Well, here we are. This awful season is nearly finished and won’t be lamented. Just 18 games left and the Mets cannot finish over .500. That was made official last night, with their eighty-second loss of 2017, a craven 17-5 debacle in Chicago. It would appear they’re back where they started. We all know the litany: the Mets began shedding talent just before the July 31 trade deadline, continuing through mid-August. Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson were all peddled for bullpen arms and salary relief. In so doing, the Mets saved themselves about $25 million and pared the payroll down to the $75 million-or-so range. A couple of weeks ago, there was a loud hue and cry among Mets fans about Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons not reinvesting that money, using it instead to pay down debt and line their pockets. It’s a familiar refrain.

We’ve been over this before. You don’t need an obscenely large payroll to be successful. Successes by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays in recent years have proven that. And when the Mets have tried to play it the big-money way… well, can we really call that successful? What you need are superior scouting, development and analytics teams. It’s unclear at the moment if the Mets have any of those. Yes, it would appear they have an eye for pitching talent – if not long-term health – but their drafting has been just shy of woeful and recent playoff runs have left the cupboard kind of bare. Yes, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith are all homegrown products having measures of success with no pressure, but only Conforto has proven that he can contribute to a World Series contender. There’s been talk of a “rebuild-on-the-fly” scenario for 2018, but it’s tough to envision that without a massive infusion of cash or a massive amount of prayer for the health of the pitching staff. History tells us that it’s unlikely the cash will be spent and it’s been proven time and again in baseball that prayer isn’t an effective strategy.

And so…what we fans are left with are a few remnants of a World Series team and a lot of question marks. Meanwhile, teams like the Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals seem to keep churning out youngster after youngster without missing a beat. All three will waltz into the playoffs this year with mainly young talent, supplemented by a few well-chosen veterans – the Dodgers’ super-huge payroll notwithstanding. They all have the depth to hold up in the face of disaster, whereas the Mets were left to collapse, their shaky underpinnings exposed to the world.

As your intrepid columnist is so un-fond of saying, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

22 comments on “The 2017 Mets and the return of the talent gap

  • Mike

    Funny how you mention the low spending teams to make your case but then talk about the three top spenders in the league Cubs, Wash and LAD and how deep with talent they are. You need to spend money and draft wisely, Sandy has done neither. Both the mental midget (TC) and Sandy “walked the dog” Alderson need to go. Please stop making excuses for this team.

  • Pete

    So how many holes does this team have? Second base, third base, SP 3,4,5, right field? How many question marks? First base, SS, LF, catcher? I’m not going to assume anything until Cespedes shows he will stay healthy enough to play 150 games+. Same with all the players that are coming back from surgery. Conforto etc.. We seem to do this every year around this time Charlie but in my heart I believe its not how much you spend on payroll but rather how much of it is on the DL for an extended period of time. The Mets need to figure this out. Asking pitchers to pitch through pain like Matz was doing is insane. Even when his elbow was swelling the size of a grapefruit. The Padres, Rays and Marlins wil probably finish with a better record than the Mets at a fraction of their payroll. Mind you the Padres are playing in probably the toughest division in baseball. I’m sure the Wilpons have insurance on Wright’s contract but its time for Fred and David to come to an understanding on a buyout and have the team work towards finding a replacement for DW.

  • Rick

    All true. I’ve been saying for a long time, Sandy, TC, Warthen and some of their talent(less) scouts need to go. I also had my fill from these writers trying to get us to drink the Kool-aid every time the Mess won a game and how “all we need to do is win the next 8 games and the Nats need to lose…” We were never in this race…. but what really kills me is how little we got in return for out veteran players all because Sandy didn’t want to help out the crosstown rivals. Are you kidding me?? They were prepared to give us way more that we received, and all because he acted like a spoiled brat. I’ve lost so much respect for this team

  • Jimmy P

    I don’t know if a team has ever sold off so much talent and gotten so little in return. They just wanted the money back. At best, mismanaged assets by Alderson. At worst? A deeply cynical operation by a grotesque ownership/GM combination. Everyone complicit in the scam.

    What did the Mets get? Ten mediocre RH relievers? A dozen? Every single one the same guy?

    The bullpen lost Reed and gained Ramos. What’s the excuse for what we’re seeing when that door opens?

    Another humiliation.

