Thursday, September 25, 2014

Return of Alderson and Collins echos Mets Satisfaction with Mediocrity

Inspite of four straight losing seasons, little major league talent with the big club, and a nearly 3/4 empty stadium for much of the past few seasons, it doesn't seem to matter at all to Fred and Jeff Wilpon: they have endorsed the efforts of Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, signing both of them to extensions beyond 2015. 

Mediocrity is bliss when it comes to the Mets. As long as the team shows some progress, but not enough progress to get a fan base excited is good enough for ownership as well as the number of delusional Met fans that STILL believe Alderson is the next Frank Cashen.

Granted the Mets have played better -- somewhat -- in the second half of 2014. Their pitching staff carried them for much of the second half of the year. In fact that is where the kudos begin and end regarding Alderson.

Alderson came to New York and was asked to rebuild the farm system, and did so especially with the starting pitching staff. The Mets will head into 2015 with a strong starting rotation intact. From Matt Harvey, who needs to show he is back from Tommy Johns Surgery, to Jacob DeGrom, Zach Wheeler, and Jon Niese, the Mets are set here. Plus the Mets expect top prospect Noah Syndergaard to be a big part of the rotation in 2015 as well.

But that is where all the accolades end for the Mets. Alderson and Collins have done little else that should give fans confidence that this is a ball club that is ready to challenge for a playoff spot come next year.  Forget for a moment that the Mets play in a rather weak division; remember this is an organization that has told its fan base every year that: 'next year is the year we turn it around.'

We are still waiting for next year.

Remember when 2013 was supposed to be the year the Mets shed all of the weights from the Bernie Madoff mess, would open the pocket books and spend, spend, spend? Well, that day never arrived. Then the Mets, with Alderson its biggest cheerleader, told us that 2014 would be the year that the team would turn it around.

The Mets have won 79 games and spent much of the year either in third or fourth place. So much for 2014 being the year of the turnaround.

In both of these years Alderson didn't make a move at the trade deadline; in the off-season he did even worse with one questionable free agent signing after another. Chris Young, Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, and Frank Francisco are just an example of the kind of free agents that Alderson has brought in, all of them have failed to one degree or another. Alderson also passed on potential free agents who could have helped the team, i.e. Nelson Cruz. Do these moves, or lack thereof justify a three year extension?

As for Collins while he is a very good man, he isn't the right guy for the job. Never has been. Collins have been critiqued for his lack of fire, and poor handling with lineups and the bullpen over the years -- yet, even though he has managed a team that seems steadfast in mediocrity, he's done enough in the eyes of the Wilpons to warrant a return.

Yet here we are the Mets head toward 2015 and beyond with the same crew steering the ship.

While the starting staff looks good, the rest of the roster is very questionable. Mets' fans would say the bullpen is ready to go for 2015 with Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia leading the way, but anyone who knows baseball knows that bullpens are a year-to-year evaluation. While the young pitchers in the Mets pen did a solid job down the stretch in 2014, it does not mean they will be lights out in 2015. The Mets could do themselves a big favor by getting a couple free agent veteran relievers for that pen if they want to be taken seriously.

Then there is the lineup that hit .239 with a .309 on base percentage as a team this year. Not good. One glance at the Mets current lineup of hitters and it is fair to say there are legitimate questions at every position.

The Mets don't know if Daniel Murphy will be their second baseman next year and beyond; will it be Murphy or Daniel Herrera?  Murphy was the Mets best hitter in 2014, but they might be inclined to trade him, opening up the spot for the untested Herrara. Yes, another Met minor leaguer trying to make it in the big leagues.

They have a big question mark at short stop between Ruben Tejada and Wilmur Flores. Neither player distinguished himself this season, and the Mets need to either, A) get a short stop in free agency, or B) bite the bullet with these two once more.

Questions abound about the competency of Lucas Duda at first base and Travis d'Arnaut at catcher for the long term; David Wright's health is also a legitimate concern moving forward, especially at 32 years old.

And don't forget the outfield where the Mets have no answers. Curtis Granderson hit .229; Eric Young Jr. hit .232 and Jaun Lageras is as light hitting as they come even though he hit the best of this group at .281. None of them inspire much confidence either.

So if the Mets are going to trust Alderson and Collins again for a few more years, they better get some players this time around, because the mediocrity is too much to bare. But then again, don't tell that to the Wilpons.

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