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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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The Gods of Garbage Time

Who are these Mets, anyway?

Joey Lucchesi was terrific, Mark Vientos homered, Pete Alonso drove in three on a homerless night and — in the most astonishing development of all — Trevor Gott and Drew Smith were allowed to pitch and didn’t fall apart like cheap watches. There was a nifty flying slide home by Jeff McNeil, some dopey D-Backs’ baserunning — really, there wasn’t much to complain about.

Not that it was complaint, exactly, but in our living room we fell into a discussion of players, at bats and the law of averages. After Francisco Lindor finished a second dogged, tough at-bat, I remarked idly that it felt like Lindor looked hopeless in a surprisingly large percentage of the outs he made. That wasn’t meant as a dig, but as a point of puzzling contrast — I was trying to explain my confusion about a player whom I think of as a genuine star in terms of both production and leadership (witness his huddle with Alonso and DJ Stewart to offer a scouting report on one of the Arizona relievers), but also as a guy who can look bizarrely lost at the plate. We talked about confirmation bias and things evening out, both of which were fair points, and I was challenged to name Mets who I remembered as never having the kind of ABs like the ones I was attributing to Lindor. Keith Hernandez came to mind, as did David Wright — or at least Wright as he was before he got hit in the head. In hindsight, I’d put Brandon Nimmo in that category, at least before he started selling out for power a bit more. I don’t know what the answer is there — probably it’s simply that memory plays tricks — but still, I find Lindor a confounding mix of superstar and question mark.

Back to Lucchesi: An old baseball adage is never to trust what you see in garbage time, but he’s looked pretty good in his last two starts, even if those two mark his only big-league outings since May. And, oddly, he’s been no great shakes at Triple-A. That last note is a flashing yellow light I ought to heed, but I like Lucchesi’s non-nonsense demeanor and his simple, rock-and-fire motion. It feels like the Mets could do a lot worse than offering him another short-term deal and seeing what he can do as a rotation regular. Just like they could do worse than seeing what Stewart might accomplish as a fourth outfielder/DH.

I doubt Lucchesi and Stewart are at the core of a championship team. But that’s not the sole measure of success — being useful complementary players would be victory enough. Maybe that’s not the stuff of stirring reveries, but let’s let garbage time have its pleasures.

9 comments to The Gods of Garbage Time

  • Gary

    Great observation….except I don’t get the confusion about lindor. He is not an elite hitter….period. Maybe he was one for a couple of seasons before he came to the mets….but simply stated ….he isn’t a superstar hitter. He’s a very very good all around player….occasional leader….but a streaky ….toolsy….mediocre…hitter.

  • K. Lastima

    Lindor is a classic “compiler”

  • Joey G

    It is no secret that Lindor can be regularly beaten with high heat over the plate, every team attacks him similarly. The eye test will tell you that he often fails in big spots and is really not a 3-4-5 hitter. His inflated numbers are empty calories to a large extent. Three years in, it is safe to say that he is a very good but not great player who was a gross over-pay. Jeff McNeil (I am sure) and I have seen no evidence of any leadership qualities (unless of course he convinces Uncle Stevie to just sign Pete already). Solid but not spectacular defensively, smart player. It is what it is for the next 8 years, so acceptance is the word of the day.

  • Michael in CT

    Lindor’s 26 homers, 26 steals, close to 90 RBIs, plus a very high WAR are nothing to sneeze at. Plus above average defense at shortstop. .250 is not great, granted. But overall, he’s damn good, though not worth the contract.

  • mikeski

    Don’t forget Keith’s Koncert Reviews.

    Wife & I are seeing Steely Dan/Eagles on Saturday night. I appreciate Keith’s thoughts, as always.

  • Seth

    I couldn’t understand Gary’s obsession with the Tim Locastro play from the previous night, where he was the winning run and the D’bags allowed him to take 2nd. If it all worked out and Arizona won the game, then how can you criticize the play?

  • eric1973

    Agree with all the Lindor criticism.

    The season (and the stats, especially HIS) came to a full stop the day Robertson was traded. Everything after that does not matter, similar to Spring Training stats in March. Where was he the first half of the season?

    He is definitely not worth the contract, but if he was making half that, maybe he would not catch such flak. Such is life.

    Suggestion of the day:
    Sign Ohtani to a 5-year contract for a billion dollars. Then if we are out of it by July, imagine the haul of minor leaguers we can get at the trading deadline! Plus we pick up the entirety of the rest of the contract! And we will indeed go 162-0 in 2030!

  • David

    Are we really still arguing about whether Lindor is “worth his contract”? Let me say this: He’s my 15-year-old daughter’s favorite player. He’s a big part of what has drawn her into becoming a real Mets fan. And I mean real—during one of the worst losses this year (the night Baty lost that pop-up), she said “I love being a Mets fan. It’s hard, but I love it.”
    You could say, “what does a 15-year-old know…” I’ll tell you—she knows joy when she sees it. She knows Lindor loves the game, loves the people who play it, and loves to work at it. And she watches him without preconceived notions about salaries and the past. I’m loving the game more and more by watching it through her eyes. She loves Lindor like I loved Bud Harrelson. If baseball is to have a future, she’s it.