New York Mets: Keys to success in 2019
The Mets have a long way to go to get back into 2015 form, but there are a few things they can do this off-season to get themselves on the right track.
Since the New York Mets’ last playoff appearance in 2016, the team has never really gotten themselves together to play meaningful baseball. The front office has promised a contending season in 2019, but they have yet to show any signs of making a change.
While the Mets may be dilly-dallying, I and fellow Mets fans aren’t that patient. We don’t usually look towards a new season when the current one is still underway, but the Mets need some tough love. Thus, here’s a start to what needs to happen if the team wants to be anywhere near successful in 2019.
The first thing that needs to happen is bringing in a competent general manager. The job is currently being split between Omar Minaya, John Ricco, and JP Ricciardi, which is not sustainable. The Mets have made clear they are searching for a more permanent GM that will take over in 2019, which could be a glimmer of hope for the future.
The GM choice will set the tone for how the rest of the 2019 season goes. The Mets boiled down their silence at the trade deadline to wanting the new GM to have free reign over all of their pieces and do whatever they saw fit to improve the team. While they have not yet made the direction of 2019 clear in terms of a complete rebuild, the new GM has their work cut out for them either way.
A fresh start in terms of front office could give the Mets a fighting chance next season.
Jacob deGrom’s fate lies in the decision of a complete rebuild or not. If the Mets want to tune up instead of completely breaking down, the first thing they need to do is extend deGrom’s contract. He has been the best pitcher in baseball this season and has been stellar in every season before this one. If the Mets are planning on keeping deGrom around, there is no reason not to extend him.
The Mets have control over the right-hander until 2020, so they have every right to keep him around until then and eventually let him walk. If they do that, they are even more of a joke than they seem. deGrom has expressed his interest in an extension more than a few times. When you have a player of deGrom’s caliber telling you he wants to play for your team, especially after all he suffered through this season, you sign him immediately.
If the Mets eventually decide that they do want to rebuild, deGrom has to be the first piece moved. There is really no one that a team isn’t willing to give up for deGrom, which will probably result in an offer the Mets could not refuse. A deGrom trade could easily restock the Mets entire farm system.
Staying or going, deGrom has almost everything to do with the future success of the Mets. Given how his agent said in July that it was time for the team to trade deGrom or build around him, the pressure is on the new GM to decide quickly.
The Mets have to stop avoiding bringing in a real catcher. Travis d’Arnaud once showed tremendous promise, but he has not lived up to the hype through the many injuries he has suffered season after season. Most recently, d’Arnaud received Tommy John surgery, shutting him down for the 2018 season and most of 2019 too. The reward has not been worth the risk in d’Arnaud’s case. It will be interesting to see if the new GM will give him another chance.
Kevin Plawecki, though improving, is not a starting major league catcher. He is a fine backup catcher, but not if the starting catcher is Devin Mesoraco. The former Reds backstop has been good for the Mets but like d’Arnaud, he is always hurt. Again, the risk you take playing Mesoraco every day is not worth the reward.
In 2016, the Mets were on the verge of acquiring Jonathan Lucroy, which would have immensely improved the team. The Mets need a Lucroy-caliber catcher if they ever want to see the playoffs again.
It seems first base will be Jay Bruce’s job from here on out. This is a huge problem. Bruce has not been very productive for the Mets since he first arrived in 2016 and missed over 50 games this season due to injury. His absence was actually beneficial to the Mets as his injury allowed Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto the chance to play together in the outfield.
Bruce playing first base is taking playing time away from Wilmer Flores, who is a better fit all around at the position. His offense has been far more productive than Bruce, and his defensive skills are significantly better than Bruce’s.
Not only is Flores’ playing time suffering, Bruce playing first is in the way of calling up Peter Alonso, a farmhand who hit 36 home runs in the minor leagues this year.
While there is no way it will happen, Bruce needs to be moved. Be it via a trade, outright release, or buying out his contract, he no longer serves a purpose on this Mets team.
It seems the rotation and the bullpen are rounding themselves out. The offense is picking up, and the Mets have been playing better as of late. If these changes and some other minor tweaks can be made this offseason, the Mets have a chance of being in good shape next year. If the Mets (again) think their current roster is fit for a successful 2019 season, it will go just as the last two have: horribly.
The Mets have good pieces they can build a team around, so a full-on rebuild doesn’t seem necessary right now. If the team can play their cards the right way, there could be hope of a winning season in the not-so-distant future.
What do you think the Mets need to do to improve their team? Let us know in the comments below!