Finally, for the first time since 2014, Jeff Wilpon answered questions about the Mets payroll. Of course, it was typical mixed messages and partial truths. Rather than putting it in my own words, I’m going to use the tweets from reporters:
Jeff Wilpon says there's a chance payroll goes up if there is a way to significantly improve the team. Says increasing payroll doesn't necessarily translate into wins.
— Laura Albanese (@AlbaneseLaura) January 23, 2018
Wilpon says the Mets payroll could conceivably match last year's or it could be "$10 million less."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 23, 2018
Right off the bat, we have at least a perceived contradiction. Jeff Wilpon’s statement the payroll will go up if there’s an opportunity does not jive with matching or reducing last year’s payroll by about $10 million. To give him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume he means he could increase payroll from it’s current point.
According to Spotrac, the Mets payroll currently sits at $128.9 million for the 25 man roster and $130.7 million total. Last year, the Mets payroll was $154.8 million. This means the Mets have somewhere between $13 to $23 million left to spend this offseason.
According to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the trade for Kipnis was rejected by “higher ups.” In fact, Heyman said, the deal was “killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.” Over the next two years, Kipnis is due $28.2 million over the next two years with a $2.5 million buyout if the Mets do not pick up the $16.5 million 2020 team option.
With respect to Harrison, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported the Pirates ask of Brandon Nimmo was too high considering Harrison’s contract. While we can debate the merits of trading Nimmo for Harrison, the contract balk is confounding with Harrison due $10.25 million next year with succeeding team options of $10.5 million and $11.5 million.
And for what it’s worth, Kipnis and Harrison do meet Jeff’s “Significantly Improve” Test as the Mets current options are Wilmer Flores, who has never been given a real opportunity to play second due to his poor glove, or re-signing Jose Reyes, who had a -0.6 WAR last year.
For a minute, let’s revisit another topic Jeff Wilpon raised when he said increasing payroll doesn’t necessarily translate to wins. Now, on the surface, that may appear to be true. Certainly, if you go out and spend $20 million on Jose Reyes, it is not going to make your team better. Also, for what it’s worth, for a team that desparately needs a second baseman and could also use a third baseman, center fielder, and a couple of arms, Jay Bruce doesn’t necessarily translate to wins either.
Sarcasm aside, let’s take Jeff Wilpon at his earlier word that he will spend if the move significantly improves the Mets. Let’s also focus on those players that would translate to wins instead of harping on a player like Jonathan Lucroy, who is really more a name than an All Star at this point in his career.
With the free agent market where it is, the Mets could obtain Todd Frazier, who is a significant upgrade at third over Asdrubal Cabrera. Moving Cabrera to second would at least solve the position with a credible Major League hitter.
In center field, Lorenzo Cain is still available, and his market is dwindling. This was a 5.3 WAR player last year, and as we all know, is a World Series champion. Considering center field is now manned by Juan Lagares, who is as brilliant defensively as he is poor at the plate and keeping healthy, Cain would be a significant upgrade that would translate to wins.
Same goes for a reliever like Greg Holland, who was an All Star in Colorado of all places last year. Really, Holland was terrific as a closer up until he likely tired toward the end of the year. Wouldn’t he be a significant upgrade that translates to wins, especially when you combine him with Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins?
The answer to all of the above is they will significantly improve the team and would likely lead to wins. The same could be said for Kipnis and Harrison, two players the Mets balked at over money. If the Mets are balking over $10-13 million at the biggest area of need this offseason, what would lead any of us to believe the Mets will spend that amount on other players?
Oh, and by the way, Jeff Wilpon essentially ruled out the team signing any combination of those players with his announced payroll restrictions.
And of course, if all of Jeff Wilpon’s statements didn’t see contradictory or disingenuous enough, he also made this statement:
Wilpon: "There is no concrete line to go up, there is no concrete line to go down or stay same. It’s somewhat in flux to have conversations with Sandy and the rest of the baseball department to determine what the best course of action might be.”
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 23, 2018
However, despite all of that, let’s just believe for one second, you still think the Mets are going to go out there and significantly improve this team. There’s still plenty of top tier free agents available, and there are deals to be had. Well, you’re dreams and assumptions should die with this statement on David Wright:
Among the factors Jeff Wilpon cited in counting David Wright's insurance covered salary as part of the payroll is the cost of the policy, "which is not cheap."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) January 23, 2018
That’s right. At a time when the Mets are giving mixed messages about payroll parameters, they’re complaining about the cost of an insurance policy that saves them roughly $20 million per season.
Really, everything Jeff Wilpon said proves out two things. First, the team really believes that spending to acquire better players does not necessarily translate to wins. Second, and more important, he thinks Mets fans are dumb.
Why else would he try to have us believe acquiring better players doesn’t lead to wins or publicly bemoan the cost of Wright’s insurance policy?
Mets and Angels are very similar in many ways.
Both teams play in major media markets with both teams being overshadowed in said market.
As we know, the Mets are overshadowed by a Yankees team with 27 titles. If you forget for even a nanosecond, don’t worry, a Yankees fan will be there to remind you.
Similarly, the Dodgers overshadow the Angels. The title disparity is somewhat similar with the Dodgers winning six World Series (five in Los Angeles) to the Angels one.
The title disparity in both situations appears set to expand with Yankee and Dodger, loaded with young talent and farm systems, were so close to winning the World Series.
The Yankees had a 3-2 lead in the ALCS before heading back to Houston.
Both teams are now gearing up so they won’t fall short again.
The Yankees have already added Giancarlo Stanton, and they have re-signed CC Sabathia. The team also has cleared payroll by trading Chase Headley to the Padres leaving them with more money to improve their team without going over the luxury tax.
The Dodgers and Yankees are not done this offseason, which is scary given how their rosters are already good enough to win a World Series. That should promise to put to Mets and Angels further back in the rearview mirror.
This begs the question as to what should you do as the Mets or Angels, two teams who were under .500 last year, should do this offseason.
The Angels have decided to go for it. They have been very active this offseason significantly upgrading their roster, by making the following moves:
- Acquired Jim Johnson
- Re-sign Justin Upton
- Signed Shohei Ohtani
- Acquired Ian Kinsler
- Signed Zack Cozart
In addition to these moves, they also signed Braves prospect Kevin Maitan, which should be a boost to their poor farm system.
The Mets? Well, they have been the Mets this offseason in that they have not done much:
- Hired new coaching staff featuring Mickey Callaway (manager) and Dave Eiland (pitching coach)
- Acquired Burch Smith in the Rule 5 Draft and traded him to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations
- Signed Anthony Swarzak
- Signed Jose Lobaton to a minor league deal
Perhaps tellingly, the Mets primary targets went elsewhere. Bryan Shaw went to pitch in Coors Field instead of Citi Field with his old pitching coach.
And Kinsler outrighted rejected a trade to the Mets. It’s quite telling he had the Mets and Angels on his 10 team no trade list, and he accepted a trade to the Angels.
Overall, the offseason isn’t over, and perhaps the Mets still have a significant move or two left in them. It’s going to be extremely difficult with the team cutting payroll and outright refusing to answer questions on the topic:
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 17, 2017
Too bad, the Mets can’t be more like the Angels, who don’t play in the top media market in the country, have played in the same ballpark since 1966, and don’t have their own regional sports network.
No, this isn’t a Mets-Yankees thing. It’s a Mets being the Mets thing.
First and foremost, the Mets were not serious suitors for the reigning National League MVP, a player who would have dramatically changed the outlook of the 2018 season.
Not only would Stanton deepen the lineup, but he would help make a great defensive outfield with Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares. This is all the more imperative in an era where players focus on hitting the ball in the air.
As for Michael Conforto, you let him heal properly and don’t rush him back (a novel approach when it comes to the Mets. When he returns, the Mets can transition him to first base. This would help solve the first base situation with the team having already soured on Dominic Smith.
