Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Studious Metsimus Presents The Happy/Crappy Recap For 2015

Another year has come and gone, Mets fans.  And for the first time since 2008, we're not saying goodbye to a year in which our favorite team had more losses than wins.  Does that mean this recap will be more happy than crappy?  Not exactly, especially if you've been following the goings-on in the National League East over the last few days.

The 2015 season began with Mets fans hoping the team would play their first-ever meaningful game in September at Citi Field and ended with the team playing their first-ever game in November in any of its three home stadiums.  In between, we saw new arrivals (Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Michael Conforto), some departures (Kirk Nieuwenhuis left, came back and then left again) and some arrivals who departed with dignity and class (we hardly knew ye, Michael Cuddyer).

It was also the year Yoenis Cespedes gave us two memorable months and no one had any memory of Dillon Gee pitching for the team.  What else happened?  Let's see.  Daniel Murphy deep-sixed the Dodgers and Cubs.  Jeurys Familia became a lights-out closer who got lit up to close out the season.  Matt Harvey came back and then became the Pedro Martinez to Terry Collins's Grady Little in the World Series.  The Mets got no-hit by a player who had five career wins at the time and by another player who had two eye colors.  And oh yeah, there were three National League teams that had to supply with Mets with champagne and the extended use of the road clubhouse for party purposes.

Is that all?  Not exactly.  Here's more of what made us all happy in 2015 and what made us feel crappy.  As usual, let's all get happy first.

The Mets ripped off 11 consecutive victories in April, tying a franchise record.  When the streak began, New York was three games out of first place.  Eleven victories later, they led the N.L. East by 4½ games.  All 11 wins came at the expense of the Braves, Phillies and Marlins - teams that combined to go 201-285 during the 2015 campaign.  A non-believer in the Mets (let's call them Nationals fans) might say that anyone could have won that many games in a row against those three teams.  A believer (let's call them intelligent baseball fans) would say that one of the reasons Atlanta, Philadelphia and Miami had such poor records was because the Mets pounded them into oblivion early on, giving them no hope to be competitive for the remainder of the season.

Eric Campbell started more games at third base than David Wright.  Kevin Plawecki was behind the plate more times than Travis d'Arnaud.  The team's closer at the beginning of the season (Jenrry Mejia) was suspended not once, but twice, for the same drug.  Juan Lagares replaced his Gold Glove with one made of stone.  Michael Cuddyer reminded us of Jason Bay minus the concussion excuse.  Campbell, John Mayberry, Darrell Ceciliani, Danny Muno and Johnny Monell combined to have nearly 500 plate appearances.  And the Mets still won 90 games.  Just imagine what they could have done had they been healthy, made better decisions on which prescriptions to pick up at Walgreen's, and not been so dependent on Quadruple-A players.

Generation KO delivered a knockout blow every time one of its members took the mound.  Defending rookie of the year Jacob deGrom was better as a sophomore than he was as a Mets freshman.  Matt Harvey showed no ill effects from sitting out a year to recover from Tommy John surgery.  Noah Syndergaard was in character as Thor for the entire season, dropping the hammer on opposing hitters.  And Steven Matz made it back home, bringing his exuberant Grandpa Bert along for the ride to cheer him on after every victory.

The Mets entered uncharted waters in late July when Sandy Alderson decided to be a buyer at the trade deadline for the first time in his five-year tenure as the team's general manager.  First, he brought in Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to be super subs.  Then he was hip to be square, deciding to keep the emotional Wilmer Flores, while balking at Carlos Gomez and his medical records.  Finally, as the clock approached midnight in Moscow (that's 4:00pm in the Eastern Time Zone) on July 31, the cold war being staged between Alderson and rival general managers reached a truce when Tigers G.M. Dave Dombrowski agreed to trade Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets for top pitching prospect Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.  The stage had been set for a magical summer at Citi Field.

Once the Mets swept the Nationals at a raucous Citi Field, then repeated the feat at Nationals Park a month later, it was a foregone conclusion that the Mets were going to win the N.L. East crown for only the sixth time in franchise history.  And when Daniel Murphy put the team on his shoulders in the division series and league championship series, the Mets played their way to an improbable pennant.

