To hear Brodie Van Wagenen tell it, the Mets were completely blindsided by Yoenis Cespedes opting out of the 2020 season. They had no idea he was contemplating this, and they had no idea he would do this.
Given the quirky nature of Cespedes, the Mets account was believable. Cespedes really was the guy you never knew what he was going to do next.
The Mets actions told another story. At that postgame press conference to address Cespedes’ opt out, Van Wagenen notably ended the conference somewhat abruptly with many questions still pending. After Van Wagenen was done, the Mets only made rookie pitcher David Peterson available.
They told everyone they knew he was alright despite admitting they weren’t in contact with him.
Yesterday, the Mets made their players available for the first time since Cespedes’ opt out. Pete Alonso was first. He sidestepped the question about whether he knew, but he did talk about what a great teammate Cespedes was and how the whole team supports his decision.
Then, there was Brandon Nimmo who would cast doubt on the Mets whole version of events. His version was his representatives told the Mets prior to the game. Specifically, as reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post:
There’s two sides of the story,” Nimmo said. “We have the side where [the Mets] were let known before the game and we’ve also heard the side where they weren’t let known until the eighth inning, so I honestly don’t know which one to believe and I’m not going to try to figure that one out, but as far as us, we knew that people could walk whenever they wanted.”
You’ll note Nimmo said the players understood Cespedes informed the team before the game. That would include Michael Conforto confirming to his teammates Cespedes opted out.
The other version, the wholly unsubstantiated version, is the one the Mets have been pushing. Their version is despite confirming Cespedes was safe without speaking to him and the Mets obtaining an outfielder before the game, they had no idea Cespedes would opt out.
The only thing which is clear is no one told Luis Rojas. That’s really unfortunate.
The players apparently knew and didn’t tell him. According to the players, Cespedes informed the Mets, and the front office didn’t tell the manager. The manager deserves to be treated better by everyone.
Honestly, Cespedes needed better treatment here too. For example, the Mets didn’t need to put their SNY smear machine into effect with their Wilpon paid talking heads saying he was never the same player after he signed his deal, and he quit over money.
Wow this is really truly disgusting and it is below my lowest expectations for the state-owned network:
“He quits because he has a .161 average … and conveniently uses COVID as an excuse .” – Sal Licata
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) August 4, 2020
This is typical for the Mets who never had a kind word for someone who departed the team. There is no graciousness with them.
Given the Mets history of smearing people, telling half-truths, and outright lying, there’s simply no reason to believe them here. This whole Cespedes situation is right out of their playbook.
With respect to Cespedes, yes, he’s quirky and maddening. He’s also honest and forthright to a fault. He told the Mets about his injury immediately including how he sidestepped a boar. He also spoke about how he’d like to return to Oakland before his career was over.
Looking at the respective histories, one is honest, and the other is notoriously not. One has their version of events substantiated by the players, the others don’t.
In the end, you can choose to believe what you want, but when doing so, keep in mind Cespedes has been historically honest, and the Mets really haven’t.
In case you thought things were really bizarre with the Mets in 2020, we just saw something truly bizarre. The Mets gave Jacob deGrom run support.
The big outburst came in a four run third.
With runners at first and second, Michael Conforto delivered the hit the Mets desperately needed with an RBI single off Mike Soroka. After Pete Alonso walked, Robinson Cano delivered an RBI single scoring Conforto.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Disaster would strike that inning. When it seemed Soroka couldn’t get anyone out, J.D. Davis hit a fielder’s choice to Freddie Freeman. When Soroka went to go to first he pulled up lame, and he had to be helped off the field.
Soroka was not the only injury on the day.
Davis was plugged into the starting lineup because Jeff McNeil experienced lower back tightness. After hitting a single in the third, reaching third on a Marcell Ozuna error, Amed Rosario was pulled from the game with left quad tightness. Robinson Cano, who has been insanely hot of late, left the same with left groin tightness.
