Wilpons Need To Stop Messing With Mets Fans

With Steve Cohen, things have changed so much for the better. Just look at this offseason, So far, the Mets have given record deals to keep Edwin Díaz and Brandon Nimmo. They have also brought in Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Omar NarváezJosé Quintana, and David Robertson. In the past, it would take the Wilpons more than a decade to bring in all of these players, and of that group, we’d never be able to consider a Verlander coming to Queens.

However, even with the Wilpons gone, they still find ways to mess with New York Mets fans. Of course, it comes with them being cheap and not realizing the value of franchise greats.

SNY (read, the Wilpons) always seems to do this with Keith Hernandez. They make the contract negotiations more prolonged than they need to be. In many ways, they don’t realize his value to the franchise and their broadcasts. Keep in mind, Hernandez and his commentary keeps fans tuned in during blowouts because fans want to hear Keith in those situations. That’s not hyperbole.

Actually, maybe the Mets do realize Hernandez’s value. It may be much more likely they really just don’t care. Based upon their ownership of the Mets, we can safely assume that is the case.

That is what actually makes this worse. They already have their billions from the sale of the franchise. They were financially made whole from the Madoff Ponzi Scheme scandal. Now, they’re just making money off the Mets like they always do.

There is going to come a point in time where Keith steps aside, and we are no longer going to have Gary, Keith, and Ron. However, that has to come on GKR’s terms. They’re Mets legends, and they earned that right as they are about to surpass Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner as the longest serving Mets announcing trio.

The Wilpons cannot mess this up. They’ve already messed up too much, and for all they have done, this would be a step too far. We shouldn’t put it past them. All we can do is hope they finally do the right thing by the fans.

Brett Baty Should Be Opening Day Third Baseman

Back in 2019, the New York Mets had Pete Alonso begin the season on the Opening Day roster. The idea was he gave the team their best chance to win games, and they thought keeping him in the minors for two weeks could cost them the postseason. Essentially, one year of service time was not worth missing out on the postseason.

Of course, now, we know that was all part of the grift. The Wilpons knew they were going to be forced to sell, so they had Brodie Van Wagenen set out to completely mortgage the future to try to win that one year. That included starting Alonso in the majors and not caring about that extra year of control. The irony would be the Wilpons limited budget and cheapness ultimately did cost them the postseason as they didn’t have the money to address the bullpen.

While the plan was flawed from its inception with the Wilpons, it is a plan that has merit with a real owner like Steve Cohen. To wit, the Mets should look to eschew service time concerns and control, and they should have Brett Baty being the 2023 season on the Opening Day roster.

That is at least the general consensus from the scouting community. Keith Law of The Athletic says Baty has nothing to learn in the minors and is the Mets best third base option. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline says Baty should be the third baseman in 2023 because he is an improvement defensively over Eduardo Escobar with a better offensive ceiling.

While Mets fans were understandably not impressed with Baty defensively in short sample size, Escobar has proven he can’t really play the position. He had a -6 OAA a year after he had a -3. As he’s 34 and with their being no shift in 2023, he is only going to get worse. The Mets did recognize that last season, and that is part of the reason why they moved him to a platoon with Luis Guillorme.

Guillorme has been previously addressed here. WIth the shift elimination rules and the limitations of Mark Canha, Guillorme should be the everyday second baseman. That would be the newly extended Jeff McNeil can move to left field where he has been historically move effective. It should also be less wear-and-tear on a player the Mets can have through his age 35 season.

Baty can at least be adequate defensively, which is a step up from Escobar. While the ground ball rates are a problem, he has real offensive potential. He needs to improve those ground ball rates. The hope there is Jeremy Barnes can do that. Even though Baty made significant strides on this front in Double-A last season, Barnes is still arguably the best person to get Baty to lift the ball and get the most out of his power.

