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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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Ripping Off the Band-Aid

All right, people. We’ve all get better things to do with what’s left of our day than complain about this listless horrible team. Start reading and we’ll rip this Band-Aid off quick as we can.

Matt Harvey: He was clearly struggling — the fastball velocity was down and the location was off, leading to very few swings and misses. It wasn’t odd to see him out there grimacing and fuming, because that’s the way Harvey pitches even when he’s got all his pitches working and going exactly where he tells them to, but it was odd to see him out there in charge of a repertoire that qualified as merely good. But he toughed it out — he scrapped and scrambled and improvised and wound up with a very good pitching line. That’s impressive any time a pitcher has to do it; for a sophomore pitcher it’s even more so. The legend of Matt Harvey grows even when he has far from legendary stuff.

Everybody Else: What a horror show. Mets swinging and missing, swinging and missing, tapping out, hitting weak fly balls, swinging and missing, tramping back to the dugout looking sad, squinting as they pull off their batting gloves, swinging and missing some more. And don’t try to lay this on Dave Hudgens — it’s not the hitting philosophy that’s lousy but the quality of the student body. Offensively, this is a bad team with one star who does himself no favors by trying to do too much, two guys who might grow into complementary players but might not, and a bunch of guys who are one-dimensional, miscast, too old, Triple-A quality or some fretful combination of those things. The Pirates — the Pirates — just thoroughly outplayed this sad disaster of a club; one shudders to think what damage the Cardinals will inflict over the next four days.

What Not to Do: Bring up Zack Wheeler. First of all, what kind of a reward is it to be chained to an oar as this pathetic ship takes on water? Second of all, given the financial uncertainty around this team and the certainty that they’ll be nowhere near the 2013 playoffs, why put him on the road for escalating paydays in arbitration? Bring Wheeler up in late June or the second half. Perhaps by then his future teammates will only be striking out nine or 10 times a night.

Silver Lining: Uhhhh … Juan Lagares made a catch you’ll see on ballpark highlight reels long after Juan Lagares is forgotten? Seriously, it was neat.

Another Silver Lining?: Nope, that one was already kind of a reach. Go be nice to your mothers. None of this was their fault.

22 comments to Ripping Off the Band-Aid

  • Lenny65

    Like I’ve always said: nothing worse than a bad AND boring ballclub. I couldn’t agree more re: Wheeler. No reason whatsoever to throw him into the mix now unless he can hit, too. What a punchless, feeble bunch.

    • Steve D

      A few weeks ago when the Mets were scoring a lot of runs and Wheeler was unhappy in Vegas, I thought bringing him up would have been smart, once he passed the arbitration date…now I think otherwise. Don’t want him to get too used to losing.

      • Lenny65

        If it’s just going to be like this, what’s the hurry, you know? Let him play out the minor league season and bring him up later when they’re in full-on “auditioning for 2014” mode. Less pressure and less expectation that he’ll somehow help “save” a lost-cause season.

        If they insist on “rushing” anyone to the big club how about any semi-competent relief pitchers and/or anyone hitting his weight or better? Those we can use right now, as-is.

  • Hookalakah Meshobbab

    When does football season start?

  • Jerry

    Agreed on the horror show. Went to a couple of games this week. Can I get my money back? Really… not joking.

  • Dave

    I have no problem with the concept of patiently rebuilding a club, or that big spending guarantees nothing. But have we yet to see anything that tells us Alderson can do either? The “winning with a low payroll” has been a bust. The supposedly can’t miss prospects were acquired in trades, not drafted, and the Mets have pretty much run out of trading chips (not to mention that Mets history is full of can’t miss prospects who missed very badly).

    Anybody can cut payroll, but something has to give. Unfair to fire TC, he’s been given a Triple A roster with a sprinkling of big leaguers. Firing Alderson will have no impact for years. So time to cut our losses and admit that this isn’t happening with some current personnel. I have a conference in Vegas in July. Ike, I’ll buy you a beer when I see you there.

    • I’m sure this will become a post in the near-future, but this whole year is a holding pattern in more ways than one.

      The date that matters will be one sometime in December, when there’s a free agent who’d be a fit for the Mets.

      If the Mets are in on that and indications are that payroll will return to $100m or so, then I think we can see this current pain as part of a sensible process — which isn’t to guarantee it’ll be a successful one, because there ain’t no such animal.

      If the Mets aren’t in on it and are making excuses, then this era is doomed: The Wilpons will bleed out and be forced to sell, but that will take years to run its course, and by the time it does Matt Harvey will be gone and David Wright will be old.

      I’m trying to reserve judgment and have zero interest in conspiracy theories. But I’m not optimistic about which way things will turn out.

      • Joe D.

        Hi Jason,

        This is the third off-season in a row that the only moves made were to cut back expenses. No effort made to sign better players, hold onto those we had that were not arbitration or free agency eligible, trade prospects, sign more prospects (next to last in 2012 with signing draft picks and all were offered below slot which caused us to lose our second round pick), etc. Bourn was only a charade to make it appear the Mets were serious about spending when there was no way Boras was going to agree to any contract offer that was contingent upon future rulings by MLB and the player’s union. And Sandy Alderson admitted to Mike Francesa last September that the Mets were only able to pursue “inexpensive” players that he said were only capable of giving a “50 percent effort” and that no team could expect to win with those type players.

        Jason, curious to know if you have re-considered your earlier opinion that in 2010 Sandy came here with a different vision and that circumstances changed so drastically he in then had to alter his path?

