With the 2016 season entering the home stretch, the New York Mets are still in contention for a playoff spot. Not because of anything the offense is doing, but as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post put it, the rest of the NL is playing down to their level.
Much has been made about the Mets’ inability to string together back to back wins for well over a month now. But during this period of futility for the Mets, it’s not like any other team has really ran away with it in the National League other than the Chicago Cubs in the Central.
Ten games behind the Washington Nationals may seem like an ocean away, but a significant hot streak like winning 12 of the next 16 would bring the Mets back home on August 26 with 10 games to play against division rivals including three against the Nats.
Now I’m not saying any of this will happen. At the beginning of the season, I predicted the Mets would finish 2nd in the NL East and secure the top wild-card spot; a prediction that still seems just as plausible now as it did in March. Among the the five team scramble for both wild cards, it’s still a free for all and the Mets are still very much alive.
There is hope in the form of a lineup that can soon feature a healthy Jose Reyes and Yoenis Cespedes to go with Jay Bruce, but will it be too late? And even if that does happen, will it change the potential record-setting ineptitude of this offense with runners in scoring position?
While this season sorts itself out over the next five weeks, let’s also turn an eye towards 2017, something I think Sandy Alderson was doing when he pulled the trigger on Jay Bruce. The deal meant two things:
One, the front office no longer believed in Dilson Herrera, who they could have called up on many occasions to help this anemic offense and didn’t.
Two, Bruce serves as a viable offensive fallback next season if Yoenis Cespedes opts out, a facet that Alderson admitted made the former Reds slugger so desirable.
What about our other power sources for next season? Yes, there’s Lucas Duda returning at first base, presumably healthy and ready to go. But it’s the player at the other corner position that concerns me and gave me pause about the future.
Kenny DeJohn of Newsday covered David Wright on Monday, who spent the morning visiting with kids at a Day Camp in Merrick, Long Island. He told reporters on hand that he hopes to be back as the Mets third baseman in 2017 and that he’ll be done in a couple of years.
“I’m moving around and feeling a lot better than I did,” Wright explained. “So hopefully I’m back next year. That’s what my goal is.”
“Now it’s just a matter of being patient and allowing the screws and the plate to take place and really fusing together so hopefully there are no more problems in the future.”
Am I the only one hoping this was Wright’s injury-marred final season?
I mean, I completely understand not announcing that now, especially in front of cheerful elementary school kids, but am I alone in wanting to watch a press conference sometime early in the offseason where Wright admits that the injuries are just too much?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to remember our captain as a side-arming fielder who hits just above his playing weight and slowly fizzles away into obscurity. More importantly, as a father I want Wright to be able to lift his newborn daughter and chase her around the house as she grows up without any pain.
The GM in me was already wondering whether the team could go to Port St. Lucie in 2017 with Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores to fill 2B, SS and 3B – or do you go after Ian Desmond and see if he can play third? Or Justin Turner?
How cheap and reasonable is it to re-sign James Loney? Do you send Michael Conforto to Winter Ball to learn how to play first base as a backup plan for Duda? If the Nationals are really going to let Wilson Ramos make it to free agency, do you outbid them for the 29-year old catcher? And what can you get for Curtis Granderson and the $15 million he’s still owed?
I was having a little fun running through all these different possibilities for next Spring, because in my mind I figured David Wright wasn’t coming back. We can’t count on him for any future plans because it’s too much of a question mark. We already made that mistake in 2016 and we still haven’t found a regular third base solution – platoon or otherwise – since we lost Wright.
Sadly, what we did see from Wright during his brief stint this year, was that he doesn’t have the arm to play third base anymore and his bat couldn’t catch up to a major league fastball. He’s owed another $67 million, money he can earn as a team ambassador, a roving instructor, or a coach at this point. But he can’t earn it on the field… And to go forward with a different mindset is foolish.