Mets' sloppiness and lack of aggression are most glaring deficiencies during rough start to season

Mets' sloppiness and lack of aggression are most glaring deficiencies during rough start to season

In the seventh inning of the Mets' game against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night at Citi Field, Starling Marte started things off by ripping a single to left field.

As Brett Baty, Harrison Bader, and Joey Wendle batted following Marte's hit, the speedy outfielder made no effort to steal second base.

It was a relatively small thing on a night when the Mets' offense was again close to non-existent (they've scored eight runs total over their first four games, with six of those runs coming on Saturday), but the lack of aggression was certainly notable -- especially following a series-opening sweep at the hands of the Brewers where Milwaukee ran wild on the bases.

Additionally, when you consider that Marte swiped 24 bases in just 86 games last season while not 100 percent healthy, his passivity on Monday was a bit of a head-scratcher.

It's hard for a team to look anything but lethargic when the offense is scuffling as badly as the Mets' group is right now, but one thing they can control is their aggression.

Instead, they've been passive during the rare times they've reached base (the Mets haven't stolen a base yet this season), and -- with the exception of Francisco Alvarez and Marte -- their at-bats have left a lot to be desired.

In the early going, it feels like New York's hitters are doing one of two things far too often. They're either letting hittable pitches go without offering or expanding the zone. The approach has led to them being behind in the count a lot, and to plenty of weak contact when they connect.

And a look at the stats of three of the Mets' most important lineup catalysts shows an almost to impossible to believe level of futility.

- Brandon Nimmo is 1-for-16 with a walk.

- Francisco Lindor is 1-for-16 with two walks.

- Jeff McNeil, who was out of the lineup on Monday in favor of Wendle, is 1-for-12.

DJ Stewart is not being viewed as a catalyst, but he's been the regular designated hitter over the first four games with Mark Vientos in Triple-A and J.D. Martinez getting into game shape. And Stewart is hitless so far, going 0-for-7 with a pair of walks and four strikeouts.

As ugly as things have looked over the first four games, Nimmo, Lindor, McNeil, and the rest of the offense is too good for this to continue much longer. But the approach has to change immediately.

Mar 30, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) at Citi Field.
Mar 30, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) at Citi Field. / Wendell Cruz - USA TODAY Sports

What must also change is how sloppy the Mets have been defensively.

On Saturday alone, they made three mistakes in the field -- one mental and two physical.

- Third baseman Zack Short mishandled a would-be ground-out that was ruled a hit but should've been an error

- Nimmo, in left field, threw to third base on a single to try to nail a runner he had no chance of getting, allowing the trailing runner to advance to second

- Lindor air-mailed what should've been a routine 6-3

On Sunday in the first inning, the miscues continued.

Omar Narvaez was called for catcher's interference, which allowed Christian Yelich to reach base. With two outs and Yelich on second base following a steal, Brett Baty muffed a soft liner that should've ended the inning but instead led to Yelich scoring the first run of the game.

Coming into Monday's game, the Mets -- via Sports Info Solutions -- were the worst team in the majors this season when it came to turning ground balls into outs.

Then in the 10th inning on Monday, two crucial defensive mistakes in the infield led to the Tigers blowing the game open.

With runners on first and third and one out, and the game still scoreless, Wendle made an error at second base on a routine grounder. It allowed the first run to score.

Right after that, pitcher Michael Tonkin botched a grounder off the bat of Gio Urshela. Had he fielded it cleanly, the Mets would've gotten at least one out. Had he let it go, it likely would've been an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, which would've allowed the Mets to enter the bottom of the 10th down 1-0.

Instead, things snowballed and a 1-0 game became 5-0. And an 0-3 start for the Mets became 0-4.

The last Mets team to start the season 0-4 was the 2005 squad. That group, under first-year manager Willie Randolph, eventually fell to 0-5 before turning things around and giving the fans a fun season at Shea Stadium. They were in the Wild Card race until September, finished 83-79, and set the stage for a 2006 campaign where the team -- bolstered in a big way during the 05-06 offseason -- really broke through.

Despite the fact that some fans are hysterically already writing off new president of baseball operations David Stearns, the 2024 Mets can write a similar story to their 2005 counterparts.

The bullpen -- especially Edwin Diaz, Jorge Lopez, and Brooks Raley -- has been solid early on and the rotation should stabilize and be decent enough. But the Mets are going to have to get more aggressive on offense and clean things up defensively if they want to make 2024 the truly competitive year the front office and Steve Cohen expect it to be.