We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.
However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.
Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.
That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.
No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.
Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.
The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.
This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.
Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.
If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.
Brett Phillips, a .202 career hitter who is little more than a defensive specialist, got a hit with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers all-time leader in saves.
Not only did Kevin Kiermaier score the tying run, but due to a bizarre turn of events involving Chris Taylor booting a ball, Max Muncy throwing the ball slightly off line on the relay, and Will Smith whiffing on the catch to make a swipe tag to tag out a runner who wasn’t there, the Rays won the game in improbable fashion.
THE ENDING OF RAYS-DODGERS IN GAME 4: pic.twitter.com/6vMnHGpYdq
— ESPN (@espn) October 25, 2020
That run was scored by Randy Arozarena, who ran down the line, fell, and dove back to home plate on the play.
Arozarena lost his father when he was 15, and at the age of 19, he got on a raft across the Gulf of Mexico to defect from Cuba. He arrived safely in Mexico where he played baseball until he was signed by the Cardinals.
He was traded to the Rays this offseason, but his season got off to a late start as he battled COVID19. He’s now tied for the most homers in a postseason, the ALCS MVP, and he just scored one of the most improbable runs in World Series history on a play which will be replayed for ever.
No sport can match either the drama this game provided or the combining of improbable heroes from places around the globe.
Nothing is better than baseball.
Facts are facts. Steve Cohen has more money than anyone who was interested in purchasing the Mets. Despite that, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are doing all they can to strike down the deal which will continue on a track towards approval.
First, it was reported A-Rod’s and J-Lo’s purchasing group would be willing to match Cohen’s purchase price in the event Cohen’s deal could not be consummated. After that, a strange onslaught began.
One of the pushes made has been to paint Cohen as a misogynist who is a borderline crook, and is therefore unfit to own an MLB team. Instead, MLB should be looking to lift up minority and female ownership like Lopez.
Jennifer Lopez possibly being a minority owner of the New York Mets is important. Here's why: pic.twitter.com/TzB4rajX4H
— First Take (@FirstTake) October 22, 2020
Of course, their pushing part of this narrative forward completely overlooks the original owner of the Mets was a pioneer in Joan Payson. She was the first woman in professional sports to own an expansion franchise and then lead that franchise to a World Series.
But, that doesn’t fit the narrative, which is all the A-Rod group is pushing now. Narrative.
There are reports now circulating Mayor Bill DeBlasio may not permit the sale to go forward due to Cohen’s SEC problems. Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News did a fine breakdown on why some of the rumors are unfounded, but she honestly fell short of a complete debunking.
Look, for every pushing of the narrative Cohen is unfit to own the Mets, there is an equally problematic door for the A-Rod group. Remember, A-Rod has his own issues related to Biogenesis, and that’s not to mention what some of his co-investors have said or done.
Of course, we don’t have to delve deep into any of this because all A-Rod and J-Lo are doing is making noise. This is their Hail Mary attempt to get the Mets.
Much like when A-Rod slapped Bronson Arroyo‘s glove, these last ditch attempts will be futile, and he’s leaving behind a record for everyone to look at and mock for years to come. Much like the 2003 ALCS, this will end in an embarrassing failure for A-Rod.
No matter how much A-Rod whines and tries, this will be Steve Cohen’s Mets. It’s time for him to give up and look to purchase another team.
In terms of teams looking to potentially sign him as a free agent, Bauer’s 2020 season was suspect because it was a complete outlier from the rest of his career.
From his first full season in 2014 until last year, Bauer was 68-56 with a 3.99 ERA, 1.285 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and a 9.6 K/9. Overall, he had a 111 ERA+ and a 3.85 FIP.
Breaking those seasons down a little further, he twice had a sub 100 ERA+. He twice had a 106 ERA+ and once had a 109 ERA+. In all but one of his seasons, his FIP ranged from 3.88 to 4.34.
From that, we see much of Bauer’s career stats were buttressed by a big 2018. In that season, Bauer was 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 2.9 K/9, and an 11.3 K/9. Overall, he was a 196 ERA+ and a league leading 2.04 FIP.
For a moment, it did seem like he was going to build off that season. Prior to his being traded to the Reds, he had a 126 ERA+ and a 4.15 FIP. This progression was shaping to easily be his second best season as a starter.
His season tailed off from there. With the Reds in 2019, he had a 73 ERA+ and a 4.85 FIP. There are many reasons to explain this drop off including small sample sizes, adjusting to a new team and league, and much more.
Looking at his career, no one should’ve anticipated Bauer’s breakout 2020 season. Essentially, he had gone from a slightly better than average pitcher to a real bona fide Cy Young level pitcher.