What needs noting here is it may not happen right away with Baty. That is fine because the Mets still have the option to send him back down to Triple-A and shift to the Escboar/Guillorme platoon which was very effective last season. Better yet, he can begin to fulfill his promise and be that bat the Mets were hoping to find this offseason. The only way the Mets can find that out is by putting him on the Opening Day roster.

Mets Should Sign Dylan Bundy

The New York Mets are still looking to build their bullpen, and the one spot they haven’t quite addressed is the one now vacated by Trevor Williams. Williams held down the role once held by Seth Lugo. Like Williams, Lugo left via free agency, and the Mets really do not have a long man in their bullpen.

In many ways, the long man role is one that needs to be manufactured. it is for a starter who can’t quite start but needs to be good enough to fill-in that role on necessity. It also needs to be a reliever who is not quite dominant because those dominant relievers are better suited and more needed in the later innings of games.

Often times, the long man is just found out of necessity. For example, Williams had no options remaining. He was put in the bullpen where he was terrific. We have seen the Mets thrive with long men options in the past like Williams, Pat Mahomes, Carlos Torres, and Sean Gilmartin.

This is a role which should not go to  David Peterson or Tylor Megill, each of whom the Mets should be developing. Rather, the Mets need to sign a free agent for this role, and surveying the landscape, it would seem Dylan Bundy is well suited for this role.

Bundy, 30, was once a big time prospect being selected fourth overall by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2011 draft. Coincidentally, he would play as a rookie and young player under Buck Showalter, and like we see with Tommy Hunter and Mychal Givens, the Mets have liked bringing back some of Showalter’s old Orioles pitchers.

Looking at Bundy, his only good year as a starter was the pandemic shortened season of 2020. With a career 92 ERA+ and 4.68 FIP, it is really time to admit Bundy isn’t a viable starting pitcher in the leagues. That is moreso the case for a pitcher who has been at a 77 ERA+ and 5.00 FIP over the past two seasons.

Going to Baseball Savant, Bundy does a few things very well. First, he has excellent control. Second, he gets good spin on his fastball. Overall, he doesn’t walk batters, but when batters make contact, they really create damage.

Remember, by signing Bundy you’re not looking for a shutdown reliever. Rather, the goal is to find a reliever who can just eat innings. They need someone out there who can save the bullpen. A pitcher who doesn’t walk batters and is accustomed to pitch more than 1-2 innings is exactly who you want.

In his career, Bundy is at his best the first time through the lineup. The first time through he limits batters to a .239/.298/.432 batting line. That’s exactly what the Mets want. Rather, it’s what they need. They need a pitcher who can handle the first time through the order exceptionally well and who can eat innings to save the bullpen.

This is what Williams was. Of note, Jeremy Hefner worked well with Williams to adapt to this role. Chances are, he and Showalter can do the same with Bundy. As a result, the Mets should sign Bundy to take over the long reliever role.

Jeff McNeil Another Met For Life

Before Steve Cohen, the only players who were New York Mets for life were Ed Kranepool and David Wright. Kranepool was a semi-regular player who set records mostly due to longevity, and Wright appeared to be a Hall of Famer until he succumbed to spinal stenosis. Taking them both together, the Mets never really had a homegrown star who spent their entire careers with the team AND had their career end on their own terms.

Now, with Steve Cohen, it now looks like there will be two. Earlier in the postseason, Brandon Nimmo was given the largest contract to a homegrown Mets player. It now appears he will spend his entire career with the Mets. It also appears as if he will be joined by Jeff McNeil.

As many Mets fans were hoping to see, McNeil signed an extension with the team. He received a four year $50 million extension. This contract also includes a team option which could make it a five year $63.75 million deal. Based upon his performance, it may not be too soon to surmise it is really a five year deal.

To many, there was a shock over how low the contract total was. That wasn’t necessarily the Mets being cheap, or McNeil undervaluing himself. Mostly, it is the system at play. McNeil would not have been a free agent for another two seasons, which suppresses his earning ability over that time frame.

