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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Blue in the Face

I’m not sure what the point of this recap is. Just go read this one — because the Mets just replayed Friday’s game, down to the comedy of errors on a good bunt to third.

Once again, the key figures were Ruben Tejada, pressed into service at an unnatural position, and the pitcher — then it was Jacob deGrom, this time it was Jon Niese.

Give Tejada credit for thinking, at least. On Friday he overcommitted, was caught off third and the Mets had no play. Tonight, in the sixth, he saw Niese go for the bunt and retreated to cover third … except the bunt was better and Niese doesn’t field as well as deGrom. End result: the same, Mets with no play at third, and fans left to chuckle bleakly on their couches.

The rest? Must we? The Mets got good pitching, lousy fielding and didn’t hit. Perhaps you’re familiar with this losing formula.

Niese, my designated 2015 Jonah and favored whipping boy, did nothing wrong — well, all right, he did get caught spectating instead of covering first, but he was probably just trying to make the rest of the infield feel better. He pitched well enough to win, as he has for four starts now, and got nothing for it.

The defense was putrid once again, with that sequence the middle of the mess. Gerardo Parra led off the sixth with a single, and it looked like Kevin Plawecki would throw him out at second … except Dilson Herrera made a weirdly nonchalant tag and Parra was safe. Niese walked Hernan Perez. Then came the botched play on Hector Gomez‘s bunt, which loaded the bases with none out. Jean Segura lifted a fly ball to medium center, the kind no runner would have dared try to score on a year ago — except a year ago’s Juan Lagares doesn’t play for the Mets. Parra trotted home with the tying run.

An inning later, Sean Gilmartin gave up a double to left, the ball caromed cruelly and comically between Michael Cuddyer‘s legs, and the Brewers had the winning run.

The offense? What offense? The Mets didn’t collect a hit after the third inning. They struck out 12 times and showed more life barking at home-plate ump Larry Vanover than they did trying to touch up Milwaukee pitchers. Lucas Duda looks absolutely lost. Cuddyer, brought in to be a complementary player, looks like he’s crumbling under the load of a larger burden than that. And Travis d’Arnaud is back on the DL, possibly for some time.

I’m not going to break down what’s wrong with this team, because I already did, nothing’s changed and nothing’s going to change.

But that said, I read this Amazin’ Avenue article today and found myself nodding.

This bunch isn’t going to win — the Nationals look like they’ve righted the ship, and the Mets are inferior to the other wild-card contenders. The injuries continue to mount … and then linger. There are no season-changing trades to be made and no payroll to be added.

2015 is over as far as contending for a postseason spot goes, and we should just admit it.

I suspect Sandy Alderson knows this — in fact, I think he knew it a lot earlier than the rest of us did. Since it’s his unenviable job to try to thread a financial needle every season, he ought to pack this season in.

What does that mean?

Most urgently, it means figuring out what’s wrong with Lagares and doing what has to be done to fix it. The Mets are trying to baby him through his injuries, but why? If he needs Tommy John surgery, do it now so he’s back for Opening Day next year — particularly since we’ve seen far too many Mets try to handle injuries conservatively and wind up losing valuable recovery time.

Beyond that? Figure out a plan for the infield and what the best course of action is for Wilmer Flores and Herrera and what the backup plan for third base is. And then make it happen.

Finally, sell off whatever you can. Which, granted, right now is Bartolo Colon and nothing. Maybe a few more good outings by Niese can entice a trade-deadline buyer, or Dillon Gee can get himself together at Las Vegas, or Daniel Murphy can return and get converted into a prospect. (Assuming you don’t now need Murph to replace David Wright.) The return won’t be much, but it’s smarter than playing for a pennant that’s going to belong to someone else.

That leaves the Mets talking about next year again — a next year that keeps retreating, like we’re all in some baseball version of the hallway from Poltergeist. I know it sucks and I know we’ve been here before. But the Mets aren’t going to win, and it would be counterproductive to pretend otherwise. So let’s just get on with it.

40 comments to Blue in the Face

  • eric1973

    I know this is like shouting at the ocean at this point, but did TC really think he had a better chance of winning this game by using the inferior Robles and Gilmartin instead of the hot hand that is Bobby Parnell? TC, you brought this all on yourself by not using your personnel wisely, and instead going by the book.

