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20/20 Hindsight: Braves End Mets Season

The Mets went to Atlanta with an opportunity to make a statement, and they did. It was just the wrong one:

1. The Mets needed to address their bullpen, defense, and depth. Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed in his efforts.

2. The bullpen has been the biggest culprit this year. What makes it all the more depressing is Anthony Swarzak has been better this year than Edwin Diaz. It gets better when you realize Swarzak is now a Brave pitching well against his former team.

3. The Mets followed a season with the second worst defense in the National League with the worst this year. There’s being a horrible shifting team, and there is also having players like J.D. Davis way out of position in left field.

4. On the topic of Davis, Gary Disarcina‘s send of him was inexplicably bad. It was the latest in bad decisions he’s made there. When you combine that with how horribly the infield has been shifted and his inability to help Amed Rosario improve defensively, you realize he’s been a bad coach for two years now. Really bad.

5. The defense killed Zack Wheeler‘s and Steven Matz‘s starts, but that was not the only reason. Both pitchers needed to be better in their starts. They needed to pick up their defense. They didn’t, and they unraveled and lost. Their failures are as much on them as the defense.

6. For Wheeler, this follows his career splits. His Junes are always terrible. He then rebounds to have a great second half. The problem for the Mets is his following this pattern is taking them out of contention, and it’s also not letting him build up trade value for when they have to sell him a month from now.

7. As bad as they were, Jacob deGrom is back and once again pitching to a Cy Young level. Sadly, he can only pitch once every five days.

8. You get a sense of how bad things are when Mickey Callaway felt compelled to use Robert Gsellman to handle the ninth after deGrom’s start. Essentially, Callaway said he didn’t want one of his other relievers tacking on runs to his starter and ruining the good feeling that start would’ve had on his ace and the club.

9. It’s funny. That seemed like the perfect opportunity to use Stephen Nogosek to break him in easily. That said, as fans we’re never privy to the internal dynamics of a clubhouse and wanting to build up your players.

10. Nogosek and Daniel Zamora showed they are not answers to what has been ailing the bullpen. Instead, this was the team shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s something to keep in mind when they previously passed on Craig Kimbrel and still have yet to sign Cody Allen.

11. That said, Chris Flexen showed us something. When he entered that game, the Braves had a real chance to put it out of reach. He stepped up and pitched two scoreless innings. In what was a lost series, he emerged as a potential bright spot.

12. Michael Conforto has been great lately with a 10 game hitting streak and a hit in 15 of the 17 games this month. In addition to his good defense in right field, he is easily the most underappreciated player on this roster.

13. After a bad May, Pete Alonso has picked it back up in June. He’s been a monster at the plate. It will be very interesting to see how this continues to play out this season.

14. Why isn’t Jeff McNeil playing in center? Juan Lagares hasn’t been good. Neither has Carlos Gomez. Really, McNeil can’t be worse and making him the everyday center fielder would allow the team to get Dominic Smith into the lineup everyday. Sure, Smith in left won’t help the defense, but he’s a better option than Davis out there.

15. For all the talk about Adeiny Hechavarria needing to play over Rosario, if you look, he’s hitting like Hechavarria again with him hitting .176/.222/.176 over the last two weeks and a .241/.276/.434 batting line overall. If you’re going to go down like this as a team, shouldn’t you be looking at Luis Guillorme in this role?

16. Both Brandon Nimmo and Justin Wilson have been shut down after the team’s repeated efforts to try to get them to play through their injuries. You really have to question how the Mets continue making this mistake with their players. It takes an extra level of a complete lack of self awareness and examination to repeatedly make the same mistake.

17. While this is a very down time for the Mets and being a Mets fan, just remember this team still has a young core, and they have been better than anyone could’ve hoped. While the hope for 2019 is fading fast (if not completely gone), there is real hope for 2020.

18. We could talk about the division being unofficially being out of reach and the Mets needing to focus on the Wild Card, but that’s only fooling ourselves. It’s time to sell. That said, if the Mets sweep the Cubs, I’ll probably talk myself into this team being a competitor. With Walker Lockett starting things off for the Mets, the chances of that happening are remote.

19. The worst place in baseball to be is inbetween being a competitor and a bad team. The Mets were in that position in 2002, and they made a horrendous trade with the Rockies trading Jason Bay as part of a package for Steve Reed. A few years later, we’d see it happen with the Scott Kazmir/Victor Zambrano trade. With Brodie Van Wagenen’s hubris, another awful deal like this is a real danger.

20. If Brodie Van Wagenen did nothing this offseason but keep what was here, the Mets would still be a fourth place team, but instead they would’ve been one with payroll flexibility and a farm system on the cusp of being the best in the game.

14 thoughts on “20/20 Hindsight: Braves End Mets Season”

  1. Oldbackstop says:

    This is the most intelligent thing you have said in a long time as a tragic f’up, and the dumbest thing you have ever said in assessing who is to blame.
    ———
    “You get a sense of how bad things are when Mickey Callaway felt compelled to use Robert Gsellman to handle the ninth after deGrom’s start. Essentially, Callaway said he didn’t want one of his other relievers tacking on runs to his starter and ruining the good feeling that start would’ve had on his ace and the club.”

