to October when Harvey and Wheeler are integral to the rotation, when the youngsters like Thole, Kirk, and the like become more consistent, when hitting is more consistent, when the pen is not the worst in the MLB, and when Bay is not required to be in LF. I for one think its not that far off. Thats the reason celebrate. We are not “rebuilding”, we are “still building”. If you ask me, patience is a virtue here. If we finish ahead of the Marlins and Phillies and over 500, Im calling 2012 a barn-burner success.

    • AJ
      July 18, 2012 at 8:48 am

      I agree, Chris. 2012 is not the year the Mets go all the way, and I’d be amazed if they were even still in the wildcard hunt come September. They’re just not there yet. It’s a tribute to what they’ve accomplished, however, that this team, predicted by some at the beginning to be facing a 100-loss season, went into the All Star break entertaining thoughts of making it to the playoffs. Here’s hoping management keeps perspective and stays with the game plan. Please, let’s not have the team wheel and deal as if we were a move or two away from a serious run this year, when we are actually a year or two away from a serious run.

      • July 18, 2012 at 9:55 am

        I kind of agree with both of you, but if the Mets miss the playoffs by less than 4 games, it will appear as if Sandy fiddled while the fan base burned, and another year of the mid-prime of David Wright and the late-primes of Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey will have been wasted.

        • Chris F
          July 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm

          I agree, and the situation with the veterans is something to consider for certain. I think it will be a real push to make 500 with the present group (I think making 500 will still be a major effort and by no means a slam dunk). In particular, Wright’s season is so fantastic, it seems only fitting that October baseball be a part of it. I think he has become a better player this year, by taking full leadership of this club. That’s not going away, and so I predict his best seasons are still in front of him. We got a happy clubhouse (recent events notwithstanding) and a great field manager, unlike the rot in Boston; we have some gem discoveries in need of polish that only being out there can provide; we have some very hopeful starting pitching coming in; and, despite this past week, a fan base that still loves this team. None of that is the same as hanging a pennant in Citi, but I will offer that a pennant will not hang in Citi without it. We are close, a lot closer than the professional talking heads will give the orange and blue credit for. Johan is a dicey call to me—Im still not convinced he can deliver a full season, and based on his past few starts very concerned that he may need to be replaced come September. Hang in there Charlie…Were almost there!!

  5. Dan Stack
    July 18, 2012 at 3:43 am

    Its the beginning of the end unless the Mets make a trade for bullpen help. This is just so demoralizing.

    • July 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Bingo.

      • Name
        July 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

        Yea. It’s not often that maybe 1 player could affect a team’s record so much ,but if the Mets had 1 more reliable piece in that bullpen, maybe 3-4 of those losses could have been wins, and instead of being just 2 games over, they could be 8-10 games over, which would probably put them in the wild card lead and a strong contender for the division.

  6. Metsense
    July 18, 2012 at 8:26 am

    The Mets needed help in the bullpen and the signs were there as early as June 1st. In order to get this bullpen help, the Mets would probably have to give up a second tier minor league pitcher for a quality back end rental reliever. Alderson said the Mets will be reluctant to part with any prospect who can help in 2013 or 2014. In author’s JC Bradury’s book, Hot Stove Economics, “a team may miss a traded prospect who significantly outperforms his salary for another club, but that financial loss may be overcome by the high returns to winning in the present”. I am not advocating trading prospects, but Sandy’s broad stroke of “any” prospect may have sabotaged the 2012 season, as the two loses this week vs Atlanta and Washington are indicative of this.

    • Name
      July 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      Signs as early was June 1st? How about as early as mid to late April?

      I think one of the reasons that Sandy has yet to make a move was because he was hoping that
      A) the current group(Rauch,Ramon Ramirez,Batista,Francisco) would “find” it and start pitching better OR
      B) the pitchers in the minor leagues(Beato,Meija,Edgin,Elvin Ramirez)

      Now, some of the pitchers have done better, but as a group, they are still finding a way to lose many games. One problem could be that these guys need defined roles, and Collins doesn’t really want to do that. Another problem is that they might need a proven, effective, pitcher in that bullpen, something they don’t have right now.

  7. Chris F
    July 18, 2012 at 8:49 am

    The thing is a lot of teams need pen help and we clearly do not need/want a 2012 rental. That also places limits on thing. Yes we need pen help, but we need to sign someone who will be here for some time. And really, one arm is not enough based on what we’ve seen so far.

  8. jerseymet
    July 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    So Sandy feels that the market is too overpriced to be buying. So will he sell? We have a dozen players who will be free agents after this season. Most will walk. Would he be willing to trade these rentals for something of value? The Buffalo express has been our success this year. Keep it moving.

    • Name
      July 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      I don’t think he feels it is overpriced, i think he thinks that the players out there who can be traded are being overpaid, and he doesn’t want to absorb that money.
      And how do we have a dozen players who will be free agents? You have Rauch,Torres,Cedeno, and i really can’t think of anyone else that’s somewhat important.

      • July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        From Chris Walendin’s site:

        FA with club option – Dickey, Wright
        FA – Batista, Byrdak, Cedeno, Hairston, R. Ramirez, Rauch, Young
        Arb eligible – Davis, R. Johnson, Murphy, Parnell, Pelfrey, Thole, Torres

  9. September 25, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Sometimes, I really HATE being right…

    • Chris F
      September 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Welcome back Charlie. And thanks for digging this trophy article and discussion out some 9 weeks later!!! Its an interesting exercise on prophesy! I feel pretty much the same…I didnt think 500 was an easy task, and well, here we are.

      I still rue the terrible losses to the Astros, Cubs, Rox….which could have possibly taken us to .500.

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