The struggle continues and there is no other words to describe this final six week stretch of games for the New York Mets and it is easy to understand why. And flash back prior to the season opener in April, on these pages, when this columnist stated there will be no fun this October in Flushing and at Citi Field.
The simple equation: Pitching and the organization that was deep and rich in that department has not lived up to expectations. And after a stellar 2015, it was those young arms of Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Matz that pitched the Mets deep into October.
No reason to review the injury updates, it is a growing list of pain. However, the youngsters who threw hard into early November and compiled more innings than expected, were due for failure. Manager Terry Collins said, “They are not robots,” and the Mets organization as a whole had no backup plan as they rode with this talented staff of youngsters and the old man Bartolo Colon.
No Contingency Plan: Zach Wheeler and his recurring shoulder pain and attempt to comeback from Tommy John Surgery have not worked out. The Mets failed to acquire help at the trading deadline with belief the youngsters would recover and perform as they did last year. There was no help coming from within as GM Sandy Alderson made the deals and much of the youth in pitching and position players are elsewhere.
Simple fact: No Daniel Murphy in the lineup and Yoenis Cespedes can’t be the offense. Travis d’Arnaud continues to be a disappointment and the overrated catcher that came in the trade for Syndergaard a few years ago. As other teams looking to dethrone the Mets, adding more depth, the Mets remained silent and remained with the horses that got them to the World Series last October.
Without a healthy and consistent Cespedes in the lineup, the Mets offensive woes continue and the Mets did nothing to to supplement the home run ball that seems to carry every win.
No Daniel Murphy who went on that home run tear last year, though Neil Walker has performed up to par. But, hey, this was Daniel Murphy who has continued where he left off and having an MVP season for the first place Nationals.
There is every reason to believe, and with the Mets many times it is difficult to comprehend the strategy, that there was enough money in the bank to pay Cespedes and Murphy and work around that punch in the lineup.
Jay Bruce? Not to take anything away from the previous production in Cincinnati, but the outfielder has not adjusted to the transition and has had more than enough time to get things going as a duo with Cespedes in the lineup. And the once and highly touted Dilson Herrera is now with the Reds leaving the Mets the only option to re-sign Walker for next year.
Where has the bat of Curtis Granderson gone? He was sixth in runs scored last year in the National League and had 33 doubles with 91 walks. Reacquiring Jose Reyes has helped a bit as a table setter, but Granderson needs to be slotted better in the lineup as a consistent number two hitter.
Injuries: And every team in the course of a 162-game season will have their share. Except this Mets team has become an infirmary at Citi Field and perhaps the blame can be put on the team conditioning, training and medical personnel?
Regardless, David Wright was inconclusive. Lucas Duda is the Adam Dunn type of player with the high strikeout ratio, the walk and streak of home runs. First base? Not great production but better defense from James Loney.
Juan Lagares? The Mets miss his Gold Glove approach in the outfield. His speed and getting on base when he got the chance to play everyday but a season also cut short by injury.
Wilmer Flores: It’s about time that the hierarchy of the Mets part their ways with a talented player who can’t get the clutch hit. Time to get over the crying escapade in the infield at the trading deadline of last
July and get some value for Flores in the offseason as teams are looking for this utility player.
Missing pieces: Don’t care what the opinion is about Ruben Tejada and pitcher Carlos Torres who were valuable tools during that run to October last year. Tejada has a reasonable $3.5 million salary and had a stint in St. Louis and now in the Giants system. He played hard, tough and if it were not for an Utley slide in the postseason, Tejada always went with the plan.
You just don’t give up on a player in the system who never complained and for that matter got on base without the home run ball. Tejada always was a favorite of Collins, though Alderson had another opinion similar to his displeasure with Angel Pagan and we all know how valuable Pagan has been with the Giants.
Carlos Torres is another example of this pitcher who got away and a difference maker in some respects. Is Alderson biting his lip with this void out of the pen? Logan Verrett? And Jonathon Niese who is done for the season over Carlos Torres?
So Torres also went with the plan as a spot starter, in a setup role, or got the significant out of the pen as a valuable righthander. But a bad September and a mediocre postseason was not good enough for the GM.
Torres in content with the rebuilding process in Milwaukee, with free agent eligible status at the end of this season with a 2.81 ERA in 56 games. Go figure?
The Manager: Don’t blame Terry Collins. He keeps this team together but you are as good as what you have. And the Mets don’t have what they had last year.
Which goes to say, as stated prior to the season: They have to fight their way to October this time, but more likely the Mets will be watching instead of playing in October.