A Glimpse at the Lost Decade

PsychicsIt’s July, Mets fans, so you know what that means. The annual narrative shift has begun. Sure, this season might be awful, but the future is so bright you will be blinded. Just you wait! Well, either due to some incredible once in a lifetime experience, or some hallucinogenic drugs, I was able to enter the future. October 1, 2019, in fact. It was pretty interesting overall, but this being a Mets blog I will keep focused on what I discovered on the other side about the Mets. Guess what? There are still some blogs, and being the Mets fan that I am, I made sure to check one out to see what our Mets were up to. Now it seems fair to share this with all of you. So, here we go, a Mets blog post from October 1, 2019. You might want to buckle up.

The New York Mets lost to the Chicago Cubs today 7-1, concluding a 69-93 season, the team’s tenth straight losing campaign. The game was played in a crisp five and a half hours. Kris Bryant homered twice for the defending champions, who will be returning to the playoffs again in 2019. For the Mets, of course, today’s loss completes a decade’s worth of frustration, the years 2010-2019 are the first decade since the team’s inception in 1962 where the Mets did not have one playoff season, or one season with a winning record. There were, though, a few bright spots this year:

  • Rookie first baseman Dom Smith, brought up to the big club after the Super 2 deadline passed in June, hit over .300 and played a solid first base. Team officials are concerned; however, that Smith does not take enough pitches and will consider bringing in an inexpensive veteran first baseman for 2020.
  • Second baseman L. J. Mazzilli, the team’s lone all-star representative, hit well all year, more than making up for his shaky defense at second.
  • Both catchers, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, played fairly well, as they once again shared the position. Some have been frustrated that the organization has not settled on a true number one catcher since Plawecki debuted in mid-June 2016.
  • Today’s pre-game ceremony for former manager Terry Collins, who retired after the 2018 year. The announced attendance of 8,754 was the largest crowd of the 2019 season, a number also boosted by a Mazzilli bobblehead promotion. The number 703 was retired in honor of Collin’s team record 703 losses as Mets manager.
  • The team once again led the NL in walks, as noted by both Manager Bob Geren and hitting coach Bobby Abreu after the game.

bob geren

Of course it has not all been rosy for the 2019 Mets. As we head to the offseason, the following questions exist:

  • Will prospect Michael Conforto, a 2014 draftee, be called up to the Mets at some point in 2020? Conforto tore up Triple A pitching for the second year in a row in 2019.
  • Who’s on third? Once again third base was a revolving door disaster, as it has been every year since the Mets traded David Wright to St. Louis for a package of failed prospects in 2015.
  • When will the Vaughn Bryan experiment end? Outfielder Bryan, the face of the Wright deal, was miserable again in 2019, with an OPS under .600. He did lead the team in pitches seen per plate appearance for the third consecutive year.
  • How will Juan Lagares be replaced? The 2019 replacement, the 39-year-old Coco Crisp, failed miserably in his first year at Citi Field. Coco batted under .200, and worse, was unable to cover an adequate amount of ground in center. Lagares, traded after the 2017 season for two prospects still in short-season ball, was once again a starter on the AL All-Star team.
  • Is age catching up to Ruben Tejada? Ruben, who turns 30 this month, posted his worst offensive season, hitting .201, 20 points under his career average. If Ruben cannot bounce back in 2020, the Mets have no real internal options as there are no shortstop prospects above High A at this time. One thing the team will have to consider is a backup for Tejada as he ages; the team had Ruben play all 162 games for the fifth consecutive time. One rumored consideration would be to use current bench coach Omar Quintanilla. Quintanilla, still only 37 and in good shape, would be a good fit as he understands the team’s hitting philosophy.
  • Will the current group of touted young pitching prospects spell relief for a battered rotation? As we all know, with the exception of Matt Harvey, the last crop of young pitchers never really panned out. When Harvey was allowed to leave as a free agent to the Yankees without an offer prior to the 2019 offseason, the bottom completely fell out. Pitching coach Dan Warthen hopes that veteran Chris Young, now 40, can be brought back. Young was the surprising ace of the team during their April and May success, but was then traded to the A’s for a PTBNL. The staff and team never fully recovered.

Dan Warthen

After the game, team consultant Sandy Alderson met with the media. The GM, J. P. Ricciardi, remained in his Boston home. Ricciardi has not been seen in public since the day after the Wright deal. Some highlights of Alderson’s comments:

  • Although the 2019 Mets once again finished with a losing record, Sandy said he “Really liked this team. Some teams you like, some you only kind of like. This team, though, I really like it. It’s a nice group of young men.”
  • An extension of Geren’s contract through the 2025 season is in the works. If Quintanilla is moved back to shortstop, there has been no decision on whether Terry Collins will return as bench coach. Alderson indicated that some in the organization are concerned this would put too much pressure on Geren.
  • “The Plan” is on track. “I think the real fans, the true fans, the fans that don’t care whether we win or lose, who just like Shake Shack, understand what we are doing here.”
  • The team payroll, now the lowest in major league baseball, will not necessarily be going up. “J. P. can spend as much as he wants, as long as he is prudent and the team does not go over budget,” said Alderson. He later indicated he has no idea what the budget will be in 2020.