And that's when things got crappy...

The Kansas City Royals remembered all too well how close they came to winning it all in 2014.  This time, they would make sure no Mets lead was safe.  And in fact, the Mets led in all five World Series games and had the lead going to the eighth inning in four of the five contests.  But through poor fielding, a lack of hitting in the late innings and Jeurys Familia doing something completely un-Familia-r (blowing late leads), the Mets couldn't ride their October momentum to a World Series championship.

And once they lost Game Five on November 1, the dominoes started to fall.  Jon Niese was traded to Pittsburgh for Neil Walker.  Wilmer Flores lost his starting job to Asdrubal Cabrera, who had a Wilmer Flores-type season at the plate in 2015 but is six years older and is costing the Mets an extra eight million dollars-plus in 2016.  But hey, at least Bartolo Colon is back to provide comic relief at the plate.

Speaking of walking up to the plate, who will replace Murphy and Cespedes's production in 2016?  With Murphy gone to the Nationals and Cespedes gone fishing for a new team, the Mets have lost the man who tied for the team lead in RBI in 2015 (Murphy) and the neon-sleeved savior who made everyone forget about Eric Campbell and his clueless cohorts.  Will Walker and Cabrera be able to replace them in the hearts of Mets fans, and more importantly, in the stat sheets of those same fans?

Finally, the Mets acquired Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Lagares in center field.  Maybe Sandy Alderson goofed and thought De Aza's last name began with a lower case D and wanted to corner the market on similarly named players (he already has d'Arnaud and deGrom on the team).  But other than the fact that De Aza was probably cheaper than Denard Span, Gerardo Parra or Max Venable and was more likely to sign a one-year deal, why the fudge was he the guy targeted to be Lagares's platoon partner?  De Aza's dWAR hasn't been above zero since 2011 and he's started a total of 13 games in center field since the end of the 2013 season, or eight more games than Darrell Ceciliani started in center for the Mets last year alone and a baker's dozen more than you and I started.

I hope Sandy Alderson knows something we don't.  Then again, in 2015, he had all the right answers to all the question marks surrounding the team, even if he had to cough and clear his throat ten times before uttering each answer.

And there you have it, Mets fans.  You now know what was happy about 2015 and what was crappy about it.  Then again, if you've been following the Mets as carefully as the Studious Metsimus staff has over the past few years, you probably didn't need a 2,000-word blog post to tell you something you already knew.

One thing you may not have known is that our staff is heavily inspired by other Mets blogs.  And as we do every year, we'd like to give a shout-out to those sites in appreciation of their hard work and to thank them for not using a teddy bear as a roving reporter/culinary expert.  We'd like to think we've cornered the market with that.  So give a hand and show your support to each of the following Mets sites: A Gal For All Seasons, Faith and Fear in Flushing, Mets Merized Online, MetsMinors.Net, Amazin' Avenue, Metstradamus, Remembering Shea, The Daily Stache, Mets360, Rising Apple, Kranepool Society, Mets Police, MetSilverman, Converted Mets Fan and Mets Daddy.

On that note, we'd like to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.  And by "we", we're talking about Ed Leyro (that's the guy pushing the word count of this post up near Bartolo Colon's cholesterol level), Joey Beartran (the aforementioned roving reporter/culinary expert), Iggy Beartran (your source for all things related to Cole Hamels) and Taryn "The Coop" Cooper (she's just here so she won't get fined).

And remember, Mets fans, if you see a team celebrating on an opposing team's field after recording the final out of the game, it doesn't always have to be Chris Heston or Max Scherzer celebrating a no-hitter.  Nor does it have to be the Kansas City Royals whooping it up as a World Series winner for the first time in 30 years.  Sometimes it might be a team decked in blue and orange celebrating a division title, division series victory or perhaps even a pennant.

Thanks so much for your support!  See you next year!

See, players celebrating on the field sometimes ARE the Mets.

No comments: