Musings

Brandon Nimmo Casts Doubt On Mets Version Of Yoenis Cespedes Opt Out

To hear Brodie Van Wagenen tell it, the Mets were completely blindsided by Yoenis Cespedes opting out of the 2020 season. They had no idea he was contemplating this, and they had no idea he would do this.

Given the quirky nature of Cespedes, the Mets account was believable. Cespedes really was the guy you never knew what he was going to do next.

The Mets actions told another story. At that postgame press conference to address Cespedes’ opt out, Van Wagenen notably ended the conference somewhat abruptly with many questions still pending. After Van Wagenen was done, the Mets only made rookie pitcher David Peterson available.

There were other curious aspects of the Mets account. Earlier in the day, they obtained Billy Hamilton from the Giants despite already having Juan Lagares in the player pool.

They told everyone they knew he was alright despite admitting they weren’t in contact with him.

Yesterday, the Mets made their players available for the first time since Cespedes’ opt out. Pete Alonso was first. He sidestepped the question about whether he knew, but he did talk about what a great teammate Cespedes was and how the whole team supports his decision.

Then, there was Brandon Nimmo who would cast doubt on the Mets whole version of events. His version was his representatives told the Mets prior to the game. Specifically, as reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post:

There’s two sides of the story,” Nimmo said. “We have the side where [the Mets] were let known before the game and we’ve also heard the side where they weren’t let known until the eighth inning, so I honestly don’t know which one to believe and I’m not going to try to figure that one out, but as far as us, we knew that people could walk whenever they wanted.”

You’ll note Nimmo said the players understood Cespedes informed the team before the game. That would include Michael Conforto confirming to his teammates Cespedes opted out.

The other version, the wholly unsubstantiated version, is the one the Mets have been pushing. Their version is despite confirming Cespedes was safe without speaking to him and the Mets obtaining an outfielder before the game, they had no idea Cespedes would opt out.

The only thing which is clear is no one told Luis Rojas. That’s really unfortunate.

The players apparently knew and didn’t tell him. According to the players, Cespedes informed the Mets, and the front office didn’t tell the manager. The manager deserves to be treated better by everyone.

Honestly, Cespedes needed better treatment here too. For example, the Mets didn’t need to put their SNY smear machine into effect with their Wilpon paid talking heads saying he was never the same player after he signed his deal, and he quit over money.

This is typical for the Mets who never had a kind word for someone who departed the team. There is no graciousness with them.

Given the Mets history of smearing people, telling half-truths, and outright lying, there’s simply no reason to believe them here. This whole Cespedes situation is right out of their playbook.

With respect to Cespedes, yes, he’s quirky and maddening. He’s also honest and forthright to a fault. He told the Mets about his injury immediately including how he sidestepped a boar. He also spoke about how he’d like to return to Oakland before his career was over.

Looking at the respective histories, one is honest, and the other is notoriously not. One has their version of events substantiated by the players, the others don’t.

In the end, you can choose to believe what you want, but when doing so, keep in mind Cespedes has been historically honest, and the Mets really haven’t.

Hey Brodie, Defensive Replacements Shouldn’t Cost Real Prospects

In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.

The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.

With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.

Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.

What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.

The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.

Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.

Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.

But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.

However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.

They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.

The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.

Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.

Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.

This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.

In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.

In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.

Brodie Van Wagenen Is Comically Bad

Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.

Since d’Arnaud was released he outplayed Wilson Ramos. That was readily apparent when Ramos’ framing, if you can call it that, cost Seth Lugo a strike in that fateful d’Arnaud at-bat.

You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.

Ramos’ failures go beyond his offense. He can’t frame and his game calling has been poor. It’s one of the reasons Edwin Diaz has struggled in a Mets uniform.

Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.

This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.

By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.

On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.

However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.

That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.

On the topic of the IL, Jake Marisnick landed on it. The Mets could’ve just signed a player like Juan Lagares for cheaper, but instead, they chose to trade Marisnick.

While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.

The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.

Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.

It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.

The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.

Jeff McNeil May Need To Move Back To Left Field

Arguably, Jeff McNeil was the most important player on the Mets last year. In addition to his 144 OPS+, he was a good defender at four different positions.

It’s still early in 2020, but we’re not seeing the same McNeil this year.

In terms of his offense, it’s way too soon to overreact. First off all, he still has a 112 OPS+. Second, it’s only six games. Mostly, we’ve seen him for over two years now. We have an idea of the good of a hitter he is.

What we really don’t know is how good of a third baseman he is. Yes, his career numbers are good. He entered this season with a 5 DRS, and he’s posted a 2 OAA at the position in each of the past two years.

We’ve also seen him play well across the diamond. Defensively, he appears to have a high baseball IQ, and he’s got the tools to be a good defender no matter where he plays. Still, at third, we really haven’t seen him get consistent playing time at third.

Early on this season, we’ve seen his arm look like it could be an issue. So far this year, he’s already made three errors with one of those being a throwing error. Of course, that’s only part of the story.

McNeil has been saved of a few errors by Pete Alonso. He was also the beneficiary of some bizarre home town scoring which probably saved him of two errors in Boston.

Now, it’s way too soon to officially say McNeil should move off third base due to his arm. After all, if you’ve been watching, he seems a bit rusty right now. We see he’s not quite hitting at the same level yet, and we’ve seen him make more than enough mental errors on that base paths.

If he’s rusty, it’s certainly understood with the long layoff due to COVID19 and the abbreviated Summer Camp. That said, his ability to consistently make those throws should be monitored.

The Mets should also be assessing their roster with the roster spots soon dropping down to 30 and Jake Marisnick‘s injury.

On that note, J.D. Davis‘ defense in left has continued to be putrid. He has shown no signs of improvement from last year, and he’s already at a -3 DRS. Fact is, he’s very ill suited to playing left, and his defense has already led to outs and singled being turned into extra base hits.

At some point, if McNeil continues to struggle with throws, the Mets should seriously consider putting him back in left. The Mets could then experiment with Davis in left, or better yet, they could look to play Andres Gimenez at third if he continues to do things like hitting an RBI triple.

In any event, it’s too soon to be making rash decisions with McNeil. Then again, this is an abbreviated season where there is not much room for error. Moreover, the Mets are in desperate need for a real left fielder.

It’s only been a week, and it appears the Mets have some very difficult decisions to make.

Mets Loss Was Not Luis Rojas Best Managed Game

Oft times, managers catch too much blame for team losses. For example, last year, people were livid with Mickey Callaway for bringing in Seth Lugo, the best reliever in the game. That actually happened.

Then, there are times like tonight where you really have to wonder what the manager was thinking. Tonight was one of those nights for Luis Rojas.

The Mets had entered the bottom of the seventh with the game tied 3-3. Because life isn’t fair, the Mets failed to get Jacob deGrom a win.

deGrom has allowed just two runs over six innings. Both runs came in the fourth. Rafael Devers and Mitch Moreland hit a pair of doubles, and then deGrom unleashed two wild pitches allowing Moreland to score.

At that time, the Red Sox were up 2-1 with the Mets first run coming on a Dominic Smith RBI groundout with the bases loaded. The Mets would tie it in the fifth on a Brandon Nimmo homer.

In the sixth, Andres Gimenez, who got his first Major League start at short, came up huge hitting an RBI triple in the sixth. It was his first career triple and RBI. With Lugo coming in, you had to feel good about the Mets chances.

Unfortunately, Lugo hung a curve to Christian Vazquez, who hit a solo homer to tie the game. Still, it was only tied, and the Mets had a chance in the bottom of the seventh.

Jeff McNeil was hit by a pitch, and Pete Alonso singled putting two on with one out. Michael Conforto failed to deliver the RBI, but he did advance the runners. That should have brought up Smith, the team’s RBI leader up against a tired Josh Osich.

Instead, Rojas went to J.D. Davis as a pinch hitter, and the Red Sox countered with Heath Hembree. Hembree completely overpowered Davis to end the inning.

To compound the mistake of using Davis as a pinch hitter, Rojas put him in left. That proved wrong when Kevin Pillar hit a fly ball literally every other LF in baseball, Smith included, catches. But that’s what happens when you have to play very deep to accommodate insufficient range to play the position, and Davis lacks the instincts and ability to read the ball causing him to let an extraordinarily playable ball drop in front of him.

That play was all the more problematic because Justin Wilson was on fumes. To put it in perspective, this was Wilson’s fourth appearance, and this was the Mets sixth game.

He would load the bases with one out. After Wilson struck out Devers, the bad luck would start. Moreland has a swinging bunt McNeil could not cleanly pick up. Then, for some reason with Dellin Betances earning and ready in the pen, Rojas stuck with the fatigued Wilson to face the right-hand hitting Vazquez.

Vasquez hit a bleeder past a diving Alonso scoring two giving the Red Sox a 6-3 lead. After Wilson walked Alex Verdugo to reload the bases, Rojas finally went to Betances, who got the Mets out of the inning.

From there, well, the Mets did what they do best. They ripped your heart out.

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, it was 6-4 because Cespedes crushed his second homer of the season in the eighth.

The Mets didn’t build on that partially because Jose Peraza would not only rob Wilson Ramos of a base hit, but he would also start a gorgeous inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

Brandon Workman had no command whatsoever, and the Mets loaded the bases with no outs. The Mets failed to tie it.

Conforto, who struggled mightily today, struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch on the corner. After an infield single pulling the Mets to within 6-5 because Devers couldn’t make a string enough throw, Cespedes came up.

Cespedes had a poor AB swinging at a 2-0 pitch out of the strike zone and whiffing on a 3-2 flat cutter in the middle of the strike zone. That put the game in Robinson Cano‘s hands. Sadly, he lined weakly to short to end the game.

Frankly, this was an abominable loss. The game was replete with poor at-bats in key spots, and Rojas made a number of mistakes. With Rojas, this is game six for him. We can and should expect better from him.

Game Notes: Jake Marisnick was put on the IL. Ryan Cordell was called up to take his place on the roster. Jordan Humphreys was designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster. Alonso had a four hit game.

Don’t Expect Too Much From David Peterson

With Marcus Stroman injured and the Mets senseless use of Corey Oswalt, the team put former first round pick David Peterson on the taxi squad, and they may activate him to make his MLB debut tonight. Certainly, this will be a popular pick among Mets fans who wanted him over Oswalt.

Hopefully, fans expectation levels are reasonable.

To a certain extent, this is like when the Mets called up Mike Pelfrey in 2006. Pelfrey was rushed up to the majors from Double-A because the Mets frankly ran out of starting pitching options. Pelfrey simply was not ready, and he’d pitch to a 5.48 ERA in four starts.

To a certain extent, Pelfrey profiled similar to Peterson. Like Pelfrey, Peterson is a sinkerball pitcher. Unlike Pelfrey, Peterson has a well developed slider with Pelfrey relying on a curve in college and the minors. While they struck out over a batter an inning in Double-A, they expectation for Peterson is he won’t do that in the majors.

It should again be noted Peterson pitched in Double-A last year, and he did not face higher level batters you see in Triple-A. His results in Binghamton were very much a mixed bag.

Overall, Peterson made 24 starts pitching 116.0 innings (4.2 innings per start). He was 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and a 9.5 K/9. Part of the reason for the low innings per start was an injury suffered last year, and it was also the result of his not going deep into games on a consistent basis.

While his traditional stats were not promising, some of the analytical numbers were quite favorable. For example, he had a 3.19 FIP and 2.91 xFIP. Other numbers were not favorable like a 10.5% HR/FB which coincided with a dropping GB%.

These stats coincide with what has been a very mixed opinion on Peterson from the moment he was drafted. When the Mets selected him 20th overall in the 2017 draft, some thought the Mets got a steal. There were some who thought that was the right spot, and there were a few who thought it was an aggressive spot to grab him.

Putting that aside, Peterson does have the stuff which suggests he can be a Major League pitcher. He has a low 90s fastball with sinking action. The spin rates on his fastball and slider are relatively average albeit on the low end of that spectrum. With all of these pitches, there is promise and real hope for improvement.

