Entering June 30, the Mets were 43-36 and exceeding all expectations by not being in last place. After a 7-19 July, the only amazing thing about the Mets is that they are still in third place.
It’s easy to blame the manager, Terry Collins, in this type of freefall situation because the manager is the one person that fans can point to and say, “He should have pitched Tim Byrdak against the lefty” or “He shouldn’t have sat Daniel Murphy today.”
Terry Collins is doing the best he can to steer his ship in the right direction, but key injuries, the worst bullpen in baseball and no deadline moves haven’t really helped Terry’s cause.
The Mets lost two starters in Dillon Gee and Johan Santana. Gee was just starting to pick up the pieces when he needed to have two surgeries in his right shoulder to repair a damaged artery. Now, Gee may be sitting the remainder of the season, while the Mets were forced to call up one of their top pitching prospects, Matt Harvey, to fill the vacated spot. Harvey is a player the organization would have liked to see benefit from a full season in AAA, but having ran out of options, Harvey was called up prior to a three game set against the Diamondbacks.
Santana, on the other hand, is on the mend and made a rehab start for the Brooklyn Cyclones, throwing 38 pitches over three innings. After coming out of the game, Santana threw three more innings in a bullpen session, totaling 90 pitches for the day. Since his no-hitter on June 1, Santana has struggled for the Mets, pitching to a 6.34 ERA over his eight starts and compiling a 3-5 record.
It’s hard to not consider using R.A. Dickey on short rest, and that’s exactly what Terry Collins did. Collins plans to use his newfound ace on three day’s rest during the next homestand to protect vulnerable starters such as Santana and Chris Young, who had the same shoulder surgery as Santana. But even Dickey is struggling, posting a 5.13 for the month of July and seeing his record fall to 14-3.
It’s difficult to win games when you’re turning not just to the worst bullpen in the National League but also to the worst bullpen in the MLB. The free agent signings of Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, and the acquisition of Ramon Ramirez were supposed to help the Mets. Instead, turning to the bullpen has Met fans covering their eyes during the later innings of the game. The injury to Francisco forced Terry Collins to put pitchers in roles that they weren’t comfortable in, such as having Bobby Parnell close and pitching Tim Byrdak against righties. Allowing 185 runs (third most in MLB) and posting an ERA of 4.92 (MLB-worst) doesn’t have fans opening their eyes anytime soon.
Watching the team collapse is tough enough, but knowing that there is no moveable player on the team is also extremely tough. Despite reports that the Mets were going to trade Jason Bay to the Miami Marlins for Heath Bell, the deal never came to fruition and it’s doubtful that the move would help either team, with Bay batting to the tune of .154 and Bell posting a 6.05 ERA and six blown saves. The Mets have deemed too many of their players “untouchable” and the players that can be moved, such as Scott Hairston, have too high of an asking price for teams looking for a decent bat off their bench.
It’s safe to say the front office has decent faith in the current team that Terry Collins is fielding. And the team is still exceeding expectaions by not being in last place but fans that were hoping for at least the chance to play in game 163 may be oeft waiting until next year.