No Guarantees: Worrisome Items For The Mets

mr-met-cryingLast night, the Mets played one of their worst-looking games of the year. Vapid offense, poor fundamentals and poor interpretation of MLB’s plate-blocking rule all conspired to turn another great performance by Bartolo Colon into another home loss to the Nationals. The game itself, while mainly unremarkable came on the heels of a flurry of news items, none of which inspire confidence going forward. For all the hope mongering going on among the fan base, there are some worrisome dregs among the tealeaves.

First to come down the pike was word that the Mets want to gently apply the brakes to Matt Harvey’s rehabilitation schedule. Presumably spooked by the setback suffered by Jeremy Hefner earlier in the week, the Mets understandably want Harvey to avoid a similar fate. Harvey, however, had a mound session on Wednesday afternoon anyway, much to the irritation of manager Terry Collins, who turned on his snark machine. The last thing this team needs right now is a rift between their megawatt mound star and the front office. It makes one wonder if the seemingly steady accumulation of slights and indignities might spark a desire in Harvey to blaze his fastball elsewhere when he gets the chance.

Shortly after that, news filtered through that Collins would likely remain the Mets’ manager in 2015. Many fans took this as a sign that things will most likely be status quo come the new year. It has been viewed as a signal that ownership is unable or unwilling to pay two managers in 2015. And if they can’t pay two managers, how can we think they’ll have the wherewithal to bring in that mythical big bat we’ve been hearing about since May? How can they leave a team on the cusp of contention in the hands of a sub-standard in-game manager? Collins’s shortcomings were on full display last night: with the Mets rallying in the ninth, courtesy of a Travis d’Arnaud homer leading off, and a base hit by Matt den Dekker immediately after, Collins called for Juan Lagares to bunt. Conventional, old-school baseball wisdom calls this the obvious play, but there are several mitigating circumstances here: Lagares is hitting over .280 and handles the bat well, he hasn’t been called on to bunt all that often, den Dekker has superior speed on the bases and the Washington closer, Rafael Soriano, was reeling. If Collins wanted to “manage,” a better call might have been to put on the old hit-and-run play so beloved of Keith Hernandez, which the Mets never do. In any case, Lagares popped out on the bunt attempt and an out was given away in vain. However true it might or might not be, it doesn’t look like Collins manages to win; he seems to manage not to lose. He appears to be a slave to “the Book,” his use of Vic Black vs. Chase Utley the other day notwithstanding. Buckle up for more of the same next year.

While all that was going on, it was reported that two of the Mets’ top off-season targets – Troy Tulowitzky and Carlos Gonzales, both of the Colorado Rockies – will both miss the rest of the year. Tulowitzky is having surgery to his damaged hip, while Gonzales has strained ligaments in his knee. While this might be a signal to some that this will allow GM Sandy Alderson to “buy low” on these two, this news should take them out of the equation altogether: who wants someone else’s damaged goods? So it’s back to square one in the quest for that elusive big bat.

The fear here is that with a mostly-young outfield of den Dekker, Lagares and Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores manning shortstop, ownership might abandon the quest outright. They might be under the illusion that these guys are the answer. The reality is that these guys haven’t proven a blessed thing yet. No one knows if den Dekker – starting to run out of chances at 27 – can thrive under the glare of New York City or if he has enough power for a corner outfielder in today’s game. No one knows if Flores can handle short on a consistent basis defensively. Whatever success these guys have from now until the end of September, they cannot be counted on as givens come Spring Training.

So there’s all this, plus the fact that all the young pitching the Mets are counting on as givens can evaporate in the space of a couple of unlucky evenings: just ask Jacob deGrom, Bobby Parnell, Hefner and Harvey about that.

Suffice to say, as Granderson grounded out to the pitcher for the final out in that 9th inning, your intrepid columnist tweeted out “I love this team, but JE*** CH****, do they piss me off. #Mets”

This is still getting favorited and re-tweeted as we speak.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

9 comments for “No Guarantees: Worrisome Items For The Mets

  1. Wilponzi
    August 14, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    First Collins “must go.” Second, Alderson, must be removed from baseball operations. Third both Flores and MDD need to be given a chance before making any plays for the winter. With less than a week of starting, everyones on there case. Fourth, Cargo and Tulo as far as I’m concerned are no go. I rather see younger players.
    Also Granderson is not right for this team or ballpark. He’s still a decent player, trade him. Lack of power from a right handed hitter is a big problem. David Wright is that problem. It was expected at least 20 home runs not 8 and about 20 more RBI’s. Something is wrong there, the Mets won’t fess up to what it is.? More power will come from the right side next year from TDA, who could possible hit 15 to 20 homers, His defense has to improve.
    Harvey and Hefner are different people, the Mets shouldn’t “freak out” at Harvey because of Hefner.

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

    • Jerry Grote
      August 15, 2014 at 9:00 am

      No – people should freak out because the GM of this team can’t get his players to do what he tells them to do regarding their health.

      Matt Harvey is not a doctor. There is a defined path of how this injury works.

      If Matt Harvey doesn’t like what he’s being told, well, tough shit. He has a contract, he has obligations. The Mets control this situation not Matt.

  2. Jerry Grote
    August 15, 2014 at 8:49 am

    And what is frustrating to me is the acts of other teams within our division.

