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The Mets’ window is slamming shut right in front of their faces.

Has the Mets’ window come and gone? Is it possible the terrific 2015 NL title run and the 2016 one-and-done wild card is it? An elite rotation was supposed to fortify serial success. And Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have given the Mets a cornerstone, but Matt Harvey is now gone and Zack Wheeler is...
Time: 15:14     Date: 17.05.2018
Last US Sport News: The Mets’ window is slamming shut right in front of their faces. NY Post 24 - US News

Is it possible the terrific 2015 NL title run and the 2016 one-and-done wild card is it?

An elite rotation was supposed to fortify serial success. And Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard have given the Mets a cornerstone, but Matt Harvey is now gone and Zack Wheeler is teetering. Steven Matz, to date, has been an injury-prone tease.

The Mets were trying to hang with, outdo or at least outlast the Nationals before the Braves and Phillies got their acts together. But Atlanta and Philadelphia have perhaps pushed up their delivery dates.

The Mets began Thursday fourth in the NL East and with National League’s 10th best record. The Braves were the best of both. They remind me a bit of last year’s Yankees. Young players such as Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez proved for real. Once that occurred, rebuilding was sped up. Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies are doing that for Atlanta.

Philadelphia was second in the NL East and the NL, and the chances to stay in that neighborhood grows if we spend the season asking if Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola are as good a rotation 1-2 as deGrom and Syndergaaard and Washington’s Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

Ronald AcunaGetty Images

And this is about more than 2018 for the Mets. This year actually might be the Mets’ last best chance for a while to win the division. It could be that they never fully eclipse the Nationals before the Braves and Phillies seize control of the division’s near future. The window is closing and the rest of this season will determine if it is, in fact, closed.

The Mets long could focus on what seemed like the expiration date of the Nationals’ dominance, which was through this year, after which Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy are free agents, the great Scherzer will be 34 and Anthony Rendon will be approaching his walk year.

But now here are the Braves and Phillies suggesting their windows are just opening. Acuna and Albies are the two youngest position players in the majors, and Mike Soroka, who went on the DL with a shoulder strain on Thursday, is the youngest pitcher. Atlanta already has a 28-year-old elite player in place in Freddie Freeman and one of the best prospect bases in the game.

Philadelphia also has a strong minor league system and a willingness to expand payroll in the way the Mets may not. You might not have noticed, but only the Cubs invested more in this past free agent class than the Phillies, who notably landed Arrieta and Carlos Santana. And the already strong suspicion within the industry is that Philadelphia will be dogged pursuers of Manny Machado next offseason.

The Mets’ prospect base pales alongside those of the Braves and Phillies. And keep in mind Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins and A.J. Ramos are free agents after the season. So the Mets could need to fill multiple rotation and bullpen slots.

Manny MachadoGetty Images

Plus, only the Giants have a higher average age among their position players in the NL than the Mets (the Phillies are the youngest). No team has fewer homers from players under 30 than the Mets’ nine (the Braves and Phillies were tied for fourth with 37).

Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario are the two key building blocks, and both have raised concerns during the first quarter of the season about what their ceilings can be. But even if it is above average, what else do the Mets have coming in the next 12-24 months? Brandon Nimmo’s on-base skills. Perhaps Pete Alonso’s power. It is simply not in the same realm as what the Braves and Phillies are percolating.

Which means the Mets also have less to trade to problem solve. So they will have to be in a free agent market that certainly will have a very aggressive version of the Phillies, but perhaps the Braves and Nationals as avid buyers, too. Do you believe these Mets will go to the top of the market to fill their needs?

In theory they could try to sign Machado and play him at short or third and trade Rosario or Todd Frazier, but that does not fit into how the Mets have historically addressed the market.

Thus, manager Mickey Callaway has pressure to maximize this season. Callaway has been the flip side of fellow first-year skipper Gabe Kapler of the Phillies, who was particularly criticized early in the season before Philadelphia began playing well. Callaway emerged as the first-ever 14-game NL Manager of the Year when the Mets were 12-2, and something more akin to Art Howe since.

He has deGrom and Syndergaard, a bunch of key bullpen pieces who have never shown season-long excellence previously and an older power-dependent lineup that had the NL’s third-fewest homers. There is talent on the roster, particularly if Yoenis Cespedes can get and stay healthy, and Conforto, Rosario, Matz and Jay Bruce can play closer to their ceilings.

But there is more talent in the division than anticipated. That only makes keeping the Mets window open – now and in the near future – all the tougher.

Sport

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Opinion

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Living

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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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