Therein lies the rub. Peterson is not a finished product. He still needs work on his fastball, change, and slider. Many times, that gets exposed.

On the other hand, Jacob deGrom was able to take his game to a completely different level when he was promoted to the majors. This isn’t to say Peterson will be the next deGrom. He won’t. Rather, at times, the extra adrenaline of pitching in the majors coupled with better coaching, helps a pitcher improve significantly.

Overall, Peterson is a pitcher with real yet still somewhat raw talent. He’s yet to fully hone his arsenal, and we really haven’t seen him have the level of game-to-game consistency you want from a pitcher before calling him up.

That said, the Mets have put themselves into a box and may have to call him up. The hope there is Jeremy Hefner can work with him to accelerate his development, and that the work he’s been putting in translates to him being able to succeed at the Major League level.

It’s certainly possible, but that said, we probably should expect more early Pelfrey than early deGrom.

Mets Not Letting Corey Oswalt Succeed

Last night, Corey Oswalt was thrust into action, and well, he was terrible. In addition to allowing two inherited runners from Rick Porcello to score, he allowed five runs over four innings. He was sent down after that poor performance.

Looking at Oswalt’s career, it’s difficult to say last night was surprising. After all, over the last two years, he has made 12 starts and seven relief appearances with uninspiring results. Overall, he was 3-4 with a 6.43 ERA and 1.458 WHIP.

There’s nothing there which would suggest last night was a fluke. In fact, last night wasn’t a fluke. Really, last night was a microcosm of why Oswalt has struggled so mightily in his Major League career.

Even if the Mets would not officially confirm it, Oswalt was slated to be the Mets fifth starter. He was supposed to be preparing for a Tuesday start against the Boston Red Sox.

Instead, Oswalt was rushing to warm up to relieve and bail out Porcello. Luis Rojas could have used an actual relief pitcher to get the Mets out of the inning and then switch to Oswalt. He also could’ve gone to Paul Sewald, who has experience entering a game with runner on and giving the Mets multiple innings.

Instead, Oswalt was rushed to warm up and again put in a position to fail. This has been the story of Oswalt’s brief MLB career.

We have seen Oswalt flown cross country and make relief appearances on fewer than three days rest. We’ve seen him sit for weeks unused. He’d been shuttled back-and-forth between Triple-A and the majors and shuffled between the rotation and bullpen.

No pitcher can develop, thrive, and succeed under these circumstances. It’s simply bizarre the Mets continue to do this with Oswalt and expect different results. If this was any team other than the Mets, you’d be shocked a team would treat a prospect this way.

When you look at his career, he really only had one almost normal stretch of starts in the Majors. From July 4 – August 16, he made seven starts (plus an additional one in Triple-A), and he was 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA while averaging 5.1 innings per start.

When you take out his first poor start, which came on the heels of his being unused for over a week, Oswalt was 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA while averaging 5.2 innings per start.

No, these are not great numbers. However, these numbers show the then 24 year old rookie had the ability to pitch at the Major League level. With some time to develop, he could’ve improved and maybe emerged to be more than the fifth starter he appeared to be.

Maybe not. Fact is, we don’t and can’t know. The biggest reason why is the Mets absolutely refuse to put Oswalt in a position where he can succeed. Somehow that includes this year for a team with no starting pitching depth. It’s just ponderous.

Hopefully, at some point someone will present Oswalt with a chance to succeed. When he gets that chance, he may well prove everyone who says he can’t succeed wrong, very wrong. For that to happen, it may have to happen with a different organization, one who believes in helping all of their pitchers succeed.

Time To Split Up Edwin Diaz And Wilson Ramos

In the first two games of the season, Luis Rojas brought in Jake Marisnick and Andres Gimenez for defense. For some reason, despite the Mets putting out most of their best defenders, Rojas stopped short at catcher.

It’s not unusual for a team to stick with a vastly inferior defensive catcher. Part of that is the fear of losing a catcher even if that rarely happens.

And Wilson Ramos is a vastly inferior defender to Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera. In addition to that, we see time and again he doesn’t work well with Edwin Diaz.

