As The 2017 Nightmare Winds Down, More Questions Arise

Just when you thought we could let the hysteria surrounding Marc Carig’s article about the outgoing Terry Collins die out and drink ourselves to Sunday afternoon to finally be done with this nightmarish season, here comes Joel Sherman with a new report that the Mets could be looking to cut as much as $20M from payroll going into next season.

This should come as zero surprise to anybody who’s been paying attention all year. For the past few years, even. Why anybody is acting shocked now just shows that a lot of you have your heads planted firmly up your ass in Fantasyland where the Mets still have money and the pitchers never age or break.

While Sherman apparently thinks that the Mets should be in the market to sign anybody who has ever worn a Royals uniform – including Dan Quisenberry and Willie Mays Aikens – to expect any kind of splashy, big money move goes beyond just the Mets being broke, but it doesn’t make a lot of baseball sense either.

The fact that 2017 was such a spectacular failure didn’t just mean another lost season in what has been a lifetime full of them for a lot of us, but it also set the stage for 2018 to be the syndication rerun of what we haven’t quite yet finished going through.

Let’s be real clear: the 2018 Mets are fucked.

Yes, this season was derailed by injuries and underperformance, but pitchers don’t just start getting healthier and veterans don’t just rediscover youth as they age.

While it is feasible to expect Jacob deGrom to continue his consistency as ace of the staff and for Noah Syndergaard to return reasonably ready to fulfill his potential, the once vaunted pitching staff that promised to guide the team’s future to glory, is now filled with more question marks than The Riddler’s green blazer.

Riddler_Pie

Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman followed up promising rookie years with disappointing 2017s that have to make you question their value moving forward. Steven Matz actually cemented his consistency, but of the wrong type. Matz simply cannot stop getting hurt and to believe that he’ll just wake up healthy and ready to go next March is not just wishful thinking, it is irresponsible roster construction.

And we haven’t even gotten to Matt Harvey.

The once-electric Dark Knight of Gotham became the object of our affection upon his call-up in 2012 and the center of our World Series dreams during his incredible run to open the 2013 season. You know the rest: Tommy John surgery, turning into Two-Face after having his agent say he was pitching too much upon his return and refusing to come out of a World Series game in which he ended up blowing the lead and then more injury trouble that has left him a shell of his former self to the point where people have questioned whether it’s even worth it to tender him a contract for 2018. That’s just the on-field stuff too. Don’t forget all his drama off the field that even led to him being suspended earlier this season as well.

Question mark. Question mark. Question mark.

The entire team next season is a collection of question marks.

Run through the position players and you get a lot of the same. Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki? Have been good for the final month, but both have burned through enough opportunities to where the organization can’t afford to continue giving them rope.

Dom Smith and Amed Rosario? They’ll be here and they’ll play, but both players have shown they have a lot of work to do before they can be the kind of cornerstones the team needs them to be.

Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo? Samesies. Glimpses of productivity followed with exasperated sighs and wonders about if they even have a bench role on a good team.

The bullpen? We can certainly hope that Jeurys Familia continues to build himself back up to one the top closers in the league, but AJ Ramos just appears to be Braden Looper with a new paintjob. While Jerry Blevins has been good in his time as a Met, we’ve constantly seen that relievers performances vary drastically from year to year.

Did I mention Michael Conforto needs his shoulder put back together and we won’t know what he’ll be like until he is able to start playing again? Because that’s a thing too.

This is an awful lot of question marks to go along with the fact that the team has zero dollars to spend. You can try to catch lightning in a bottle with discarded players all you want, but at some point, you have to pay the price for quality and the Wilpons have shown that spending in the name of being competitive is not really what they’re aiming for. They may have been forced into it in 2015 when it was apparent that the Nationals couldn’t get out of their own way, but they were more than willing to let Yoenis Cespedes walk away following that World Series run. Sandy Alderson even stated publicly in August that he had to convince the owner to go over-budget (!!!!) prior to the season on the promise that should the bottom fall out, he’d be able to deal away the excess money which is exactly what ended up happening with the team seeing no real return of value in the prospects they got back in these deals.

The future is not bright like it used to be not so long ago in Flushing. For all the excitement and forecasting that seemed possible for the next few years, the gloom and doom of yesteryear has replaced it faster than you could have ever expected. The Mets are in trouble and the combination of being broke while they have huge, obvious holes in their roster and a lack of any type of impact prospects in the upper minor leagues leave this squad susceptible to some very bad times. They came into the 2017 season with World Series dreams that turned to Top-5 draft pick nightmares before April had even been completed.

Now, things may be getting even worse before they get better.

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