Sinking or Swimming Would Be Better for Mets

Angels series illustrates issues for Mets moving forward.

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Jun 20, 2011  |  Updated 4:53 PM EDT
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Sinking or Swimming Would Be Better for Mets

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It says a lot about the state of the Mets right now that the biggest story of the weekend was Jose Reyes' decision not to dump his current agent in favor of Scott Boras.

Columnists and pundits around the town tried to spin this into some kind of reading into Reyes's mindset as he approaches free agency even though it told us absolutely nothing beyond his loyalty to Peter Greenberg.

There's absolutely no reason to suggest that the likelihood of Reyes staying in town changed one iota because Boras isn't in the picture, but you can't really blame people for trying to get out of the fog shrouding the Mets' future.

Every day brings us closer to the point of no return where the Mets need to step up and start filling out the picture of what the next few seasons will look like. That would be fine if the current team would do a single thing to help everyone figure out what they're dealing with in the present.

Bobbing around .500, as the Mets have been doing for much of the season, makes it extremely difficult for Sandy Alderson to put any kinds of wheels in motion. He can't sell because fans would revolt and he can't buy because you don't need to gild a lily that hasn't shown the slightest sign that it can actually blossom into anything worth savoring this season.

What Alderson needs is a streak to make it clear what the narrative of the rest of the season will be. If the Mets jumped to five or six games over .500, then you would actually have reason to be a stakeholder in the rest of 2011, and if they lost a bunch of games in a row then you'd be free to start shopping veterans without drawing negative reaction.

Neither one of those streaks would make Reyes' future easier to predict because that's a thorny issue now matter how you slice it. Everything else would become crystal clear, though, and the Mets could use that kind of clarity.

Alas, that seems impossible. The three games with the Angels were full of signs that the Mets are doomed to the mushy middle of the standings.

They have an offense that pounds Dan Haren on Saturday, but gets shut down by Joel Piniero and Tyler Chatwood in the other two games of the series. Chatwood might make you think of Jimmy Chitwood, but he's not a guy who should dominate a big league lineup.

Maybe that gets better when Ike Davis and David Wright return, but the hard truth is that they weren't all that hot when those two were playing every day. You need something sooner than they'll be able to provide it, anyway, so it isn't enough to sit back and hope.

Mike Pelfrey pitched great in Saturday's complete game, which shouldn't be maddening. It is, however, because Pelfrey remains the erratic and inconsistent pitcher he has been since he first put on a Mets uniform.

Jon Niese was a bust on Sunday, something that should be worthy of a mulligan given his recent work, but history makes it hard to completely believe this was just an off day. Like Pelfrey, Niese has offered up such extremes that it is hard to hope for much more than .500 with a rotation fronted by the two of them.

When your boat sinks, treading water beats drowning. In baseball, we're not quite sure.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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