Musings

Game 6 Would Not Have Happened In The NFL

In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, with the Mets one loss away from losing the World Series, Dave Henderson led off the top of the 10th with a home run off Rick Aguilera. After that, the Red Sox would rally and tack on another run on a Marty Barrett RBI single.

After two quick outs to start the bottom of the 10th, all mayhem would break loose starting with a Gary Carter two out single. Eventually, as a Mookie Wilson grounder would slip under Bill Buckner‘s glove, the Mets would be euphoric, and baseball would have one of the greatest games ever played. It is a game which is the epitome of what makes baseball great. So long as you have one out remaining, anything, and as we saw on that October 25th night, ANYTHING can happen.

As we saw last night, that doesn’t happen in football.

Last night, in a back-and-forth finish to the AFC Championship Game, the Chiefs and Patriots headed to overtime. The Patriots won the toss, and they took the ball 75 yards before scoring the game winning touchdown. That’s similar to Super Bowl LI where the Patriots overcame the largest deficit in Super Bowl history to tie the score and force the first ever Super Bowl overtime. The Patriots won the coin toss and marched down the field and won without Matt Ryan and the Falcons touching the ball.

If the NFL overtime rules applied to baseball, the Boston Red Sox would have won the 1986 World Series after Henderson hit a leadoff homer against Aguilera. If that seems stupid, it should.

The NFL is the only sport that allows an overtime game be decided without permitting both sides to have a chance to score. Sure, it there wasn’t a touchdown, the Chiefs would have had an opportunity, but there was a touchdown.

Even if you were to look at the NHL having sudden death, it’s important to remember they have a face-off and not a coin flip to determine initial possession. They also also set no impediment for the losing team to have a fair shot at scoring. If you were to apply the NFL rules to the NHL, it would be flipping a coin and determining which team goes on the power play to being overtime.

Really, the NFL overtime is a gimmick, and it’s a dumb one at that. While they can assert it’s for player safety, they have no issue playing a full 15 minutes in the event of a tie. As we saw in the 2013 playoff game between the Rams and Panthers, the NFL has no issue going to a second overtime to decide a playoff game. They also have no issue with Thursday night games.

Fact is, the NFL is cheating their fans of a real chance to see something special. Sure, the Patriots win over the Chiefs was memorable, but as we saw with the 1986 World Series, they’re missing on what could happen next. It’s what happens next which takes a great game and makes it legendary.

It’s why baseball will always be better than football.

Lowrie, McNeil Insufficient Shortstop Depth

One of the areas that has plagued the Mets in recent years has their being a top heavy team with very little depth. So far, Brodie Van Wagenen has addressed that issue as it pertains to the infield. With the addition of Jed Lowrie, the Mets have a “utility” infielder who is an All Star caliber player. With him and Jeff McNeil, the Mets have to bench players who could very well be starters for a very good Major League team.

The problem is both of them are the team’s backup shortstop options to Amed Rosario. If Rosario goes down to injury, or the Mets plan on giving him days off like they did in the second half last year, the Mets are ill equipped to handle it.

Now, there was a time Lowrie was not just a shortstop, but a good defensive one. In fact, he once posted a 6 DRS and 6.7 UZR. The problem is that was back in 2008 when he was a 24 year old rookie for the Boston Red Sox. Lowrie last played shortstop regularly back in 2014. That year, he had a -10 DRS and a -1.7 UZR. The bright side was that was a massive improvement over the -18 DRS and -6.8 UZR he posted the previous season. The downside is this is proof he should not longer be playing shortstop.

The Athletics realized that. It’s why Lowrie hasn’t played shortstop in two years.

As for McNeil, he only has played 37 games at shortstop as a professional. That includes 17.2 innings at the position last year. That was the first time he played shortstop since he played 55.0 innings at the position in the 2015 Arizona Fall League. Simply put, it is unrealistic to expect McNeil to be able to fill-in at shortstop for a short-term to long-term basis.

Even if you were inclined to bet on McNeil’s baseball IQ and athleticism, you still have to bet against him at shortstop. Getting up to speed at the position would require him working out at that position during the offseason and Spring Training. He is going to have to utilize that time instead getting back up to speed in the outfield as the Mets believe he is the team’s fourth or fifth outfielder.

