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:
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?