Mid-season report: Somehow, the Mets are [kind of] getting it done, maybe
There's a lot of uncertainty in the way I want to approach making a statement about the Mets' first half of the season. It's not because I'm afraid of commitment (LEAVE THAT OUT OF THIS); it's because, for the most part, I just don't know about this team. They baffle me day in, day out, and usually in ways I didn't even know were possible (see: Kirk Niewenhuis and a 3-home run game on Sunday).
With that in mind, here are a few different ways that one could reasonably look back on the first half of the season.
Conclusion #1: Sign me up.
The simplest version of a mid-season report involves one easy question: if you offered me on opening day for the Mets to be in the exact position they are in now, would I take it?
Five games above .500. Two games behind Washington for the division lead. Just 1 game behind the Cubs for the second wild card spot, but 6.5 games behind Pittsburgh for the first wild card. They've got the second-best home winning percentage in the league. They are right there.
So, if you offered me all of that in early April at the beginning of the season, I would have signed up without much hesitation. While my expectations for this season were higher than in past seasons, I would have expected Washington to run away with this division. So, the simplest question gets the simplest answer:
All in all, I'm happy with the first half of the season.
Conclusion #2: This could be so much better.
Look above at a gif of Jacob deGrom (the Mets' only representative at this week's All Star game) absolutely ruining a hitter with his slider.
That's, like, his third best pitch.
The Mets' pitching has been beyond great. Some numbers:
Those three starters should not have as many losses and no decisions as they do. The Mets have the worst team batting average in the league (.233), the fewest hits (686), and the second-fewest total bases. If this team could hit even a little bit, they could have a division lead.
I'm frustrated beyond belief at how bad the offense has been.
Conclusion #3: One trade changes everything.
It's probably true that the Mets aren't going to make the playoffs this year.
But they could.
We've already discussed how good the pitching is, and how bad the hitting is. Logical conclusion: trade for a hitter.
Justin Upton is - allegedly - available, and he would be a great fit, if you ask me. He's not a superstar, and wouldn't cost one of the young stellar pitchers, but he's got a lot of good power and could be a big piece for this team, spelling the dreadful Cuddyer in left field and the injured Lagares in center, sometimes, too. But that would be a pretty big move - he comes with a legitimate price - and it's likely the Mets aren't going to make that big of a move. Other options exist, though - Gerardo Parra, Ben Zobrist and Will Venable are names often mentioned in rumors - and even just one deal working out the right way could make a huge difference for this team. They don't need many runs to support this pitching staff, and a small injection would go a long way.
Trading for a solid bat might spur this team to the Wild Card.
Conclusion #4: Same ol' Mets.
I don't know what it is about this team, but for years, they seem incapable of staying healthy. What's more, the doctors don't ever really appear to have any idea what's going on with their injured players.
Misdiagnoses are way too common in this organization. The Mets have had absolutely rotten luck this year with injuries, and they've done a really nice job working around it. Big names who have already missed time this year include Travis d'Arnaud, Daniel Murphy, Buddy Carlyle, David Wright, Zach Wheeler, Michael Cuddyer, Rafael Montero, Josh Edgin, Jerry Blevins, and Eric Goeddel.
That's a lot. We haven't seen Wright at all this season, and there's no real telling when (if) he'll be back. Blevins is a huge piece - the only solid lefty in the bullpen - and he broke his arm after a great few weeks early in the season. Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery before the season and is gone for the year. d'Arnaud has missed all but 19 games, and his bat is a major, major loss. Montero is one of the Mets' most valuable trade pieces, but he can't stay healthy.
Injuries have crippled this team. But they're still hanging around. If Wright and d'Arnaud come back and produce, the outlook changes big time. But with the Mets' doctors' reputation of total ineptitude, that's not something I'm ready to count on.
The return of some injured stars is all that's needed, but there's no guarantee that they'll be back.
So, what are your takeaways from the first half of the season?
Are you optimistic for what's to come, or feeling like it's going to be another 'wait-til-next-year' kind of July and August?
Is it time to develop young bats like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto?
What is the trade you'd like to see the Mets make? Is Upton your guy?