Mets Need a Busy Offseason

Sophia Vlahakis, Senior School News Editor

The New York Mets finished the season 3 games out of the wild card, unpredictable considering that this team was 10 games under .500 at the All-Star break.  Though despite the strong second half, it seems that pitchers and catchers can in fact report soon enough because this team is not ready for 2020. 

The NL East is going to be one of, if not, the most competitive division baseball has ever seen. The Washington Nationals are the reigning World Series Champions. The Atlanta Braves, a team that wants it all and finished first in the division last year, has a scary lineup consisting of Ronald Acuna Jr. (41 homers),  Freddie Freeman (4 time All-Star), Mike Soroka ( 2019 Cy Young contender), Cole Hamels  (World Series MVP and 4 time All-Star) and now Will Smith, who will empower the bullpen. 

Then there are the Phillies. They finished 4th in the division and have a lot to do, but they are eager. The Phillies signed Zach Wheeler, and he has a lot of potential that has not been maximized. He has a 3.65 era over the past two seasons and was second in baseball with pitches clocking in over 95mph. Wheeler’s fastball averages 97mph, righties only posted a .273 wOBA (a measure of a hitter’s offense) against his slider, and his change up is turning into a weapon. The Phillies are also chasing NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon and looking to further improve the rotation with Madison Bumgarner or Gerrit Cole (although that seems unlikely). They also have 2 time All Star J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper who has a lot more to live up to with his $330 million dollar contract.

So what does this mean for the Mets? It’s going to be a tough season. The 3 positions that need to be addressed quickly are a starting pitcher, a center fielder and a reliever. 

Wheeler signed with the Phillies after his contract with the Mets was up, strengthening a division rival and leaving an open spot on the rotation. It’s pretty critical that a reliable pitcher fills this position on a team that relies on run prevention over scoring. It’s possible that Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo comes out of the bullpen to join the rotation, but that causes an even bigger problem with a bull pen that imploded time after time this past season. 

Last offseason the Mets traded top prospects Jared Kelenic and Justin Dunn for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz who had a 1.96 ERA and set history with the second most saves in a season. Well ,that signing backfired. Diaz had 7 blown saves, 7 losses and set a record for allowing 15 homers in the 9th inning. On the bright side of this, Seth Lugo proved himself to be one of the best relievers in all of the MLB posting a 1.95 ERA over 37 innings.  However, Lugo is a pitcher who can’t be used back to back and is not the workhorse the team needs. 

As for center field, that position was shared by Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto but Lagares’ option was not picked up after 13 years.  Defensively, Lagares was a star but his lack of run production was a problem. While the Mets want to target a defensive center fielder, they need another bat to strengthen the bottom of the order.  The Mets traded for Jake Marisnick from the Astros. He is an outstanding defensive player, but Marisnick is not an offensive talent and is very similar to Lagares in what he has to offer. 

The Mets have a lot of potential, and a couple of signings could put this team in place to contend:  a proven starter, a reliever and a catcher to split time with Wilson Ramos. This catcher should have a strong bat, as this would be helpful given the lack of a dependable pinch hitting which  plagued them last season. As for a starter, they need a young guy who has a lot to offer and can be worked around. There are rumors of interest in Rick Porcello. While he is 30, it seems he’s out of his prime. He won the Cy Young in 2016, but the past two seasons on the Red Sox he had a 4.28 and 5.52 ERA. If the Mets really want to be successful, they have to sign guys who are proven or making a case.  It also seems worthwhile to work with Diaz. Trading him at his point makes no sense from a fiscal standpoint because the Mets are not going to get back what they gave up, and at times he showed that he has the arm the team badly needs. Maybe pitching on a big stage in New York got to him but if Diaz is committed to working with Carlos Beltran and the new staff, this guy could post incredible numbers. Yes he gave up critical hits, but his pitches were clocking in the high 90’s. If he gets those pitches out of the zone then the Diaz the Met’s traded for is going to show up. Along with Diaz, the Mets should try to lock up the Brewers’ Josh Hader (2.62 ERA). 

It’s also worth mentioning that the Mets have some of the best players in baseball.  Jason deGrom is a back to back Cy Young winner, getting all but one of the votes each year. Pete Alonso was the NL Rookie of the Year, set the record for rookie home runs and led the league in homers.  Jeff McNeil contended for a batting title with a .318 average and  JD Davis, who came from the Astros, was an unexpected success with 32 home runs and batting over .300.  Marcus Stroman, who had a sensational first start of the season with the Toronto Blue Jays before being traded to the Mets at the deadline, has a lot to prove as well. Stroman says he’s committed to living up to the expectations and putting in the work to be a dominant starter, despite the less than exceptional second half. 

The talent is there; it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together and being able to compete. The Metropolitans need to go after the big names, address the weak spots and start off strong to be a postseason contender. Image result for mets 2019 season"