It’s early, but the Mets’ home attendance figures are looking very good. Opening day is generally a sellout for the Mets and many other teams, as was this year’s SRO crowd of 43,590 at CitiField. The bigger surprise was another SRO crowd of 42,306 for the second game of the year. The weather was chilly, and the opponent, the Marlins, are at best a mediocre team. Some of the attendance was surely boosted by the Mets debut of Kodai Senga and his mysterious ghost forkball pitch, but still it was an impressive crowd.
The Sunday game was a solid weekend crowd of 33,697, especially considering the chilly weather and the lack of marquee pitching. In the most recent game the Mets drew 30,144 against the Padres, pretty good since Monday night is traditionally not a well attended night around the league and temperatures were in the 50s, not really baseball weather.
It should be noted that the Mets finished 11th in MLB attendance last year, behind such non-contenders as the Cubs and Rockies, despite a 101 win season.
Switching gears, the Mets are an old team in general, even more so in the pitching staff. And so far the graybeard pitchers are having their woes. Presumed ace Justin Verlander, 40, is hors de combat due to an injury. He has yet to toss an inning in a regulation game this year, and the date of his return is uncertain.
The Mets would have been happy if 38 year-old Max Scherzer was pitching like he was last year or really any year before that. But he has been kind of erratic, winning his first game against the Marlins but not looking sharp. He was knocked around by the Brewers, then came back Monday night with a good effort against the Padres, with five innings of shutout ball which got his ERA back to a 4.41 figure and improved his record to 2-1. However Scherzer labored, with 97 pitches in his 5 innings. He still does not look quite like the Scherzer of old but he came through last night and hopefully he is getting back on track.
Carlos Carrasco, 35, has looked more like a batting practice pitcher than a starter for a contending team. He’s been chased early in both of his starts, his record is 0-2, his WHIP is 1.96 and his ERA is 11.42…Ouch! He’s issued a bunch of bases on balls, and his average fastball velocity is only 91.8 MPH, compared to his lifetime average velocity of 94.4. He also has seen his velocity drop off toward the latter part of his starts.
The last thought concerns the front office. It has gone through something of a rocky period over the past year with quite a few moves not panning out, despite the record-setting budget that GM Billy Eppler had to work with. The Darin Ruf deal last year was particularly bad, with Ruf being released this year. The Mets sent four players for Ruf, and now Ruf is back with the Gants organization. Oh, and J.D. Davis who was part of the package sent west is slashing .370/.393/.630 for Frisco.
The Daniel Vogelbach acquisition hasn’t been something for the front office to brag about either. The very limited Vogelbach has not come close to producing the kind of power needed for a DH, his SLG so far is .313. Colin Holderman, the reliever shipped off to Pittsburgh in the deal, has appeared four times for the Pirates and has yet to yield a run in his four innings pitched.
However, the front office could well be shaken up after the season. The Mets have been operating without a President of Baseball Operations, and that is a position they would like to fill. David Stearns, who holds that title for the Brewers, has a contract that expires after this season. Mets owner Steve Cohen has long showed interest in Stearns, a New York native who grew up a Mets fan. The Brewers have been excellent at drafting, trading and developing players despite their small-market status. Milwaukee looked formidable in their three game series against the Mets last week. Stearns certainly has been an important part of the process of building that team, and there has to be a very good chance he will have a big role calling the shots for the Mets after this year.