The Mets played their last home game of the season on a Thursday in the final hours of September. It was dark at the time of the game, and flags fluttered over Citi Field in the cold wind. Most of the players were not wearing long sleeves, but most fans burst out laughing. Summer is over.
Many loyalists showed up to watch the team – 24,312 for a midweek night game against the Miami Marlins, another also ran in the National League East. The Mets ruled the division for most of the season, but crashed hard. They are the first team to spend more than 100 days in first place, yet finish with a losing record. It’s a lot to process.
“A lot of positive things have happened,” Pete Alonso said after batting practice in the home dugout. “But I need some time to reflect on the lessons and the things that I need to do to take this team to the top. Because I love being a mate. I really love this outfit and I am in love with this fan base. But I hate losing.”
This game was a laugh for the Mets, 12-3, and the Marlins’ backup catcher was pitching at the end. Alonso ripped two homers, numbers 36 and 37, for the season, and was robbed of another on the center-field wall. Francisco Lindor smoked a Grand Slam and beat Michael Conforto in a singles scoring two runs. Hard-luck lefty Rich Hill, who he achieved in July, finally got his first Mets win.
Conforto, who may be a free agent after the season, may have played his last home game as a mate. He found himself holding tears in the right area.
“There are fans out there cheering my name, telling me, ‘Don’t go,'” Conforto said, listing the moments, on and off the field, that made him New York’s darling. “We’ll see what happens in the future, but I loved every moment that I had the privilege of playing here.”
The 28-year-old Conforto is the only place player on the Mets roster in the 2015 World Series. remember his short star game 4? Conforto homed twice against Kansas City, and it looked like the Mets would tie the series. Instead they took the lead late in the innings and lost the World Series the next night. He hasn’t won a postseason game since.
How close are the Mets really to playing the games that matter in October? That’s a question for the next president of baseball operations to solve, and the Mets can’t afford to complicate another job search.
Their new owner, Steven Cohen, hired Jared Porter as general manager the previous off-season, with Jack Scott as his assistant. Porter was fired in january for sending obscene messages to a female reporter, and Scott has since been on administrative leave He was arrested on 31 August and charged with drunk driving. in the era of wide front office, Team President Sandy Alderson has been severely undermined.
“Sandy is doing three things at the moment,” reliever Trevor May said Thursday. “More people are going to come in and probably carve out pieces of one job, and it’s going to be three people doing three things again, so the communication can be higher.
“You see so many organizations have GMs, but they have presidents of baseball operations, assistant GMs — all different little branches, but they do all kinds of GM duties. So you can go to them with stuff. What you’d take to GM in 2012 when he was just a guy. It’s happening right now: too much brain to deal with big problems.”
To ease the workload, Alderson, 73, could pursue a famous executive such as Billy Bean or Theo Epstein, or try again to find a hero to build on his ideas, as in Bean did when he was Alderson’s assistant in Oakland in the 1990s. Last year’s hiring fiasco aside, Alderson should have attractive options.
“I’m selling to Steve Cohen, I’m selling to New York, I’m selling an opportunity to realize the potential of a storied yet iconic franchise,” Alderson told reporters on Wednesday. “I think there’s a tremendous amount to offer someone coming to the Mets. Is it a set piece? Is it something that doesn’t require a certain amount of work? No, that’s where the real joy comes in. , producing something.
The mystery executive will begin: an elite slugger, Alonso, with the first three years of free agency; an impressive (if fragile) starter, Jacob deGrom, with three years remaining on his contract; and a 27-year-old shortstop, Francisco Lindor, he has 10 years left – And, yes, that’s a good thing.
As strange as his transition to New York was, Lindor is a star who will end the season on a high: Thursday’s Grand Slam gave him nine home runs and 25 RBIs for September. His friend Javier Baez, 28, has also shown his best side to the Mets with free agency.
Before the Mets address the future of Badge, or their other top free agents – Conforto and starters Marcus Strowman and Noah Syndergaard – they will first decide whether to keep manager Luis Rojas, who went 102-117 over two seasons. have gone ahead.
Mets fired their hitting coaches in May but still never cured the crime. Only three teams – Miami, Texas and Pittsburgh – have scored fewer runs. The hitters chased down a number of poor pitches, Rojas said, “all failing at things I know of players that came through knowing and mastering our system.”
Rojas, 40, was a long-respected manager in the Mets farm system prior to his promotion, and it would be a shame to lose someone who helped the team develop solid major leaguers. In a few days he will know his fate.
“We have to get there first and figure out what’s going to happen, but I’ve enjoyed my time here over the last two years,” Rojas said. “Every day is fun working with people and connecting with them and preparing. We didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve, but for me the clubhouse environment has been one of the most important things that I can think of for the last two years here, how everyone gets along and enjoys playing. gets ready.”
Alas, a season’s cold calculations turn out to be wrong, the result almost always being what matters most. The Mets may soon have new leaders in the dugout and front office, but the core of a winner is here — Alonso, DeGrom and Lindor — and it’s more than most teams that lose.
Lindor was the last mate to leave the field on Thursday, signing autographs for a hundred or so die-hards near the dugout that stopped for the final salute. A lot could be different in six months from the next home game, but for now, Lindor had a simple message for fans.
“Sorry, we couldn’t do it for him,” he said, “but I appreciate the love he has given to all of us.”