Musings

J.D. Davis Blames Pete Alonso For His Error

In the Mets 3-1 loss against the Chicago Cubs, J.D. Davis was a disaster in the field again. That should be no surprise as he’s literally been the worst defender in the Majors since he joined the New York Mets in 2019.

What was interesting about the two errors was he didn’t seem bothered by it, and he didn’t take ownership of it. In fact, on the second throw, he thought he did nothing wrong.

According to Davis, he doesn’t know what happened there because he “delivered a strike.” That’s another way of saying Pete Alonso was the reason for the error.

Seeing how Davis doesn’t believe he was at fault, let’s take another look at the play:

There can be no other conclusion here than Davis is delusional. Actually, that’s a charitable explanation. There are others which don’t reflect well on Davis’ character, but even with his involvement with the Houston Astros and the aftermath, we won’t go there.

First, Davis makes no effort to charge or get in front of the ball. Arguably, backhanding it like he did allowed him to be in a better throwing position.

After that, Davis took about three to four steps before he threw the ball. This has become a pattern, and it’s becoming a problem. With each passing day, it becomes apparent Davis has the yips at third.

This is no laughing matter. It’s a serious one which we saw rob Mackey Sasser of what was a promising career. It was also something which helped bring an end to that Mets run. It’s a sad moment for both the team and the player.

After the steps, the problem is Davis didn’t throw a strike. Rather, he threw it high. Between the steps and the high throw, Alonso was forced to make a stretch for the ball he otherwise shouldn’t have needed to make.

Now, Alonso’s foot did seemingly come off the bag, and yes, Kris Bryant did not touch first base himself. Bryant is a red herring here. The issue is Davis’ throw and steps effectively forced Alonso off the bag.

Davis not being able to field his position is a real problem for the Mets. His compounding it with the yips is all the more alarming. However, for some reason, they don’t have a problem with that.

They should have a problem with Davis blaming a teammate and not taking accountability. That’s a real problem, and it should be unacceptable. We’ll see just how much the Mets deem it as such in the coming days and weeks.

Francisco Lindor Traditionally Slow Starter

The New York Mets are 11 games into the season, and they are not quite getting the offensive performances they expected from key players. One of those players is Francisco Lindor. So far this year, he is hitting just .189/.340/.216 (62 OPS+).

Now, when it comes to Lindor, he is a new face to the Mets. Since we have not been following his career, we do not know what a typically Lindor season is. Every player is different, and they typically thrive over different parts of the season.

When looking at Lindor’s career, he is more of a second half than a first half player. His batting average, OBP, and SLG are all better in the second half. In fact, he has a career 113 wRC+ in the first half as opposed to a 122 wRC+ in the second half.

Part of the reason for that is Lindor has typically struggled in the months of March/April and June. In March/April, he has a .792 OPS (108 wRC+), and in June, he has a .762 OPS (97 wRC+). In no other month of the season does Lindor have an OPS under .828 or a wRC+ below 113.

Looking deeper into Lindor’s career, his performance in April is really no indicator on how he will perform that season. For example, his best offensive season was 2018. In that season, Lindor had a .740 OPS and a 100 wRC+. Contrast that with the previous season, 2017, Lindor had a 1.018 OPS and 156 wRC+ at the plate in the first month of the season. Putting aside the COVID shortened 2020 season, that 2017 season was his second worst at the plate.

Now, if you are prone to panic, yes, Lindor’s start to the 2021 season has so far resembled his start to the 2020 season. So far this year, he has a .557 OPS and a 69 wRC+. That is actually a step back from his first month of the season last year (July) where he had a .690 OPS and 77 wRC+.

Of course, not every season is equal. Last year, Lindor and all of baseball had to deal with a shutdown and abbreviated Summer Camp. This year, Lindor seemed primed to have a great start of the season, and then the Mets didn’t play in over a week because the Washington Nationals were infected with COVID. After that, the Mets have had a series of rain and even snow postponed games. That makes it difficult for any player to get going.

There is also the fact Lindor is adapting to a new team and a new city. He’s no longer the big fish in a small pond. He’s now a shark in the ocean. Everyone has an eye on him and his every move. We’ve seen superstars like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran struggle with that in the past only to eventually take their game to an even higher level than it had ever been.

Right now, the next step for Lindor is to take a look at his May, and more importantly, his second half. Lindor usually thrives in May, but he also regresses in June. If he follows his typical career norms, we may see some “What is wrong with Lindor” analyses coming heading into the All-Star Break. There is bound to be some hand wringing that the trade and contract were a mistake.

