In a season that began with so much promise and hopes of another run to the World Series, it takes a lot to admit defeat weeks before even reaching the halfway point. Seventy-five games into the 2017 campaign, however, the New York Mets find themselves looking way up in the standings with little chance of a turnaround.
Even after their three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, the Mets are seven games under the .500 mark for the season, and have continued to slip further back in both the National League East and Wild Card races.
While we’ve seen this Mets team make incredible second-half runs over the last two seasons under manager Terry Collins, never have they found themselves in a hole quite as deep as they’ve dug themselves this year. And that’s why, despite there being 87 games remaining in the regular season, it’s time for the Mets to accept defeat and give up on 2017.
Only three teams in the last 22 years have overcome an All-Star break deficit larger than five games to win their division. As of today, the Mets find themselves 11 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
When you look at the Wild Card history, the Mets’ odds don’t improve all that much. The biggest comeback in the Wild Card era was by the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays, who trailed by 8.5 games on the day of the trade deadline. Today, the Mets are 11.5 behind the Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card spot.
As of today, the Mets currently have a 4.2 percent chance of making the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds report. Since 1995, only one team has made the playoffs with less than a five percent chance on the day of the trade deadline.
While there are still a few weeks for the Mets to turn things around and improve their playoff odds by the midway point of the season, things do not appear to be looking up. Prior to their sweep of the Giants, one of the few teams with playoff odds lower than theirs, New York had lost seven of their previous eight games to the Nationals and Dodgers by a combined score of 59-25.
Just as it appeared that the team was getting healthy with the returns of Yoenis Cespedes, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Asdrubal Cabrera from the disabled list, the Mets have since lost Neil Walker, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Josh Smoker, and Zack Wheeler to injuries of their own. They join David Wright, Jeurys Familia, Noah Syndergaard, and Tommy Milone on the team’s often-utilized (but often not enough) disabled list.
In addition, the pitching staff has continued to be a stunning weakness for this baseball team. For a club known for their dominant pitching, the Mets find themselves with the third worst team-ERA in the major leagues. Through 74 games, the Metropolitans are on pace to allow 878 runs this year, which would be the second-worst single-season mark in franchise history, trailing only the 1962 team that lost 120 games.
While it’s a difficult decision for any organization to make, especially one that was hoping to be a championship contender yet again, the Mets have to realistically assess where they are and concede the 2017 season. Not only is it the correct decision, but it’s one that could put this franchise in a far better position to rebound and potentially make another postseason run in 2018 and beyond.
Trading players such as Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Neil Walker, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jerry Blevins—all of whom are older and not guaranteed contracts past this season—could net the Mets a good crop of young players and/or prospects, while allowing them to call up and develop their own youngsters like Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith at the big league level for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Deciding to become sellers in the midst of what was supposed to be your championship window is never an easy decision, but one aspect general manager Sandy Alderson has always excelled in is getting optimal value for veteran talent—just take a look at the Carlos Beltran, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd trades. If executed properly, the Mets can gain quality, young assets while hanging onto core players such as Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto.
Retooling should be the Mets’ goal as they approach the trade deadline, not holding out hope for both an incredible hot streak of their own and a fairly significant collapse from a fellow National League team.
Giving up on the present will hurt now, but it’s ultimately the right call for the New York Mets, and it can set them up for a legitimate chance at success not only next season, but potentially for years to come.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports