NEW YORK METS: The Nationals Are In Town To Show Us How Far Away We Really Are.
The Mets begin a 4 game weekend set against the Washington Nationals this evening. In fact, 7 of the Mets remaining 16 games this season will be against the Nats. While there is little Terry's Kids can do in the way of overtaking Washington for the division lead, 7 games is a good litmus test for gauging where the Mets presently stand against the division's best.
First place Washington enters this evening's action 20-games above .500, while the Mets still remain 4-games below.
Although the Mets are better suited to contend with Washington on the mound, the Nationals still own a more than slight edge. Offensively, however, they own a very distinct advantage over the Mets.
- Washington: 2nd overall in ERA, 4th in WHiP, and 12th in BAA.
- New York: 10th in ERA, 17th in WHiP, and 10th in BAA.
- Washington: 8th overall runs, 17th team batting, 13th OB, and 12th in slugging.
- New York: 21st runs, 29th team average, 24th OB, and 29th in slugging.
New York's young pitching is coming around. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom will be rejoined by Matt Harvey next season. Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will eventually have their time in Flushing as well.
Dillon Gee and Jon Niese are worth keeping, but perhaps represent 2 of the Mets better trade chips.
The bullpen has been transformed by youth as well, led by Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia.
Like Gee and Niese, a returning Bobby Parnell perhaps gives the Mets another still young, viable trade option,
Moving forward, the Mets overall pitching situation is good, to very good.
Obviously, the most glaring improvements need to be made at the plate, where for several years the Mets have remained near the bottom of most offensive categories.
Suddenly, David Wright's recent inability to stay healthy is becoming an issue. He is now out for the rest of the season with an ailing shoulder. At this point, we're only talking about the remaining 16 games. But it's clear his shoulder took a greater toll on his, and the Mets season. With his long term contract, this evolving situation is not easily rectifiable.
The situation at shortstop is still up in the air. While Wilmer Flores offers far more offensively than Ruben Tejada, he is far from being the solution. The Mets also do not have another emerging shortstop in the minors that will change this situation any time soon. It seems the Mets need to go off-campus for a solution.
At second base, Daniel Murphy stands to cost the Mets more money in arbitration, again, and then are faced with his free agency year. Murphy joins Gee, Niese and Parnell, as potential trade chips, with Murphy perhaps being their best. Dilson Herrera recently opened some eyes, and may be closer to being MLB ready than previously anticipated.
At first base, Lucas Duda has finally seized the moment. His power production is now part of the solution.
Behind the plate, Travis d'Arnaud is likewise discovering a comfort zone, and is starting to fulfill his promise. There is still concern over his ability to stay healthy. Meanwhile, Kevin Plawecki continues to plow through the minor leagues. So, for the moment, catcher seem okay.
The Mets need to generate their power in the outfield. Some things just have not changed. Sandy Alderson's gamble on Chris Young was a complete failure, and Curtis Granderson was never a viable power solution in the first place. His contract will now become a troublesome matter for 2 more seasons.
Juan Lagares is a keeper, and I'm content to let one of the minor leaguers win the 4th outfielder spot. Otherwise, there are no sluggers to speak of on the farm. If the Mets are to improve their offense and power, they will need to secure two corner outfielders who fit the bill.
Easier said than done. I know. But all that said, in order to close the gap with Washington the Mets must substantially upgrade at least three positions.
For the Mets, all options should remain open. The problem is, whether through trades or free agency, that costs money- money the Mets do not have.
Sandy Alderson has already warned the masses - don't expect the club to spend money during the off-season. That distressing news came rather early. This time Alderson completely spared us the doublespeak.
It is common knowledge that attendance has gone down, and the Mets have lost money in each season since the Madoff crisis erupted. Attendance failed to recover this season, and the club already projected for another loss back in spring.
There will no doubt be raises coming for those arbitration eligible players, which will leave even less for any real payroll increases.
Then I'm forced to ask - What spending, what increases? Ownership is still at least 3/4 of a billion dollars in debt.