Monday, July 19, 2021

Making a "Splash" in a Year of Uncertainty

At least according to one scribe's unnamed "industry source," the New York Mets will be "looking to make a 'big splash' at the deadline. Author Pat Ragazzo cites a single unnamed source here, so take it with a grain of salt. Frankly, at this point, I am not 100% clear in my own mind what the most logical course would be for the Mets.

On the one hand, the Mets have done an amazing job keeping their head above water at all through 90 games this season. The number of injuries they've suffered through would have buried any other Mets team in my memory. In fact, it was a hallmark of the Wilpon era for a promising season to be derailed by far fewer injuries than this club has endured.

On the other hand, you have Jacob deGrom — the undisputed "best pitcher on the planet" right now — who can't seem to make it through more than a start or two without something new flaring up in some part of his body. Each of these ailments have been described as unrelated to any other problem, and none of them have caused him to miss an excessive amount of time. Still, every time one of these comes up, I feel a little less confident about the chances for deGrom enjoying a run of uninterrupted good health this season.

Personally, that's a big deal, and if I was running the Mets, that would factor hugely into how I would approach the Trade Deadline. Quite simply, any club that had Jacob deGrom and a couple of other competent starting pitchers would have a real chance of going quite far in the playoffs. All it would require would be a bit of good luck and the team itself going on a run of good play in October. However, if you were to take Jake out of the equation, this Mets team has a markedly lesser chance of making it to October, much less making a big splash there.

Look, there can be little doubt that the Mets will do something at the deadline. They're trying to flip the script and build a consistent winner here. They can't afford to stand pat and do little or nothing. That sends the wrong message to not only the fans but also the players themselves. I'd be shocked if the first trade deadline under Steve Cohen was a complete snoozer.

Still, the facts are that the Mets are sitting a mere 6 games over .500 after 90 games and are quite lucky to be leading their Division by a couple of games. If they were in either of the other NL Divisions, they would be in much worse shape. They'd be 5.5 games behind the Brewers in the weak NL Central, only a game-and-a-half up on the Reds. If they were in the NL West, they'd be in fourth place, 9 games behind the first-place Giants and a full four games behind the third-place Padres.

The Mets are simply not a very good team right now. Yesterday's win over the woeful Pirates salvaged what could have been a disastrous weekend into merely a bad one. And the reason for a fan like myself to get really excited about this team continues to elude me.

It feels like the scene in the movie Used Cars from 1980, where salesman Rudy Russo, played by Kurt Russell, poaches a potential client from the lot across the street by reeling in a $20 bill attached to a fishing line.

Every time the guy thought the $20 was within his grasp, Russo would reel it a little further away. Likewise, there have been times this year that I thought the Mets were poised to make a positive move towards establishing control of this season. But then the offense would go into another funk, another pitcher would go down to injury, and deGrom would be "very frustrated" by the latest thing that would crop up and put him on the sidelines yet again. 2021 continues to be the combination of frustrating and tantalizing where big questions never seem to be answered, just tabled for a later date.

I don't have any industry sources, so I can't provide input on the thought that the Mets might make a "big splash" come July 30. I have no doubt that they're exploring every option as they evaluate where they really are as a team and try to walk the tightrope that balances building for the future with the pressing needs of now. They have a very small, finite number of prospects that would interest another team to part with an impact player. Trade some of those away at this deadline, and there will be fewer available for potential trades this winter and next summer. Sandy Alderson and Zack Scott, choose wisely.

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Things have gone very quiet on the Trevor Bauer situation, other than the news that his paid leave has been extended through July 27 while an investigation of abuse continues into the controversial pitcher. Bauer insists that the rather violent sexual encounters between him and an unnamed woman were "consensual." Even if that were to be so, they're still pretty ugly.

I've always been a believer that what two people agree to do in private is their business. Given that, choking and enough physical abuse to cause injuries is dark, dark stuff. Bauer may ultimately be reinstated to pitch, I don't know, but his reputation towards women has certainly taken quite a big hit.

Which brings me back to the Mets' decision to go all-in on signing Bauer this winter before losing him to the Dodgers. Supposedly, the Mets did some serious vetting of Bauer before making him an offer. But the behavior described in this woman's complaint doesn't come out of nowhere.

Given the problems the Mets already were dealing with regarding the treatment of women within their organization, it would have been an unmitigated disaster for the club if Bauer had signed here and something like this had come out. If I were Steve Cohen, who shelled out the cash to have an outside firm investigate the organization's treatment of women, I'd have serious questions for the folks who allegedly vetted Trevor Bauer.

The club dodged a bullet, but only because the Dodgers stepped in and lured Trevor Bauer away. Even in the worst-case scenario, LA can survive however the Bauer situation plays out. They weren't carrying the huge amount of baggage with women that the Mets were.

But if Bauer had signed with the Mets and something like this came out, the Mets would be getting destroyed in the press right now. And worst of all, the wound would have been self-inflicted. Given all they were already dealing with, the club should have never even considered signing Trevor Bauer.

Please be well and take care.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos.

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