The Mets performed their final house recreation of the season on Thursday in the remaining hours of September. It was darkish at recreation time, and the flags flapped atop Citi Discipline in the cool breeze. Most of the gamers didn’t put on lengthy sleeves, however most of the followers bundled up. Summer season is over.
Loads of loyalists confirmed as much as see off the crew — 24,312 for a midweek night time recreation towards the Miami Marlins, one other also-ran in the Nationwide League East. The Mets dominated the division for many of the season, however crashed exhausting. They’re the first crew to spend greater than 100 days in first place but end with a shedding report. It’s a lot to course of.
“There’s a number of optimistic issues that occurred,” Pete Alonso mentioned in the house dugout after batting apply. “However I’m going to wish a while to mirror on the classes and the issues I must do to take this crew to the prime. As a result of I like being a Met. I actually love this group and I like this fan base. However I hate to lose.”
This recreation was a laugher for the Mets, 12-3, and the Marlins’ backup catcher was pitching at the finish. Alonso ripped two homers, Nos. 36 and 37 for the season, and was robbed of one other at the center-field wall. Francisco Lindor smoked a grand slam and Michael Conforto lashed two run-scoring singles. Wealthy Hill, the hard-luck lefty acquired in July, lastly received his first Mets victory.
Conforto, who generally is a free agent after the season, may need performed his final house recreation as a Met. He discovered himself holding again tears in proper subject.
“Followers on the market cheering my identify, telling me, ‘Don’t go,’” Conforto mentioned, itemizing the moments, on and off the subject, that endeared New York to him. “We’ll see what occurs in the future, however I cherished each second that I used to be blessed to play right here.”
Conforto, 28, is the solely place participant left from the Mets’ roster in the 2015 World Collection. Keep in mind his temporary star flip in Sport 4? Conforto homered twice towards Kansas Metropolis, and it regarded as if the Mets would tie the collection. As an alternative they fumbled the lead in the late innings and misplaced the World Collection the subsequent night time. They haven’t received a postseason recreation since.
How shut are the Mets, actually, to enjoying video games that matter in October? That may be a query for the subsequent president of baseball operations to resolve, and the Mets can’t afford to bungle one other job search.
Their new proprietor, Steven Cohen, employed Jared Porter as common supervisor final low season, with Zack Scott as his assistant. Porter was fired in January for sending lewd textual content messages to a feminine reporter, and Scott has been on administrative go away since he was arrested on Aug. 31 and charged with driving whereas intoxicated. In an period of expansive entrance places of work, Sandy Alderson, the crew president, has been badly undermanned.
“Sandy’s doing three jobs at this level,” reliever Trevor Could mentioned on Thursday. “Extra persons are going to come back in and doubtless carve off items of what was one job, and it’s going to change into three folks doing three jobs once more, so communication might be increased.
“You discover that so many organizations have their G.M.s, however additionally they have president of baseball operations, assistant G.M.s — all the totally different little branches, however all of them form of do G.M. duties now. So you’ll be able to go to them with stuff that you’d take to the G.M. in 2012 when it was only one man. That’s simply the manner it’s occurring now: much more brains tackling greater issues.”
To ease the workload, Alderson, 73, might chase a well-known government like Billy Beane or Theo Epstein, or strive once more to discover a protégé to construct on his concepts, as Beane did when he was Alderson’s assistant in Oakland in the Nineties. Final yr’s hiring fiasco apart, Alderson ought to have interesting choices.
“I’m promoting Steve Cohen, I’m promoting New York, I’m promoting the alternative to appreciate the potential of a storied however not but iconic franchise,” Alderson instructed reporters on Wednesday. “I feel there’s an amazing quantity to supply somebody coming to the Mets. Is it a set piece? Is it one thing that doesn’t require a certain quantity of labor? No. That’s the place the actual enjoyment comes in, is creating one thing.”
The thriller government can have a head begin: an elite slugger, Alonso, with three years to go earlier than free company; a dominant (if fragile) starter, Jacob deGrom, with as much as three years left on his contract; and a 27-year-old shortstop, Francisco Lindor, with 10 years left on his — and, sure, that’s a superb factor.
As awkward as his transition has been to New York, Lindor is a star who will end this season on a excessive: Thursday’s grand slam gave him 9 house runs and 25 R.B.I. for September. His pal Javier Baez, 28, has additionally proven the Mets his greatest aspect with free company developing.
Earlier than the Mets handle Baez’s future, or that of their different prime free brokers — Conforto and the starters Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard — they may first determine whether or not to maintain Supervisor Luis Rojas, who has gone 102-117 in two seasons.
The Mets fired their hitting coaches in Could however nonetheless by no means fairly mounted the offense. Solely three groups — Miami, Texas and Pittsburgh — have scored fewer runs. Hitters chased too many dangerous pitches, Rojas mentioned, failing at “all these issues that I do know these gamers got here by means of our system realizing and mastering.”
Rojas, 40, was a longtime, well-respected supervisor in the Mets’ farm system earlier than his promotion, and it will be a disgrace to lose somebody who helped the crew reliably develop stable main leaguers. He’ll know his destiny inside days.
“We now have to get there first and discover out what’s going to occur, however I’ve loved my time right here the final two years being the supervisor,” Rojas mentioned. “It’s been enjoyable day by day working with the guys and connecting with them and getting ready. We haven’t achieved what we needed to realize, however the ambiance in the clubhouse, for me, has been certainly one of the most essential issues that I can consider the previous two years right here, in how all people will get alongside and will get ready to play.”
Alas, in the chilly calculation of a season gone improper, outcomes virtually all the time matter most. The Mets could quickly have new leaders in the dugout and the entrance workplace, however the core of a winner is right here — Alonso, deGrom and Lindor — and that’s greater than most shedding groups have.
Lindor was the final Met to depart the subject on Thursday, signing autographs for 100 or so die-hards close to the dugout who had stayed for a remaining salute. Loads could also be totally different by the subsequent house recreation, in six months, however for now, Lindor had a easy message for the followers.
“Sorry we couldn’t get it accomplished for them,” he mentioned, “however I admire the love they’ve given all of us.”