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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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Nothing to See Here

After two taut wins in LA and San Francisco, it was back to the old boring formula familiar from too many Met losses. And maybe it’s just the late-night abyss that follows a West Coast loss, but your chronicler is left scratching his bald head about what to say.

I mean, yeah, Bartolo Colon didn’t help himself in the field. But he pitched well enough, getting pecked to death with bloops and soft singles instead of cudgeled by extra-base hits and dingers.

Sure, Daniel Murphy did something mildly lunkheaded afield, but that’s not exactly a shocking development.

Anyway, those weren’t the things that beat the Mets.

What beat the Mets was (wait for it) the utter lack of offense. You’ve heard it all before, but score, say, four runs a game and nobody’s sighing about an average start by Colon or blemishes in the field. But the Mets don’t score four runs a game. Since June 15 they’ve scored 2.2 runs a game, so sayeth SNY. During that time they’re hitting .197, and since June 1 Lucas Duda has actually achieved a negative batting average — his home run and RBI totals are being revised downwards each week due to his utter ineptitude at the plate.

OK, that last part’s not true. But cripes, it sure feels like it could be.

Injuries. Age, whether it’s an excess or a lack. Payroll considerations. Lack of depth. Complementary players forced into primary roles. None of this is the murder weapon; rather, they’re all contributing factors.

And it’s an old, not particularly interesting script that gets trotted out too often around here.

(Deep sigh, look around, gather strength.)

Fortunately, there’s another game tomorrow afternoon. Let’s agree to look ahead to that one and not back at this one, all right? That’s one of the great healing balms of baseball, after all — tomorrow’s game. Which this time around has the good grace to show up even sooner.

And if that same horrid script comes out again tomorrow, well, we tried.

21 comments to Nothing to See Here

  • meticated

    Yer bald?

  • Love the headline… Is this a (not-so-)subtle swipe at Time Warner Cable losing signal on SNY for the third time this season?

    If there’s anything worse than your favorite team playing lackluster baseball, it’s the local cable provide knocking out the broadcast so you’re frustrated not to see the game, then frustrated when you do see the game.

    Sharing in your deep sigh!

  • Rob E

    You can’t look at this team on a game-by-game basis. They played the same game the night before (and against LA, and against Chicago, and against Milwaukee, etc.). They don’t lose all these games! They live by the sword and die by the same sword, and there is going to be more of this see-sawing as long as the pitching is great and the offense is awful. At least until they: 1) get Wright & d’Arnaud back to stay and healthy; 2) long-slumping guys like Cuddyer & Duda turn it around; 3) young players like Plawecki, Herrera, Conforto, etc. develop, or; 4) they get the mysterious “professional bat” without compromising any of the future.

    This is NOT a bad starting point to move forward from, but the solution to this problem is probably not going to be as near-term as people want, and for a lot of reasons (which nobody wants to hear), this is NOT an easy problem to address. This is also NOT a money issue.

  • Dennis

    Excellent points Rob. Some fans get too down on this team after a loss, and their expectations are also too high after a win or two. This isn’t a 16 game NFL season where each loss is magnified due to such a short season. And as far as a trade, someone recently was complaining to me about the Mets management not going out and finding that “professional bat”. I asked them OK, who do you want to part with….Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, or Matz? I was promptly met with silence…..because that’s what it will probably take to get the type of player everyone wants.

  • DanielHall15

    Saw the afternoon Cubs game yesterday after I got home from the office, and they hinted at rumors that they might be working on a trade with the Mets, you know, bats for arms. There might not be any substance to it, but let’s dream for a sec.

    We might not be that bad off by trading one of the young studs for two of their bats. We won’t get Bryant and we won’t get Rizzo, but there’s still plenty left. Get Jorge Soler, for crying out loud.

    Then trade Cuddyer and Granderson for a 23-year old rookieballer who just had a botched Tommy John procedure.

    Then take the free salary and get a proper third baseman (like Aramis Ramirez) for some AAA piece(s) to temporarily replace what I believe a terminally broken up David Wright.

    Triple win!

    Now gimme my pills. I feel dizzy.

