The Mets got entirely shut out by the Miami Marlins over the weekend, losing 2-0 on Saturday as 23-year-old starter Pablo Lopez threw a one-hitter, and then going down in a 3-0 loss on Sunday against 23-year-old Sandy Alcantara, who only gave up two hits. Add in a Friday loss to Miami, and two previous defeats against the Washington Nationals, and the Mets are on a five-game losing streak, are five games under .500, and are six-and-a-half games back in the NL East. Getting swept by the Marlins, at any point in the season, should be enough to disqualify a team from playoff contention. But even though that rule isn’t officially on the books yet, the messy Mets are imploding anyway.
At the center of this gravitational collapse is Robinson Cano, the second baseman the Mets pulled from the Mariners and then loudly pointed at all offseason to say, “See! See! We’re really trying this time!” even as they avoided the league’s biggest free agents. But the 36-year-old Cano has seen an enormous drop in production to start the season, and his .667 OPS makes him one of the worst hitters on the team (along with another semi-flashy new arrival in Wilson Ramos). Not only that, but on two separate occasions during the Marlins series, Cano hit into double plays where he barely even tried to run to first, or just didn’t at all.
On Friday, after a GIDP ended a seventh inning where the Mets were threatening, Cano said he didn’t hustle because he thought there were two outs. He blamed that misconception on the scoreboard, but actually, he might just need glasses.
On Sunday, in a move that visibly exasperated J.D. Davis after he slid into second, Cano didn’t even leave home after hitting his double play, instead electing to argue the fair-foul call with the umpire.
“I saw the ball hit and it didn’t even hit the plate—it hit behind the plate,” Cano said afterwards. “I thought it was a foul ball.”
“Things are piling up on Robbie right now,” Callaway said when asked about Cano’s latest bad look. “Come on, let’s face it — the ball lands foul and spins into fair territory. He saw it hit foul, and by the time he looked back up the ball had spun into fair territory and the play was over. Stuff happens like that when things are going bad.”
What else is Callaway going to say? Big picture, these bad-looking plays in themselves aren’t what’s keeping Cano’s hitting below replacement level. And even if he keeps struggling, it will be impossible for the Mets to dump Cano before his five-year, $120 million contract is over, so they need him to be happy. Maybe, as they head back to New York for a big series in some beautiful weather against the Nationals, the Mets can get energized by the home crowd and rebound. That is, uh, if any fans are actually going to be there.