While the baseball season is far from over, as each day slowly passes my beloved Mets’ season comes closer to its merciful end. When I left New Paltz last semester, I preached of hope and optimism surrounding the Mets, and I even predicted the Mets being part of the playoff race.
And for a while I was right.
In May, the Metropolitans were in the thick of the playoff hunt and the team seemed as if they were running on all cylinders. On May 1, the Mets were in first place and by June 20 they were in second by only two and a half games. Without their star centerfielder Carlos Beltran and with their big ticket free agent Jason Bay struggling, the Mets were overachieving and looked like a team that could be interesting. At the All-Star Break, the Mets were in second place and only trailed the Atlanta Braves by four games. The division was in reach, and a sense of ability was overcoming the Mets fan base.
Then Beltran came back.
For almost a year, the Mets had continued to tell their fan base that they didn’t need to spend more money on free agents or make a blockbuster trade because soon Beltran would make is triumphant return, free of the his various injuries that have plagued him. To the Mets, getting Beltran back was like making a trade without having to mortgage the future or like signing a big name free agent without having to spend the money.
After the All-Star Break, the Mets were faced with a tough schedule where it was determined that it could make or break their season. Armed with confidence, determination and a sense of good things to come, the Mets embarked on their toughest challenge of the year.
Unfortunately, the Mets utterly failed during that stretch, and won two games out of the 11 they played. Beltran came back and decimated what little fluidness the lineup had, and the problems began to pile up. During that losing streak, the Mets’ season died, along with any optimism I had.
However, there is one bright spot with the Mets falling out of contention. With the current games being all but meaningless, the Mets are able to allow younger more promising players show off their skills and gain valuable major league experience.
For example, Dillon Gee, who went 13-8 for AAA Buffalo, has pitched two games for the Mets this season and currently has a 0.69 ERA. While Gee may not become a bonafide ace of the future (which something the Mets need) he could become an excellent supplementary piece that is something the have lacked since 2006. I could easily see Gee becoming a Rick Reed type of pitcher who fills out the back end of the Mets rotation for many years.
Other players who have been gaining playing time include slugging outfielder Lucas Duda and Josh Thole. Duda has struggled mightily since getting his call up to the majors, but his power numbers were extraordinary in AAA this year, and his raw power reminds me of Adam Dunn. Thole on the other hand has been exceptional since he was called up. He played so well, he forced free agent signing Rod Barajas out of a starting job, and now seems to be the Mets catcher of the future. I personally like Thole a lot, and see him becoming a perfect no.2 hitter like former Met catcher Paul LoDuca.
Overall, The Mets are in a strange state between rebuilding and contending. I hope that next year the Mets allow their young players to develop and become solid major league players. Over time, the Mets could create a home-grown core that could bring glory back to the orange and blue.