    When a team is in this situation — the farm an absolute shambles after 7 years of Alderson “fixing” it — they have to spend. But they won’t, not nearly enough, not at a level they should as a NY franchise. They can’t trade for talent, they’ve got nothing desirable to offer. How do they compete? With hope & prayers?

    So then we have to read about how money doesn’t buy championships, blah, blah, blah. No, but talent does.

    I don’t see the point or the value of giving Fred Wilpon a free pass. The guy didn’t even want Piazza.

    Is it Parliament that has votes of “no confidence”? That’s where I’m at. The polar opposite of Tug McGraw. I don’t believe Alderson can get it done, and I don’t even believe he’s going to seriously try. I’m pretty sure it’s not in the job description.

    At least there’s the WC. The Mariners are 73-73 and only 3 1/2 out. Let’s shoot for that. You can sell tickets right up until the final week!

    Extend Jake. He’s a building block. Or just trade him and drop the facade.

    • Eraff

      Jim… How are you still stuck on this point??? c’mon…take a look at the real facts of this year’s trade deadline, with consideration of the players and their contracts and , most especially, the changes that were negotiated (by The Players association) that erode the value of expiring contracts and tender offers.

      The rules will make players more mobile…and the “rewards” of losing a player with a Qualifying Offer are minimal.

      Let’s at least agree on facts that are Factual… you know I’m not a fan of this ownership and management, but your reaction and the original post are untied to facts.

      • IDRAFT

        Eraff, you make a good point about how rental players had very little to no value at this deadline. I agree. Then why not keep some of the players? It’s one thing to expect fans to accept this garbage roster if it was tied to some future promise, but if the only thing that was improved was Fred’s bank book, why not keep some of these guys?

        Again, not picking on you specifically, but left out of all this web analysis I see is the effect on the ticket buying customer. All month Mets tickets representatives have been contacting season and plan holders looking for deposits for 2018. At the exact same time those season and plan holders have tickets for this ****show, knowing that this organization damaged the 2017 product they own, damaged it a ton, to line their own pockets.

        Well, I will do that analysis that I haven’t seen. Revenue will be down next year from this year – no matter how many games the team wins next year. And what these guys have done is hurting the number. I know eight people with either full season tickets or plans. Four are out, two are mulling. I get small sample size and that mine is tiny. I also live here and talk to many ticket buying fans on a day-by-day basis. There is no way season ticket and plan sales do not drop off by 20%. And these people basically are buying tickets that start at $60 per game and go up from there. Plus $25 to park, and we all know the parks are designed to make money from a lot of food and beverage. What will all this cost them? Sure seems like more than they saved.

        • Eraff

          the answer is that they “optimized” the Roster by trading these guys—they added 5-7 arms. Yes…they crapped all over fans who thought they bought tickets to see a pennant contender in Aug-October… but that was over when they made the moves.

        • Chris F

          Im just curious, do you see any financial responsibility in keeping bloated contracts around so a team can finish 14 games back instead of retaining the money and finishing 22 games back? That makes no business sense. Gate receipts are hardly a compelling story against the salaries. Additionally, finishing 14/30 in MLB standings instead of 24/30 results in about the worst possible position imaginable: the dreaded middle 10…no post season, and drafting too far down. We werent doing very well *with* all those players, so paying them to lose makes no sense. Ok, we now see clearly this was a financial dump to keep money in the hands of ownership. Period. I cant blame ownership for that. What I can say is that it is horrific to know that wont be reinvested and then added to next season. I cannot respect the Wilpon group for their overall stewardship of this team.

          Rental players in the present CBA are diminished, and in our case the best players we had were either no great deal (Walker, Reed, Granny) or mixed into a glut of excess (Bruce…and the pile of power bats). It was a perfect storm to get little in return. Make no mistake, this was not the Yankees trading Aroldis Chapman for a blue chipper in any way shape or form.

          It is also disheartening to never get a complete, unlawyered answer from ownership and the FO about the team. The backwards double Windtalker language we get on a regular basis is, as Jim Bowden often says, stultifying and nowhere near sufficient for an empassioned fan base such as ours. Nothing coming out of Alderson’s mouth has meaning. We are left clinging to little information on a daily basis (just how hurt is Ces?) and offered little hope for imagining what the team is really doing (we really are “reloading” — on a reduced payroll??? huh??? — but it looks like a rebuild to anyone that knows anything).