    • Matt in Woodside

      You want to trade deGrom, Harvey, Syndergaard, or Matz for a 23 year old who is batting .261 with four home runs this year? This is what frustrates me about all the “just get a bat” talk. IMO Soler may have some upside, but that deal would be a ridiculous steal for the Cubs.

      • Daniel Hall

        That’s why I said two bats.

        • Rob E

          Here’s the problem with a trade like that…Soler’s slash line this year is .261/.318/.399; Juan Lagares’ career slash line is .261/.297/.361. So even if you get TWO Solers for one of the pitchers, is that really a chance you want to take at this point? I don’t! If the Mets trade one of those guys, they need Bryant or Rizzo back! And for deGrom that would be a fair swap. That’s why those trades are hard to make…teams get attached to their studs, and rightly so.

          Also, from a PR standpoint, the only pitcher they can even THINK about trading now is Syndergaard (deGrom & Matz are rock stars). So any deal to bring back a hitter, the question is can you get that for Thor? It starts to focus the conversation a little.

        • Matt in Woodside

          Oh sorry, I missed that. I just zeroed in on Soler’s name.

          I’m still more inclined to agree with Eric’s post below, though. Before the season there was also talk of trading one of those guys for Starlin Castro, and he’s batting .250 with 15 errors this year. I still remember a story in the Daily News or the Post prior to spring training criticizing the Mets for not getting a deal done that would have sent Syndergaard and another prospect to Washington for Ian Desmond, who is batting .215 with 20 errors.

          I guess my point is, I’m wary about trading away from the club’s current strength for a bat, because (as we all know) those guys aren’t guaranteed to perform at a specific level, either.

  • LA Jake

    Let’s not leave out bad coaching like Tim Teufel sending Granderson on the short popup to right.

    Btw, Colon probably loses only 1-0 if Murphy didn’t pull a Murphy. Holy cow his baseball instincts are awful.

    Rob E, as I stated yesterday, money is a factor. The Mets bench is awful and not just because of injuries. These are the players the team signed in FA since 2010 not including Cuddyer and Granderson… Chris Young, Omar Quintanilla, Taylor Teagarden, Kyle Farnsworth, John Lannan, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Shaun Marcum, Ronny Cedeno, Frank Francisco, Scott Hairston, John Rauch, Blaine Boyer, Taylor Buchholz, Chris Capuano, D.J. Carrasco, Willie Harris, Ronny Paulino and the other Chris Young.

    The lack of real MLB roster players hurts when injuries hit and they always do. Mayberry, Recker, Tejada and Nieuwenhuis were the bench players to start the year. None could’ve and should’ve been expected to be anything more than lousy as that’s what they have shown to be at the ML level.

    • Rob E

      Jake, I disagree. I am in the minority, but I disagree. They have spent recklessly in the past to very little success, and they have spent recently which fans don’t seem to acknowledge ($250 million is spending!)

      As for this year’s bench, they got pressed severely by injuries. Their backups are all young players that they are giving a chance to. You can’t just forsake young player development for Willie Bloomquist types.

      So who are these great backups they should have signed? Everyone cites the Cardinals and Giants as having great backups…all their backups come from their minor leagues! That’s what the Mets are doing! THAT is the model here. Unfortunately, their guys weren’t ready.

      Just looking at Mayberry, Recker, Tejada, and Niewenhuis…who should they have signed in their place?!?!? Recker got pushed out by Plawecki (a good prospect), Tejada only started because Murphy got hurt after Herrera got hurt (and they bailed on Flores at SS). Mayberry was brought in to hit lefties, and Niewenhuis had a perfectly decent year last year. It was a reasonable plan before all the injuries. I don’t see how spending more money would have changed any of that.

    • Eric

      I don’t fault Teufel for sending Granderson. I believe Collins and his coaches have decided to err on the side of risk since they can’t count on any of their hitters, especially the hitters in the middle of the order, to bat in runs with hits.

  • Eric

    On the other hand, the Blue Jays are by far the top-scoring team in baseball and their W-L record is about the same as the Mets.

    Colon did his job. 3 runs, 2 earned, in 6 innings is a good outing by the 5th/6th pitcher in a rotation. Then the bullpen held the Giants there.

