podcast | short hops | trivia
Episode 2: June 17, 2010
The Mets are not going to make the playoffs this year, but Omar Minaya will probably trade young talent for mercenary veterans anyway, destroying next year’s team in the process. Mets fans watch this happen year after year, while the team continues to neglect their long-standing starting pitching problem (and last-ditch mid-season moves cannot solve a problem this deep).
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Please note: this is not an exact transcription of the episode.
The New York Mets have won 15 out of their last 20 games. They're now 4 games over .500, in second place in the NL East, just half a game behind Atlanta. They're hot. Things are looking good. Except, if you're a Mets fan I think you have to believe that things are actually looking pretty bad. As least, that's my opinion. If you've been a Mets fan for a while you've seen this before. In a few weeks Omar Minaya and the rest of the clowns that run the team are going to look at the standings and think the Mets have a chance to win this year. When I say "win" I mean the World Series. Let me let you in on a little secret here: the Mets are not going to win the World Series this year. The Mets are not even going to make the playoffs. That's my big prediction for 2010: the New York Mets will not make the playoffs. In fact I'd be surprised if they finish over .500.
But Minaya, in his wisdom, will believe that the Mets can compete with teams like the Phillies, the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Red Sox, and the Dodgers and he is going to give away some young talent to acquire an overpriced veteran. The veteran will be mediocre, and he will not be enough to get the Mets to the playoffs. Then with even less young talent than before, 2011 will bring the same kind of story we've had for the past several years.
Keep in mind: the Mets just won their first road series of the season by sweeping the Orioles. There's only one really awful team in baseball this year, and that's the Orioles. That's the kind of team the Mets can beat when they leave Citi Field.
The Mets have a starting pitching problem. They've had a starting pitching problem for two years, and they haven't done a damn thing about it. After 2008 they were left with one starting pitcher who inspired confidence: Johan Santana. Mike Pelfrey was not then what he is today, they lost Pedro Martinez in the offseason, and they were left with John Maine and Oliver Perez. Now, it's generous, but possible, to consider the 2008 version of Mike Pelfrey a legitimate #2 starter for the team with the third highest payroll in the sport. I'm willing to go that far, but it's ludicrous to consider Maine or Perez a legitimate #3. If you *really* wanted to contend in 2009 you needed a Mike Pelfrey-caliber starter to be your #4 starter, but I'm going to be generous here and say that the Mets needed, at the very least, a #3 starter to replace Pedro.
So, what did the Mets do? Instead of getting one good starter, they acquired two more sub-par starters: Tim Redding and Livan Hernandez. Now that just doesn't make any sense. They also picked up a great closer in Francisco Rodriguez, but they had some prospects who could have become closers, and starting pitching was *by far* the much more urgent need. The bullpen wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. So of course they couldn't stop with one closer, they also picked up JJ Putz. I'd love to know what they were planning to do with two high-paid closers and only one solid starting pitcher. Seriously, what was the plan?
You have no use for a great closer if your starting pitching can't put you in a position to win games. Anyway, the Mets finished 11 games under .500 in 2009 but I thought at least they'd finally realize they needed to do something about their starting rotation. Well, I was wrong.
It's not like the Mets didn't have opportunities in the offseason. They could have landed John Lackey, Joel Pineiro, Max Scherzer, Javier Vazquez, Jason Marquis, or several other quality starters that were available. Now I'm not saying that all of those guys have turned out great so far in 2010, but in this past offseason, there were plenty of good opportunities. Instead the Mets signed Hisanori Takahashi, a 35 year-old Japanese pitcher, and Kelvim Escobar, who hadn't pitched a game in two years and guess what: he still hasn't thrown a pitch for the Mets. Those guys might be good gambles when you already have four quality starters, but not when you have one.
Now, it seems like the Mets may have known Pelfrey was finally going to have his year, and the Mets pitching so far has been great. But pitching all over baseball in 2010 has been great. We've already had three no-hitters, a bunch of one-hitters, and a boatload of pitchers with ERAs under 3. Plus, Citi Field is about as pitcher-friendly as ballparks come. So don't be fooled: the Mets *still* have a serious starting pitching problem. Pelfrey has been good, Niese has been good, even RA Dickey has been good. But this isn't going to last. The season is less than half done: the stats don't mean very much right now, and the Mets still have a serious pitching problem. I'm so sick of hearing that they don't. Wake up! R.A. Dickey is not a quality starter. He's pitched 32 innings! His 2.78 ERA is not going to last. He's been good, but he's not going to last. New York loves RA Dickey now, I guarantee you they'll hate him by September. R.A. Dickey... Give me a break. This is the team with the 5th highest payroll in baseball and RA Dickey is their 3rd or 4th starter.
... It defies words, really, that people think the 2010 Mets have a chance.
The best thing that can happen to the Mets is for R.A. Dickey to give up 10 runs in his next start which is tomorrow against the Indians. The Mets need to start losing so Omar Minaya doesn't get any big ideas and start giving away the young talent that's going to make the Mets be contenders in the future. This is not the Mets' year. It's just not. And I've been a fan long enough that I've seen them throw away next year's team in exchange for old guys who contribute and move on and don't take the Mets to the postseason. The Mets, over the past decade, have been managed like a team that's shooting for second place. Steve Phillips used to do it, and Minaya does it now. They think the standings in June mean more than the quality of players on the roster. Stats this early in the season just don't mean that much. R.A. Dickey is not going to keep winning games like this. You just have to know that. If you run a Major League Baseball team you really should be smart enough to know that. But I don't think Omar Minaya knows that. I think he's gearing up to make some moves.
Guess what Omar: it's too late. You had an entire offseason to address the pitching problem. Instead you got Jason Bay, an expensive veteran who is at an age where a lot of hitters start to decline, and who just came off a season where his stats were slightly better than his ability. You also spent money on players like Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto, and Gary Matthews, Jr. The team has played well despite these moves, but PLEASE, realize that you already blew the 2010 season. Don't trade away Ike Davis. Don't trade Angel Pagan. Don't trade Ruben Tejada. Get a plan. Build a team. Don't throw away 2011 and 2012 just in the hope that a good start can be prolonged, and that the Phillies will continue to slump. Because they won't. Get real, Omar. If you can't win this year, build for next year. At least don't throw it out.
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Schuyler Dunlap on June 21, 2010 23:48
This is one reason that I'm so pleased with Theo Epstein. He'll make moves and sign veterans, but not at the expense of the future. He *seems* to properly evaluate his own prospects and not give them up for [ahem] Jacobs and Matthews... Guys like Lester and Buccholz and Pedroia and Youkilis are still with the team, while Masterson and Hansen are failing for other teams. This off-season he signed Beltre and Scutaro and Cameron, all to short-term deals that allowed for contention without sacrificing the future, while guys like Bay (sorry!) were allowed to sign for big money elsewhere. Not that there haven't been mistakes, just that they at least fit with the plan...
I'm crossing my fingers for you guys.
Alex Reisner on June 22, 2010 01:49
Epstein does seem to be doing a really great job over the past several years. Part of the reason the Mets seem so hopeless to me is that without a plan you don't know what to do differently. If you fail but you have a plan, you have a context in which to discover and evaluate your mistakes. With no plan you just keep guessing. Maybe Minaya has a plan, but it seems like he's always just guessing. Hence there's little hope for improvement any time soon.