Rants

Media Kills Mets Players While Giving The Wilpons A Pass

Noah Syndergaard left last night’s game with an apparent leg injury. Whatever the reason, he was still in the clubhouse after the game instead of getting treatment or an examination in the trainer’s room or somewhere else.

Syndergaard finally left the clubhouse when the media entered, and the media pounced:

As is typically the case, reporters pounce on when a player ducks them. We saw it happen earlier this year with Clint Frazier, and we’ve seen it with the Mets with Matt Harvey and others.

It’s a player’s responsibility to face the media, and when they failed to meet up to their responsibilities, they should be held accountable. Even if the media attacks tend to go over the top, they’re within their right to do it.

The question is why this only applies to players.

Sandy Anderson used to meet with the press before every homestand. He was there to answer for everything good or bad (mostly bad). It’s a tradition Brodie Van Wagenen has not followed. Instead, his media availability during homestands typically only goes as far as the notes he leaves telling the media he hopes they enjoy the doughnuts he bought them.

There’s also Jeff Wilpon, who never makes himself available to the media. That is, unless, he’s in studio with his friend Mike Francesa whose toughest question to Jeff is whether Jeff McNeil or Yoenis Cespedes could come within 25 strokes of him on the golf course.

Basically, the media will kill players for their self-imposed unavailability, but they’re unwilling to do the same with the General Manager or ownership. That goes at least double for ownership.

Sure, we will hear about how Syndergaard left his team high and dry to answer questions for him. However, we won’t hear the same about how Van Wagenen and the Wilpons do the same exact thing to Mickey Callaway and the Mets players.

No, for some reason only players need to be held accountable by the media. The Wilpons and Van Wagenen can and will continue getting a pass for the same behavior despite their unavailability being all the more egregious than what an injured Syndergaard, a player who’s always there to answer questions, did today.

That is a ridiculous double standard.

Mets Screwed Over By Subway Series

The National League East is supposed to be a tight race all season long. So far, it is proving itself out to be that way with the Phillies tied for first place with the Braves. The Mets are only just 4.5 games behind both teams (four in the loss column).

Because of the Subway Series, the Mets get four games against the Yankees – two at Yankee Stadium and two at Citi Field. That’s four games the Mets have against a Yankees team with a 40-24 record. With that record, the Mets get four games against the team who has the fifth best record in baseball. If the Yankees were in the National League, they would have the second best record.

That’s before the Yankees get players like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton prior to the next series which takes place at Citi Field next month.

The Braves split series is against the Blue Jays (23-42). The Phillies don’t have a split series. Rather, they just have two road games against the Red Sox (34-33). Now, some years we will see the Blue Jays as being great, and other years, like this year, they are bad. That makes a matchup with them all the better.

With respect to the Yankees, even when they’re rebuilding, they’re good. That’s four good games that’s on the Mets schedule that is not definitively on the schedule of another National League East rival. That means every year the Mets get four difficult games in place of somewhat randomly generated games which typically is not as strong as the games the Mets need to face.

Overall, the Mets are getting screwed here, and it is all in the name of some gimmick, albeit a still popular gimmick in New York which generates sell outs and increased ratings.

Apparently This Roster Is Callaway’s Fault

Last night, Mickey Callaway trusted Seth Lugo to finish the seventh inning over Noah Syndergaard. Even with Syndergaard cruising, the numbers were the numbers. As a result, Callaway decided to go with his best reliever to get the team a win rather than let Syndergaard get himself into a jam. It didn’t work out.

Sometimes managers make the right move, and it doesn’t work,. Sometimes, you want the managers to have a feel for the game and stick with their starters. After all, that was the justification for Terry Collins sticking with Matt Harvey, and we know how that ended.

But it’s not just Collins/Harvey, it’s also Callaway/Syndergaard.

Take the April 10th game against the Twins as an example. Syndergaard allowed one earned on two hits. He came out to start the eighth, and he allowed three straight hits starting what was a four run inning which chased him from the game.

There have been a number of instances all year where Syndergaard was cruising and just like that he lost it. There was the game against the Tigers where he struggled in the first two, but seemed to settle down only to allow homers in back-to-back innings. There was also his game against the Padres where he allowed homers, and as he got deeper into the game, he began to allow more base hits.

If we’re being honest, while Syndergaard has been much better starting May 1, he still has his issues while he is struggling with this slider. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. He has a 4.83 ERA, 83 ERA+, and a 3.60 FIP. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. Most of his numbers, including his strikeout rate, now stand at career worsts.

This isn’t the 2016 Syndergaard who was one of the best pitchers in baseball. This is a very talented pitcher impressively gutting through starts giving his team a chance to win while he’s still trying to rediscover pitches he’s lost due to the new ball.

Point is, we have seen Syndergaard lose it this year at a moment’s notice. It’s one of the reasons why Mets fans and reporters have jumped at the chance to criticize him all year long. But now, all of a sudden, everyone gets amnesia and pretends like they didn’t say the things they said about him about a week ago.

While you can defend keeping Syndergaard in, you can also realize why Callaway would go to Lugo. What you don’t understand is the composition of the roster and why there hasn’t been more attention focused upon it.

Right now, this team has only two reliable bullpen arms – Lugo and Edwin Diaz. That’s it.

In yesterday’s game, the Mets started J.D. Davis in left field and Carlos Gomez in center. They rushed Jeff McNeil off of the IL. Against a Giants bullpen, they mustered just four singles over the final four innings. They played poor defense in the field.

When Lugo blew the lead, eventually Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. Now, Callaway does deserve blame for completely overusing Gsellman. It’s led to him being terrible. However, as bad as he is, Callaway’s other options are worse. Honestly, in a pressure spot who do you want him to pick:

Looking at those options and the players who currently comprise the roster, you see that even with Callaway’s faults, this is on Brodie Van Wagenen and the just ridiculously bad offseason he had.

Take into consideration the fact he gave Jed Lowrie a two year $20 million deal. That’s $20 million to a 35 year old with a knee issue. In true J.J. Putz fashion, the Mets didn’t discover anything during the physical before the deal was consummated.

In lieu of that $20 million, the team could have signed Adam Jones ($3 million) and Greg Holland ($3.25 million) and saved some money to add another bench piece or reliever. The point is the Mets needed more depth in the outfield and the bullpen, and Van Wagenen instead opted on another infielder.

Sure, we can criticize Callaway for his faults, but this isn’t on him. This was a poorly constructed roster, and it will remain that way even if he’s fired and the team replaces him with Jim Riggleman, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or whoever else you could conjure up.

So go ahead, blow up at Callaway for using a terrific reliever while pulling a starter you have likely been killing all year. Get angry with him for putting in one of his not up to the task relievers in a spot. Get upset when the offense full of bench players and Triple-A starters can’t score runs in a close game.

Certainly, he’s the issue here and not Van Wagenen or the Wilpons who haven’t come up with the money for Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel despite the team desperately needing the. Make Callaway the whipping boy here just like Van Wagenen and the Wilpons want. After all, what good is a human shied if he’s not there to block all the the criticism really due to other people?

 

MLBPA Applauds Domestic Violence

Similar to the Roberto Clemente Award, the MLBPA has the Marvin Miller Award. The Marvin Miller Award is given to the player their peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”

Each team gets to nominate a player, and we have seen upstanding players win this award including Curtis Granderson, who has won it twice. Unsurprisingly, he was nominated again for the award this year.

There will be some stiff competition for this award, but it will not include Steven Matz, who not only donates time a money to the FDNY Foundation, but he also takes an active role with the Special Olympics.

Now, the Mets candidate for the award will be Jose Reyes.

That’s not a joke.

The Mets really chose Reyes to be their candidate for this award. For those who forgot, which clearly includes the Mets players, Reyes is alleged to have grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into the sliding glass doors. After hotel security contacted police, Reyes’ wife was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries to her neck, thighs, and wrists.

This is who Major League players “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”

Congrats to the players for taking their time to admit to us all they have no issue with domestic violence, and better yet, they believe players who commit violent acts against their wives need to be recognized as role models.

Well done.

Mets Not Permitted To Wear First Responders Caps Again

One surprising thing popped up on my son’s school calendar.  It was to wear red, white, and blue for what is being referred to there as Freedom Day. Having lived through the events of 9/11 and dealing with my own fears and loss due to the terrorist attacks, it just struck me as odd that 18 years later, children would wear red, white, and blue to celebrate America.  Odd, but good.

What also strikes me as odd is how Major League Baseball continues to not permit the New York Mets to wear the First Responders caps during the games played on 9/11.  Ultimately, when we talk about how we get from devastating terrorists attacks to children honoring America, the First Responders caps were an important part of the story.

It meant a lot to New Yorkers to see the New York Mets wear those caps.  We all shed a tear as John Franco wore an FDNY cap in honor of his fallen friend as he earned the win in the first game back after the attacks.  There was not a dry eye anywhere when Mike Piazza hit that home run off Steve Karsay to win the first game played in New York after 9/11.

Wearing the caps was the brainchild of Todd Zeile.  He defied Major League Baseball and encouraged his team to do the same.  They all did it playing at Shea Stadium, a place that was a staging ground for the recovery and relief efforts.  He had the full support of his manager Bobby Valentine, and yes, his ownership, who have unsuccessfully petitioned Major League Baseball to wear the caps during a game.

What remains odd is how fearful Major League Baseball is that another Mets player will defy them like Zeile once did.  In fact, as R.A. Dickey once pointed out, Major League Baseball has threatened severe fines against players who choose to defy them, and they have taken the steps to collect the caps from the dugout and clubhouse after batting practice.  This isn’t normal behavior.

In that sense, it’s odd. Across the country, schools are honoring America.  Adults are taking time to remember, and some of us still mourn.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is making sure teams don’t infringe on a licensing deal because somehow allowing the Mets to wear First Responder caps is a bad thing for Major League Baseball and New Era.

Really, in 18 years, it’s just plain shocking no one sat across the table and figured this out.  There could have been some sort of happy medium wherein either New Era makes the caps, or that they create a new cap to both honor the fallen while keeping in the spirit of the licensing agreement.

Instead, Major League Baseball will go out of their way to announce the Mets will wear the caps during batting practice, which as we have learned, you are not required to wear officially licensed gear.  In their minds, they probably think they are offering a best of both worlds solution.  They’re wrong.

The shame of it is as we become further removed from 9/11, the more we move about our everyday lives.  In the 18 years since, we have graduated from school, gotten married, and started families.  For those of us who remember, we also have to remember work and running a household.  Moreover, we have to get our children ready for days like “Freedom Day.”

So in different places in America, we’re mourning and honoring while Major League Baseball is forgetting and enforcing.

 

Mets Host Pedophile And Wife Beater At Citi Field

Sometimes, you just have to wonder how to tone deaf this organization is. When you don’t think they can do anything dumber, they do it. Last night was another example how stupid this organization is:

Standing next to the wife beating Jose Reyes is rapper 6ix9ine whose offenses include “posting a lewd video of a half-dressed 13-year-old girl performing oral sex on a pal.” (New York Post).

He’s also been arrested for choking a teenage fan for using his phone to record him. Additionally, he was arrested for assaulting a police officer who had pulled him over for driving with a suspended license.

Moreover, he’s an admitted member of the 9 Trey Bloods, a gang whose offenses include weapons charges, murder, and drug and sex trafficking.

6ix9ine wasn’t just a fan who purchased a Mets ticket. No, this was someone invited to Citi Field. He met and took pictures with different players including Reyes.

Let’s Go Mets

Mets Problem Isn’t Analytics, It’s The Wilpons

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons.  The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person.  The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”

Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.

For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera.  Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.

In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second.  That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014).  Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.

Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS.  That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.

Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third.  This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap.  That deal was nixed over money.

With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began.  In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP.  Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.

As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363.  It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243.  Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better.  Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.

In addition to bringing Cabrera back into the fold, the Mets also brought back Jay Bruce after having traded the then impending free agent to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan.

At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder.  The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right.  Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.

In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418.  In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence.  With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.

Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited.  More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year.  Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch.  In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.

Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason.  That honor goes to Jason Vargas.

The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth.  At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.

Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter.  Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen.  Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.

The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP.  He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.

What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department.  From reports, Vargas was not the only one.  Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven.  Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?

They’re not.

In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been.  It’s the Wilpons.

They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over.  They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wrights insurance policy into the team.  They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window.  They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.

Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.

What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone.  That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.

Harold Reynolds’ NL Cy Young Analysis Is Terrible

If you’ve watched MLB Network lately, you’ve seen Harold Reynolds make the case Max Scherzer should win the Cy Young over Jacob deGrom.

Now, there are valid reasons to consider Scherzer (or even the not oft discussed Aaron Nola) for the award this season.

With respect to Scherzer, he’s clearly established himself as the best pitcher in the National League over the past few years – even better than Clayton Kershaw. He’s also having another Cy Young caliber season.

Right now, Scherzer is 15-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 161.2 IP, 216 K, 0.897 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, and a 5.54 K/BB ratio. Overall, that’s good for a 6.5 pitching WAR.

Scherzer leads the league in wins, WHIP, strikeouts, innings, K/9, and K/BB ratio. He also leads the entire National League with a 7.2 WAR.

In many ways, Scherzer deserves the National League MVP because he does lead the league in WAR, and he almost single-handedly keeping the Nationals alive in the postseason race.

In games he pitches, the Nationals are 17-7, and when he doesn’t pitch they are 42-50.

