Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets

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Coleman: Where Do The Mets Go From Here?

July 08, 2019 - 5:33 pm
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by Ed Coleman

There are many old baseball axioms. One of them goes like  this: "You're going to win 50 games and lose 50 games every year. It's what you do with the other 62 that matters." Well, the Mets hit the All-Star break with their 50th loss (40-50). So now what?

This is a baseball team with some talent, some holes, and a lot of problems. Ground Zero? You could start with the bullpen because they've prematurely put an end to most games.  The numbers are numbing and mind-boggling. Start with this – the Met bullpen has thrown the 4th fewest innings in all of baseball, yet leads MLB with 21 blown saves. What you use the least has hurt you the most. Met relievers have 20 losses, 3rd most in the majors. They have the 3rd highest ERA (5.57) in all of baseball, only the Orioles and Nationals are worse. And the pen posted a 7.53 ERA in June, the highest in the majors. 

Edwin Diaz was brought here to lock things down in the 9th inning. Things haven't gone exactly as planned. He has 4 blown saves, matching his total for all of 2018 already. He's surrendered 7 HR, 2 more than he gave up all of last year. And since the end of April, Diaz has accumulated 6 losses and a 7.61 ERA. Jeurys Familia was signed to a 3 year, $30M contract to be the 8th inning setup man for Diaz. That has been a disaster as well. After pitching a scoreless inning Sunday in the final game before the break, Familia now has a 12.96 ERA since the end of May

This is also not a very good defensive team. When starting pitching, and pitching in general, is supposed to be your strength, that's probably not a good mix. The Mets have committed 66 errors, most in the National League. That does not take into account the number of ground balls that have escaped through the infield to the outfield due to limited range of defenders. 

The Mets keep talking about making a run and getting back into the race, but the numbers stacked against them are daunting. The off-season deals and acquisitions authored by G.M. Brodie Van Wagenen have produced limited or no impact. The Diaz-Robinson Cano deal with Seattle, not largely panned at the time, has simply not panned out. Diaz we've detailed. Cano has hit better recently (.367 in his last 8 games), but has been reduced to mainly a singles hitter out of the 3 hole with just 18 RBI in 242 AB. Adeiny Hechavarria has 16 in just 96 AB. Enough said.

The Mets gave up two young prospects, outfielder Jarred Kelenic and pitcher Justin Dunn, who both just appeared in the Futures game on Sunday in Cleveland, and both are on the fast track to the major leagues. Jay Bruce was in that deal. Since coming to the Phillies, he's smashed 10 HR and driven in 29 runs. 4 of those HR and 11 of those RBI have come against the Mets in just 7 games. Even reliever Anthony Swarzak, who most people would have gladly volunteered to drive to the airport, is currently with the N.L. East leading Braves and owns a 0.52 ERA in 17 appearances. I'll stop now.

Jed Lowrie? Let's play “Where's Waldo” and try to locate him. Two years and $20M and there's an all-points-bulletin out for the infielder. Catcher Wilson Ramos was signed to a 2 year, $19M deal and has certainly been OK offensively, but most Met pitchers, whether they acknowledge it or not, would prefer backup Tomas Nido behind the plate. And the Mets simply cut and ate Travis Darnaud's $3.52M salary. He's latched on with Tampa Bay where he's produced 6 HR and 20 RBI in 36 games. 

The Mets will send 3 All-Stars to Cleveland and they're all deserving of the honor. There have been some great stories. Pete Alonso has 30 HR and 68 RBI already and shows no signs of slowing down. Even after an 0-5 on Sunday, Jeff McNeil leads the major leagues with a .349 batting average. They are two Mets at the top of the lineup that are must-see-at-bats every time they're up. Jacob Degrom has again pitched consistently outstanding, but either the Met offense or bullpen, or both, consistently betray him. The Mets are 16-30 (35%) in Degrom starts over the last two seasons. And even worse – 5-13 (28%) – this year alone.

The Mets can talk all they want about making a run from here to the end, but the facts are these. They are 13 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the N.L. East. They are a closer 7 games behind in the Wild Card race, but there are 10 teams in front of them. The only team that isn't is Miami, and that's where the Mets begin the second half, with 3 against the Marlins. G.M. Van Wagenen uttered the ill-advised "Come get us" to the rest of the N.L. East prior to the season. He should now be saying "Come get them,” referencing his players, to the rest of baseball as he tries to reconstruct and reconfigure this team in order to contend in the future.