Yesterday, Jacob deGrom won the National League Cy Young Award, but it was not unanimous. No, there was one dissenting vote from John Maffei of the San Diego Tribune. As he has not written an article on why he voted the way he did, and he does not have a Twitter, no one is quite sure why he opted to vote for Max Scherzer over deGrom for the Cy Young Award.
While many may assume the reasons why Maffei made his vote the way he did, you cannot be sure his rationale. Maffei was going to get the chance to explain his reasons with Steve Somers:
Well, that ended badly. Very badly.
In New York, Steve Somers is an institution, and we get him and his tone. It sounded like typical tongue-in-cheek Somers, but Maffei was having none of hit. Most likely not knowing who Somers was, Maffei was not going to deal with it, and he understandably hung up the phone.
Of note, Somers did ask his producer to reach back out to Maffei and explain the shtick. Unfortunately, Maffei would not come back on the show to have that discussion.
To some extent, it is a real shame because Maffei had one of the worst Cy Young ballots you could possibly have. In addition to having Scherzer over deGrom, which is an arguably defensible position, he did not have Aaron Nola third.
Now, Maffei was not the only one to have Freeland over Nola. One of the other two was Thomas Harding, who is the MLB beat reporter for the Colorado Rockies. It’s not unusual to see a local beat writer hold a player they cover and watch everyday to a higher esteem than others. We don’t know why Andrew Wagner did the same thing.
While Harding and Wagner had their own reasons to put Freeland over Nola, Maffei was the only writer to put Miles Mikolas third. He would be the only writer to have Mikolas over Nola, and he would be the only one to have Mikolas in the top three. In fact, there were just two writers who gave Mikolas a vote in the top four.
With respect to Maffei, or really any writer, you would hope there were be some article or explanation for the vote. After all, the Cy Young Award winner is going to be reported in the paper. Speaking of the paper, it is important to note Maffei has been covering high school sports for the San Diego Tribune.
While it did not truly matter in the end, the BBWAA gave a vote to one of the most prestiguous awards to a high school sports writer. So while Maffei may have to explain the thinking behind his ballot, the BBWAA should have to explain why they are letting people who no longer cover the sport have a vote on these awards.
Chances are neither will be on with Steve Somers to provide that explanation.
The New York Mets have had a number of down seasons with 2018 being one of them. There were some bright spots this past season with Jacob deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball being one of them. This is reminiscent of how many times we have seen different Mets players have great seasons in what has been an otherwise lost season for the franchise.
The last time we saw anything like deGrom’s season happen was R.A. Dickey‘s 2012 season. While the knuckleballer had been better than expected for a few years, no one could see him winning 20 games let alone beating out Clayton Kershaw, who was still in his prime, for the Cy Young Award.
While it was Dickey who won the Cy Young Award, it was Johan Santana who captured the hearts of Mets fans by pitching the first no-hitter in Mets history. Special mention needs to go here for Mike Baxter‘s catch.
In 2004, Mike Piazza passed a significant career milestone by hitting his 352nd career homer as a catcher. With the home run, he passed Carlton Fisk, and he all but cemented his Hall of Fame case by hitting the most home runs as a catcher.
Another Mets catcher who set a home run record was Todd Hundley. In 1996, his 41 homers would not just match a Mets single season record, but it would also pass Roy Campanella‘s single season record for most homers by a catcher. That season saw a number of feats including Bernard Gilkey setting the Mets single-season record for doubles and Lance Johnson setting the record for most triples in a season. Remarkably, all three of these Mets records stand to this day.
On the final game of the 1991 season, which was the Mets first losing season since 1983, David Cone tied the then National League record with 19 strikeouts in a game. It was a feat which had only been previously met by Mets legend Tom Seaver.
Speaking of that 1983 season, Darryl Strawberry would become the first and to this date only Mets position player to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award. The 1983 season was also notable because after the Midnight Massacre, Seaver would finally come home to the Mets.
Really, it was that 1983 season which was the beginning of something special with the Mets. In addition to Strawberry and Seaver, the Mets called-up rookie starter Ron Darling. Much like how he is joined in the SNY booth now by Keith Hernandez, he was teammates with Hernandez that season because the Mets would make a franchise altering trade to acquire the former MVP.
Really, when you look at 1983, you can see how even a bad year is the building block towards a team building a World Series winning club. Hopefully, that is what the 2018 season was for the Mets.
You can argue it was the case with deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Wheeler matching him big start for big start in the second half. Brandon Nimmo had the second highest wRC+ among National League outfielders, and Michael Conforto returned to being Michael Conforto in the second half. More than that, Amed Rosario seemed to turn the corner while his new double play partner, Jeff McNeil, burst onto the scene.
In the end, when you look at losing seasons like 2018, you can see great things. More than that, you can see how great things will soon be in store for the Mets.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.” While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise. There are several reasons why:
- Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
- With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players. You don’t need three.
- Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
- The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
- With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
- Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series. After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets. If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
- The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus. You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
- For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
- Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
- It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.
So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?
With the Mets reportedly not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason, the Mets have put them in a position where their options to improve their batting order are becoming increasingly limited. That is at least on the free agent market. Instead, the team is going to have to look towards trades to try to improve their roster.
When looking at trades, the team should look much further than any of their oft publicized and discussed needs. Instead, the team should do all they can do to improve their roster. If you are looking to build a World Series contender, that means obtaining Corey Kluber.
If the Mets are able to obtain Kluber, they are going to have the best rotation in baseball, and quite possibly, they could have one of the best rotations of all-time. When you have pitching like that, you win games and postseason series.
Remember, the 2001 Diamondbacks won the NL West and the World Series riding Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. While Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homers that year, the rest of the Diamondbacks team wasn’t great offensively. That team had a 97 wRC+, which was ranked 15th in the majors.
The Mets would have that with Kluber and Jacob deGrom. Kluber has led the Majors in wins over the past three seasons with the second most innings pitched and the third highest fWAR. As for deGrom, he was the best pitcher in baseball last, and we have seen what he can do in the postseason.
As for the Mets offense, well, in the second half of the season last year, they were ranked 11th in the majors. With a 38-30 second half record, the Mets were tied with the Braves for the best record in the NL East. Combining that improved offense with the emerge of Zack Wheeler, and this is suddenly a very scary Mets team, which is something the Mets need to be building.
Notably, Wheeler is a free agent after the 2019 season, and after the 2020 season, deGrom will be a free agent. The biggest hit happens after the 2021 season with Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz becoming free agents. That’s a big chunk of the Mets current core, which means this organization has three years to win a World Series with this group.
It just so happens Kluber is under team control for three years with 2020 and 2021 team options. All told, Kluber is owed just $52.5 million over the next three years giving the team some flexibility to add talent around an ace pitcher.
Now, there will be obvious skeptics as to whether this will work for the Mets. This plan would require buying Amed Rosario making strides. It also requires Jeff McNeil to repeat a second half which was fueled by .368 BABIP. Todd Frazier is going to have to be what he was in April and stay off the disabled list, and Jay Bruce is going to have to learn first base. You are also going to need a full season from Juan Lagares in center.
Then again, maybe you won’t.
Adding Kluber only adds to the possibilities. With Kluber atop the rotation with deGrom, the Mets could look to trade Wheeler at his peak value. Possibly, the Mets could move Wheeler to address other areas of need like their bullpen or a right-handed bat. With Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel being free agents and Lance McCullers missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John, the Astros are certainly a fit. Seeing how Wheeler pitched in the second half, there will obviously be other suitors.
Now, getting Kluber is going to hurt. At a minimum, you are probably talking Peter Alonso, Andres Gimenez, and some other notable Mets prospects. It’s entirely possible, a Major Leaguer will need to be included in the deal. Certainly, giving up your top talent will hurt the system.
However, a more broad based analysis needs to take place here. The Mets window is 2019-2021. After that, the next real wave for the Mets comes a year or two after that as Jarred Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos all played in Kingsport this past season. Considering how the talent is structured in the Mets farm system, the time to make a run is right now.
If you’re making that run, the Mets need to go all-out improving this roster. Unless you are spending on the free agent market to get Machado and Bryce Harper, which the Mets aren’t doing, it means trading for big pieces. That means giving up Alonso and Gimenez for a big piece. Right now, there is no bigger piece than Kluber. He’s the real difference maker.
Get Kluber and make a real run at 2019 and 2020. The talent is here, and the Mets have the chips to do it.
Despite having a strong finish to the 2017 season, the Mets decided they needed to sign Jay Bruce to play the outfield rather than have Brandon Nimmo play right field while Michael Conforto was rehabbing from his shoulder surgery. Despite his playing exceedingly well, Nimmo would not only be demoted when the Mets needed an extra reliever in the bullpen, but the Mets would also rush Conforto back from the disabled list.
Despite everything in his way, Nimmo would earn a spot in the everyday lineup. In terms of on-field production, Nimmo was arguably the best outfielder in the National League. Certainly, he was among the best six in the National League. Unfortunately, his production on the field would not translate to his being named an All-Star.
This would not be an good first half for Nimmo. In fact, Nimmo would hit .263/.404/.483 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers, and 47 RBI. Among National League outfielders, he was second only to Christian Yelich in Offensive WAR, OPS+, and wRC+. He would finish second to Billy Hamilton in triples.
Among all National League players, he would finish second only to Joey Votto in OBP. Perhaps the biggest indication of how much Nimmo has been snubbed all season, the only category he would lead the majors in was hit by pitch. He would have had even more had he not been called back to the plate on more than one occasion for not trying to get out of the way.
Despite all he did offensively, Nimmo would not win a Silver Slugger this season.
Sure, the awards were truly a joke this year. For example, J.D. Martinez won the Silver Slugger for DH and OF despite playing only 57 games in the field. That said, it is really bizarre Nimmo was overlooked.
That’s fine. As far as the Mets and their fans are concerned, other teams can overlook Nimmo all they want. While they are overlooking him, he can put up another great season while hopefully leading the Mets to their third World Series title. If that does happen, all of us will be smiling along with Nimmo as everyone who overlooked and underrated him will stand there saddened and befuddled.
Back in 2010, things were bleak with the Mets, really bleak. The team closed out Shea Stadium with brutal losses on the final game of each season. In 2006, Carlos Beltran struck out looking. In 2007, Tom Glavine allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning. In 2008, in what was the final game at Shea Stadium, Jerry Manuel brought in arguably his worst reliever in Scott Schoeneweis, who would allow a homer to Wes Helms to complete a second collapse.
In 2009, fans were less than thrilled with Citi Field. It looked like more of an homage to the Dodgers than the Mets. As much of a disappointment as Citi Field was, the team was even more of a disappointment. The Mets went from a World Series contender to an under .500 team. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse the Madoff scandal hit. It would forever change the impact how the Mets organization would be run.
Fans were looking for hope in any way, shape, or form, and they would find that hope in Ike Davis.
The 2010 Mets would disappoint, but there would be hope because of the play of the 2008 first round draft pick. As a rookie, Davis hit .264/.341/.440, and he would finish in the Top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting. While fans loved his bat, it would his play on the field, including his signature catch which would make him a quick fan favorite:
Using DRS as a metric, Davis was already the best fielding first baseman in the National League. More than that, he seemed to be the only player not intimidated by Citi Field. With his defense and game winning hits, it seemed like Davis was a star in the making.
As 2011 began, he seemed well on his way recording an RBI in nine of the Mets first 10 games. In early May, he was hitting .302/.383/.543. By any measure, he was a budding star, and then he would suffer an injury, which was compounded because the injury itself was originally mischaracterized.
With the injury, his potential breakout to stardom was delayed a year. Instead, during Spring Training, Davis would contract Valley Fever. The Valley Fever was most likely a factor in Davis’ drop from his early production. He would hit a disappointing .227/.308/.462, but he would hit 32 homers. Whatever hope the 32 homers would present were quickly dashed as Davis would never again be the same player.
As difficult as 2013 would be with Davis, the 2014 season would be worse. Davis’ injuries and production opened the door for the Mets to look at Lucas Duda, and based upon a number of factors, including play on the field, the Mets would tab Duda as their first baseman. This meant that Duda was a key bat in a lineup which would win the 2015 pennant while Davis would bounce around between the Pirates, Athletics, Rangers, Yankees, and Dodgers organizations.
Eventually, the slugger would abandon hitting, and he would attempt to become a pitcher. It would not lead anywhere as Davis would become a minor league free agent after the 2017 season, and he found himself with no suitors.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t have one last big moment as a baseball player.
During the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Davis would play for an Israel team, who would make a surprising run. He’d have a key pinch hit and he would hit well in the tournament. In six games, Davis hit .471/.571/.706 with two doubles, a triple, and three RBI. After that, he was no longer a position player, but a pitcher. After a year in the Dodgers organization, he was neither.