Similar to the Nationals, the Mets are 39-51 on the days deGrom doesn’t pitch. On the days he does pitch, the Mets are 9-14.

Yes, the Mets are well under .500 when deGrom pitches.

They are under .500 despite deGrom having a Major League leading 1.77 ERA. He leads the National League in HR/9, ERA+, and FIP.

So, how is he 6-7 with his team having a losing record when he pitches? The answer is simple. His team is terrible.

There have been seven times this season he’s allowed no earned runs in a game. He’s only 2-0 in those starts.

He’s had 13 different starts where he’s gone at least seven innings while allowing two runs or fewer. In those starts, he’s 3-4. Yes, he has a losing record in games where he pitches deep into games allowing two runs or fewer.

For his part, Scherzer has 11 of those types of starts. He’s 7-2 in those starts. That’s a huge difference.

And despite all of this, Harold Reynolds is going to get up there and use wins as the reason Scherzer is better than deGrom. Not just their wins, but team wins.

In some warped and deluded thought process, Reynolds actually believes Scherzer pitching in front of a better and not a worse team makes him a better pitcher.

Overall, there are cogent arguments to be made on Scherzer over deGrom. Innings, strikeouts, and WHIP do matter. Yes, to a certain extent wins should matter.

That said, when you’re using wins as the crux of your argument while completely ignoring how the respective teams played behind each pitcher, you’ve effectively announced to the world you aren’t putting the time in to do the research required to effectively do your job.

No one is saying Reynolds should be fired over this. That’s silly. However, we do have to question why MLB holds him out as their lead commentator on their own network.

I guess that’s another thing Rob Manfred will blame Mike Trout for happening.

Mets Fans Should Not Want Alonso Called Up

Last night’s starting lineup had Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Austin Jackson, and Devin Mesoraco in it while Wilmer Flores, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, and Kevin Plawecki sat.

This isn’t really an anomaly as the aforementioned 30+ year old veterans on expiring deals have been getting regular playing time over the younger players.

Earlier this season, Dominic Smith was up with the Mets for a 31 game stretch. The 23 year old former first round pick started in just 16 of those games. During this time, Mickey Callaway described Smith as a bench player.

That’s better than what Guillorme got. Despite his not getting a chance to ever really prove himself, he was described as a pinch hitter and late inning replacement who should not be getting starts the rest of the year. Naturally, this was said on a day Reyes got a start at second.

Seeing how the Mets don’t play the young players when they’re here on how they seemingly go out of their way to disparage those players, as a fan, ask yourself why you would want Peter Alonso called up right now.

Do you want to see him on the bench behind Bautista, or in the event be actually does manage to return this year, Jay Bruce?

Do you want to see him get benched for failing to scoop out a Reyes throw in the dirt leading to his eventual (punishment) benching?

Do you want to see him sit and have the team refer to him as a late inning power threat off the bench?

Judging from what we’ve seen this year and the last, we know that’s what’s going to happen to Alonso.

With that in mind, again ask yourself, do you really want to see the Mets call up Alonso this year?

Mets Failure To Make Trades Leaves Vets Blocking Promising Younger Players

Looking over the Mets roster, Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins, Devin Mesoraco, and Jose Reyes are all veterans who are over 30 and have expiring contracts.

When you consider, the Mets added Austin Jackson to the mix, that’s five 30 year old players on expiring deals who were not moved at the trade deadline.

The issue isn’t just the Mets inability to get something, anything for these players. It’s the fact these players can and will stand in the way of a younger player.

Looking over this roster, there is no reason why Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil aren’t in the lineup everyday. Until Todd Frazier returns, the Mets have second, third, and left to use to figure out playing time.

Speaking of which, the Mets still have both Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso in Triple-A. It’s truly bizarre that neither one of them are up here now, especially with Smith’s purported ability to now play left field.

With McNeil’s, Guillorme’s, Smith’s, and Wilmer Floresversatility, the Mets have the ability to find playing time for everyone. With that versatility, we can not only see who’s ready to contribute at the Major League level, but also who’s a real part of the Mets future.

Instead, we’re going to see way too much of Bautista, Jackson, and Mesoraco in the starting lineup than is warranted for a team this many games under .500. We may very well see a game where they play on the same day as Reyes and Blevins.

Certainly, there are better odds of this happening than seeing an infield of Flores-Guillorme-Amed Rosario-McNeil with Smith in left. That’s before we even consider Alonso.

That’s not how you properly play out the string, and it’s a reason why the Mets are who they are and perennially winning teams are what they are.