    It is striking that as much as the pitching, including the bullpen, has matched the high end of expectations, the hitting has dropped below the low end of expectations. The fielding was expected to be shaky because it was sacrificed for the hitting. The “lunkheaded” mistakes are head-scratching for big-leaguers but they stand out because the disappointing hitting and expectedly subpar fielding have eaten away the margin for error provided by the consistently good-to-excellent pitching.

    “Professional hitters” was supposed to be a feature of this year’s team and provide middle-of-the-pack offense, maybe better if the young hitters improved faster than expected. d’Arnaud and Flores, the Mets’ top hitting prospects, were supposed to build on their big-league experience from last season to establish their bats this season. Duda established himself last season and is no longer a prospect. He was expected to at least maintain his production from last season and likely build on it. Wright and Murphy and imported Granderson and Cuddyer, with veteran pinch-hitter Mayberry, were all established “professional hitters” expected to maintain their records of production, with some drop-off acceptable. Hitting from Lagares was a bonus. But if he didn’t hit, Lagares would at least protect his fellow outfielders with his Gold Glove while the 7 rising and established “professional hitters” in the line-up protected Lagares’ bat.

    Instead, the hitting has broken down throughout the line-up. Duda’s drop-off from last season and his early-season hot streak, without an apparent injury to explain it, has been extraordinary. With the line-up broken everywhere, I don’t believe adding another “professional hitter” – short of a likely unattainable MVP-level producer – can make enough of a difference to justify trading one of the young stud pitchers.

    Keep in mind that we don’t know that Wheeler, whose command lagged behind his stuff to begin with, will come back from his Tommy John surgery on track like Harvey, who’s still not all the way back yet, or with 5 MPH shaved off his fastball like Parnell. Or if Wheeler will be ready to pitch at all next season given the typical 18 month recovery schedule. If Wheeler comes back on track, then I’d be more willing to trade 1 of 5 young stud pitchers than 1 of 4 young stud pitchers.

    I prefer to ride out this season with the 4 young stud pitchers and hope for the best from the rising and established, so far failing “professional hitters” already in the Mets line-up. My only prescription for the hitting is play d’Arnaud at 1st base or even shoehorn him into LF if either or both Duda and Cuddyer are still red-lining when d’Arnaud returns. The Mets need d’Arnaud in the line-up and he’s too brittle to catch. I’m not confident d’Arnaud’s not too brittle to play 1B or LF, too, or run or hit for that matter, but he can’t be a catcher.

    • Dave

      You’re right about d’Arnaud. Based on my memory of Todd Hundley trying to play LF, I would say someone give him a 1Bman’s mitt (and presumably Conforto is ready soonish). Although then I remember Piazza trying to play 1B (but Duda is showing that 2014 was not a breakout year but rather a career year, so 1B is not nailed down). d’Arnaud is a prime bat and they need him in the lineup but I agree, keep him behind the plate and he’s going to be roadkill soon.

  • LA Jake

    Rob E, surely I don’t need to do research for you to admit the Mets could’ve done much better than Mayberry, Nieuwenhuis, Recker and Tejada. I’m not saying they should’ve spent recklessly, but at least enough to expect competence. And it’s not like grabbing solid veterans would’ve stunted any youngster’s growth. In fact, the Mets have had to move young guys up before they are ready (like Herrera) because of injuries.

    • Rob E

      If you’re looking backwards from NOW, it’s easy to point out what went wrong and be critical. The Mets didn’t have the luxury of looking 80 games into the future. Nieuwenhuis was fine last year, Tejada is your standard issue backup, Recker is your usual backup catcher, and Mayberry is the average 25th man. None of those guys are out of line from any other team’s backups. The problem isn’t who they are, it’s that backups have had to play too much.

      The Cardinals backup catcher (Tony Cruz) is hitting .214. Their utility guy (Pete Kozma) is hitting .159. Their backup outfielder (Jon Jay) is hitting .223. Even the BEST team/organization in baseball has similar guys. Even the BEST team/organization in baseball doesn’t have these great backups everyone expects the Mets to have. But the Cardinals didn’t lose three starters and have to play those backups every day. BIG difference.

