Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.
He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.
The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.
At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.
In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).
After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?
Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.
Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.
The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.
For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.
Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.
The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.
This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.
Mets fan favorite Curtis Granderson is just one game away from his team going to the World Series. If it happens, this will be the second straight year and third out of the last four years his team went to the World Series.
Note, that’s team because Granderson was left off last year’s World Series roster.
After going 1-for-15 in the NLDS and NLCS combined with eight strikeouts, the Dodgers would leave him off the World Series roster in favor of Brandon McCarthy, who was added to the roster despite not having pitched in nearly a month.
As luck would have it, McCarthy would appear in just one game that series. He was the pitcher who took the loss in the back-and-forth 12 inning game two after surrendering a two run homer to George Springer.
Instead of the commanding 2-0 series lead heading to Houston, the series was tied 1-1. The Dodgers would lost two of three in Houston before losing the series in seven games.
Tonight, even though he is nothing more than a pinch hitter, Granderson has the opportunity to exact some measure of revenge for the Dodgers leaving him off the World Series roster last year. Judging from how the Brewers have utilized him, he will then have a chance to have an impact on the 2018 World Series.
Here’s hoping he gets that chance, and here’s hoping one of the best human beings to ever don an MLB uniform finally wins that elusive World Series ring.
With the Mets conducting their search for a new General Manager, they are looking for someone who can build this team into a World Series contender. Obviously, for that to happen, the new General Manager is going to have to go out and acquire good players. Looking through the Mets history, some General Managers were better than others on this front.
Can you name (by WAR), the best Mets player each General Manager has obtained? Good luck!
The NLCS and the ALCS have been riveting series so far with many storylines and subplots. After each and every game, there is so much to unpack and discuss. In many ways, these series are all that is great about baseball.
The Brewers are trying to bullpen their way through the postseason. Their efforts reached their peak yesterday with Craig Counsell pulling Wade Miley after he walked Cody Bellinger, so he could insert Brandon Woodruff. The obvious goal there was to get the right-handed Woodruff in against a predominantly right-handed lineup.
The Dodgers have been dealing with the drama with Manny Machado not hustling and making dirty plays in the field. Through all of it, Machado has been the best player in this series, and in a 13 inning Game 4 victory, he made the hustle plays to win the game. In addition to Machado, the Dodgers have the usual postseason issues related to Clayton Kershaw, who followed a bad start with a gem yesterday.
In the ALCS, the Astros appeared poised to streamroll the Red Sox. In Game 1, Chris Sale didn’t have his velocity, and he went to the hospital after the game. In that game, the Astros beat up on what is a poor Red Sox bullpen. It seemed as if this was going to be a recurring theme in this series except it hasn’t. The Red Sox have won three straight games with the Red Sox taking advantage of the Astros bullpen while Alex Cora has used a deft touch, including his use of Rick Porcello in the pen, to navigate his way through each game even with Craig Kimbrel nearly pulling an Armando Benitez each game.
We should be talking about each and every single thing from each of these series. We should be talking about George Springer having another phenomenal postseason run. Same thing for Justin Turner. Orlando Arcia is playing at another level this postseason. There are so many great stories and more, and today, we’re not talking about any of them.
No, we’re talking about Joe West because he made a decision which may have changed the course of not just Game 4 of the ALCS but the entire series.
This was undoubtedly an out. Three people hit Betts’ glove. pic.twitter.com/SgBqCzI0Uj
— 617 Report (@617Report) October 18, 2018
Mookie Betts was about to rob Jose Altuve of a two run homer until his glove hit the hands of some fans in the stands. While there may not have been a definitive video, it is about 99 percent certain Betts reached into the stands, which means pursuant to MLB rules, it should have been a home run.
Before discussing further, it’s important to see West’s position. It is best shown in this video:
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) October 18, 2018
Joe West is nowhere near position to make that call. Seeing him out there, it was clearly impossible for him to get into the correct position. The right field umpire is really in no man’s land. and he felt comfortable enough to make a series changing call. In addition, MLB did not have enough cameras in place to properly analyze a call which was still fairly obvious.
Really, unless you are from Boston, an MLB replay official, Joe West, or a horrid analyst like Billy Ripken, you knew it was not fan interference. And yet, here we are. Stuck with a bad call in what should be a great series. Worse yet, instead of discussing all the great things which are happening in the postseason, we are focusing on Joe West.
Time and again, we hear from Rob Manfred about all that is wrong with baseball. He has publicly chastised Mike Trout for not being available for MLB promotions. And yet, while he’s focusing on all that’s wrong and blaming players for his marketing department not being able to promote players, he allows Joe West to go out there and be Joe West and not make sure there are enough cameras in place to mitigate against that.
