Monday, July 13, 2015

Can Captain Kirk and the Mets beam up a playoff spot?

The pitching staff has Matt Harvey, the Dark Knight, and Noah Syndergaard, aka Thor. On Sunday, Captain Kirk Nieuwenhuis became the first player in Mets history to hit three homers in one home game. If only the payroll weren't the size of Ant-Man.

Nieuwenhuis hitting three homers is like something out of the miracle year of 1969, when Al Weis, who had two homers in the regular season, homered in the World Series-clinching Game 5. A more appropriate Star Trek nickname for Nieuwenhuis would be Redshirt, after the anonymous member of the landing party who often gets killed. This year alone, Nieuwenhuis was dropped by the Mets and picked up and dropped by the Angels before ending up back with the Mets.

In recent games, the Mets have also won games with the help of a Harvey homer and a four-RBI debut from Steven Matz.  Great pitching and timely hitting from unexpected sources. Could this be 1969 all over again?

As a longtime Met fan, I can only have one answer for that - no.

Along with Weis, Donn Clendenon also homered in Game 5. Clendenon was acquired at the trading deadline that season to bolster the middle of the lineup. He went on to be World Series MVP.

If the Mets are able to acquire a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter at the 2015 trading deadline, the outlook for the rest of the season will obviously look a lot better. But even if such a hitter were available, and the Mets could land him without surrendering a top pitcher, two big ifs, I won't believe this franchise is willing or able to take on payroll until I see it happen.  And in five years, Sandy Alderson has shown the ability to acquire prospects, but not established players.

As Adam Rubin of ESPN noted, the Mets have now scored their last 15 runs with home runs, after recently failing to homer in nine straight games. This would be unsustainable if the lineup were made up of power hitters like Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton, much less than if you are relying on hitting heroics from the likes of Nieuwenhuis and the pitching staff.

At least Lucas Duda hit two homers against Arizona. A return to last year's form for Duda would probably help as much as any deadline acquisition.
As for Nieuwenhuis, I hope he has more days that bring up memories of 1969. But 1969 was also the year that Captain Kirk's original Star Trek was canceled.

1 comment:

Uncle Mike said...

The 1969 Mets had an owner willing to spend money, Joan Payson; a general manager who was willing to spend her money, Johnny Murphy; a field manager who had a proven record as a calm leader of men in the game, Gil Hodges; and two pitchers who would have exposed any recent Met pitcher (including Matt Harvey and R.A. Dickey) as not a true ace, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. (I'm not counting Nolan Ryan, since no one yet knew what he could do under the right circumstances.)

What do the 2015 Mets have? The same thing the 2015 Yankees have: A weak division and the possibility of two wild card berths. But with other teams having the money to make a deadline deal, and the Mets not, if these Mets made the playoffs, now that would be a "miracle."

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