Last year at this time, we knew the playoffs were out of the question for the Mets, but they were at .500 at 73-73 and trying to salvage their season.
There was a twinge of optimism because we figured there would be a changing of the guard, with a new regime making things right again.
It’s what baseball does. It gives us optimism and hope.
So, we all hoped this year would be better. It would be a rebuilding year, but it would be better than the past two dreadful seasons because new blood would be running things.
I thought for a moment it was possible, the Mets would rally to salvage the season and finish at .500 or better.
It would have been a sign of true progress.
There have been positives this year, but they have been off-set by the inevitable injuries and other negatives. There’s a new regime, but there’s so much economic uncertainty swirling around the Mets that we can’t honestly say things will improve any time soon.
Never should the Mets be playing today to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Washington Nationals. It tells of how things soured, and underscored the Mets’ inability to get over the hump.
The Mets had several spurts this season, but answered them with several slides. Win five, lose five, isn’t the answer.
Scoring four runs in the first three games of this series, and last night their anemic offense took away from a strong performance from Mike Pelfrey. However, I’ve written “strong performance,’’ from Pelfrey before only to watch him get torched in his subsequent start. In many ways, he personifies what has happened.
The Mets stranded ten last night and 40 over their last four games, and have left 1,558 on the season, tops in the majors. I don’t want to hear about their ability to get runners on base and even score (sixth in the NL). The point is they don’t score enough to overcome their spotty pitching.
The Mets have lost 24 games by one run, which is a reflection on both their pitching and offense. Improving one without the other doesn’t guarantee they take the next step.
I never expected them to compete for the playoffs this year. And, when they made a run and were four games over .500 in late July, you always expected the other shoe to fall.
Carlos Beltran was traded, and the Mets lost five straight at the end of July and early August. They fought back to get a game over .500, then had two five-game losing streaks within two weeks to fall eight under.
A staple of this team has been to rally and play with heart, to show us it cared. They pulled within a game of .500, but lost seven of eight on this homestand.
It is this homestand that made me feel some disappointment for the first time. I thought with the Cub and Nationals they could get over .500 to make a symbolic gesture at improvement.
Win or lose today, the Mets close with Atlanta, St. Louis, the Phillies and Reds. They are limping to the finish and .500 – which is mediocre to begin with – is no longer a possibility. They will be hard pressed to equal last year’s 79-83, and that would be disappointing.
The attitude under Terry Collins is much better than it was under Jerry Manuel, but the talent level hasn’t necessarily improved.
There are a myriad of issues facing the Mets in the offseason that should warn us the road is still long.
* Will the Mets keep Jose Reyes?
* Will Johan Santana be 100 percent?
* What happened with Mike Pelfrey and what direction will he take?
* Can Bobby Parnell be the closer, and can the Mets build a reliable bullpen bridge to him?
* Will they ever get anything out of Jason Bay?
* Will David Wright be a power hitter again?
Those are just the headline issues. There are issues surrounding Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Angel Pagan, everybody in the rotation and at second base.
There’s also a collective bargaining agreement that makes the offseason uncertain, plus the Wilpon’s financial issues.
Gone is the poison that was Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, but this team still has a long way to go.