That leaves the Mets without a shortstop beyond Rosario, and the two options in the minors are Gavin Cecchini and Luis Guillorme.

For his part, Cecchini has struggled enough at shortstop, the Mets have moved him to second base. While you could see his ability to play short be a reason why he could compete for a utility spot, the Mets do not want him to play extended time at short at the Major League level.

With respect to Guillorme, the Mets apparently really soured on him last year. That could be due in part to his hitting .209/.284/.239 in 74 Major League plate appearances. While we know he is certainly capable of playing the position well, there is a real question if he can hit enough for the Mets to trust him enough to get extended playing time at the position.

Overall, the Mets are a deeper and stronger team than they were last year. However, they still do not have sufficient depth at the shortstop position. Fortunately for them, there are some interesting names like Freddy Galvis still available on the free agent market. At some point, the Mets are going to have to seriously pursue one of those options because the team needs more depth at an important defensive position.

Good Luck Wilmer Flores

Back in 2015, Wilmer Flores was in tears as he believed he was going to be an ex-Met, he cried on the field. Given his age, how he grew up in the Mets organization, and how he found out about the trade, you could understand why Flores was so emotion. What you cannot understand is how he was so unceremoniously non-tendered.

For all of his faults, Flores was a Met, and he was an improving player. As a player who began to find a role as a platoon player who could hit left-handed pitching, he learned how to hit righties. With there being an increased emphasis on putting the ball in play, Flores has always had a good strikeout rate. He has also shown improved plate discipline. More than any of that, Flores was a player with a sense of the moment as evidenced by his being the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits. None were better than that fateful July night:

With Flores, most of his faults have been over-analyzed and stated. Yes, we know he is not a good defender anywhere but first base. However, this was a player who was willing to do whatever was asked of him. He played shortstop when everyone but the Mets knew he was ill-equipped to handle the position. He moved all around the diamond, and he accepted whatever role was given him. He was someone who loved being a Met, and the fans loved him for it.

Oddly enough, the reports of his demise may have also been premature. While one of the purported justifications for non-tendering him was his arthritis, there is a chance that was a misdiagnosis. Even if it wasn’t, this was a guy who played first base all summer, and he played well. From June 21st until August 23rd, the game before Jay Bruce came off the disabled list, Flores hit .293/.337/.471.

Over that stretch, Flores’ 118 wRC+ was sixth best among first basemen, who had at least 200 plate appearances. Essentially, he was the seventh best everyday first baseman. That level of production is not easily replaceable. That was made further evident by the Mets trading three good prospects in Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana to get a worse hitting version of Flores in J.D. Davis.

As an aside, Flores was also great with the fans. He was always one of the last players leaving the field before a game. He was out taking pictures and signing autographs for the fans. The fans loved him, and he loved the fans. When you lose someone like Flores, you lose that connection fans have with a player and a team.

When you look at Flores, you saw a player who loved everything about being a Met. He was a someone who was willing to do whatever was asked. He had a sense for the big moment. He was a fan favorite. He’s also now entering the prime of his career, and he is going to a good hitter’s park in Arizona where he should hopefully have a lot of success.

In an odd sense, you cannot tell the history of the Mets without mentioning Flores. This tells you just how much of an impact he had during his time with the Mets. For that, and for who he was, Mets fans everywhere should wish him well.

Good luck Wilmer Flores.

 

Bring Back Curtis Granderson

Yesterday, there were two bits of relatively important news. First, we discovered Curtis Granderson intends to play another season. Second, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said the team was not prioritizing the outfield as he believes the team is set there partially because Jeff McNeil is going to move out there.

There are a number of ways to interpret Van Wagenen’s statement with the most likely being the team is not going to sign an everyday outfielder. This means no Bryce Harper or even A.J. Pollock. We can discuss the wisdom of that decision, and we definitely should, but at the moment, the question is whether the Mets are really set in the outfield.

The team should be comfortable with Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto playing everyday. Past that, there is little reason to believe the Mets have a player who should be playing everyday.