While CERA is a highly flawed stat, we see Diaz has a 6.07 ERA pitching to Ramos. That’s the second worst he’s had with any catcher and the worst with any catcher who’s caught him at least 14.0 innings.

When we dig into the numbers there are a few reasons to explain this. Chief among them is Ramos’ inability to get the low strike. It’s something which impacted Noah Syndergaard, and it caused Syndergaard to try to get a personal catcher.

As we see with Baseball Savant, Diaz’s real weapon is his slider. Both that and his fastball are great pitches. However, for his slider to be effective, it needs to be low in the zone. When you can’t get it called a strike, a batter can spit on it forcing Diaz to have to bring it up making it more hittable. That happened all of last year.

With his fastball, Diaz has to move it around. He can throw it in all three zones, and really, if he needs to pound the slider down, he needs the fastball to change eye level and side of the plate. That brings us to his blown save yesterday.

(Image from MLB.com)

In the moment, many commented Diaz just got beat by Marcell Ozuna on a good pitch. After all, it was 98 MPH on the black. Batters aren’t supposed to hit that. So, why did he hit it?

First off, it should be noted it wasn’t that good of a pitch. Just because it was 98 MPH doesn’t de facto make it a good pitch. Yes, it was on the corner, but it was also belt high. Professional hitters, especially very good ones like Ozuna, crush belt high fastballs.

The biggest reason why it wasn’t that good of a pitch and why Ozuna was able to jump on it was Diaz and Ramos basically telegraphed where the pitch was going to be. The last five pitches of that at-bat were all towards the outside corner. Give a batter like Ozuna the location and put the pitch belt high, and he’s going to crush it.

These are the situations which led Diaz to allowing a Major League record for most ninth inning homers last year. A veteran catcher needs to make sure his pitcher isn’t telegraphing pitches like this. A team needs to make sure a catcher isn’t negating their closer’s biggest strength.

Yesterday, the Mets brought in Marisnick for defense. They brought in Gimenez for defense. Neither could make a play on a ball hit over the right field wall. That homer made those defensive changes superfluous.

It’s time the Mets realize if they’re going to make these wholesale defensive changes, they need to not stop short at catcher. They need a good defensive catcher behind the plate who can get the low strike and ensure the pitcher is moving the ball around the plate.

Essentially, the Mets need a catcher who will let Diaz be Diaz.

In the end, if you’re going to give up Jarred Kelenic to go get him, it just seems plain stupid and ignorant to not give up one inning of Ramos per game. The Mets went all-in to get Diaz. Now, it’s time to go all-in on helping him succeed.

Yo! Mets Baseball Is Back

The last we saw the Mets Dominic Smith was hitting a walk-off extra inning homer against the Braves. So much has happened since then, including but not limited to a pandemic. About nine months later, the Mets and Braves were back squaring off at Citi Field.

With this matchup it seemed like the Mets picked up where they left off. That was the case with Jacob deGrom who pitched like his Cy Young self.

deGrom began the game just throwing 100 MPH with ease. The Braves just could not put up much of a fight against him. Even when Marcell Ozuna, a good MLB hitter, got up 3-0 in the count, deGrom still dispatched him with ease.

Overall, deGrom was limited to just five innings because it’s the first start after the revamp of the season. He’d allow just one hit and one walk while striking out eight. Of course, with this being deGrom, he had a no decision.

Part of the reason was Mike Soroka started for the Braves. Soroka emerged as a future ace in his rookie year last year. Soroka was good . . . and lucky.

In the first two innings, the Mets got the lead-off hitter on only for the runner to be erased on a double play. Ender Inciarte robbed both J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil of potential RBI extra base hits. There was also a bad McNeil base running gaffe.

While the Mets offense was getting shut down, the combination of deGrom and Seth Lugo was doing the same to the Braves.

Lugo mowed down the Braves in the sixth, but he’d have to come up big in the seventh. Ozuna hit it sharp to left. With a better defender, it might’ve been a single, but the Mets don’t care about defense.

