On July 29, 2015, word spread like wild fire through Citi Field. The New York Mets had executed a trade which could help the team make the postseason and possibly win their first World Series in nearly 30 years. Wilmer Flores was in tears, and Carlos Gomez was packing for his flight to New York while Zack Wheeler continued his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
As soon as the game was over, we discovered the trade was nixed because Gomez apparently had a hip issue. While fans were angry over the mayhem which ensued from another PR disaster from the Mets organization, Wheeler was relieved. In fact, Wheeler would pick up the phone to call Sandy Alderson to tell him that he wanted to remain a part of the Mets organization.
Fast forward four years, and Wheeler is once again on the trade block. Unlike 2015, there is no keeping him around for him to remain a part of the Mets going forward. He is going to be a free agent after the season is over, and based upon the Mets payroll and willingness to spend, it would seem like this is definitively his last season in Queens. Given that fact, a Mets team with the second worst record in the National League needs to trade him to recoup what they can to at least revamp the team for 2020 and beyond.
The plans to trade him were dealt a huge blow when Wheeler landed on the Injured List.
Initially, the Mets characterized it as shoulder fatigue or a dead arm. In those cases, you just need a brief rest, and you should be fine. The Mets downplaying it took an interesting twist when Wheeler got to talk about it. He made things sound much worse calling it an impingement and saying the MRI was “pretty much clean.”
He also backtracked a bit on the Mets statements Wheeler should be ready to go as soon as his IL stint is over saying he isn’t sure when he can return. Although, he did say he wants to be back on the mound as soon as possible.
With Wheeler’s ill timed IL stint, there is now a question if the Mets could get a sufficient enough return to move him. Despite what some will tell you, it would be absolutely worth giving him a qualifying offer. If he rejects it, and he should, the Mets could get a decent comp pick in what should be a loaded draft. All told, this means the Mets may not be in a position to trade him for a lower return because of this IL stint.
As a result, it means medicals may once again prevent Wheeler from being traded away from the Mets. This makes Wheeler the man nearly impossible for the Mets to trade. If he is offered the qualifying offer, and he accepts, we should see another year of Wheeler because, again, he is the man the Mets are incapable of trading.
All jokes aside, Wheeler is a good pitcher who still has potential. We also know he is a very good second half pitcher having a better second half ERA than Jacob deGrom last year. With this second half schedule and the deep draft upcoming, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to keep Wheeler. Of course, that is only coming from it from a perspective of the anticipated return possibly being diminished now.
Last night, Travis d’Arnaud had the best game of his career. As noted by Mathew Brownstein of MMO, d’Arnaud became the fourth catcher since 1970 to homer three times and reach base safely five times in a game. His three home run game would culminate with a three run game winning homer off of Aroldis Chapman to give the Rays a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees:
THE TRAVIS d'ARNAUD GAME. pic.twitter.com/k24AVWKJ8f
— MLB (@MLB) July 16, 2019
Like anytime we see a former Met excel in a new place, we see people say any number of things. One of the prevailing things we see is this would never have happened with the Mets. It’s what we heard with Justin Turner even though he fixed his launch angle and had a big finish to the 2013 season before the Mets non-tendered him. We hear it with Hansel Robles despite his having flashes of brilliance with the Mets only to see him wilt under being over and inconsistently worked.
The basis for applying that narrative to d’Arnaud was how terrible he was with the Mets this year. Yes, he was absolutely terrible. In his 10 games with the Mets, he was 2-for-23 (.087), and in his last game with the team, he had just about as bad a game as you will ever see from a catcher. It was mortifying to watch, and the Mets responded to it by designating him for assignment.
Of course, the reasons for his struggles needs closer examination. First and foremost, d’Arnaud was a year removed from Tommy John surgery. As we have seen with position players, there is no real book for when a player can actually return from it. Those we have seen return in less than a year have struggled.
T.J. Rivera couldn’t get it back together after surgery in September 2017. He would be released, and he is now attempting his comeback with the Long Island Ducks. Didi Gregorius has struggled since returning from his own surgery hitting just .252/.274/.388 with the Yankees.
