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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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The Usual Suspects

On Saturday we threw a party to watch the Belmont Stakes. I enjoyed the bourbon a little too enthusiastically, fell asleep before the Mets starting playing and woke up hours after the game was over.

It was the best Mets experience of my week.

Today’s game wasn’t quite as infuriating a gag job as Saturday’s, but it followed the all-too-familiar recipe: not enough hitting, dopey baserunning, and bad defense, followed by excuse-making from the manager. If the Mets were a game of Clue, the revelation would be that everyone killed them, in every room, with every weapon. The Mets don’t lose with such numbing regularity because they’re consistently bad at one aspect of baseball; they lose like that because they’re consistently bad at multiple aspects of baseball.

And help is not on the way — the farm system has some hitting talent at the lower levels, but those players are all probably two years away. There’s no position player waiting in the wings a la Noah Syndergaard. No blue-chipper is wearing out pitchers in Las Vegas and clamoring for playing time in New York. Instead, we have guys we counted on to produce at the major-league level going back down a rung to get themselves figured out.

What the Mets do have is an abundance of talented starting pitchers — as I’ve written before, the team could go to spring training next year with 10 guys worthy of a spot in a big-league rotation. Even with elbows exploding across baseball and young pitchers being maddeningly unpredictable, that’s a surplus. And given that the Mets have a glaring deficit of decent bats, I find it impossible to believe the front office won’t move a number of those pitchers for hitters who are close to big-league ready.

If Sandy Alderson trades wisely, the Mets’ future could look a lot more promising in a hurry. (Personally, I’d start the dealing with Jon Niese and Jeurys Familia.) But the most opportune time to make such a deal is probably late July, meaning we have another six weeks of hideous baseball to endure.

Since I don’t recommend nightly sessions with Dr. Bourbon, how can those six weeks be made more bearable?

The Mets actually already took the first step by sending Travis d’Aranud down to get his mind clear and/or to get him the 500-odd Triple-A at-bats he might have needed in the first place. I’m a fan of d’Arnaud’s, but I was still glad to see that happen – he was lost at the plate and looked like he was trying to carry the franchise on his shoulders. Hopefully he can get well away from the bright lights.

What’s next?

How about declaring an end to the Chris Young experiment? Young wasn’t a terrible bet to rebound, but he hasn’t and you can’t say it’s a small sample size anymore. And he was never a part of the future, just a bridge to it, a la Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde. So Farnsworth him and give the at-bats he’s wasting to Bobby Abreu (a bridge piece who’s earned those ABs), or better yet to Andrew Brown, Eric Campbell or Matt den Dekker. (And not to Pinch Runner Deluxe Eric Young Jr. when he returns, a date I’m not pining for.)

Second, find a place for Wilmer Flores to play. If it’s shortstop, let him play there for six weeks as a Met and see if he can do it. If it’s second base, send him to Vegas and call him up after the inevitable Daniel Murphy trade. If it’s third, first or DH, trade the poor guy. But give him a position already.

Third, and directly related, no more kids on the bench. Flores needs to start. Same goes for Campbell, who’s followed the usual Terryland path from hot hand to guy you forget’s on the roster. (Somewhere Josh Satin is shaking his head sadly.) Brown got regular ABs in Vegas and was tearing it up; he looks good right now but won’t when he’s playing once a week. Enough already.

Third … well, I don’t know what’s third. Six more weeks of hopeless baseball, I suppose, with the Mets done in by all the usual suspects, with all the available weapons, in every room of the mansion.

Ugh. Paging Dr. Bourbon.

22 comments to The Usual Suspects

  • Lenny65

    Right now I have no faith whatsoever in their ability to pull off a deal that will actually benefit them. They’ll deal Murphy away and he’ll end up haunting us somehow while leading the league in grit. They’ll trade Niese and he’ll be a consistent 15 game winner for the next decade. In return the Mets will acquire a bad, surly veteran outfielder who will blind a fan with an M-80 full of bleach and a top-flight, almost-ready, can’t miss hitting prospect who will promptly need thumb surgery or something only to never be heard from again. It’s their way.

    Re: Flores and Campbell, I mean they’re either capable ML ballplayers or they’re not, so let’s find out by actually watching them play. And I mean now, not in pitiful dribs and unpredictable drabs over the next two years, but like this month. What is the big risk here? If they suck I want to know now, like with Chris Young and the only way we will know is IF THEY PLAY!!

    And poor TDA, off to LV, his Mets future TBD. Too bad he didn’t…uh, “pan out” because this organization sure does have a piss-poor collection of catchers, you know? I never imagined that Paul LoDuca would be THIS difficult to replace, did you?