After his one out double, Ozuna took third when Wilson Ramos, who had not caught in a week due to his attending to personal issues, whiffed on a pitch.

The Mets brought the infield in, and we saw one of the most unique plays you’ll ever see. Matt Adams, who was recently released by the Mets, was the Braves DH. He hit a sharp grounder to the right side. McNeil, who flipped from third to second with the shift, fielded the ball and walked it to first for the extremely rare five unassisted at first.

After that unique play, Lugo struck out Austin Riley to get out of the jam. That put Lugo in line for the win in the event the Mets could score at least one run.

Enter Yoenis Cespedes.

Cespedes was back after double heel surgery and a wild boar attack. He was inserted in the lineup as the first ever DH Mets DH in a game between two NL teams. After a pop out and ground out against Soroka, he faced Chris Martin.

Right there, the Mets were up 1-0 with a homer we honestly would’ve expected from Cespedes years ago. These were the moments he thrived, and at least today, he seemed primed to be that player again.

What’s fascinating is Cespedes became the first ever DH to record a hit, homer, and RBI in a game between two NL teams. Believe it or not, he has now homered in three straight games.

The Mets pitching, which was excellent, made that 1-0 lead hold up. Justin Wilson worked around a lead-off single in the eighth to pitch a scoreless inning.

Edwin Diaz issued a one out walk to Freddie Freeman in the ninth. In case you had fear this was going to be the same Diaz who imploded all of last year, he’d quash those concerns by striking out Ozuna and Adams on seven pitches to end the game.

The Mets pitching was phenomenal in this win. They combined to shut out the Braves allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 15. The Braves had no chance today.

When the Mets pitching is at this level, they don’t need much. Last year, they don’t get that run. This year, they have Cespedes. That may be all they need.

Game Notes: The Mets won their first challenge of the season when McNeil was incorrectly ruled out when stretching a single to a double. The play caused Keith Hernandez to quip about the umpire, “Get an eye chart!” Matt Adams made MLB history by being the first DH to have a PA in a game between two NL teams. The Mets wore Black Lives Matter shirts (before the game but did not kneel for the anthem.

Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo wore “Love Thy Neighbor” shirts instead of the Black Lives Matter shirts.

Juan Soto Testing Positive For COVID19 Could Be A Disaster

Prior to Opening Day, Nationals left fielder Juan Soto tested positive for COVID19. It should be noted he was not quarantined away from his teammates in the time period between his test and the discovery of the positive results. We also do not know how long he had been infected prior to his test. On that note, players are tested every 48 hours, and they received results 24 – 48 hours later.

Soto has been in the clubhouse and dugout around his teammates. He has been working out in the outfield. In exhibition games, he was in close proximity to Orioles catchers Bryan Holaday, Pedro Severino, and Austin Wynns. He was within six feet of home plate umpire Larry Vanover and Ramon De Jesus. He also came into contact with other umpires and Orioles players.

At this moment, we really have no idea how Soto became exposed and infected with COVID19. We also don’t know if he has spread the disease to anyone. All we know is he has it, and we are waiting with baited breath to see if he has spread the disease.

While we are not quite sure if he has infected other teammates, the Nationals are set to play the Yankees on Opening Day today. Soto’s teammates will come into contact with Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. They will run past Luke Voit and perhaps the other infielders.

The Yankees players will stand at home plate near Kurt Suzuki, and they will be at first base near Eric Thames. They will come in contact or come near other Nationals players whom we have no idea if they’re infected. As far as we know, Clint Frazier is the only Yankees player who wears a mask at home plate. Perhaps knowing Soto was infected, that will change. Perhaps, it won’t.

The only thing we know right now is Soto has COVID19. We don’t know if he caught it from another player awaiting results. We do not know if he has infected another player who is awaiting results. We don’t know how much of a threat there is that the Nationals players have been infected by their teammate or if someone could be infecting a Yankees player tonight.

This is the exact situation Major League Baseball and the players want to avoid. For everyone’s health, and the sake of the 2020 season, they better hope they found out Soto’s results in time to prevent the spread of infection. If not, things are going to get messy for the Nationals, Yankees, and all of Major League Baseball in very short order.