If this keeps up, forget being untouchable. Jacob deGrom should march upstairs to Sandy Alderson and ask to be traded.
As the only person at Citi Field who seems to visibly care anymore, deGrom is too good for these pathetic Mets, and he deserves better. Even without his best stuff Saturday night, he put the Mets in position to win for six innings — as he always does — before they went belly-up in another sorry defeat, this time 8-3 to the Dodgers, their 22nd loss in 28 games.
Losing has become a way of life in Flushing, and deGrom’s sterling efforts are thrown away regularly, like empty pizza boxes. But for really the first time this season, you could see the anger boil over in deGrom during the competitive portion of Saturday night’s game.
In the fourth inning, deGrom got testy with umpire Ed Hickox, approaching the plate at one point to yell at him for getting squeezed. Later, the furious deGrom kicked at the mound. When the inning finally ended, he had more words for Hickox on the way to the dugout.
Our assumption was that deGrom had reached his breaking point, that the nightly lack of run support and all-around shoddy play ultimately got to him. Despite his 1.69 ERA, the Mets are 6-10 in his starts, one of the more unbelievable stats in the majors this season.
While deGrom listened to our thesis about his bad body language, he said that wasn’t the case. He insisted he was angry at himself for having only a fastball that worked against the Dodgers. The rest, deGrom said, was “garbage.”
“We just lost a game,” he said. “I’m frustrated with how I threw the ball tonight.”
Good to know someone still has a pulse in the Mets’ clubhouse, because a few minutes earlier, Mickey Callway went through his usual postgame routine of saying that everyone was doing their work, that adjustments were being made to improve, that the “process” was the only thing they could control.
“You can’t will the ball over the fence or a ground ball through the hole,” he said.
It’s comical, really. And it must be driving deGrom insane that he’ll have to endure two more seasons of this before reaching free agency in 2021, if the Mets hold on to him for that long.
We’ve always been of the mindset that the Mets shouldn’t trade deGrom. He’s a true ace, a perennial Cy Young contender, and those aren’t so easy to find. For all those reasons, he also is immensely popular among a disgruntled fan base that is getting crankier by the day.
But if deGrom went to the Mets and asked to be dealt, they could skate on any blame for sacrificing him in a rebuild. We don’t see that as a realistic possibility, though. It’s not deGrom’s style to bail, and this is just floating a hypothetical situation, based on how bad things have become for him as well as the Mets this season.
Just the idea of trading deGrom, however, is a sad commentary on the current state of the Mets, and the discussion refuses to go away, as if this were Kansas City or Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay.
To drive the point home Saturday night, the Mets were opposed by Clayton Kershaw, who is only 90 days older than deGrom but $152 million richer in career earnings to date, based partly on the Dodgers’ loyalty to their iconic ace.
Kershaw already owned a pair of Cy Young Awards and was working on a third in 2014 when deGrom was named Rookie of the Year, so he had a big head start. But as they squared off Saturday at Citi Field, the two were closer to being on equal footing, with Kershaw returning from a three-week stay on the disabled list because of a back strain and deGrom building a solid case for his first Cy Young Award.
Even with the understanding that deGrom likely could bring back a sizable haul in prospects, there are no guarantees, and Alderson and the Wilpons don’t seem willing to make that bet. They can’t stomach the possibility of blowing it.
“If somebody came to us and said, ‘We’ll give you all of our top-20 prospects,’ that’s probably something you’d have to at least consider,” Alderson said Friday. “We know what we have, and at the same time, we never say never.”
In this case, Alderson would be doing deGrom a favor.