Juan Lagares could be an everyday player for his glove alone, and he showed some promise at the plate. With a new approach, he hit .339/.375/.390 in very limited duty. Certainly, you could argue with this being his contract year and with Chili Davis being the new hitting coach, Lagares is primed for a big season. However, that overlooks the fact he has not played at least 95 games since 2015.

Behind him is Keon Broxton. Over the past two years, Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419. For all of the compliments of his defense, in his only full season in center, Broxton had a -7 DRS and a -2.6 UZR. Even as a part-time player, you really can’t rely on him producing.

Past Lagares and Broxton are Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco. These are two players who are over 35 years old, and they have not been productive Major League players since 2015, and it is hard to imagine 2019 will be the year they turn back the clock.

This places much onus on McNeil. There is every reason to believe McNeil can adapt to the outfield, and even with his questionable peripherals, there is a sufficient basis to believe he can hit at the Major League level. Fact is, he’s a Major League caliber player.

However, the Mets infield has a lot of age. Robinson Cano is 36. Todd Frazier will soon turn 33, and he is coming off his first injury plagued season. Behind both of them is Jed Lowrie, who has been quite good the past two years, but he will be 35 next year. When you factor in the possibility Peter Alonso may not be ready, and you are in a position where McNeil may be needed to return to the infield thereby leaving a thin outfield another outfielder short.

Granderson may be older, but he has always been durable. More importantly, Granderson has remained a productive player, and he effectively transitioned to being a part-time player. Last year, Granderson hit .242/.351/.431 with a 115 OPS+. As a pinch hitter, Granderson hit .375/.483/.500, and that doesn’t include the big pinch hit double he had in Game 5 of the NLCS.

The days of Granderson playing everyday are long gone. Still, Granderson is capable of playing for long stretches in a pinch, and he is someone who you want in your clubhouse mentoring your younger players like Alonso and McNeil. He’s a popular player, and he is someone who has shown the ability to play well in a Mets uniform.

Granderson may not be perfect, but the Mets don’t need perfect. They need a good player and someone who compliments this roster. Right now, that player is Granderson, and he should be back wearing his number three in blue and orange.

Phillies Hold NL East In The Balance

Entering this offseason, Phillies part-owner John Middleton said the team was going to spend “stupid money” to improve this roster. So far, that has amounted to free agent deals for Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson as well as a trade for Jean Segura. The interesting part of that trade was the Phillies dumped Carlos Santana‘s salary as part of the deal.

This helped the Phillies in two ways. First, it has improved a Major League worst fielding team (-146 DRS) by moving Segura to shortstop in place of Scott Kingery, but also by moving Rhys Hoskins from left field to first base. The next thing it did was to free up a little more money for the team to spend stupidly.

So far, the Phillies efforts have been rebuffed. While they have been rebuffed, the Nationals added Kyle Barraclough, Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Trevor Rosenthal, Anibal Sanchez, and Kurt Suzuki. The Braves added Brian McCann and Josh Donaldson. The Mets have revamped their roster with Keon Broxton, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos.

Looking at all of that, you’d be hard to argue the Phillies would repeat their third place finish. Even with an improved roster, you’d have to wonder if they take a step back from their 80-82 record. Still, the Phillies have one major advantage over their NL East opponents – they have money to spend.

Not only do they have money to spend, they’re in on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. While it may be unrealistic for them to add both, they still have the chance to sign one and pair them with multiple players from a group which includes Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, A.J. Pollock, and others. Adding those players to a team which already has Jake Arrieta, Cesar HernandezOdubel Herrera, Hoskins, Aaron Nola, and Segura makes the Phillies a much more formidable team. Depending on what they add, they could not only be the best team in the National League East, but also the entire National League.

Right now, the Phillies are in perfect position. They are bidding on players when their main rivals appear tapped out financially. Moreover, the deepest pockets in baseball (Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees) do not appear in on the top free agents remaining. Really, the only question remaining for them is what they can do.

If you’re the Mets, the question is what you do in response. This was the same team who put Jarred Kelenic on the table to stop the Phillies from getting Diaz. Diaz is a blip on the radar when compared to players like Harper and Machado. Considering the lengths to which the Mets went to stop the Phillies from getting a closer, you wonder why the inertia on the real difference makers.

