The Reboot Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Verlander suitcase

Justin Verlander won his 250th career game on Sunday. In a perfect world, not only does he do this about a month ago. but the win puts the Mets in solid playoff position allowing them to move around their rotation so that they can pace themselves and get enough rest so that they’re all healthy in October.

We know, as Mets fans, that this world isn’t perfect. In this real workd. Justin Verlander’s 250th career victory is notable in that it could be his final win in a Mets uniform. After the trade of Max Scherzer to the Rangers so he can continue to follow Jacob deGrom around as if he was playing the fiddle on Elton John’s farewell tour, anything should be, and is, on the table for this franchise.

I think about Max’s post game newser where he talked about having conversations with the front office after the trade of David Robertson, where he hesitated before answering the question. I can’t help but think he knew. And that his hesitation was in crafting an answer that sounded good. Scherzer has been very good with the media this season. Was very forthcoming with them about the sticky stuff and everything else this season. But he had a different tone that night. He sounded like someone who was keeping something under wraps, giving us athlete speak instead of being himself.

I would bet that he knew. They all knew. Trades don’t just get put together in a day when someone has a bad press conference. I’m sure that’s what you all want to think. That Max played “tough guy” and wanted answers, and Steve Cohen responded by picking up the phone and telling Billy Eppler “get him out of here”, and a trade was engineered within a day. It makes a great Hollywood script, right? Well guess what, kids: Life isn’t a Marvel movie or the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix. If I may be frank with you, the sooner you understand that, the more enriched your lives will be.

The Reboot Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Max Scherzer got traded because it made sense. He wat pitching like a mid-rotation starter and getting paid like an ace. I’m sure the Mets would have kept him if it made sense. The Mets have little rotation options, and to have a resource like Max around the club to impart his wisdom to other starters is always a good thing. And if there was a 2013 Matt Harvey or a 2015 Jacob deGrom on the team that would have wholly benefitted from having Max around, maybe he stays.

But having Max Scherzer around was not going to help Carlos Carrasco. Justin Verlander doesn’t need his help. The Rangers were offering Ronald Acuna Jr.’s brother. And the Mets stink this year. So it made sense, and it happened. It doesn’t dull the disappointment of having Max Scherzer on the Mets not work. He had one great season that ended badly, and a half a second season where Father Time flexed a little bit. Max Scherzer 2023 is Pedro Martinez 2006. I didn’t want it this way. I wanted Max to grab another World Series MVP with the Mets. But it didn’t happen, and that sucks.

I will say this: Even knowing everything that happened, if presented with a chance like this under similar circumstances as they were in the winter of 2022, I would absolutely do the same thing. The Mets went for it, and they did so without having to trade their farm to make it happen. The end of Scherzer’s time as a Met got them a very good prospect after the Mets realized that maybe this team has 2015 Padres vibes to it. And when the 2015 Padres recognized their vibes, they tore it down and traded James Shields for a relative of a major leaguer. So it was a gut punch, but it made sense.

Will Verlander be next? Nothing would surprise me. But the thing to remember is that Steve Cohen is still rich, and that their modus operandi has always been so spend money on the major league club so that they don’t have to deplete the minors. They have stayed true to that. There will still be two holes in the rotation to fill next season to take the place of Scherzer and Carlos Carrasco, who is most assuredly not coming back in 2024. I understand that everyone is going to be on the Shohei Ohtani train, but remember that Steve Cohen just can’t pick and choose who he wants and can make it happen with money. He can outbid everyone, but if Ohtani wants the stay on the west coast, he’s going to stay on the west coast.

But there are other free agents that can fill the rotation. Aaron Nola is out there, as are Julio Urias and Lucas Giolito. You sign,say, Nola to a six year deal and Giolito for two, that should get them to the next stage in 2025 where some of their minor leaguers (maybe Christian Scott? Maybe Mike Vasil? Maybe Blade Tidwell?) could be ready. Yes, I realize that the same holds true for Nola and Giolito as it does for Ohtani. You can offer them money, but they may not want to come (Giolito is from the west coast, for example.) But all I’m tying to say is that despite Eppler’s proclamation that the expectations won’t be the same next season as they were the last two, there are options out there to keep the Mets competitive while their farm system finally blossoms. They’re not going to waste an opportunity to win while they have the core that they have (Lindor, Alonso, Senga, McNeil, Alvarez.)

Also don’t forget: At this point in six months, the Mets will probably have a President of Baseball Operations. Would Davis Kearns or someone whose names sounds like Davis Kearns want to take a job where they didn’t want to win right away? Not a chance. And when the Mets do get a POBO, it’s only going to mean great things for the development of their minor league players, something they had been lacking for many years.

In other words, they’re not just going to simply strip it all down and “let the kids play”. That’s code for “tanking”, and no baseball organization with Steve Cohen as the owner should ever have to tank.

That’s a long way to say that I think Justin Verlander is a Met on August 2nd.

Now, the one thing that confuses me and makes me sad, is what I heard through the grapevine while I was at Oriole Park last night, which was Steve Gelbs saying how “the chemistry wasn’t the same from last season to this”, or something like that. It reads like the kind of thing that a team’s beat reporter would write about a team when its season was over, not in the middle of the season. And it’s funny that this is the stuff that comes out right as Max was traded. Was it code for something having to do with Max? Was it typical Wilpon sour grapes from the network that is still partly owned by the Wilpons? Was it even necessary?

In fact, if you want to blame Max’s Mets career on someone, blame the Wilpons for not signing Scherzer in 2015 when they had the chance to like everyone else.

(Editor’s note: Oh that’s right, the Wilpons are broke.)

Justin Verlander won his 250th career game on Sunday. I don’t think it will be his last with the Mets. But nothing would surprise me at this point. We definitely might have also seen the last of players like Tommy Pham, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Daniel Vogelbach, and more. I just hope that whatever happens makes sense.

Today’s Hate List

  1. Jeff Wilpon
  2. Ildemaro Vargas
  3. Drew Gilbert
  4. Rhys Hoskins
  5. Kyle Higashioka
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