Sunday was a rough day for the Mets. The Amazins had taken the first two games of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals, and were looking for the sweep with their ace Noah Syndergaard taking the hill. Going into the game on Sunday the Mets were already without Yoenis Cespedes, the center-piece of their offense, power hitting first-baseman Lucas Duda, fan favorites David Wright and Wilmer Flores, and two of their talented young pitchers, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo. To make matters worse, Syndergaard only lasted one and a third innings before he grabbed his arm in pain and had to be taken out. The Mets went on to lose 23-5. That’s not a typo. Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon had himself a field day, going 6-6 with three homers and an incredible 10 runs batted in. Rendon became the 13th player in over 100 years of MLB history to have 10 or more RBIs in a single game.
The two most alarming injuries that face New York are to Cespedes and Syndergaard. In both cases, players complained of pain but were put into the lineup regardless. Syndergaard refused to take an MRI before his start, and for whatever reason, the Mets decided to let him pitch. It is unknown if the MRI would have revealed anything, but this team cannot be taking risks with their most valuable arm. Cespedes’s situation is very similar. After missing a couple days with quad problems (an issue that dates back to last season), he was penciled back into the lineup and had to be taken out later in the game after injuring his leg even more. Rushing players too quickly back from injury has been a recurring problem for the New York Mets over the last few seasons. Many Mets fans have placed the blame on team trainer Ray Ramirez, who has made some questionable moves (like famously sending Ryan Church on an airplane despite having a concussion) during his over ten-year career with New York. Some blame manager Terry Collins, who has made his fair share of questionable managerial moves during his tenure with the Mets.
An optimistic Mets fan (if there are any) would realize that the humiliating loss to the Nats was only one game out of 162. There is still plenty of season left; all the Mets need to do is wait out the injuries, right? With all the injuries and mismanagement, are the Mets still really contenders? Maybe. In 2015, general manager Sandy Alderson turned a barely .500 team at the deadline into a World Series team with one move: the Cespedes trade. Anderson has done an incredible job with trades and acquisitions during his Mets career, and he may need to make another big move soon. Even with Syndergaard out for weeks (potentially months) with a partial lat tear, the Mets’ weakness is their struggling offense, which consistently ranks last in various offensive categories. The obvious hole to fill would be at the hot corner (the Mets have the worst MLB OPS at 3B with .288). Suitable targets may be Kansas City Royals star Mike Moustakas. Moose is off to a hot start and is a free agent after the end of the season, making him a likely trade option. Chicago White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier could also be a target, albeit a less-desirable one given his dinger or strikeout approach. The team could also look internally for a solution. Top prospect Amed Rosario has been destroying AAA pitching. The Mets could promote Rosario and move current veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to third base.
The window for the National League East title is still open, but if the Nationals keep playing like they have been, that window will soon close, and the Mets will have to compete for another Wild Card berth. One thing is for certain: the Mets need to make a change if they want to be legitimate contenders, because right now, they aren’t.