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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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Another Dark Night

So what kind of loss would you prefer? One where the Mets look flat and inoffensive and collect no hits at all, or one where the Mets collect lots of hits, but can’t pitch, field or run the bases so it doesn’t matter?

What’s that? You’d like neither? Sorry, not on the menu.

Unlike on Chris Heston‘s big night, the Mets hit and hit from the get-go — Curtis Granderson started off the game by tripling into the gap. Oh wait, Granderson thought the ball had been caught, so it was a double. Except it was a single. That’s how it’s going these days: The Mets hit but still screw up somehow.

Granderson recovered from his self-colonoscopy but wound up getting thrown out at home from me to you, to use a baseball saying I’ve always loved without really understanding it — even Tim Teufel had a crappy night. Wilmer Flores seemed to save the day by driving in two runs, but that only got the Mets even — because Matt Harvey had given up a two-run homer to Joe Panik in the top of the first.

On an 0-2 fastball, no less.

It was just the beginning of Harvey’s troubles. The Mets grabbed a 4-2 lead, but Harvey unraveled in the sixth: Panik singled, Angel Pagan singled, Buster Posey doubled into the corner (on another 0-2 pitch), Brandon Belt homered, Brandon Crawford doubled but was thrown out at third, and after an out Justin Maxwell homered.

Harvey’s record over his last four starts: 1-3, 7.20 ERA and eight homers surrendered. In 2013 he gave up seven homers all season.

So what’s wrong? After Harvey’s unceremonious departure, there were as many theories as there were Twitter accounts and SNY microphones. Maybe it’s a hangover from Tommy John surgery: Adam Wainwright‘s ERA was nearly 4.00 in his first post-TJ campaign, after all. Maybe it’s not having a feel for the killer slider that complements the fastball. Maybe it’s not pitching inside enough — Giants hitters were leaning out for pitches like they were at the buffet. Maybe it’s just the usual learning curve of a sophomore season.

Most likely it’s a little bit of everything above. Harvey, to his credit, was his toughest critic after the game, talking about being “all over the place” in a “pretty poor performance” and stubbornly returning, mantra-like, to insisting that figuring out will begin tomorrow.

Which would be great, but the Mets have more to fix. Their baserunning was abysmal, their infield and outfield play was poor, and they’re playing with no real bench until they sort out some mysterious transaction that seems to involve Kevin Plawecki, Dilson Herrera, Bobby Parnell and possibly others from a list that could include Dillon Gee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun and Ted Williams‘s frozen head.

Let’s hope that restructuring begins tomorrow too. It was good to have Travis d’Arnaud back, but Eric Campbell has to be moved off third base sooner rather than later — the highlight of SNY’s telecast was Ron Darling dispassionately noting that Campbell doesn’t have a lot of range or confidence at third, so he compensates for that by playing back and not coming in on balls, which leaves him a second or two slow trying to turn double plays. Last night’s game was all the evidence one needs to see why that’s not a good idea.

Once whatever mysterious transacting has been completed, Herrera should take over at second, with Ruben Tejada moving to third until he’s, in turn, supplanted by Daniel Murphy. That ought to stabilize things a bit, without disrupting Wilmer Flores’s development as a shortstop. (Which you’re welcome to say is also a bad idea.) But it also involves waiting — and then, once the waiting’s over, hoping for an outcome that’s dependent on a best-case scenario, such as a 21-year-old being ready for a regular big-league job. In the meantime, the Mets are playing short in any number of ways. Which has only been happening since the first day we heard the name “Bernie Madoff.”

It’s getting old, to say the least. And it’s too much for any baseball superhero to fix.

21 comments to Another Dark Night

  • Dave

    Optimistic Mets fans (my research on Twitter indicates there is such a thing) will criticize me of chicken littling or crying wolf, but it’s hard to look at this team and not reach the conclusion that the 18-26 performance since 13-3 demonstrates the real 2015 Mets. Yes, injuries play a part, but so do the weak lineup, 62-esque defense and useless bench. And injured players will come back. None of these hitters are suddenly turning into Tony Gwynn, the gloves aren’t turning into gold, and the likes of Campbell, Recker, Mayberry etc aren’t suddenly going to become guys you just have to find a spot in the lineup for.