He did not play at all in 2018, and now, he has decided he will no longer play baseball anywhere.
This may not have been the career Davis wanted or believed he would have when he was a first round draft pick, and yet, he was a player who left a definitive impact. He was a key figure who gave Mets fans hope. He is the only human being who can say he played first base when the Mets had a no-hitter. He was a fan favorite, and he is a player many Mets fans still have a soft spot for all these years later.
And if things take off after the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he could have an impact on baseball in Israel.
All in all, that’s not a bad career. In the end, Davis should hold his head high fully knowing he left an impact on the Mets, and he may have done even more than that. Really, congratulations to Ike Davis on a fine MLB career.
With everything Peter Alonso does, it is getting harder and harder justifying keeping him in Triple-A past the first few weeks of the season. His power is legit, and it he attacks this offseason like he did the last, he’s going to be a significantly improved player. Seeing the season he just had, that’s a scary thought, and yet, there’s no way the Mets can just hand him the first base job next year, not if they are planning on winning next year.
Again, this is no slight against Alonso, but rather a result of the circumstances. When analyzing the situation, there are certain assumptions we need to make. The first assumption Jay Bruce has a contract which cannot be traded. When looking at the sprint speeds compiled by Baseball Savant, Bruce is the slowest right fielder in the majors, and as a result, the second assumption is Bruce should no longer be playing the outfield. The last assumption is with Bruce still having two years $28 million on his deal, the Mets are not going to put him on the bench, nor would Bruce be willing to accept such an assignment.
With all of that being the case, where is the room for Alonso on the 2019 roster?
You could argue he could go play right field, but then you are weakening your outfield defense. Last year, Bruce was a -4 DRS in 538.2 innings in right field. With him in right, Brandon Nimmo is your likely center fielder, and he was a -2 DRS and -2.8 UZR in 350.1 innings in center last year. Configuring your outfield this way may also carry with it the possibility Juan Lagares, who is the best defensive center fielder in baseball, even fewer innings in the outfield.
The obvious rebuttal to this is Bruce is not a first baseman. It’s a fair comment, but if you follow the scouting reports, Alonso has struggled at first base next year. You could argue Alonso would not be better than the 0 DRS Bruce had in 180.1 innings there last year. You could even argue Alonso would be worse.
Assume for a second, the Mets decide to ignore outfield defense completely, and they put Bruce in right field to make room for Alonso. Your outfield is now set, and also, it means your infield is likely set. This means the Mets do not add a Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock, or other big right-handed bat this team really needs to add this offseason.
Sure, you could say the Mets could still sign someone, but then you are likely forcing Jeff McNeil to the bench because it is unrealistic to expect Brodie Van Wagenen to tell his former client Todd Frazier he is now a utility infielder. Moreover, for a Mets pitching staff who induces many groundballs, it would seem like a mistake to put your only quality infield defender on the bench. If you have your choice between Alonso and McNeil, don’t you have to go with McNeil at this point because he’s proven he can play and play well at the Major League level?
The bigger question iss if you’re the Mets, and you are truly trying to build a World Series contender next year, are you really going to put all of your eggs in the Peter Alonso basket? That’s a really big risk.
Keep in mind, some of his stats in Binghamton were inflated by a .344 BABIP. Given how slow he is, he’s due for some course correction on that. Compounding the problem is the fact he pulled the ball 50.3 percent of the time with Vegas. If he is going to be that extreme a pull hitter (as opposed to what he was in 2017), teams are going to shift him accordingly, and he’s going to lose a lot of base hits he is currently getting.
With Vegas, he had a 25.9 percent strikeout rate. In the Arizona Fall League, he is striking out 25.6 percent of the time. That’s not a great strikeout rate, and it’s possible he strikes out more against Major League pitching.
There’s also some question about his ability to hit right-handed pitching at the Major League level. Baseball America said of Alonso, “his power will play in the big leagues, perhaps in the second half of 2018, whether as a regular or a platoon masher.” To be fair, the stats don’t necessarily prove that out with Alonso having a higher OPS against right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching last year.
