Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Standing next to Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday afternoon, you noticed his downcast eyes and slow, careful tone. He was trying to parse questions about his relationship with the Mets organization and he just looked...exhausted.
Come to think of it, we're all fairly beaten down by now by the trickle of news about unpleasant moments between the team and a player who was once its most marketable star.
With another round of trade talks almost certainly coming in November, it's time for resolution. The Mets need to either move Syndergaard, as they have flirted with for nearly a year, or find a committed way forward with the player. Given the long erosion of this relationship, it's much harder to imagine the latter scenario.
The first ripple of discontent came in 2017, when Syndergaard refused Sandy Alderson's request to get in an MRI tube. For a time, that seemed anomalous; the player who called himself "Thor" was still entrenched as part of the Mets' future.
Then, when we learned last winter that the team was talking to the Yankees and other clubs about Syndergaard, it had the sizzle of surprising news. This was far from exhausting -- it was exciting.
This spring, when Syndergaard irritated Mets brass by complaining about a trip to Syracuse and stumping for a Jacob deGrom extension, you could feel the dynamic begin to turn from compelling to unpleasant.
By the time we were covering (and you were reading about) another wave of trade talks this July, it was all getting old. The news no longer held shock value, and felt like more of a slog.
Syndergaard himself saw it the same way, according to sources, feeling burnt out and annoyed by seeing his name out there again. He showed restraint in public, but in private, it affected him.
This latest flap, about whether Wilson Ramos should catch Syndergaard, wouldn't be as a big a deal if it was the first problem between player and team. But while speaking on Tuesday, Syndergaard made clear, in the exhausted way that has come to define this topic, that he was unhappy about the conversation becoming public.
He also insisted that he was not "livid" with the Mets for pairing him with Ramos, as a New York Post report suggested. Yes, he had spoken to team brass about his comfort with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera, but he claimed that the meeting had been civil and professional, then exaggerated by whoever told the press about it.
Syndergaard also insisted that he had nothing to do with the leak, and other clubhouse sources backed him, saying that the pitcher was genuinely upset by the story's publication on Monday. In fact, he needed a day to collect himself and address it publicly.
We can see both sides here. On one hand, any baseball person knows that Syndergaard is better off with Nido catching him. On the other -- and as Ron Darling has pointedly noted on the broadcast this week -- Syndergaard should be able to adapt and throw to any catcher.
What we also see is a player and organization made weary by a series of small incidents, which have added up to create an unsustainable dynamic.
This is often the final phase of a story about player and team, when fatigue sets in. The next chapter, which will likely occur during the first weeks of the offseason, could be the final one.