We've Turned And Faced The Strange, Now Let's Change

We've Turned And Faced The Strange, Now Let's Change

Mets

We've Turned And Faced The Strange, Now Let's Change

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It’s 11:46 PM, and I’m watching the Mets game on replay.

I mean, I know what happens. The Mets got clobbered. But I wanted to have some sort of idea about the true ins and outs of this game. But quite honestly, when the Mets were up 2-0 in the top of the first after a Pete Alonso home run, I was thinking “man, this game is already dragging and, by extension, quite annoying. And all I’m retaining is that Keith likes almond milk in his cold brew, and Luis Guillorme shaved.

I just saw Trea Turner hit a grand slam. I’m not waiting to finish this game to write the following nonsense.

The first thing the Mets need to do in the coming days and weeks during the time when the entire rest of the league is in the playoffs (I mean, okay … the Brewers are in the playoffs at 29-31. Whatever. But if Rob Manfred rigs it so that an under .500 team can make the playoffs in a 162 game season, it’s going to be the slow boil of the metaphorical live lobster that is the game of baseball) is this: Figure out what aspects of 2020 went wrong because of the unusual circumstances of the 60 game pandemic truncated season, and what aspects of 2020 went wrong that were going to go wrong anyway, whether it be by lack of talent or roster malpractice.

To what level was the Mets’ inability to drive in runs with runners in scoring position a fluke? I mean, it’s always a fluke, especially to the level that the Mets were stranding runners on in the beginning of the season. But was it a fluke because it was a fluke? Or was it a fluke because players were pressing?

Speaking of pressing, to what level did the pandemic affect Pete Alonso? Did his batting average drop to Rob Deer levels because he was pressing with the urgency of a short season? Or was it because he, like the rest of the roster, was missing the in-game instruction and advice from Chili Davis? Or was it simply a regression that would have happened anyway with the league adjusting to the 2019 Rookie of the Year? The answer to this question most likely will not affect Alonso’s status with the 2021 Mets, but it would be nice to figure out what is happening inside his mind.

There needs to be a conversation about Steven Matz who, generously, was awful this season. Do you blame the pandemic/short season? Or do you conclude that Matz has reached his ceiling and that he can’t be trusted with a rotation spot anymore?

What of Seth Lugo? He was torched today by the Nationals. He’s had a couple of bad starts down the stretch. To what level did the shortened season affect Lugo? Was it a bad idea to switch Lugo’s role in the middle of the season? Or did he struggle as a starter because he just plain struggles as a starter, whether it be because of stamina, pitch usage, what have you?

How about Amed Rosario? Of all the players that went backwards from 2019-20, Rosario probably took the biggest step backwards … so much so that he went from being a part of the young core to perhaps being trade bait. Wilson Ramos regressed, but an injury prone catcher in his age 32 season regressing shouldn’t surprise anyone in any circumstance. A shortstop in his age 24 season who was a former number one prospect in the organization regressing is a red flag. So what part did this season play into that, if any?

Sep 27, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) pitches against the Washington Nationals in the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Now once you figure all of it out, then you can figure out what to do … especially with Lugo and Rosario. With the Mets in desperate need of starting pitching, where the bosses (whoever they are) decide to put Lugo will really depend on what is available in the free agent market to them. If Marcus Stroman wants to come back, if Trevor Bauer wants to try his hand in the big city, or if Robbie Ray wants to be the new Steven Matz (or hopefully the new Jon Matlack), then Lugo can shift to the bullpen. If Bauer stays in Cincinnati, Stroman decides he wanted to be a Yankee all along, and Ray retires to operate a food truck with Ty Kelly, then Lugo might have to be a starter.

Rosario’s scenario is probably more jarring, as with Andres Gimenez impressing so much this season, and Ronny Mauricio getting good reviews for his time in the minors, the Mets need to make a decision regarding Rosario. They could keep him as the everyday shortstop, they could take advantage of his numbers against lefties and make him a platoon/utility player, they could make him a center fielder, or they could hope that he still has some trade value as a young every day shortstop and trade him to a team that thinks they can unlock a superstar. The conclusion that the Mets come to as to why he regressed so much will decide how they proceed.

But whoever makes the decisions about Lugo, Rosario, the rotation, the centerfielder, the catcher, the bullpen, just know that it absolutely cannot be Brodie Van Wagenen. Look, Van Wagenen can’t be blamed for Stroman opting out, Noah Syndergaard getting hurt, and Steven Matz losing all effectiveness. But his idea (or maybe it was Jeffy’s idea) to create depth by bringing in Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha instead of bringing back Zack Wheeler turned out to be awful. His moves at the deadline were atrocious, as while the Marlins were going out and getting Starling Marte, Brodie was out trading prospects for Todd Frazier, Robinson Chrinos, and Miguel Castro. He traded a prospect for Billy Hamilton before tossing him aside after two weeks, he traded prospects for Jake Marisnick who played three games, and lent credence to the thought that if Brodie just spent the entirety of his tenure as a general manager picking his nose, the organization as a whole would be much better off. Omar Minaya and Sandy Alderson had mixed results as general maangers, but both left foundations of players that have helped the team win when you look back at their careers as a whole. What are we going to look back on in 3, 4 years and say “boy, Brodie really laid a solid foundation?” J.D. Davis? Edwin Diaz? Matt Allan?

There will be more speculation on what the Mets should do, who the Mets should go after, and everything else having to do with the new regime and the new roster. But for now, I’m just here to tell you that I’m happy this season is over. Although I’m sad to not have Gary, Keith and Ron to provide the soundtrack. So much so that I’m still watching this stupid game, which is in the top of the 8th, just to hear Keith talk about almond milk and scorecards, and Gare being passive aggressive about the Nationals’ television crew. That’s the part I hope never ends. But it will, as soon as this replay is over. (I’m on record as saying I want Keith and Ron to call a random college football game with Randazzo on some sort of social media outlet.)

But I’m happy that this is over. I’m stunned and incredibly sad that the last baseball game I went to was the game where Pete Alonso broke Aaron Judge’s rookie home run record. Hopefully we can all get to 2021 in one piece and we can all enjoy some change. Change in our ability to be at a ballgame live, change in our ability to do anything live, change back to the old playoff system, and most importantly, a change in ownership.

P.S. I got through the entire game. Of course Todd F*cking Frazier waves at a curve ball to end the season. Among all the things I never expected to see when 2020 started, that was on the list. Congratulations, 2020. You suck.

Today’s Hate List

  1. Andrew Stevenson

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