Phillies fans laughed at the New York Mets earlier this season.
Philadelphia swept four games from the Mets in late June, and then won 2 of 3 in New York in early July.
Philadelphia sports radio labeled the Mets a mess. The laughter got louder when just before the July 31 major league trade deadline, the Mets dealt a pair of prospects to the Toronto Blue Jays for starting pitcher Marcus Stroman.
“What are the Mets doing?” Phillies fans texted me with crying laughing emojis. “They’re supposed to be sellers not buyers.”
Things have changed.
The Mets and Phillies are both 59-56. Both teams are in contention for the two National League wild-card spots but appear headed in opposite directions.
The Mets are 19-6 since the All-Star break. The Phillies, who began a four-game series in San Francisco with a 5-0 loss to the Giants on Thursday, were 12-13.
With the way the past month has unfolded for both teams, a legitimate question needs to be asked.
Which team has the better future?
The Mets have a starting rotation built around Jacob deGrom, 31, Noah Syndergaard, 26, Stroman, 28, and Steven Matz, 28.
The Phillies rotation has Aaron Nola, 26.
The Phillies have a young power hitting first baseman in 26-year-old Rhys Hoskins (24 home runs, 69 RBIs). The Mets counter with 24-year-old Pete Alonso (37 home runs, 83 RBIs).
The Phillies have a young, rising versatile player in 25-year-old Scott Kingery (.280 batting average, .341 on-base percentage). The Mets counter with 27-year-old Jeff McNeil (.339 average, .407 on-base percentage).
The Phillies have position players Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura, but they’re a major part of an offense that began Thursday ranked ninth in runs scored, ninth in on-base percentage, 11th in home runs and 12th in slugging percentage in the 15-team NL.
I bring up these facts not to needle Phillies fans but to ask a broader question. What is the state of the Phillies’ rebuild?
It began in 2015 — the same year the Mets won the NL pennant and went to the World Series.
It just seems the Phillies, by this point, should have more talent.
And it’s not just the Mets who Philadelphia seems to be falling behind in the NL East.
The Washington Nationals (61-53 through Wednesday) feature outfielders Juan Soto, 20, and Victor Robles, 22.
The division-leading Atlanta Braves (68-48 through Wednesday) have Ronald Acuna Jr., 21, who was last season’s NL Rookie of the Year.
Where are the Phillies’ young stars?
Adam Haseley, 23, has played well in the outfield this season. But 22-year-old Cornelius Randolph, the 10th pick in the 2015 draft, and 21-year-old Mickey Moniak, the overall No. 1 pick in 2016, are currently double-A outfielders.
There’s even worse news. The Miami Marlins began Thursday 42-71, but MLB.com just ranked their farm system No. 4 in baseball. The Braves were No. 7.
With a little less than two months left in the season, the Phillies still have time to change their narrative, make the playoffs and put a more positive spin on their future.
But this team clearly has plenty of work to do this upcoming offseason. And one thing is for certain: Things aren’t as amusing right now as they were a few weeks ago.
Michael McGarry’s Must Win column appears Fridays in The Press.