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The Mets continue to handle injured players weirdly

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With the new collective bargaining agreement, the minimum stay on the disabled list was shortened from 15 days to 10 days as a way to incentivize players and their teams to stop hiding and playing through injuries. If a player had a minor injury that he and/or the team felt would only take a week or so to get through, the player would simply sit on the bench for that period of time, essentially nullifying the utility of one spot on the roster. With the 10-day disabled list, that isn’t as much of an issue now.

The Mets, however, have been very averse to putting players on the disabled list still. Travis d'Arnaud is a good example. The catcher suffered a wrist injury on April 19 against the Phillies. He didn’t start from April 20-23, but appeared in all four games as a pinch-hitter. After a team off-day, d’Arnaud started on the 26th but only lasted five innings. On May 2, d’Arnaud left after six innings against the Brewers. The Mets didn’t put him in the lineup yesterday nor is he in tonight’s starting lineup. As D.J. Short suggested, the Mets could put him on the disabled list, which would free up a roster spot that the club is otherwise using sub-optimally.

d’Arnaud isn’t the only example. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes left the Mets’ April 20 game against the Phillies with a cramp in his left hamstring. He was held out of the lineup for the next five days and returned on the 26th. He started both on the 26th and 27th, but went on the disabled list on the 28th. The next day, the Mets refused to tell the media the exact severity of the injury, instead vaguely saying it was a “non-serious” injury. Usually, with hamstring strains, the team tells the media whether it’s a Grade 1, 2, or 3 strain with a Grade 3 strain being the most severe.

Lucas Duda hyperextended his left elbow on April 19 against the Phillies. The Mets held him out on the 20th, then placed him on the disabled list on the 21st.

This is all in conjunction with the Noah Syndergaard situation. Syndergaard was scratched from his start on April 27 with biceps tendinitis. On the 29th, the right-hander refused to undergo an MRI, which the team allowed for some reason. On the 30th, Syndergaard started but lasted only 1 1/3 innings in what turned out to be a 23-5 drubbing by the Nationals. He was diagnosed with a torn lat muscle.

The Mets are very passive when it comes to their injured players. They wait a long time before placing them on the disabled list, completely ignoring the added incentives for them to do so. By continuing to use banged-up players, they increase the risk of those injured players exacerbating their injuries. And they allow some of their players to dictate medical treatment as evidenced by the Syndergaard case. Why have medical personnel on staff if you’re not going to use them, especially when it comes to your most important players?

Winners of 87 games last year, the Mets enter Thursday’s action 12-15, good for fourth place in the NL East. How many of those losses might have been wins if the club had a more proactive approach to player health?

Jeff Wilpon reminds Mets fans that insuring David Wright “is not cheap”

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It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.

What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.

You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.

Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:

I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.

This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.