Over 11 starts, Bauer was 5-4 with a 1.74 ERA, 0.795 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and a 12.3 K/9. Overall, he’d lead the league in ERA, and he’d have a league leading 276 ERA+. He also had a 2.88 FIP.
Of note, entering 2020, he had averaged just under 6.0 innings per start. In 2020, he averaged 6.2 innings per start.
Part of the reason for that could be the shortened season. In 2020, Bauer made 11 starts, which is one-third of the workload of your normal 162 game season. That presented a rare opportunity for starters to go out there and let it fly.
Another issue is the level of competition he faced. Aside from the Chicago White Sox, every lineup Bauer faced this year was in the bottom third in the majors in terms of offense.
Like the good pitcher he is and has always been, he went out there and beat the bad teams. In fact, he dominated them. Honestly, that should come as a big surprise to no one.
All this does is present a challenge for teams looking to sign him. Going to his Baseball Savant page, Bauer’s spin numbers were off the charts. They were a substantial improvement from last season.
We saw that reflected in his high strikeout totals despite Bauer having lower velocity numbers. This shows just how effectively and smart Bauer pitched this year.
The question now is why. Was Bauer able to put extra spin knowing he had just 11 starts, and he wouldn’t need to hold something back to survive the rigors of a 162 game season? Was he using foreign substances like people are widely suspecting? Or did Bauer just figure something out?
On the latter, Derek Johnson is a very well regarded pitching coach. Mets fans are somewhat familiar with him due to his work with Matt Harvey. Johnson briefly reclamated Harvey’s career after the trade. Unfortunately, Harvey has not been able to sustain success since leaving Cincinnati.
To his credit, Bauer appears to be a pitcher always working on his craft and searching for new ways to improve. He’s clearly bought in on analytics, and he’s looking to see how he can use it and other means to be the best pitcher he can be.
What this all boils down to is Bauer is a pitcher who turns 30 before Spring Training next year, and he’s a free agent.
Teams looking to sign him have to decide if Bauer has truly found something, and now, he’s having a career renaissance similar to what we saw Jacob deGrom have at the same age. They also need to decide whether this was a career year which resulted from this being a short season and his facing just terrible offensive teams.
Ultimately, that’s the risk associated with signing Bauer. You just don’t know if you’re giving big money to a guy who had an unrepeatable career year or if you’re getting a bargain for a pitcher about to become a perennial Cy Young contender.
The 2020 season only confirmed J.D. Davis isn’t an everyday player because he can’t field at all. With that being the case, the Mets need to find a new third baseman this offseason.
The first option could be Jeff McNeil, who was actually the Opening Day third baseman the past two years. The issue with him is despite his arm. His throws were erratic, which gives you pause before giving him the third base job.
With their being questions about whether Robinson Cano would be willing or able to move to third, that leaves the Mets looking outside the organization for a third base option.
There may be options on the trade market like Nolan Arenado, but with Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly stripping the farm of its best players, that’s much easier said than done. That probably leaves the free agent market where one name stands out above the rest.
We all know the idiocy and cheapness which led to Turner being non-tendered by the Mets. With the Wilpons gone, Steve Cohen can look to right this wrong and bring Turner back to Queens. As we saw last night, Turner can still play.
Turner with a big play! pic.twitter.com/mG2JCSYUgv
— Jomboy (@Jomboy_) October 21, 2020
In 2020, Turner had a poor -2 OAA rating. However, in the preceding year, he was a very good 4 OAA. Looking at his OAA on the whole, he’s been alternating good and bad seasons.
DRS paints a slightly different picture. From 2014 – 2018, Turner was a very good defensive third baseman. However, in the past two years there has been a drop off with him posting consecutive negative DRS seasons.
Taking the bigger picture, we see a player still capable of handling the position.
At the plate, Turner is still a very good hitter with a 140 wRC+. That’s an improvement over his 132 in 2019. Looking at his Baseball Savant stats, Turner posted very good to elite numbers in barrels, hard hit rates, and whiff percentage.
Overall, even at 35, Turner has remained a very good baseball player.
That’s somewhat of a problem. He’s 35, and he will soon turn 36 after the World Series. While his stats over the past few years indicate he could be a good bet in 2021, time and again, we have seen players in their late 30s lose it overnight.
With Turner, we may also see a player who may want to retire or just stay close to home. That would certainly be understandable. However, if he’s truly available and willing to return, the Mets should pounce.
