- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Blue in the Face

I’m not sure what the point of this recap is. Just go read this one [1] — 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 [2], pressed into service at an unnatural position, and the pitcher — then it was Jacob deGrom [3], this time it was Jon Niese [4].

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 [5] led off the sixth with a single, and it looked like Kevin Plawecki [6] would throw him out at second … except Dilson Herrera [7] made a weirdly nonchalant tag and Parra was safe. Niese walked Hernan Perez [8]. Then came the botched play on Hector Gomez [9]‘s bunt, which loaded the bases with none out. Jean Segura [10] 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 [11] doesn’t play for the Mets. Parra trotted home with the tying run.

An inning later, Sean Gilmartin [12] gave up a double to left, the ball caromed cruelly and comically between Michael Cuddyer [13]‘s legs, and the Brewers had the winning run [14].

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 [15] 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 [16] 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, [17] nothing’s changed and nothing’s going to change.

But that said, I read this Amazin’ Avenue article [18] 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 [19] through his injuries, but why? If he needs Tommy John [20] 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 [21] 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 [22] and nothing. Maybe a few more good outings by Niese can entice a trade-deadline buyer, or Dillon Gee [23] can get himself together at Las Vegas, or Daniel Murphy [24] 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.