Yesterday, my friend, the proprietor of this space, Brian Joura posted a reminder that yes, it’s still early. I, myself, had forgotten this little fact, even though I’d written something similar only a month ago. Amid the drudgery of this early season, when a team with World Series aspirations got out of the gate with all the urgency of a molasses flow, despair has become a constant companion. The sting of how a 101-win 2022 campaign ended is still fresh. I mean, let’s face it: the Mets haven’t played all that well since being swept by the Chicago Cubs in early September. On social media, the hue and cry about how poorly the Mets have played has been deafening, to the point where one commenter pointed out something to the effect that “the Miami Marlins have called up their #1 prospect (Eury Perez), while the Mets can’t call up Mark Vientos or Ronny Mauricio, who are raking in Syracuse!” I replied, “You really wanna be the Marlins?” I was met with a barrage of “Well, they’re in second right now and we’re in fourth!” kind of replies. All true, but if you’re looking at the Miami Marlins as an example of a well-run organization, one with foresight and stability, I think you’re looking in the wrong direction. To be fair, I’ve been just as guilty of this kind of toxic pessimism myself, having visions of 1993, 2002 and 2018 dancing in my head. It is not even Memorial Day yet; there is time to turn this around. And my friend with the Marlins obsession may have a point: it’s gonna come from the kids.

Vientos and Mauricio will be here, eventually – unless GM Billy Eppler makes some wooden-headed move and packages one, the other or both for some starting pitching. But it’s who’s already here that’s intriguing. There was a call for Brett Baty to replace the unproductive Eduardo Escobar as the starting third baseman since spring training. For whatever reason, he didn’t come north with the team, only making his season debut on April 17. Since he’s been here, he’s appeared to justify people’s enthusiasm. Through his first 11 games, he slashed at a .343/.395/.543/.938 clip. A 1-for-21 slump in his last five games has dropped those stats to a more “traditional” rookie-like showing, but there is hope for a rebound. If he can make the necessary adjustments and continue his learning curve, third base might not be an issue for a long time.

Baty’s fellow youngster, catcher Francisco Alvarez, received a lot more hype on a national level, being the number one prospect on many pundit polls – some extolling him as the second coming of Ivan Rodriguez. Called up to the big show just in time for the dismal season-ending showdown in Atlanta last year, he showed the world that he was not ready at that point. He also started the 2023 campaign in Syracuse, only getting the call because putative starter Omar Narvaez suffered a major calf muscle strain the first week of the season. Alvarez struggled mightily at the outset, especially in what would be called “clutch” situations. His pressing was palpable – over-swinging and bad pitch recognition ruled his game. In his first five games this year, he went 1-for-13, the lone hit an RBI single in his first game up. He didn’t get his first extra-base hit until the first of this month. His last five games, however, he has been Baty’s opposite: he’s gone 5-for-20, with two doubles and two homers. As clear as his struggles had been, it is equally as clear that he is a kid on the rise.

It’s a tough burden to put on juveniles like this, for sure, but this is what the Mets are reduced to right now. Until Brandon Nimmo regains his consistency, until Starling Marte can shake his early-season cobwebs, until Mark Canha starts producing, until the starting pitching regains its health, the Mets are going to rely on fresh blood like Alvarez and Baty – and Mauricio and Vientos down the line – to at least stay within shouting distance of the division-leading Atlanta Braves.

Keep telling ourselves: it’s a long season.

4 comments on “Can Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez lead a Mets turnaround?

  • Brian Joura

    Of all the people on the team to blame for the disappointing start, Brandon Nimmo should have been one of the last. Even if you wanted to blame one of their top-performing players for not being consistent – Alonso would have been a better choice. In his last 18 games, Alonso has a .607 OPS. Nimmo has a .729 OPS in the same time frame.

  • MikeW

    When Alonso goes, the Mets go, when he doesn’t, the Mets don’t.

  • NYM6986

    Hard to believe some of our vets got really old from 2022 to 2023. Canha and Marte were consider prime pieces of the offense but have us going in the wrong direction. Nimmo has been a bright light and I too believe his offensive accomplishments would even be greater if someone behind him could knock him in on a more frequent basis. Without more consistent hitting the pressure on Lindor, Alonso and McNeil to carry the team is immense. Baty and Alvarez are the start of the future at their two positions. Let them play and grow. Vientos and Mauricio should join soon with Pham being DFA and Guillorme sent to Syracuse to relearn how to hit. It’s early in the season but if we don’t score we don’t win. It’s as simple as that.

  • deegrove84

    The biggest issue on the Mets offense is the production of Francisco Lindor and Starling Marte and that issues Pete Alonso seems to have with RISP.

    The Mets should be on the cusp of bringing Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos to the major league team but the issue becomes whom to cut.

    Luis Guillorme – The least offensive production comes along with the best defense but if you bring Mauricio up (who has defensive issues but versatility) this seems the most obvious cut to make.

    Tommy Pham – When looking at who is the next most easy to cut Pham should probably head up your list but Pham has out hit both Escobar and Canha and is probably the better defensive option (in terms of versatility) over Canha in the outfield. Canha’s lack of production will not be helped by reduced playing time.

    Eduardo Escobar – In his last 7 games he’s shown the Mets more but is this a meaningful more or circumstantial evidence. Escobar plays 3rd and 2nd and is a switch hitter so he makes some sense on the bench.

    Mark Canha – He’s too slow to play center, he doesn’t really have the arm for right and he just doesn’t seem to have power anymore. It’s hard to argue that Canha gives you more than Pham right now but historically he was such a solid and consistent player that he’s hard to cut.

    Notice, I’m saying cut. The Mets are not going to see these guys accept demotion to AAA and the rest of baseball is not going to trade the Mets anything for players who cannot crack a lineup that isn’t producing. The writing is on the wall that the Mets need to bring up the kids but there are three established stars who need to do more with their at bats.

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