Now, it’s possible Alonso comes to Queens next year, and he is able to succeed despite these question marks. After all, Paul Goldschmidt was once thought to be a platoon bat who proved he could hit anybody. Lucas Duda was able to prove himself an everyday first baseman despite a high strikeout rate because of his plate discipline and power.
Really, by no means should we count out Alonso being a masher at the Major League level. However, we also shouldn’t count on it happening immediately next year. More than that, the Mets shouldn’t be counting on it if they intend to try to win the World Series next year.
Ultimately, Alonso needs to start the year in Syracuse because the Mets are going to have to find a spot for Jay Bruce to play and because the team needs to get a proven right-handed bat this offseason.
It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
Well, the impossible has finally happened. The New York Mets have FINALLY parted ways with one time top prospect Rafael Montero. It is somewhat ironic it comes in the same month when Jacob deGrom is likely to win the Cy Young Award. Mostly, it’s just shocking and strange.
This was a long anticipated moment, and yet one in which many believed would never happen.
Looking back, it was Terry Collins who first made an issue about Montero’s ability to pitch. With the Mets coming off a pennant, Collins went out of his way to challenge/chastise Montero. Collins would tell him the Mets re-signed Bartolo Colon because Montero had not held up hid end of the bargain because he was not good enough to be a part of the Mets rotation.
The reason Montero wasn’t ready to take on that role was because he was hurt. At least, that is what he said. He kept alleging it, and the Mets doctors never found anything, at least not anything they deemed sufficient enough for his complaining of pain. While he was complaining of pain, we were all complaining about the results.
In 2016 and 2017, he was 5-12 with a 5.87 ERA, 1.790 WHIP, and a 1.61 K/BB ratio. Things got so bad with him many talked themselves into him being a late bloomer when he had a 4.15 ERA in August 2017.
That included the Mets who kept Montero over relievers like Josh Smoker, Chasen Bradford, and Erik Goeddel. The later two had good 2018 seasons, which was something which stung all the more when you saw how much the Mets needed relief help.
The Mets releasing players who contributed elsewhere just so the Mets could stubbornly see what they had in Montero was becoming the norm.
Fact is, the Mets were in this deep, so they might as well see how all of this played out. Then a funny thing happened. The guy who always seemed to complain about injuries was actually injured.
On the eve of the 2018 season, it was discovered Montero had a torn UCL, and he needed season ending Tommy John surgery. While it could be a different injury than the ones he had which had caused him pain in the past, it was certainly interesting to see him finally diagnosed with an injury which COULD explain his struggles.
With the surgery, it is likely he would not pitch until sometime around the 2019 All Star break. Looking at Zack Wheeler, there was a chance he may not pitch at all in 2019. With him being out of options, there was a legitimate question if he’d ever pitch for the Mets again.
Still, the Mets had gone this far down the rabbit hole with Montero, and to a certain extent, they were almost obligated to see how he could pitch when he was finally healthy and/or not complaining of pain to his pitching arm.
Maybe, the poor pitching we’ve seen was the result of a torn UCL. Maybe, just maybe, with a surgically repaired elbow, Montero could be the pitcher the Mets envisioned he could be, or at the very least, he could become a competent MLB pitcher.
Well, if that does happen, it’s going to happen somewhere else because the Mets out-righted Montero to get the roster back under 40 players. Montero then opted to become a free agent.
The Mets out-righted Montero while keeping Drew Gagnon, a 28 year old rookie with a 5.63 career Triple-A ERA. Say whatever you want about Montero, but from a pure talent standpoint, he is better than Gagnon. It’s the reason why Montero got so many chances.
And that where’s we are with Montero. The Mets and Montero are parting ways instead of seeing if Montero could pitch like the pitcher the Mets stubbornly believed he could be. Instead, after all that time and seeing all those other pitches go and produce elsewhere, Montero is an ex-Met.
For all the times the Mets should have parted with Montero, the organization chose to do this now instead of all those other times when they should have held onto another player. They chose now even though Montero was finally the player they should have kept.
If the Mets had done this at any other time, and Montero succeeded, many would have understood. Fact is, most probably still will. And yet, if a healthy Montero does prove himself to be competent MLB pitcher and Gagnon pitches like someone with a career 5.63 Triple-A, the Mets will have definitively made the wrong choice here . . . just like all those other times they cut good players from the roster to stubbornly keep Montero.
