It’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.
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.
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.