Rants

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.

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

Reyes and McNeil Is the Issue, Not Callaway

Whenever a team plays a game, there are issues which are going to emerge, and it is likely going to be a topic of conversation in the hours leading up to the next game.  When there is a doubleheader, there is so much more to discuss that some things get lost in the weeds, or in some instances, it allows teams to bury stories.

Yesterday, before the Mets played the first game of the doubleheader against the Phillies, it was announced Todd Frazier was going to go on the disabled list, and to replace him on the roster the Mets were going to recall Ty Kelly.  The end result of this would be Jose Reyes taking over in the interim as the everyday third baseman.

Now, the Mets entered the doubleheader 16 games under .500, and the team decided to go with their 35 year old albatross instead of giving a young kid an opportunity.  That means Dominic Smith is still a 23 year old sitting on the bench not getting at-bats.  It also means Jeff McNeil, a player who has arguably been the best hitter in all of the minor leagues this season, remains in Triple-A.

The Mets are making this option despite Reyes clearly showing he’s incapable of handling a bench spot, and as a result, is really no part of the Mets future.  Worse yet, when he does play, he plays terribly.  On the season, Reyes has a -1.2 WAR.  He can’t hit with a a .168/.238/.235 batting line (32 wRC+), and he can’t field with a negative DRS at third and short.

In essence, the Mets have an old player who can’t hit and field taking away at-bats from young players in a seaosn where the Mets are selling at the trade deadline.

The joke continues with the Mets claiming McNeil is only a second baseman.  In his minor league career, McNeil has played 209 games at second base and 148 games at third.  Even if you as a franchise believe he’s only a second baseman, why can’t you temporarily shift Asdrubal Cabrera to third?

Cabrera is a much better third baseman defensively than he is a second baseman.  In fact, Cabrera is an MLB worst -16 DRS at second base.  Why can’t the Mets move him to third to remind teams of a versatility, to keep him healthy, and to give McNeil and/or Smith an opportunity?

When it comes to the Mets, this is by far the most pressing issue in what has become a nightmare of a season.

However, that’s not what we are talking about today.  We are not because SNY helped changed the narrative.

In the eighth inning in the second game of the doubleheader, Aaron Nola‘s spot was due up, and Gabe Kapler appeared as if he was going to use Odubel Herrera as his pinch hitter.  Before Herrera was announced as the pinch hitter, Mickey Callaway had sprung from the dugout out, and he brought in Jerry Blevins.

Initially, this looked like a gaffe from Callaway because it allowed Kapler to keep Herrera on his bench while bringing in the right-handed hitting Jesmuel Valentin to pinch hit instead.

In the postgame, Callaway explained this was not in fact a gaffe.  Instead, he opined he hoped Kapler would make the decision to pinch hit Valentin instead of Herrera.

In defending his position, Callaway noted how entering the game Valentin was a .190 hitter whereas Herrera was hitting well against left-handed pitching with a .804 OPS.

Ancedotally, while it is true Herrera is just 1-12 against Blevins, it should be noted only one of those 12 at-bats were this season.  That’s an important note because this year, Blevins has really struggled with left-handed hitters allowing them to hit .318/.392/.523 off of him.  It is important to note right-handed batter are hitting .150/.292/.250 off of Blevins this year.

Essentially, Callaway made the right move here.  He forced Kapler into the match-up he wanted late in the game.

However, instead of commending him for using data to make an informed and well reasoned decision and for his making moves to force the other manager into a decision where a .190 hitter stepped up to the plate, SNY had commentator after commentator after commentator who ripped Callaway for the decision.

With each commentator following the narrative, the Mets decision to give Reyes more playing time over Smith and McNeil became an even distant memory.  In essence, the Mets utilized their network to help shift the narrative from “How can you play Reyes and not give McNeil a chance!” to “Callaway is over-matched and doesn’t know what he’s doing!”

It’s infuriating, and it’s going to become increasingly infuriating as people focus on Callaway instead of what the real issue is.

Really, as the end of the day the biggest issue was the Mets insistence on playing a 35 year old who can’t hit or field instead of giving a young player a chance.  Anything else is just a distraction and a perpetuated false narrative.

Where Do The Mets Get Off Giving Away deGrom Gnomes?

Back in 2015, the New York Mets had a promotion to give away Jacob deGrom Garden Gnomes. As noted in an MMO article on the topic, this was a hot ticket item as nearly 40,000 fans showed up for the giveaway.

The problem was the Mets only gave away 15,000 garden gnomes meaning that even if you showed up to the gates an hour early, well before most fans arrive for a normal game, you were out of luck:

For some reason, the Mets won’t give away 40,000 of hot ticket items like this even with them knowing they are filling the park. As an aside, they make sure to have enough for every media member.

That aside, the Mets are more than willing to ruin a child’s experience at a game because they won’t spend the extra few bucks (absent a sponsor – $3/fan) to make sure everyone gets one, and maybe like the Brewers, order extras to bring to schools and other charitable events.

If you’re not infuriated enough, consider this: THE METS STILL HAVE LEFTOVER DEGROM GNOMES!!!!!

That’s right, despite “only having 15,000” leaving roughly 25,000 fans without a gnome, the Mets have one, and they’re giving it away:

https://mobile.twitter.com/mets/status/1003745747232313344

Really, just when you think this franchise can’t sink any lower and can’t be any more insulting, they find a way.

If you spent the money, you weren’t guaranteed a gnome not just because the Mets didn’t order enough, but because they also held one back to give away on Twitter.

Ridiculous.