Keep in mind, McNeil wanted to stay, so in some ways, agreeing to an extension now was to try to maximize his return now. He wasn’t going to be a free agent until his near mid-30s, and he would not be a free agent in his early 30s. Despite that, he had tremendous value to this Mets organization.

Remember, McNeil is already a two time All-Star. He has won a batting title. He is a very good second baseman and better left fielder. He’s perhaps the best suited in all of baseball to thrive in the soon-to-be no shift era. Mostly, he is a player who has been a great Met, and he wanted to be a Met for his career.

The Mets stepped up in a way they almost never did before Cohen. They signed a very good player important to the team’s success now. They signed a guy who was a fabric to this team and wanted to be here. Now, it appears he and Nimmo are set to join Kranepool and Wright as Mets for life, and Mets fans are blessed this is the case.

Lindor Is Best Shortstop In Baseball Despite What Shredder Says

MLB apparently needs to start over with “The Shredder” because it really fails all of the time. Case-in-point, The Shredder ranked Francisco Lindor as the ninth best shortstop in the game. As usual, it would prove to be wrong, very wrong.

In the 2022 season, Lindor was the best shortstop in all of baseball. It really wasn’t up for debate at all.

Lindor lead the Majors with a 6.8 fWAR. That ranked him ahead of Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Corey Seager. Notably, those four players were ranked ahead of Lindor entering the 2022 season, and based on the rankings heading into the 2023 season, they were again ranked ahead of Lindor.

In terms of bWAR, Lindor would finish tied for third with Correa just behind Swanson, who was ranked lower than Lindor, and Bogaerts. Again, players who have not been as good as Lindor were ranked higher.

We would see Lindor would have the second highest OAA. He rated fifth in wRC+.. Notably, none of the players who rated higher in OAA rated higher in wRC+ and vice versa. This makes Lindor the best combination of defense and hitting from the shortstop position .Again, this is not opinion, it is based upon hard factual data.

Really, it has been this way over Lindor’s entire career. Since his first full season in 2016, Lindor has amassed a 38.0 fWAR, which is the best in the majors over that time span. His 32.6 bWAR trails only Correa by 2.2 WAR.

Over that time frame, Lindor has a 118 OAA at shortstop, which is again the best overall at the position. His wRC+ ranks as the sixth best among shortstops. Again, Lindor is the best all-around threat from the shortstop position in the majors. It has been that way since 2016, and it has continued to be that way his entire career.

Looking forward, Lindor is still 29 and in the prime of his career. He has been the best, and he promises to continue to be the best. On that point, only Correa is ahead of him in bWAR, and the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets were very concerned about his ability to play shortstop or be a star in the not too distant future.

For some reason, people have had a hard time accepting Lindor’s greatness. To be fair, we have seen that be the case with Mets fans the past two seasons. Make no mistake, Lindor has been the best shortstop in the game his entire career, and he’s still in the prime of his career. Overall, Lindor is the best shortstop in the game, and in reality, he’s a future Hall of Famer.

We can’t force people to accept that now, but in the end who really cares? The Mets have Lindor, and they are a World Series contender largely because they have him. Let people rank him where they want while Lindor plays better than whoever they want to pretend is better.

Like Rolen, Nettles Should Be A Hall Of Famer

Scott Rolen was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame on his sixth year on the ballot. It took way to too long for one of the best third basemen ever, but he’s where he belongs.

For some bizarre reason, people were unwilling to accept it even though Rolen is a top nine third baseman by WAR. However, it is more than just WAR.

When you’ve done something only Mike Schmidt has done, you’re a Hall of Famer. That’s now officially true of Rolen.

Rolen’s induction is a testament that defense matters. More than that, great defense can make you a Hall of Famer. That’s why his WAR was so high.

That what got lost on people as they made laughable cases for players like Don Mattingly. There were also arguments made for Dale Murphy or Keith Hernandez (who actually should be in the Hall of Fame).

Here’s the thing, Rolen was a third baseman, and they’re not. First baseman and center fielders should be used for those players.

