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The Mets Are Worse Than Bad. They’re Tedious

J.D. Martinez
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Maybe the bright orange of the cooler was clashing too aggressively with the rest of the dugout's color scheme. Maybe someone downstairs was desperately in need of a drink, and there was no time to waste. But probably Jake Diekman was just really pissed about allowing another home run. In letting off steam by chucking the cooler, he created a pretty accurate image of what it's been like to watch the New York Mets—the team with the highest payroll in baseball—go 21-27 to start the year, including seven losses in their last nine games. The only way it could get any Metsier is if the flying cooler had concussed Harrison Bader.

The Mets thrice cut a three-run deficit to one in this game before ultimately falling 7-6. Coupled with the Phillies' continued torrid start, New York is already a demoralizing 13.5 games back in the division, and the problems are too widespread to believe that there's a fixed version of this team waiting around the corner. Sorry, no refunds.

For as out-of-nowhere as it felt when the Mets won 101 games in 2022, they were in no way a young team on the rise. New York put together that outlier season with the league's oldest collection of pitchers and third-oldest group of hitters, and very little that went right has stuck. Key swingers like Jeff McNeil and Starling Marte have declined, while stars Pete Alonso and the slumping Francisco Lindor haven't upped their games in turn. A trio of touted youngsters have earned opportunities to contribute—catcher Francisco Alvarez, and infielders Mark Vientos and Brett Baty—but none of them have yet been able to really get comfortable in the Majors.

The pitching problems are easy to diagnose. The Mets' top starters of 2022 were Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, both long gone, and the bullpen was anchored by Adam Ottavino (now 38) and Edwin Díaz, who's only suffered misfortune since turning a trumpet loop into a jock jam. Díaz missed all of last season after he injured himself celebrating in the World Baseball Classic. With a 5.50 ERA in 18 appearances through this comeback attempt—most recently a four-run implosion in a 10-9 loss to Miami over the weekend—he has lost his claim to the closer role. The starters aren't faring any better. Japanese signing Kodai Senga, last season's bright spot, hasn't been healthy enough to pitch, and the rest of the gang ranges from "I guess I can settle for him" (Sean Manaea) to "extraordinarily lucky to get a paycheck" (Adrian Houser, who allowed six earned on Tuesday).

If you are an optimistic Mets fan—thanks in advance for donating your body to science—you could believe that since last year's trade-deadline teardown, it'll take time to reform a roster that functions properly. But there's so much to fix. At least until Senga heals, the Mets lack a starter they can trust to end a skid. They don't have a shutdown reliever to protect a lead. They've got a few dudes who can hit in Brandon Nimmo, Alonso, and now J.D. Martinez, all producing above-average value at the plate, but they at best paper over a pretty toothless lineup that's wanting in both contact and power, and can also make itself look very airheaded.

It's truly devastating to watch one of the league's most storied and respected franchises tumble into such a disreputable st—no, I'm kidding.

Here's what makes the Mets such a drag. A ticket to a gigantic blockbuster movie should, if absolutely nothing else, entitle you to some charismatic actors and fun adventures. Similarly, investing your time in a team that's spending over $300 million on payroll should, in theory, provide you some star power and thrills. But the legends who once suited up for the Mets have new addresses, while the guys here are either killing time or trying to fix each other's messes. It's almost more depressing to see the sheer emptiness at the center of all these resources, to experience the Mets not as an apathetic wasteland like the A's or Marlins but as a vague memory of success weighed down by a soulless present. It is in fact possible to spend your way out of a hole, and it's Steve Cohen's only redeeming quality that you could imagine him actually wanting to. But for now, signing up to watch the Mets is giving yourself over to a bland, baseball-shaped product whose most prominent human traits are exhaustion and frustration. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the team.

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