The Mets - Here We Go Again
The Mets signed Yoenis Cespedes AGAIN and in doing so they are on course for making the same mistakes they made in the 2015/2016 off season.
The Famous phrase is "know your history or be doomed to repeat it." Well, the Mets have to know theirs and they are about to repeat it. They had to sign Cespedes after his meteoric performance in the second half of 2015 that led the miracle Mets to the World Series just like they had to sign Cespedes this year after he had a strong 2016.
Signing Cespedes isn't the mistake; stopping there is. Not upgrading centerfield is. Thinking that their pitching can carry them to a World Series title is. I wrote this article last year and I feel like I should just copy/paste it here, but I will rewrite and repeat like dirty laundry because the Mets are doing their fans down right dirty.
In 2015, the Mets scored 683 runs and ranked 17th in baseball. In 2016, after resigning Cespedes, signing Asdrubal Cabrera, David Wright returning and after trading for Neil Walker the Mets scored fewer runs (671) and ranked tied for 25th.
I realize Lucas Duda missed the majority of the 2016 season and that probably does account for them scoring fewer runs, but it would be disingenuous to try and claim that the Mets would have scored 50-70 more runs if Duda and a regressive season was in the lineup for 145 games.
To be fair, the offense would have been better, but not THAT much better. and with the league scoring more, the Mets would have lost ground to the field even if Duda was healthy.
In 2015, the Mets pitching staff allowed 613 runs scored, ranking fifth in baseball. In 2016, with all of their injuries, allowed 617 runs scored and ranked third. The essence of my argument before the 2016 season was that the Mets didn't have enough room to improve compared to the rest of the league in their pitching stats to win as many games as they would need to to be a serious World Series contender and I was right, they didn't.
They made the Wild Card, but they weren't a legitimate contender. Miracle runs are rare and on paper, they were a significant underdog when October baseball started. The place where the Mets had a chance to make up ground on the rest of the league was on offense and resigning Cespedes was A START, not the final destination. Their 2015/2016 offseason was one where they moved a lot of furniture around, but in the end they were the same old team.
The offense didn't get better in any meaningful way. Now look at their 2016/2017 offseason. They signed Cespedes as they had to do and everyone agrees they had to do it, while they are rumored to be shopping Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce. They actually added offense by trading for Bruce during the 2016 season and now resigning Cespedes and what do they do?
Their most likely next move is to reduce offense by trading one of their better bats out of town. They are in the same exact spot as 12 months before and doing it in the same exact way, while wasting one of the more opportunistic markets we have seen for what the Mets need. There are centerfielders available and impact ones at that, the Mets biggest needs, and they are nowhere to be found.
The Mets are going to pitch whether its Bartolo Colon and Robert Gsellman or Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz and a revived, granted limited, Matt Harvey. That being said, with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard all injured or pitching through some kind of elbow ailment in 2016 there is a legitimate chance that the Mets can't pitch as well in 2017 as they did in 2015 and somehow managed to through injuries in 2016.
They lost Bartolo Colon, who has the body mass of two starters, but at times, pitched like a #2. For half the season he was a significant contributor to why the Mets pitched so well and he will be contributing innings to a division rival who is loading up to try to contend in 2017. Add to these facts, there are players available that could fill the holes this Mets team needs on offense and they are not rumored to be interested in any of them.
Andrew McCutchen is available and it sounds like he is going to play in the NL East, but there hasn't been a whiff of rumor that that eastern team is the Mets; its their division rival Nationals. The Mets are desperate for offense and their biggest hole is in centerfield and McCutchen is being sold low after an extremely disappointing 2016 that has some analysts concerned that the decline is in full swing.
The Mets need and McCutchen's trade cost couldn't be more perfectly aligned and yet we don't hear a whisper that they are in play. I am not a huge Cameron Maybin advocate but he would have been an upgrade for the Mets and they weren't rumored to be in on him when he was traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Los Angeles Angels of all teams.
And, we don't hear any rumors of the Mets being in the market for on-base machine Dexter Fowler or a revived Ian Desmond either. Everybody except for the Mets believe that Cespedes is a plus corner outfielder and that his value is damaged when he is forced to play 130 or more games in centerfield so what do the Mets do? They resign him and still don't have a man in the middle that should be there on a daily basis.
The Mets pitching staff makes them a playoff contender in 2017, even if they have to plod through the season with injuries and setbacks like they did in 2016, but the offseason is the time to put yourself in position to be the best team in baseball or at least legitimately competitive with those that are when the playoffs begin. The Mets weren't that in 2016 and they aren't now as currently constituted.
When a World Series is within your grasp you have to act boldly and go for it. Theo Epstein HATES the idea of paying for closers, but he gritted his teeth and traded an elite prospect (Gleyber Torres) for a few months of Aroldis Chapman anyway and you could argue it won them the World Series and possibly cost the San Francisco Giants a chance to compete for one.
The Mets have shown they are willing to do something but that they are not willing to do everything and that is why they will miss the playoffs in 2017 and they certainly will not win the World Series. Its still 2016, but Mets fans, its time to look ahead to 2018 because 2017 is already lost.
Enjoy Cespedes in Citi Field, but be sure you are ok with the Phillies and Braves being discussed as the future of the NL East because thats the way the narrative is unfolding this offseason.
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