In 2007, the Mets were seven games ahead with 17 games to play. We all know that season ended with Tom Glavine melting down against the Florida Marlins. That humiliating collapse is not a good memory for Mets fans, but it should serve as a reminder that anything can happen.
There are better and more positive stories in Mets history on this point.
The 1969 Mets entered September five games back of the Cubs, and they’d go 24-8 to finish the season and win the division going away en route to winning one of the more unlikely championships in professional sports history.
In 1973, the Mets entered September 4.5 games of the Cardinals and Pirates. The “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets pulled it off with a 82-79 record. They’d then push off one dynasty another year by beating the Big Red Machine in the NLCS, and they’d come within one game of knocking off another.
As we know, recent history hasn’t been as kind. The 1998 Mets entered September just one game out of the Wild Card. On September 21, they were one game up in the race only to lose their final five games including getting swept by the Braves. What made that all the more difficult was they only needed to win just one game to tie the Cubs and Giants for what was then the only Wild Card spot.
In 1999, it did seem like there was going to be another collapse with the Mets losing seven straight in October, and they’d lose five of six to the Braves with Chipper Jones telling Mets fans to get their Yankees jerseys out of the closet. They’d get some help sweeping the Pirates to over come the two game deficit with three games remaining in the season before Al Leiter‘s one hitter propelled them to the NLDS.
Heading to the future, the Mets collapsed in 2007, and they did it again in 2008 with Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis to end the season. There were bleak times ahead before the 2015 and 2016 season. In terms of 2016, it was a somewhat similar situation to this year where a down National League allowed the Mets to linger in the race.
It should be noted that 2016 team was just 1.5 games back of he St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card. It was not the five game deficit this Mets team faced. In any event, that whole run left a bitter taste as Jeurys Familia allowed a three run homer to Conor Gillaspie to end that season.
Overall, it has been quite a mixed bag for the Mets in these late September Wild Card races. We’ve seen them collapse in 1998 and 2007. We have seen them force a one game playoff in 1999 and go on a magical run. Under a different system in 2016, they got to that game, but they couldn’t win it.
No matter how you break it down, there is one theme for all of those years – the Mets had a chance. As we have seen you have a chance even if you are down seven games with 17 remaining. You can look at that all as a negative all you want. That’s your prerogative.
However, this Mets team has Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz pitching great. Seth Lugo is the best reliever in baseball. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto have played great all year, and Todd Frazier seems to be getting hot at the right time. There are so many more positives behind these players.
At the end of the day, there is legitimate reason for hope. As long as there is hope, there is every reason to believe the Mets can pull this off. We should all be excited at the opportunity before this team.
LETS GO METS!
As reported in several media outlets yesterday, Stephen Strasburg received a seven year $175 million contract extension. The deal has an average annual value of $25 million. The contract features rolling opt out clauses after the third or fourth year. Additionally, Strasburg will receive a million dollar bonus each year he pitches over 180 innings.
Strasburg is a former number one overall pick. He’s 27 years old. He has had Tommy John surgery. He is in his fifth full big league season. He throws hard with a 96 MPH fastball, 89 MPH change and slider, and an 81 MPH curve. In his career, he is 59-37 with a 3.07 ERA, 127 ERA+, 2.80 FIP, 1.089 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9. He’s struck out 200 batters in a season once, made one All Star team, and finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting once.
Before the contact extension, he was slated to be the top free agent on the market. Also, his agent is Scott Boras.
This contract confirms what all Mets fans know. Keeping the current starting staff together when they start becoming free agents is next to impossible. Not even the late George Steinbrenner would be willing to spend the money necessary to keep this staff together.
Back in 2013 when Matt Harvey was becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball, Mets fans would cheer “Harvey’s Better!” when Harvey faced Strasburg. They were right, and despite Harvey’s early season struggles, they are still right. Harvey has a better career ERA+ and FIP than Strasburg. Accordingly, when’s he’s approaching free agency in 2019, wouldn’t he be worth more money than Strasburg? Boras, who is also Harvey’s agent, will certainly make that case.
If Harvey gets that money, what does that mean for the other Mets starters? Right now, Noah Syndergaard is amongst the best pitchers in baseball at 23 years of age, and he’s only getting better. Steven Matz is a 24 year old lefty, who is 9-1 with a 2.56 ERA in his career. Also, don’t forget Jacob deGrom, who many consider to be the staff’s ace.
If all four of these players get a Strasburg deal, that’s $100 million just to the starting pitching. Keep in mind that doesn’t take into consideration the fact that each one of these pitchers could reasonably seek more when they come up to free agency.
As per Spotrac, the Mets payroll is at $131 million. That would mean the Mets would have $31 million to spend on the other 21 players. With that $31 million, the Mets will also have to find money to sign Jeurys Familia and Michael Conforto to their own lucrative contract extensions. By the way, Conforto is also represented by Boras.
Unfortunately, re-signing all of these players simply isn’t feasible. Deep down, we all knew it. The Stephen Strasburg signing only confirmed it.