Baseball is officially in the air. Spring Training is underway, the New York Mets are playing…
Over the past five years, the New York Mets have had high expectations heading into nearly every season. Whether they have made big splashes in free agency or blockbuster trades, fans have always seen the Mets as a threat going into every season. Although it’s a blessing as a fan of a team to see people with high expectations, there is always a downside to having high hopes. Recently, while New York has gone into April with hopes of contending for the playoffs, their playoff drought stands at five years as they have underperformed heavily in the past few years. From mismanagement to an inconsistent bullpen, there are numerous reasons as to why this has been the case. I’m going to take a deep dive into the Mets’ constant underperformance.
Mets’ Poor Management: Mickey Callaway
After firing Terry Collins in 2017 after seven years with the Mets, New York was off to find its next skipper. In late October of 2017, they came to a quick decision to hire former Cleveland Guardians pitching coach Mickey Callaway as their next manager. It’s safe to say that things didn’t work out in his two-year tenure with the ball club. One of the main reasons why his decision-making led to the team underachieving was his constant misuse of the bullpen. This was extremely prevalent in 2019. Several times throughout the season, Callaway would overuse closer Edwin Diaz, which was a big factor in why he was incredibly disappointing. Following his second straight non-playoff season, Callaway was fired by the team and a search for a new manager began.
Since Carlos Beltran was involved in the Houston Astros’ major cheating scandal, he was relieved of his duties as the Mets manager before he even managed a game. Therefore, the Mets stayed inside the organization and hired Luis Rojas. Rojas managed the club’s double-A team, which was the Binghamton Mets. Although he was known as a well-respected manager amongst players, he had several flaws.
In his tenure as the Mets’ skipper, not only were his lineup creations bad but his use of pinch-hitters was awful. One of the many games he cost the team in 2021 was an early September duel with the Miami Marlins. Tied at one in the tenth, Rojas made a crucial mistake. Instead of putting in Kevin Pillar to pinch-hit, he inserted Luis Guillorme into the batters’ box. While Pillar had come up clutch in those moments before, Guillorme had not. If Pillar batted, the chance of him getting on base would have been higher than the chances of Guillorme getting on base.
If Rojas and Callaway were smarter in crucial situations, maybe the team would have made the playoffs. Instead, they were at home, watching from the couch.
Whether at the start of the season or in midst of a playoff race, key Mets players always seem to get injured more than any other team. In the first month of what would be a lost 2017 season, New York lost star pitcher Noah Syndergaard to a season-ending injury. This wouldn’t be the only major injury in 2017. Throughout the year, the team was hammered by injuries to key players. Yoenis Cespedes, Jacob Degrom, and David Wright were only a few of the players who missed a big chunk of time.
This wasn’t just the case in the 2017 season. Injuries have haunted the team every year recently. New York has been ravaged by the injury bug in all facets of the game. This has been a big reason for the Mets’ underachievement in recent seasons.
Despite the talent on the team, the Mets haven’t been able to put together a top-tier offense in the last few years. While the 2020 Mets led the league in batting average, they were the opposite of clutch. They failed to get hits when it mattered the most and it hurt the team down the stretch of the season. This past season, the offense was severely underwhelming. Newly-acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor had a rough first season in blue and orange. In addition to Lindor, several other players had career-worst years. These players included Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil as well as many others. If Lindor, McNeil, and Conforto were even average, things may have gone the Mets’ way in 2021.
The explosive offense that the Mets exhibited in 2015 is gone. The team has always had high hopes but hasn’t lived up to expectations in a while. With a new slew of additions, this year may be different. But, based on their track record, fans shouldn’t set their expectations too high.