We all know why this never happened. It’s because the Mets didn’t want to pay Stanton much like they’re not going to pay Carlos Santana, Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, or any other top tier free agent this winter.
And no, it’s not a defense that Stanton didn’t want to waive his no trade clause to come to the Mets. If true, that’s an even bigger indictment on the team.
Look, if Stanton only wanted to play for the Dodgers or Angels, his two hometown teams, so be it. Teams like the Giants and Cardinals tried anyway and were rebuffed.
With Stanton joining the Yankees, we know that isn’t the case. Rather, Stanton effectively said if you really want to trade me send me to a place where I can win – not just right now, but also in the coming years.
If Stanton didn’t want to come to the Mets, that’s ultimately the reason. Like the fans, he sees a team in disarray (flawed roster and shallow farm system) that is cutting payroll and not making every effort to win a World Series. By the way, the includes, but is not limited to pursuing him.
Right there is the real reason to be livid over Stanton. The Mets aren’t very good right now, and they’re not fully invested in getting better. This isn’t just the illusion of an angry and disappointed fan base, it’s a widely held perception.
To some degree, it cost the Mets a chance at Stanton. We’re now left to wonder what other players it could cost the Mets this offseason.
Since he was first called-up to the majors, Dominic Smith has been benched and pinch hit for against left-handed pitching. As a result, when Smith was allowed to face the left-handed Francisco Liriano and swing away 3-0, reporters rightfully ask about it. Collins answer was startling:
Terry Collins ladies and gentlemen pic.twitter.com/tiGXFfdswx
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) September 3, 2017
With rumors already swirling Collins won’t be back next year, it sure seems like he’s checked out.
He’s that guy who gives his two we notice and shows up to work everyday in a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops. He takes two hour plus lunches, and leaves before 4:00.
He disagrees and really doesn’t know how long Amed Rosario has dealt with a finger issue.
Brandon Nimmo won’t hit leadoff anymore.
Odd and inconsistent use of his relievers will continue.
Injured players will continue to play well after they shouldn’t. To that end, just wait for what we know is Wilmer Flores‘ imminent return.
The marginalization of young players for underperforming to not performing vets will continue.
Bad decision making will continue.
Why will all this continue? Why the hell not.
Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot. Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base. Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate. Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident. Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview. That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field. More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played. Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:
1. They Can’t Pitch
The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets. It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year. That ERA is just inexcusable. There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible. Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.
2. The Defense Is Terrible
The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball. Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th. At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th. Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore. Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers. Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position. Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.
3. They’re Always Injured
Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List. For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June. The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries. In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one. If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.
4. They’re Under-Performing
So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances. Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100. Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average. Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP. Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.
Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard. After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94. There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0
We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified. Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing. That’s on all of them.
5. They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games
It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races. They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own. Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces. In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22. It is one thing lost six of seven. It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.
If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves. They are allowing the homers. They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis. They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.
For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com). Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.
Prior to Thurdsay’s game with the Nationals, Sandy Alderson indicated he believes the Mets roster is talented, and he’s content to leave his top prospects in the minors. Another way of saying this is with Asdrubal Cabrera landing on the Disabled List with a thumb injury, he’d rather go with Jose Reyes as the Mets shortstop over Amed Rosario.
With Neil Walker going on the Disabled List for an extended period, the Mets had their excuse. But no, they’d rather go with an infield that has Reyes at SS.
Considering when Cabrera was injured, Reyes was hitting .188/.261/.293 and Reyes’ -1.2 WAR ranking him as the worst infielder in all of baseball, Sandy’s decision making here should be called into question.
In situations such as these, there’s only one thing you can do – Start a game log comparing Reyes and Rosario to see if Sandy was wrong, or if Sandy was right:
Cubs 14 – Mets 3
Reyes 1-4, 2 K
51s 13 – River Cats 2
Rosario 2-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, SB, GIDP
Mets 9 – Cubs 4
Reyes 0-2, R, 2 BB, SB, K
River Cats 5 – 51s 4
Rosario 0-4, 2 GIDP
Nationals 8 – Mets 3
Reyes 0-3, K
51s 12 – River Cats 4
Rosario 2-4, 2B, BB, 2 RBI
Reyes 1-9, 2 BB, SB, 4 K
Rosario 4-13, 2 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 3 GIDP
The difference between the Mets and Braves last night was Dansby Swanson.