Turner is in the unique position of entering the clubhouse as a guy who dealt with the ups and downs of New York. On that note, he can certainly help the young Mets core along the way.
Another thing Turner presents is he’s coming from the Dodgers. Fact is, the Dodgers do things better than everyone, maybe even the Rays. Turner knows exactly what the Mets don’t know.
Remember the Mets aren’t just trying to win the 2021 World Series. No, they’re going through with a complete organization overhaul. They’re trying to build a team who can compete each and every year just like the Dodgers.
The Dodgers just don’t have the most talent on the field or the deepest pockets. They also have access to the best analytics and technology. They know things no one knows.
With Turner being there from the beginning of this Dodgers regime, he also knows all of the information disseminated to players. He knows what’s worked, what hasn’t, and the best way to communicate the information to players.
No, he doesn’t know how the information was tabulated and analyzed. However, he knows it exists, and knowing the information exists really helps your organization seek it out. After all, you can’t look for something without knowing that something exists.
In the end, Turner on a short term deal solves the Mets 2021 third base issues. More than that, he helps your organization in their process of an analytical overhaul. All told, from a Mets perspective, Turner could be the most important free agent available on the market. As such, they should very seriously consider bringing him back to Queens.
All over the internet yesterday was video of Endy Chavez‘s miraculous catch robbing Scott Rolen of a go-ahead homer in the top of the sixth inning of a tied Game 7. It was one of, if not the, greatest catch ever made, and it came against a hated rival with the pennant on the line.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 19, 2020
For 14 straight years, this catch is celebrated. We should all agree there should not be a 15th year.
After that catch, neither Jose Valentin nor Chavez could deliver on what was a bases loaded one out situation.
All told, this ranks as one of the most frustrating and depressing losses in Mets history. This loss was further exacerbated by collapses the following two seasons, and the complete and utter failure which was the first version of Citi Field.
That’s nothing to say about the Wilpons getting caught up in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme only for them to be needlessly propped up by Major League Baseball.
After that Chavez catch, everything just kept getting worse for the Mets and their fans. Frankly, after that catch is was a nightmare which lasted for nearly a decade. Much of the reason for that was the meddlesome ways of the clueless Jeff Wilpon who kept finding new ways to embarrass this franchise we all adore.
Every Mets fan should love Chavez for this catch and for all he gave the Mets. We can and should love the players from that era who were a mixture of snakebit and not quite fully supported by ownership never ready to go all-in on winning, and that’s even when they had the financial capacity to do that.
Still, we should all fall short of celebrating the mile. We can all acknowledge it was perhaps the greatest catch ever made. However, in the end, the Mets lost in the most excruciating way possible, and no Mets fan anywhere should really look to celebrate a moment which is intrinsically tied to the loss.
If you think this is too far or it’s too far, consider this. There is not a Red Sox fan alive who celebrates Dave Henderson‘s homer off Rick Aguilera. That is among the pantheon of the most clutch homers ever hit, and no one cares because the Red Sox lost that game and series in the most excruciating way possible.
Celebrating Chavez’s catch is really no different than celebrating Henderson’s homer. That’s why it’s time to stop and turn the page. With Steve Cohen at the helm, we instead need to look forward to celebrating big moments like the Mets winning the World Series.
Who did it better?
— MLB (@MLB) October 19, 2020
Like with the Braves, defense was the calling card of the Tampa Bay Rays in winning the pennant.
The Rays' defense has been on another level this series. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/GXmbR7p1zI
— MLB (@MLB) October 14, 2020
These are two GREAT defensive teams. By DRS, they were both the second best defensive teams in their league. Over the past two years, the Dodgers are the best defensive team in the MLB, and the Rays are the third best defensive team in the AL.
These two teams prove yet again defense matters and defense wins championships, or at the very least, it puts you in a position where you can win.
As previously detailed on this site, there is a correlation between defense and winning in baseball. That continued this year with all of the top eight defensive teams making the postseason. Conversely, only two of the 13 worst defensive teams made the postseason.
This year, the Mets ranked as the fifth worst defense in the majors with a -22 DRS. Since they last made the postseason in 2016, they are an MLB worst -242 DRS. Over that time frame, they’re 18 games under .500.
Defense, or the lack thereof, is the main reason. Year-in and year-out, they pretend like it doesn’t matter, and they make just plain dumb decisions.
Case-in-point is their insistence on playing J.D. Davis. Whether it was left field or third, he’s been the worst defender in all of baseball. Despite that, the Mets shoehorn into the lineup because of his bat.