And the Mets should make no mistake. The Phillies adding two or three from the remaining top end of the free agent pool is a game changer. If the Phillies strike right, it’s possible it makes everything the Mets have done this offseason completely meaningless. That’s not hyperbole. If the Phillies build a juggernaut to compete with a still up and coming Braves team and strong Nationals team, the Mets could get lost in the shuffle. and they’ll be there without some of their biggest prospects to help in a rebuild.

Keep in mind, the Phillies don’t even have to build a better team than the Mets. They could just build a better team which will make the 19 games against the Mets all the more difficult. Those 19 games could be the difference not just in winning the division, but also being in a position to claim one of the two Wild Card spots.

This is a very dangerous time for the Mets, and as such, it is time for them to step up and start acting like a New York team. Otherwise, they’re probably going nowhere.

Todd Frazier Deserves More Respect

Entering this offseason, Mets fans and some analysts have been eager to push Todd Frazier to the bench, or worse, out of town. The call to do that is odd considering Frazier is a good baseball player who has been a positive presence in the clubhouse.

With the Mets, we saw all Frazier could be for this team in April. At that time, the Mets were rolling with an 11-1 record, and the team was doing it’s oddly fun Salt and Pepper thing. It was team that was just “grinding” and having fun. The t-shirts were a hit with the fans, the players, and even the manager. Frazier was not just leading in the clubhouse with kooky stuff like the grinding, but he was also a leader on the field hitting .256/.395/.444.

Then something happened with Frazier that has never happened before in his career – he hit the disabled list.

The injured Frazier was terrible in the six June games he could actually play. In fact, he really wasn’t much better when he got off the disabled list. Given the Mets past history dealing with injuries, it should come as no surprise Frazier needed to land on the disabled list again in July.

At that point, April was long gone. Fans were no longer remembering the fun of the season. Instead, they were lamenting what could and should have been. There was plenty of blame to go around, and for the Mets part, they blamed Sandy Alderson, and they pushed the sick man out of the organization thereby leaving the trade deadline to a triumvirate of General Managers reporting to Jeff Wilpon.

In some ways, Frazier was a symbolic of all that was wrong. He was a second tier free agent, who was injured and did not produce. In May – July, when the walls were crumbling down, he hit .191/.226/.346. Lost in the shuffle was him putting together a decent August (partially because he was bad again in September).

More lost in all of that was how good of a baseball player Frazier actually is. From 2016-2017, Frazier posted a 5.8 fWAR and a 6.6 bWAR. He was a player who was improving both his walk and steadying his strikeout rate. In turn, this led to him getting on base at a much better clip. In fact, his walk rate was the fifth best among Major League third baseman over this stretch.

Defensively, Frazier had an 8 DRS which ranked seventh best among third basemen. When you consider Manny Machado has since moved to shortstop, he was really sixth best.

Over this stretch, with his improved plate discipline and good defense, he was arguably a top 10 third baseman. Even pessimistically, he was at least top 15, which still put him in the upper half of Major League starters at the position.

What is interesting with Frazier was even with how much of a nightmare 2018 was for him, he was still a 1.9 bWAR and a 1.5 fWAR player. When you add that to his down 2018 season, he ranks as the 12th best third baseman among active players. Again, Frazier is better than half the league. He’s a starter, not a bench player.

That said, newly signed Met Jed Lowrie is a better player. He’s a better hitter, and he’s a switch hitter. He may not have Frazier’s power, but he gets on base more, and he’s just as good, if not better, defensively. He’s an absolute upgrade over Frazier, and with Robinson Cano at second, Lowrie should absolutely be the everyday third baseman to start the year.

This means Frazier should be the first baseman, not a utility player. This is usually the part where fans clamor for Jeff McNeil or Peter Alonso.

McNeil has absolutely proven himself to be a Major League player. However, at this point, we’re not quite sure what he is. Is he the guy who hit for power in Double-A and Triple-A, or is he the slap hitter with a dubious 5.6 percent walk rate and .359 BABIP? You cannot be sure at this point. If he does prove himself, it’s likely the lineup is better suited to him playing in the outfield, especially with the Mets leaning on an injury prone Juan Lagares in center and a very questionable hitter in Keon Broxton in center.

As for Alonso, who knows? Behind his 36 homers and 119 RBI was a guy who had some issues in Triple-A. For those concerned about Frazier striking out too much (23.7% in 2018), Alonso struck out more than him (25.9% in Triple-A) against lesser competition. He also hit just .260 in Triple-A, which was partially the result of his .344 BABIP in Double-A stabilizing. Sure, we all know Alonso has tremendous power, but the issue is whether he is as complete a hitter as he is purported to be. Judging from his peripherals, including a high pull rates last year, he may not be, and certainly not against shifting Major League teams.

When you take defense into account, you wonder not if Alonso is ready, but just how much of an upgrade over Frazier he could be. In fact, you legitimately have to question if he’s even an upgrade. Even with Alonso’s work ethic, the odds are in Frazier’s favor.

Overall, Frazier is a good, but albeit flawed player. He’s not hitting for as high average, he strikes out at a high clip, and at 32, he’s leaving the prime of his career. We know all of this not just because those are his stats, but those are the negatives which are constantly brought up when his contributions are being marginalized.

Ultimately, with Frazier, the Mets have a good player. He’s not an All Star. However, he’s the type of guy who gives you power at the bottom of the lineup, good defense in the field, and a positive influence in the clubhouse. He’s a good player who should be starting on Opening Day.

Kyler Murray Is The Cost

MLB owners wanted to restrict bonuses given to draft picks. They got it.

MLB owners want to pay minor league players well below a living wage. They can.

MLB owners have concurrently determined players like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Yasmani Grandal, and others are not worth giving large free agent deals. It’s their prerogative.

While this is happening Kyler Murray played out his Junior year as the quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners. He won the Heisman Trophy.

If he’s a first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, he’s going to receive a signing bonus of at least $5 million plus a salary far surpassing the roughly $4,000 he would make playing short season minor league baseball.

Systematically, MLB owners have put barrier after barrier in place to suppress player wages. They’ve buttressed the Wilpons thereby having a New York team, who once had a top five payroll, spending like a mid market team. This further drives down player salaries.

When it comes to player contacts, the owners seemingly get what they want each and every time.

Well, they may be getting what they want on that front, but they’re a day closer to losing Kyler Murray. They’re also a day closer to losing the next Kyler Murray and the next one after that.

Overall, we can point fingers at Murray, Scott Boras, or the Athletics. It’s not about them. It’s about the money. Other sports are offering it, and baseball won’t.

Good Luck Kevin Plawecki

Kevin Plawecki has had an oddly turbulent Mets career. He was thrust into action well before he was ready to play in the majors because of a Travis d’Arnaud injury. In fact, due to the many d’Arnaud injuries there were, Plawecki was constantly pressed into action before he was ready from 2015 to early 2017.

In many ways, Plawecki was always a symbol of what went wrong, and Mets fans always held it against him. It got to the point where he actually deleted his Twitter account after a face plant sliding short into second base. He become a punchline when it the contents of his locker were revealed. Not once but twice, he had the ignominy of being a position player pitching.

However, through it all Plawecki persevered.

While many reflect back to how poorly he hit in 2015, fact is he was an exceptional pitch framer. At a time when the Mets were more M*E*T*S* than baseball team, they needed everything they could get from everyone. His pitch framing helped an already dominant pitching staff get that extra call they needed, and if you remember correctly, that pitching staff needed every break they could get while they were out there trying to win 1-0 games. In some ways, the run in 2015 would not have been possible had Plawecki not been back there doing a good job behind the plate.

It also needs to be noted that after setback after setback after setback, Plawecki was undeterred. The player who was a career .206/.282/.278 hitter over his first 437 Major League plate appearances would take advantage of finally receiving some extended playing time in Triple-A. When he came back up in August 2017, he would hit .303/.411/.474.

Yes, last year, he took a bit of a step back, and it was partially due to injury. Still, he emerged as someone who was at least a capable Major League backup.  His 93 wRC+ was 18th best among Major League catchers with at least 250 plate appearances. When you break it down a little more, his being in the top 20 shows he’s a capable Major League starting catcher.

