June 13, 2018

After a Hot Start, the Mets Went Cold. What Went Wrong?

After a Hot Start, the Mets Went Cold. What Went Wrong?


To turn things around, Alderson said he hoped the team’s health would improve, the bullpen would stabilize behind the strong starting pitching, and the lineup would snap out of its funk.

“Given the ups and downs we’ve experienced this year, it’s a little bit unclear where we are and what we are and where we’re going,” Alderson said, adding later, “There have been such extreme ups and downs, I’m still confident there’s something there and I’m anxious to see whether it is revealed over the next two or three weeks.”

With midseason approaching, time is running short. The players know this.

“I know we say this is a long season but it creeps up on you, especially when things aren’t going well and all of a sudden it’s the middle of June or July,” said Michael Conforto, an All-Star last year who has struggled to a .694 on-base-plus-slugging percentage entering Tuesday. “We just got to focus on the day. That slows things down a little bit. It’s easier said than done.”

The Mets may face a harsh reality soon: July 31 is the nonwaiver trading deadline. By then, the team’s decision makers need to know whether to add to the roster for a potential playoff push (if they can get above .500 by then), stay put or subtract, and if so, to what degree.

But if the Mets’ poor play continues during this season-defining period, would they attempt the same strategy as last year, which involved trading away five veteran players on expiring contracts to save $9 million and acquiring seven relief prospects? And would people trust that such a strategy would yield positive results after the prospects the team acquired last year have yet to make a dent?

Lacking enough trade assets to plug holes last winter, the Mets spent nearly $89 million on six free agent players over 30 years old: starting pitcher Jason Vargas (7.71 E.R.A.), outfielder Jay Bruce (.630 O.P.S.), infielder Todd Frazier (missed a month with hamstring strain), first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (released on Sunday), utilityman Jose Reyes (who is in danger of losing his job) and relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak (missed two months with an oblique strain). The Mets also kept three other key 30-plus year-old players — second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (one of the team’s best players) and relief pitchers Jerry Blevins (5.02 E.R.A.) and A. J. Ramos (6.41 E.R.A. and dealing with a significant shoulder injury) — for over $24 million.

So far, this quick retooling strategy has not worked beyond the 11-1 start. Additionally, the Mets have fewer of those valued veterans on expiring contracts to trade away this season.



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