  • LA Jake

    Nope, not looking backwards. No reason to believe Tejada would be any more than he is, a mediocre SS with a less than mediocre bat. Recker can’t hit. Nieuwenhuis hit .259 with no power last year so not sure why you think that’s acceptable for 4th OF and Mayberry can’t play the field and ONLY hits LHP even when he’s hitting well (and hit .212 last year).

    As you just told me don’t work backwards with Cardinals. Jay was .300 hitter with plenty of ABs in 2014. Kozma hit over .300 in limited time last year. Cruz has been a solid backup C that provides good defense when Molina needs a breather. PLUS they have a very good hitting lineup so can afford to be picky with their bench. The Mets offense stunk last year and the year before and the year before plus d’Arnaud and Wright have been injured quite a bit recently so to think they might not need better backups for a team that struggles to score to begin with is foolish.

    You’re welcome to your own opinion, you’re just not welcome to your own facts.

    • Matt in Woodside

      IMO, that only reinforces Rob E.’s point that hindsight is 20/20 and lots of well-run organizations have backups that don’t hit all that well. Say the Mets had the opportunity and had signed Kozma for the bench based on his performance as backup last year, and Jay as the fourth outfielder instead of Mayberry. Today, they’d probably both be playing every day due to injuries to other players, and this year they’re both hitting below .225

      And that doesn’t even include the fact that most really good players who aren’t close to retirement will not want to sign with a team that is planning to put them on the bench from day one. So you can’t just throw money at a bench and make depth appear from thin air. Like Rob, I just don’t understand these arguments that Alderson (or the Wilpons) are clueless about the importance of backup players.

    • Rob E

      I didn’t say anything that was not a fact. If even the Cardinals can have guys that underperform for half a year, why do you think the Mets should have a crystal ball? Secondly, the Mets went with Flores because they felt there were no better options available. Where were they going to get this better backup to have at the ready in case Wright and then Herrera and then Murphy get hurt? And WHO? And HOW MANY whos?!?!? They were missing their starters at three positions at one point.

      I don’t understand you guys with an agenda who refuse to admit that injuries have played a major part of what has happened here.

  • LA Jake

    Am I allowed to say that I didn’t enjoy Totally Clueless managing to a stat and therefore sitting down Familia who was warming and getting ready to pitch the 9th, only to have to have him warm up again and enter the game with the potential tying run on deck?

    Familia pitched Friday and Monday, has an off day tomorrow and the ASB coming up. The only reason he didn’t bring him in was the lead was now 4 runs. This is the man people think should continue managing the club because it’s not his fault the lineup stinks.

    To end on a positive note, it was nice for Campbell to finally get some hits and crack the HR in the 9th. Lagares was excellent in the field and had a nice day at the plate including battling to bring home the runner from 3rd in the 8th.

    And of course, Jacob was once again deGrominant and well deserving of the win today and maybe an inning in the ASG.

    4-2 trip to LA and SF is fabulous. At least 2-1 at home vs AZ this weekend and Mets will hit the break with some momentum and a real reason to believe they can win a WC spot.

  • LA Jake

    Rob E, we have a fundamental disagreement on what the Mets could’ve or should’ve known this year or the previous 4-5 years. You seem to think it’s unexpected this team might have injuries or starters not playing well and then guys pressed into service on any sort of regular basis are exposed as being barely acceptable major league players.

    I don’t think hindsight is necessary, I think most rational fans looked at those bench players and thought they stunk and if any starters get injured or struggle it will get ugly. This team was 28th in BA%, 22nd in runs and OB% last year. Did anybody really believe Cuddyer was going to make this offense shoot up the rankings? Did anybody really believe Wright and d’Arnaud were likely to stay healthy all year? You talk about injuries as though the Mets are the only team that has them and it’s a shocking surprise. It’s not and a team needs to be prepared for the possibility.

    And the underlying point is the Mets basically have gone with the cheapest bench possible for the last 4-5 years and hoped it would miraculously work out. Last time I checked, there’s no salary cap in baseball, so spending a little more and trying to at least get guys that at one point in their career have been successful on the major league level doesn’t seem so much to ask for as a fan.

    Finally, my only agenda is the team winning. I don’t think management is giving this team the best chance to do that this year, but what will change from this year to next year?