Aside from the injuries, the Mets offense was clicking. Cano would have another RBI single before departing the game. Wilson Ramos had an RBI single and a two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Those seven runs were more than enough for deGrom. He’d allow just two runs over six with one of them being a Travis d’Arnaud fifth inning solo homer. His final line was
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
It wasn’t complete smooth sailing for the Mets. Jeurys Familia loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. He’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and Justin Wilson would relieve him to get Freeman to ground out to end the jam.
Jared Hughes made his Mets debut pitching two scoreless innings to secure the 7-2 win. Even with all the injuries, it seemed like this was a game where the Mets got healthy.
In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.
The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.
With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.
Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.
What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.
The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.
Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.
But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.
However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.
They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.
The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.
Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.
Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.
This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.
In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.
In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.
Before the game, the New York Mets announced Yoenis Cespedes went missing. The Mets didn’t know where he was, and as time progressed, it turns out, we didn’t even know if the Mets did the bare minimum to locate him . . . if they even did that.
During the game, they informed us they still haven’t heard from or located Cespedes, but they knew he was safe. That’s an odd statement to make about someone you haven’t spoken to nor know his whereabouts.
In the end, it turned out Cespedes opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID19 concerns. As reported by The Athletic, Cespedes has a family member who was high risk for COVID19 which drove his decision.
Before the season, there were reasons to play. There was a lot of money on the line not just for 2020, but if he could prove he could play, his 2021 contract was at stake.
However, as time passed circumstances changed dramatically. The Marlins had an outbreak. The Cardinals may be on the verge of one. He wasn’t getting the playing time, and he wasn’t hitting to the extent he needed to hit those incentives.
All in all, it’s possible Cespedes said it wasn’t worth the risk anymore.
However, at this point, we still don’t know. Cespedes hasn’t commented, and the Mets made sure no one but Brodie Van Wagenen commented on the matter.
In the same Zoom session Brodie Van Wagenen talked about transparency, #mets PR cut off the session with 6 hands still raised and then made just one player — a rookie pitcher — available.
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) August 2, 2020
While the Mets told us about how they were blindsided by Cespedes, they certainly seemed to know he was alright, and the team also seemed to have addressed his absence by obtaining Billy Hamilton from the San Francisco Giants.
So, to sum up, the Mets traded for another outfielder, knew Cespedes was alright, stopped answering questions about it, and they refused to let the players speak to the press about it. Believe what you want, but the Mets are hiding something here.
So today’s fiasco seems to be either:
1. The Mets sent a statement designed to shame Yoenis Cespedes.
2. The Mets sent out a statement to say Yoenis Cespedes didn’t come to work — but without first determining his wellbeing.
A well-run organization would do neither.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 2, 2020
On the field, the Mets continue to disappoint.
David Peterson had a quality start allowing three runs over six innings, but he’d take the loss because the Mets were shutout. The team was 1-for-15 with RISP and left 13 runners on base.
There were many culprits for this 4-0 loss, but the biggest was the Mets front office spearheaded by Brodie Van Wagenen with not just how he handled this situation, but each and every situation with this team.
That’s not just because it would prove to be the winning runs in this ugly 7-1 loss, it’s also because that homer created that feel, especially after last night’s disaster.
The Braves scored five runs over the first two innings, and Touki Toussaint dominated the Mets over his four innings.
If you’re looking for positives, they were limited but there.
Brandon Nimmo extended his on base streak to 24 games, and he scored the Mets only run. Michael Conforto had a two hit game as did Robinson Cano, who is red hot right now. Dominic Smith reached safely twice.
Franklyn Kilome made his MLB debut, and he acquitted himself well. He did allow two runs over four, but he also struck out five without allowing a walk. This is a strong performance for him to build upon.
Still, this was another poor performance by a poorly constructed team. We are all rightfully counting the days until the team is sold, and presumably, Brodie Van Wagenen is fired.