When and if that comes, they should largely be ignored as panic. The true test for Lindor is going to be how he comes out of the All-Star Break. That is the point of the year where Lindor typically recharges and takes off. No matter what happens between now and then, we can expect Lindor to finish the season strong.

In that end, that is what we want. Let Lindor continue playing great defense and acclimate himself to New York. Sooner or later he is going to be completely comfortable, and he’s going to play a stretch of games which allow him to get in a rhythm. Before all is said and done, Lindor is going to be great, and hopefully, he is going to lead the Mets towards having a special season.

Luis Guillorme And Jonathan Villar Showing They’re A Better Option Than J.D. Davis

In the New York Mets second game of the season, J.D. Davis was hit on the hand by Chase Anderson. Initially, the Mets believed Davis would miss the IL, but his hand didn’t heal as well as initially intended.

That left Luis Rojas and the Mets juggling between Luis Guillorme and Jonathan Villar. The tandem worked beautifully and helped the Mets to first place in this very young season.

Since Davis went down, Guillorme has hit .364/.533/.364, and Villar has hit .278/.278/.500. They have combined to start key rallies and drive home game winning runs.

Given their respective careers, it’s likely their combined output will stay around this level. We should also see improved defense as the season progresses.

With Davis, he’s a player whose offensive output depended on the juiced ball and an unsustainably high BABIP. That ball is deadened now, and over the past year, we’ve seen his ground ball rate return to poor levels.

Worse than that is his defense. It’s been unplayable at third in his career. No matter they hyped up his working with Francisco Lindor, the learning curve was just too steep to trust playing him there everyday with a ground ball pitching staff.

Davis still has a spot on this roster. That’s only solidified by Jose Peraza being his replacement. Davis is going to give an honest at-bat, and he’s a good complement to a heavy left-handed hitting lineup.

He’s just not an everyday player. In fact, as far as third goes, when you put Jeff McNeil in the mix there, he’s the team’s fourth best option there.

Despite that, when Davis gets activated off the IL, he will just be plugged back into the lineup. It’ll happen despite Guillorme and Villar showing themselves as a better option both individually and as a tandem.

That makes forcing Davis into the lineup a big mistake. That begs the question as to why they are doing it. In the end, it really makes no sense.

Sandy Alderson Needs To Be Fired

When the initial reports regarding Mickey Callaway came to light, there was room to excuse Sandy Alderson. After all, there wasn’t much about Callaway that was under his purview.

Callaway wasn’t Alderson’s choice. He was hired by the Wilpons. It’s also notable Alderson was battling with cancer, and he was no longer with the organization when Callaway’s harassment was reported.

While Alderson was able to escape culpability and blame for Callaway, the recent report from Katie Strang and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic make it very clear Alderson was a very real part of the problem. In fact, Alderson helped build that culture.

Alderson hired harassers over complaints and warnings of female employees. He was aware of at least some of the harassment, perhaps all of it. He knew and was well connected with the head of Human Resources, Holly Lindvall, who tried to silence and terminate those who objected to harassment.

Remember, it was Lindvall who told Leigh Castergine to resign when she complained about Jeff Wilpon. We now know there were more complaints, and those complaints were similarly ignored.

There may have been a time we could give Alderson a charitable treatment regarding the harassment. After all, this was a veteran and Harvard educated man. He was self made.

Alderson seemed like a good guy. He certainly grew in stature while serving as a juxtaposition to Jeff Wilpon. In fact, Alderson was a direct contrast to Wilpon.

The problem is he wasn’t. Alderson may not have been the perpetrator of harassment, but he sure was an enabler. He also sees no wrong in what he did, and if his statements aren’t taken out of context, he may not have an issue with what was done.

It’s sad. Alderson spent the whole of his life building a reputation. His return to the Mets was supposed to be in glory and about unfinished business.

Instead, the same stink that attaches to everything the Wilpons touch attached to him, and he has no one to blame by himself. He could have and should have done something, and instead, he chose to allow it to happen time and again.

Due to his actions, he needs to be fired. No, he should not be allowed to resign on his own accord. Steve Cohen has to send a clear message he doesn’t condone what predated him. That requires firing his most prominent hire.

Michael Conforto Becoming Problem For Mets

There has been an overreaction to Michael Conforto struggling at the plate to start the season. He has slumped like most of the lineup, and he’s been dropped three spots in the lineup.

Based on his career, he’s going to eventually be fine. We know Conforto will hit and put up good numbers. What we don’t know is how he will be defensively.

Yes, it is absolutely too soon to judge this year’s defensive numbers. That said they merit a look. According to Baseball Savant, Conforto has a -1 OAA and a -1.6 JUMP

This follows Conforto’s 2020 season where he saw similarly poor defensive numbers. Last year, Conforto was a -5 OAA with a 0.1 JUMP.

