Several weeks ago, New York Mets broadcasters Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez had a special guest in the SNY television booth. General Manager Sandy Alderson sat with both Gary and Keith to talk about the 2012 season and the future of New York's National League franchise.
Alderson spoke about many things: the development of Matt Harvey, the contract situation of third baseman David Wright and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and the future of first baseman Ike Davis (the Mets were reportedly dissatisfied with the slugger).
Among other things, Alderson's most interesting comment was his explanation that the Mets' second-half collapse was largely due to their lack of home runs.
As everyone knows, the Mets had a great first half of the 2012 season and were in the early wild-card hunt. Despite the fact that the middle relief pitching was terrible and the fact that Davis was hitting well below .200, the Mets were playing exciting baseball. They were at seven games above the .500 mark and had one of the most memorable highlights in club history when lefty Johan Santana threw the franchise's first no-hitter on June 1st.
Their timely two-out hitting and solid starting pitching, led by eventual 20-game winner Dickey, made the Mets one of the most compelling stories in baseball. However, it all came crashing down. Once the clutch hitting stopped, the Mets had a two-month period where they couldn't buy a run.
But was it only because of the lack of home runs? To me the problem was also a lack of speed. When Sandy Alderson was interviewed by Cohen and Hernandez, he didn't even bring up the club's dearth of stolen bases.
Perhaps Alderson was embarrassed. Why? Because he failed to replace the speed he gave away. Combined, when he let Reyes walk to the Miami Marlins, and traded Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants, he gave away a combined 71 steals. What's more, Reyes and Pagan combined for 27 triples this year with Pagan netting 15 for the Giants and Reyes 12 for the Marlins.
Sure, the Mets could add a few more power bats. But having speedy runners on base who can manufacture runs in the absence of muscle would have helped the Mets win more ballgames. Last year, New York averaged 4.43 runs per game as compared with 4.01 runs per game this year.
But this season they actually hit more home runs this season (139) than last year (108), in part because Ike Davis played the whole year.
In any event, Alderson isn't completely wrong when he said the Mets lacked power. Having another home run threat or two to go along with Davis and third baseman David Wright will certainly help the Mets score runs. But the GM should not forget another aspect of the game that Mets sorely need.
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