With respect to d’Arnaud, he had two rehab games after getting a late start to Spring Training. That’s right. After a major surgery on his elbow, the Mets gave him just two rehab games. They then rushed him up to the majors despite the Mets starting the season 5-2 and only needing their back-up catcher twice in that span.
After d’Arnaud was rushed back, he would start just five times in over a three week span. In that time frame, the Mets would play 18 games. There is absolutely no reason why d’Arnaud was rushed back to be a back-up when Tomas Nido could have handled those duties well. There is even less of a reason when you consider d’Arnaud NEEDED those games to rehab from his surgery and get back up to game speed after playing all of four games since the start of the 2018 season.
What d’Arnaud needed from the Mets, or really any team, was a legitimate opportunity to get sufficient playing time to get back up to speed. After a P.J. Conlon like stop in Los Angeles, d’Arnaud has gotten that in Tampa Bay. In 39 games for the Rays, he is hitting .282/.342/.542 with seven doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI. For all those hysterically focused on his throwing arm, he has thrown out 33 percent of base stealers, which is above league average.
Before people start with the he could have never done this with the Mets talk, focus back on his career. In 2015, he played 67 games hitting .268/.340/.485 with 14 doubles, a triple, 12 homers, and 41 RBI. From 2015 to 2017, he was the 10th best catcher in all of baseball with a 6.3 fWAR, and he ranked 11th with a 98 wRC+. His 68.3 dWAR (as rated by Fangraphs) ranked ninth over that timeframe.
So, with the Mets, d’Arnaud was a top 10 catcher in the game. That gets lost because he was never quite what he was advertised to be. He also didn’t build off of that 2015 season like we all hoped. He was also injury prone. Overall, he was as frustrating a player as you could have experienced. However, that does not mean he was bad and never was going to succeed with the Mets. In fact, we did see him succeed with the Mets.
Like many before him, d’Arnaud’s success isn’t because he needed a change of scenery. No, this is because his rehab was mishandled, the Mets overreacted to one bad game, and because the team did not sufficiently self scout their players. If given an opportunity, and with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard no longer wanting to throw to Wilson Ramos there was one coming, d’Arnaud absolutely would have performed well for the Mets. If you want any proof of that just consider the fact he had already performed well in his Mets career.
For the second time this year, I was privileged to be invited to be a guest on A Metsian Podcast. What made this appearance all the more entertaining was I was on at the same time as The Coop and Metstradamus.
Off the top of my head, players I specifically mentioned included Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, J.D. Davis, Anthony Kay, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Vargas, Tomas Nido, Scott Kazmir, Victor Zambrano, and more.
I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed participating.
The Mets begin the second half of the season 10 games under .500 and 13.5 games back of the Braves for the division. They are only six games ahead of the Marlins for the worst record in the National League and seven games behind the second Wild Card with nine teams ahead of them. Suffice it to say, things are bleak, and the Mets are going to be in a position to sell rentals like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas.
Still, being Mets fans, we have examples in team history where they have overcome long odds like these to reach the postseason. The 1973 Mets entered the All Star Break nine games under .500 and six games out of first place. Even more recently, the 2016 Mets entered the All Star Break six games out of first place. That team would be two games under .500 and 5.5 games out of a postseason spot on August 19th. They would finish the season on a tear and claim the top Wild Card.
Based on history, we can see there is always a chance. The question now is do the 2019 Mets actually have a chance. Looking at everything, you could paint a scenario where they do.
The first thing to look at is the Mets schedule. Right now, the Mets have six games against the Phillies and three against the Nationals. With both teams currently having a Wild Card spot, this gives the Mets a chance to get closer in the Wild Card race by beating their direct competition.
Beyond the head-to-head match-ups, the Mets do have a weak second half schedule. Right off the bat is a 10 game road trip featuring three against the last place Marlins and four against the last place Giants. In fact, the Mets have 18 games remaining against teams who are currently in last place.