Now, neither of these sample sizes are really sufficient to absolutely derive the conclusion Conforto is now a bad defender after being a very good one through the 2019 season. In fact, the two seasons combined are still way too small of a sample size to be even remotely statistically significant.

That said, we still need to pay attention because Conforto’s slipping defense has coincided with his having lost a step. That’s a very real problem.

In 2019, Conforto had a 7 OAA in RF, and he had a 27.5 ft/sec sprint speed. Notable with that sprint speed was it was the slowest up to that point of his career.

What was interesting was before 2019, Conforto had seen gradual improvements in his sprint speed. Since 2019, Conforto has completely lost a step.

In the shortened season last year, Nimmo’s sprint speed was just 26.8. So far this year, it’s 26.4. That’s a very real issue.

Now, it should be noted there are some explanations for the loss in sprint speed. There was the COVID interrupted season last year making it extraordinarily difficult to work out and train. On the eve of Spring Training this year, Conforto actually contracted COVID.

Maybe he can regain that extra step at some point. However, it’s not there now, and that’s a huge problem.

Remember, the Mets outfield alignment partially hinges on Conforto being a good defensive right fielder. Brandon Nimmo is out of position in CF (even if he’s been quite good there so far this year), and Dominic Smith is not an outfielder at all.

Conforto continuing on what may be a defensive decline can be a very real problem. Suddenly, what could’ve been a passable outfield, especially with a mostly ground ball staff, becomes a very real question mark which could cost them games.

That is going to put more onus on Luis Rojas and the Mets front office. Right now, they’re only using a defensive replacement for Smith late in games. At some point, they may need to have the very uncomfortable conversation with Conforto about his needing to come out of games as well.

On the bright side, the Mets are well suited for that with Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora. However, if the Mets do need to walk down that path, their chances of extending Conforto may then be kaput.

Before the Mets even contemplate this, they need to see if Conforto can begin getting his speed back, and they need to see if they can better position him to offset his loss in speed. They also need to assess if it will ever come back.

The future of the Mets actually hinges on this decision. They’re making an important decision on someone who can be their next captain. They’re making a decision on someone who may be starting his decline.

It’s too early to know for sure, but we have warning signs. That makes Conforto a very big problem for the Mets.

David Peterson Out-Duels Zack Wheeler

This should have been a pitching mismatch with Zack Wheeler dueling against David Peterson. The disparity was widened due to Peterson’s struggles against the Phillies in his young career.

Instead, Peterson threw the best game of his young career.

Over six innings, Peterson would limit the Phillies to one run on two hits and no walks. He’d strike out an astonishing 10 batters. The only blemish was a Jean Segura homer in the fifth.

Peterson needed to be this good because Wheeler was fantastic as well. The key with good pitchers like him is to jump on them early before they get in a groove.

Brandon Nimmo, who seemingly can’t make an out anymore, led off the game with a single. Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith followed with a pair of singles to put the Mets up 1-0 without recording an out.

The Mets chances of blowing it wide open early was stymied when Pete Alonso hit into a double play. The bright side was a run scored to make it 2-0.

It was 2-1 heading into the seventh when Luis Rojas tabbed Jeurys Familia. With Miguel Castro and Trevor May realistically unavailable, this was a good spot to see if Familia could grab big innings again.

Familia would walk J.T. Realmuto to start the inning, and Realmuto would go to second on a fielder’s choice. Segura followed with an infield single putting runners at the corners. On the play, Linder tried to pick Realmuto off third to no avail.

When Didi Gregorius was announced as a pinch hitter, Rojas went to Aaron Loup. Loup did his job getting the ground ball to induce the inning ending 6-6-3 double play.

Loup had his best game with the Mets. After getting the inning ending double play in the seventh, he retired the Phillies 1-2-3 in the eighth striking out two.

While the Mets bullpen was at work, Joe Girardi got a little greedy with Wheeler pushing him to start the seventh. After retiring Nimmo, Lindor and Smith got back-to-back hits setting up runners at the corners.

After 108 pitches, Girardi finally lifted Wheeler for Sam Coonrod. Coonrod got Alonso out, but Lindor would score on the sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The top of the Mets lineup was fantastic tonight. The top three batters combined to go 8-for-14 with three runs, a walk, and an RBI.

The Mets added some more insurance runs in the eighth. Michael Conforto led off the inning by getting hit on the elbow . . . again. Astoundingly, Conforto’s elbow has been hit by four pitches, and he’s gotten three hits with his bat. James McCann made JoJo Romero pay by hitting his first homer as a Met:

Edwin Diaz came on in a non-save situation in the ninth, and he closed the door on the Mets 5-1 victory. Mets are now the only team in the NL East two games over .500, and they don’t seem like they’re looking back.