Narratives can go a little too far. For example, the narrative was Carlos Beltran received his seven year $119 million deal from the Mets because he hit eight homers in the 2004 postseason. While that postseason run may have brought Beltran more name recognition, the fact is in 2004 Beltran hit .267/.367/.548 with 36 doubles, nine triples, 38 homers, and 104 RBI with 42 stolen bases.
No matter what Beltran did in the 2004 NLCS, he was going to cash in during free agency because he was a 27 year old MVP level player who promised to win Silver Sluggers and Golden Gloves.
This is the same situation Dodgers SS Manny Machado finds himself this NLCS. At just 25 years old, he is already one of the arguably 10 best players in the game, and with him entering his prime years, he could be much more than that. He is coming off a season where he hit .297/.367/.538 with 35 doubles, three triples, 37 homers, and 101 RBI. He’s already won Gold Gloves at third base, and once he joined a more analytical friendly Dodgers organization, his defensive metrics at shortstop improved substantially.
Like with Beltran, the 2018 NLCS should have proven to be a springboard for Machado into free agency. With him hitting .353/.389/.588 through the first four games of this series, the talk about him on the field isn’t about his hitting, it’s about how he plays the game.
In Game 3, Machado helped kill a potential rally in a 1-0 game by making an obviously illegal slide. What made the slide all the worse was the fact it was not necessary as Cody Bellinger was likely going to be safe anyway. However, with the slide, it was a double play clearing the bases thereby stymieing any potential rally:
.@Brewers challenge call that Manny Machado did not violate slide rule at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, violation.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) October 16, 2018
While we do not know what could have happened after that play, we can say the slide mattered in a game where the Dodgers lost 4-0 and fell behind in the series 2-1.
Last night, we saw yet another arguably dirty play from Machado. During a 10th inning groundout, Machado went Kobra Kai, and he swept Jesus Aguilar‘s foot off of first base.
ICYMI: Things got heated between Manny Machado and Jesús Aguilar late in Game 4 of the NLCS. pic.twitter.com/jz6HwCMaYw
— ESPN (@espn) October 17, 2018
The play is up for debate as Aguilar’s foot is well out of position, but still, Machado went out of his way to kick Aguilar’s foot off the base on what was really a routine groundout. Despite, no one being injured, the play was certainly not well received by the Brewers or many fans still watching the game.
Even if Machado is a dirty player, it is not like that is going to hurt his value this offseason. After all, dirty players throughout history like Pete Rose, or Machado’s current teammate Chase Utley, have been in demand because they produced on the field. It also helped that Rose and Utley were seen as hard nosed players who would do anything to beat you. That is something Machado has put into question during the NLCS.
With the Dodgers down 1-0 in the series against an insanely hot Brewers team who had won 12 in a row, the Dodgers arguably need to pull out all the stops to stem the tide and even up the series. With the game tied 0-0 in the fourth inning of Game 2, Machado grounded out to short, and he did not hustle to first base. To put it more succinctly, he loafed it over there. This caused many to question if Machado won’t hustle in the NLCS, when exactly will he hustle. Machado’s response? He’s not “Johnny Hustle.”
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 17, 2018
The unabashed refusal to hustle and his arguably dirty plays have certainly caused Machado’s reputation to take a hit in some circles. It has actually gotten to the point where some people are beginning to question how much it will affect the contract Machado will get in free agency.
The answer to that question is Machado will not receive one less penny than he otherwise would have had these issues not emerged during the NLCS. Teams are going to line up for a 26 year old shortstop who can hit 30+ homers a year. They will want one of the best players in the game entering his prime. And wherever Machado goes, he will drastically improve his team.
Look, the fact is while we all want players to hustle, we want them to produce on the field all the more. Even with the lack of hustle, Machado is a great player, and if he were to join the Mets, he would instantly become their best position player. It wouldn’t even be close. Even for those most disturbed by his lack of hustle, we should all invite the opportunity to criticize him for it during the NLCS because make no mistake here. If the Mets get Machado, they’re a postseason team, and with that pitching, they’re going to go deep in the postseason.
Hustle, no hustle. Just sign Machado.
With the way Yasmani Grandal is outright struggling during the NLCS, he is invariably going to damage his value on the free agent market this offseason. Exactly how much remains to be seen, and you will likely see in some uneducated corners that the Mets should not pursue Grandal this offseason. To a certain extent, it’s absurd to ignore a player’s entire career over a few games.
