The New York Mets' front office raised expectations during spring training. General Manager Sandy Alderson stated his belief that the Mets could win 90 games with the talent they added in the offseason. The Mets are no where near a 90 win pace now, carrying a 37-48 record into their final off day before the All Star Break. The Mets are only a half game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies for last place in the division and are 9.5 games out of a playoff spot. In most cases, when playoff expectations in the spring are a flop by the All Star Break, jobs are on the line. That is not the case for the Mets.
The Mets are in no rush to make changes or become sellers, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Alderson, in particular, still believes that the Mets are capable of playing better than their record indicates. Heyman's report cites Alderson's belief that the team's run differential of -6 is a true indicator that the Mets have been unlucky this season. If run differential is to believed, the Mets' record should be closer to .500 instead of 11 games below the break-even mark.
The argument against that case is the Mets' 10-20 record in one run games. The Mets' inability to win close games is a huge culprit for the team's overall record. Alderson made a point not to blame the team's beleaguered bullpen for that poor record in close games. Alderson instead cited the team's inability to hit late in games, a problem that has plagued the Mets for several years now.
The fact that Mets' brass is clinging to the idea that the team's run differential as a sign they can play better is concerning. While the Mets have gotten good pitching performances this season, their hitting has been their achilles' heel. The numbers may say the Mets are better than their record is, but the Mets royally fail the eye test. The Mets look like a bad team, particularly in the way they find ways to lose games instead of ways to win them.
While a complete tear down is not a good idea, sitting by and doing nothing isn't a good thing either. The Mets are in the running for one of the worst records in baseball, and that should at least have manager Terry Collins on the hot seat. While the Mets don't want to admit it, this season is over and the Mets should be working to assess the young talent they have and whether it can fit into the team's long term solution going forward.
To do that, the Mets need to stop wasting at bats on Chris Young, Bobby Abreu and Ruben Tejada and commit to playing guys like Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores every day. The Mets have given Lucas Duda a chance to play every day and he's shown that he can at least be a part of the team going forward. Flores in particular needs to get a run at shortstop of at least a month or two to allow the Mets to identify whether they can use him there going forward or if they will have to address the position in free agency this winter. The Mets also need to figure out what they want to do with Daniel Murphy long term. Murphy is a free agent after the 2015 season, so the Mets will have to choose to either extend him long term or trade him while his value is highest. Trading Murphy isn't ideal because he can be a part of the solution going forward. If the Mets believe they have a potential keeper in Dilson Herrera, moving Murphy could add a key piece for the future and free at bats for Flores in the majors now.
As far as the pitching goes, Alderson is strongly against dealing lefty Jonathon Niese, as he should be. Niese is the Mets' only left handed starter, and he is under team control at a very affordable rate for a few years. The Mets will have extra pitching next season once Matt Harvey returns from injury and Noah Syndergaard is presumably in the rotation. The Mets should take advantage of that surplus by selling high on 41 year old Bartolo Colon. Colon is pitching well and is a luxury for a team who isn't going anywhere this season. The fact that Colon is under contract for another year could boost the return the Mets could receive. ESPN Radio's Jim Bowden is predicting a very good High-A or AA prospect could be the ticket to getting Colon from the Mets.
Moving Colon would also open up a rotation slot to give Noah Syndergaard a chance to pitch at the major league level. The Mets have been hesitant to give Syndergaard a timetable for a promotion in recent days due to some struggles with Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets should at least get Syndergaard's feet wet in the majors in August and September to gauge what they have in him, and moving Colon would open a spot for Syndergaard to make his debut.
While the Mets have options to improve in the long term, doing nothing and hoping for the best is not one of them. The Mets are kidding themselves if they think that they can be playoff contenders this season, and they should be doing whatever is best for them in the long term. If that means dealing Daniel Murphy or changing the manager, the long term approach should come first at this point. Pointing to run differential and hoping the same mix of poor players will play better is insanity.
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