No, The Mets Are Not For Real Yet

After Sunday’s thrilling 11-inning 4-3 win in Philadelphia, veteran Mets beat writer Adam Rubin posed the question “Are the Mets for real after all?” Those familiar with Rubin’s style – straightforward, with a slight lean toward the negative – were taken a bit by surprise, though recent relative success made the inquiry somewhat valid. At that point, the Mets had won five of their previous six and only a ghastly miscue by Chris Young on Friday night had kept the Mets from a seven-game winning streak. They had played their old nemesis basically to a standstill in the elongated series, having had consecutive games go 14, 14 and 11 innings, respectively. So Rubin could legitimately ask.magic top hat

From over here, the answer is still “no.”

First of all, remember, the last eight games – in which the Mets won six and lost two – came against the Pirates and Phillies, who don’t exactly inspire Pennsylvanian pride, with their combined record of 51-61 and .455 winning percentage. This is the same Mets squad that dropped two-of-three to the Arizona Diamondbacks at home, and they can’t even crack .400 yet. One is reminded of that old comic strip from the ‘50s, where a kid forlornly drags home his trusty mitt and his mom asks how the game went. The boy’s answer is classic: “Well, I was throwing a shutout until the big kids got out of school.” This Mets team can certainly look like world-beaters against the likes of the Phils and Buccos, but we all saw what happened against Washington and the Dodgers, two teams with legitimate pennant hopes.

The young starting pitching, while promising, is still woefully inconsistent. The bullpen is still in flux, despite looking better while being remade on the fly. These are troubling, to be sure, but there are two main culprits keeping the Mets from contending: the offense and the “little things.”

Taking the second one first, how many losses have we seen this year that hinged on a double play not turned, a cutoff man missed, and extra base either allowed or not taken or a base hit that rolls to the wall? One of the marks of a good team is that it doesn’t look ragged around the edges like that. Yes, they’ll have the occasional flub, but winners make those “little plays that don’t show up in the box score.” The lack of crispness makes the team look worse than it actually is.

Another thing that will make a semi-decent team look absolutely terrible is a stagnant offense. The Mets’ inability to deliver the necessary hit with runners in scoring position and less than two out is well documented. But even more basic than that, their lineup is fatally flawed. This was brought home starkly during the Arizona series, where the bottom of the order was manned by Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Juan Centeno and the pitcher. That’s one occasional-slugger and three pretty much automatic outs. There is a large element of protection for David Wright and Curtis Granderson missing – no, Young doesn’t count — that this front office will need to address and quickly. What is truly needed is a major trade for a real power threat, a trade on the order of the Mike Piazza or Keith Hernandez deals. Unfortunately, such a deal does not seem to be in the offing anytime soon.

Once a deal happens, then the Mets can get real.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

11 comments for “No, The Mets Are Not For Real Yet

  1. Chris F
    June 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for the course correction Charlie. Mets fans in some way remind me (he says aghast) of Washington Redskins fans. I lived in DC for a decade and I can tell you, if they went 3-1 to star a season, every person within 50 miles was already lining up for playoff tix. Endless chatter about maybe running off 8, 9 or 10 straight wins…and then reality set in…7-9…

    And so we pound out a run of excellent victories, all to be proud of for sure, and then the world “wildcard” starts coming out. the fact is this is a streaky team and we are just as likely to go 2-8 followed by a stretch of 7-3. That level of inconsistency does not make for scheduling dates for October baseball, but more for 75 wins come end of September.

    We need to embrace, enjoy, and be thrilled at beating up the terrible Phillies, but caution is still warranted.

  2. June 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    ” What is truly needed is a major trade for a real power threat, a trade on the order of the Mike Piazza or Keith Hernandez deals. Unfortunately, such a deal does not seem to be in the offing anytime soon.”

    Well, if this rebuilding is truly somewhat like the early 80′s, that trade will need to come. I mean really, many of us have been saying for so long to actually use that minor league strength and turn it into something. I personally hope Alderson makes this deal at the deadline or this winter. What are they waiting for at this point? Perhaps that deal just isn’t available right now….

  3. June 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Thanks for proving my point last night, Mets… SHEESH!

  4. Name
    June 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

    “Another thing that will make a semi-decent team look absolutely terrible is a stagnant offense”

    I’m sorry, but this is pissing me off and is total bullshit. If the goal for the offense is to score runs, they’ve done more than an adequate job so far so far being slightly above average in runs scored. If anything, they are getting the “big hit” because despite 3rd to last in average, they are scoring runs. If you want to see a bad offense, take a look at Atlanta or Cincy.
    This isn’t the steroid era where the average team scores 5 runs and has 8 boppers in their lineup. The average team now scores less than 4 runs a game and every team has 1 gaping hole in their lineup and a few more underachievers in there.

