When I was a kid, the Mets were a juggernaut of a franchise brimming with talent. Darryl Strawberry was probably the most feared hitter in baseball, Dwight Gooden had the most electric fastball in the game, Gary Carter was the best catcher in the game, and Keith Hernandez had not only the best first base glove in baseball, but probably the league’s best mustache. After a World Championship in 1986, they seemed destined in 1988 to clash with the Oakland Athletics for a battle of titans.
But the Dodgers went on an insanely hot streak fueled by incredible pitching, defeating the Mets in the 1988 National League Championship Series. Instead of having a mini-dynasty like many thought was inevitable, the Mets quickly turned terrible. After they signed several big ticket free agents in 1991, the team flopped, named "The Worst Team Money Could Buy." The team had six straight losing season, including a 100-loss season.
They rebounded a bit in the late-90s, but are back to being a complete an utter joke. Their ownership group has cut costs in the most expensive city in the universe because they were suckered into the greed of the Bernie Madoff scandal, completely epitomizing the financial scandal that wrecked the economy in 2008.
Today’s Mets aren’t quite as bad as many had predicted, and it seems that they bottomed out last year and may be back on the upswing. They have a pitching stud in Matt Harvey, another nice young arm in Zack Wheeler (both of whom we will miss this weekend) and some decent arms in Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee. David Wright is still one of the top third basemen in baseball, and Lucas Duda is a competent outfielder. The Mets got outfielder Marlon Byrd off the scrap heap and got a valuable season out of him. Something called a Juan Lagares is playing adequately in centerfield. Bobby Parnell is a good closer. A once barren farm system was ranked 16th by Baseball America last winter, with prospects like Travis D’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Wilmer Flores.
But make no mistake, this is still a pretty lousy team. Ike Davis has been a disaster at first base. Former Royals catcher John Buck got off to a great start, but is hitting .200/.278/.287 since May 5. Collectively, their shortstops have hit .216/.291/.281. The team is twelfth in on-base percentage and fourteenth in slugging percentage. Despite this, they are somehow sixth in runs scored.
They have played better lately, with Lagares solving the centerfield job, Omar Quintanilla playing the best out of all the shortstops, and Josh Satin hitting well in limited action at first base. The Mets were 15-12 in July, their best month of the season. Still, this is the kind of team the Royals should beat if they are truly even a quasi-contender at this point.
Steven Hirsch at Metsblog was kind enough to give us his perspective on the Mets pitchers we will face this weekend. Tonight: Dillon Gee
Gee struggled in his last start against Washington, but he has been great since the end of May. He’s commanded his entire repertoire, he’s working quickly and efficiently, throwing quality strikes and pitching effectively to his defense. He has struggled somewhat with the home run ball, but he gives them up in sporadic bunches. He has a 3.35 ERA this season when he doesn’t face the Phillies, and so all-in-all, he’s been really solid in 2013.
Gee has a 2.81 ERA in ten starts since May. But he’s about to run into a train. THE CAIN TRAIN.