    Look at the Marlins or the Braves. Both of these teams made decisive moves on players, with little more than some vague ideas about outcomes in order to give direction to the future.

    The Braves released Dan Uggla and promoted a guy drafted in the 8th round only 3 years ago. The Marlins traded away three young players (Marisnick, Moran, Turner) to give their team absolute direction.

    Both teams continually make commitments to youthful starting talent level and are teams with a rudder.

    Despite not having a quality starting LF or SS, it took a team pretty much out of the real playoff race an entire year to make any sort of commitment over Eric Young and Ruben Tejada. Was there ever, ever any concept that either of these two players were going to be less than replacement level players? Were we ever, ever going to the World Series with both of these guys in the lineup?

    Let me restate in this rant. The single best part of this organization is pitching. Does anyone here really have any f*****g clue what our rotation will look like in *2015*?

    Alderson talks about flexibility like its some sort of great thing. The flip side to that is that not the manager, not the players nor the fans – no one in the organization – has even a slight idea as to what will happen in the future.

    On top of this, he can’t seem to control the best single asset of the entire team. It took a career ending injury to a fringish starter to get Matt Harvey off the mound. Mr. Alderson, you are the f,s,g GM of this team. Tell Harvey to sit the hell down. In five years, after we’ve had our control over him, if he wants to leave the Mets then he can go. Until then, you control his damned future.

    Faaahk.

    • August 15, 2014 at 9:40 am

      I do like the decisiveness of the Braves but I wouldn’t hold up Dan Uggla as an example of that trait. They gave him 1,984 PA (more than Tejada has in his career with the Mets) and only let him go once they had an acceptable replacement. You can dismiss La Stella because he was a low-round pick but the guy had a breakout season in 2013 and held his own this year in Triple-A.

      As for the Marlins, they were certainly decisive by DFAing Jacob Turner. Maybe the Cubs can turn him around. I don’t think it was going to happen for him in Miami. But I wouldn’t have made the trade with the Astros that they did. That was a very high price to pay for a guy with a 1.461 WHIP and a 1.47 K/BB ratio. You can argue they sold Moran before he lost all of his value but I’m thinking they’ll regret trading Marisnick. I don’t want that kind of decisiveness.

      The last Mets team to win the World Series had a starting SS with a .539 OPS and a 52 OPS+ so I certainly think the current Mets could make it to the Series with Ruben as their starting SS as long as there wasn’t two other sink holes in the lineup to go along with him.

      As for our 2015 rotation, we’ll have to wait for the inevitable trade before we know what it looks like. I’m assuming it will be Harvey and whichever four don’t get traded among Colon, de Grom, Gee, Montero, Niese and Wheeler. Although if Harvey keeps thumbing his nose at the team, maybe he shouldn’t be considered off limits either.

      Regardless, the idea that we don’t know our 2015 rotation right now is a completely different thing than the fact that we didn’t know the 2011 rotation this time in 2010. Now, we have an excess of internal options and don’t need to go dumpster diving to fill out our staff. I view this as a plus.

  3. Peter Hyatt
    August 15, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I had hoped Harvey’s teacher parents would have been able to reel him in a bit. A fierce competitor, his immaturity is troublesome.

    He would bring in offense, however, if he comes back as he was.

  4. Jerry Grote
    August 15, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Couple of things … Dal Maxvill, 3 WS appearances and a lifetime 57 OPS+. Mark Belanger, 4 and 68. *slightly different world for SS*. Buddy generated over 12 WAR between 69 and 73 … he was one of my favorite players. No comparison between Ruben and Derrel.

    Your last point … having an excess supply of talent and what that turns out to be because you have a vision.

    Example: Jake Marisnick, Stanton, Ozuna, Yelich, Coughlin, Ruggiano. Quick, which one was RoY?

    I’ve said this many times: in 2011, the Mets had three players that played 1B and their OPS+ were 126, 137 and 156. In August, 2014 the Mets decided on one of them as their everyday 1B. In between, we had far below league average production out of the position.

    Having an excess is nice. But I’ve watched that show once before with Sandy Alderson.

    • August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

      That’s why I put in OPS+ — to be able to make the offensive comparison across ages. I wouldn’t necessarily compare a SS in 1968 to today (because of the offensive expectations of the position) but I certainly would compare a SS from 1986 to today.

      Coghlan was the ROY winner. Amazing what a well-timed BABIP hot streak will do for a fellow. The Marlins are betting that Ozuna can cover CF. Perhaps they’re right. But even if they’re right – they still gave up way too much for Cosart. Just because you have depth doesn’t mean you sell it for 30 cents on the dollar.

      I certainly wish Alderson had pulled the trigger earlier on a deal for a 1B. But with Ike’s injury in 2011, followed by the Desert Fever and combined with Murphy’s move to 2B and Duda failing to follow up immediately on the 137 OPS+ — it’s at least somewhat understandable why he didn’t. I wouldn’t necessarily paint him as incapable of making a decision on depth because of the way that position played out.

      But we have the SP issue now, as well as 2B with Murphy, Herrera and Flores. Let’s see how he does with those two areas.

      • Patrick Albanesius
        August 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm

        Excellent and intelligent conversation.

  5. Wilponzi
    August 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Every game in this series with The Nationals was Uglier that the previous one.

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