    Watch out, 3rd place could be beckoning.

    But want to acquire a bat? Angels just DFA’d an outfielder the Mets could look at.

    • Daniel Hall

      He went from .079 to .136 with LA. If he can keep the speed while being designated, waived, and claimed three more times, he’ll be a worthwile player.

      I haven’t seen the Mets in one and a half weeks, due to night games and such. Can’t complain. Saw the Blue Jays thrash the Marlins yesterday. Boy, their lineup is a delight, and #7 is about the least amount of joy in it.

  • Dave

    Had the sarcasm button on when I was referring to Kirk. Good luck to him, but I hope Sandy is reaching a little higher than that. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he wasn’t.

  • Rob E

    To be fair, the 18-26 Mets are the “real” 2015 Mets if you take Wright, d’Arnaud, and Murphy out of the equation.

    You can’t hang yesterday’s game on the offense….they got Harvey a two-run lead at the point that he should be getting ready to hand the game off. He was off. He’s entitled….God knows he’s carried us enough times. And they were playing a very good team. It happens.

    Count me as optimistic. For all their holes, there’s a lot here to like here. It’s just not as compelling reading.

  • open the gates

    This is a team that played most of the year with half their lineup (including David Wright, whose career might be over), half their starters, most of their bullpen, and a bunch of their spare players on the DL. A couple of years ago, we would have had a team full of Quintanillas and Schwindens, and would have needed a periscope to see their way out of last place. Give these guys some slack – these injuries are insane even by Metsian standards, and depth will only get you so far. Rather than picking on Terry Collins (which I did the other day, but mostly tongue in cheek), I would have a word with Ray Ramirez, who only seems to have had his Mets head trainer gig since the Payson era. And with Mike Barwis, who got a lot of publicity off of his offseason “optional” conditioning sessions with various Mets but has somehow become invisible lately. There’s gotta be a reason so many Mets are DL’ed other than dumb luck.

    • Daniel Hall

      Similar to Kevin Long, who was praised for turning the hitters around for as long as they were hitting (read: Spring Training), but nowadays seems to have gone name- and faceless.

  • Steve2916

    As a longtime Mets fan this latest slump has been a tipping point for me. I have loyally supported this team – including attending games – through the losing seasons, but enough is enough. Now, don’t get me wrong. This rant is NOT about Harvey. I cut him slack b/c he’s coming off major surgery, but about the general culture of the team. Why should I spend my $$$ on tickets, concessions, etc., when the team owners are either unwilling – or, quite possibly – incapable – of applying the needed financial resources to field a competitive team? (Which includes some power, some speed, and a roster deep enough to weather injuries?) Why is it always the other teams who get the superstars, who make the necessary trades to bolster the roster when needed, etc., etc.? At this point, unless I can get really cheap tix in the secondary market, you won’t see much of me at “Shea 2” – I refuse to call it by its given name this year.

    Oh, and one more thought: the more I go to “Shea 2”, the more I realize that its design relegates the ballgame to being a second-class citizen. The Wilpons obviously spent more time/money ensuring that all these unnecessary accoutrements were in place. A Verizon store in a ballpark? Give me a break! Of course, they realize that it increases their bottom line to have fans AWAY from the seats buying too much overpriced food, etc, as opposed to doing what came so naturally at Shea – watching a ballgame.

    I suppose their priorities explain why there are so many seats where you can’t even see the whole field.

    Steve (writing this closing while looking longingly at my desktop model of Shea….)

    • Rob E

      You are projecting something that hasn’t happened yet, and you are reacting as if your projection has already happened.

      Ticket prices and the cost of the “game experience” are ridiculous, but they are 1/2 game out of first 60 games into the season. If that’s not a compelling enough reason to spend your money after the five years we just had, then I don’t know what is! The Red Sox spent money…they have a $166 million payroll, and they have SUCKED. Spending doesn’t = winning!

      • Steve2916

        @Rob

        I’ll concede the point that the Mets are 1/2 game out of first, but, after their fast start, they are 8-under .500. The trend has been down since then and they’re barely above .500 for the year.