That said, Rolen’s induction should serve as a bellwether for another third baseman. Rolen’s induction should prompt the Veteran’s Committee to induct Graig Nettles.

Like Rolen, Nettles was a great defensive player who won two Gold Gloves. He would’ve won more if not for Brooks Robinson.

Nettles has the third and fifth best defensive seasons by a third baseman. He’s fifth all-time in defensive WAR, one spot ahead of Rolen.

In his career, Nettles had a 68.0 WAR, which is just 2.1 behind Rolen and 0.4 behind the average Hall of Fame third baseman. Nettles is also just behind Rolen in WAR7 and JAWS while he’s ahead of the average Hall of Fame third baseman.

Nettles also won two World Series titles and was the 1981 ALCS MVP. Overall, he was a great player worthy of enshrinement.

Despite that, he fell off the ballot in three years. That’s a reflection of the arcane standards of yore, but we know better now.

This is why there’s a Veteran’s Committee. It’s to induct players like Nettles who should’ve been inducted over a decade ago. Like Rolen, Nettles (and Hernandez) belong in the Hall of Fame.

Carlos Beltran Again Shows David Ortiz Induction Hypocrisy

For reasons which still have not been explained, David Ortiz was held to a completely different standard than anyone else who has ever been on a Hall of Fame ballot. You might’ve believed Ortiz being inducted on the first ballot would prove to be a changing of the guard, but in the end, it was more of the same for the 2023 Hall of Fame class.

As previously detailed here, Ortiz had PED allegations. On this ballot, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield were not inducted despite each of them being far superior players. We again saw Omar Vizquel lose votes partially due to allegations of domestic violence, but when Ortiz was on the ballot, it was not remotely a factor or ever discussed. We can go on and on with the double standards including how Ortiz threw bats at umpires and constantly tried to police the fun of the game.

When looking at Ortiz, the only conclusion is he was a cheater, and he was an overall bad guy. However, he was great for a quote and mostly good to the media. Combine that with his being a willing caricature on Fox’s pre- and post-games, and you have a Hall of Famer.

That brings us to Carlos Beltrán. As you recall back in 2008, Billy Wagner spoke of a rift in the Mets clubhouse dealing with media accountability, which was an indirect shot at players like Beltràn.

By every measure, Beltràn was a deserving Hall of Famer who should have been inducted on the first ballot. He’s one of the best switch hitters of all-time, and by WAR, he’s the eighth best center fielder of all time ahead of players like Duke Snider and Andre Dawson.

Beltràn won Rookie of the Year. He was a nine time All-Star. He won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He had postseason success and won a World Series in the final year of his career. This is as complete of a Hall of Fame resume as you get, especially when there are zero allegations of PEDs against him.

Of course, this neglects his final year with the Houston Astros. In that year, the Astros had a sign stealing system with Beltràn named as the ring leader. Keep in mind, this needed to be an organizational efforts with the cameras and the like, but in the end, it was Beltràn who received the blame.

As a result, writers lined up to write article after article on how the Mets needed to fire Beltràn as their manager. To that end, Beltràn remains the only player punished for this actions. Apparently, the Wilpons being callow and succumbing to public pressure was insufficient punishment. The writers demanded further punishment with them opting not to vote for Beltràn for the Hall of Fame.

Keep in mind, many of these same writers voted for players like A-Rod. They voted for Ortiz on the first ballot. They did that even though the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox received punishments from Major League Baseball for similar systems. We would see Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge win MVP awards after their teams cheated. Apparently, the sign stealing wasn’t an issue for their careers.

We can go on and on when it comes to sign stealing systems. The reason is for some reason the only time baseball cared was with that Astros team. When it was Bobby Thompson and the New York Giants, it was the “Shot Heard Round the World.”Really, when it came to Beltràn and the Astros, everything has been blown way out of proportion.