That decision has ripple effects throughout the team. The main issue is Brandon Nimmo shifts from the corner OF position, where he rates well, to center where he’s not good at all. In essence, by forcing just one bat into the lineup, you’re failing to get the most out of your pitching due to a horrendous defense, and you’re failing to get the most out of Nimmo, who is a very good player.
We don’t see that with teams like the Rays and Dodgers, at least on a daily basis. No, they realize defense matters, and they put their defenders where they should play. The end result is good to great defense, better results from their pitching, and ultimately, winning. These two teams are everything the Mets haven’t been under the direction of the Wilpons.
Fortunately, Steve Cohen has purchased the team from the Wilpons. Already, he’s making plans to beef up the analytics department to bring it up to par with teams like the Dodgers and Rays. We can only hope that means far less of Davis in the field and a whole lot more winning.
When we talk about the New York Yankees, we’re talking about the most storied franchise of all of professional sports. This is the franchise of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera.
This is a franchise which has accomplished more than any other franchise in Major League history.
Most Hall of Famers (27). Most World Series (27). Most pennants (40). Most MVPs (22). Most wins in a World Series winning season (114). Really, when you break it down they hold nearly every important record and accomplished almost every significant feat there is in baseball history.
Thanks to Randy Arozarena, Charlie Morton, and all of the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays that also includes being the only team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 series lead.
Congratulations New York Yankees! Another one of your records are still in tact.
Oh, and a special cap tip to Jeter. This year, he was not only the only Hall of Fame position player to see his team blow a 3-0 series lead, but he was also the only Marlins CEO to lose a postseason series.
Like the Giants, the Astros used their cheating system to win a pennant. They did better than the 1951 Giants by winning the World Series. In their wake, they’ve left Yu Darvish trying to mentally rebuild his career, and Clayton Kershaw, who was phenomenal in an 11 strikeout Game 1 win, is still answering questions about his postseason struggles.
Throughout it all, we haven’t seen any Astros players show more than the perfunctory show of remorse. Instead, in reality, they’re Liberace laughing all the way to the bank.
If there was any doubt their apologies was nothing more than mere lip service, Carlos Correa confirmed it when he said, “I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here, but what are they going to say now?” after the Astros swept the Twins in the best-of-three Wild Card series.
They’re unrepentant for their actions, and thanks to Rob Manfred, they haven’t been punished for their crimes. Even when we see players try to police the game on the field, we see Joe Kelly get a huge suspension while Manfred looked the other way on the Astros purposefully violating COVID19 protocols.
Somehow the Astros came out of this process feeling like they’re the aggrieved party. Instead, they come across as unrepentant jerks who don’t realize they were an under .500 team.
Yes, in terms of their postseason play, they’ve put themselves in the position to become just the second ever team to force a Game 7 in LCS play after falling down 3-0. Outside of Houston, no one is rooting for them to do it.
Between the suspensions they didn’t face, the sub .500 record, and Manfred’s compulsive need to shield them from retaliation, they don’t deserve to be here. Well, that’s true for only the core players from that 2017 World Series winning team.
Their manager, Dusty Baker, definitely deserves it, and you can’t help but cheer for the man.
Baker, the man who literally invented the high five, has been all that has been good about baseball since his debut as a player in 1968. He’s been a great teammate and the consummate leader. Somehow, as a manager, he hasn’t been given the respect he’s due.
Over time, he’s taken way too much heat for removing Russ Ortiz from Game 6 of the 2002 World Series. It was a 5-0 game in the seventh, and the Angels were threatening. Ortiz was nearing 100 pitches, Baker went to Felix Hernandez, who was lights out that postseason.
He then went to Tim Worrell, who had a seven appearance stretch of not allowing a run. The players were put in the spot to win, and they didn’t. In the end, Baker bore the blame.
It was the same in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Washington. Baker brought them to the postseason, but somehow, that wasn’t good enough for those franchises. It shouldn’t have been lost on anyone each of those teams suffered in the season ensuing after Baker’s termination.
Through it all, Baker has handled it all with dignity and class. While he may have lamented not getting more of an opportunity, he didn’t pin the blame on his players whom he always treated with the utmost respect, and in turn, got great performances in return.
If anyone deserves this victory tonight, it’s Baker. Despite his being a three time Manager of the Year and having taken five different teams to the postseason, he somehow needs this win to cement his legacy. He may need it to get into the Hall of Fame like he so richly deserves.
Overall, while this Astros team is as unlikeable and it gets, you can’t help but pull for Dusty Baker. He’s one of the greatest managers in baseball history and an even better person. If anyone deserves this pennant, it’s him.
At least a small part of you should hope he gets it.
Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.