The offseason will begin in earnest, and will really heat up during the winter meetings. Many fans hold out hope that majority owner Jeff Wilpon will sell the team before that time.

Well there you have it. Not that great, but don’t get too depressed. Yes, the Mets are still going to be bad at the end of this decade, but everything else is going to be awesome. You will see.

That’s the thing about the future; it’s very easy to say it is going to be better than the present.

The Future

 

 

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32 comments

  1. Eraff says:

    I especially enjoy the comment about “the real Fans who don;t care about wins and losses…Who just like The Shake Shack”…..

    There was an overhead shot of Citi during yesterday’s ballgame— WOW—the place looked Empty!!!—unless 15,000 people were on line at The Shake Shack!!!

    As for the Fantasy look ahead—- it may be a glib poke at the Mets but it’s not nearly as “spectacular” as the retrospective on the most recent “almost decade” that is quickly approaching!!!

    In 2007, the Mets had 2 Wildly Loved homegrown Stars…with possible HOF trajectories. They were on Path for tremendous baseball and financial success. They were about to open a spectacular new stadium and their Sprots Broadcast Network was being introduced to the Nations leading media market.

    Holy Shit!!!!—How did they F that up!!!!????

    • Michael Geus says:

      It was hard to do, but they did it. And so, I joke today, but my underlying point is serious. Why does anyone think the future with these guys will be better than the present.

      Blind faith I guess.

      Personally, I have reverted to my early 1960s mode. Just enjoy the games, some of which will be great in a 162 game season. Enjoy guys like David Wright and Daniel Murphy who play their hearts out every day. Or Juan Lagares tracking a fly ball. There will always be fun stuff for me.

      But try and figure out how this team ever becomes really good again? As long as the Wilpons stick around the odds are long and the windows will be short. If I’m going to personally do longshot handicapping I head to Belmont, because I get paid for correct analysis. And over analyzing the dumb situation surrounding the team is aggravating and takes away from the fun of the sport.

      It could happen for the Mets, and that would be fun, but I’m not betting on it.

      • IB says:

        What a bleak future in Metland. And, the beauty is that the future is the present so we’re all prepared to live out the decade in a Met dystopia. Or croak. How did it come to this?

        Yes, a good piece of handicapping is instantly rewarded and a thing of beauty that really satisfies the soul. Then it’s the next race and a brand new ballgame. No time to gloat or stew.

        • Michael Geus says:

          You know, when I go to the track these days the average age of the people around me make me feel like a teenager. It makes me wonder, where are all the young stats folks? It’s not like there isn’t data, there is reams, and serious horse players have been poring through it forever.

          Yet I seldom see anyone who might also be into WAR or DIPS. Why is that? If it is so easy to use statistical analysis to predict future events, why don’t these folks go cash in?

          Maybe they are betting online.

          • IB says:

            I really don’t know the answer. This is not meant as a knock: Are these WAR guys really “analyzing” data or are they working strictly from preset formulas and “projecting”? I don’t know how it works. From my standpoint, unless you’re a pure speed handicapper (which I don’t believe is enough to translate into any kind of consistant success at the flats), then you probably a situational handicapper who takes everything into account: barn, jock, track bias, bad racing luck, distance, class, how to invest etc. You know the score. The Racing Form is the analytical tool of analytical tools and a really, really good handicapper is a rare being. I’ve only known a handful and I’ve been playing the flats for 35 years. The industry is dying off with the old timers I think.

            So, I guess my question is, can a WAR guy necessarily be a decent handicapper?

        • Michael Geus says:

          It’s not all bleak. I’m really looking forward to the Collins ceremony (the Mazzilli bobblehead is just the cherry on top.)

        • Michael Geus says:

          Maybe they really are betting online. But if not, it’s strange to me. I would think it would be easier to project racing results from data than baseball results. There is plenty of data to evaluate. Plus, the horses live in a strictly controlled environment, unlike humans. I mean, a lot of people spend a lot of time poring over baseball data. Why not shift that effort to the track and become millionaires? At least until they put all the tracks out of business.

          Seems like a bunch of guys not wanting to put their money where their mouths are to me, but maybe I’m missing something. It’s just hard for me to take any segment that doesn’t believe in their own ideas enough to invest in them very seriously.

          • IB\ says:

            that’s interesting and thought provoking.

          • I don’t think this thread is fair to SABR types. One thing about that stat-based guys I’ve read — and I’ve read a lot of them, starting with Bill James back in the 80s — is that they are true baseball fans. These guys love baseball. Not horses.

            As we know, the fantasy market has driven the explosion of statistics — everybody wants to win the office league and they will pay for the help. It’s been monetized. So, yes, that’s a different case study, and a think a lot of it is good old capitalism at work. One thing about the American Way, greed and self-interest often drives innovation and progress.

            I’m glad for the advancement in statistics. I just think people have to get smarter in how to use them — as well as know when to put the numbers away. Why aren’t they betting the horses? I don’t think “they” — whoever they are — really care.

