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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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Millstone Endured

Hmm, is that how you spell Milestone Achieved? It looks a little funny, but there’s no wavy red line under it, so I guess it must be correct.

As you may have heard, Tuesday’s night game — played in whatever suburb of Dallas that’s considered to be in whatever that park that looks perfectly new but is soon to be replaced is called — was the 2,000th in a row we’ve chronicled here at Faith and Fear since the winter day we decided to celebrate the inauguration of the Carlos Beltran era by exchanging our thoughts about the Mets in a public forum instead of in extremely long emails.

Whether or not you’re talking baseball, milestones are rarely particularly interesting in themselves — the significance is in what’s come before, not what’s occurred in the moment. There are exceptions — Derek Jeter comes immediately and apologetically to mind — but most 3,000th hits are singles necessitating a pause in run-of-the-mill games, most 300th wins are corralled by bullpens while everyone waits impatiently, and lots of playoff spots are secured on the road before a few temporarily nomadic loyalists amid indifferent home crowds.

So no, we didn’t get a second no-hitter, four home runs from an unlikely source, or anything like that. We didn’t even get Gary Cohen — though vacation play-by-play guy Scott Braun’s only sin was being unfamiliar, which is more about us than his work alongside Ron Darling.

What we did get was an all-too-typical 2017 Mets loss: more hitting than you might expect, bafflingly horrific starting pitching, inadequate defense and an extra twist of the knife in case you’d forgotten what an utter drag this season has been.

Jacob deGrom was terrible again, offered a consoling arm after his removal by Terry Collins and later insisting to reporters that he feels fine and doesn’t know what’s wrong other than location and pitches doing nothing, which is more than enough to ensure a bad day. The defense behind him was execrable in ways big and small, with Met fielders just missing converting some difficult plays and quietly botching some not-so-difficult ones. The bats put up big numbers in the box score, but left a bushel of runners in scoring position. Of course there was a ferocious ninth-inning attempt at a comeback that got you a bit excited despite knowing better. And of course that comeback fizzled, with a game-ending double play coming as a petty, mean-spirited coup de grace.

What’s to be done with this team as we ponder recaps 2,001 and up?

Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe recently looked at the Mets as one of the teams that has to decide whether or not to sell, and noted that a Mets sale could net a pretty good return: Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and Addison Reed are all pending free agents who would be among the best options at their positions for playoff-hunting clubs, while Asdrubal Cabrera is signed through next year and could be moveable. Hell, someone might be even persuaded to take a flier on a couple of months of Curtis Granderson and/or Jose Reyes.

Surveying that list, my reaction is: Goodness, trade as many of them as you can. Bruce, Duda, Walker and Reed might net a couple of actual prospects, or at least some interesting lottery tickets. Both Amed Rosario and Dom Smith look ready to try their hand at the big leagues, and are a week or so away from escaping Super 2 status. Rosario would immediately help the Mets’ infield defense, taking some of the pressure off the pitchers. Once Yoenis Cespedes returns — as stubborn hope insists he will — the Mets will be back to trying to solve a corner-outfield logjam.

Most significantly, a summer sale wouldn’t be a long-term rebuild but a short-term reload. Even without factoring in returns on trades or potential winter acquisitions, Rosario and Smith would join a lineup that would still feature Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Wilmer Flores (who’s somehow still only 25). They’d get more time to find their big-league footing without being treated as saviors. And you’d be returning all the starting pitchers, with fingers crossed for better health and luck.

I’d be intrigued by that team for the rest of 2017. I’d be eager to see what they could accomplish in 2018. Maybe they could even help the Mets attain milestones instead of millstones.

17 comments to Millstone Endured

  • Eric

    Makes sense. The turns of the 2015 and 2016 seasons are a reason to hold out hope for another turnaround, but a constant team strength in both seasons was the pitching stayed stalwart even through the injury losses last season. That’s not the case now, though Matz and Lugo may yet surprise, and maybe Gsellman causes a positive domino effect in the bullpen.

    I still hope the 2017 Mets will turn it around for another freakish run at the WC, but starting the set-up for the 2018 season early makes sense.

  • Greg Mitchell

    deGrom suddenly, after pitching so well, had his worst start ever after being allowed to throw 118 pitches in an 8-1 win (and remember, he is still coming off serious arm ailment). Now he has had an even worse outing.

    Edited by moderator.