  • Cadams47

    Great stuff Jason. Why are you not in the front office?? Everything you say makes sense! It’s so frustrating being a fan of this organization.

    • I’d be horrible in the front office.

      Interesting stat over at Metsblog: The Mets are 8-17 in one-run games. If they were even 12-13 they’d be tied for first place.

      Not saying it’s grounds for optimism, exactly. But it’s interesting.

  • LukeH82

    Greg & Jason, well done on your website and daily Mets insights. I’m a Mets fan from afar (Australia) having travelled to NYC in April 2012 as a tourist and taken in a game at Citi in Opening Week. I’ve been following the Mets ever since and catch up with your posts on a daily basis. You guys bring knowledge and perspective like no one else. The Mets are clearly an organisation that challenges even the staunchest fans but to know there are others riding the daily tribulations of the Mets makes it that little bit easier. Keep it up and keep the faith!

  • Dave

    Every time I see the Giants, I am unpleasantly reminded that Angel Pagan would be one of the Mets best players if the FO wasn’t so determined to get a year of Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. But to make it 100 times worse, yesterday I read a blurb in the paper in which DePodesta says that, essentially because Pagan was about to start getting paid real money, they’d make that awful trade again given the opportunity. So while most important and successful trades in Mets history have included moving a young arm, I wish I could be optimistic that a trade such as that, which in theory makes all the sense in the world, would actually work the way it should.

    I think a more likely deal/s will be more trading players they don’t want to keep paying (Murphy, Gee) for prospects. Except at what point does it stop being rebuilding and start being kicking the can further down the road?

    • No question that the Pagan trade was a stinker. But I didn’t think it was so bad at the time — Pagan had so many moments where it looked like he had no idea how to play baseball, Torres seemed like a fairly decent substitute, and Ramon Ramirez had a track record of solid bullpen work. So having been fine with it at the time, I can’t play revisionist historian now.

      Good question re rebuilding and kicking the can. For me, the test is what they get back if they move SPs this July. If it’s hitters who are a few years away I’ll be pretty discouraged. I’d want guys who’d be in Mets uniforms the next day, or at worst be expected to contend for jobs in spring training 2015.

      • Dave

        Exactly, time for major league trades. Farm system had to be rebuilt, we all get that. Most of the farm teams are in or near first place, so there’s some evidence that’s been a success. But aside from Colon (whose contract they will have to eat a chunk of) and perhaps Abreu (who, as good as he is, has limited trade value), there are no more veterans-for-prospects trades to be made. Young arms in exchange for guys who will quickly if not immediately fill some of the many holes.

      • 9th string

        Pagan looked incompetent as a Met, with as low a baseball IQ as anyone I’ve ever seen. I think he probably learned some things in SF – he wasn’t going to make it happen in NY, that’s for sure. I don’t begrudge the trade.

  • Stephen Luftschein

    Young wasn’t a terrible bet to rebound, b/c he was never a shot in the first place. He was always terrible. Even his 30 hr year his ops was under 100.

    As for blue chip prospects, we actually have one, so of course he’s riding the pine. Flores projects as a #3 hitter and should be there, or at 5 now, and every day unti the end of the year. Unlike d’Arneau, he actually HAS produced at every level, since he turned pro at 16.

    He has a beautiful, balanced, short compact swing, perfect for a middle of order hitter.

  • metsfaninparadise

    I’m leaning heavily on the belief that having Flores ride the pine isn’t part of Sandy’s master plan, so he’s getting fed up with Terry. This FO seems to give the balance sheet more weight than anything else when making roster moves, and having Flores sit affects his future value, whether one is thinking of his trade value or his development and ability to contribute to more wins and DRAWING MORE FANS.

  • Tristram Shandy

    Jason, I turn to you and Greg in my hour(s) of need. I’m 57, and I’ve been a Certified Chump (i.e., a Mets’ fan) since 1969. It’s been all downhill from there, with a few exciting exceptions.
    I’m in a state of mind at which I arrive often with the Mets: half of me is rooting actively and maliciously for them to lose. Badly. At least half of me will get what I want from this sorry team.
    I get this way when they’ve really succeeded in breaking my spirit and spitting on my hopes (the most recent example: 3 straight losses to The Worst Team in Baseball and then 3 more to Angel Pagan’s Giants after taking 4 of 5 in Philadelphia). I’ll snap out of it at some point, but I don’t see bright skies in my and their collective future.
    It is helpful to read intelligent despair commensurate to mine from you guys. Thanks for that.

  • Ryan

    I’m not the biggest Daniel Murphy fan, but (sadly) he’s been the best player on the team. If the Mets’ target for contention is truly 2015 as we’ve all heard (pause for big hearty laugh), why are they trading him (if the answer isn’t “they won’t be able to afford him”)?

