The Mets Have Played .500 Baseball Since Zack Wheeler’s MLB Debut

By John Bernhardt

September 24, 2013 5 Comments

zack-wheelerIt’s remarkable. A lot has happened since that long ago Tuesday in mid-June when the Mets swept the Braves in Atlanta and Zack Wheeler made his major league debut. The Mets were decimated as they entered play that day, a battered team that had lost 11 of the 14 games they had played after the miraculous four game sweep of the Yankees. I was sad to admit it, but my preseason radio show prediction of only 68 wins for the Mets had more credibility that it deserved.

And, consider what has happened since. The Mets lost their best position player in David Wright for a huge chunk of time. The opening day shortstop was lost to injury. After several seasons of unfulfilled promise, Bobby Parnell seemed to finally find that missing confidence as the Met closer, but he too, hit the disabled list and was eventually lost for the year. Just when he showed signs of breaking free from a season long slump, Ike Davis was ‘obliqued’ and gone for the season. A trade sent our leading power source, Marlon Byrd, and a steady major league presence in the line-up, John Buck, packing for Pittsburgh. Then it seemed the heart was ripped from the chest of every Met fan when pitching ace Matt Harvey was lost for the year with an elbow injury.

The one constant for the Mets has been continual change forced by circumstance. Lost in all the hullaballoo, is the fact that since Wheeler’s arrival, factoring in last night’s 3-2 loss to the Reds, our Metropolitans have somehow managed to play .500 baseball. That’s right, the loss last night leaves the Mets with a 46-45 since the day young Zack arrived.

Some will scream and shout and gnash their teeth that I even mention this fact. For some, marveling at the fact the Mets somehow managed to win as many games as they lost over a 92 game stretch with a Swiss cheese line-up mostly made up of young prospects scratching and clawing for a chance to stay in the big leagues will smell of the acceptance of mediocrity. Whatever!

Maybe it was my depressed expectations coming into the 2013 season. Maybe it was a seesaw of raw emotion going from a totally unexpected exuberant high after sweeping the Yankees in four games to the lowest of low losing six straight times to the Marlins over the next nine days that left me eager for anything, even mediocrity, to feel better days are ahead for my Mets.

Whatever it is, whatever it was, I think a 46-45 run during the Wheeler days, in light of all the personnel issues that have gone down, is remarkable. The unexpected span of one up and one down baseball during a season where we had already lost 15 times more than we had won and common sense told me to expect only more of the same.

.500 baseball since Zack Wheeler arrived on the scene as a harbinger of better days to come – I’ll take it.

  • Jack Carter

    Good point about the long stretch of, well, notawfulness.

    It’s actually pretty remarkable the team went that long with a .500 record and suggests if they can add a 1-2 pitcher in 2015 to a rotation of Harvey, Wheeler, Gee, and Niese, they’ll have a shot at the postseason.

    The lineup, though, continues to be dreadful, so it really will take an ace or near-ace pitcher to balance that out. Wright is the only above average regular, Murphy the only average regular. No one else projects even as average for 2014 or 2015.

    It’s too bad 2014 looks like a write off, but maybe the new GM can figure out by 2015 who is the future at SS and 1B, and whether he can patch together an OF from the minors and free agency.

  • B-Met Fan

    Don’t give up on 2014, Jack. We very well could contend. It’s critical we approach the off season in much the same way the Red Sox did last winter. Using only the money that comes off the books with the Santana and Bay contracts we can pick up three or four players in the 8 to 12 million dollar range. That could make a huge difference in the lineup. With our pitching potential, we really aren’t that far away.

  • Jack Carter

    Well, I don’t feel like I’m being pessimistic. I do think 2016 looks promising.

    Niese and Gee are well established as at best average pitchers. That has real value, but without Harvey the rotation has no chance of leading that lineup (with all of two established performers) to the postseason.

    2014 will be the year the team has a chance to sort out whether it has anyone on the roster who can handle 1B, and whether Tejada has any chance of developing the worth ethic that might get him back to being a 2 win player.

    Don’t forget, Murphy is turning into one of those 8 to 12m players you mentioned. If he continues to perform, in 2015, if he’s still with the team, his arb award will be around 80% of what a comparable FA would get. Parnell too, will start getting expensive.

    I wish it weren’t the case, but given the team’s inability to develop hitters with positions they can sort of play, a payroll below $100m (probably $120m) just isn’t enough to let the Mets fill in, starting with 2015, around the players we hope will be their stars and regulars.

  • Jack Carter

    Btw, with the expanded wild card(s) it looks like it’ll take around 90 wins to get to the postseason. If the Mets are a 74 win team this year, and that’s representative of their true talent level (and I think it’s close), they need to add 16 wins.

    Wins go for around $6m each on the FA market.
    The $40m you’re hoping they can spend adds around 7 wins to their 2013 total, bumping them up to a .500 team (and this doesn’t count arb raises).

    This is a club that just can’t contend without a real payroll. Even if we reach our optimistic projections for the team’s minor leaguers and rookies, the club comes up short unless payroll soars.

    As for 2014, without Harvey in the rotation all season and pitching at his peak, the team has almost no chance to reach .500, never mind the postseason.

    Just being honest. The club has huge holes.

  • B-Met Fan

    I hear you, Jack. The fact our team is built around quality pitching and we have multiple options developing below leave me optimistic. Imagine what adding even one quality bat in the outfield (maybe Sin-Soo-Chin) and one quality infield bat would do to the lineup. We certainly have the money available to do that. It would help a great deal, and maybe make us competitive enough to hang around in the playoff chase next year.