This past weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers demonstrated exactly how far the New York Mets are from contending. The Dodgers swept the Mets for the second time this season, winning all seven matchups against them by a combined margin of 57-15. The Mets were outclassed at every turn, as the Dodgers outhit, outpitched, and outfielded them all weekend long. The series is a humbling dose of reality for the Mets, who have a long way to go if they hope to contend with the Dodgers and the rest of the elite teams in Major League Baseball in 2018.
While a lot of the Mets’ issues this season can be blamed on injuries, they aren’t the only issue. The Mets are simply a bad team right now, one that looks slow and lethargic compared to the competition. After dropping five out of six games against the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies last week, the Mets fell to 11 games below .500 for the first time since July of 2014. The Mets also carry around an ugly -64 run differential, indicating they are every bit as bad as their record would lead you to believe. Given how poorly the team has played, the latest smoke signals coming from the Mets’ front office are alarming.
While the Mets have indicated Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith will be factors on the 2018 team, the front office has hinted that both Asdrubal Cabrera and Jay Bruce could be back next season. While those moves make sense at surface level, the Mets have to be careful to avoid bringing back too many pieces of this team. If the Mets opt to bring back Cabrera and Bruce, the lineup won’t be much different than it was at the beginning of the season, which isn’t good enough for a team that needs to rely less on the home run and more on stringing together hits. The team also needs to get more athletic and put more of an emphasis on defense, which continues to haunt the beleaguered pitching staff.
The pitching staff also needs to be fortified, both in the rotation and the bullpen. The Mets got bitten hard by injuries again in the starting rotation, and of the current group only Noah Syndergaard’s injury appears to be avoidable with a better training regimen. The rest of the rotation is very brittle, and hoping they all stay healthy is a foolish play. the Mets need to find the next Bartolo Colon, a veteran presence for the back of the rotation to eat some innings and provide insurance for the inevitable injury issues guys like Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler will run into. Relying on the fab five, which has yet to even take one turn through the rotation together, to simply stay healthy won’t cut it anymore.
Another area that the Mets need to seriously address is their bullpen, which has been a major disaster this season. General Manager Sandy Alderson has started to address the issue this season, acquiring A.J. Ramos from the Miami Marlins to serve as Addison Reed’s replacement. Ramos should be able to team with Jerry Blevins and Jeurys Familia to form a strong back of the bullpen. The problem is that Alderson has a tendency to avoid spending money on relievers, hoping to fill the rest of the group with lottery tickets in the form of young arms or veteran castoffs looking to catch lightning in a bottle. That won’t work in today’s game, especially as teams with strong bullpens have had tremendous playoff success over the past few years. While the bullpen appears to be off to a good start with three excellent pieces for 2018, Alderson can’t cheap out and throw four question marks in there with them.
The good news is that the Mets will have a lot of money to play with in the offseason. Close to 70 million dollars in payroll is coming off the books, giving Alderson a lot of room to reshape the roster. That reshaping needs to be taken seriously, not just paid lip service while most of the roster returns yet again. It isn’t 2015 anymore, and the Mets need to realize that as they look to try and catch up with the top teams next season.