Beyond that, why is anyone even playing? The Marlins had a COVID19 outbreak. The Cardinals appear on the verge of one. This has led Lorenzo Cain to be the first player to opt out since the season started.
Overall, there were five games postponed today. At the moment, MLB says they won’t quit on the season. They may soon have no choice. When that happens, we won’t get any more dreadful nights like this.
Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.
You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.
Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.
This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.
By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.
On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.
However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.
That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.
While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.
The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.
Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.
It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.
The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.
Well, after losing two in a row, Rick Porcello got to play the role of stopper for his hometown team. Initially, it didn’t look good.
After two quick outs, notorious Mets killer Freddie Freeman got the rally started with a single. That started a string of four starting singles. The last two came for Matt Adams and former Met Travis d’Arnaud. That gave the Braves a 2-0 lead when if they lowered Porcello’s ERA.
Rick Porcello just allowed two runs in the first inning, which LOWERED his ERA from 27.00 to 24.00.
— Ed Leyro (@Studi_Metsimus) July 31, 2020
Porcello would actually settle in, and he’d put up some zeros. Thanks to a six run fifth, he’d be in position to pick up the win.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2020
Alonso walked to force in a run, and then Michael Conforto showed incredible wrist strength on a 3-2 check swing and also walked to force in a run. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two run double. The Mets then batted around with Cano hitting an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-2.
You’d think the Mets should cruise, but then again, this is the Mets.
After Porcello issued a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson, J.D. Davis just flat out dropped a fly ball. His error was dubbed the Mets worst error of the year by Gary Cohen. Instead of one on, one out, it was two on, no outs. That led to Paul Sewald replacing Porcello thereby cheating Porcello of the chance of getting the win.
Again, it was Adams and d’Arnaud hurting the Mets. Adams hit an RBI double, and d’Arnaud singles to pull the Braves within 8-4. An Austin Riley RBI groundout made it 8-5.
An Amed Rosario homer to lead off the sixth began a two run inning giving the Mets a 10-5 lead. It still wasn’t enough.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2020
Chasen Shreve, easily the Mets best pitcher of the night still allowed a run in his two innings. On the bright side, five of his six outs recorded were strikeouts. His one non-strikeout was a great play by Gimenez
— Matt Musico (@mmusico8) August 1, 2020
The Mets brought on Dellin Betances to start the eighth, and that’s when the wheels fell off.
Betances didn’t have it both in terms of control and stuff as he was only hitting 94 MPH on the gun. The bad inning started with a leadoff single by Adeiny Hechavarria. Then, Betances walked Ender Inciarte.
Swanson singled to pull the Braves within 10-7. Then, Betances nearly hit Freeman on a 3-0 pitch. That pitch got past Ramos. Betances was late to the plate, and he still almost got the tag down on Inciarte. In fact, it appeared he did, but replay confirmed the run.
Lugo wasn’t sharp. He walked Marcell Ozuna. That was the seventh walk Mets pitchers issued and the fifth by the Mets bullpen. After Lugo got Johan Camargo to hit a shallow fly ball, d’Arnaud came up to the plate.
d’Arnaud would hit an RBI double to right center. Notably, on that play career right fielder Ryan Cordell, put in center for defense, couldn’t cut it off in time. As a result, it was a bases clearing double giving the Braves an 11-10 lead.
Instead, the Mets fell behind. The decisive blow was delivered by their former catcher, a guy Brodie Van Wagenen cut. Last year, d’Arnaud was more productive than Ramos, and tonight, d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and five RBI.
In a nice juxtaposition, it was Ramos, who is hitting .208 this year, who flew out to end the game with the tying run at second. That saddled Lugo with the loss and the entire Mets team with an uglier loss.
This was an ugly loss which exposed the Mets bullpen and only further highlighted the team’s bad defense. When you have that, you’re going to have more than your fair share of these losses.