Maybe that says more about Major League catchers than it does Plawecki, but remember this is someone who was partially on his way out of baseball.

After the Mets obtained Wilson Ramos to improve their catching situation, it arguably made Plawecki expendable. Unsurprisingly, the Indians brought him in with the hopes he could not only hit like he did in 2017, but that he could also be behind the plate like he was in 2015. Given his age and his skillset, Plawecki is going to get a chance.

Also, given the weak AL Central, Plawecki is going to get an opportunity to go to the postseason once again. If he does get that chance, best of luck to him. His ability to persevere through everything has been commendable, and he deserves a real chance to prove himself.  It should not surprise anyone if he does a good job there. We should all be rooting he does.

Grandal One Year Deal Is Very Troubling

Yesterday, Yasmani Grandal accepted a one year deal from the Milwaukee Brewers for one year $18.25 million. He accepted that deal at a time when it appeared few if any teams were interested in him, which is odd considering how many teams needed catching help.

The Braves, who had approximately $54 million come off the payroll, opted to sign Brian McCann and Josh Donaldson for $25 million. Despite a low payroll and a tightening NL East, they opted for a backup catcher than Grandal.

The Angels, who are trying to find a way to win before Mike Trout possibly departs via free agency, opted for Jonathan Lucroy on a one year $3.35 million deal.

The Athletics made a surprising run last year and had Lucroy as a pending free agent. They needed to fortify a few positions, including catcher, and they opted for Chris Herrmann to a one year $1 million deal.

The Astros, who are trying to build a team to overtake a Red Sox team who needed just five games to beat them in the ALCS, opted for Robinson Chirinos on a one year $5.75 million deal.

The White Sox are contemplating building a team who can make a run in a weak AL Central signed James McCann to a one year $2.5 million deal.

Last year, the Phillies were nervous about Jorge Alfaro‘s ability to take home a team in a pennant race. Accordingly, they traded for Wilson Ramos despite his being on the DL. They haven’t pursued any free agent catchers.

The Nationals, who have to find a way to reclaim the NL East and do it potentially with Bryce Harper, opted to go with the 35 year old Kurt Suzuki. To be fair, they did sign Patrick Corbin to a $140 million deal.

The Nationals also opted to obtain Yan Gomes from the Indians. This left the Indians looking for a catcher, so they obtained Kevin Plawecki from the Mets, and they settled his arbitration case for $1.3 million.

Plawecki was available because they signed Ramos for two years $19 million, and the team opted to pair the injury prone catcher with the more injury prone Travis d’Arnaud.

Supposedly, the Mets shifted to Ramos after Grandal rejected a four year $60 million deal. The problem there is that didn’t happen.

Jon Heyman of Fancred reported the Mets offered less than $60 million, and Ken Rosenthal of The Atlantic reported the Mets didn’t offer it. Instead, they just discussed parameters for a deal. It’s much like what happened with Jose Reyes in 201- before he signed with the Marlins.

We can all debate how real the Mets offer was, and how prudent their course of action was. Fact is, the Mets obtained a starting catching option while the rest of baseball have dabbled in part-time, backup, and frankly over the hill catchers.

To a team, they passed on offering Ramos a significant enough multi-year deal, and if they did, they didn’t make one sufficient enough to prevent Grandal from accepting a one year deal.

This is despite the aforementioned teams needing a catcher. The Red Sox, Rays, Athletics, Angels, Dodgers, and Rockies also need a starting catcher. Keep in mind, that’s just a list of probable contenders. There’s a bigger list of teams needing a catcher and those who want to be contenders.

All of these teams passed on a catcher who is probably the best catcher in baseball. He’s that because he is consistently one of the best pitch framers in the game while being top three in wRC+ among catchers since 2016.

These teams could argue they want J.T. Realmuto, who some believe is the best catcher in baseball. Problem is the Marlins asking price has been unrealistically high and only one team can get him. Far more teams than one need a catcher.

Yet, somehow, Grandal gets a one year deal. For that matter, Ramos gets a two year deal.

