The New York Mets have many questions that need to be answered If they are going to have success in 2018. Have they made the right moves this offseason?
Knowing they needed another power bat, they added Jay Bruce, whom they traded away during the season in 2017 to Cleveland. They also signed away Todd Frazier from their cross-town rival Yankees to a very cost-effective two-year deal.
However, are these the players that can put them over the top to contend in the National League East?
Bruce is a nice player. He can hit homers and drive in runs. Frazier is another good player. He can hit homers and get on base. However, baseball today is driven by different statistics. The “nerd” generation has broken down each player into a mathematical equation.
Going from top to bottom on paper, the Mets do not have a poor lineup. However, the things that Mickey Callaway speaks of the Mets doing this season, taking advantage of running the bases, going from first to third, etc., is not what this lineup is capable of.
Most of the Mets starters are station-to-station guys. Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Travis d’Arnaud, Adrian Gonzalez, Bruce, and Frazier are all average to below average baserunners. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, especially Callaway’s, who seems like a very positive guy with a calm approach, but facts are facts.
It’s not hard to point out what exactly went wrong with the Mets in 2017. They allowed 863 runs last season. That was the second-highest total allowed in franchise history. The only other team that allowed more runs were the 1962 Mets, who allowed 948 while losing 120 games.
On the surface, the Mets have the makings of an outstanding staff. In Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman, Jason Vargas and Seth Lugo, the Mets have many options. However, they had the same options (minus Vargas) last season when they finished with a 5.01 team ERA, third-worst in the majors.
As a starting staff, the Mets ERA of 5.14 was the fourth-worst in the majors. How could that be with the names I just mentioned? Easy. Injuries.
First Syndergaard, then Harvey, then Matz, then Wheeler and on and on. Can the Mets overcome the injury bug in 2018? That, above anything, is going to have a big effect on if they can contend.
Despite my skepticism, the Mets first need to stay healthy. In today’s stat-driven world, it’s hard to analyze how players’ games missed relates to wins and losses, being that the Dodgers lost the most man games to injury last season and they won the most games in MLB. However, in the Mets case, their injuries were the biggest part of why they underachieved last season.
The past few seasons have been gruesome to watch with players going down to injury. It seemed like every week someone was going down with a lat pull, or a hamstring issue or an elbow strain. How former trainer Ray Ramirez kept his job for so long befuddled me. No one seemed to be worse at his job than Ramirez, whom the fans celebrated when he was finally let go in October.
How the Mets approach keeping their players healthy is the biggest thing I need to see change in Queens. In previous seasons the Mets always seemed to be playing a player short and having a bench of two-to-three players that were active, yet couldn’t play. That kind of garbage needs to end.
While listening to Callaway speak, he also talks about paying attention to details. Now more than ever, an analytical approach to baseball helps break down the game. Callaway seems to understand that in the interviews he has given. The Mets need to pay more attention to how and when to use their relievers.
The Mets bullpen ERA of 4.82 was the worst in the National League and second to only the Tigers in MLB, as was their 1.49 WHIP.
It’s early in spring training, so I’m not trying to discourage anyone. However, simply signing productive players isn’t going to be enough to help the Mets take back the National League East this season.
I am very curious to see how Callaway handles the media, any negative attention and how he intends to implement some of his ideas. More than ever now, baseball seems to be coming down to paying attention to details that get by most fans. However, there is still a fine line between letting formula’s dictate things and truly understanding your teams’ strengths and weaknesses.
The ride officially started on Friday for Callaway. The rest of Mets nation is curious to see the results come October.