          • IB says:

            James – Didn’t mean to be unfair. It’s a shame “they” don’t really care. I think part of the thread laments the lack of new blood. The industry could use the new generation of stat guys. It’s a sport that was tailor made for this kind of analysis.

          • Michael Geus says:

            I don’t want to be a pain today. I apologize to the SABR community!

          • Michael Geus says:

            When it comes to fantasy baseball case studies, I did my own experiment about six or seven years ago. I was bored with all of the models. Including the ones I had built over the years. So I took a winter off, ignored the reams of analysis on the Internet, and printed the depth charts of the teams the night before the draft. Auction style, you had to dollar value every player. I just did it on the fly.

            Came in third that year in a twelve team league. Six of the guys paid for the Baseball Prospectus Model. I was the only one at the draft without a laptop.

            After that I got out completely, burned out by it all (twenty year run), so maybe I was just completely lucky. But I don’t know, all the models I ever see online for fantasy never do anything for me.

  2. Happy for Daniel Murphy today. He’s worked hard, an old school, lunch pail ballplayer. Thinking of him just stepping into that All-Star locker room makes me happy; I hope he gets an AB.

  3. Raff says:

    Terrific! Writing a good piece of Satire on the plight of the Mets is one hell of a journalistic undertaking given the manifest alternate reality they embody on a daily and yearly basis.

  4. wkkortas says:

    What’s with all the jokes about Ricciardi’s visibility? Hell, I just saw him this morning. Granted, it was on the side of my milk carton, but still…

  5. Michael Geus says:

    I love that passive pose from Bob Geren. It could be used as an emblem for the Mets hitting approach.

  6. Raff says:

    The “troika” was forcibly inserted by the real majority stockholders- MLB- to ensure that if the Wilpon’s legal/financial troubles spiraled out of control , MLB would at least have competent business managers embedded who understood the books and the contracts, etc. It was never the design or intent to bring in brilliant management who had the tools and resources to make things better on the field of play. MLB didn’t want to take over the team, due to potential enormous liabilities in the Madoff case. They didn’t have the votes to force a sale, as they did with the Dodgers, because didn’t want to be obligated for the Mets Legal & financial obligations in the case of a potentially huge judgment award which would fall upon them if MLB assumed ownership. It’s been a retrenchment operation from the start. Minimize the loss. Minimize the exposure. Minimize EVERYTHING. Keeping it Off The MLB Books allowed MLB and it’s franchisees to Maximize huge TV contracts without the burden of carrying the Mets and their risk. At some point, some hyper-rich egomaniac will buy them for twice their book value, a la the Los Angeles Clippers deal. The new owner will assume all debt and obligations, and the Wilpons wlll exit this rotting hull smelling like roses. Think about this just as you think about the massive bank and Wall Street “bailouts”. All the big-guys win, and they get handsomely paid. NONE pays the price for their bad/illegal behavior and incompetence, and the legions of minor stockholders and account holder- aka- The Fans – We’re left holding the bag and paying the tab. Only in America!

  7. Eraff says:

    In your “Future View”—have the Mets continued to employ Chris Young on 1 year deals—or have they “upgraded” to Alfonso Soriano?

    BTW—- in a Contrast between Sanity and THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS, the Yanks released Soriano today….. the Mets continue with Chris Young in an attempt to “Get him going like We Know he Can!” while building trade value for Young.

    If YOU were paying Chris Young 3.5 Million dollars, wouldn’t you rather NOT see him play?

  8. Michael Geus says:

    One last thing about baseball statistics. I absolutely think that they are beneficial in educating ourselves on past events.

  9. Michael Geus says:

    Completely off-topic (seems like a good day for that, go crazy folks.) When Flores went down I commented that he could learn more taking BP at Citi Field than going back to Vegas. And then, right after they sent him out Wright got hurt, and Campbell got 30 ABs that could have went to Wilmer. And it should have been 60, because it was dumb not to DL Wright.

    I understand that people get frustrated that Collins plays Tejada at short, but sending Flores down was crazy. Injuries in baseball are part of the game, and backups will get some chances. I don’t buy the idea that Flores was rusting like the Tin Man on the bench. He’s young and should still be flexible.

    Campbell hit well (while blowing two games with his glove) but a real opportunity to play Flores was lost.

    • Eraff says:

      Yes…and CY got Ab’s tonight—- Abreu and CY get AB’s that need to belong to Campbell…Newee…. there’s no reason to have CY and Abreu on the team.

      Flores can find 250-350 ab’s moving around the IF/1b. Campbell and newee can provide bench bats and spot starts—-and they MIGHT become useable parts going forward—unlike Abreu and CY.

  10. Mettle from Blue and Orange Nation says:

    I’m sorry, but Collins and Abreu aren’t staying with this franchise past October. And Backman would manage a team before Geren. You missed the big highlight of the decade- a title in 2016 with Harvey-Syndergaard-Wheeler-Ynoa-Niese in the rotation

  11. Mettle from Blue and Orange Nation says:

    I came across this article yet again and I want to know more about this team. If I know more about the future, it can change the time-space continuum! Who’s closing for this team? 48 year old Miguel Batista? Or Daniel Murphy’s 8 year old son, Noah?

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