        Also, I think you have to admit the team is flawed…e.g. where is the speed including a true leadoff hitter? Maybe that’s a reason for all the double plays? I know KC proved last year you can compete w/o a lot of power, but if you don’t hit a lot of HR’s you’d better be able to manufacture runs, with speed.

        Granted, the product has improved, and I’ve enjoyed the progress they’ve made, but there is a long way to go, and I’m not convinced that ownership has the money to make it happen. Money spent CAN translate into contending teams. It’s just frustrating that the Mets don’t seem to even have the option of increasing payroll, which in this market, at these prices, is quite frankly embarrassing.

        All of the above said, if we need to “agree to disagree”, I won’t press the point. :)

        Steve

        • Rob E

          They are DEFINITELY flawed (it’s funny to me that the REAL flaws they have are never even mentioned here — you did hit a couple right on the head). But Met fans focus on the flaws and ignore positives, and ignore the fact that so many guys are hurt, and judge this team against a team it seems people expect to go 162-0.

          ALL teams have flaws….that’s how they are even in it after this past 45-game stretch. Teams aren’t supposed to be flawless, you just hope your flaws are less than your opponents. Secondly, for the many who have judged them harshly here, you have to take into consideration how injured they are. That DOES mean something. They really have done a decent job of addressing the injuries, but there’s only so much they can do.

          This is NOT about money or the Wilpons. There’s no player to buy, and it’s not so easy to trade for that hitter everyone wants without giving up some young pitching. You can’t spend your way through a wave of injuries like this. What they are is a team that looked like it may have turned the corner and then got profoundly banged up. We can’t judge them until these guys come back, and it’s to their credit that they have hung in there even this long. Their problems are short-term as far as baseball seasons go. It doesn’t mean that all future hope has disappeared.

          • Dennis

            All great points Rob. I wonder what the expectations are from so many of these negative fans. The teams is improved from last season…..a 79 win team if people remember. Did they expect a jump to 98 wins? A bit unrealistic if that’s the case. I recall hearing and reading fans who said that they would just like the team to be in the middle of a pennant race, which they are, (with a ton of injuries no less) so it’s a bit puzzling what people expect.

  • BlondiesJake

    Positives: A bunch of hits; 5 runs; nobody injured

    Negatives: Harvey doing his best Robin Roberts imitation; Granderson’s eyesite; Tim Teufel continuing his drive for my Dale Sveum Award

    Overriding issue: Management either can’t or won’t spend money so this team with a real chance to compete with a legit, productive 3B and some ML bench players will just slowly fade down the standings

  • Dennis

    “A Verizon store in a ballpark? Give me a break!”

    Hate to break this to you, but the Mets/Wilpons aren’t the only teams/owners doing this. A friend of mine went to see the Cowboys at AT & T Stadium a couple of years ago and said that there is a Victoria’s Secret store there.

  • mikeL

    yes, virtually all the league’s ‘parks’ feature the a theme park’s worth of distractions, but many actually feature teams that can perform on a major league level – for those with an old-school attention span.

    given jason’s description of granderson’s self-administered colonoscopy, can we call his hit – and future minus-two-base hits like it a tripel?

    for mets fans down in thd dumps:
    don’t worry, we have neise on the mound tonite ;0]

    • Dennis

      So the Mets, with a slew of injures, and a half game out of 1st, aren’t performing on a major league level?

  • eric1973

    If someone presented the Wilpons with a profitable proposal to open a strip club inside the stadium, surely they would do it —— except you wouldn’t be able to see the girls’ entire bodies from any of the seats.

  • BlondiesJake

    Rob E, teams with good ownership find ways to add necessary talent. Saying there is nobody available is flat out untrue. Whether you think they should deal for him or not, Troy Tulowitzki could be had for either $ or prospects or some combo of the two.

    Teams that are a mess and know they need to rebuild will make deals. It’s not like next year or the year after the Mets won’t have the same issue they have now, which is a gaping hole in the middle of the diamond and the lineup, because David Wright is not coming back as David Wright, if at all

    I like Flores but he would be better served as a 3B. And if they make a move for a big bat and Wright does return, that’s a good problem to have. And if they deal for a 3B then I can live with Flores at SS

    • Rob E

      First of all, this team is NOT a mess. They WERE two years ago, and since then: 1) d’Arnaud has come up, 2) they committed to Duda, 3) they signed Cuddyer, Granderson and Colon, 4) Lagares has become a starter 5) Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Mejia, and Familia have come up.