    • metsfaninparadise

      Come visit the game thread at Metsmerized Online, and you will feel right at home, as a whole crew of commenters (led by yours truly) continually let the world know how we feel about TC (and it ain’t pretty).

  • DanielHall15

    We reached that part of the season, where I go to in the morning, see a most pathetic result, ignore the box score and highlights (which only show the other team anyway) and skip right over here to read the condensed version of last night’s desaster.

  • Dave

    We’ll always have April. Damn season goes on way too long.

    I agree that the Mets should be sellers now, trading veterans for young talent is obviously Alderson’s strong suit (although at some point it’s no longer rebuilding, it’s kicking the can down the road). But the real problem is that the Wilpons won’t be sellers.

  • Lou from Brazil

    When I became a Met fan back in 1993 (of all years), I thought then that things would eventually turn around for the team. They weren’t far removed from a World Series and they played in a big market, and I couldnt get my head around being a Yankee fan. Of course, the Yankees were not yet the ‘Yankees’ of their championship years. But, unfortunately these last 22 years have seen very few good seasons. I have but find myself watching more Rays games these days, primarily because a Mets game means the Mets are usually toast after the first inning, while the Rays play in the same time zone. The Rays actually have a smaller payroll than this club, have a dump of a stadium and no fan support. And they still win. It’s not Sandy, it’s not Terry, it’s this franchise. The owners are too unwilling to spend, too prideful to GTFO. It makes me sick.

    • I wouldn’t GTFO either — I’d hold on for dear life. Which is why MLB makes me so mad — they’re willing to let New York’s NL franchise be run like a second-rate orphanage for a decade. Or a generation, or however long it’s going to be.

      But then these are the consequences of letting the owners strip the commissioner’s office of even the nominal independence it once had.

  • Rob E

    There is nothing to sell here, except Colon (who they couldn’t give away) and Murphy. Neither one would bring anything significant back. We’re not talking about Cole Hamels here. And they’re trying to save innings on their young pitchers…why would they trade their best innings eater?!?!? You don’t just sell for the sake of selling, you sell as part of a bigger goal.

    This is NOT the same as all the hopeless suckage we’ve seen in the past. This is a team that has been decimated by injuries, and forced to play young players (not “organizational depth” young players) before they were ready.

    They have dealt with a RIDICULOUS number of injuries by anyone’s standard. It’s nobody’s fault — not the Wilpons, not the payroll, not Terry Collins, not the defense, not Robles and Gilmartin and Niese and Campbell. Blame the Baseball Gods. Look at this team and tell me what you reasonably expect the Wilpons or Terry Collins to do considering the players who AREN’T available to them at this time. The Wilpons have made a LOT of mistakes over the years…this isn’t one of them. Sometimes fate just takes a dump on you.

    It’s a good thing for Cleveland that Met fans aren’t Cavaliers fans because Met fans would have run the Cavs out of town for losing the finals.

    • I’d sell Colon because in a couple of months his value goes to zero. Alderson will have to rethread the needle again in February with no new acquisitions or payroll, so he needs every piece he can get his hands on. You’ve got Niese to soak up innings, since he’s a sunk cost, or can bring back Gee.

  • BornAMet

    This blog is 100% correct. After it became clear that we got our butts kicked by everyone outside the NL East, there was no hope of contending in the playoffs. We could only pray that Wright would make a healthy recovery and somehow right the ship. But now it’s not even clear we’ll be getting the David Wright we all knew and loved. So yes, it’s time to start unloading and rebuilding from the ground, like the Astros and Cubs who will be seeing the postseason this year, leaving us in the longest draught in MLB. Unload Colon, Niese (hopefully Matz will outshine him), and even Murphy, though I’d be most sad to part with our most consistently dependable hitter. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone wants Cuddyer, but Granderson and Flores could be interesting trade bait (Flores mainly because for every run he scores, he seems to cost us one in the field; he’s the reason the DH was invented). What the Mets desperately need more than anything are clutch hitters- the guys with strong batting averages with runners in scoring position. We know our pitching is strong, but you can’t win a game without scoring a run (or 4, according to the Mets’ metrix of success this season, which is now at .500 and regressing.)

