The New York Mets have spent lots of money in the recent past.  Steven Cohen is a new kind of owner. He understands flags fly forever, and he’s a fan. He also knows any title will result in immediate increased team valuation.  These are important considerations when assessing next steps for a team with a large payroll but not large win numbers. And the early bird gets the worm.

While Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander have shown up this past weekend, they are very likely to be on reduced workloads and tender elbows. If the Mets are lucky. If they are ineffective, the Mets are in very big trouble. This would be a minor inconvenience if the rest of the rotation was going well. The Mets let Marcus Stroman and Chris Bassitt leave, while retaining Carlos Carrasco. Stroman and Bassitt have both maintained their 2022 levels while Carrasco and David Peterson have not. Truth be told, Tylor Megill has won, and his ERA looks fine, however his FIP is a harbinger of what is to come.

Cohen should be looking now for teams ready to part with a starting pitcher, as well as a capable reliever.  The starter can be an innings eater that has a lower ERA than about 5. The shoring up of the rotation is a near certainty at this point, and the sooner one acts the better. The coming off-season is not loaded with star pitchers. Unless Cohen wants to make a play for Shohei Ohtani. Certainly the Mets front office, if prompted, could identify an appropriate acquisition or two.

Even without trying to dive into the whys, simply, the Mets in in the bottom three of ERA (prior to Sunday’s games) and dead last in FIP. The FIP suggests the Mets are allowing the bad things – home runs and walks. This is has to be addressed sooner rather than later, and more fans and Cohen fall in love with the Sunday doubleheader performance by Scherzer and Verlander, the harder it will be to address the issue.

But that’s not all.

There is no guarantee a lineup as strong as the Mets is going to be slump-proof.  As discussed in these pages in the last week, Pete Alonso will slump. Whether there is research indicating longer slumps for “Three True Outcome” hitters notwithstanding, it fits the narrative.

Again, it is not necessary to look beyond the superficial numbers. The four players older than 31, and they are all older than 34, are also the four players performing below average at the plate. There is a good deal of historical data that points to a cliff for regular everyday baseball players that highlights why they do not all end up in the Hall of Fame.  The cliff is at age 34, where the fraction of a second slower with the bat and the feet is enough to go from serviceable to “needs to be replaced”.

Perhaps these four, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Tommy Pham and Eduardo Escobar, with better modern training can push the cliff to age 35 or 36, but it won’t push far. The good news is the Mets have already begun this transition. Tomas Nido’s eye issues and visit to the Injured List facilitated the move to Francisco Alvarez.  Likewise Brett Baty has been getting the starts at third base ahead of Escobar. The next step is to get either Baty or Mark Vientos time in an outfield corner.

If Vientos cannot make the grade at outfield corner, the Mets have a real problem there.  Also in these pages this week, Marte’s issues were reviewed. Marte is likely to be better than his .577 OPS coming into Sunay, but with injury time, and his age, as well as Canha’s near identical situation, the Mets should be shopping for a corner outfielder. Immediately.  Waiting another month or worse two months only allows the hole to be dug deeper.

These paragraphs should not be read as panic. They are not. They are the same words outlined as risks before the season began and the chickens have almost immediately come home to roost. In-season additions for teams that want to contend are normal. Old players running out of gas or hitting the cliff is normal. The market inefficiency to move forward on is buying as early as you can recognize these players are not likely to recover. The Mets are five games back and staring June in the face. They need better talent as soon as possible.

6 comments on “The Mets need to be proactive in plugging their holes

  • deegrove84

    Hey Chris,

    Couple Things:

    Starting pitching has been a major concern for the Mets and certainly Carrasco’s outing did little to make you believe he has any use left in him. Senga, Scherzer and Verlander on the other hand all did what was expected and Megill has shown improvement. The other thing is that Jose Quintana has resumed baseball activities. The Mets could use another starter but as there most tradeable prospects are in the majors or will soon be, that leaves Kevin Parada and Alex Ramirez for a very thin pitching market.

    The Mets will not be putting Vientos into the corner outfield. He will have spot starts and 3rd and 1st while getting 50% of the DH duties and hopefully will increase that percentage as he proves his value. The Mets outfielders moving forward are McNeil, Nimmo, Marte and Canha and the Mets should get rid of Pham like he’s a leopard print Member’s Only Jacket. As anyone who has checked AAA will tell you, Ronny Mauricio is a second baseman now (a position he can actually field) and he’s so very very good. The Mets need to promote him and solidify that Canha and Escobar are just bench players. Suggesting Vientos in the corner outfield shows a lack of understanding regarding how bad Vientos was when the Mets tried that.

  • Brian Joura

    It takes two to tango and right now there are only about five clubs who should be punting on the season.

    One of those clubs is the Rockies, who have a surprisingly good bullpen, with several guys who would be assets to the Mets. There’s Brad Hand, who they should have signed in the offseason, and there’s also Jake Bird, Brent Suter and Justin Lawrence. Shoot, there’s even Daniel Bard, if you’re not too worried about his anxiety issues.

    But if you weren’t willing to pay $1.5 million in the offseason for Hand, what are you willing to give up for him now?

    As for SP, the Mets made their bed with Scherzer and Verlander, a decision I support 100%. I liked Stroman, and to a lesser extent Bassitt. But if the choice was the two guys they have or those two – well, I choose Scherzer and Verlander 100 times out of 100.

    If those two aren’t able to pitch regularly from here on out, some SP4 isn’t really going to move the needle. Right now, the Mets have Carrasco trying to show he can be the SP4 type guy and in early July, Quintana gets his chance. If neither of those guys pan out, then you have the deadline to add that type of pitcher.

    • BoomBoom

      Love what i saw from Brent Suter. Tough pitcher from the left side.

      I think the starting pitching has no where to go but up and the team just made it through one of the toughest stretches of the season (26 games in 27 days – although it was only 25 with rainouts) while the staff we still getting their bearings with Scherzer on regular rest for the first time all season and Verlander still shaking off the rust from the delayed start. I expect from here on out for the mets to start getting a lot more length from the starting staff which will help the bullpen enormously.

      The offense is going to be fine now that they’ve brought up the rookies and so far Buck seems to be managing the playing time about as well as any could have hoped for.

  • Metsense

    The FIP is very concerning, especially Megill’s. I’m not sure about Carrasco but they should give him more time so that they can evaluate him in the next four starts. They also have Peterson and Lucchesi in the minors and they may do well to take a rotation spot if Carrasco fails. Quintana should help also. The priority should be a back end relief pitcher a like Drew Smith or better. Trade one of veterans and pay a portion of their salary and get a good relief pitcher thats on a bad team that wants to dump his salary. The sooner the better. Then promote Mauricio.

  • Mike W

    I think shoring up the bullpen with at least two pitchers would do a world of wonders. Quintana is the wild card. He is really a mid season addition because of his injuries.

    I really like the idea of the kids as much experience as we can. That will help us be bettered positioned for next year.

    Who knows, besides the Braves and Dodgers their is a lot of mediocrity. We have a shot.

  • NYM6986

    Nice article. Mets need to think big as the season progresses and fill in at the deadline with higher caliber players than Naquin and Vogelbach. They need difference makers. The reality about Vientos is he might be a great trade chip. It is crazy that he was crushing the ball at Syracuse and he’s barely played since coming up. Why not put him at DH for 3-4 straight games and see what he can do. The Braves brought in a flock of solid players at the deadline. That’s what good teams do. Stroman didn’t want to be here, nor did deGrom – thank god. Let the kids keep making us younger.

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