Game Notes: Nimmo leads the majors with a .583 OBP. There is rain in the forecast putting tomorrow’s game in jeopardy.

Jose Alvarado Needs To Be Suspended

In the first game of the doubleheader between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, Michael Conforto came to bat against Jose Alvarado with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. In that at-bat, Alvarado showed no intention of getting Conforto out.

The first pitch was at Conforto’s head. If Conforto does not get out of the way, there is another Mike Piazza/Roger Clemens situation. That said, pitches do get away from pitchers, even 100 MPH fastballs. However, the benefit of the doubt should have been gone when Alvarado threw the second pitch.

Alvarado’s second pitch was again a 100 MPH fastball up and in on Conforto. This time, Conforto was unable to get out of the way. He would be hit on the wrist. The end result was Conforto taking his base. He would get another at-bat in the game drawing a four pitch walk. However, Conforto would get an x-ray after the game and miss the second game of the doubleheader.

Make no mistake, going inside to a batter is acceptable. It is also entirely possible pitchers make a mistake and lose control. Not every pitch up and in is done with a purpose. Not every purpose pitch is meant to come up near a batters head. However, what Alvardo did was different.

No matter how much Alvarado seemed to dismiss it, he very clearly meant to hit Conforto with a 100 MPH fastball. You don’t go up and inside like that twice and not mean it.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Alvardo didn’t mean to do it. After all, J.T. Realmuto wasn’t set up for the inside fastball (which is not exactly definitive proof). Alvarado STILL thew near Conforto’s head with 100 MPH fastballs twice. That is not acceptable under any circumstances.

Whether or not there is intent is almost a red herring here. What we do know is Alvarado threw two 100 MPH fastballs near Conforto’s head. They were back-to-back pitches. Major League Baseball cannot accept that happening. The end result was Conforto getting hurt enough to miss a game. It could have been far, far worse.

In situations like this, it is incumbent on Major League Baseball to deliver a message. It needs to say multiple 100 MPH fastballs thrown up and in like that is unacceptable. If it was intended, or the pitcher simply can’t handle throwing those fastballs, he has no place on the mound in a Major League game.

In the end, that is why he needs to be suspended for his actions. Regardless of his intentions, what he did was dangerous. He can’t be allowed to do it again.

Luis Rojas Doing Good Job For Mets

Certainly, the New York Mets have made some truly odd decisions this season. That began their first game of the season where Kevin Pillar batted lead-off, Brandon Nimmo was eighth, and Dominic Smith was left out of the lineup all together. The curious lineup decisions continued with Jeff McNeil batting seventh for a stretch and completely overreacting to Michael Conforto slumping.

While Luis Rojas has received his share of the blame for those decisions, it is important to note he is not the one making out the lineup card. We are well past the days of Casey Stengel playing hunches. No, the lineup now is much more of a collaborative process, and unless you are someone like Terry Francona, your standing and stature to make those decisions alone differs.

To be fair, it’s not just the lineup. There have been other decisions. There was using Aaron Loup when the three batter rule meant he had to face J.T. Realmuto. He has used Trevor May and Miguel Castro quite often so far this season. The latest was letting Marcus Stroman bat in the sixth only to let Jeurys Familia pitch in the seventh.

That last decision was one of several which has caused fans to question his abilities. There has been a growing narrative where Rojas was not ready for this job and is in over his head. Certainly, one of the contributing factors was his being thrust into the job after Carlos Beltran‘s firing. However, when it came to that decision, there was much more happening than most were aware:

When assessing managers, we far too often overlook the fact there is much we don’t know. For example, we don’t understand players have personal conversations with players, and they have to make assessments and decisions based upon those conversations. We really don’t know why some players are unavailable.

There’s also the fact we tend to only judge one or two decisions per game and blow it out of proportion when it comes to assessing the total job. First and foremost, it would seem from Stroman’s tweet, Rojas has the back of everyone in that clubhouse. To a certain extent, that is no surprise with Rojas managing most of these players in the minors, and those players respecting him.

Players certainly respect him when he goes out there arguing with the umpire after Jose Alvarado threw not once but twice at Conforto. More people respect him when he takes ownership of the team’s issues and doesn’t pass the blame to the players. He also accepts the responsibility for the decisions clearly made by the front office.

Another overlooked factor is how much certain players have improved. It’s still early, but we have seen Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo play significantly improved defense. We have also seen him make Dominic Smith passable in left field. Make no mistake, this is significant because the Mets need for each one of these things to happen if the team wants to truly compete this season.

