The window is closing for these Mets

Somehow, the Mets just escaped Atlanta with a split of their four-games-in-three-days series. It felt like they lost about seven games, there, but really, it was only two. No, really…true story, I swear. Anyway that leaves them with a chance for only their second .500-or-better week since the one that began on April 8. Of course, that would mean taking two of the next three from the Cubs, so that doesn’t seem very likely, but hey, hope springs eternal, right? Somehow it does for everyone but the Mets. This was not how we pictured it five weeks ago.

Five weeks ago, everything was coming up roses. Manager Mickey Callaway flicked all the right levers and the team just could not lose, but for an Easter Sunday hiccup in the season’s third game. They were 11-1 and riding high. Well, since then, their record is 16-25 and they have plunged to fourth place in the division, four games out. The fact that they’re that close seems miraculous with all that’s gone on already in this still-young season. The projected pitching superstaff is in tatters. A lot of hoopla was made a number of weeks ago when the putative Fab Five – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler – took exactly two turns as an intact rotation before Harvey was traded to Cincinnati. deGrom has been brilliant, yes, and Syndergaard has been fine, if not as dominant as we’d become accustomed to, OK, but the rest have been spotty, at best – and Syndergaard is on the DL at the present time. They’ve been without the meat of their lineup, with Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier on the shelf for extended periods and Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce hitting well below their respective career norms. The bright spots offensively have been Asdrubal Cabrera and Brandon Nimmo. The retreads – Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista – have done surprisingly well in spots, but not consistently enough to jumpstart the offense. The bullpen, such a strength in the early going, has been a disaster of late. Suffice to say, in the past week, the Mets lost five games in which they had a lead in the seventh inning or later. Turn those around and they’re 11 games over .500, rather than one.

The next few weeks will be telling for this franchise. They seem to be at a crossroads, and it seems like GM Sandy Alderson has only so much time: it feels like the next two months will be his last, best shot to reverse a legacy of mostly failure. The amateur draft is next week and the run-up to the trade deadline is after that. If the team’s fortunes don’t improve, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him try to go full-on Cubs/Astros/Braves/Phillies and tear the whole thing down. Ownership and fans would have to take a long look at a scorched Earth rebuild – something you supposedly “can’t do” in New York – but it may be what’s best for the health of the franchise long-term. In any case, time is starting to tick for guys like Cespedes, Frazier, Cabrera, the retreads and any pitcher not named “deGrom.” The team has to turn it around immediately if it is to have any kind of hope for a post-season berth. Oh, and on top of everything else, there was a fire at Citi Field yesterday.

Maybe it will prove cathartic.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

8 comments for “The window is closing for these Mets

  1. Madman
    May 31, 2018 at 8:44 am

    It’s still early,don’t panic. If Ces and Frazier return and play well,if Bruce and Conforto start hitting,if Rosario ontinues to develop the offense will be better and don’t forget Alonso is in the wings. Matz and Wheeler need to pitch better and have looked better lately. Lugo might be starting soon. Swarsak returns and should help the overworked BP. If the starters get it together the reduced workload should help the BP.

    • May 31, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Conforto hit a low point in the Rockies series and since then has been real good and actually has a higher walk rate than Nimmo does this year.

  2. May 31, 2018 at 8:50 am

    I’m not worried about Conforto. He had a two-week stretch where he didn’t hit at all. But he hit before that this season and in his last 20 games, he has a .901 OPS.

    I still believe in this team.

    My hope is that Cespedes and Frazier come back and hit like they were expected to, that Nimmo continues to be used as a regular and that Callaway demands more from the starting pitchers.

  3. MattyMets
    May 31, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    I agree that the next 3 or 4 weeks will determine the direction of the season. However if things go south, I don’t see a scorched earth approach. Trading Jake and Thor for any number of prospects would be madness.

    I still believe this team has the talent to compete and will turn it around to at least make it interesting in September if not grab a wild card. If this team really flops over the next month than I would unload every older player – including most of the new signings – either in trade or DFA and let the kids play in the second half. There are a handful of young players I see as building blocks that I would not trade – our 1-2 punch, Nimmo, Conforto, maybe Rosario.

    • Mike Walczak
      May 31, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      I don’t think that they should trade Jake or Thor during the season, but they should at least think about it after the season.

  4. Eraff
    May 31, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Team Building, like the game itself, is very much tied to Sequence and Timing…. a core of talent at the right positions needs to be in place at the same time.

    The Sequence for both Starting Pitching and position Players is looking like Twin Humpty Dumpties right now. That applies to 2018…and 2019 is even more of a guess, with health and age and contracts.

    • May 31, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      Right. As has been trotted out before, check out this sequence and timing.

      Current Mets in 2011:

      1B Gonzalez: .338/.410/.548/.957 36 HR 119 RBI

      2B Cabrera: .273/.332/.460/.792 25 HR 92 RBI 32 doubles

      SS Reyes: .337/.384/.493/.877 16 triples

      3B Frazier: Rookie year, .727 OPS in 121 PA

      OF Bruce: .256/.341/.474/.814 32 HR 97 RBI 27 doubles

      OF Bautista: .302/.447/.609/1.056 43 HR 103 RBI

      Sandy’s timing was just slightly off…

  5. TJ
    May 31, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Despite the tremendous disappointment/borderline train wreck that the post 11-1 performance has been, the season is not yet lost. They certainly made things much harder on themselves, having to chase a more talented Nats team along with two other divisional upstarts. That said, in the bigger picture and longer range, the two main concerns are the pitching and the young position players. While Cespedes, Bruce, Reyes, and other vets have collectively been missing in action or just bad, what will determine the “window” and “sustainability of winning” will be the development of young/controllable players. Rosario, Conforto, Nimmo, D Smith…Matz, Wheeler, Gsellman…Guillorme, Cecchini…and the next wave of pitching Kay, Dunn, Peterson, and this year’s draftees. If enough of this group are average to above, and a couple become stars, then they will be able to fill in the missing links externally and compete for the division.

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