    • No need to rebuild from the ground. The Mets aren’t that far off from being good, and would get there a lot faster with real support from ownership. But that’s not happening: Alderson has to thread the needle every year, since his hands are tied for adding significant payroll and in roster construction.

      Since 2015 is a lost cause, you dump the few parts with trade value and hope for better luck next year. And pray that luck comes before you have to sell off the young pitchers and the window to compete closes.

  • Old Geezer

    I’m sorry, but “fate” dumps on every team just about every season. St. Louis lost their ace. First place team. Washington loses Strasburg, Rendon, Jason Worth. First place team. San Fran loses 2 starting pitchers and all- star outfielder Pence. Second place, one game out. This organization has tried to get by with minimum talent, (that means “cheap”)for far too many years. Harvey is out of here as soon as free agency lets him. The other young pitchers will probably follow because they are getting tired of pitching their hearts out and getting lousy results. Around 2018 or so, the Mets can start their next rebuilding phase. In the meantime, get used to lousy baseball and a losing team.

    • Rob E

      A division winner and a World Series team losing guys is not the same as a team like the Mets losing guys. The bar they start at is much higher. The Cardinals are a great organization and have been for a LONG time…that is something to aspire to. But the Nationals are only 2.5 games better than us and all our misery, and 60 pts BELOW their winning pct. last year (and they added Scherzer). The Mets, with all these injuries and on a 6-game losing streak, are STILL better than they were last year. As for SF…I’d hardly call Matt Cain and Jake Peavy key players at this point, and they lost Pence (ONE player) for a shorter time than we lost Wright. And they ALSO are only 2.5 games better than us.

      Now, using last year as the bar is setting it pretty low. My point is that with even normal luck regarding injuries this year, they could easily be 5 games better and we’re not having this conversation.

      Also, the two weakest links in the lineup now, and the two most replaceable guys, are Cuddyer and Granderson…the two guys they DID spend on. So again, you say to spend…on WHO? The Tulowitzkis of the world are going to cost the Syndergaards of the world, and the lesser players are going to push a young player out of the picture. Do you really want to go down that road again?

      They are building a team for YEARS to come…not THIS year. You can’t blow up the island because you’ve been wiped out by injuries on both sides of the ball. These are the same friggin’ guys who went 15-5 when they WEREN’T hurt (and were 6 games over .500 a week ago!). Nothing has changed since April except about 100 injuries.

      • DAK442

        I can’t bear to talk to most people about the Mets anymore, because it’s all the same nonsense: “We need to trade for a big bat.” And indeed, Tulo seems to be the guy they cite most often. Yay, another brittle old infielder! Does any Met fan doubt that if we obtained Tulo, he would drop 30-40 points of his career average and stop hitting HRs? And spend half his tie on the DL?

        Wilpons spent on FAs – Cuddyer and Grandy – and it blew up on them, like it seemingly always does. Obviously they should have gone for Nelson Cruz instead, but that ship has sailed. And who else was out there? Ellsbury? Hey, remember when everyone was clamoring for Shin Soo Choo? Is he still in the big leagues?

        I don’t know what the answer is. This team looked like it could have been pretty good before everyone got hurt. I don’t want to trade Thor or Matz for some 32-year-old stopgap. Stay the course. It’s been 29 years, what’s a few more?

        • Eric

          Or the reverse case: Justin Turner. Reliable but no better than an average back-up as a Met (which would be useful now). Turner joins the Dodgers and promptly turns into a super-sub and borderline all-star.

          • Turner, sigh. The offensive thing to me isn’t that he turned the corner as a Dodger, but that the Mets had to smear him on his way out.

            That sort of thing has been happening so long that I can only conclude the smears come from ownership, and are a smokescreen to cover up that they’re broke.

            It’s more than a little disheartening.

        • I wouldn’t trade Thor or Matz either. My point is this isn’t the year, and they should try to line everything up in hopes of getting lucky in 2016.

