Mets hope preparation can influence luck

Lately my thoughts have been focused on luck. Whether in life or in sports, we don’t want to acknowledge the part that luck, or perhaps more precisely good luck, plays in our success. Yet we’re quick to point out other people or team’s good luck. “They’re not good, they’re just lucky.” And we’re also quick to point out our bad luck. “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”

It seems safe to say that the Mets of recent vintage have had some bad luck. In 2016, the majority of the year they had the worst results with hitting with runners in scoring position in nearly 50 years. In 2015, they were the fifth-best club in the National League with RISP and in 2017 they were 10th in the league. How does a team have such varied results and why was it so god awful for nearly five months in 2016? Well, you know the answer.

The other main thing that hasn’t broken the Mets’ way here recently is the health of their players. But unlike hitting with RISP, there’s a nagging feeling that while the Mets may have had some bad luck in the department, some of these results were self-inflicted. There was Yoenis Cespedes refusing to hydrate and Noah Syndergaard training for muscle building rather than a baseball body. And there were constant rumors about the Mets encouraging their players to play when they should have been disabled.

To borrow a phrase from college athletics, it’s hard to come away with any other thought besides a lack of institutional control. Generally, my opinion on Sandy Alderson is more positive than negative. But this is an area where he simply received a failing grade. And the fact that he’s a former Marine makes this lack of control all the more puzzling.

Sure, you can say this was an inherited problem. But how on earth did he allow this to continue this long on his watch? How did he allow players to come up with their own training regimens with (seemingly) zero input from the organization? How did he allow coaches and other personnel to put injured players on the field? How did he allow players to refuse suggested medical diagnostic procedures?

Perhaps this last one is the straw that broke the camel’s back. When Sydnergaard refused the MRI, Alderson took a lot of heat. And maybe it’s just a coincidence but we’ve started to see changes. There was the shakeup in midseason how the team handles internal communication on injured players. Then there was the firing/non-retention of Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and Ray Ramirez. Next came the hiring of respected pitching coach Mickey Callaway as manager and Dave Eiland as pitching coach. And finally there was the hiring of Jim Cavallini to be their Director of High Performance.

My opinion is that the old school combo of Collins-Warthen and their refusal to embrace modern communication and training models contributed to the injury problems. My expectation is that the Callaway-Eiland regime will be a giant step forward in this regard. And combined with Cavallini, the organization has finally put itself on the right track.

“Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.”

The Mets and their fans have certainly experienced the second half of that quote by Israeli businessman Eliyahu Goldratt. Hopefully these new changes instituted by Alderson will allow us to experience the first half of the quote in 2018.

In case anyone’s forgotten, here are DL days (out of 182) lost by prominent Mets players in 2017:

79 – Cespedes
79 – Matt Harvey
81 – Zack Wheeler
85 – Seth Lugo
106 – Jeurys Familia
112 – Steven Matz
145 – Syndergaard

Wouldn’t it be something if these seven players went from 687 days missed to fewer than 200? If each of these players just had a three-week stay on the DL, that would be 147 days missed. Shoot, why not get crazy. What if three of these guys went the entire season without a DL trip and we got the missed days down to double digits?

While the Mets have done what they can to prevent injuries, I’m not above resorting to superstition. People used to believe that you could offer sacrifices to the gods to get desired results. So, in an effort to keep the above seven healthy, along with Michael Conforto and Jacob deGrom, please accept this offer of season-ending injuries in March to Jerry Blevins and Wilmer Flores. What they lack in virginity they make up for in belovedness by the fanbase. That will please the gods, right?

12 comments for “Mets hope preparation can influence luck

  1. Mike Walczak
    February 11, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Maybe Syndergaard gets claustrophobia in the MRI machine. There is no way that he should have not gotten that MRI.

    Good luck is having all players stay healthy. Bad luck is losing a valuable player to an injury. The Mets having all of those players get hurt means that there is something wrong. I think the new regime will help as well as keeping close tabs on giving days off when players need them and giving pitchers extra rest.

    What ever happened to Cal Ripken type players?

  2. TexasGusCC
    February 11, 2018 at 10:01 am

    “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Jimmy Johnson after winning his second consecutive Super Bowl.

    “Success comes before work only in the dictionary.” Pat Riley in his book ‘The Winner Within’.

    There’s a pattern that all successful people have: They don’t do shortcuts.

  3. Steevy
    February 11, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Luck is the residue of design.We can’t say the Mets didn’t have good luck in 2015 though.

  4. Hunter
    February 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Ces,Conforto,Bruce,Frazier,d’Arnaud,this could be a helluva year.

  5. Pete from NJ
    February 11, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Your quote about luck is pretty profound. I’m filing that one away for future use. (I’ll footnote, of course).

  6. February 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    There was nothing unlucky about Terry Loser Collins driving his players into The dirt. It seems like it’s happening again with extra pressure and emphasis on guys like Harvey and wheeler to start the season in April when they should be working on building arm strength and durability.

    • February 11, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      I don’t claim to have any special inside information but I don’t see any extra pressure on Harvey and Wheeler. My take is that they go to Spring Training and they show the new manager where they are at.

  7. Chris F
    February 11, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Chance favors the prepared mind. This extends to proper physical preparation as well.

    I think its pretty clear that has been a real gap in the Alderson administration. Im far less supportive of his overall plan for the team, but the health strategy has been abominable.

  8. TJ
    February 11, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    Baseball is very reflective of life itself…it is almost always better to be prepared and approach any endeavor with a high level of intelligence, yet this doesn’t guarantee any desired outcome.

    Most here are in agreement that the Mets can improve on several fronts, with injury prevention at the top of the list.

    Whether we call it luck, fate, or whatever, reality can intervene in any event. I can certainly live with that so long as I feel that the organization has reasonably addressed all areas that they can control. To this point, I feel that have done a decent job this offseason, with a little more work to be done on securing more pitching depth. None of these moves has propelled them into the elite status, as several teams in each league have more talented rosters, but some finishing touches can lift them to reasonable inclusion in the postseason conversation, and more specifically in winning the NL East. And that is really all that I require as a fan for my commitment emotionally and financially. As the saying goes, the best team on paper isn’t always the champ, it’s why they play the games, and hopefully I can look forward to those games being played when the real season begins.

  9. Chris B
    February 12, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Brian, Jerry Blevins called me and asked what you have against him? First the denDekker love over him and now sacrificing him to the baseball gods? 😉

    Fwiw, MdD was with the Tigers organization last year. I wonder how Reynolds will fare with the Nats.

    • February 12, 2018 at 11:59 pm

      Nothing against him. However, I’m an enemy of his role.

      Besides, let’s be honest, if you could guarantee the health of Cespedes, Conforto, Syndergaard and the rest by sacrificing Blevins — wouldn’t you make that deal?

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