The Mets spent eight days in last place early in the season and last led the National League East on April 30. Their offense totally collapsed in July, they couldn’t get a big hit when needed and key pitchers slumped at inopportune times.
Below I explore the 10 most frustrating topics for the 2010 New York Mets. Stats are through Tuesday.
1. Inability to hit and score in the second half
During the Jul. 6-Sept.1 period in which New York went 18-31 and dropped from two games back to 13 back, it endured four separate streaks of between three and seven games of scoring three runs or less (3,4,4,7). New York endured only two 3-game streaks prior to the break.
New York averaged 2.84 runs and hit .178 with RISP, .143 with two outs in RISP and .161 (5-for-31) with the bases loaded. The Mets entered the period batting .284/ .231/.208 in those situations.
Culprits with runners in scoring position
Note: Wright was 30-for-91 with runners in scoring position prior to that stretch; Pagan 24-for-64 and Barajas 16-for-56.
2. Dysfunctional front office
There has to be a disconnect somewhere when injured stars Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes and management continually have breakdowns in communication over injuries, return dates, etc. And it happened again this season more than once.
Who is running the show? The Wilpons? Minaya? Nobody seems to know, resulting in the Mets’ front office becoming a laughing stock. Questionable long-term investments in Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and Jason Bay, among others have helped the Mets’ decide to fly Minaya coach on airflights. Minaya and Manuel seem to be dead men walking at this point.
The front office took hits for not being able to effectively handle the Perez mess at the most crucial time of the season and endured ridicule over the Francisco Rodriguez abuse situation and revelations of his past bad behavior. And they couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on deadline trades that could have helped the club.
Manuel doesn’t escape scrutiny, blowing out Fernando Nieve, who pitched 20 times by May 9, and stagnating top pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia’s development by adding him to the bullpen Opening Day instead of having him pitch every fifth day in the minor leagues. Manuel lacked the presence and fire to get the most out of mercurial shortstop Jose Reyes and others, insisted on playing Jeff Francoeur and batting Luis Castillo and Ruben Tejada at the top of the order.
3. Jason Bay power outage
Boston GM Theo Epstein was ripped when he wouldn’t ante-up for Bay in the offseason, but whose laughing now?
Bay, who signed for four years and $66 million, hit .259 with a career-low .402 slugging percentage to go with a .749 OBA – second lowest in his career – with six homers and 47 RBI in 95 games before a concussion ended his season.
Among players with 400 plate appearances and a .400 slugging, Bay has the seventh lowest HR percentage (1.72) this season and by far the lowest among players who at one time hit 30 homers.
Bay hit two homers in his last 33 games (both in same game) and hit .170 with a .443 OPS in his final 14 games when the Mets were going through a July power drought. He had a 6.72 HR percentage last season in Boston with 36 blasts.
One positive note for Bay-lovers. The 32-year-old posted a.830 OPS at Citi Field.
4. Mike Pelfrey slump
I think everybody in Mets nation has bought into Pelfrey as a solid starting pitcher. He’s the 10th right-hander in franchise history to post 15 wins, and Pelfrey started 2010 great and is finishing strong. Unfortunately, however, most fans are fixated on Pelfrey’s slump, which happened to coincide with New York’s offensive woes in July and August.
And it was bad. After starting 10-2 with a 2.71 ERA, Pelfrey went 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in seven starts from June 30-Aug. 4, getting tagged for 62 hits and 16 walks in 30 innings.
It was too late for the Mets by the time the 2005 first-rounder turned it around, going 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA in his last nine starts.
5. Second base production – or lack thereof
Check out these OPS numbers: Luis Castillo, .606, Alex Cora, .543, Ruben Tejada, .561. Among players with 169 TPA, Cora is third worst, Tejada 9th and Castillo, 15th. The trio has combined for one homer, 50 RBI and 67 runs in 686 plate appearances.
Among major league second basemen, the Mets rank last in OPS (.583) and homers (1) and 29th in average (.222) and doubles (19).
With the Mets second basemen mostly batting second, New York ranks 29th in the majors in OPS (.652), batting (.246) and homers (4) from the No. 2 spot.
6. David Wright slump
When the Mets needed a lift most from their best player, Wright couldn’t deliver.
Wright was third in the NL in RBI with 64 in 82 games on July 1, batting .317 with a .941 OPS.
When New York went 18-31 from July 7- Sept 1, Wright hit .242/.710 OPS and 22 RBI. He was 5-for-39 with runners in scoring position and endured skids of 3-for-27, 2-for-33 and 1-for-15 during that period. He has added a 5-for-39 skid in September.
Wright is a few strikeouts shy of Tommie Agee and Dave Kingman’s franchise record of 156 strikeouts.
7. Rod Barajas disappearing after great start
Of his 12 homers, Rod Barajas had three multiple-homer games and belted game-winning homers in the ninth inning on May 4 & 7.
Barajas hit .269 with an .844 OPS in his first 41 games through May 31 with 11 homers and 30 RBI. He hit .163 with a .444 OPS in his last 33 games with a homer and four RBI. He had one RBI in June.
In 2009 at Toronto, Barajas was batting .311 with a 823 OPS and 34 RBI in his first 44 games before finishing the last 91 games with .194 average, .598 OPS and 48 RBI.
Can Josh Thole take over full time? Thole had four RBI in his first nine at-bats, but just nine in his last 162 at-bats. He is batting .241 with a .564 OPS in September with two RBI in 54 at-bats.
8. The struggles of Pedro Feliciano
It’s hard to quibble with a man who is leading the NL in appearances for the third straight season and could have joined Paul Quantrill as the only pitchers in history with four straight 80-appearance seasons if he only had pitched in two more games in 2007. But Feliciano has allowed 12 more hits and nine more walks in the same amount of innings this season as last.
Again, during the Mets’ biggest offensive swoon, Feliciano came up small. In 26 games from June 29 to August 31, the 33-year-old was 1-4 with a 6.06 ERA and 27 hits and 10 walks allowed in 16 1/3 innings.
Overall this season, Feliciano has been hit at a .351 clip by right-handers (.285 career), .328 on the road (.263) and .303 with runners in scoring position (.226). Only a great September run (2 runs, 5 hits in 12 IP) has given Mets fans hope that he hasn’t used up his effectiveness for 2011.
His OPS by days rest increased with days off:
.579 with no days;
.660 with one day;
.817 with two days;
.967 with three days;
1.750 with five days
.984 with six days.
9. Oliver Perez and John Maine
If New York was going to contend, it needed two of the three pitchers among Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and John Maine to come through.
For the most part, Pelfrey took care of business, but Perez and Maine didn’t. Even before Maine got hurt, he didn’t pitch well. He was 1-3, 6.13 ERA and a 1.815 WHIP in nine starts.
Perez was even worse. After a solid 2008 campaign and signing a 3-year/$36 million contract, Perez is 3-8 with a 6.75 ERA and 1.964 WHIP in 30 games. After a knee injury shut him down last season, Perez was 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA this season and completely killed club morale by refusing an assignment to Class AAA.
10. Opening with Gary Matthews Jr. in CF
Jerry Manuel had Matthews in center field over Angel Pagan on Opening Day.
Matthews was less than underwhelming, batting .190 with a .507 OPS in 65 plate appearances. He drove in just one of the 50 batters he had on base – a 2 percent ratio that is the second worst in the major leagues this season behind only Ryan Langerhans (4/61; .164).