"I Know the Game Like I'm Reffing It"

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mets Midseason Report - Where do they go from here?

Ah, the Mets.

Let me start by admitting I’m a life long Mets fan, so my feelings vis-a-vis the Amazins are usually either hopelessly optimistic or depressingly pessimistic. Sometimes both at the same damn time.

Cautious optimism is winning out today.

As poorly as the Mets’ offense has looked over the past three months, they have managed to keep their heads above water. There is no reason to think they won’t be able to do so the remainder of the season, whether or not changes are made to the roster.

The Mets finished the first half of the season five games over .500 at 47-42, 2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East.

Not too bad and maybe acceptable had you asked Mets fans prior to the season.

However, remember the Mets started the season 13-3, so that means since April 24th they have been a less than average (5 games under .500) baseball team. That’s three months of inconsistent to bad baseball.

Yes, injuries have hurt the team.

David Wright has been absent since the beginning of the season and his return is still greatly in question.

Travis d’Arnaud has been their best offensive player when healthy. Unfortunately, he has very rarely been healthy and starts the second half of the season on the DL.

Daniel Murphy, though one of the worst fielders I may have ever witnessed on an everyday basis, is a solid bat in any lineup. But again, Murphy has had a couple stints on the DL already this season and has been unable to get into any kind of offensive rhythm.

The rest of the offense has just been bad, without the benefit of health excuses.

After a promising start to the season, Lucas Duda had a putrid month of June, hitting just one homerun. Michael Cuddyer, GM Sandy Alderson’s prized free agent bat during the offseason, has convinced me that there may be a Mets free agent curse, particularly in left field. Cuddyer has resembled Jason Bay, as his confidence is shot and he has become close to an automatic out with or without runners in scoring position, but especially when runners are on.

So, why the cautious optimism, you ask?

The pitching, of course.

The Mets currently have two #1 pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, in their rotation and two other guys who have #1 potential, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, though Matz is currently on the DL.

The other two pitchers in the rotation aren’t too shabby either. Jonathon Niese and fan favorite Bartolo Colon have more than held their own on the mound.

The pitching has absolutely carried the Mets, to the point where if the offense could just muster three runs a game for the remainder of the season, you’d feel pretty confident that the Mets could make the postseason.

That brings us to the big question. What can Alderson do to bolster the offense so that all of this dominant pitching is not wasted?

Every fan and New York media member has taken their turn bashing Alderson for failing to make a successful move in the offseason or a move at all so far this season.

“Do something!” has been the cry.

But, when you ask about specifics it’s crickets.

I’m a believer that “something” must be done, whether it’s obtaining a big bat or little bat, but not at the expense of any of the young pitchers. Now, if a team is offering up a young stud, a la Trout, Harper, Pederson, Goldschmidt (of course they are not), then now you’re talking, but anything else, no thank you. So, in other words, the Mets’ young stud pitchers should be untouchable, including Zack Wheeler, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Thus, it is hard to argue with Alderson’s inaction at this point. People keep predicting the demise of the Mets this season, but somehow the team has found a way to stay within reach of the division leading Nationals.

There have been reports of the Mets having interest in little pieces like Oakland’s Ben Zobrist or Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez, either of which could help.

More recently, however, Jon Heyman reported that the Mets are showing interest in another Brewer, Carlos Gomez, and the Padres’ Justin Upton. Those are two potentially bigger bats that could give the Mets the boost they need to become a true threat in the National League. As long as the core five pitchers are not touched, I’m all for that type of move, one year rental or not.

Regardless, I predict that the Mets will be a playoff contender late into the summer. The pitching will keep them in it and even without a major move (though, I think one is coming) the offense cannot perform any worse than it already has. It is only up from here.

Though you cannot count on Wright’s return, it is possible, as he recently was cleared to resume baseball activities. d’Arnaud should also be back in a few weeks and if he can somehow avoid another injury, he will be a huge offensive addition.

The Nationals are formidable, but they haven’t shown the ability to run and hide.

Expect the Mets starting pitching to stay dominant, the relief pitching to improve with the return of Jenrry Mejia, and for Alderson to make a move that gives the offense that much needed boost.

For the first time in a long time, expect meaningful baseball games in August and September in Queens.

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