When looking at Grandal, this is a Mets team built on pitching, and as such, they should prioritize a catcher who thrives at pitch framing. They should also avoid players who are terrible at it. Really, overall, there are a number of players the Mets should absolutely avoid this offseason.
C – Wilson Ramos
In case you have missed the past decade of Mets baseball, the last thing this franchise needs is another injury prone player who is over 30 years old. As bad as their injury issues were previously, they suddenly become worse when they wear a Mets uniform. When you combine that with Ramos having terrible pitch framing numbers and his probably getting a fairly large contract, the Mets should be a hard pass on him.
1B – Marwin Gonzalez
Gonzalez’s reputation seems to be much better than the player he actually is. This is not unusual for a player who is not too far removed from a great year or for a player who is playing for a great team. Breaking down Gonzalez’s career, he is a .264/.318/.419 hitter with just one good offensive season under his belt. He’s a versatile player whose best position is LF. He’s going to be 30 and overpaid. Mostly, he’s a complimentary piece which helps a great team like the Astros but will not be a significant contributor to a team like the Mets.
2B – DJ LeMahieu
With the emergence of Jeff McNeil, the Mets are not likely in the market for a second baseman, but then again, due to McNeil’s versatility, they could opt to sign a second baseman and move McNeil elsewhere. If they do so, they need to avoid LeMahieu. While very good defensively, this is a guy who just can’t hit outside of Coors Field, and for what it’s worth, he doesn’t hit all that well at Coors Field either as evidenced by his career 96 wRC+ there.
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
When he was with the Mets, Cabrera was a clutch second half player. Despite all the injuries, he tried to play everyday. He was a popular player, and he was much better than anyone could have anticipated he would be when the Mets signed him. That said, he’s no longer an everyday player, and it’s questionable just how much he’d be willing to accept a utility role.
SS – Jose Reyes
Over the last two seasons, he was just about the worst player in baseball, and he was a malcontent who was not above going to the press to try to lobby for more playing time. His team in a Mets uniform or really any MLB uniform should be over.
LF – Rajai Davis
As we saw with Jackson with season (more on him in a minute), the Mets are likely looking for a cheap right-handed hitting veteran who can play CF. After Davis hit that incredible game tying homer in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, he has not done much since. He may come cheap, but the 37 year old will be cheap for a reason. The Mets need to do much better than this to fill out a bench.
CF – A.J. Pollock
Back in 2015, Pollock was a superstar in the making. He was a Gold Glover, and he was probably the third best center fielder in all of baseball. Since that time, Pollock has been injury prone, and he has not played more than 113 games in a season. He’s no longer a big bat in the lineup. While his defense is still good, it has been in decline, and there is a fair question over how long he can stay there (whether due to injuries or regression). He’s going to get a big contract, but it should not be by a Mets team with a horrendous history of dealing with over 30 year old injury prone players.
RF – Austin Jackson
The Mets signed Jackson late in the season presumably to see if he should be part of the mix next season. In 57 games, Jackson was a bad hitter and an equally poor fielder. Especially with Juan Lagares coming back from injury (again), the Mets should steer well clear of Jackson.
SP – Bartolo Colon
We get it. Fans love him because he’s fat, old, has been suspended for steroids, and didn’t pay child support to his second family. When you strip down the whole contrived lovable gimmick, he’s a bad MLB pitcher who should either be retiring, fighting for a bullpen spot, or rounding out a terrible team’s rotation just like he did with the Rangers this past year.
RHP Reliever – Cody Allen
Like with Bryan Shaw last year, there will likely be a call for the Mets to reunite some of the Indians bullpen with Mickey Callaway. While the urge is understandable, the Mets should resist as the wear and tear of his workload seemingly took a took a toll on him this season. After posting very good numbers in the first six years of his career, Allen had a career worst 4.70 ERA, 93 ERA+, and a 4.56 FIP. While he may be salvaged to be a good reliever, with how the market has gone insane with relievers the past few years, it’s not likely Allen will be paid as the rehabilitation project he just might be.
LHP Reliever – Jerry Blevins
Look, Blevins has had a good career, and his best years were clearly with the Mets. His numbers were skewed this year by a bad April and an equally bad September. More troubling than that is Blevins really struggled getting left-handed batters out this season. While it’s possible that issue will iron itself out, the real issue is his walks. For three straight seasons, his walk totals have gone up while his K/BB ratio has gone down. With the emergence of Daniel Zamora and with other relievers available this offseason, it’s time to turn the page.