      • Dennis

        Great points Rob. I know some don’t like to keep hearing about the amount of injuries, but the reality is that they have devastated this team. And I agree, without those and maybe 5 more wins we aren’t talking about all of this.

  • JerseyJack

    This offense is offensive ! Feels like 1970 or 71 ,all over again….

  • Eric

    If the offense is anemic, the team at least needs to have sound defense and fundamentals to support good starting pitching. Injuries at the MLB level should not collapse a team’s defense and fundamentals. AAA or ‘AAAA’ level talents still ought to be highly trained, experienced professionals who’ve long ago mastered the basics of the game, even if they’re hard pressed to hit MLB level pitching.

  • Mike Piazza

    Even though Terry won’t win any manager of the year awards, this isn’t his fault. The front office’s (Jeffy) 6-man rotation debacle/yanking around of DG seemingly sapped a lot of energy from the team. The Wilpons have done enormous damage to this franchise and things will not turn around until they are forced to sell the team.

  • LA Jake

    I’m frustrated like the rest of you, but giving up on a season not even half over when you have Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Matz on the way, when you have Familia and possibly Mejia and Blevins on the way, when you have some good young talent that is struggling…it just doesn’t make sense, especially since you have no big ticket players that could fetch nearly-ready top prospects.

    I agree the team needs to stop the Flores at SS experiment and fix Lagares if he needs to be fixed. As well, it’s time to send Totally Clueless packing and see if somebody else, ANYBODY ELSE can spark the team and handle strategic decisions better. Beyond that, wait for time to heal the wounds.

  • Mikey

    we live in Wisconsin now and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money on going to Milwaukee this week (it’s 2 hours away anyway). So last night I have the game on. I have the MLB package but last night was subjected to the mundane Brewers announcers. it was 2-1 when the wife and I watched something on DVR for a bit. As soon as I flipped back, the ball went through Cuddyer’s legs. you can or can’t but must fix several things on this team, but one thing you can’t fix is snake bit. And that’s what this franchise, for the most part, is.

    • APV

      Until there are no more Wilpons that have anything to do with this franchise, you’re right, the Mets truly are snake bit. Nothing more to say.

      • Rob E

        Unless there’s an owner that has a way to prevent injuries, I don’t think it would have mattered much this year. Not that losing Wright for 64 games, d’Arnaud for 53, and Murphy for 17 before you even reach the halfway point means anything…

  • Steve2916

    APV, I couldn’t have said it better. Wilpons are a stain on baseball and MLB is an embarrassment for not evicting them.

  • sturock

    Now we get to see more of Kevin Plawecki cuz d’Arnaud’s gonna be out for awhile. Can Kevin cut it? Remains to be seen. One thing we know is that d’Arnaud is perpetually injured and can no longer be depended upon or thought of as the Mets’ regular starting catcher. So now we have another position to fix. Besides owner, of course.

    But, you know, other teams succeed on low payrolls: the afore-mentioned Rays, the A’s (albeit not this season), the Cards and Pirates are not big spenders. Other teams can make it happen. So, we are either “snake-bit” or very poorly managed…

    • D’Arnaud’s injuries have been bad luck. He was hit by a pitch and then clocked in the elbow by a runner — what do you suggest he do to prevent such injuries? If he had a history of things you could ascribe to conditioning or describe as chronic, related injuries (repeated hamstring problems for instance) that would be one thing, but I don’t see any of that there.

      The Mets are definitely snake-bit — Rob E’s points about injuries are valid. From there, they don’t have big-league depth or the ability to add payroll as a Plan B, forcing them to rely on minor-leaguers who may well be good players eventually (Herrera, Plawecki) but aren’t ready now. That’s on ownership. And that problem isn’t going away even when the Mets stop being snake-bit.

      • Rob E

        That’s not totally fair…it’s a double-edged sword. Having a good backup is a fair point, but they needed to replace TWO infielders (and to be fair, almost ALL backup catchers are bad hitters). Where are these major-league backups that are good enough to step in for your starters, but not good enough to warrant contracts that are going to block your prospects? The Ruben Tejadas and Eric Campbells ARE those guys. This is not a payroll problem, it’s a “you can only have 25 guys on the roster” problem. They carried 13 pitchers coming out of spring…the only backups they had on opening day were Tejada, Nieuwenhuis, Mayberry, and Recker.