Looking further, 36 of the Mets remaining 72 games are against teams with a .500 record or worse. That’s half of their games. So far this year, the Mets have fared well in those games. In their 21 games against second division clubs, they are 13-8 (.619). Now, to make up the deficits, the Mets are going to have to play at a higher clip than that. It’s certainly possible, especially with 11 of those 36 games coming against teams currently 20+ games under .500.
The Mets also have six more games at home than they do on the road. This is an important point because the Mets have actually played over .500 at home with a .548 winning percentage.
That schedule certainly lines up well for the Mets to have a big second half for a second year in a row. Remember, last year, the Mets were eight games over .500 in the second half last year, and as Noah Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team.
That is partially the result of how their players perform. Syndergaard’s career second half ERA is 38 points lower, Jacob deGrom‘s K/BB improves considerably in the second half, and Steven Matz strikes out 1.4 batters more per nine. Michael Conforto‘s second half career OPS is 65 points higher, and Robinson Cano‘s is 55 points higher.
Speaking of Cano, the Mets have had a number of under-performing players who had an opportunity to clear their heads and fix things for the second half. The Mets will be a significantly better team with Cano returning or coming much closer to career averages. The same can be said of Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
There is also the chance the Mets finally get that Amed Rosario breakout. The Mets could also potentially get help from a rookie like Anthony Kay. Overall, for the Mets to have any shot, they need players like this to raise their games with the veterans stepping up their performances. With that schedule, maybe, must maybe, the Mets could contend in the second half.
However, this is asking a lot. In addition to everyone stepping up, the Mets need Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith to keep up a very high level of performance. If they want to contend, they will have to hang onto Wheeler, which given their place in the standings is flat out irresponsible.
All things considered it is fun to imagine, but the chances of it all happening are remote. Really, the best we can hope for is Brodie Van Wagenen executing smart deadline deals with Jed Lowrie and Brandon Nimmo healing and being ready to put forth strong 2020 campaigns.
After discussing it most of the offseason, the Mets are once again in a position where they are talking with teams about Noah Syndergaard. There are smart teams with interesting farm systems interested in the Mets starter. Depending on the packages offered, the Mets could be very tempted to move Syndergaard.
One of the arguments you hear from some circles is you shouldn’t trade him because his value is at a nadir. With Syndergaard having a career worst ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB, this is absolutely true. Seeing studies and Syndergaard’s comments, it is possible these results are reflective of the new ball. The Mets having a National League worst defense doesn’t help either.
Reasonably speaking, you could anticipate Syndergaard to rebound and led the Mets back to contention in 2020. If you trade him, it’s difficult to imagine the Mets contending anytime soon.
Looking at 2020 first, it’s hard to imagine the Mets having that one year turnaround. With Syndergaard traded and Zack Wheeler gone either via trade or free agency, the Mets have two spots to fill in the rotation. That becomes three when Jason Vargas‘ option is declined. Even assuming Anthony Kay is ready to begin the year in the rotation, the Mets still have two spots to fill in the rotation.
Given the Mets budget and historical unwillingness to spend big on starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is difficult to believe the team could build a starting rotation good enough to win in 2020. Theoretically, the Mets could fill in the rotation by making Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starters again. However, this makes an already terrible bullpen worse, and you will likely be dealing with innings limits.
Long story short, if the Mets trade Syndergaard they will not be able to build the type of pitching staff which would let them compete in 2020. This means the Mets will have to look towards 2021. Notably, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz will be free agents after the completion of that season.
Given the uncertainty of the readiness of David Peterson and/or Franklyn Kilome to join the rotation by then, there is doubt whether the Mets pitching staff would be ready to compete by then. While this is happening, the Mets will be in year three of Robinson Cano‘s contract. That’s a consideration which needs to be accounted for when analyzing the Mets ability to compete in 2020 or 2021.
Realistically speaking, depending on the return the Mets receive for Syndergaard, the team will not be in a position to really compete again until 2022 at the earliest. With that being the scenario, the Mets should also be looking to trade Conforto for a big return as well because the team is not going to win before he becomes a free agent.
