New York Mets: Second base “black hole” strikes again

Jeff McNeil, New York Mets. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Jeff McNeil, New York Mets. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Just when things were looking up again for the New York Mets again in 2019, their black hole known as second base reared it’s ugly head again. The constant turnover there has created an opportunity for one player to make an unlikely return.

For those who don’t know the science, a black hole occurs when a star collapses. The gravity field it creates is so dense that nothing can escape from it, not even light. That’s just like the New York Mets second base job. Those who play there in 2019 can’t escape the injured list or the Mendoza Line.

New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen appeared to sew up his team’s second base job during the offseason. He got eight-time all-star Robinson Cano in a trade from Seattle. Additionally, Jed Lowrie was signed primarily to play third but also to occasionally spell Cano when the latter needed a day off. What is it they say about the best-laid plans?

Jed Lowrie

Lowrie hasn’t played an inning of baseball for the Amazins this season. He’s been out since spring training with knee, hamstring, and calf injuries. Recently there have been rumors that he may make it back to the roster before the end of the season. If he does return, and the Mets manage to scrape together enough wins to make the playoffs, his return would be a huge boost. After so many setbacks in his recovery, however, no one is counting on him to ride in like the cavalry.

Robinson Cano

A two time Silver Slugger Award winner for the best offensive second baseman in the Major Leagues, Cano was brought in to add a much-needed upgrade to the New York Mets lineup. They could live with his decline skills in the field as long as the career .304 hitter, produced at the plate.

So far he has struggled mightily to both stay healthy and hit consistently. Before the season started Cano had a career slash line of .302/.355/.493/.848 with 311 home runs and 1233 runs batted in over a 14-year career. With the Mets in 2019, he was .252/.295/.415/.710 with 10 HR and 50 RBI in 86 games.

He was just getting back to Cano-like production, going on a 10-for-17 hot streak before tearing his left hamstring in Pittsburgh on August 4. Cano went back on the injured list for the third (and likely season-ending) time this year. Another victim of the black hole.

The Mets even tried to go with defensive-minded players to fill the void. After a “hot start” (.258 BA), BVW reclamation project, Adeiny Hechavarria hit just .175 from June 6 through August 7. They decided to part ways with him after signing free agent Joe Panik, who was recently cut by San Francisco.

Jeff McNeil

Re-enter Jeff McNeil. He was a revelation when he made it up to the team last summer and took over the second base job. With Cano and Lowrie joining the club in the offseason, the Mets decided to move the agile McNeil to left field. In response, he led the National League in hitting through last weekend. For the following game, he moved back to second base, Tuesday night in Atlanta.

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The hit master came up lame in the ninth inning against the Braves, trying to beat out a groundball to third. A right hamstring strain now has the Mets productive leadoff batter on the injured list through at least August 24. So what happens now?

Plan D, or E, or …

Part of the new solution is the two-time Gold Glove winner, Panik. He’ll platoon with a familiar face, recently recalled former Mets second baseman Reuben Tejada. It was almost four years ago when Tejada had his own personal bout with the black hole. During Game 2 of the 2015 NLCS, Chase Utley of the Dodgers slid hard into second base, to break up a double play. In doing so Utley not only busted up the DP but also Tejada’s right leg.

The Panamanian wasn’t the same after his injury and the Mets parted ways with him the following spring. Tejada bounced around to several organizations in 2016 and 2017 but never stuck anywhere. The Amazins signed him to a minor league deal this spring and the 29-year-old hit .330 at Triple-Syracuse. Now he’s back.

Next. Betting odds are against Giants Shurmur. dark

The black hole also hole has a sense of irony.