        Also, both Herrera and Plawecki are on most Top 100 lists. They may not be ready, but you can’t accuse them of not having the prospects in the system.

        • That’s true. The organization depth part was unfair. I’ll stand by the not-adding-payroll part, though.

          • Matt in Woodside

            I agree with Rob E. I also think this year seems a lot like 2009, when everyone went on the DL and never came back. Except now the Mets have better starting pitching. And back then, news out of the wasteland of the Mets minor league system involved Tony Bernazard ripping off his shirt and challenging Binghamton to a locker room brawl. The organization has been rebuilt, but there’s still a lot of guys who aren’t ready playing now due to a crazy rash of injuries.

  • sturock

    I don’t know, Jason, d’Arnaud just has a history of getting injured, with Toronto as well as with the Mets. He may be one of those players who’s always a risk to miss a lot of time each year. The Mets need to develop Plan B at catcher; maybe Plawecki develops into that guy, maybe he doesn’t. But can the Mets any longer depend on Wright and d’Arnaud to be fixtures in the lineup game-in, game-out?

    • Steve2916

      I wonder? How many of d’Arnaud’s injuries came while catching? If he, for whatever reason is accident/injury prone at that position, is he capable of playing elsewhere in the field?

  • Lenny65

    The maddening thing is that aside from the Wilpoors there’s no one person or thing to blame. The GM and manager are doing more or less what they can given the limitations. The team has been decimated by injuries. What they have to sell isn’t going to net a giant haul unless they start dealing valuable arms and no one really wants to see that happen.

    Couldn’t agree more re: Lagares though. He’s not exactly carrying the team here, get the kid healthy (or at least as close to healthy as Mets get).

  • Steve D

    This may be the all-time low point for me…early hopes for the season fully dashed. I want to blame the Wilpons, but realize that in 54 seasons, this team has developed and kept through their prime no more than 10 high quality hitters. That may even be generous. What could get us out of this curse, for lack of a better word…what else could you call it? It has spanned multiple owners, GMs, managers. The New York Mets cannot develop any hitters…it is out there now. Fifty-four years strong. I’m just about fed up. Never had an MVP…one batting title and he left the next year. This is nuts.

  • sturock

    There is nothing like this community when the Mets are going bad. At least we can ride this thing out together. Thanks for being here!

  • Mike D.

    This is the low point? SERIOUSLY??? Sub-70-win seasons, two collapses, Omir Santos, Jeff Francoeur, Jerry Manuel, “he lobby,” Omar trying to reconstruct the 1998 all-star team in 2009 and THIS is the low point?

    Hardly. This is trying to climb out of the Grand Canyon. Rob E. has it exactly right. It’s injuries, not Kharma, killing this team.

    • Steve D

      My despair may seem extreme…there have been much worse teams we’ve had…but the combination of almost 30 years since last championship, the high hopes we had early on, the small market payroll, the total lack of defensive acumen, the hitting, injuries, managing, the waste of good young pitching…I think I’m at bottom. Felt this way about the Knicks after the Linsanity hope…they did well after he left for one year, now look at them. I can’t connect this current organization to any future long term success right now.

  • Dave

    Yes, players have been injured, quite a few of them. But they were playing pretty well when Wright was out, and would the nightly horrific individual performances improve if others were back? Would Granderson and Cuddyer suddenly hit better if Murphy were there? Would d’Arnaud improve the infield defense? We all looked at this bench in March and said it was going to be a problem, because injuries are part of the game.

    I’m not knocking Murph and d’Arnaud, but this is not magically turning around when they come back. That’s of course if we don’t get news that d’Arnaud needs to have his arm amputated, after which he’ll then be listed as day to day.

  • Karol Dondero

    Just posting a question to the gang here….. Do you think the huge rash of injuries are due to an excessive offseason conditioning program? Historically, baseball players would use the offseason to rest and recharge. Now, they work out all year round. That, combined with the stringent control of any ” performance enhancers”, may be causing the current rash of injuries throughout the league in general and with the Mets organization.

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