Losing has become contagious for the New York Mets. They lost a series 1-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and got swept by the Philadelphia Phillies in late April, all in CitiField. Those defeats are not shocking because the Dodgers and Phillies are competitive teams, but then they lost an away series to the lowly Miami Marlins.
The Mets have been a team to mourn over the past week. They lost the first two games to Miami by walk-off; the first time in a 15–inning affair; Jeremy Hefner threw eight scoreless innings in the second one. Losing two consecutive games when entering the ninth inning with the lead against a team with one of the worst records in baseball is demoralizing.
The bullpen, which ranks amongst the worst in ERA, lobs watermelons for opponents to hit whenever the team has a lead. Overall, the starting pitching rotation is a disaster. Matt Harvey and Jonathan Niese are the only reliable starters, and anyone that delivers the sporadic quality outing receives zero run support.
The offense has been a broken record of pop ups, groundouts and strikeouts. If someone manages to squeak a single through the infield whoever is on deck follows up with a double play.
If David Wright is not driving in a runner that finds his way onto second or third base that runner gets stranded. If John Buck, team leader in home runs and runs batted in, cools off, then it is hard to imagine the Mets averaging more than two runs per game. Besides Wright and Buck, no one else in the lineup is capable of driving in a run right now.
Ike Davis was expected to be consistently productive all season, but his average is about as far under .200 in April 2013 as it was in April 2012. He carried much of the offense during his scorching second half of 2012, but the man who hit 32 home runs last season is a nonfactor. Both him and Lucas Duda caught lightning in a bottle early in April and drove a few balls over the fence, but they have been sapped for power since then. Duda at least draws walks and makes the opposing pitcher work, while Davis is often struck out in three pitches.
Daniel Murphy streaked his way to a batting average that exceeded .360 in the middle of April but has come crashing back down to Earth and below .290. He drove in just about every runner in scoring position during the first eleven games, in which the team had a respectable 7-4 record. Murphy needs to get back on track because his defense at second base is shoddy.
Colin Cowgill, Mike Baxter and Anthony Recker barely qualify as Major League-caliber. Players such as Ruben Tejada used to set the table with a walk or base hit, but now they leave the bases empty. Any hard hit balls go straight into the opponent’s gloves. Long fly balls fall short at the warning track. Mets hitters drive the pitch count to a favorable 3-0 and end up grounding out. Nothing is going right.
The fans understand that general manager Sandy Alderson is focused on the future. Alderson traded away 2012 Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey this past offseason for Buck, a promising catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud and young arm that could be ready to throw in a couple of years. He traded slugger Carlos Beltran in 2011 for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, who is struggling in the minors but will likely get promoted this season.
The team is in a transition state and expected to drastically improve once their seeds blossom and they attain more payroll flexibility in 2014. There is hope for the future, but the fans deserve a better product this season. Too many players are falling short of the potential they demonstrated last season.
Wright and Buck cannot carry the offense on their backs all season. Something has to give with the bullpen. Even the most diehard of Mets fans are getting fed up. The season feels like it is over and there are still five more months of baseball left.