In their history, the Mets have had a number of truly awful free agent signings. Their foibles on the free agent market have inspired books, and they have led to the Mets having prolonged down periods which have led to the team being under .500 for extended periods and eventually rebuilding. Their mistakes are not limited to just any position. Really, they have made mistakes across the diamond:
C Rod Barajas (1 year, $500,000) – In the Mets history, they have had just four free agents catchers as their Opening Day starter with Barajas being one of them. With respect to Barajas, he was the cheap option in a truly uninspiring free agent group of catcher, and he would not last the season getting released towards the end of August.
1B Eddie Murray (2 years, $7.5 million) – Murray was the first piece the Mets locked down in what was to be known as the Worst Team Money Could Buy. In his previous stops, he was a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best switch hitters to ever play the game. With the Mets, Murray had two disappointing seasons where he hit .274/.330/.446.
2B Luis Castillo (4 years, $25 million) – In 2007, the Mets needed a second baseman, and the team was able to get Castillo for nearly nothing. While that team collapsed, Castillo was hardly to blame hitting .316/.404/.418 over the final month of the season. To that end, it made sense to bring him back but not for the extreme overpay which was immediately panned by everyone. Castillo would disappoint from that point forward, and eh woudl become a symbol of what was wrong with the team with the seminal moment being his dropping Alex Rodriguez‘s pop up leading to the Mets losing a game to the Yankees.
3B Todd Frazier (2 years, $17 million) – After a year in which Frazier had his first ever trips to the deisabled list and he had a careeer worst .390 SLG and .693 OPS, he was an obvious candidate. Frankly, the choice was much easier when you consider how well Robin Ventura played during his Mets tenure and the Mets predominantly using homegrown players or trades to fill the position.
SS Kazuo Matsui (3 years, $20.1 million) – Despite the presence of Jose Reyes, the Mets opted to sign Matsui to be their shortstop. It looked like a great move when Matsui homered in his first ever at=bat, but it was all downhill from there as Matsui disappointed at the plate and in the field. Matsui dealt with injuries, was moved to second base, had a negative WAR in his last two years with the Mets, and he was eventually traded for Eli Marrero, who lasted just two months with the Mets.
LF George Foster (5 years, $10 million) – The Mets first free agent splash was Foster, and in many ways, Foster set the tone for some for the big moves the Mets would make in the future. Foster would go from being an All Star who hit .295/.373/.519 to someone who hit .252/.307/.422 in a Mets uniform. Overall, Foster had a rocky tenure with the team, and he would be released in 1986 after making comments to the press.
CF Vince Coleman (4 years, $11.95 million) – It wasn’t enough the Mets let Darryl Strawberry go to the Dodgers they replaced them with Coleman, a player who tortured the Mets. If Mets fans didn’t despise him enough when he wore a Cardinals uniform, they certainly did during his Mets tenure which featured not just poor play but also throwing firecrackers at a group of fans.
RF Roger Cedeno (4 years, $18 million) Cedeno wasn’t just an important part of the 1999 team, but he would also serve as a key piece of the trade which brought the Mets Mike Hampton. When he was a free agent, the Mets pounced to bring him back. Just three years later, he was a shadow of the player he was leading to his being traded to Wilson Delgado.
SP Oliver Perez (3 year $36 million) – After being obtaine by the Padresx, Perez was great in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, won 15 games in 2007, and gave the Mets every chance to win in the final game every played in Shea Stadium. Despite all of that, there were red flags everywhere, and Perez predictably failed after getting his big free agent deal. He struggled, and he would refuse a stint in the minors leading to the team freezing him out. His Mets career would end in infamy as he was brought into the 14th inning of the final game of the season after not having pitched in nearly a month. He’d be released after the season with a one year and $12 million left on his deal.
RP Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, $37 million) -Needing a close, the Mets went out and signed the closer who just set the single season saves record to a massive contract. In his first year in the deal, he had the second most blown saves in the NL and a then career worst ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, and K/9. In the second year of his deal, he was placed on the restricted list after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend’s father in the family room at Citi Field. The Mets finally traded him in the last year of his deal to accomplish both rebuilding and to prevent an onerous option from being activated.
In Brodie Van Wagenen’s first offseason as Mets manager, it is incumbent upon him to navigate through the minefield of potential free agent busts which are lurking. The success of the 2019 Mets and his success during his tenure as the Mets General Manager depends on it.