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Bill Madden: Mets’ historically expensive disaster is mostly unexplainable after dealing Scherzer, Robertson

Even after Edwin Diaz went down for the season back in March, it was inconceivable the Mets, with their record highest payroll in history, would wind up sellers at the trading deadline. Yet here they are, raising the white flag over Flushing, beginning with the trading of David Robertson to the Marlins for a couple of low-level teenage “futures” plus agreeing to deal Max Scherzer to the Rangers and all but admitting they’ve been a $345 million catastrophe.

And somewhere Steve Cohen is asking: “How did it come to this?” And, perhaps more importantly: “Where do we go from here?”

How it came to this is mostly unexplainable. You could make the case that GM Billy Eppler perhaps didn’t do a great job of roster construction, but how does Jeff McNeil hit nearly 80 points below his league-leading .326 batting average last year? Or Pete Alonso’s slash line of .271/.352/.518 in 2022, shrink to .217/.315/.497? Or Francisco Lindor fall off from a .270 batting average and .788 OPS last year to .228/.760 while on pace for 30-40 fewer RBI?

It was nobody’s fault that Jose Quintana, counted on to fill one of the rotation vacancies from the free agent departures of Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker, missed the first 3 ½ months of the season with a freak injury, but without him the Nos. 4 and 5 spots after Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga have been an unenviable crapshoot all season long for Buck Showalter. Most egregious, however, was Eppler’s failure to secure any hard-throwing strikeout arms behind Robertson, as the Mets pen appeared too often to be an endless parade of Triple-A “tin cans”.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about this Mets pratfall — other than payroll doesn’t equivocate to pennants (see: Yankees) — it’s that they are nowhere near the same class as the Braves, who have superior players, on both sides of the ball, at catcher, first base, second base, third base, right field and maybe even center field where Michael Harris II, an elite defender, is developing fast into a solid hitter. And while we might give the edge at shortstop to the Mets, it’s based purely on Lindor’s reputation. The fact of the matter is the Braves’ Orlando Arcia has had an All-Star season.

There’s not a whole lot Eppler can do about the Mets’ offense as a whole other than hope Alonso, McNeil and Lindor will revert to ‘22 form and that Starling Marte, at 35 next year, isn’t nearing the end of the line (as it’s looked) and has some comeback in him. They lack power in the outfield which could be partially rectified by moving Brett Baty off third base where he’s been a defensive liability. That would also open up a spot for Ronny Mauricio, whose time appears to be at hand.

But if Cohen ever expects to realize the fruits of his spending, Eppler is going to need to make major additions to the pitching staff — starting with re-signing Robertson (who loved pitching for Showalter) after the season. That would certainly help ease the angst of Met fans unwilling to wait ‘til 2025 or later to see the two prospects, 18-year-old middle infielder Marco Vargas, or 19-year-old switch-hitting catcher Ronald Hernandez, he got back from the Marlins. To close the gap on the Braves, the Mets are going to have to do it with pitching, and with the understanding there may not be a whole lot left in the tank with Scherzer and Verlander.

Word is, because of Eppler, they may have a leg up on the competition for 25-year-old Orix Buffaloes righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto acknowledged as the best pitcher in Japan the last few seasons, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. But they’re going to need at least one more starter and it would be nice if one could emerge from the system from among Blake Tidwell, Mike Vasil, Christian Scott or Dominic Hamel. And the bullpen, even with Diaz’s return and a re-signing of Robertson, needs a near-total overhaul.

Cohen may find this hard to believe but the reason his Mets are sellers at the trading deadline this year is because they’re not a very good team, offensively, defensively and pitching-wise.


There was quite a hue and cry among the nation’s baseball media last week when the Angels declared Shohei Ohtani was not being traded — and then went out and dealt two of their top three prospects to the White Sox for rental righty Lucas Giolito.

“How could they hold onto him?” howled the masses, to which I would say: “How could they not?” Even if all the naysayers prove to be right and the Angels don’t make the playoffs, you have to give them credit for trying, and even if Ohtani does move on as a free agent, how do you trade a player – no matter what the circumstances – who is having the most incredible season in baseball history?

Angel fans all feel blessed (as do we all) to be able to witness Ohtani’s daily pitching and hitting feats — like last Thursday’s doubleheader against the Tigers when Ohtani notched his first career shutout in the opener — a one-hitter — and came back in the nightcap to hit his 37th and 38th homers as the Angels’ DH. Ohtani, who says the secret of his success is sleeping 12 hours a day, went into the weekend leading the majors in homers, triples (7), total bases (258), OPS (1.070) plus fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.9) and opponents batting average (.185).

According to the Elias Bureau, only two players in history, Jim Rice in 1978 and Willie Mays in 1955, have ever led the league in both homers and triples in the same season. The American League MVP ought to be unanimous, no matter where the Angels finish up. We’ve never seen anything like this before and doubtless never will.


Source: Berkshire mont

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