    ————
    Callaway’s quote about preserving a given player’s stats should have been a firing offense, on the spot. He is there to win games for the franchise and its fans, not awards for Jake the Snake.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Your love of Vargas and hatred of deGrom makes me wonder if you watch baseball or just hate the Mets.

    2. Oldbackstop says:

      Great article today:

      “Mets manager admits to trying to pad Jacob deGrom’s stats”

      Do you get, MD, that managers need to be focused on winning games, not individual’s stats?

      From the piece:

      “…. giving one of your top bullpen arms an unnecessary day of work for the purposes of preserving an individual stat line is an interesting strategy to say the least.”

      Is this clearing up for you at all?

      I wonder if Jake’s CY competitors last fall were juggling their bullpens and rotations in order to pad their candidate’s stats?

      1. metsdaddy says:

        It’s a ridiculous hit job in a line of ridiculous hit jobs against Callaway, and it has little understanding of the internal team dynamics.

        I’d also note it’s a ridiculous thing to say when you’re pushing him not to pitch the ninth. Which one is it? deGrom is selfish, or the team needs to rest the bullpen?

  2. Oldbackstop says:

    What is the average ERA of our 2,3,4 pitchers? Over 4.5, I would guess? And none of them can control the running game?

    That is the story of this year. Focus on those two issues, and put it in perspective historically and in this year’s other contenders.

    The reason the Mets aren’t in contention is right in front of our eyes. It was a team built around starting pitching. And the Core Four have been mediocre. Our ace, Jake the Snake, has six losses, three of them in games he was chased early surrendering crooked numbers.

    The whole dream all along was the Core Four healthy together. Well, the Core Four ain’t so hot. In terms of getting on the mound and not giving up runs. And they are far, far, far the worst at holding runners on. Three of the top seven starters in stolen bases allowed are Core Fourers. Basic fundamentals.

    Our top pitchera aren’t performing to career expectations and don’t show basic fundamentals. So whose fault is that? I nominate our AL pitching coach, Mickey Callaway. Have fun on the bus in the minors next year, Mick.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      No, that’s not the story. It’s a mixture of horrid defense, worse bullpen, poor depth, and the team ruining its future.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    Let me speak slowly, so you can absorb, and try not to just respond with personal attacks, okay?

    The Core Four has gotten blown up in TWELVE starts up to mid June. I define that as giving up five or more *earned* runs (not errors). TWELVE. And it isn’t one guy — they each have three game starts giving up 5, 6, 7 runs. If you roll out one of your hyped studs and he gets chased giving up 5, 6, 7 runs…you are highly unlikely to win that game.

    To put that in perspective, last year Thor and Jake the Snake totalled…. ZERO. Wheeler and Matz each had three. Six total in 2018, twelve so far in 2019. We are less than halfway through the season, and they have missed a few starts, so you could extrapolate that out to a rate of 30 starts from a healthy Core Four where you have little chance of a win the rest of the way.

    And, so what, the defense sucked last year too, that isn’t an explanation.

    Oh and don’t blame the fifth starter, he doesn’t have any starts surrendering 5, 6 or 7 runs, just one where he incurred four earned runs, two after he left.

    Its the mediocrity of the Core Four that has us on the brink of being out of it. And Mickey has to shoulder blame on the pitching.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      You start with a personal attack and request one not be returned.

      I’ll put this as succinct as possible. You’re wrong, and I believe it’s fueled mostly by your need to defend the GM and ownership. Why you chose that direction is beyond me.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        Hey! Maybe the Mets do read your blog! (And my research)

        The Mets, just now, fired their pitching coach, the bullpen coach and brought in a “pitching strategist.”

        If the Core Four don’t turn this around in the next month, we should dismantle the entire franchise except Conforto, Diaz, Alonso and McNeil.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          They were fired because Brodie wants to pretend like he’s doing something. It’s just scapegoating two guys rather than accepting responsibility, which was something he refused to do today.

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            Brodie inherited the Core Four. Mickey was supposed to improve them.

            Brodie wanted to trade Thor, wouldn’t extend Wheeler, and only reluctantly extended Jake the Snake.

            Maybe Brodie is the smartest guy in the room.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            This isn’t open mic night.

  4. Oldbackstop says:

    Just to summarize….last year the Core Four gave up more than four runs a total of six times. This year, 43 percent of the way into the year, they have done it 12 times. The Mets have lost 11 of those games.

    THAT is what is the Mets problem. It is starting pitching, and the people who got fired deserved it. Less one.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      You remain wrong. The starters are at minimum a top eight staff in the league with their FIP, K/9, and BB/9, dragged down by pitchers like Vargas, Flexen, Oswalt, Font, etc.

      The issue with the team is the defense, bullpen, and depth. That’s what’s hurting the pitching and the team as a whole. Eiland can’t fix that, and he was fired so BVW could scapegoat someone who’s doing their job well because BVW hasn’t been

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