Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson, manager Terry Collins, and pitchers Jon Niese, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey held a Q&A session with season ticket holders yesterday at Citi Field. Unsurprisingly, there was really nothing of substance to take away from it. Even Alderson’s staunchest supporters (including yours truly) can no longer defend the way he always talks his way around questions. It’s not only become quite obvious, it’s become tiresome and irritating. This Q&A session was no different in that aspect.
Beyond again flatly refusing to just directly answer questions about an increase to next year’s payroll, of note was his continued assertion that he feels that the team is “close” to contending:
“As I said, I think we’re close. And I think we have the capacity to play better. Statistically, we’ve got to get back to … average with respect to wins with one-run leads and that sort of thing.”
Does he really think that the team has the capacity to play better with the players he just keeps marching out there year after year? Has he been paying attention the last few years? It’s hard to believe he actually feels that way about the offense. Surely he must be referring to the bullpen and the rotation.
“But, as I said before, we have some strengths. The pitching is a strength. We’re getting there offensively. We’re finding where we can fit the pieces in that lineup. I really do believe that we are close.”
What has Alderson seen in this offense to make him possibly believe they are “getting there?” Perhaps it’s the fact David Wright is having what may amount to be his worst season ever. Maybe it’s that, as Metsblog pointed out this morning, Chris Young has a slash of .196/.283/.313 and now has more strikeouts than hits. How about the fact that Terry Collins is depending on the corpse of Bobby Abreu to keep his lineup afloat? It can’t be the .214/.299/.323 line the team has put up in June, or their .277 wOBA over that same period, right? There’s a lot to be optimistic about there, for sure.
“We went into Philadelphia and won four out of five. That was an exhausting series. There’s no question about that. And I think we got to Chicago and were maybe a little bit tired. Not an excuse. A lot of close games. We didn’t win them. We played a better-than-Chicago-Cub team in San Francisco. All of those games were close.”
That’ll be the last of the long quotes, but honestly you cannot make this stuff up. Playing close games against the likes of the Chicago Cubs is not a barometer on which the quality of this Mets team should be measured. As of this writing, the Mets have just three more wins than the Cubs, the worst team in the National League (NL). Sure, they played close games against the best team in the NL in the Giants as well. They still lost those games, though. All three of them.
It doesn’t appear as though Alderson is enamored with the idea of trading some of the Mets’ heralded pitching depth, either. When asked about trading some of it for a power bat, Alderson replied with something along the lines of “you can never have enough pitching.” True enough, Mr. Alderson, but at some point you’re going to have to address the offense in earnest. As Ken Davidoff pointed out this week in NY Post, the Mets are doing a fantastic job at proving you can’t win with pitching alone. Even so, and as we pointed out here a couple of weeks back, the pitching has been a bit of an illusion thus far.
Of course, we have to consider that Alderson has been working under constraints placed on him by ownership. Those constraints appear to be incredibly volatile and the Wilpons seem to have continually misled him about them every year. Still, the decisions made by Alderson and his front office within those constraints are theirs and theirs alone. That includes actions taken and those not taken, whatever their reasoning behind them. If Alderson feels that those decisions have led to a team “close” to contention at this point, then maybe we Mets fans may have more to be worried about than we originally thought.