By that 2022 season, you will have wasted the first three years of Pete Alonso‘s and Jeff McNeil‘s careers, and they will be arbitration eligible. It will be the same situation for other cost controlled assets like Lugo and Edwin Diaz. This coupled with Cano’s big contract will once again infringe on the Mets payroll flexibility.
Therefore, the Mets ability to win in 2022 will hinge on what the Mets bring aboard in moving Syndergaard and maybe Conforto. It will depend on how quickly players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Ronny Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty can develop to help the team. While you can be high on them now, it is a completely different situation to count on them to develop in time to make you a winner.
That is the situation you are in if you trade Syndergaard now. You are beginning the dismantling the core to try to compete three years from now. If the prospects don’t develop the way you intended, or players get hurt, everything falls apart. As an organization, you have to ask yourself if that is really worth it when the team is really just a center fielder and 1-2 bullpen arms away from contending next year.
When you look at it through the prism of when the Mets could actually be in a window to contend again, the team cannot trade Syndergaard now. That is, unless, the team either starts spending now, or Brodie Van Wagenen proves himself to be much more adept at trades than he did last offseason. We shouldn’t be hopeful on either development happening.
When the signing happened, it seemed like the Mets made the right decision in signing Wilson Ramos to a two year deal. Ramos was coming off a year with a 131 wRC+, and he was comfortable in the National League East. With the state of catching in the majors, Ramos was that rare impact bat behind the plate, and the Mets were getting him on a short-term deal.
If we are being honest, the Ramos signing has not worked out well for the Mets.
At the time Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez were fired, Matt Ehalt of Yahoo reported Ramos was “causing frustration.” It should be noted at the time of this report, Tomas Nido had already become Jacob deGrom‘s de facto personal catcher. Ramos has caught deGrom since, but for the most part, it has predominantly been Nido catching deGrom.
As reported by Joel Sherman and Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets have also opted to make Nido the personal catcher for Noah Syndergaard. Unlike with deGrom, the Mets admitted this was the case when Mickey Callaway saying, “With what we’re trying to do with Syndergaard, keeping the ball down, [Nido] is a good complementary catcher for him. He receives the ball down better, so it’s something we have to continue to do.”
With the Mets top two starters having Nido as their personal catcher, the Mets have gone from having Ramos as their starter to creating a time share behind the plate. This has been the result of a number of factors.
First and foremost, Nido is the superior defensive catcher. For example, Ramos leads the Majors in passed balls, and Mets pitchers have 17 wild pitches with him behind the plate. On more than one occasion, you were left wondering about Ramos’ effort level or technique on balls in the dirt.
From a pitch framing perspective, Baseball Prospectus rates Nido as the 27th best pitch framer. Of the top 30, he has the second fewest chances. Ramos is ranked 85th. This is something Callaway had eluded to when speaking about Nido becoming Syndergaard’s personal catcher.
The main issue with Ramos isn’t his catching, it’s his bat. On the surface, he seems fine with a 103 wRC+ which ranks as the fourth best among qualified catchers. That’s even above J.T. Realmuto, who was a top Mets trade target this offseason. When you expand the search to catchers with 150 plate appearances, Ramos’ wRC+ ranks 14th.
While ranking well among catchers, this is not the 130 wRC+ catcher the Mets signed this offseason. It’s not a bat sufficient enough to carry his poor defense behind the plate. There are some warning signs this can get worse with the 31 year old having a career worst GB% and GB/FB ratio with his worst ISO in four years.
Fact is the Ramos signing has not panned out, and the signs indicate there may not be any improvement next year. If the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should push to move him at the trade deadline. Of course, that is easier said than done with many of the postseason contenders being either fairly set at catcher, being near their luxury tax thresholds, or both.
Still, if the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should make the move. It will give the team an extended look at Nido behind the plate while also possibly getting a look at Ali Sanchez, who is Rule 5 eligible, as a defensive backup. It would also given them an opportunity to pursue Yasmani Grandal in the offseason.
Grandal appears to be the one who got away. So far this season, Grandal has been the top catcher in baseball as rated by fWAR, and he is second according to wRC+. As Grandal recently said, “You never know, you have another offseason in which it could happen. Everything happens for a reason. I believe in that. I am here because that didn’t happen. It was crazy. [The Mets] were definitely the front-runner. They were pushing really hard. We were just too far apart.” (Joel Sherman, New York Post).
