On July 24th, 2015, the Mets faced Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers with the following lineup:
John Mayberry Jr.
Predictably, the Mets lost 3-0 as Kershaw pitched a complete game with 11k’s. What followed provided hope for the future of the franchise. The trade for Yoenis Cespedes sparked an NL East title run, followed by a defeat of the Dodgers and Cubs in the playoffs, only to fall short to Kansas City in the World Series.
But the future was bright, as the Mets had the 5 aces, and a young star in Michael Conforto. However, as usual with the Mets that hope didn’t last long. The following 2 years of the Terry Collins era brought disappointment, as 2016 ended in a wild card loss to San Francisco, and 2017 brought consistent injuries and underperformance, including Matt Harvey, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz. This eventually led to a disaster of a season and a 4th place finish in the NL East.
Ownership decided it was time for a new direction. After 2017, the Mets parted ways with manager Terry Collins and head trainer Ray Ramirez. New manager Mickey Callaway brought hope to the fans, calling the pitching staff “the best group of arms he’s ever seen”. Yoenis Cespedes promised more yoga, less golf, and more water in his mission to stay healthy. Michael Conforto was ahead of schedule from his shoulder surgery and said he felt great. Jay Bruce resigned with the team after being traded to Cleveland last year, and Todd Frazier hopped over from the Bronx to be the third baseman in Queens.
After an 11-1 start this year, it looked and felt different. The team was getting contributions from everyone offensively. The “5 aces” pitched in a row for the first time ever. There was an energy with this team that made it feel like this team was special and headed for a monster year. However, with the Mets, it’s always too good to be true.
Since then, the Mets are 9-18, in 4th place in the NL East, and heading in a direction that seems like 2018 is going to be just like 2017. The new regime is following a pattern that is eerily similar to the old regime. Matt Harvey, after refusing an assignment to AAA after being removed from the rotation, was traded to Cincinnati. Zack Wheeler looks disastrous, Todd Frazier is hurt, and Michael Conforto and his .200 average make it glaringly obvious he was rushed back from his surgery too soon. Catcher Kevin Plawecki is out for the foreseeable future, while catcher Travis Darnaud is out for the year with a torn UCL. In addition, the Mets misdiagnosed Yoenis Cespedes hip strain, and essentially played a man down with Cespedes on the bench for a week before finally putting him on the DL. And how could we forget batting out of order in Cincinnati last week?
Yesterday against Toronto, the Mets faced the Blue Jays with the following lineup
A lineup that sparked bad memories of that July game in 2015 ended in the same predictable result as the Mets lost 12-1 to the Blue Jays, falling to 20-19 on the year.
A franchise built on pitching currently has a 4.30 ERA, which is 16th in Major League Baseball. Jason Vargas, who was supposed to solidify the back end of the rotation, has a 13.5 ERA. An offense, built on power, has Todd Frazier and Yoenis Cespedes on the DL, Michael Conforto hitting .200, and Jay Bruce having 2 home runs in mid may.
Yes, its early. Just like in 2015, there is still time to turn it around. However, the honeymoon for Mickey Callaway is long over as the comparisons to the Terry Collins era are starting to get louder. The heat is getting turned up on Sandy Alderson to make moves. The Mets need to turn this around quickly and prove that they are better than this. If they cant soon, the Mets will need to decide what direction they want to head in. If it’s determined that this core cant compete, it may be time to break it up while they still can get great returns.
The fans still want to believe, and even a mild hot streak in the next month will ease some concerns. However, it needs to happen before they make the fall below .500 because otherwise it’s going to be another long year in Queens as usual.