The Mets celebrated Pete Alonso winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award and Jacob deGrom winning his second straight NL Cy Young Award this week. They should be proud of their players for earning their awards after giving them great seasons. Those two gave Mets fans a reason to watch them.
Alonso vowed everyone by hitting tape-measure home runs and shining in big moments this season while deGrom dominated when pitching every fifth day.
Yet something seemed amiss about all this. It did not garner much celebration from my end. Not in the extent of last season when deGrom won his first Cy Young of his career.
Maybe it’s because the Mets missed out on the postseason for the third straight season. Yeah, that’s it.
When a team features two players that won awards and miss out on the postseason, it makes this season even worse. Even the Mets realize that despite finishing the season 86-76. It’s a hard sell to celebrate their seasons after seeing the Mets being a bystander in the playoffs.
Seeing the wild-card Washington Nationals win the World Series make all of this look worse for the Mets. Imagine the Mets being the team the Nationals faced in the wild-card game. Imagine deGrom dominating for nine innings against that team and Alonso coming up with that magic moment to beat them. It should have happened. It would have been interesting to find out.
Instead, the Mets wasted their seasons. There’s nothing worse than underachieving with two of their stars winning awards. For deGrom to not pitch in the postseason again after winning the Cy Young for the second straight season, it’s unacceptable.
It did not go unnoticed deGrom did not seem that excited about winning the Cy Young like he did last season. He gets it. Individual awards are nice, but postseason appearances are better.
The two-time NL Cy Young winner resigned with the Mets with the idea they could build a championship team around him and that he could make many postseason appearances. Who knows if he ever will get that opportunity again? Does anyone really trust Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to build a championship team, let alone a playoff team when he couldn’t get it right last season?
The Mets ace is 31 years old. He still has some good years in him. It remains to be seen if he can be this dominant like he has these last few seasons? Age catches up to him, and it’s hard for starters to sustain this great run for many seasons at that age.
No question he has been great in his career, and he is putting on a Hall of Fame career right now.
But nothing is guaranteed in sports. Things change. That’s the nature of sports.
No question deGrom entertained the thought of retiring as a Met and being the best pitcher the Mets ever had. He also liked the idea of having him number retired at Citi Field. Still, does it matter if he is not pitching in the playoffs? Yes, he pitched in some postseason games, but he would like to pitch more and have a chance to win a championship with the Mets.
deGrom winning a championship with the Mets mattered more to him, and that’s why he resigned with them. Still, it’s hard to believe this franchise will get it right when they never get it right.
He can win so many Cy Young awards for the Mets, but what will it mean if he is watching the playoffs at home? More than ever, pressure is on Van Wagenen to build a championship team around him or else he should consider trading his ace this summer and start rebuilding. Quite frankly, it might be a prudent thing to do since the Mets’ chances of winning a championship is all but over. They haven’t made the playoffs in the last three years, so why should anyone think it will be different these next few years?
If the Mets want to be taken seriously about making a run to the playoffs, they will sign Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg to help deGrom pitch in October. Chances of that is nil. Forget signing all three. They are not signing either one. They are out of the free agent business altogether.
Scary thing is they probably will stand pat and hope to get lucky next season. That’s a dangerous approach since the Atlanta Braves, World Series champion Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies are better than them. The Mets have to bolster the bullpen, but they showed that they don’t know how to build one, so this offseason will be no different than others.
Alonso can put on great seasons like this season for the next six or seven seasons. He is only 24 years old. He can even be better than last season. For him to play like a star in his rookie season, it says here he could be once-in-a-lifetime generational talent.
Again, what will it mean if he does not make a postseason appearance? Mike Trout had another MVP season by hitting 45 home runs and driving in 104 runs, yet no one noticed because the Angels finished with a hideous 72-90 record that had Brad Ausmus earned his pink slip as Angels manager. These moments by Alonso will not get the nation to notice if his team does not have a playoff appearance.
We should be celebrating deGrom and Alonso, but it feels empty.
Right now, this could be the same old story next season and beyond unless the Mets change the narrative.