If the Mets can move Ramos at the trade deadline, that’s $11.75 million off next year’s budget. With Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, and Zack Wheeler being impending free agents, and presuming Jason Vargas‘ option is declined, along with other expiring deals, there will be an approximately $21 million more coming off the books. That is more than enough payroll room to push the reset button on the Ramos decision to bring in Grandal this coming offseason.
Overall, there were many things which went wrong this past offseason, but the more you look at it, Ramos has been one of the bigger missteps, especially when you consider how the Mets best pitchers no longer want to pitch to him. Based upon his track record, they will like pitching to Grandal, and the Mets will enjoy his bat in the lineup. As a result, the Mets need to push to trade Ramos at the deadline.
There is no doubt there is something up with the baseball this year. Home runs are up across the board, and pitchers everywhere have been frustrated. It is at a point where no one is denying anything. In fact, Major League Baseball readily admits to the baseball being different in years past.
In his All Star Game first half review, Rob Manfred addressed the topic saying, “Baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball.” He would also go on to say the owners are not happy with the proliferation of homers or how the game is played.
During All Star Weekend, players have spoken out about it with Justin Verlander being the most vocal outright accusing Major League Baseball of juicing the baseballs to create more home runs. For his part, Manfred tried to make Verlander and others who think like him sound like crazy conspiracy theorists saying, “How you manipulate a human-dominated handmade manufacturing process in any consistent way, it’s a smarter human being than I.”
Before going further, we should revisit Major League Baseball’s purchase of Rawlings, who is the manufacturer of baseballs. When the deal was consummated and announced to the public, Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation, said:
MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887. We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.
(Fox Business) [empahsis added].
Marinak’s statements about the acquisition of Rawlings fly in the face of what Manfred is currently saying about the baseball. In essence, Marinak is saying Major League Baseball acquired Rawlings to “manipulate a human-dominated handmade manufacturing process” in a way to conform the baseball to act the way Major League Baseball wants it to act.
This is nothing new. As noted by The Atlantic in 2010 Major League Baseball has long resisted using automated machines or stitching, which would arguably create a more uniform baseball. Between the resistance and the inability to actually produce a machine fully capable of meeting Major League Baseball’s needs, they remain in charge of the instruction as to how a baseball is supposed to be stitched.
But it is more than stitching. As noted by The History Channel, throughout baseball history Major League Baseball has experimented with changing the composition and structure of the core of the baseball.One interesting antidote from the article was an experiment conducted in 1943 due to a drop in offense:
Cincinnati Reds general manager Warren Giles, who complained the ball was filled with “ground baloney,” conducted his own experiment by dropping 12 of the new balls and a dozen of the prior year’s from the roof of Crosley Field and found the old balls bounced considerably higher. A more scientific study at Cooper Union found similar results.
While the results of these tests were initially dismissed, like how Manfred is dismissing some of the allegations now, A.G. Spalding did eventually have to admit there was a change in the composition of the core of the baseball.
There have long been complaints about the baseball from year-to-year. Those complaints just don’t go towards it increasing or decreasing offense. As noted by The Ringer, the Astros and Dodgers were complaining of a slick baseball during the 2017 World Series. The end result was not just a difficulty throwing sliders but also an increase in the amount of homers. In fact, one of the things that series was known for was the all or nothing offensive approach of both teams.
In some ways, the current baseball sounds like the baseball we saw during the 2017 World Series. Of note, Noah Syndergaard has described the current baseball as being like a cue ball, and he has had difficulty throwing his slider. The end result was him having a career worst HR/9, BB/9, and K/BB while having to scrap his slider in favor of his curve and four seamer.
With respect to the current baseball, Dr. Meredity Willis, a Harvard educated astrophysicist, described how it has changed in an article for The Athletic. She found the shape and size of the ball has changed, and it has lower seams with smoother leather. There were other noted changes as well, but the main takeaway was this is “a more aerodynamic ball” leading to more homers.
