MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets

Game recap June 23: “In the middle”


While watching another night of the dumpster fire that is New York Mets baseball, a particular Sandy Alderson quote from Friday’s pregame presser interrupted my train of thought. The Mets general manager stood in front of the New York media and proclaimed that this team, the same team 12 games under .500 and losers of 42 of their last 60 games, is “in the middle,” not definite buyers but not definite sellers.

Look, the Mets don’t have a ton of valuable pieces to sell outside Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard and both are top-30 starters who teams dream about building around, not trading out of one of the league’s biggest markets. And I know Alderson has to keep a somewhat straight face while saying this, but what’s the point? Seriously, who are we kidding at this point in the season?  Has he even watched this team since the 11-1 start? Sure, Jeurys Familia should probably be moved before the deadline, but what else is there to “sell?” Asdrubal Cabrera isn’t bringing back anything of note, no one wants Anthony Swarzak and the Mets are better off keeping Todd Frazier anyway. deGrom, Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler is a still a rotation to build around, not one to break up because the organization can’t adequately identify major league quality hitters.

I guess we should talk about the game, where the Mets picked up their fifth consecutive loss even with their healthy ace on the mound. Jacob deGrom was good but wasn’t his usual unhittable self Saturday, allowing three earned runs in six innings of work. Still, deGrom overcame command issues (three walks) to put the Mets in position to win, but the offense and bullpen failed him yet again.

The Mets stranded eight on the base paths and were a pitiful 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Are we really that surprised though? To me at least, this level of performance is expected at this point. The Mets shoot themselves in the foot more than any team actively trying to contend I’ve ever seen.

Brandon Nimmo did Brandon Nimmo things, picking up three hits on the evening, including a triple. Jose Bautista did… Jose Bautista things? He’s been much better than expected, but it’s still a relatively small sample size, so let’s not jump to any rash conclusions. That being said, there’s probably a legitimate argument to be made that he’s the second best hitter in the lineup right now. I can’t even believe I said that, but it’s probably true? Right?

With the Mets down 3-2 in the seventh and deGrom’s day over after 112 pitchers, Robert Gsellman entered looking to keep the deficit at one. He failed mightily. After a clean inning in the seventh, the Dodgers exploded for five runs in the eighth. It started with a misplay from Michael Conforto, but he didn’t throw the 94 mph fastball up and in to Matt Kemp, who put this one in the books with a pinch-hit grand slam.

Because of some poor contracts (ahem Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas) and a complete lack of component hitters, the Mets are stuck in the worst place a professional sports team can be. The middle. They aren’t bad enough to contend for the first overall pick, and they aren’t good enough to make a run in October. No organization should strive to be in this position, but the Mets find continue to find themselves here year after year. So, what can they do about it? That’s a whole other article, but I won’t be surprised to see Ian Kinsler at second base and Adam Wainright on the mound next season, and neither should you.

Photo credit: Andy Marlin – USA Today Sports

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