        As you know, I believe that was all spin and nothing more. When it comes to business, Sandy is of the top echelon. He reads the papers – he could see between the lines. He can put two and two together and know when a corporation is in very bad shape. Being urged to take a position he had no interest in – and being happy with the work he was doing at the time – one would also insist on knowing the reasons behind the Commissioner pushing him so hard to take it. And in that blogger conference call in December, 2010, remember that Sandy said the Mets were in firm financial shape, that it wasn’t a question about the payroll being at the amount it was but that the resources weren’t available to him to be more flexible because of so much of the money being committed to only a handful of players?

        He said that when nobody knew that the Mets needed that $25 million loan from MLB two months before in order to avoid bankruptcy because they could not meet their operating budget – and that financial institutions were no longer lending them money because they were considered too risky. All this before the civil suit even began. And then came that second bridge loan and the $37 million that the Wilpons had to put in of their own personal money. And the $220 million minority shares which was used to pay back other debts. With those pending problems, Sandy was kept in the dark or could not see them coming?

        As mentioned before, Sandy has indeed done his job. By downsizing and cutting back spending the Wilpons are able to meet their financial obligations. But this year will be the third season in a row that the Mets lose money. And next year they have to begin paying back those re-financed loans. So when it comes to the $25 million saved by Johann, one has to indeed questions where that savings will be applied to – especially with those loans then needing to be paid and additional losses of revenue added on from the two previous years.

        He’s got the Wilpons being able to retain ownership of the club – but look at how the team has to suffer because of it. Kansas City, here we come.

        • No, I have not reconsidered my earlier opinion. Respect your POV of course, but we’ve had this conversation before and there’s no point having it again.

          • Joe D.

            Hi Jason,

            Got ya.

            Of course, I respect your opinion of this as well and was only curious if you had second thoughts since, like all of us, you feel this is a “listless horrible team”.

          • ROTK

            Jason, could you direct us to a post that outlines that opinion?

      • sturock

        Responding to Jason, what Met fan is optimistic at this point? It’s a sad-but-true fact. And do the Mets players themselves begin to believe that what can go wrong will go wrong? They’re not immune to the noise surrounding them.

        Right now, we have Matt Harvey and David Wright and maybe Bobby Parnell…just three players worth watching. Maybe Ike Davis turns it around again and Jon Niese gets past this neck injury.

        Other than that, what exactly is there? Should the Mets ever get good again, who else from this team will be there?

        That’s why I don’t think it’s a bad idea to bring up Zach Wheeler as soon as he is ready. I don’t care about the Super Two arbitration stuff. If he’s any good, they can buy those years out.

        The only games I watch with any interest are the Matt Harvey games, just one game out of five. The rest of the time it’s just habit. They need to give us another reason to watch, listen, go to the park… to care.

        They’re going on five years now of truly dull baseball. There hasn’t been a single meaningful Met game played at Citi Field. If this kid is any good, bring him up ASAP!

        And lose the orange brims while you’re at it…

      • Dave

        Jason – see, my fear is that come free agent time, even if they are able to start making competitive offers to players better than Andrew Brown or Greg Burke, the Mets simply aren’t an attractive destination. RBI guys look at the ballpark and what it’s done to other proven run-producers, while starting pitchers look at the lineup and the bullpen and figure that they have to pitch a complete game shutout to get a W. You have to go down to Class A ball to find Mets farm teams with good records, so help from within the system, maybe d’Arnaud and Wheeler aside (and those two can only do so much), is still years away. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but if you’re a free agent and you’re getting offers from a number of teams, why would you pick the Mets?

        At what point does “a holding pattern” become “this team isn’t any good?”

      • Z

        Please let the years it will take for the Wilpons’ sale of the team to run its course commence speedily in our days.

  • Will in Central NJ

    A coworker, who I never spoke much with before, noticed me with my Mets mug in the elevator. “How did Harvey do?” he asked. After I replied, he said, “Good. My Yankees will sign him in just a few years.” GRRR!

  • Steve D

    Clearly the Mets are a second class organization…what further proof is needed than to compare them to the Yankees who are in the same market? Wilpon bought the team with Doubleday and they won in 1986…amazing job…since Doubleday left in 2002, aside from a brief respite in 2005-6, it has been nothing but disgrace and/or total collapses. The one constant is Wilpon, his brother-in-law and son. Meanwhile the Yankees win every year. I can somewhat set rooting for the Mets aside from rooting for Wilponz, but it ain’t easy. I mainly live off 1969 and 1986 memories. Sturock nailed it…aside from Harvey and Wright, the Mets are just terrible…not one winning player.

  • Dave

    If I may take the liberty to kind of change the subject…Rick Ankiel? WTF?

    • Steve D

      Best thing Rick Ankiel will EVER do for the Mets was

      • Lenny65

        It was just astounding how the wheels just came off for Ankiel in the 2000 NLCS, what a spectacle that was. The guy got the yips worse than Mackey Sasser at the worst possible time.

        • nestornajwa

          Yeah, I attended 2 games in that series and we WRECKED that guy! He came in to the series as perhaps the most promising pitching prospect in the National League and he left as a double-A outfielder. I never heard Shea louder than when we collectively sensed blood in the water and we just destroyed him. Good times!

          • Steve D

            I was at game 5 too…and I didn’t even remember they did bring Ankiel in in relief…he walked two more and threw 2 more wild pitches. All I remember from that game were a lot of doubles…the great Timo Perez…Payton getting hit in head…Mr. Colorado Schools pitching great…the last out…Franco waving a towel…me crying…then seeing Jerry Seinfeld walking down the ramp leaving Shea. Ankiel’s problems actually started in the Braves series.