Wednesday, September 24, 2014

See It Through

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like the Mets have managed to avoid rainouts this season. I know the Mets haven't played very many doubleheaders to this point this year, and I believe they only had one make-up game this year, which was in Philadelphia, after a series when they were already scheduled to be there, so they didn't have any random 1-game stopovers like last year when they had to go to Colorado on their way home from Los Angeles and Minnesota on the way home from San Diego. So Wednesday night's rainout in Washington seems like a bit of an anomaly. Of course, Playoff-bound Washington gets to act all salty and nick their fans for a Day-Night Doubleheader tomorrow, even though I think we all know that there's going to be approximately 20 people at the opening game.

But, even without a game to watch, the Mets still managed to keep themselves in the general consciousness by announcing that both Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins would be returning for 2015. Alderson, in fact, earned himself a nice 3-year contract extension. 

I'm guessing that the skeptics among us aren't too thrilled by this news, but I can see why the deals were done. True, in the 4 years of the Alderson/Collins regime, the Mets have been pretty bad. After basically laying down and dying in the second half of 2011 and 2012, the Mets were perfectly middling throughout the season last year, and though they stand to tick upwards slightly this year as far as wins and losses are concerned, there wasn't exactly much in the way of suspense when it came to the Mets' chances of making the postseason. So, after 4 years of basically nothing and a streak of lost years that has now reached 6 seasons, why keep these guys around?

For years, we've been hearing about how Alderson and Collins haven't had much to work with at the Major League level. Even this year, the roster has been limited (lest we forget starting the season with Jose Valverde, John Lannan and Ike Davis on the roster and Andrew Brown hitting 5th on Opening Day) amid some good stories of younger players finally starting to show their potential. But that's probably the key reason these guys are staying around. The Mets were already dead when Jerry Manuel was at the helm in 2010, and there was no particular hope in sight. Whether it was Collins, Manuel, Wally Backman or whoever, very few managers would have been able to save the team over the past several seasons (even Bobby Valentine would have been hard-pressed). Alderson has come in and basically rebuilt the farm system from the ground up. He wasn't nearly as dramatic in doing so as the Houston Astros have been, but that's basically what he did. And slowly but surely, these prospects have begun to ascend to the Majors, and we're starting to see a little bit of payoff. Matt Harvey was obviously the first to hit the scene, and while it remains to be seen just how he comes back from a lost year, we know what he's capable of being. Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom took major steps forward this year. Travis d'Arnaud and Lucas Duda found themselves after slow starts. Juan Lagares, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia thrived in their roles. These are all guys that are key pieces in the future of the team. Others, like Dilson Herrera and Noah Syndergaard are ready to ascend.

The majority of these names, of course, were brought in by Sandy Alderson. Not all of them, but most of them. But now that the foundation is laid, it's time to get serious about bringing in the necessary parts to make the Mets a winning team again. It's no longer going to be acceptable, with a healthy, young pitching staff, to throw a lineup bereft of talent in several spots, out there day after day. And that's going to be the big story of the coming offseason. What is Alderson going to do to improve a lineup that's been without much teeth on most days? We've been going over the problems with Shortstop and Left Field and Right Field for a few years. It's high time something substantial was done about it. What that's going to be, I don't know. But instead of Alderson leaning back and working on minor deals to patch holes, now he's going to have to make some impact moves that will make a difference.

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