There are a number of indications the Mets General Manager search is a complete and utter farce. The fact the team knew of this opening in June and has just now even contemplated conducting a search was a big indicator. However, there are even bigger signs beyond that, and they are just now coming to the surface.Perhaps the biggest indication come from Jon Heyman, who recently reported for Fancred:
There’s a split on Mickey Callaway within the Mets’ front office, so expect him to have a short leash in 2019. The Mets have consistently said Callaway will return to manage next year even before hiring a GM. However, some within the Mets’ hierarchy see it as a work in progress that may not work out.
Think about it for a second. The Mets have no hired a new GM to replace Sandy Alderson. Presumably, when you hire that GM, you are going to permit him to actually build a front office. Maybe that includes John Ricco and Omar Minaya, who Jeff Wilpon reportedly wants to keep, and maybe it doesn’t. The point is the people who are there now should be there on an interim basis until such time as the new GM constructs his new front office.
And yet, reports are there’s a split on the manager in the front office, which is s clear indication the new GM will be brought in to execute a plan instead of creating one of his or her own. Other news reports bear this out.
Mike Chernoff, who has the opportunity to return home and get somewhat of a soft hand from the press with his dad being station director at WFAN, has declined the Mets job. Others who have declined include Twins GM Thad Levine, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes, and Blue Jays Vice President of Baseball Operations Ben Cherington. There are likley more names which have not been reported.
As Mike Puma of the New York Post reports, there “is the perception that team COO Jeff Wilpon will run the baseball operations department, with the new hire as the real No. 2 in the organization.”
There are other reports Jeff Wilpon blatantly lied about how the team operates according to the recommendations of the General Manager. In fact, Tim Healey of Newsday reported not just how this is untrue, but also how it has led to the organization bleeding talented people. As Healey reports, “Multiple sources disputed Wilpon’s statement, saying ownership denied repeated requests in recent years from Alderson’s baseball operations department to add to the analytics staff.”
What is downright absurd about Healey’s report is Omar Minaya “badly wanted” to keep now Brewers GM David Stearns once his internship ended. The Wilpons did not approve the extra headcount, and Stearns, someone who grew up a Mets fans, went to Milwaukee. Now, Stearns has built the Brewers into a World Series contender while the Wilpons are interested in the man he replaced.
This whole search is a joke, and in the end, it’s not going to be about who can do the best job, but who can carry out Jeff Wilpon’s plans. That’s not a search for a GM. It’s a search for a figurehead. This is a farce.
In many ways, Game 2 of the NLCS was decided by a couple of former and well liked Mets.
The Brewers would have their chance to respond in the bottom of the eighth.
With one on and two out, Dave Roberts pulled his left-handed reliever for Kenta Maeda, and Craig Counsell countered by sending Curtis Granderson to the plate. Granderson put a charge in one, but the ball would land harmlessly in Yasiel Puig‘s glove.
While there were many, many other factors which influenced the final score, when you boil down this game, the difference was Turner’s ball left the yard, and Granderson’s didn’t.
In some ways, it’s great to see some popular former Mets in the postseason, especially Granderson. In other ways, it is a reminder how the Mets once had the talent to be a World Series contender. That talent is still contributing in some fashion to teams on the cusp of going to the World Series.
It’s now incumbent on the Mets to find their next Turner and Granderson to get the franchise to the point where Turner and Granderson currently are.
Similar to the Roberto Clemente Award, the MLBPA has the Marvin Miller Award. The Marvin Miller Award is given to the player their peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”
Each team gets to nominate a player, and we have seen upstanding players win this award including Curtis Granderson, who has won it twice. Unsurprisingly, he was nominated again for the award this year.
There will be some stiff competition for this award, but it will not include Steven Matz, who not only donates time a money to the FDNY Foundation, but he also takes an active role with the Special Olympics.
Now, the Mets candidate for the award will be Jose Reyes.
That’s not a joke.
The Mets really chose Reyes to be their candidate for this award. For those who forgot, which clearly includes the Mets players, Reyes is alleged to have grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into the sliding glass doors. After hotel security contacted police, Reyes’ wife was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries to her neck, thighs, and wrists.
This is who Major League players “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”
Congrats to the players for taking their time to admit to us all they have no issue with domestic violence, and better yet, they believe players who commit violent acts against their wives need to be recognized as role models.
With the Dodgers and Brewers beginning the NLCS, there is a chance, and in the case of Curtis Granderson, a remote one, that a former Mets player could take home the MVP award. If Granderson does do this, he will be one of eight former Mets who have been the NLCS MVP. Can you name them? Good luck!