  • Pete In Iowa

    I agree with you Jason. Holding out hope for some sort of turnaround I think is foolish at this point. The 2015 and 2016 clubs were basically .500 teams which had great pitching which were able to ride a couple of good months each of those years to the playoffs. I just don’t see it this year — the pitching is ridiculously bad, no matter the reasons. This is our 2017 reality.
    I think every pending FA should be on the table right now. None of them figure into the future shape of this franchise. Adding d’Arnaud, Cabrerra and Flores to the table wouldn’t be a bad idea either, as I don’t see any of them as future dependable offensive and/or defensive players.
    It’s time to move on and see what guys like Rosario, Smith, Nimmo, Ceccini,TJ and even Reynolds can do with their opportunity. The sooner we can find out about these guys, the better. Especially with a ton of cash to spend this winter.

  • Bob

    Just noted as of this AM–Mets pitching staff ERA 30th of 30 MLB teams @ 5.01!

  • Ken K. in NJ

    Why is it that the plans laid out in your blog are always so much more rational and desirable than what is actually going to happen?

  • Gil

    Forget John 3:16, it more like Matthew 27:46.

  • Steve D

    This current Met team is perfectly in line with this franchise’s history. It would be an aberration if they actually were doing as some hoped. Met fans of a certain age have to know this going in by now, no?

    • Seth

      The last couple of years included trips to the postseason in various forms, so this year is understandably more disappointing given the increased expectations.

  • LeClerc

    For the time being, the much vaunted pitching staff has turned into a bunch of pumpkins (or lemons if you prefer). But that’s not forever – it just seems that way.

    DeGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, Wheeler, Lugo, Gsellman, Familia and Harvey are now all chopped liver? – I don’t believe it. Blevins, Reed, Sewald, Salas, Edgin are hopeless? No.

    Ramirez, Milone, Pill, and maybe gopher-ball Smoker are going to go away to join Montero in La La Land.

    By all means Bruce, Duda, Walker, and Cabrera are on the trading block. Antiques fanciers may want to sample the wares of Granderson and Reyes.

    Cespedes, Conforto, Flores, Rosario and Smith are the present and the future (maybe Nimmo and Cecchini as well). And don’t forget the once vaunted (just yesterday) pitching staff.

    The Mets have to wipe away the tears and start winning!

  • mikeL

    Hmm. Yes degrom has crashed after getting into the ninth 3 starts back…and I was grumbling that he should have been left up there to record the final out…but this isn’t the 70s or 80s!

    And yes, I’m all for selling the lumbering sluggers and antique infielders. The lack of pitching depth at Las Vegas demands a reload. I only hope other teams will see rental value in guys who are recovering from back injuries – or as in the case of d’arnaud, plain brittle.

    it’s hard to imagine how a re-load/soft re-build/re-boot described here could not make things better…now and later.

    At the very least the resulting team would suck *differently*

  • eric1973

    Congrats, Jason and Greg, on a wonderful milestone. If you had been writing about the Yankees all this time, they would already have put you in Monument Park.

    And all without a single steroid, save for the occasional nose spray to combat those nasty colds!

  • Curt

    Wow. Before coming to this site i knew what i was going to say, just surpised it synchs so well with the post. Here goes.

    I hate to give up on a season before its time but I halfway hope we lose, say, 10 0f our next 12 so we can tuck the season away, bring up Smith and Rosario, trade vets for some prospects, and gracefully witness TC’s exit from the game. Better that than some sort of lingering false hope if we hang just out of contention for a while.

  • Matt in Woodside

    Congrats on the Millstone! This blog is one of the best things about being a Mets fan. It makes the hard times easier to endure, and it really makes the good stretches so much more enjoyable.

  • vilos

    Two thousand in a row, and at least the ones I’ve read, well written, witty, creative and with purpose. Thanks!!
    As for the fire sale, I don’t agree.
    Yes, if the bid is convenient sell, but don’t sell for the sake of selling. How many times have we wished for some prospect to come up and perform, and how many times has it really happened?
    The pitching has been awful, but the question is, can it get better? If so, it should be entertaining. Either way, if and only if, only make deals that are worthwhile.
    Just an idea, I’m not really sure about what I’m about to write, but one of the good points about current situation of contracts is that making trades isn’t about reducing payroll. It’s about performance.
    Regards and thanks again
    Vilos as in Los Vilos

  • DAK442

    Congratulations! And wow, does time fly or what?

    Nice to see a few others with me in considering Wilmer a cornerstone piece and not a schlub utility man. He’s not even in his prime yet and he already looks to be a .290 hitter with some pop. He could be the answer at 2B for 7 or 8 years if they would just let him play. Maybe he can salve the pain of giving Murph away.

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