COMMENTARY | The New York Mets are in trouble. Maybe it hasn't yet reached crisis mode, but as the Mets went 2-4 on the just-completed homestand, major issues surfaced.
We'll start with the Mets' futility at the plate. They've struck out 28 times over the past two games and they were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in yesterday's 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The starting pitching has been bad as well. Mets starters, other than Matt Harvey, are 4-15. No one epitomizes the rotation's struggles more than Jonathon Niese, the team's opening day starter, who is 2-4 with a 5.93 earned run average and who has more walks (22) than strikeouts (21). As if that's not bad enough, he's been getting knocked out of games early -- not a good thing when you have a bullpen sporting a 4.61 ERA.
Look at the everyday players and things aren't much better. Ike Davis is batting .180 and he failed to deliver in a huge spot yesterday in the eighth inning. With two runners on and one out, the Mets trailing by a run, Davis struck out. That's how it's been going all season for him. That's how it's been going for the Mets as well. They have a team batting average of .231, third worst in baseball.
Remarkably, the biggest story today as the Mets prepare to play a four-game series at the first-place St. Louis Cardinals, has to do with Jordany Valdespin, a part-time player who is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Valdespin has always been somewhat of a lightning rod. This weekend, all the negative sentiment was front and center. On Friday night, with the Mets trailing 7-1, Valdespin hit a solo home run. Instead of rounding the bases like you would expect someone to do when his team is down five runs, Valdespin flipped his bat and admired his shot. That did not sit well with the Pirates -- Valdespin was hit by a pitch on Saturday -- nor is all of this sitting too well with his teammates or his manager, who didn't really go out of their way to defend him.
So I guess it's natural at this point to just say that this is Jordany being Jordany. But the problem is this: He's not good enough to carry himself this way, not that any major leaguer should. Despite his success as a pinch hitter over the last year and a quarter, the Mets don't think he's an everyday player.
Valdespin could be a valuable piece off the bench, but not if he continues to be a distraction.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
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