The overriding point here is baseball has long sought to control the manufacturing process even when they did not have actual control over the process. Over time, baseball has sought to change the core of the baseball and make other changes to the ball in an effort to either increase or decrease offense. While not specifically denoting this as the reason for the acquisition of Rawlings, Major League Baseball has admitted they want to direct the production of baseballs.
With respect to Manfred, it’s entirely possible Major League Baseball did not want this proliferation of homers, and it’s even more possible they did not want to see high priced pitchers struggle throwing the baseball. Still, baseball did want something to change because they did in fact change the baseball. Manfred can say he didn’t, but they and the company they own did in fact change it. It’s an undisputed fact.
Overall, it is clear the baseball was changed, and it is very likely not something Rawlings did independently. In fact, it can’t be done independently as Major League Baseball owns it. Overall, what we do not know is if this was the result of unintended consequences or whether baseball wanted this and now just regrets their decisions.
What we should note however is this baseball is very similar to the baseball used during the 2017 World Series. That World Series drew very good ratings, and it featured many homers. Taking everything into account, it is possible what we are seeing has been intentional. If it’s not, baseball can always just go back to the baseball it was using last year. Notably, it hasn’t.
It wasn’t easy with his cousin Derek Morgan throwing wild pitches and buzzing him in a few times, but Pete Alonso won the 2019 Home Run Derby. Alonso joins Darryl Strawberry (1986) as the only other Met to win a Home Run Derby.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 9, 2019
Alonso needed surges to beat Carlos Santana and Ronald Acuna, Jr. in the first two rounds setting the stage for a final against Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Guerrero was the story for much of the night after his breaking single round records and needing a third swing-off to finally beat Joc Pederson. Still, it would be Alonso who won with the Guerrero’s handling it with pure class.
What a show❗️
Congratulations Pete, great performance.
— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) July 9, 2019
This Home Run Derby was great for baseball. It featured an epic Guerrero/Peterson matchup and some of the best young talent in the game. In the end, Alonso, who never needed his bonus time in any of the three rounds was the winner.
Tonight was the night Guerrero and Alonso were launched to stardom across baseball. With a big All Star Game tomorrow, Alonso could be considering a burgeoning superstar. That’s what happens to players who kill the ball and donate a portion of their winnings to charity.
With Alonso winning, the joke was this was the Mets World Series. For what it’s worth, when Strawberry won it, the Mets won the World Series. For that matter, when David Wright went to the finals in 2006, the Mets went to the NLCS.
On a night like tonight, Mets fans had reason to cheer and to believe anything is possible. For tonight, we get to celebrate and dream. Mostly, we get to appreciate the fact Alonso is a Met.
Seeing how Steven Matz has struggles of late, the Mets were wise to put him in the bullpen until the All-Star Break. If nothing else, you don’t want a pitcher with a 7.36 ERA in June getting another start if you can avoid it. Preferably, you’d like to get him straightened out.
This is an opportunity for Matz. He has a chance to work on things. With his coming out of the bullpen one area he can work in is doing better the first time through the lineup. In his career, batters are hitting .260/.334/.453 off of him. That’s worse than his second and third time through the lineup.
That’s even more pronounced with him with batters hitting .298/.374/.645 the first time through the lineup. That’s a large reason why he has an 11.40 first inning ERA which drops precipitously to 1.20 in the second inning.
For Matz to be an effective starter again, he’s going to have to figure out these issues. More than that, the Mets need him to figure things out because they don’t have a Plan B.
It is expected Zack Wheeler‘s days as a Met are numbered. He’s a pending free agent, and short of an extension (don’t hold your breath), the Mets will be moving him at the trade deadline. Fifth starter Jason Vargas has an $8 million team option. Between his behavior and complete inability to routinely go five innings, the Mets are likely to and should decline his option.
That leaves two spots to fill in the rotation. If you move Matz out of the rotation, that’s three. The Mets don’t have the organizational depth to handle that.
