Deciphering the Mets’ Coded Messages…Or At Least Trying To

There’s a lot of air-sniffing going on around the Mets these days. People close to the team – and far away from it, as well – are beginning to wonder exactly which way the wind is blowing. There are portents abounding, smoke signals to be seen and tea leaves to be read. We are 50 games into this rapidly-becoming-painful season and change is definitely in the air. We fans can only wonder what kind of conversation goes on in the back offices at Citi Field. Is something actually up? There hasn’t been this much brewing around the wind-blowsteam since Rheingold packed up and left for good in 2005.

One message that was quickly and emphatically decoded was who was to be held responsible for the Mets’ anemic offense. Hitting coach Dave Hudgens took the first fall. It’s never been clear how much a hitting coach has to do with the productivity of the offense – timing, luck and the opposition have as much to do with a poor offense as technique and “approach” – but he will always be the symbol when the hitting goes south. There is much speculation as to whether the firing of Hudgens is a stand-alone action, or merely the first salvo in a series of personnel bombshells – on-field and off – to come. Could Dan Warthen – unaffectionately known as “Floyd the Barber” in these parts – be next? How about manager Terry Collins? Will Lucas Duda, Chris Young and Ruben Tejada — all currently toting overcooked-linguini bats — still have the jobs they were promised come the All-Star break? All these questions are ripe for conjecture, music to the ears of the MSM and bloggers, who are rejoicing at having something else to generate sales and mouse-clicks besides the daily bad news between the lines.

Meanwhile, your intrepid columnist dug out a portent of his own while waiting out Friday evening’s endless rain delay. As security moved us from the unprotected acreage of the Pepsi Porch to the shelter of the Caesar’s Club with lightning on the way, it was decided to go check out the Mets’ Museum and Hall Of Fame. Shockingly enough, the exit of the Museum connects directly with the entrance to the Team Store, so after we left the Museum, we decided to check out the latest line of Mets tschochkes. Prominently displayed were t-shirt replicas of the jerseys worn by some of the most prominent heroes of ’86. There was a “Carter 8,” a “Strawberry 18,” a “Gooden 16” and… a “Backman 6.”


What was that?

Backman? Really? There wasn’t a “Hernandez 17,” or a “Knight 22” hanging there. There wasn’t a “Darling 12” or a “Wilson 1” to be seen. All were bigger stars and arguably bigger contributors to the legend of ’86, but there was Wally Backman’s “tersey,” front and center on that rack of Mets retro mufti.

Just another in a long line of things about this team that make ya go “Hmmmmm…”

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

16 comments for “Deciphering the Mets’ Coded Messages…Or At Least Trying To

  1. Jerry Grote
    May 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    over-cooked linguini bats.

    Thanks Charlie.

  2. Realitychuck
    May 27, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Or, those particular jerseys hare hot sellers and were sold out.

    • May 27, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      There wasn’t a space for them. And the Backman model was right out front. Now, if I were ever a conspiracy theorist…

  3. May 27, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    That’s very interesting, Charlie. I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance of Wally being hired but maybe if they can continue to pay him his Triple-A salary….

    The situation right now is bad but it still doesn’t seem to me as helpless as it did last May when they were in the toilet. I’m trying to figure out why that is for me and I keep coming back to one thing — people seem more vocal now.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but it just seemed that last year everything that was bad was just … accepted. Ike Davis doesn’t hit for two months? Just keep writing his name in the lineup card. John Buck stinks? Play him every day and remind everyone what he did the first two weeks in April. Bullpen run as if manager gets paid by the number of relievers used per game? Whatever, just remember that it’s not Terry’s fault.

    Now it seems everyone’s demanding answers. Hudgens and Valverde will quiet those who want blood but for how long? If those moves buy more than a week of continued lousy play, I’ll be surprised.

  4. Metsense
    May 27, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Very interesting Charlie. I was in the Dallas Maverick’s team store and saw a Met hat. I wish.

