So that’s a wrap on a really disappointing 2021 season, and manager Luis Rojas’ career is over. Whatever promise he represented, the record shows Rojas’ clubs missed the playoffs in two of the easiest seasons ever to have made them, and with clubs that looked capable of getting there, especially this year when they’d allegedly shored up the pitching and defense deficiencies that prevented them from succeeding a year before, despite a more-than-adequate offensive attack.
The starting pitching came down to injuries: Sydergaard (2 starts), deGrom (15), Carrasco (12), and Peterson (15) all missed considerable time, combining for just 41 starts between them. The first-line depth guys–Yamamoto (2), Lucchesi (8) and Eickhoff (4)–were awful and/or got injured themselves over a combined 14 starts. Only the free-agent-to-be Marcus Stroman (33), and Taijuan Walker (29) lasted the year; the club was fortunate that Tylor Megill arrived and chipped in 18 starts; and Rich Hill 12. The remainder were divided between relievers who began a series of “bullpen games” (Loup 2, Castro 2, Smith 1, Gsellman 1) and secondary-market depth guys Trevor Williams (3), Robert Stock (2), Tommy Hunter (1), Corey Oswalt (1). That’s 19 starters. Holy moly.
The Defense was bolstered by the arrivals of Lindor and McCann, but played a role in an undercurrent of dysfunction that played out elsewhere. The fist-fight between McNeil and Lindor was the Story of the Year–so much more so than the overanalyzed Thumbgate or Donniegate. It showed fissures in dynamic of the club, the camaraderie of the wholesome and harmonious 2020 club seemed disrupted, and it all attached at some level to the offensive struggles of the principal combatants and their cookie-eating teammates like Smith and Davis. This also led to an odd trade deadline that only further complicated things, not just because of Thumbgate and the benchings, but because by mollifying an unhappy Lindor better options to fix the club went elsewhere, like Kyle Gibson to Philadelphia and Adam Duvall to Atlanta, clubs that in no time at all left the Mets behind.
Dysfunction and a brainpower shortage in the front office contributed to that, leaving the club with the offseason task of rebuilding from the top down.
Billy Beane, whose presence in the 86 Mets ESPN documentary brought him into contemporary focus, is the right guy to get here. He’s got a history with Alderson and the Mets, and a 20 year track record of clean-living and success as a front-office executive in Oakland. He ought to trade himself for Jeff McNeil, and we’ll be on our way. It’ll free up No. 6 for Bob Melvin.