Overall, writers just have it out for Beltràn despite his not taking PEDs, committing acts of domestic violence, or throwing bats at umpires. In the end, Beltràn’s biggest crime was not having a much better relationship with the media during this playing days. If he did, the writers would’ve fought for him to keep his managerial job and for his induction into the Hall of Fame. After all, they bent over backwards to overlook all the issues with Ortiz to put him in the Hall.

MLB Should Re-Calibrate First Pitch Times

As part of the new CBA, baseball teams are going to play the other 29 teams this season. There are a number of ramifications from this including playing fewer games against divisional rivals, but it also means more games out of a team’s time zone.

For example, last season, the New York Mets played 22 road games against NL and AL West opponents. That was partially the result of the Mets playing the AL West in interleague play. Back in 2021, the Mets had only played 16 games against western division opponents.

Those extra six games may not seem as much, but that’s an extra week of 10 PM starts. Typically speaking, that means many fans will struggle to stay awake for consecutive games and will likely miss them all together. Certainly, that will be the case for children, i.e. the demographic Major League Baseball is purportedly targeting to make lifelong baseball fans.

Well, that 22 game number seems to be staying. In 2023, the Mets will again play 22 games against western division opponents. That means later and later starts meaning fewer and fewer fans able to watch the game. On the inverse, that also means fans from the west coast will miss part of east coast games because they will still be at work and school.

This is not remotely a beneficial situation for anyone. Sure, it will be exciting to see more of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in addition to other baseball superstars in the NL and AL West. However, if those games are so late, the Mets playing them makes the goals sought completely obsolete.

Of course, this should have been part of an MLB feasibility study. Apparently, it wasn’t, and now, we’re left to see how MLB will react to a move which will ultimately turn fans away from games for a day or two or for a full week of games. Really, this is what baseball wants to avoid.

To that end, perhaps, baseball should seek to normalize start times to try to attract as many fans to those games as possible. For starters, every non-Sunday Night Baseball game on the west coast should be a day game to permit baseball fans from both fans to watch the games. For example, a 1PM start time on the west coast is a very manageable 4 PM start time on the east coast.

Weekday games are more difficult. If there is a day game, nothing needs to be changed. As noted above, the 1 PM west coast start time works well for the east coast. The real issue is the 7 PM PST start times. You’re eliminating a significant part of the audience for a 10 PM first pitch, and there’s a greater attrition as the games go deeper into the night and early morning hours.

Moving to a 6 PM PST start time is a little bit more manageable on the east coast and will attract some additional viewers. A 5 PM PST start time would be perfect for east coast viewers, but that is way too early for west coast fans to get to the ballpark. Maybe, they can split the difference and have a 5:30 start time. Of course, that is also difficult.

In the end, the answer may just be a hybrid approach. Permit the west coast teams to have 1-2 7 PM PST start times, but they need to adjust one of their game start times to be more palatable for east coast fans. Certainly, the inverse should also be true.

Overall, the goal is to get more fans watching games and allowing the youngest of fans to become lifelong baseball fans. The current schedule and start times serves as an impediment. Baseball needs to realize this and act accordingly.

 

Mets Should Invite R.A. Dickey To Spring Training

There was news recently the New York Mets plan on inviting David Wright to Spring Training to work with Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The Mets interest is obvious because they want the best third baseman in team history to teach two of their best prospects to maximize their potential.

In terms of the Mets, this is something they and every franchise do. They always love bringing back the team greats to work with their young players. Years ago, the Mets had Mike Piazza work with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If not for the World Baseball Classic, maybe Piazza could be there working with Francisco Álvarez and Kevin Parada.

For the Mets, we know they won’t stop at Wright. When looking at it, one Mets legend they should invite to Spring Training is R.A. Dickey because he can have an impact like no other former Mets player could.

We’re all very aware of the Dickey story. He was a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers who was discovered to be born without a UCL in his right arm who threw a forkball which was more akin to a knuckleball. This led him on a long and transient path to the majors and eventually the New York Mets.