Game Notes: Gimenez started at third over Jeff McNeil. Mets scored 10 runs tonight. They’ve scored 12 runs in five home games.
With the crazy 2020 schedule, the Mets had a four game two city set with the Boston Red Sox. The road teams had the better of it.
3. With Smith and Luis Guillorme, it’s hard to conclude anything other than the Mets aren’t prioritizing getting them into games. After all, Brian Dozier wasn’t in full game shape and missed Summer Camp, yet he was activated and started the finale.
5. Diaz imploding again, and the Mets essentially admitting Robinson Cano is now a platoon player, that trade somehow got worse.
7. Aside from Rick Porcello, the Mets have gotten good starting pitching. Their offense, while disappointing, has been good. And yet, they’re under .500. Why? Because they’re the worst defensive club in baseball.
8. Much of that is attributable to J.D. Davis, who has been dreadful in left. Much like last year, he’s the worst defensive LF in baseball. It was his defense which led to the game winning rally on Wednesday.
9. The Mets need to go back to the drawing board and re-figure things out. Davis doesn’t belong in left. Amed Rosario is not a lead-off hitter. Your top OBP guy in Brandon Nimmo can’t hit ninth. Jeff McNeil is struggling at third.
11. Don’t discount Drew Smith who has been terrific.
12. Speaking of terrific young Mets pitchers, David Peterson took his velocity and game to another level in his first career start. It this is who he is now, his ceiling is much higher.
13. Despite what delusional Yankees fans will tell you Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. He now has a 2.23 ERA in no decisions.
14. deGrom should’ve had the win, but that’s nothing new. He needs more run support.
15. The Mets had some very ugly ABs in crucial situations. Michael Conforto had a few of those. Don’t make too much of that as Conforto is a terrific hitter.
16. It’s interesting Dozier was activated but not Juan Lagares when both were very similarly situated. It’s all the more interesting when the Mets activated Ryan Cordell over Lagares when the team needed to replace Marisnick’s defense.
17. Overall, this Mets team should be better. It’s just better situational hitting (which comes and goes) and playing a better defensive lineup, which the Mets refuse to do.
18. You wonder how much longer the Mets can stick with Yoenis Cespedes. At times, he looks lost. Other times, he’s battling in AB and seems very close.
19. Speaking of Cespedes, it seems odd today is July 31 and we’re not awaiting Brodie Van Wagenen making a dumb trade.
20. We may never reach that new trade deadline with the Phillies on the cusp of an outbreak themselves, no one knowing when the Marlins can play again, and with Rob Manfred not taking this pandemic seriously.
Apparently, Christian Vazquez now belongs on this list.
After an impressive first start of the season, Steven Matz was good again tonight. Good, not great, and that was because of Vazquez.
Over his 5.1 innings, Matz allowed three runs on eight hits. All three of those runs came on Vazquez homers.
The first homer came in the top of the second. Matt settled in, and the Mets would get him a lead. In the third, Jeff McNeil hit a bases loaded two RBI single. The Mets only had one out, but failed to push across another run. It would cost them.
In the fourth, Matz had one of his moments of old. Xander Bogaerts led off the inning with a slow roller down the third base line. McNeil had little choice but to eat it. Matz was visibility frustrated by getting beat on a slow dribbler off a good pitch.
Like we’ve seen in the past with him, he can let the emotions get the better of him. He’d leave a fastball up and over the middle of the plate, and Vazquez would hit his second homer of the game giving the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
Vazquez really just wore out the Mets in this four game two city set. He was 4-for-12 with three homers and four RBI. All three of his homers came over the last two games.
It wasn’t just his work at the plate. He was also terrific behind the plate. He worked well with Martin Perez. On that note, Perez allowed just two runs on two hits and four walks over 5.1 innings.
Vazquez would also throw out one of the two stolen base attempts against him.
Back to Perez, he was good but very wild walking four. Even with those four walks, the Mets really only got something started in the third against Perez.
