I should be somewhat grateful that they aren't so great this year. Given the way the pandemic has shaped this most unique baseball season, greatness would be wasted. This season reminds me of something that only old timers like myself would remember, Reader's Digest Condensed Books. In a single bound volume you would get 5 popular titles that were condensed down to a fraction of their original size. What remained bore some resemblance to the original, of course, but in the cutting down to fit you lost some of the best qualities that makes a great book great. In the same way, a season crushed down to 60 games loses a good bit of what makes a real baseball season great.
If, as seems likely, this is the last season of Wilpon ownership, it seems pretty fitting that it would come to an end with this oddball condensed season. And the relative certainty that the Wilpons will be selling is what consoles me as I watch this flawed team struggle to string 3 consistent efforts together. While I don't know for sure how a new owner will run this team, I know what the post-Madoff years have been like with the Wilpons in charge, and I feel that the chances that things will at least be better are pretty damn good.
I'd like to think that any owner who wasn't as cash-strapped as the Wilpons would have at least attempted to sign Zack Wheeler. Then the GM wouldn't have felt the need to trade good prospects for what essentially became 10 games of Marcus Stroman, and the Mets might have better options to start games than Walker Lockett. The contract that Wheeler signed with the Phillies was 5 years, $118 million. That wasn't a deal that a large market team should have failed to match. Instead, Wheeler will be pitching against the Mets tomorrow. What a waste.
Anyway, the consequences of the Mets penny-pinching ways have contributed almost as much as the pandemic has in shaping what seems likely to be a quite forgettable season for the Mets. Along with so much else that's happened in 2020, forgetting it will most likely be a good thing.
Some observations from the week I was away:
- If I was to rank the Mets players who have been a disappointment this season, Steven Matz would be up near the top of the list. Eights are wild, with 8 home runs given up in 4 starts and an ERA of 8.20. The promise of his first two seasons has worn off, and now the question seems to be can he even be a useful major league starter. His stuff still looks decent, there's just too many fat pitches for hitters to feast upon.
- I'm trying to figure out why Paul Sewald is still taking up a 40-man roster spot on this team while younger relievers were lost on waivers due to roster crunch (and some less-than-optimal roster management from the front office). The guy is 30 years old, has a lifetime ERA of 5.50, and has been worse than that in 2020. If you look at his stats you could see the prospects of a better pitcher: He gets his share of strikeouts, doesn't give up a ton of hits, doesn't walk the ballpark. But he's never put it all together to be even a reasonable middle inning option.
- At what point does Tomás Nido earn some more playing time over Wilson Ramos? He's already a better option on defense, and he's looking better at the plate. Apparently Nido spent $25,000 of his own money working with a private swing instructor this off-season. The early results are positive. While no one should go crazy based on such a small sample size, Ramos hasn't been hitting much, so why not give Nido an extra day or two a week to see if he can sustain some offense? Nido has had value as a backup the past couple of seasons while hitting under .200. If he can hit above .230 with some power he can be a really valuable backup, or maybe even share duties with another catcher.
- Andrés Giménez continues to play well in the field and provide some offense. Pitchers are starting to throw a lot of off-speed pitches at him and his average has come down quite a bit. He's only drawn a couple of walks and only has 3 extra base hits. Lately he's been getting himself out by swinging at pitches he should let go. His OPS+ is 98, which means he's just under a league average hitter. Combined with his defense and baserunning he's a valuable major leaguer at that level, a solid utility guy. If he can refine his approach at the plate, draw some walks and hit for a little more power he could be a really good staring infielder. This bizzaro season is an excellent chance to find out more about him (and Nido). I love watching him play.
As I mentioned earlier in the week, this is a bit of a crazy time for me right now. I've been dealing with a sciatica issue for about 3-1/2 months. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday to follow up on an MRI from Wednesday. I was hoping for some good news, that an injection in the injured area of my back would get me back to normal. Apparently, however, I have some disk problems that are going to require surgery. I was hoping to get off the merry-go-round of meds and muscle spasms, but I have some stuff ahead of me before that happens. Just another thing about this year I hope to forget going forward.
It's going to be tricky to manage working, dealing with the back and writing here. I will try to post 3-4 times a week, more if possible. I'll update here when I know I'm going to miss any time longer than a day. I will post tomorrow.
Okay, that's it for today. Please stay safe, be well and take care.
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