  5. Name
    May 27, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I don’t know why the offense continues to bear the brunt of the attack when the pitching has been the real problem.
    The offense has been just a tick over the league average in runs scored. They are the definition of average.
    However, the SP is 11th in ERA (.16 below average). 11th. Well below average.

    Stop pretending our staff is not a problem because of our hyped pitching pipeline. They have not produced and are the bigger reason we aren’t winning. We can complain about the offense once our SP actually produces instead of just skating by their reputation.

    • May 27, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      The SPs would be a lot better off if the so-called offense could get a run or 2 home with runners in scoring position and no outs. But that’s just me…

      • Name
        May 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

        Again someone tries to twist it in a way that blames the offense. The offense and pitching are equal partners for their failures so far, if anything the pitching has been the bigger offender. However, all the articles/talk is on the offense. “Anemic offense”, “offense sucks”, “no clutch hitting”. I’ve seen countless articles criticizing the offense. Pitching? Maybe someone occasionally will take a jab at the bullpen, but there’s virtually no one out there writing anything bad about the SP.

        To all: Stop buying the pitching hype and look at the numbers for a little bit. Unlike our memory, Stats don’t lie and don’t have biases.

        • Chris F
          May 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

          It’s a shared blame for sure. The pitching has been horrific in stretches, but it is the good efforts we get that cannot be supported for wins with the anemic offense. Both need help, big time help.

          • Name
            May 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

            Chris, i’m afraid you’re still stuck in the offense-bias mode. You said something nice about the pitching, but nothing nice about the hitting. In a low-scoring game, you blame the offense instead of the pitching for not being better. I know it’s a hard habit to break though.

            Both the offense and pitching have been bad in low scoring games.

            NL average when scoring 2 runs: .277, Us: .167
            NL average when scoring 3 runs: .364, Us: .143

            NL average when allowing 1 run: .844, Us: .600
            NL average when allowing 2 runs: .700, Us: .667

            And of course our 6-13 record in 1 run games.

    • Jerry Grote
      May 27, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Yup. And we’ll dither over moving the fences back in.

      In the meantime, our pitchers walk 3.5 batters per nine – good for dead last and a distance away from 13th or 12th. Who do we move up to take a place in the bullpen? Vic Black.

      Pass the lighter fluid.

      • Name
        May 27, 2014 at 6:41 pm

        The biggest reasons for that high walk rate? Rice and Disucky.

        Montero and deGrom check in next on the list, but they both had much better control in the minors and we can probably chalk up their early control problems to jitters and small sample size.

        Black is replacing Valverde’s 4.4BB/9, which is not a guarantee, but at least it’s possible he might be better. And he’s almost a guarantee to be much better than Valverde’s 10.5 H/9

        This team really needs Gee and Germen back.

        • Jerry Grote
          May 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm

          If Black is an improvement, I can’t see how someone averaging literally one full walk per inning – 9 nine per game – is a help.

          And as to your assertion that its DiceK and Rice? Bull. Rice has thrown some 25 innings this year, hardly enough to make a difference in the teams failures.

          The weighted averages of innings pitched by the sacred cows of this pitching staff – Mejia, Wheeler, Torres, Familia – are all substantially worse than the overall average of 3.7 and every single one of them is more than 33% worse than the league average.

          Torres and now you can add

          Its ridiculous. Throwing strikes should be job one for a pitcher.

          Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as it is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  6. Jim OMalley
    May 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters.

  7. Patrick Albanesius
    May 28, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Grote touched on a critical area, the SP staff’s walks. Only the Pirates and Rockies have worst K/BB ratios than the Mets in the NL. We are also second in total walks with 107 from our SPs. This team may not have Gold Gloves at every position, but the pitchers have to give the defense a chance to field, rather than walking guys constantly. To comment on the hitting though. It was funny to see Gary and Ron talk about the lack of first pitch hitting stats last night, then see Tejada hit a double on the first pitch as they were talking. Imagine that, first pitch swinging can pay off sometimes!

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