Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Mets stuff

First, an email from Evan:

I put together a comparison of the Phillies’ and Mets’ records in the first and second halves from ’07 up to this year. It’s crazy.  The Phillies have collectively been 14 over for the first half and 55 over for the 2nd half. The Mets have been only a half game worse than the Phils in that time over the first half of the year but an incredible 79 games worse than them in the second half.  How is it possible that one team can so consistently turn it on in the second half while another team consistently sputters out?  Earlier in the season, I had hoped that even if the Mets weren’t going to contend this year, at least they’d finish 3rd above the Marlins and Phillies, maybe flirt with a wild card.  But just like they have done for the last 5 years, and even though they traded some players away and their old stars are even older and coming off of injuries, the Phillies still made that push and now are in the mix for a wild card while the Mets have once again been left behind.  I have noticed you often chalk things up that are difficult to explain otherwise to the randomness of the game, but can results like this be considered random? The Phillies performed significantly better in the second half each of the last 6 years and the Mets performed significantly worse every year except for ’08. Maybe I’m just like a lot of fans and tired of Septembers that feel like this and watching a Phillies team that I thought was buried a couple months ago come in and do what they just did makes me frustrated enough to stay up until 2 a.m. doing dumb stuff like this. Ugh.

It’s a great question. I have to go with randomness because I’ve got nothing better, and because randomness has a powerful way of looking like all sorts of other things. David Wright is the only active player on the current Mets who was around for the second half of 2007. They’ve got a whole new coaching staff and a new front office. So unless Wright’s presence is so poisonous that it dooms the team in the second half (but notably not the first half) every single year, I can’t think of what it could be about the Mets as an organization that makes the team play worse after the All-Star Break. The Wilpons are a constant across that time period too, someone will certainly mention. But could a team’s ownership possibly have to do with its first half/second half splits?

Not for nothing, but there are some arbitrary endpoints in play: The 2005 and 2006 Mets were a bit better in the second half than they were in the first half. But the 2004 Mets also fell apart after the break, and the Phillies have been better in the second half in every season since 2003. I just want to hear a compelling explanation for it before I believe it’s a real thing. Something in the water? The toll of NYC nightlife over the course of a season? The way they train? After a game like last night’s I’m shattered enough to believe something, but not just anything.

This came up in the comments-section yesterday: If Mets prospects lists still include Harvey this offseason, I imagine you’ll see at least a few that still put Wheeler ahead of Harvey. And that seems silly to me. I know Harvey’s Major League success has come across only 59 1/3 innings, but they were about as convincing as 59 1/3 innings could reasonably be. I remember reading on a generally reasonable baseball message board during the 2005 season a discussion over whether David Wright — with about a full year of All-Star caliber play on his Major League resume — had surpassed Andy Marte as a prospect. So, yeah. That. We already know Matt Harvey can be good in the Majors. We don’t know that he will be forever, but we’ve seen that he can be. Wheeler still needs to prove himself at Triple-A.

At this point, I don’t think it’s reasonable to hope Wheeler looks better than Harvey did in his first turn around the big leagues. I think the best you could hope is that Wheeler is as good as Harvey was, which would be awesome.

Not even Dickey and Wright, I’d say. I’d prefer the Mets sign Wright to an extension because I doubt the type of players they’d return in a deal for Wright would turn out as good as him, but obviously they should always listen.

I’m with you. It’s tough to defend them while they’re playing like they have been, and especially after soul-shaking loss like last night’s. But where’s the indication that the process is wrong? They’re losing. Many of the players aren’t very good and now many of them aren’t playing well. That is not surprising. Many of them are young, somewhat promising and under team control for a while. They’ve got depth and some youth in their starting rotation — probably, all told, the toughest commodity to maintain in baseball — for the first time in a long time.

They need more good players, no doubt. They need more payroll flexibility with which to acquire more good players, too. The team on the field, as currently constructed, is not a good one. Don’t get me wrong about that. But I don’t think there’s much to indicate that the front office’s plan is a flawed one and that things will be getting worse. We’ll see what happens this offseason. I imagine we all feel a bit sunnier about their prospects come March, as we always do.

Man, I got a body for business and a head for sin. Abstract concepts I can handle but when it comes to execution or practice of business stuff, either my head hurts, I get angry, or I just giggle and yell out, “TAXI!” like in this Kids in the Hall sketch.

So I don’t really know why, when no one’s paying to be at the stadium, they don’t just open up the doors and say alright, fill it up, go buy Shake Shack and hot dogs and make the players feel good about themselves. But I suspect there’s good math behind it. I guess it would anger the season-ticket holders, but then, you know, really? Say you paid for a flight to New Orleans and there was an empty seat next to you on the plane, and the flight attendant came over and said, “Hey, this old woman who wrote us a letter absolutely loves po’ boys but she can’t afford a flight to Louisiana; we’re going to let her fly for free if you’re willing to give up part of that armrest and some legroom.” Would you not let her sit there just because you paid for the ticket?

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