The 2017 New York Mets lived a good life. So young, so hopeful. So full of promise. Shiny-eyed boys with grand expectations.
That’s all gone now.
We probably should have done this a while ago. When Noah Syndergaard went down, or Jeurys Familia. When David Wright stayed down. When Yoenis Cespedes fell apart, then Asdrubal Cabrera, then Neil Walker. Delayed DL stints and month-long slumps and embarrassingly bad bullpen management. So many little things that added up to failure. Death by a thousand paper cuts, or, rather, death by a thousand Rafael Montero pitches.
So here we are, about to start the second half of a lost season. It’s time to say goodbye.
There are pieces to ship off, some more valuable than others. Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, Jerry Blevins, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson. Whatever Cabrera and Walker are worth, or if you can trick someone into taking Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas off your hands. The Mets aren’t going to be cleaning out anyone’s farm system, but there are players to sell and 2018 isn’t that far away. But the front office has to make the deals.
At the end of last month, Buster Olney reported that the Mets were “open for business.” At that point, the team was 32-41, 12 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and 13.5 back in the Wild Card. On Friday, Terry Collins said the team is “trying to get back in the race.” Today, they’re 39-47, 12 games back in the NL East and 10.5 in the Wild Card. There’s no race left. The race is over. So why pretend it’s not?
Why pretend the Mets are going to pick up a dozen games on the Nationals by October? Why pretend they can overtake Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago, Colorado, and Arizona for a Wild Card berth? Why pretend fans don’t know better? Yes, miracles happen. Feel free to mock me in October when the Mets are in the postseason. But is it worth risking the future on a miracle?
Fans aren’t stupid. They know injuries have devastated the 2017 season. They know the Nationals are tough and that the National League, for all its faults, has some really good teams. There are outliers, sure, fans who will use their last breath to insist the Mets stand a chance. They don’t. So let’s stop pretending.
It’s hard to give up, to admit defeat. I don’t like it, and I’m not a professional athlete who measures my life in wins and losses and how many times I hit a baseball over a wall. That’s why the men in suits earn the big paychecks, so they can be the ones to say it’s over. I don’t have to say it. You don’t have to say it. Jacob deGrom doesn’t even have to say it. Sandy Alderson does though. And he has to.
In 2015, Brewers owner Mark Attanasio wrote a letter to fans following a 68-94 season, good for a .420 winning percentage and fourth place in the NL Central.
“Since the end of last season, we have traded for another seven young players, including three with Major League experience. Through all these trades, we have added fourteen prospects to our team, supplementing the players we selected in what was considered a rich 2015 draft. As reported on mlb.com, eleven of our top twenty prospects have been acquired in the past two years either through draft or trades. The restocking of the farm system has begun in earnest,” he wrote.
“So, as we approach 2016, I want to reiterate how much the entire Brewers organization appreciates the community’s strong enthusiasm for the club. We are dedicated to building something special here in Milwaukee for you, the best fans in baseball. I thank you once again for your steadfast support.”
Attanasio knew Brewers fans were tired of losing, but he also knew, like they did, that 2015 didn’t matter. And he had the decency to be upfront about the team’s goals and plans. The teardown in Milwaukee took longer than what has to happen in Flushing.
The Mets don’t have to send a letter and they don’t have to hang a For Sale sign on the Citi Field front gate. But they have to be serious about rebuilding.
2017 is dead. Long live 2018.
Photo credit: Jason Vinlove – USA Today Sports