And remember, when assessing Rojas, the Mets have had a simply bizarre start to the season. They didn’t play the first series due to the Nationals getting infected with COVID. They had a suspended game after three batters and a rain out. At one point, they had played five games and had five games postponed. Despite that, he has his team ready to play, and they seem primed to take off.

Overall, Rojas isn’t perfect, but no manager is. He is still growing into the job, and he is learning. Overall, he has a real skill-set to thrive in this job, and he is doing many thing which are helping the Mets win games. This is not a manager in over his head. Rather, this is a manager who knows exactly what he’s doing, and the Mets are better off for having him in the dugout.

Marcus Stroman Is Pitching, What’s Your Complaint Now?

As has been the case with him over the past year (probably longer), Marcus Stroman has been a lightning rod for criticism. In terms of the New York Mets, it began when he opted out of the 2020 season, but there’s a possibility it began sooner than that.

In terms of that, Stroman was open and honest he was afraid of the outbreaks in Miami and St. Louis, and he had family members who were high risk. Rather than accept his explanation, people opted to read malice into his decision.

Since that point, Stroman signed the qualifying offer, has worked to develop a new pitch, and he has been just about as enthusiastic a Mets fan as there is. Yes, every action he has taken has indicated he is every bit the Mets fan he was like the day he was at Citi Field for Johan Santana‘s no-hitter.

This is a pitcher who not only believes in himself, but he believes in his teammates. He openly speaks about how Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. He talks about the talent on the roster. He talk about how great the Mets are. Really, if you look at Stroman, he pushes positivity and belief in not just himself, but also his teammates.

Still, like we saw in 2020, Stroman is going to make decisions which are good for him and his career. After seeing how Matt Harvey‘s career has transpired, we should have learned by now that’s not being selfish, but also, smart. The best ability you can give your team is availability, and if you hit the IL because you unnecessarily pushed it, you’re no longer available.

After the ridiculous decision to start the game against the Miami Marlins which was then suspended due to rain, Stroman announced his frustration he was not available again for five more days. He put in all that work, and it was all for naught. Of course, people opted to take that as Stroman being selfish and not team-first.

As an aside, the reason the Mets did not go with a six man rotation this year was because deGrom voiced his objections. Like all starting pitchers, deGrom is a creature of routine, and he didn’t want anything messing with his routine. What’s interesting is when this was Harvey, he was vilified, and for Stroman, when he said he wanted to stick to his routine, he was criticized.

Well, now, Stroman threw a bullpen session, and he declared himself good to pitch in the doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. Once again, Stroman is stepping up and helping the team. He is doing it when few pitchers would be willing to pitch on one day’s rest.

Now that he is doing that, the people who refuse to embrace him, need to find another reason to criticize him. Better yet, instead of going that route, they should probably embrace him and acknowledge they’re getting to see not just one of the best pitchers in baseball, but also a positive individual who only seeks to build up everyone around him.

Michael Conforto Singled Out For Mets Team Wide Slump

If the New York Mets were to have played in the game against the Miami Marlins, Michael Conforto was going to bat sixth. The reason why is Conforto is slumping.

There’s no doubt Conforto is slumping. After going 2-for-5 in the first game of the season, he’s slumped mightily.

Since that first game, he’s 1-for-16 with a double, a walk, and two HBP. Alarmingly, he’s struck out in seven of 19 plate appearances (36.8%). That would be eight times if the home plate umpire didn’t blow the call.

Certainly, you can understand why the Mets would consider dropping him in the order. However, taking that position ignores the fact Brandon Nimmo is the only player in the Mets lineup who is hitting. Here are the numbers:

No, this isn’t just Conforto slumping. It’s nearly everyone in the Mets lineup. Again, Nimmo is the only one performing well.

Dominic Smith hasn’t been bad per se, but still, he only has a .250 OBP. Of course, part of that is hitting a sacrifice fly.

To that end, it would make sense to move him up in the lineup. He’s one of the few who has performed respectably.

Then again, when we see Luis Guillorme hitting .500 with a 1.125 OPS unable to crack the lineup, we get a sense these decisions aren’t entirely performance driven. What the impetus is for these decisions is anyone’s guess.

Right now, we only know Nimmo and Guillorme are hitting, Smith is treading water, and frankly, everyone else is struggling mightily.

Despite that, Conforto is the only one criticized and dropped in the lineup. It makes zero to no sense, and it’s difficult to ascertain what the Mets endgame is. The only thing that’s known is Conforto is the only player penalized for struggling.