Everybody knows the old joke about a baseball team being so being so bad, it’s eliminated from contention by Memorial Day. This year’s Mets have become that old joke. The level of ineptitude on display the past eight-and-a-half weeks truly defies description. Last year was bad, we know this, but you could point to a spate of devastating injuries – Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, to name a few — to explain away a 94-loss campaign. There are injuries this year – Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak, Syndergaard, Lagares and Cespedes again — as well, but face it: these guys weren’t playing all that well before anybody got hurt. No, this one is deeper than that. This seems to be in the head. Long-time fans will remember how it felt to watch the 2007 season slip away in September, when every day brought a new way of losing and the pennant that was seemingly “ours” ended up down the Turnpike a piece. Right now, we have that same feeling every damn day and it’s only June.
On April 16, the Mets were sitting on a 12-2 record and enjoying a seventh inning 6-1 lead over the prohibitive favorites to win the NL East, the Washington Nationals. Fans in the stands were feeling giddy, derisively serenading superstar right fielder Bryce Harper with a singsong chant of his name. Jacob deGrom had started the eighth and left with the bases loaded, one out and Harper due up. Jerry Blevins came in to face the lefty hitter and gave up a two-run single. The rest of the bullpen couldn’t put this game back together again and the Nationals ended up winning it, 8-6. Since then, the Mets have been worthless. They’ve had exactly one – one! – winning week, in the middle of May, which included the first two legs of an improbable sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks. And it’s not like this is a very young team that got in over its head and couldn’t handle early success. These guys are veterans, former All-Stars, for the most part, who are supposed to know what they’re doing. Right now, it looks like they don’t. Muffed pop-ups. Throwing to the incorrect base. Bunting into double plays. Heck, even the manager isn’t immune, as Mickey Callaway made the ultimate gaffe when he was looking at the wrong lineup card and batted out of order against the Cincinnati Reds a few weeks ago. Speaking of which… Cincinnati, the Miami Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles all entered the season each projected to be the worst teams in their respective divisions, each on track for 100 losses. In recent weeks, the Mets have played all three and have a record of 2-6 against them. Tell me again who the worst teams in baseball are?
OK, so what’s to be done about it? The Mets’ most valuable commodity right now is clearly deGrom. I had a Yankee-fan friend – I have a lot of those; seems like too many, sometimes – ask me the other night if I’d rather see the Mets lose with deGrom or trade him while his value is high. I said, “You want deGrom? You got him… for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar and Justus Sheffield.” He said, “Don’t get greedy! Give you Aaron Hicks instead of Frazier.” I said, “You want him? Pay through the nose.” He goes, “Fine, stay mediocre. deGrom is going to end up on a contender anyway.” I sez, “Probably, but that’s no reason the Mets shouldn’t hold out for everything they want in exchange. deGrom is the asset here and anybody who wants to pony up better be prepared to pay steep.” He goes, “Well, the limo ride from Queens to the Bronx is already reserved for him.” I said, “Andujar, Frazier and Sheffield and I’ll drive him myself.” That would be a blockbuster on both sides, to be sure, if more than a little drastic. There are people on Twitter calling for wholesale firings of Callaway, hitting coach Pat Roessler and GM Sandy Alderson. That would be nothing but a sop to the fans and have no real impact on what’s going on on the field. Some are calling for the call-up of AA prospect Peter Alonso, currently knocking the cover off the ball in pitcher-friendly Binghamton, but would you want to throw someone that young and with that much potential into this cauldron? Is there anybody else to trade? Of course; there always is, but at current performance, who wants them? The Mets could get pennies on the dollar for Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc., but to what end? This team is headed for a 104-loss year and is there any deal out there that will turn that around? No, right now, we are stuck in a Polo Grounds nightmare with no end in sight.
Or “we” could go ahead and trade deGrom.
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