The New York Mets lost their 21st game of the season Monday night, falling seven games below the .500 mark for the first time.
Only the most wildly optimistic fans expected the team to contend this year, and many felt the team would finish with a losing record for a fifth straight year. So it’s really not a surprise that the Mets are losing more often than they win.
The Mets will never use the term “rebuilding,” but everyone knew that 2013 was supposed to be a transition year. The last of the big Omar Minaya-era contracts are ending, the prospects we’ve been hearing about are here or arriving soon… it should seem like there’s a bright new future on the way.
And yet, on a day that Sandy Alderson signed 33-year-old journeyman outfielder Rick Ankiel to address one of the team’s glaring black holes, that future seems to be miles away.
The Mets lineup that lost on Monday night featured 28-year-old Mike Baxter and 27-year-old Lucas Duda in the outfield along with Ankiel. Neither player has accomplished much in the major leagues, though Baxter is at least guaranteed a place in Mets lore for saving Johan Santana‘s no-hitter at the expense of his rib cage last year.
The infield included 28-year-old Daniel Murphy (an average player who is two seasons away from free agency), 26-year-old Ike Davis, and 23-year-old Ruben Tejada along with team captain David Wright, 30.
I once expected Davis to be a cornerstone of the Mets’ resurgence, but we’re watching him get off to a dreadful start for the second year in a row now. It’s time to start questioning whether he is really an everyday major league player, or even a major leaguer at all.
Tejada is certainly young enough to be part of the future, but does he have the talent to be anything more than average?
John Buck, 32, is still better than the catchers the Mets have run out there over the last couple of years even though his amazing April did not continue into May, but he’s a free agent at the end of the year.
Will any of these guys be part of the Mets’ bright future when it finally arrives? I want to believe Wright will get another chance at the playoffs while he’s still an All-Star level player, but it’s hard to believe any of the others will have a role on the next Mets contender.
Losing games wouldn’t be so frustrating if it really felt like it was building towards something, but nearly everyone on the Mets roster makes me think of the so-called replacement-level player concept introduced by the sabermetrics community.
Sure, there’s Matt Harvey day once a week – but we build that up so much that it’s a huge letdown if he’s just “normal” or the Mets don’t score runs for him.
Zack Wheeler is coming… sometime this summer. Maybe he’ll even be as good as Harvey has been so far.
Travis d’Arnaud, delayed by a freak injury as well as major league service time considerations, might get here before the end of the season. If we’re really lucky, he’ll be as good as advertised too.
And then what? Four star players might be enough if you can surround them with a quality supporting cast, but does it really feel like the Mets are building a strong foundation for the future to you?