Best Laid Plans

By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/
Gang aft a-gley.”

~ Robert Burns, To A Mouse

“Yeah, well, you can stick your well-laid plan up your well-laid ass.”

~ Zeus Carver, Die Hard With a Vengeance

So,  now what?

Prior to the All-Star Break, the Mets were riding high…still in the thick of the race, coming off the first ever no-hitter in Mets history, R.A. Dickey’s phenomenal first half, David Wright’s “Hey, I didn’t really go anywhere” comeback season, and overall the never-say-die fight quality this team had.

One hand, it was a lot of fun to watch, but as the Mets have proved time and again, that first half performance is not indicative of future second half performance, as they’ve shown that post All-Star break, the grind has them struggle.  This year seems to not be the off-with-a-bang start to the second half we had expected, with a loss going into the break, and a sweep in Atlanta, including an uncharacteristic Johan Santana start on Sunday.  Now we head into the Nation’s Capital to see them play a “We’re just the guys to do it” Nationals team — very hungry, and youth-infused.

Oh and did I mention, the Mets lost a solid starter in Dillon Gee, possibly for the season?

Yeah, that.

So where does this leave us?  Clearly, there is still a race to be had.  Yet, coming off a craptastic series in Atlanta, and going into DC against the hungry Nationals doesn’t seem to bode well for us fans, or the team for that matter.  Yet, coming into the season, we noticed that there was an emphasis on leaving the dance with the one we came with (i.e. not too much of a dramatic change to the pitching staff, and moderate changes in the bullpen), and the reliance on youth.

Normally, we wouldn’t complain about that.  I’ve often said that we’d rather see the team lose with young guys than overbloated veteran contracts.  And clearly, this team played over its head.

And while I was on the Happy Recap podcast prior to the break, E.J. and I discussed the term that didn’t seem to follow the team anymore…and that was “Wilpon finances.”  Funny how finances didn’t come into play when the team was winning; it was just bad that Sandy Alderson may have had to deviate from his best laid plan and be a buyer at the deadline.

This next series will separate the men from the boys in a few respects.  One is to see if the Mets pitching staff, not to mention offense, is going to carry them for the long haul.  With the loss of Gee, this could be tough especially if his replacement is Miguel Batista.  Adam Rubin on Twitter (and in a blog post over at ESPN New York) suggested that Alderson is not prioritizing the starting pitching, but rather the bullpen, which makes sense to a degree.

It also means that part of the plan is not being deviated FOR NOW and not activating a minor league for the sake of it.

I mentioned on our podcast last week that I was against activating Harvey for the big club, and I still believe that.  When has ever activating a kid from the minors, especially a pitcher, ever worked well for this team?  I get that Harvey is a bit different than someone like Mike Pelfrey, but look at how the Mets screwed up his development to save the very effect of lack of a plan?

I’m fine with a September call up.  But starting pitching has actually been a bright spot, and I agree with Alderson on keeping him baking in the minors for now.

Lastly, the plan of 2012 was to be competitive.  The “real work” was supposed to be in 2013.  I know that’s tough for some people to swallow, but their hot start may not be indicative of future performance.  We’ve seen that with the schematic laid out by Ed at Studious Metsimus a few weeks back that the second half is some kind of down turn.

This year the Mets don’t have Carlos Beltran to blame or anyone coming off a significant injury.  Now it’s on themselves to turn things up and change.  Because Alderson’s plan was not to be an active buyer at the deadline – maybe get a good piece here and there.  And if the Mets continue to lose, it sort of lets him off the hook.

I’m not sure which direction this team goes, but I’m sort of a fan of not making a deal simply to make a deal, or “striking while the iron is hot.”  We’ve seen that work not too well in the Mets’ favor historically.

As Zeus Carver suggested in Die Hard With a Vengeance, well laid plans aren’t necessarily going to go exactly to task.  There needs to be adaptation along the way for sure.  But Sandy Alderson’s plan is a long term plan, and I’m a fan of waiting it out, so to speak, not rushing any prospects or mortgaging the future away for a one-time shot.

We’ve seen that has NEVER worked in this team’s favor, and should not be a plan any time going forward.

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