For Mets, this is what tanking looks like

Mets Ortega
New York Mets center fielder Rafael Ortega watches after failing to catch a two-run home run hit by Kansas City Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr. during the third inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The trade deadline was the obvious indicator that Steve Cohen and the Mets were waving the white flag on the 2023 season. 

Both veteran arms that were supposed to create one of baseball’s most dynamic pitching duos in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have been shipped down to Texas teams. Veteran reliever David Robertson was traded to the buying Marlins in a bizarre swap of NL East roles. The Marlins have made the playoffs in full seasons just twice in their franchise’s history dating back to 1993 (they made it a third time in the COVID-shortened 2020 season).

One of their most valuable bats of the season — which provided an indication of how bad the first four months of the season went — was sent to the Diamondbacks. Mark Canha packed his bags for Milwaukee and Dominic Leone now calls Orange County home. 

With it, the Mets have expedited their farm-system-building process. Picking up five new prospects ranked within the organization’s top 15, two of them (Luisange Acuna, Drew Gilbert), have joined Kevin Parada, Ronny Mauricio, and Jett Williams in MLB Pipeline’s top 100

It takes teams years to pick up as much young talent as the Mets did in a week. But it has understandably left the major-league squad woefully short-handed — and we’ve got our first glimpse of how bad things are for them over the last week. 

Buck Showalter Mets
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout in the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

They were swept by the second-worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals, by getting outscored 20-8 in the three-game set and 13-2 over the final two. Heading to Baltimore to face the surprising and impressive AL East-leading Orioles, the Mets have been non-competitive as they were outscored 17-6 over the first two games of the series. 

They’ve trotted out the likes of minor leaguers in DJ Stewart and Danny Mendick, Rafael Ortega and Jonathan Arauz — names that at the beginning of the season would have been deemed unfathomable options for a team with such high expectations.

All the while, Mauricio has not been given a chance to join his former teammates and Mets youngsters Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos in the majors despite a torrid first half of the season.

With no Verlander, Scherzer, or Robertson, the pitching has been shambolic. Over the last week, Mets arms have allowed opponents to hit .311 against them with an .835 OPS.

Tylor Megill Mets
New York Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill (38) gets a new ball as Baltimore Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson, back, runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run off him in the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023, in Baltimore. Orioles’ Adley Rutschman scored on the home run. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

David Peterson, who was demoted to the bullpen just last month, and Tylor Megill, who had an ERA over 8.00 in Triple-A after his demotion from the majors earlier this summer, have made starts. The already-weak bullpen that never recovered from Edwin Diaz’s injury in March has somehow been even worse. 

Josh Walker, the man responsible for the blowing of a 6-3 lead on June 25 against the Philadelphia Phillies, balked in the Royals walk-off winner on Tuesday. He then allowed two runs on three hits in one-third of an inning on Thursday in Kansas City. Phil Bickford and Reed Garrett, relievers with ERAs over 6.00 this season, were brought in as warm bodies to eat innings and are now being featured prominently.

This isn’t just waving the white flag. This is throwing in the towel, signing “The Terms of a Military Convention”.

And it’s very clear as to why it’s happening. 

The Mets need to finish with a bottom-six record in Major League Baseball this season to keep their draft pick without penalization. If they finish with the seventh-worst record or better, their draft pick is docked 10 spots as punishment for being $40 million over the luxury tax threshold. 

Entering Sunday’s play, they are two games behind — well, technically better than — the St. Louis Cardinals for the sixth-worst record in baseball. Heading into Monday, there are 51 games remaining in the season.

Consider that more than enough time to win the race of futility. 

For more on the Mets, visit AMNY.com

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