    At some point they need to spend more money on impact major league talent. Prospects are great but if the Mets go the all-prospect route they *might* contend for a second wild card spot in Matt Harvey’s walk year or so. Honestly, a Beltran/Pedro-esque spending spree makes more sense now than it did 10 years ago – if the Mets go after star talent now, the minor league talent base is there to pick it up by the time those stars go into decline (the way it wasn’t when it happened in the mid-/late-2000s, leading us to where we are now).

    Also, TDA has 400 AAA PAs – does he really need 500 more?

    • I love Murph too, but he’s a limited player who’s probably at the top of his value and will soon be overpaid by someone. I think 2015 is still the Mets’ target for contention, but that’s not the same as saying they’ll be built for the playoffs. So I’d trade Murph for the right return, which also possibly opens up a spot for Flores. (Perhaps you trade Flores as well, since he has no ideal position. Depends on a lot of things.)

      My thought re the surplus of SPs is that the Mets should be able to get back hitters who are ready for the big leagues or very close to it — I’m thinking of organizations such as the Cubs and Rangers who have logjams at AAA. If the return is guys in single-A, I’d be disappointed for the reasons you note.

      Hear you on TdA, but injuries have never let him get a full season at AAA, meaning those ABs have come in fits and starts. Maybe he’d have been better off spending all of 2014 at Las Vegas. Or maybe my love of his pitch-framing abilities has me making excuses for him.

  • 9th string catcher

    The FO doesn’t know how to get bats in here – why would you get rid of your only .300 hitter? That’s a mistake. I would dump Duda ASAP, and move Murphy to 1st. Commit to Flores at 2nd for the rest of the season and see if he can do this. Keep Tejada at short for the rest of the season. Dump both Youngs, and Abreu, Colon, possibly Granderson if you can pawn him off on a contender who needs a bat, and let Brown, Den Dekker, Nieuenhuis and whoever else prove if they can do this or not. You have four months to really evaluate. I’d bring TDA back up as well. If they stop trying to win 90 games (Hahahahaha) and realize this is a team trying to learn about itself, it has a much better chance for the future.

    Murphy – 1b
    Flores – 2b
    Tejada – ss
    Wright – 3b
    Brown – rf
    Legares – cf
    Den Dekker – lf
    TDN – c

    • SJGMoney

      I really wish you had ended at “dump both Youngs” because you were making sense until then. Abreu has been fine for what he is, and Granderson is our only big bat and has been playing just fine for the last month.

      The problem with Murph at first is that is a true power position and he does not provide that. Neither of course does Duda who is the least powerful guy per pound in baseball, but that mistake Duda instead of Davis) has already been made.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Great post. You had me at your “my best met experience” line.

  • open the gates

    If the Mets are going to eat a big contract anyway, let it be Terry Collins’s. Bring up Wally. At the very least, he’ll play the young guys. And he’ll bring some fire to the table.

  • That Adam Smith

    I cannot for the life of me comprehend the utter refusal to let some of these kids show what they can do. Who in this organization believes that Chris Young (hitting 5th, no less) gives you a better chance to win – now or in the future – than Brown or Campbell? Or that throwing away a year of Flores’ development by having him rot on the ML bench is good idea?

    I keep getting the sense that guys are given opportunities (or not) on this team based on factors other than their baseball skills. I don’t know if it’s about ego, personalities, or certain people stubbornly trying to prove their earlier assumptions correct despite all evidence to the contrary. In any case, it makes for some weird and inexplicable decisions which only add to the exasperation of the few fans who are left paying attention.

  • mikeL

    yup it’s absolutely awful. not too long ago it was lagares on the bench so that the scrub making 10x his salary and unable to hit or catch could somehow ‘gain value’ in the trade market – or prove sandy’s hunch (in bottom-feeding for talent was correct)

    the team has lots of cheap talent but needs to prove that the money they did spend was a wise investment.

    i’ve boycotted citi field but for one outing in ’12 to see it in person. i’m so disgusted that i have stopped even turning the games on to hear them while doing other rhings in other rooms.

    only ron’s and keith’s utter exasperation makes these games even tolerable at this point – but after so many car wrecks, it is possible to not look.

  • dak442

    Teams are locking down their better players early, so fewer and fewer will be available to us via routes other than the draft. And we have shown very little ability to draft and develop position players. I feel like the situation is utterly hopeless for the long term. I don’t pay attention to the farm clubs anymore, but it doesn’t sound as if there are any reinforcements coming. Maybe we can hoodwink some GMs into dealing off hitters for pitching, but in all likelihood they’ll just be more d’Arnaud- and Bay-level flops. What a downer.