Anthony Kay may or may not be ready, and he’s not yet in a position to be penciled into the rotation. David Peterson is further away than Kay. Mets haven’t seen enough from Corey Oswalt, and they’ve seen less from Walker Lockett. There are few and far between rotation options past them.
There are interesting free agent options, but the Mets do not operate with the type of payroll which would permit them to sign three quality starters. Based upon last offseason, the last thing you want is for Van Wagenen to swing a trade to fill out the rotation.
No, the Mets need Matz in the rotation if for no other reason than the team has no other options, and they have limited resources. Putting Matz in the bullpen may prove to be the smart move because it could help him figure out how to better handle batters the first time through the lineup. However, even if he thrives there the Mets cannot make this a permanent move.
That is, unless, they’re going to finally step up and act like a big market team. If that’s the case, all bets are off. Of course, we know that isn’t happening, so Matz must stay in the rotation.
Tim Tebow is a problem because the Mets are making him one. So far, he has played in 60 of Syracuse’s first 79 games. Essentially, this means he is playing fairly regularly despite his hitting just .150/.232/.209. It should come as little surprise he’s not getting better with June being his worst month of the season.
If the Mets problems handling the player assignments and playing time at the Double-A and Triple-A level were limited only to Tebow, you can overlook things a bit. After all, whether you like to admit it or not, the Mets operate a business, and they are going to attempt to use Tebow to generate revenue for their newly acquired Syracuse franchise. Unfortunately, the problems run deeper than Tebow.
Entering the season, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, Todd Frazier, Jed Lowrie, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario. The Mets added to this glut by first signing and then calling up Adeiny Hechavarria. Considering the situation, the last thing the Mets needed were veterans taking up space on the Syracuse infield.
Despite that, the Mets signed Danny Espinosa, who is a career .221/.297/.344 hitter and hit .197/.286/.344 between 2016-2017 and did not play in the majors last year. To make matters worse, he leads the team in games played. Second on the team is Travis Taijeron, who has established himself as not being a Major League caliber player. Fourth in games played is Gregor Blanco, who hit .217/.262/.317 last year.
Those three players right there are not just taking up space on the roster, but it is also taking away at-bats from players who truly needed it.
It’s easy to forget Dilson Herrera is just 25 years old, but he is making him a young player with potential to develop. To be fair, he is third on the team in games played. However, it was not until recently the team has sought to develop him more into a utility player. Prior to June, he had only played two full games in left field and none at any other position but second and third.
To be useful to the organization, Herrera needed to be playing first, second, third, and all three outfield positions. However, he can’t partially because those spots are taken by Espinosa, Taijeron, and Blanco, three players who were never going to be a factor for the Mets in 2019. When you add Tebow, that’s four.
This has a necessary trickle down effect. Players like David Thompson and Gavin Cecchini, who just came off the IL, have been assigned to Binghamton. At this stage in their professional development, they need to be in Triple-A working on things. For both, that means become more versatile and becoming better hitters. However, they can’t be in Syracuse getting regular playing time because the Mets are wasting playing time on two has beens and two never will bes.
Those players being in Binghamton has a trickle down effect interfering with playing time for players like Luis Carpio. Carpio was someone once regarded as a top prospect, but he would suffer shoulder injuries. On that front, he has gotten healthy and shown some promise. Of course, that promise only goes as far as the team’s willingness and ability to get him playing time.
There are other issues like Braxton Lee, a 25 year old who plays good defense and has good speed, being forced to Double-A instead of getting real development time in Syracuse. There’s also the fact Luis Guillorme is in Triple-A splitting middle infield playing time instead of just playing over Hechavarria at the Major League level.
Really, the list goes on and on, and that is before you consider Rene Rivera catching everyday leaves the Mets having Patrick Mazeika and Ali Sanchez sharing catching duties in Binghamton instead of them being split up to allow them both to get regular playing time and thrive.
While we rightfully focus on what has transpired with the Mets, the organization’s problems run deeper than just the team in Queens. The same shortsightedness and reliance on under-performing players over promising young players is also very present in Triple-A.
If things continue this way, this will prove to be not just a lost season in Queens but Syracuse as well.