      That’s a lot of holes that HAVE been addressed. You can’t fix everything at the same time when you are building from within (I’ll point out here that it didn’t quite work out when they DID try to spend their way out of it 1990-2007…the Wilpons spent a LOT of money during that time). They’ve made up a lot of ground, just not ALL of it yet. I can’t believe how quickly people have forgotten how DOWN we were, and for how LONG. Being tied for first after 61 games is quite an accomplishment, even more so under the conditions that they’ve done that.

      As for Wright, they can’t do anything until they know what the deal is. You can say “David Wright is not coming back as David Wright, if at all,” but the Mets have $100 million and five more years tied up in him. What do you expect them to do at this point? Even if the worst case happens and his career is over, a 32-year-old guy like Wright isn’t going to just hang up his glove two months into it. So that limits them to Aramis Ramirez-types at least through this year.

      As for Tulowitzki, the question is do you want to pay the price in dollars, risk, and prospects? It’s not like they are just going to hand him over and eat 80% of the contract….they’re going to want Syndergaard AND someone else, at LEAST. I wouldn’t do that even up right now. It’s a BAD contract. Them NOT trading for Tulowitzki isn’t a sign of an inept team that doesn’t care, it’s the sign of a team that considered the cost and long-term implications and decided not to do it. I DO agree with this, but even if you don’t, it’s a defendable point.

  • BlondiesJake

    I wholeheartedly agree the Mets are a vastly improved group from the past few years and are likely to continue improving and if fully healthy would competitive with most teams.

    I was saying other teams, like the Brewers, the Reds, the A’s, are a mess. And my point was players are available if the Mets feel compelled to make a move, which I believe they should.

    As I stated, they need to work off the expectation Wright is through. You can’t sit and wait for months and hope a 32-year-old with major back issues will return as the player he was before, it’s just not sensible. And let’s suppose they add a big bat at 3B or SS and Wright comes back and produces…the team would now have a great problem. And the $ shouldn’t be a factor for a team with quality ownership, because there is no salary cap.

    As to Tulowitzki, while I’m not saying they HAVE TO deal for him, I think he’s worth the price. He fits all the criteria for what the Mets need. HOWEVER, I understand the price would be steep.

    BUT, look at the Mets farm system and look around baseball and tell me where there is a power hitting, great fielding SS or 3B available besides him now or that you expect to be available soon. If there are any besides the Cubs youngsters who will cost the same in terms of money and prospects, I haven’t heard of them. Which means with the Mets locked into Granderson for 2 more years and Cuddyer 1 more after this, you will have the same problem with this lineup, the lack of a true big bat in the middle.

  • Dennis

    “As to Tulowitzki, while I’m not saying they HAVE TO deal for him, I think he’s worth the price. He fits all the criteria for what the Mets need. HOWEVER, I understand the price would be steep.”

    Wait….on one hand, he’s worth the price, but on the other hand, the price would be steep? I don’t think anyone really knows what the cost (in players) would be for Tulowitzki.

    Plus, can you just see it now? Mets make a bold move like everyone wants, trade for him giving up Syndergaard or Matz, and Tulo spends the remainder of his Mets career on the DL or underachieving. Can you imagine how understanding the fan base would be?

    • Rob E

      You doubly can’t deal for Tulowitzki now that we have essentially the same thing in Wright. ONE of those contracts is crippling, having two could devastate a franchise for years. I agree that the Wright situation will have to be dealt with, but now is not the time they can do it….there are too many question marks.

      Another thing people forget is that they do have hitting coming through the pipeline. Moving forward things will have to be fluid. And I don’t believe they will ALWAYS be poor. So you hope that as Cuddyer and Granderson age out of the lineup and others become free agents (like Murphy) that some of the young players come up to replace them. At the same time you hope players like d’Arnaud and Flores and Lagares and Herrera and Plawecki progress to where they are more solid and less flawed players (which is what the development cycle is).

      And if some of that happens, you will be in a position to trade from strengths and address singular needs through free agency WITHOUT gutting your minor leagues or overpaying for B level free agents.