If a team has to schedule a collapse, at least the Mets timed it well. As late as July 7, the Mets were a leader in the Wild Card standings. Since then, they've gone 11-28. That's … yikes. But it's better than doing the same thing in August after trading away a piece of the future to bolster the team at the deadline. That's how teams end up giving away prospects like Zack Wheeler and regretting it later.
A Wheeler mention segues nicely into the premise of this article. There have been a lot of things that have gone wrong for the Mets this year -- Ike Davis, Dillon Gee, the bullpen, Ike Davis. Also, Ike Davis. Also also, I'm starting to think the Jason Bay contract isn't going to pan out. But this isn't a lolmets article. You can find those elsewhere. Those kinds of articles and rants are … fungible. They have fungibility, and they stopped being fun in 2009 or so.
The Mets weren't supposed to be good in the first place. This season was supposed to be about finding the pieces that would fit the next good Mets team, so the organization could build around them. And in that respect, there are a few things that have gone right for the team. Three that stand out:
Matt Harvey and the promising young pitchers
The Mets haven't exactly been a pitching factory in recent years. They've done well with a few of their homegrown starters. But they haven't had that guy, the kind of starting pitcher who comes up and dominates fresh out of Triple-A. Matt Harvey looks like that guy. He has a wicked curve, nasty change-up, and darting fastball. His initial major-league success might be the best development of the season.
But the aforementioned Wheeler could also be that guy, too, which would make them those guys, at which point we could probably stop italicizing them and just appreciate them as top-of-the-rotation talents. But it isn't just Wheeler and Harvey. Jenrry Mejia is pitching again after elbow surgery, and Tyler Pill has started his professional career impressively.
Collin McHugh made his debut on Thursday and did stuff like this over seven scoreless innings:
Also worth noting: Jonathon Niese is still just 25. He qualifies as a young pitcher. And he's pretty danged good. The Mets had a bunch of question marks entering the season when it came to their young pitchers. The injury to Dillon Gee was unexpected and harsh, but the rest of the young pitchers have done as well as the organization could have hoped. Everything could go Orioles at any second, sure, but that's not even a burn because the Orioles are good now!
Tejada was born in 1989. Other players born in '89: Madison Bumgarner, Jason Heyward, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Moore. But none of those guys play shortstop. Tejada is hitting .309/.352/.382, just a season after posting a .360 on-base percentage in limited playing time. The Mets brought him along bizarrely, making him a utility player when he was 20, but whatever they did, it worked. Other shortstops 22 or younger who posted a .300 batting average: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Alan Trammell, Harvey Kuenn, Johnny Pesky, Travis Jackson, Arky Vaughan.
And Mike Caruso. But, uh, let's just consider him an outlier.
The point is that Tejada doing good things at such a young age is unusual. Really unusual. Given the choice of Tejada for the next four years or Jose Reyes with his current contract, it's not even debatable.
The Resurgence of David Wright
After Reyes walked, Wright was the de facto face of the franchise. R.A. Dickey could fit here, too, but Wright was the homegrown superstar. The team wants him around for the next two decades so they can put his face on ballpark giveaways and tacky merchandise, sure, but his sub-par 2011 had to freak Sandy Alderson out. That wasn't a player worth committing six or seven years to. The David Wright from 2005 through 2010 was. But Wright's magnificent year means he'll command a huge contract, wherever he signs.
Is it weird to suggest it's a good thing that a player like Wright got more expensive for the team that's trying to keep him? Probably.
But the Mets kinda sorta have to keep Wright around. That's what large-market franchises do; they keep the popular players around. Alderson's still a practical GM, though, and he wasn't going to give a legacy deal to a player who was falling off a cliff. And that would have made things furry.
No problem now, though. Wright's still great. And he'll get a big ol' whopping deal from the Mets that will pay him like a great player. That's okay. They can afford it. Eventually. But at least they'll still have David Wright. That seems important to Mets fans.
The slide has been ugly. But the season hasn't been a total waste. Just don't think about Ike Davis. Or Jason Bay. I said don't think about … dammit.