Although the Mets have played second fiddle in New York to the Yankees ever since their debut season of 1962 (when they went 40-120) there have also been many highs throughout their history, most notably their miracle season of 1969 and their second World Series win in 1986.
But there have been many more lean seasons than there have been victorious ones and the Mets have been an easy target for quipsters and pundits. As recently as last week when the Mets managed to bungle an attempted trade that would have brought Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Wilmer Flores the Mets managed to make the wrong kind of headlines in the New York tabloids.
Yet as things settled following Friday’s trade deadline the Mets were considered by many experts to have been one of baseball’s biggest winners in reshaping their roster for the final two months of the regular season.
Prior to the non-trade for Gomez the Mets had strengthened their lineup by acquiring veterans Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from Atlanta. They also added bullpen depth by trading with Oakland for Tyler Clippard. But when word got out that the trade for Gomez failed due to the Mets’ reluctance to pay all of Gomez’ salary the Mets’ fan base was irate.
Whether or not that triggered their final trade on Friday right at the deadline is questionable but the Mets did acquire outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Detroit in exchange for a couple of pitching prospects. Cespedes, who becomes a free agent after the season and is essentially a ‘rental,’ adds a bona fide bat to the middle of the Mets lineup and also sent a message to both the fans and to the Mets players that management/ownership is committed to winning this season.
That set the stage for a weekend series with Division rival Washington, whom they trailed by three games entering the series. The Nationals entered that series with a 33-9 record at Citi Field over the past few seasons. Anything short of a Mets sweep of the series would ensure that the Nationals would leave New York with its Division lead intact while sending the Mets on the road – where they are just 17-32 this season, still in second place.
Well, you know what happened. The Mets swept the underachieving Nats to pull into a virtual tie for first place (the Mets have one more win and one more loss, having played two more games than the Nats).
There’s still plenty of baseball to be played as a full one third of the season still remains. Yet this weekend’s series could be the turning point for both teams.
Much of the major trading activity last week involved marquee players going from the NL to the AL. Houston, Kansas City and Toronto made moves having the greatest impact as all three teams are taking an “all in” approach. The Royals are the most likely of the three to make the Playoffs, leading the AL Central by 8 games starting the week with the best record in the league, 20 games above .500.
Houston leads the AL West by 4 games over the LA Angels and virtually tied with the AL East leading Yankees for the AL’s second best record. The Astros’ acquisition of starting pitchers Scott Kazmir and Michael Fiers gives them a very deep rotation with the newcomers joining Dallas Keuchel, Colin McHugh and rookie Lance McCullers Jr. The Yankees were relatively quiet at the deadline, making only minor moves, and start the week with a 6 game lead over both Baltimore and Toronto.
The Blue Jays made the trade involving the biggest players on both sides of the trade, exchanging shortstops by sending Jose Reyes to Colorado for Troy Tulowitzki (and getting some bullpen help with LaTroy Hawkins) and then made a trade for one of the elite pitchers on trade market, getting David Price from Detroit.
Even the Texas Rangers made a bold move in trading for Philadelphia’s prized lefty starter, Cole Hamels, in exchange for some prospects and oft injured starter Matt Harrison.
Here’s a look at three weekend series.
Giants at Cubs: First meeting for this 4-game series that begins Thursday. Wind conditions are a primary factor in setting totals at Wrigley Field. “Wind Neutral” Totals can be considered to be between 8 and 9. PLAYS: UNDER 8 or higher in matchups of the Cubs’ Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, Mike Leake or Chris Heston; Giants +120 or more in starts by Bumgarner, Heston or Leake against any Cubs starter; Cubs -125 or lower with any starter not facing Bumgarner, Heston or Leake.
Orioles at Angels: In their only prior meetings the Angels took 2 of 3 from the Orioles when they met in Baltimore in mid May. All 3 games stayed UNDER the total. PLAYS – OVER 7 or less in any matchup except in a start by Chen; UNDER 9 or higher in matchups of Heaney, Richards or Santiago against Chen, Gausman or Tillman; Angels +125 or more in any matchup or as underdogs of any price in starts by Heaney, Richards or Santiago not facing Chen; Baltimore -125 or less in starts by any pitcher against other than Heaney, Richards or Santiago.
Mets at Rays: The Mets’ offense overall is averaging an MLB average 4.1 rpg at home but a paltry 2.9 rpg on the road but will have a chance to improve that average with their new offense in a three game Monday through Wednesday series at Miami. PLAYS: UNDER 7 or higher in matchups of DeGrom, Harvey or Syndergaard against Archer or Odorizzi; UNDER First 5 Innings Totals of 3 or 3.5 if the full game total is 6.5 or less; Mets -125 or less with any of the trio not opposing Archer or Odorizzi; Rays -130 or less with Archer or Odorizzi against Jonathan Niese or Bartolo Colon.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]