New York Mets

The fallout from the Carlos Gomez deal has the New York Mets once again looking incompetent, forcing fans to utter “same old Mets.”

By Bryan Pol

Watching the New York Mets square off against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past Sunday was a dumbfounding exercise in conveying just what the Metropolitans are to their core, for better or for worse.

Initially, the Mets dodged a proverbial bullet in the Dodger series, as Cy Young favorite Zach Greinke would part the team to be present for the birth of his first child. Greinke’s departure amounted to Zach Lee’s major league debut for Los Angeles, a full-on 15-2 drubbing on Saturday (Harvey Day!) that gave fans every reason to believe New York could take the series and end a ten-game stand against division leaders—the Cardinals, Nationals, and Dodgers—with a 4-6 record, not bad, considering the level of competition.1mets2

Then Greinke ended up starting on Sunday, looking to extend his historic scoreless innings streak.

By the third inning of Sunday’s contest, however, thanks to a Jacob deGrom RBI groundout, Greinke’s streak ended quietly after 43 2/3 innings. Going into Sunday, deGrom, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, was patching together a superb sophomore campaign, and would end the day with a 10-6 record and a 2.05 ERA, second only to Greinke’s NL and MLB-leading 1.37 mark.

Unfortunately, the same record deGrom with which ended Sunday would be the same record with which he started. In short, deGrom, who outdueled Greinke for 7 2/3 innings, left the game with a 2-0 lead, factoring in yet another no-decision, his third of the year, thanks to Jeurys Familia’s fourth blown save of the season. Familia coughed up RBI doubles in the ninth to Adrian Gonzalez and former Met Justin Turner, a man on fire since joining the Dodgers full time in 2014.

Sadly, no current Met has approached anything like Turner’s numbers (he has hit .332 with 20 homeruns and 87 RBIs in his 196 games with LA). By midweek last week, the Mets managed a .233 team average, the worst in the majors. No timetable was set for David Wright’s return (what began as a non-descript leg injury ended in a spinal stenosis diagnosis), and Travis d’Arnaud, dazzling in his time as the Mets’ starting catcher in 2015, was replaced by the inept platoon of Anthony Recker and Kevin Plawecki. Thankfully, d’Arnaud is set to join the Mets on Friday to factor in a crucial series against Washington.

Then, hope arrived in the form of a deal with the Atlanta Braves that brought aboard Juan Uribe, a World Series champion with San Francisco, and Kelly Johnson, a versatile player who can adequately play nearly every infield position. Johnson homered in his first start in New York, as part of the aforementioned 15-2 shellacking, and Uribe hit a mammoth walk-off, RBI single to beat the Dodgers 3-2 on Sunday. Then came reports of Tyler Clippard’s move to Citi Field, a great bullpen arm acquired in the midst of the Jenrry Mejia controversy that sees the one-time closer losing a full season of time thanks to a second PED-related suspension.

In spite of hard times, be it the lackluster production at the plate or the Mejia suspension, the Mets, going into last night, stood at 52-48, a mere one game behind the NL East-leading Nationals. The reason? The incredible gems thrown night in and night out by deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, the centerpiece to a deal that saw R. A. Dickey leave New York one season after his magical Cy Young campaign, Steven Matz, who, despite a lat injury, started his Met career at 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA, and Matt Harvey, the de facto ace who is coming along faster than expected after missing all of 2014 as a result of Tommy John surgery. Collectively, the Mets staff has garnered a 3.27 ERA, third best in the National League, and has allowed the fewest hits and the second fewest walks in the NL.  Newly inducted Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz went on record to note the Mets’ current rotation is close to rivaling the Braves’ staff of the ’90s.

Despite such numbers, and the Mets being ahead of schedule in competing for the division (consider the Nationals added Max Scherzer to an already stacked rotation and the Marlins would see the return of dynamo Jose Fernandez to its own rotation, just after signing Giancarlo Stanton to a gargantuan deal, the majors’ largest), New York was in dire need of a bat.

And in the midst of an eventual 7-3 loss to San Diego last night, general Sandy Alderson initially seemed to have landed one.

For the price of Wilmer Flores and Zach Wheeler, the Mets would receive Carlos Gomez, a speedster with pop who left the Mets when the one-time prospect was traded away for Johan Santana. The price was nominal considering that Flores, shifted from his “natural position” at shortstop, was projecting to be a middling player, and there was no telling what Wheeler would be post-Tommy John surgery. Despite better bats being out there, from Yoenis Cespedes to Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, and Will Venable, Alderson’s landing of Gomez was a relative coup.

Consider: when at full strength, the Mets would feature a lineup, in some order, of Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy, Gomez, Lucas Duda (who has hit six homers, three alone yesterday despite the loss to the Padres, in the past week after hitting only three in the previous 46 games), Wright, d’Arnaud, rookie sensation Michael Conforto, and Ruben Tejada, with Michael Cuddeyer, Juan Lagares, Johnson, and Uribe to spell them off the bench. What looked morbid and dreary last Thursday was beginning to look downright hopeful despite a bad loss to the Padres.

Then, events last night turned Citi Field into the Twilight Zone.

Nearly every fan in attendance, thanks to Twitter and other social media outlets, knew Flores was traded, and reportedly told him as much between visits to the Met dugout between innings. Flores, oddly left in the game by manager Terry Collins, visibly bawled his eyes out while continuing to play second. He even garnered a standing ovation. Despite what he is now, a middling .250 hitter, Flores, all of 22, projected to be a regular in Flushing. Seeing him so emotional set Twitter ablaze, irking Met fans to drastic ends.

After the game, Collins and Alderson delivered their postgame press conferences.

Collins claimed “he had no clue” a deal was in place that would send Flores away.

Alderson remarked that the deal for Gomez “has not and will not transpire.”

From leaving Flores out on the field to Collins being left in the dark about the inner workings of the front office, the Mets looked relatively incompetent.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports analyzed how the Gomez deal “fell through,” noting that not all parameters of the deal were reported, including the caveat of teams making the deal contingent on “pending physicals.” Sadly, with news outlets desiring to report a story first, accuracy be damned, the Mets were made to look foolish.

Rosenthal would later tweet that the Mets themselves backed out of the deal in light of alleged hip issues with Gomez, a report his agent Scott Boras denies. Many assumed Wheeler’s injury was the holdup in the deal, but rumblings from the Mets’ organization indicated otherwise. Other reports on Twitter claimed the deal was not made due to financial issues, but no official from the club would report as much.

Now, in light of what projects to be a second loss in a row to San Diego (the Mets, as of 4 pm ET, were stuck in a rain delay in the bottom of the ninth, losing 8-7 to the Padres), the Mets likely enter the Washington series three games back of the division lead, demanding that New York sweeps the Nationals just to draw even with their division rivals.

As WFAN producer Brian Monzo noted on Twitter, Mike Francesa reported, in his call-in to Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno earlier today, the Mets are “trying to attain” two offensive players, which Mets blogger Ryan Kelly later noted that “Cespedes [was] not one [of them].”

While all hope is not lost for the Mets, losing out on another bat would devastate the club’s fanbase and likely even its clubhouse. Consequently, Alderson must pull off a big deal, without mortgaging the farm system, to save face here.

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I am an English teacher, music and film aficionado, husband, father of two delightful boys, writer, sports fanatic, former Long Islander, and follower of Christ. Based on my Long Island upbringing, I was groomed as a Yankees, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fan, and picked up Duke basketball, Notre Dame football, and Tottenham Hotspur football fandom along the way.