Fortunately, the Mets bullpen was great with Drew Smith pitching 1.2 scoreless with two strikeouts. Jeurys Familia has his turbo sinker working striking out two in a 1-2-3 eighth. That gave the Mets a chance.
Michael Conforto came up with a chance, but he had a terrible at-bat. He was uncomfortable with many check swings, and he’d just get overpowered when he struck out. As good as Conforto was to start he year, he’s been that bad the last two games.
Despite not really preparing for the season and missing Summer Camp, the Mets activated Brian Dozier. Not only was he activated, but he’d also be thrust into the starting lineup.
Dozier was 0-for-2 with a GIDP. With the Red Sox pitching the right-handed Heath Hembree, Luis Rojas sent Robinson Cano to the plate. After Cano’s lead-off single, Rojas sent Gimenez in to pinch run for Cano. Gimenez would steal a base, but he’d get stranded.
That meant Gimenez was up in the Dozier/Cano spot in the eighth. Unlike yesterday when he tripled, he rolled over one for the inning ending groundout.
Brandon Workman, who really labored yesterday and nearly blew the save, came on to try to get another save tonight.
Alonso swung at a 2-2 pitch well out of the zone to strike out and end the game. The Mets turned what should’ve been a series sweep with two flat out ugly loses at home, and they fell back under .500.
Game Notes: Dozier replaced Eduardo Nunez, who was placed on the IL. Daniel Zamora was recalled, and Hunter Strickland was designated for assignment. Despite having a 22 game on base streak, Brandon Nimmo continues to bat ninth.
Arguably, Jeff McNeil was the most important player on the Mets last year. In addition to his 144 OPS+, he was a good defender at four different positions.
It’s still early in 2020, but we’re not seeing the same McNeil this year.
In terms of his offense, it’s way too soon to overreact. First off all, he still has a 112 OPS+. Second, it’s only six games. Mostly, we’ve seen him for over two years now. We have an idea of the good of a hitter he is.
What we really don’t know is how good of a third baseman he is. Yes, his career numbers are good. He entered this season with a 5 DRS, and he’s posted a 2 OAA at the position in each of the past two years.
We’ve also seen him play well across the diamond. Defensively, he appears to have a high baseball IQ, and he’s got the tools to be a good defender no matter where he plays. Still, at third, we really haven’t seen him get consistent playing time at third.
Early on this season, we’ve seen his arm look like it could be an issue. So far this year, he’s already made three errors with one of those being a throwing error. Of course, that’s only part of the story.
McNeil has been saved of a few errors by Pete Alonso. He was also the beneficiary of some bizarre home town scoring which probably saved him of two errors in Boston.
Now, it’s way too soon to officially say McNeil should move off third base due to his arm. After all, if you’ve been watching, he seems a bit rusty right now. We see he’s not quite hitting at the same level yet, and we’ve seen him make more than enough mental errors on that base paths.
If he’s rusty, it’s certainly understood with the long layoff due to COVID19 and the abbreviated Summer Camp. That said, his ability to consistently make those throws should be monitored.
The Mets should also be assessing their roster with the roster spots soon dropping down to 30 and Jake Marisnick‘s injury.
On that note, J.D. Davis‘ defense in left has continued to be putrid. He has shown no signs of improvement from last year, and he’s already at a -3 DRS. Fact is, he’s very ill suited to playing left, and his defense has already led to outs and singled being turned into extra base hits.
At some point, if McNeil continues to struggle with throws, the Mets should seriously consider putting him back in left. The Mets could then experiment with Davis in left, or better yet, they could look to play Andres Gimenez at third if he continues to do things like hitting an RBI triple.
In any event, it’s too soon to be making rash decisions with McNeil. Then again, this is an abbreviated season where there is not much room for error. Moreover, the Mets are in desperate need for a real left fielder.
It’s only been a week, and it appears the Mets have some very difficult decisions to make.