          Next season is already in absolute peril for playoff contention. Like this year, the FO is already counting on the magical return of hurt pitchers that have yet to reestablish an elite competition base line. We all know that is a trip to the casino with loaded dice against us. Payroll by all reports is going down. Talent is severely lacking all over the place. We are left with little to trade or no funds to buy. There is little to be excited about. Im more interested in what the the 7 Line Army has for merch than the team itself. And that is very sad.

          • Pete

            Couldn’t agree with you more Chris. Looks like the front office is taking a page out of last years debacle. New year same old story. Players coming back from injuries will make the difference again. Sure.

          • Eraff

            They either set a premise of returning pitchers with added parts (Bruce, Moose…whatever), or selling deGrom and ….. who????)—answer—they have no choice but to Hope for 3-4 healthy front line SP to return. If that happens, they contend.

            That’s the hand they’re holding….there are only two ways to play it

        • Pete

          Doesn’t it appear that the Wilpons had an agenda? If the team was in contention for a playoff spot the additional revenue would offset the costs of having these players. Once the FO determined the team had no realistic chance at a wildcard the payroll dump took place. The team has probably received enough revenue to sustain itself for the rest of the season. Why else would the Mets be so adamant upon putting such an inferior lineup day in and day out? I just feel for the starters knowing that they have such a horrendous chance at winning each start regardless how well they pitch. It is about Fred’s bank book. It’s about Sandy presenting him with a payroll of about 155 million on Opening Day with the hopes of playoff revenue paying for the roster.

          • Eraff

            they would have added 20-30 million payroll at the deadline—I like that model.

        • MattyMets

          IDraft, I woulod love to see that analysis. Just looking at 2017, did the Wilpons save more in slashed payroll then they lost in potential stadium revenue? Remember, even if the ticket sold, if the person doesn’t attend, that’s lost $ from parking, concessions and merchandise. Also, TV and radio ratings are down which will impact commercial ad rates. All this on top of the larger impact of alienating the fan base. All seems penny wise, pound foolish to me.

          • Chris F

            Think draft Matt…think draft.

            Indians, Cubs, Astros, Twins….. all loved through horrific times and got Correa, Lindor, Buxton, Bryant etc etc. With great draft picks came cornerstones. And look at the Mets…#10 with Conforto. It very much improves the hope for finding a gem..

  • Eraff

    Mike has it Right— the entire premise of this is not fact based

    Scherzer, Werth, Murphy, Weiters, Kendrick, Madson—- 80 some Million$…

    Just accept the fact that the Mets are doing the same things—-but 4 of their 5 starters were hurt.

    I don’t always buy their approach, but this has not been about approach….it’s been about health.

  • Steve S.

    Spending some money wisely (Blevins was a good, minor example, and, seemingly, Ramos) is OK with me. Bring back Bruce, and sign Wade Davis and Moustakas. We need to supplement and probably replace the often-injured Cespedes and Wright, and dubious Conforto. I’m OK with Nimmo and Lagares in CF, Rosario at SS, Smith at 1B, and Rivera/Flores at 2B. We don’t need both Cabrera and Reyes, so keep the latter guy.

    Keep the two young catchers (with Nido, if needed) for one more year.

    Sign Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, to join deGrom, Thor, and whomever is heathy in the starting rotation. And have a bullpen with Ramos, Familia, Davis (or at least Pat Neshek, Anthony Swarzak, or Steve Cishek), Brian Duensing (we need another good LHP), Blevins, and Addison Reed in it.

    We should be able to afford a good team in NYC!

    • mrbrklyn

      No, this team doesn’t win without reworking the entire pitching staff

      • Steve S.

        Huh? That’s what I meant pretty much when I wrote to sign Lynn and Cobb, Davis—and maybe Neshek, Swarzak, and Cishek—and Duensing and Reed, as well as having the recently acquired Ramos.

  • Metsense

    This winter, if they get a solid second baseman or third baseman, a top-of-the-rotation starter, and another dominant relief pitcher then they will be better sooner than later. They have the money to do this. They just need to spend it.

  • Eraff

    Moose and Bruce!

  • Mike Koehler

    It seems like part of the problem is they draft safe and/or cheap, instead of best prospect.

    That’s in addition to the poor medical communications/decisions.

  • Jim OMalley

    Keep an eye on the draft. We will pick in the top five or six. Lets hope the off-season helps the pitching staff get healthier. We should definitely evaluate the training/medical policies in conjunction with the Technology policies. Are we leaning too far towards Technology (maximizing pitching angles/release points, etc.) which is inadvertently maximizing pitching injury risk?

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