Pretty much every area of the Mets is struggling right now. They can’t hit, they can’t pitch, they can’t close out games, they can’t overcome injuries, and they can’t produce accurate lineup cards. All of that isn’t exactly a surprise considering the moves they made and didn’t make this offseason. They were a priceless vase teetering on the edge of a rickety table during their 11-1 start where all they needed was a slight bump to shatter on the floor below.
While there is no going back to fix the wasted offseason, there are steps they can take to attempt to put this team together again. While the cracks will still show they could potentially hold together long enough to make a playoff run.
The first move was one they already made. DFA-ing and then trading Matt Harvey was a significant step for this team. He was not an effective pitcher for this team and did not look like he was going to improve any time soon. The media fed off his downfall and for everyone’s sanity they cut ties with their fallen hero. In return they got Devin Mesoraco who could be a useful piece moving forward.
J.T. Realmuto was always just a beautiful dream so the Mets will have to make due with Mesoraco until Kevin Plawecki returns. Zack Wheeler already praised his new catcher, and Mesorcao just needs to provide a smidgen of offense to be an improvement over the no offense they were getting from Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton, both of whom were routinely pinch-hit for in key situations.
The next issue they need to address is Jason Vargas, whose shaky outing against the Reds was an actual improvement over his first two disastrous starts of the season. Vargas most likely isn’t going anywhere considering the investment the team made in him before the season began, but this offense simply can not play catch up every time he takes to the mound. Perhaps it is still too soon to judge him since he could still be rusty from the time he missed with his broken arm, but his second half performance from last season does not inspire much confidence. The Mets do have Seth Lugo who won a spot in the rotation coming out of spring training but never got a chance to make a start. Moving him to the rotation would hurt the bullpen, but if the rotation finally settles down there would be less of a reliance on the bullpen. Perhaps Vargas could move and become a second lefty out of the pen, or the Mets cut ties altogether. It is not unheard of for teams to move on from struggling players who are owed a significant amount of money. Just ask the Diamondbacks.
Next up is the bullpen which is far more complicated to fix. Paul Sewald, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo have been the more reliable arms out of the pen. Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, A.J. Ramos, and Jeurys Familia have all been wild cards. They have all had stretches where they have gotten the job done and others where it has blown up spectacularly. You could make the argument that the Nationals’ game where they blew a 6-1 lead was where it all turned for this team. Anthony Swarzak is not returning any time soon and Robles is now headed to the DL. Buddy Baumann will replace Robles and has been ok with Las Vegas but he was also recently let go by the Padres. Corey Oswalt, Jacob Rhame, and Gerson Bautista have all seen time in the bullpen this season, and all could be useful pieces but they also shouldn’t be heavily relied upon at this point. For now the Mets just have to hope the starting pitching goes deeper into games and the arms that they are counting on figure it out and quickly.
Finally, the offense. The main culprit in this tale of woe. Players underperforming, like Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto, have certainly added to to the issue but their struggles would be less glaring if there were others in the lineup that would be able to pick up the slack. The offensive struggles were a perfect storm of variables that started long before the season began. Conforto underwent surgery for his dislocated shoulder and wasn’t able to prepare for spring like he normally would. Rosario is a free swinger that probably needs more time to develop at the major league level. Knowing these issues, and considering Dominic Smith’s struggles, the front office did little to improve the team. Adrian Gonzalez is not the answer at first base. He is currently batting .247/.324/.438 with a .762 OPS. After not performing as a 35-year-old with a bad back with the Dodgers, these numbers are not a surprise and not exactly what you want out of such an important position. Moving Jay Bruce to first and inserting Brandon Nimmo into the outfield is the obvious move here but the front office just needs to admit its failure and move on.
Speaking of failures, Jose Reyes is still on the team. Keith Hernandez even mentioned that Reyes has seen very little playing time recently. Perhaps Mickey Callaway finally figured out Reyes brings very little to the team. When the Mets were attempting a comeback against the Braves and Reyes was their last hope that game was over when he was still in the on deck circle. He is batting .122/.163/.195 with a .358 OPS. He started off the season going 0-20, is not good defensively, and was brought in to be a mentor to Amed Rosario who is also struggling. So as it stands now the Mets are paying him $2 million to be a pinch runner, a cheerleader, and to be a mentor to a player that doesn’t seem to be benefiting much from his presence. It is time for them to cut their losses. But but his second half numbers from last season! The majority of those inflated numbers came from September when they faced the Reds, Phillies, Marlins, and Braves for most of the month. The Braves and Phillies were not what they were this year and the Reds and Marlins were still bad.
Luis Guillorme received his call-up and deserves some playing time for just his defense alone. If Gavin Ceechini is not hurt badly he could be a solid 25th man as would Ty Kelly and Phillip Evans. They are not Howie Kendrick but they just need to be better than Jose Reyes which is a pretty low bar to clear at this point. Also T.J. Rivera should eventually make his way back from Tommy John surgery so either way the clock should be ticking on Reyes.
Finally there is the intriguing prospect of Peter Alonso. He is absolutely destroying Double-A and batting .352/.466/.648 with an insane 1.114 OPS. His defense is one of his weaknesses but Sandy Alderson noted that it is improving. It is probably way too soon to call him up but if he continues to hit the Mets will be forced to take notice like they did with Michael Conforto three years ago.
None of these solutions are perfect but they do offer improvements which this team is in desperate need of right now. The offseason is over with so they will just have to make do with what they have and hope that is enough.