Meet the Mess
The 2015 New York Mets had some kind of magic going for them. They made it all the way to the World Series, beating the heavily favored Dodgers and Cubs, before losing to the Royals in the Fall Classic. 2016 was also a solid year for the Amazin’s, culminating with a playoff appearance against the Giants. The team re-tooled and reinforced their lineup to make a good run at 2017. Players and media members were even writing how the Mets took over New York as the top baseball team in town. However, the Mets have found themselves face to face with an old nemesis - The New York Mets.
Well, let’s dig deeper into the end of the previous two seasons before we delve into this year’s dumpster fire that’s being stoked on the daily. Their 2015 World Series team gave away enough runs on poor defense in key times that enabled closer Jeurys Familia to blow a Series record three saves while giving up just one earned run. In 2016, they made it to the Wild Card game, and lost 3-0 to San Francisco on a 9th inning home run by everyone’s favorite Connor Gillaspie. This could just be pressure getting the better of the Mets, or just the baseball gods laughing mercilessly at the Mets’ expense. At this point, no one’s sure.
Instead of getting everyone’s hopes up again, 2017 just started off awful. First, there are a ton of injuries. Here’s a rundown:
- Steven Matz strained a flexor tendon, is out until at least June.
- Seth Lugo partially tore his UCL, out for at least another two weeks.
- David Wright is pretty much all broken, and is on the 60 day DL.
- Yoenis Cespedes has a strained hamstring, and is expected to be out a while.
- Travis d’Arnaud has no timetable for a return with a bone bruise in his wrist.
- Lucas Duda is out for a while with a hyperextended left elbow.
- Noah Syndergaard partially tore a lat muscle and won’t see action until at least August.
I’ll touch on that last one later on. For those Mets that are healthy enough to play, here’s how they are doing:
- Neil Walker is slashing .216/.295/.336, and is second on the team in plate appearances.
- Jose Reyes is third on the team in plate appearances, and is hitting below .200.
- Curtis Granderson is fifth on the team in plate appearances, and is hitting below .150.
- Michael Conforto is having a great season, but was on the bench until Cespedes got hurt.
- Zack Wheeler finally returned after missing the last couple of seasons, and has an ERA of 4.78.
- Robert Gsellman has an ERA 2 runs higher than that, and has made more starts than Wheeler.
- Matt Harvey has been pretty bad, and now got suspended for playing golf instead of being with the team (more on that later).
The Mets have made headlines for having a dynamite young rotation the last couple of years, and now the only guy left standing is Jacob DeGrom, who’s been just better than average this season. Now this season, the Mets are making headlines about two of those pitchers for all the wrong reasons.
First, let’s talk about Noah Syndergaard. The man called “Thor” has worlds of talent. A fastball that touches 100 mph, a wipeout slider, and the makeup of a true ace. He also has the swagger and hubris a top of the line pitcher should have, an attitude that screams, “You can’t hit me”. That attitude is great, but it went a little too far when he was feeling some kind of discomfort in his arm after his April 20th start against the Phillies. The Mets insisted he get an MRI, because when you’re talking about the pitching arm of one of the top pitchers in baseball, you treat it like royalty, and care for its every need. Syndergaard told the Mets, “Nah, bro, I’m good.” The Mets shrugged as if to say, “The guy says he’s fine, must be OK.” In his next start in Washington, he gave up 5 runs in the first, before leaving in the second with a partially torn lat muscle that’ll keep him out most of the season.
The Mets really messed up on this one. When you have your top pitcher missing a start due to arm discomfort, you put your foot down and make sure he’s 100% before you throw him out there again. This exact scenario is everything you’re trying to avoid, and now the worst is happening, and the Mets have no one but themselves to blame.
In addition to that, the long saga of Matt Harvey continued this past week. Harvey’s relationship with the Mets has been contentious at best lately. Between a fight over an innings limit, various ailments, and underperformance since 2015, it’s fair to say that things aren’t all butterflies and rainbows on this front. Then this little nugget of tabloid gold appeared for the New York media to gobble up: Harvey called in sick on Saturday, complaining of migraines. He was then suspended for three games, missing a start. According to various reports, he was out partying on Friday night (new reports say he was binge drinking because his supermodel girlfriend left him for Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots), then played a round of golf the next morning, without bothering to tell the team. Well, when some undercover Mets people supposedly turned up to his house to check on him, he was there, and got busted. This situation got so sticky, that the Mets decided to move Harvey’s start back a few days to Friday in Milwaukee, in order to avoid a hostile environment for his next start. An interesting factoid about this is, that this so-called hostile environment happens to be Citi Field, home of those good ol’ New York Mets.
This one has blame on both ends. Harvey’s had some, let’s call them disagreements, with the team for the last couple of years. It’s not like he didn’t have a beef. However, the Mets have some of the blame, also. Between poor management and who knows about the health care, there’s reason to believe Harvey has a few points. Counter that with Harvey’s celebrity getting the better of him on occasion, plus his agent, Scott Boras, has a habit of pulling some strings to get his clients out of bad situations and into big money ones, and there might be some foul play lurking. Any angle you want to take on this one, and it’s not looking pretty.
The Mets are reeling. Their top players are either hurt, getting in trouble with the higher-ups, or both. Their higher-ups are either in dire financial straits, getting in trouble with their players, or both. This is a team that can’t get out of their own way. Their fans have seen things like this before, but this seems like it’s a whole new level of Why Us? There might be a light at the end of a tunnel that’s been bored out since 1986, but it doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon.
At least not while the Mets have to deal with their bitter, long-time rival - themselves.
Do you think the Mets have any chance of coming back this season? Or were they doomed from the start? Let me know in the comments.