What was the downfall of the 2022 Mets? While two of their biggest strengths for most of the season disappeared during the most crucial moments, there are some other answers floating around.
You know, like how general manager Billy Eppler didn’t go all-in at the trade deadline. Instead of making a big splash (or two, or three) like the San Diego Padres did, New York opted for supplemental pieces. That brought the likes of Daniel Vogelbach, Tyler Naquin, Mychal Givens, and the much-maligned Darin Ruf to Queens for the stretch run.
The Amazins ended up winning 101 games and accomplished quite a bit as an organization, but at the end of the day, the ultimate goal wasn’t achieved. This team was built to win right now, and they came up very short in the Wild Card Series against San Diego.
We’ve known that team owner Steve Cohen wants to build a sustainable winner. Eppler ultimately decided to not mortgage the future by trading any top prospects to strengthen their odds of success in 2022. That came back to haunt the Mets. Does he regret making that decision? No, he doesn’t:
At a press conference to wrap the Mets' 2022 season, general manager Billy Eppler says he has "no regrets" regarding the team's trade deadline strategy.
As he did on deadline day, Eppler stressed the importance of building something sustainable.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) October 14, 2022
As you can imagine, this has made plenty of headlines on the interwebs and also led to many negative replies to this tweet from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo.
Do you know what I think about it? Whether you want to know or not, I’m going to tell you anyways. For those still thinking about what did and didn’t happen leading up to the deadline: Get over it. Enough is enough.
I’ve always been a big proponent of “You can’t change the past, you can only change the future.” That’s why I also love Ted Lasso’s life advice to Sam Obisanya about being more like a goldfish.
Did I think Eppler came up short at the deadline? Absolutely — he needed to do more for a team that looked like one of MLB’s best. The offense was good but very inconsistent and another legit bat to pair with Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil in the middle of the lineup would’ve been great. Especially after Starling Marte fractured his finger.
But even with all that and the September struggles, the Mets’ winning percentage in the first half (.624) was just about identical to how they performed in the second half (.623).
If they acquired a big bat, bullpen help, or more rotation depth, it probably wouldn’t have changed who manager Buck Showalter ran out onto the mound for both the Braves and Padres series. This squad was built on having two of the game’s best pitchers since 2018, and they didn’t deliver as a group.
I didn’t agree with Eppler not pulling the trigger on something bigger, but I can at least respect the reasoning. If this happened during the Wilpon era, we would’ve gotten some bologna answers from whoever was answering the media’s questions. One of the biggest problems with the Mets is that their playoff appearances more or less happen once a decade. This needs to change, and that takes a little discipline in certain areas.
Everyone talks about wanting to be like the Dodgers, and the Mets are included in that. But once new ownership took over in 2012, it took Los Angeles another eight years to win a World Series (and they reached the postseason each year).
This is a process. We don’t always have to agree with it. And it hurts when you see how many special moments the Mets had during the regular season, only to watch it get flushed down the drain in three postseason games. I totally get that because I feel it, too.
But at least now, we know that the man in charge of it all won’t look at what was accomplished this season and get comfortable. They’re going to keep working until the ultimate goal is reached. And then they’ll try to do it again, and again.
It’s OK to think about the Mets’ inaction at the trade deadline and be annoyed about it, but I don’t think this is the only thing that doomed the 2022 season. The dudes on that roster were (mostly) more than capable of getting the job done and they didn’t. It happens — that’s baseball.
So, let’s stop talking about it and focus forward. This organization has lots of important decisions to make ahead of Opening Day. And hopefully, those decisions will lead to another postseason trip.