The Mets went into a major tailspin in this quarter. The Mets went 13-26 since my last report, which was after 81 games. In this quarter nothing went right. The rotation faltered badly, the bullpen was even worse and even the offense tailed off significantly. There were injuries, but all teams have those. The Mets lack of depth and poor off-season additions to the pen killed them.
Offense: Besides, Tejada and Davis, few really were consistent. Wright has tailed off hitting around .240 since the 2nd half began. Murphy has been up and down and he has shown no power. Thole, Torres and Bay were virtually non-existent. Duda slumped, got hurt, then demoted. Nieuwenhuis slumped, got benched then demoted. Nickeas finally got sent down after being the worst offensive player in MLB. Hairston still hits lefties, but hasn't hit righties enough in TC's eyes. The Mets ability to score with 2-outs has waned. They take far too many first pitch strikes and lack agressiveness. Couple that with their lack of speed and power and scoring often takes 3 hits. TC's reluctance to hit-and-run is puzzling. When you don't score, you take risks. They've become a team reliant on platoons, often to the point of being rather sad.
Defense: A lot has been made about the defense, but since Tejada returned, it has stabilized. Davis is solid, Wright is having a gold glove year and Tejada is excellent. Murphy has at least become adequate. Thole to me has been the biggest problem. He doesn't throw out runners or block pitches or the plate. His inability to throw out runners is just sad. Josh cannot be anything other than a back-up in 2013. If he's platooned the offense and pitching staff will suffer. Even his play-calling has been questioned by pitchers and the pitching coach calls pitches for him. The latter is just sad. The OF is ok. Baxter is a good fielder, Hairston adequate and Torres is decent. They could be better in the OF, 2B and catcher and I expect changes in all those areas for 2013.
Rotation: Losing Gee right after the break hurt. What made it much worse was TC's insistence on giving a 41 year-old washed up pitcher the ball. Batista's last outing was so bad, it put the pen back for 3 days. They kept trying to hold off bring up Harvey who was light years better than those who replaced him. When he came up, he not only shined, but actually hit! He's been one of the few bright spots in this quarterly report. Santana has been epically bad. 5 straight starts with 6 or more runs given up. That's a Mets record. It's so bad they've gone to a 6-man rotation and Johan may be shutdown. Johan's career is in flux. RA's colled off, but no one can stay that hot. Niese has pitched great the last 2 starts, but has had games where one inning did him in. Still @ 10-6 with a 3.49 ERA who can really complain. Young has been too inconsistent and too often a 5-6 inning pitcher. With the Mets toxic pen, that's not good. I think they'll be fine in 2013, with Wheeler here and possibly Gee back, but now, it's basically RA, Matt and Jon. Hefner is at best a spot starter and really a long reliever. The Mets strength is no longer that.
Bullpen: What can you say about MLB's worst pen? Frank Francisco has only 3 blown saves, but 4 other times he's blown holds. That's 7 failures for a closer. That's totally unacceptable, as is his 6.06 ERA. Sandy messed up big-time signing him for 2 year @ 12 million. Acosta is a joke and the fact he's here just illustrates how bad this pen has been. 1-3-8.73 ERA-6 HRS-.304 BA. Ghastly. Parnell failed miserably as fill-in closer. He's fine in the 6th or 7th inning, but closing a game or even setting up is where he folds. Ramirez, who I thought would be a very good acquisition, has been far too inconsistent and his 4.11 ERA shows it. He's pitched better of late, but mostly in non-pressure situations. Edgin has talent, but has also faltered of late seeing his ERA balloon to 5.79. He has talent and a future here, but needs to understand he can't just groove pitches. The best reliever by far of late is Rauch who just bailed out Francisco from 2 epic meltdowns. He's actually earned a set-up role and if Frank continues to blow-up, the closer role. That's how bad this pen is. They tend to only pitch well, when there is little pressure. However, Frank hasn't even pitched well then.
They blew 2 games after the break against Atlanta and Washington which basically broke this team's back. Then they blew up in consecutive extra inning games vs LA. They ripped this team's heart out.
Coaching: They've gotten a pass for the most part, but not from me here. TC is a good baseball man. Terry is very good with the players(especially the vets) and media. However, when he laid down the gauntlet of accountability, then let Bay go an entire road trip failing, he lost some respect in my eyes. He also allowed Acosta and Batista too much rope before finally demoting them. He also hasn't asked Warthen to be removed(that I've heard of) and no one deserves to be fired more. Ricky Bones who deserved a shot as BP coach after doing well in the minors, also must take the heat for the worst pen in MLB. However, both have their jobs. Where's their accountability? You can't just say things, then take no action. When that happens, you look weak and like a liar. TC failed here in leadership and deserves to be called out for it IMHO. Sandy takes a hit here too. I'll get to him below. Hudgins also must take heat for the Mets passive approach at the plate. Being patient is one thing, but taking fastball after fastball down the middle for strike one is ridiculous. Bob Ojeda has pointed this out consistently of late and he's spot on. The other day he showed a montage of first pitch strikes and often with men on base. Those are pitches to drive. The hitting coach deserves to be taken to task. The base-coaches should be flipped. Teufel is far too conservative @ 3B. Let Goodwin a far better base-runner be 3rd base coach. If not Goodwin, someone one else and put Timmy either @ 1B or on the bench. Geren should be removed. If he's at all responsible for some of TC' idiotic in game moves, he should be eradicated. TC will never be a good in game manager. He needs help if he is to improve there. TC's option is picked up for 2013, but changes to the staff should happen and both pitching coaches should be gone.
Front Office: I'm a pro-Sandy guy, but I'm a Mets fan first, not an apologist for the front-office. Sandy failed miserably this off-season in addressing the pen. Sandy hemmed and hawed too long in bringing up Harvey and releasing Batista. Sandy didn't add anything from the All-Star break to the trading deadline, dragging his feet while the team waned. You can argue he couldn't get much without trading prospects and this team had little shot at a playoff berth, but then he shouldn't have been saying there going to add a reliever and catcher then get bupkus. Even Ricco backed this up on more than one occasion. This deflates the team and fans. Sandy also could have axed Warthen and/or Bones. This would have shown that not only are players accountable, but coaches as well. He did nothing. Again, this shows weakness when you speak of accountablity, then don't deliver it. Waiting until the season is over is weak. The positives are Harvey and Wheeler, but not every prospect is worth keeping and sometimes you need to move them to improve your team. He must do this in the off-season with only 10-15 million allotted to spend on free-agents. I also don't buy arguments saying teams wanted too much. Other teams got trades done and many gave up little. Atlanta being a prime example. Also not every player is a rental. Some can help in 2013. It takes skill and persistence to make deals. Doing nothing is easy.
Summary: This quarter ended the Mets season of hope. They crashed and burned. No area was good including coaching and management. It was a total meltdown. That being said, the last quarter could bring hope and better results as well. We'll see some young players in September and more of Harvey. RA and Niese are fun to watch. Wright is due for a hot streak and Davis is finishing strong. Tejada is a total joy to watch as well. Jordanny is also fun to watch and the more I watch Baxter the more I like the guy. Duda should return and be installed in LF. It will be interesting to see how he reacts and plays there. This team also can still have a winning season with a return to solid play. Maybe they can spoil the Nationals or Braves season. Hopefully, in the last quarter there will be a happier recap.