Friday, July 31, 2020

The Epitome of Meh

Even in a 60-game sprint it's too early to make summary judgements about the Mets, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm watching a very mediocre team right now. Almost everything about them screams yawns "middling" right now. Their 3-3 record, their fielding foibles, and the ongoing failures to capitalize on offensive opportunities all remind me of many previous Mets teams I've witnessed over the years - the baseball equivalent of a weak, tepid cup of restaurant coffee that's been sitting on the warmer a little too long.

Now, don't take any of this to signal that I've hoisted up the white flag on the season. There are the bones of a potentially better team here. If they get a little lucky - stay mostly healthy, avoid COVID infections among key personnel, get Stroman back, get something more resembling a competent major league starter out of Porcello - then they could certainly land somewhere north of break even. Of course, things could also go the other way and they could be a part of the long, fine tradition of underachieving Mets teams. Or coronavirus can shut down the season at any time. The last time I felt this much uncertainty was many years ago when I asked a girl out on a date for the first time.

One thing I am willing to make a fast judgement on. I think these last few years have exhausted my patience for watching a team that can't play fundamentally sound defense. I know a good part of this is the personnel, but I wish we could figure out a way to raise expectations a bit and demand a little more from the current roster. One thing is for sure, however, if I was running this team I would make improving the defense of this team a priority. That goal should inform any personnel decisions going forward. If I could have a dollar for every run the Mets have given up with poor defense over the last few years, I'd be writing this blog from the library of my mansion in the Hamptons.


The Marlins goal of being the Typhoid Mary of the COVID-19 pandemic keeps moving forward. Now the Phillies won't be playing any games through the weekend. Although there have been no new infections among the players, a coach and a clubhouse attendant have tested positive.

Even if that continues to be the case, the Phillies are going to go a full week between games. Besides the question of making up so many games, missing a full week of play so early in the season - after such a short training camp - is going to be a significant problem for the Phillies. This can only wind up further skewing any semblance of parity in the schedule of different teams. It looks like MLB's only goal is to finish the season at any cost.

The idea now seems to be for "corona protocol compliance officers" to accompany teams on road trips. I guess that could work but, as I remember from the high school field trips of my youth, there are ways of outsmarting the chaperones if you have a mind to.


Ben Clemens at FanGraphs has an interesting discussion on what might explain Michael Wacha's success in his first time out of the gate on Monday night. Clemens theorizes it might be Wacha's shelving of an ineffective curveball that contributed to the nice outing. That might well be true, but I also suspect part of it at least was just the fact that the pitchers were ahead of the hitters coming out of the gate.

I'll be interested in watching to see if Wacha continues to eschew the curveball going forward. Clemens made a pretty convincing case for doing so in the piece.


Some quick observations on the reliever's from last night's game:
  • I understand the premium on trying to win every game in a 60-game season, but the Mets have to avoid overusing relievers like Justin Wilson nonetheless. Luis Rojas is going to have to figure out how to get some outs from the "other guys" in the bullpen.

  • Dellin Betances did well against the only batter he faced, striking him out on 4 pitches. But it still worries me a bit that he doesn't seem to have much confidence in his fastball early on. All 4 pitches last night were sliders.

  • Jeurys Familia had his sinker working again last night after not having it at all Tuesday night. So, that's 2 strong outings sandwiching a bad one. Hopefully he can find some consistency with that pitch going forward.
That's going to be it for me today. Please stay safe, be well and take care. Talk to you soon.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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