With the Mets, he would be named the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner, and he would be the last Mets pitcher to win 20 games. He had taken the mantle from Tim Wakefield as the great knuckleball pitcher of his generation, but unfortunately, there has really been no one to take up that mantle since Dickey retired.

When looking at any farm system, the Mets included, there are pitchers who are never going to make it to the majors. There are various reasons including lack of velocity and/or control. For those prospects, and for the organization, the question is how long you play out the string with them until you change something about them or eventually cut them loose. It’s a sad reality of the minor leagues.

For the Mets, having Dickey in camp could permit him to teach those prospects not just the knuckleball but his knuckleballs. Remember, when Dickey was with the Mets he threw multiple ones which is what made him a unique and dominating pitcher.

To some degree, this is what we saw happen with Jacob deGrom and Johan Santana. When Santana taught deGrom his change, deGrom’s trajectory as a prospect went to the next level. Taking another ninth round pick and showing them the knuckleball could have a similar impact. Chances are, it won’t, but certainly, it is worth trying.

In the end, Dickey is just one of four Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He was a great Met for the short time he was here, and for that reason alone, he should be invited back for spring training. The fact he could help Mets prospects take their game to the next level makes inviting Dickey a must.

Tommy Pham Bad Move For Mets

Tommy Pham is one of those moves that sounds good. After all, people can remember him being a good player at one time, so certainly, it must be a coup to get him on this New York Mets team as a fourth outfielder. However, you have to ask yourself how were the Mets even able to get him as a fourth outfielder.

The answer is simple – Pham is not a good baseball player anymore. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine how the outfielder who will be 35 on Opening Day will suddenly regain his ability to play baseball.

Last year, between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, two places great for right-handed hitters, Pham hit .236./.312/.374 with 23 doubles, one triple, 17 homers, and 63 RBI. That season wasn’t an anomaly; it is who Pham is now. Over the past three seasons, Pham is hitting .231/.324/.372.

Looking at the advanced numbers, Pham had an 89 wRC+, and over the past three, Pham has a 94 wRC+. When looking at Baseball Savant., you get a clearer picture of what has happened with Pham.

Simply put, Pham is a dead red hitter. He hits the fastball well. However, he can no longer hit a breaking or off-speed pitch. He still hits the fastball quite hard, and he can truly do damage to those pitchers. That said, he really can’t hit anything else. In reality, that makes him an easy out, which is indicated by his declining numbers over the past three years.

It should come as no surprise Pham does have decent numbers against left-handed pitching. In 2022, he had a 115 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and over the past three seasons, he has a 111 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Certainly, this could make him part of the platoon equation at DH for Daniel Vogelbach.

Here, it should be noted Darin Ruf had a 116 wRC+ against left-handed pitching last year, and he has a 137 over the past three seasons. While the counter-argument is Pham could better serve as a fourth outfielder, that is not entirely correct as Pham had a -6 OAA in left as opposed to Ruf’s -5. Put another way, they are both bad outfielders who are best suited to DH.

On Ruf, he can at least play first base to spell Pete Alonso. Another note here is Ruf should serve as a warning for Pham. Ruf was a semi-regular player who struggled in a pure reserve role for the Mets. Now, the Mets are looking to do the same with Pham.

Really, at the end of the day, it is difficult to ascertain what purpose Pham fills for this team. He’s not an upgrade in any sense, and if you want to make out that fantasy football fight with Joc Pederson to be part of a larger picture, he could serve as a detriment in the clubhouse, but that may be a bit of a stretch as he has not seemed to have an in-season issue with a teammate. However, we also can’t ignore it.

However, that feud with Pederson should not matter. The Mets didn’t need Pham. In reality, they needed to move Mark Canha to a fourth outfielder role, and that could’ve been accomplished by signing an outfielder, or as they tried with Carlos Correa, by signing an infielder. Whatever the case, the Mets signed Pham for one year meaning he should not stand as an impediment should he struggle or the team is ready to turn to Brett Baty at third or left.