Updated: Jul 17
The New York Mets concluded the 2022 season with an impressive record of 101-61, their second-best in franchise history. Despite falling short against the Atlanta Braves in the division and losing to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series, the Mets established themselves as top contenders for the upcoming 2023 season.
Under the ownership of the outspoken Steve Cohen, fondly known as "Uncle Steve," the New York Mets had an eventful offseason. The team pursued an aggressive approach by signing renowned pitcher Justin Verlander and Japanese sensation Kodai Senga. Notably, they invested in a Super Bowl commercial and unveiled a massive new scoreboard at Citi Field, adding to the anticipation surrounding the team.
Throughout their history, the Mets have faced numerous challenges and often fallen short of their fans' expectations. This trend continued in the 2023 season, as they struggled, slipping from 3 to 18.5 games back in June. The team's offseason spending, aimed at assembling the best team money can buy, did not translate seamlessly onto the field. While the lineup remained mostly unchanged from 2022, the addition of All-Star catcher Omar Narvaez brought some improvement.
One notable area of concern is Daniel Vogelbach's performance in the Mets' lineup. As the designated hitter, Vogelbach has struggled to hit consistently, often taking too many pitches as strikes. With a power hitter who refrains from swinging, his swing strike percentage stands at a concerning 6.7%, compared to a called strike percentage of 24.4%. Vogelbach's batting average of .225 and a mere 5 home runs have further hampered his contribution.
The Mets' personnel decisions have raised eyebrows throughout the season. Top prospects Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos were called up relatively late, with Vientos being sent down after only a brief appearance. Overlooking the promising Ronnie Mauricio in AAA has limited the team's options, especially when considering the need to replace Vogelbach as the designated hitter.
Rather than investing in a top-tier bullpen to support the injured Edwin Diaz, the Mets have maintained their tradition of relying on a revolving door of relief pitchers. This approach has frustrated fans who often find themselves asking, "Who's this guy?" While veteran reliever David Robinson has been outstanding, his strengths lie more in setting up the closer rather than being the closer himself. The bullpen's shortcomings can be attributed, at least in part, to Mets GM Billy Eppler.
June proved to be a challenging month for the Mets, as they finished with a 7-19 record and struggled both offensively, batting only .228, and on the pitching front with a 4.43 ERA. During this period, the team traded Eduardo Escobar to the Angels but continued to face difficulties with Marte, Vogelbach, and Lindor. Despite a six-game winning streak in July the Mets still have a long way to go to contend for a pennant.
While the Braves, Marlins, and Phillies dominate the National League East, the Mets find themselves fighting for the third Wild Card spot to salvage their season. The competition for this spot is fierce, with teams like the Reds, Dodgers, Giants, and Brewers vying for the same opportunity. The Mets must prove themselves worthy of standing alongside these formidable opponents.
Comparing the Mets' preseason hype to that of the San Diego Padres and the St. Louis Cardinals, it becomes evident that the team has fallen short of expectations. However, it's important to note that the Mets are not the only team facing challenges and failing to meet expectations this year.
As the New York Mets navigate the 2023 season, they must address the shortcomings in their lineup, rotation, and bullpen while capitalizing on the depth options within the organization. With a highly competitive Wild Card race and formidable opponents in their path, the Mets face an uphill battle to prove themselves as genuine contenders. Despite the disappointment thus far, there remains hope for the team's success in the remaining games of the season as they are currently riding a six-game winning streak and are 7-3 in their last 10 games after defeating the Padres 7-5 Friday.