New York Mets: 7 Reasons the Season Went Wrong
For most Mets fans, it seems like 2006 was a lot longer than five years ago. We've had to deal with two torturous collapses, a midnight firing, two new managers and a new general manager.
This will be the fifth-straight playoff-less season in Queens, and the third-straight losing season for the Amazins.
Although the expectations were low in April, the Mets were within playoff contention until August. They did that while enduring injuries and numerous other issues, but reality eventually caught up with them.
Here are seven reasons this season went wrong for the New York Mets.
7. An Unreliable Bullpen
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I think unreliable is a very nice way of putting it. It's hard to be a winning team when you have no confidence in any of your bullpen arms.
Relievers come in to pressure-packed situations, and it seemed like nobody could get an out when it mattered most. The Mets have now resorted to mostly running out September call-ups like Josh Stinson and Dale Thayer.
Manny Acosta has stepped it up lately, and Tim Byrdak has been a pretty good LOOGY (Lefty One-Out GuY) in the second half. But let's look at everyone else.
Pedro Beato looked great in the first half, but he's been terrible in the second half and has been going through a period of dead arm. Jason Isringhausen has been god-awful since recording his 300th save. And I don't even have to get into DJ Carrasco, Bobby Parnell and Ryota Igarashi.
6. The Jose Reyes Contract Situation
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This has been a constant issue throughout this entire season. Jose Reyes will be a hot commodity in free agency this offseason, and Sandy Alderson has made it clear that re-signing Reyes is going to be a top priority.
Yes, Jose has had a great season and might win a batting title, but there are times when these things can become a distraction to the entire team. The Mets approached Jose and his agent earlier in the season, but the Reyes camp said that they don't want to talk until the offseason.
You can't blame him for wanting to test free agency, but stuff like this gets blown out of proportion in a place like New York. Professional athletes are supposed to block out all distractions, but sometimes it's not so easy.
The issues surrounding the future of the Mets' superstar might have had a negative effect on the team.
5. The Outfield Dimensions at Citi Field
This has been another hot topic of discussion regarding the Mets. The cavernous outfield gaps and the Great Wall of Flushing have taken away numerous home runs from the Mets.
Yes, the dimensions effect both teams playing, but playing 81 games at a stadium like that could be tough to deal with. While the Mets have played well on the road, they are currently 31-44 at home.
I think the proof is in the pudding when you look at guys like Jason Bay and David Wright. Bay has not found his swing in two seasons in New York, and there is no doubt that David Wright has changed his approach.
He used to drive the ball to right field so well, but he's gotten away from that. Wright is trying too hard to pull the ball—probably to make up for the lack of home runs, as it is very hard to hit a opposite-field home run at Citi Field.
The Mets are a better offensive team on the road, so I feel like the dimensions must have gotten to the guys' heads. Sandy Alderson has talked publicly about changing the dimensions next season, and most Mets fans agree with the idea. Round off the fence in right center field, and lower and/or bring in the left field wall.
4. No Power
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This ties into the previous slide regarding the Citi Field dimensions. The main problem with the Mets has been their pitching, but the team has experienced a huge power outage this season as well.
The team leader for home runs isn't even on the team anymore, as Carlos Beltran hit 15 with the Mets. Wright has hit 14. Only the lowly San Diego Padres have a team leader with a smaller total (Ryan Ludwick with 11).
The Mets aren't really built around the long ball, but I think this will improve next season. Ike Davis will be back, and he should hit around 20-25 homers. Wright will hopefully be healthy for all of 2012, and it seems like the Mets have something in Lucas Duda.
If Jason Bay can have a better season, the Mets will have legitimate home run threats from Nos. 3-6 in their lineup. Adjusting the outfield dimensions at Citi Field should also help with this.
3. No Closer
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The closer situation will be talked about a ton during this offseason. Sandy really had no choice but to trade K-Rod. Jason Isringhausen recorded his 300th career save, and that's all fine and good, but the Mets have been waiting for somebody to step up ever since then.
Bobby Parnell has all the tools and was probably the front-runner, but he hasn't shown he can handle that role. And Manny Acosta has been OK in a few opportunities, but I don't think any Mets fans are confident in the options within the organization. Jenrry Mejia will be coming back from Tommy John surgery, and I always felt like he was closer material, but he won't be ready for the start of spring training, though.
The Mets could also look outside of the organization (Heath Bell and Jonathan Papelbon will be free agents), but I don't think the Mets are in a position to spend at will this offseason (especially if they plan on re-signing Reyes).
The bottom line is that someone will need to step up in spring training. Having a reliable closer is crucial to a winning team—you can't let leads slip away late in games. Parnell, Acosta and Pedro Beato look to be the options as of now. Or maybe Mike Pelfrey...
2. Pelfrey Didn't Step Up
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How about that for a transition?
We knew that Johan Santana was going to miss the entire season due to shoulder surgery. Mike Pelfrey was the opening day starter, and he was expected to be the ace in Santana's absence. He had a good 2010, so many thought that maybe this would be the year that the former first-round pick would become a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Well, he's gone 7-12 with a 4.58 ERA, and has pretty much been the least reliable guy in the Mets' rotation. It's been consistent mediocrity for Big Pelf.
The idea of making Pelfrey the closer has been brought up, almost half-jokingly, but I actually think it could be a good idea. He's a sinker-baller, which is not the usual makeup of a closer, but he's a big guy and usually comes out of the gate throwing hard; then, after a few innings, he loses his command and velocity and gets hit around.
Pelfrey has said that he'd be open to becoming a closer, and I really think that a new role would be beneficial.
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It's hard to say that injuries are the main reason for a team's struggles. Every team has to deal with them, and it's the good teams that are able to make up for missed time. But what the Mets have had to deal with over the past few years is ridiculous.
Back in May, Ike Davis suffered what appeared to be an innocent bruised ankle when he collided with David Wright on a pop-up. That innocent bruise turned into a season-ending injury. David Wright missed a substantial amount of time with a back injury, and Daniel Murphy suffered an excruciating knee injury in August.
Jon Niese was having a good season until he suffered a rib injury in August, and righty Chris Young has missed essentially the entire season with a shoulder injury. I also mentioned that the Mets have been without their ace Johan Santana, and prospect Jenrry Mejia, for the entire season.
For the first half, the Mets were able to send out a patchwork lineup with young infielders like Justin Turner and Ruben Tejada stepping up. But you can only survive so long without so many of your top players.
So while this was a tough season, I feel like Mets fans still have a lot to look forward to. With a healthy and focused lineup, a fortified starting rotation and a smaller Citi Field, the Mets can be a quiet contender in the National League next season.