The Mets performed their final house recreation of the season on Thursday in the last hours of September. It was darkish at recreation time, and the flags flapped atop Citi Field in the cool breeze. Most of the gamers didn’t put on lengthy sleeves, however most of the followers bundled up. Summer is over.
Plenty of loyalists confirmed as much as see off the group — 24,312 for a midweek evening recreation towards the Miami Marlins, one other also-ran in the National League East. The Mets dominated the division for many of the season, however crashed exhausting. They are the first group to spend greater than 100 days in first place but end with a shedding report. It is quite a bit to course of.
“There’s a lot of positive things that happened,” Pete Alonso stated in the house dugout after batting observe. “But I’m going to need some time to reflect on the lessons and the things I need to do to take this team to the top. Because I love being a Met. I really love this organization and I love this fan base. But 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. Rich Hill, the hard-luck lefty acquired in July, lastly bought his first Mets victory.
Conforto, who is usually 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.
“Fans out there cheering my name, telling me, ‘Don’t go,’” Conforto stated, itemizing the moments, on and off the subject, that endeared New York to him. “We’ll see what happens in the future, but I loved every second that I was blessed to play here.”
Conforto, 28, is the solely place participant left from the Mets’ roster in the 2015 World Series. Remember his transient star flip in Game 4? Conforto homered twice towards Kansas City, and it regarded as if the Mets would tie the collection. Instead they fumbled the lead in the late innings and misplaced the World Series the subsequent evening. They haven’t received a postseason recreation since.
How shut are the Mets, actually, to enjoying video games that matter in October? That is a query for the subsequent president of baseball operations to unravel, and the Mets can not afford to bungle one other job search.
Their new proprietor, Steven Cohen, employed Jared Porter as normal 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 depart since he was arrested on Aug. 31 and charged with driving whereas intoxicated. In an period of expansive entrance workplaces, Sandy Alderson, the group president, has been badly undermanned.
“Sandy’s doing three jobs at this point,” reliever Trevor May stated on Thursday. “More people are going to come in and probably carve off pieces of what was one job, and it’s going to become three people doing three jobs again, so communication can be higher.
“You notice that so many organizations have their G.M.s, but they also have president of baseball operations, assistant G.M.s — all the different little branches, but they all kind of do G.M. duties now. So you can go to them with stuff that you would take to the G.M. in 2012 when it was just one guy. That’s just the way it’s happening now: a lot more brains tackling bigger problems.”
To ease the workload, Alderson, 73, may 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 Nineteen Nineties. Last yr’s hiring fiasco apart, Alderson ought to have interesting choices.
“I’m selling Steve Cohen, I’m selling New York, I’m selling the opportunity to realize the potential of a storied but not yet iconic franchise,” Alderson instructed reporters on Wednesday. “I think there’s a tremendous amount to offer someone coming to the Mets. Is it a set piece? Is it something that doesn’t require a certain amount of work? No. That’s where the real enjoyment comes in, is creating something.”
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 finest aspect with free company developing.
Before 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 Manager Luis Rojas, who has gone 102-117 in two seasons.
The Mets fired their hitting coaches in May however nonetheless by no means fairly mounted the offense. Only three groups — Miami, Texas and Pittsburgh — have scored fewer runs. Hitters chased too many unhealthy pitches, Rojas stated, failing at “all those things that I know those players came through our system knowing and mastering.”
Rojas, 40, was a longtime, well-respected supervisor in the Mets’ farm system earlier than his promotion, and it might be a disgrace to lose somebody who helped the group reliably develop stable main leaguers. He will know his destiny inside days.
“We have to get there first and find out what’s going to happen, but I’ve enjoyed my time here the last two years being the manager,” Rojas stated. “It’s been fun every day working with the guys and connecting with them and preparing. We haven’t achieved what we wanted to achieve, but the atmosphere in the clubhouse, for me, has been one of the most important things that I can think of the past two years here, in how everybody gets along and gets prepared to play.”
Alas, in the chilly calculation of a season gone mistaken, outcomes nearly at all times matter most. The Mets might 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 go away the subject on Thursday, signing autographs for 100 or so die-hards close to the dugout who had stayed for a last salute. So much 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 done for them,” he stated, “but I appreciate the love they have given all of us.”