    On a side note, let’s talk about Scott freaking Rice. I swear that guy must be able to control everyone’s mind because despite his extreme struggles this year, no one is calling that loser out! Last night he retired just 1 of the 3 lefties, his “specialty”. With the platoon advantage 78% of the time he has a 5.40 ERA! Lefties have a .375 OBP on him, which is higher than any Met no this team with as many PA as Rice has faced. When will people wake up and see he’s a pile of crap?

    • Chris F
      June 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Name, you are spot on with Rice. I’m afraid Edgin will not be the LOOGY Collins wants either.

      The problem is that scoring runs alone, meaning just looking at run totals, doesn’t cover the game to game situations. A team that hits so poorly with bases loaded could easily have more runs, many more runs, and many more wins. Scoring 11 runs in one game followed by 1 the next against the lousiest teams in the game indicates real hitting problems. Scoring runs is the point of the game to be sure but actually winning games is all that matters. With the current way we play, we need a lot more runs. The endless bales of stranded runners in scoring position says the offense leaves much to be desired.

      • June 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

        This is why they need a big slugger — a Stanton, a Kemp/Ethier, a Trout, a Joey Bats. Not that they’ll get or keep anybody like that, but that’s what they need.

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

      • Name
        June 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

        “The endless bales of stranded runners in scoring position says the offense leaves much to be desired.”

        The current pace the Mets are hitting with RISP are on par with the National League.
        League RISP:
        http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=b&lg=NL&year=2014
        Mets RISP:
        http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/split.cgi?t=b&team=NYM&year=2014

        While the media and fans have been portraying an utter train wreck, if you look at the stats in a league-average context, you’ll find that the Mets are right near the average or above in a lot more stats than you think.

        If you want to be objective, compare the Mets with their peers, not with what you personally perceive to be good or bad.

        • Chris F
          June 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

          The point is average NL is not a post season team. That doesnt negate the amount of futility the Mets have with bases loaded for example, regardless of how other teams perform. We scored 1 run last night. We had opportunity after opportunity to score more. And we did’nt. The pitching let in 2 runs. No matter what, thats not bad.

          Some Mets offensive rankings (ive not done the stats on these rank numbers, but for the sake of argument)

          wRC+ = 23/30
          BA = 28/30
          OBP = 20/30
          SLG = 30/30
          Runs = 17/30
          RBI 15/30
          oWAR = 28/30
          total bases/game = 29/30
          LOB/game = 27/30
          RISP/game 29/30

          So, yes, I see that we can plate runs, and runs matter, but there is so much other that is terrible, and its not just scoring runs, but scoring runs in key situations.

          • Chris F
            June 4, 2014 at 11:46 am

            our team ISO = .114, good for 28/30

        • Jerry Grote
          June 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

          If you are going to moan on and on about the pitching, and want to use league comparisons …

          well, we’ve given up 230 runs this year and the league has averaged giving up 232. Take out the 33 runs allowed by the likes of Farnsworth, Valverde and Lannan, and we’d be somewhere around #2 in the league.

          Yes, their replacements would have given up something. But we have no alternatives in mind for TDA, or Ruben Tejada, or Chris Young. These guys get at bats regularly and will continue to do so, into the future.

          I can see improvement in the pitching. The offense? Other than Abreu, not so much.

          • Name
            June 4, 2014 at 7:41 pm

            I’ve been moaning about the SP, the bullpen actually is improving the overall numbers.
            Rob already did the work for all the league-average with stats using a couple of days ago. Since then, the SP has improved the numbers quite a bit from 3.9ish ERA to 3.76 and the 110 FIP- to 101 FIP-. So now the offense and pitching are both about average.

            My main beef isn’t that SP has been horrendous but rather the criticism the offense is getting is unfair.
            If you ran a poll asking the team’s weakness, 9 out of 10 will probably say the offense, and maybe the other 1 will say the bullpen. If you asked about the team’s strength, 99.5 out of 100 will say the SP (me and Rob are the 0.5).
            Considering they’ve both been around average, that should not be the case.

            Here’s my attempt at an analogy.
            It’s like when a teacher who is tutoring someone who is really talented and just isn’t putting in the effort, but the teacher is afraid to tell the parents because fears so doing will cost his job.
            I believe the media is afraid to say bad things about the SP because that is supposed to be our ticket to the playoffs. If they come to the realization that the SP may not be as good as they think, then a lot of fans will lose hope.

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