Somehow, the Mets, Braves, Nationals, Angels, Athletics, Astros, and White Sox independently determined none of the free agents available merited more than a two year deal, and the other 23 MLB teams thought nothing of letting this happen.

This is happening at a time when Forbes is reporting Major League Baseball has record revenues of $10.3 billion.

Simultaneously, there has been a tepid market for Harper and Manny Machado. These are two 26 year old superstars who have been in the top 15 in fWAR since they broke into the majors while combing for 10 All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves, four top 10 MVP finishes, and a Silver Slugger.

This is what collusion looks like, and this is the type of thing which will force the players hand prior to the expiration of the CBA in 2021.

Sure, teams will claim they’re smarter now, and they’ve seen how you can’t win by just spending money while ignoring the World Series features the two highest payrolls in baseball. Snark aside, maybe teams are smarter.

It just seems odd they’re all collectively smart enough where they agree catchers shouldn’t get more than a two year deal and two of the best players in the sport wouldn’t put their team over the top.

Mets Now Have Suspect Catching Depth

Over the weekend, the Mets traded Kevin Plawecki to the Cleveland Indians for a pair of prospects. This has left the Mets with just three catchers on the 40 man roster.

Of course, that was the same position the Mets were on April 11 last season. On that date, Plawecki was hit on the hand with a Tayron Guerrero fastball. That pitch left the Mets with the catching tandem of Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido.

After that April 11 game, the Mets record was 11-1. From that game up until the second game of a doubleheader, the Mets would go 14-24.

Over that stretch, Lobaton, Nido, and eventually Devin Mesoraco combined to hit .212/.300/.356. As much as Mets fans were down on Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud, it’s likely even one of them being active would have bolstered those numbers, and hopefully, would have helped prevent the Mets freefall which would be capped off with a 5-21 June.

While there were other mitigating factors at play, a significant issue was the Mets catching depth or lack thereof. It’s an issue which may rear it’s ugly head in 2019.

While Wilson Ramos is undoubtedly an upgrade over d’Arnaud and Plawecki, he’s been an injury prone catcher in his career.

There have only been four times Ramos has played over 100 games. Since 2009, he has been on the disabled list nine different times. That includes last year when he was limited to 111 games.

He’s a 31 year old catcher. He’s at an age when players tend to become more injury prone playing a position where the players tend to be more injury prone.

By the way, his backup is d’Arnaud, who is a catcher who averages 66 games a season on account of his being an injury prone player. That includes him being limited to just six games last year due to a torn UCL requiring Tommy John surgery.

While the Mets believe d’Arnaud will be ready to start the year, the organization has seen its fair issues with Tommy John rehabilitation.

Jeremy Hefner, who was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey, a pitcher who was subsequently diagnosed with TOS, needed two Tommy John surgeries.

Zack Wheeler missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to the surgery and complications during rehab. In 2017, he missed time with a stress reaction, and he did not really get to form until June last year.

There’s also T.J. Rivera who underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2017. He was supposed to return around the All Star Break. Except he didn’t. Rivera missed the entire 2018 seasons, and no one is quite sure what he can contribute in 2019.

Despite this very spotty history and d’Arnaud’s own suspect health history, the Mets are going with him to backup an injury prone catcher. They are taking the chance d’Arnaud never plays, and in the event he does, there’s a chance he misses significant time.

Best case scenario is Nido backs up Ramos. Nido is a very strong defensive catcher who has hit .181/.210/.255/ in 100 Major League plate appearances. While you could hope he would be a better hitter than that, he did hit just .272/.300/.431 between Double and Triple-A.

While you may have concerns about what he would do if he was pressed into action, the real issue is what is behind him on the depth chart.

There’s Patrick Mazeika who hit .231/.328/.363 in Double-A. After him, it’s Ali Sanchez who hit .265/.294/.387 between Columbia and St. Lucie.

Sure, the Mets could bring on a veteran catcher, but what veteran wants to backup Nido in Syracuse? If you can decipher that, you gave to question who among that group you’d either want backing up or even starting at the Major League level.

After trading Plawecki, that’s where the Mets ate. They’re crossing their fingers their top two catchers, who have not stayed healthy in their careers, stay healthy, so we don’t find out what’s behind their already suspect catching depth.