The Dark Backstreets Of Rebuilding

Justin Verlander, New York Mets

In retrospect, I should have known this day was coming when I played my morning six letter Wordle:

The Dark Backstreets Of Rebuilding

In what was the final, and probably the most shocking sale at the deadline, Justin Verlander was returned to the Houston Astros for two good prospects, Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford. I didn’t think that this package was the best they could have gotten if they had shopped him around, but if you consider that Verlander probably called his shot with the full no-trade clause that he had, then I guess Gilbert and Clifford are okay. Hate to think that the Mets couldn’t maximize their assets because of Verlander’s love for Martin F***ing Maldonado, but I’ll live.

Great to see Justin is excited. Gets his money, gets his catcher. The Mets are just a bad Bobby Ewing dream at this point. God bless.

I know that at some point, the Mets are going to reap a reward or two from the haul they got from this trade deadline. I’ll even go this far: They’ll do better from the 2023 sell off than they did from the 2017 sell off, when they got Drew Smith. Maybe it’ll be Luisangel Acuna that’ll hit big. Maybe it’ll be Clifford. Maybe it’ll be Marco Vargas. It could even be the 17-year-old shortstop they got for Tommy Pham (oh that’s right, Tommy Pham got traded too.) Just by the sheer fact that the Mets are paying down money on all these contracts means that somebody has a better chance of hitting big from this group that they got.  And at that point, I’ll go back and look upon today as a good day.

But as I sit here tonight, today wasn’t good. It was necessary. I’ll give that to you. But it’s not good. Especially when Verlander could have been a good pitcher next season and a valuable resource to the young pitchers in this organization, and would have helped keep the Mets afloat in 2024. But now? We have three and a half question marks in the starting rotation staring us in the face for the rest of this season and next. This season? I knew that was toast and I was willing to accept that this roster would be filled with the likes of Rafael Ortega, Josh Walker, John Curtiss,and Michael Perez. I also knew that there was a chance that they would get some organizational filler to pitch because they’re desperate for arms, like they did when they brought in Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang at the end of a forgettable 2013 …

But to hear that 2024’s expectations should be lowered? Consider what Max Scherzer told the media today in his introductory newser with the Texas Rangers (edited for clarity):

For the past kind of couple weeks, I never thought I was gonna get traded from the Mets. Kind of the sentiment amongst the club, even though we were struggling that we were gonna reload for 2024,. All the guys that were still in our contract for next year, we kind of thought with Steve there that we would reload. That was just kind of the sentiment amongst the clubhouse. So I never thought I was gonna get traded.

Then a couple days ago I had some players across the league texting me like saying like, Hey, we’ve made some trade offers for you. Are you gonna get traded? Would you accept the trade? I was like, I didn’t think I was gonna get traded. And then I made my start and that’s when I said, I, you know, obviously I need to have a conversation with the Mets cuz we had just traded David Robertson. And then all of a sudden now I’m getting questions from other players across the league. And so that’s when the next day I had a talk with Billy. We talked, he asked what’s going on, what’s our viewpoint of the deadline. And more importantly, what’s the view for 2024. And his answer was that the team is now kind of shifting vision and, and that they’re looking to compete now for 2025 and 2026, and that 2024, it was not gonna be a reload situation in New York in that it was gonna be more of a transition in 2024. And we’re looking to  make decisions to compete outside my contract window.

I said, okay, now that’s news to me,  different than what I’d ever ever heard out of Steve’s mouth. I was like, all right, I gotta hear this directly from Steve. So I had a phone call with Steve, um, and he basically articulated the same vantage point that that was the new vision for the Mets. That was the new timeline that they were identifying and that players that were under contract for next year that they could be potentially sold off at the deadline right now. And that the team could be really flipped around at the deadline as we speak. And so once it became official, … then I said, yes, I will waive my no trade clause under those pretenses.

Now if this is all true, and Scherzer wouldn’t have a reason to lie as he has always been forthcoming in his time as a Met, and even if it’s not true, that’s a horrible message to have out there for the Mets fanbase to digest for next season. Beyond that? Great. But the Mets are going to have three rotation spots to fill next season. They could fill two of them this season with Fergie Jenkins and Mario Soto for all I care. But are we being led to believe that they’re going to try to get by next season with the likes of David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and … say, Mike Vasil? And then wait for all the dead money to come off the books after next season to go back in? Because I have to say, I’m not at all excited about that.

I always thought the plan would be to get Juan Soto in 2025 and build ’round him, Alonso, and hope that some of their kids hit big, and now they have a lot of kids that could hit. All this is great, especially considering how mismanaged the farm has been in the past, and that they’re still recovering from punting an entire draft to sign Matt Allan, who might never pitch again. All that is great. But for there to be no real plan to at least try to compete in 2024? Man, I hope Scherzer was just being overdramatic.

We know how Cohen responded to Steve Matz’s agent. It caused them to get Scherzer in the firstBut  place. So who knows. But I can’t help be melancholy that after all of that great momentum that the team and the organization had from the Scherzer signing until June has crashed into a brick wall. It doesn’t feel good. Not now, and probably not until 2025 or even 2026.

“It’s a little bit of a longer-term outlook, which is tough, and different than the conversations we had in the offseason. But I get it. I get the business side of it. We’ve tried two years of, really, just not caring what we spend and going to get the best players. We won 101 games one year and we don’t know what this year will end up being, but it’s not what we wanted. The unfortunate part is we need to try a different way.”Brandon Nimmo

I’m with Nimmo. I get it. The Mets need to try a different way, and I think the goal of the Steve Cohen regime was always to get to that different way. Hell, there have been too many years under the Wilpons where they would be 7 games out of a playoff spot, buy, then lose guys like Jose Bautista or Scott Kazmir. So I get it. They’ve probably needed a full reboot like this for 40 years. And with the new rules victimizing old pitchers like Scherzer, Verlander, and Carlos Carrasco, along with some hitters, they needed to prioritize getting younger and more athletic. I get all of that, and the pragmatic part of me applauds all of this.

But the baseball fan in me is depressed, and that’s the prevailing emotion on this night.


Pete Alonso hit a missile of a home run, Francisco Alvarez hit a go ahead home run in the 10th, but the Mets bullpen caughed it up in the bottom of the 10th in a game that ended when Josh Walker balked home the winning run. It’s really the only way this wretched night could end.

It is going to be a long two months.

Today’s Hate List

The one good thing that happened tonight was Alvarez’s home run, and f*cking Gelbs calls him Francisco Lindor.

Please don’t ever do a Five Days In Flushing on this week.

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