Swanson made a number of great plays in the field. In the third, he made an incredible diving catch on a Michael Conforto sinking liner to start an inning ending double play. In the eighth, Swanson went deep into the hole to field what should’ve been a sure Wilmer Flores single turning it into an out.
Swanson killed the Mets at the plate too. His two out two RBI double in the sixth gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. In the ninth, Swanson took advantage of Curtis Granderson playing no doubles defense and Granderson having a poor arm. Swanson busted it right out of the box for a hustle double.
Rio Ruiz followed with an RBI single. It was quite the juxtaposition seeing Swanson race past Asdrubal Cabrera on his way to scoring the game winning run. Swanson might’ve been able to field or knock that ball down. Cabrera had no hope.
With Swanson, the Braves not only beat the Mets last night, but they’re also ahead of the Mets in the standings.
Now, it hasn’t been a smooth road for Swanson. After playing well in his call-up last year, Swanson struggled to start the year. In April, Swanson looked completely overmatched hitting just .156/.200/.233 with a double, two homers, and five RBI.
Since, he’s hitting .250/.353/.402 with seven doubles, four homers, and 21 RBI. Over the last week, he’s hitting .350/.409/.500 with two doubles, a homer, and five RBI.
Needless to say, he no longer looks overmatched. Better yet, he looks like a game changer out there, and the Braves are being rewarded for sticking with him.
This is a stark reminder the Mets have Amed Rosario, who is every bit as capable of having the game Swanson had last night. In fact, Rosario is the only man on the Mets 40 man roster capable of replicating the things Swanson did to beat the Mets.
Sadly, this won’t motivate the Mets to do the right thing. They’ll make excuses. Many will point to the Super Two cutoff that has likely already passed. For those pointing out Rosario needs more at-bats in Triple-A, Swanson never played a game at that level. The arguments the Mets don’t want him to struggle ring hollow when you consider the season is close to being over . . . if it isn’t already.
Last night, the difference between the Braves and the Mets was the Braves dynamic young shortstop being in the lineup, and the Mets dynamic young shortstop playing in Triple-A. Seeing how this was the difference, it makes you question how much longer the Mets can wait on Rosario.
Yogurt famously said in Space Balls, “Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the movie is made.” Like most jokes, there is a twinge of truth to it.
Of course, Mel Brooks was making a joke, albeit a satirical one. There was nothing funny about what Major League Baseball and New Era did today even if it was equally as absurd as Mel Brooks holding Space Balls the Flamethrower:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 29, 2017
Today is about honor and respect . . . SO BUY A CAP NOW!
Look, New Era is permitted to profit from the sales of their caps. They’re allowed to market their products as they seem fit. Based upon the availability of cap sizes remaining, it even appears to be working. With all that said, this is just tone deaf.
This is a day to honor the lives of brave warriors who sacrificed their lives in defense of this country. It’s a day for moments of silence and reflection even if we spend most of the day between bar-b-ques and going to baseball games. It’s really not a day to purchase camouflaged caps to tip to bring to a graveyard just so we can tip them.
Another small note here. If Major League Baseball and New Era are going to profit off the lives of fallen soldiers, shouldn’t they give something back? Look at the sale last website. Double check the Twitter feeds and other social media accounts. Is there even one mention that even the slightest portion of the proceeds will go to help soldiers and their families?
No, there are none. So while we’re tipping our $39.99 caps (plus shipping and handling), they can’t even donate what amounts to a tip to those from whom they profit.
The move makes a lot of sense. Not only is Lagares a Gold Glover in centerfield, but the Mets also lack another true defensive center fielder. Another thing the Mets lack is a true defensive third baseman.
With David Wright‘s injury problems, the Mets have been forced to play players out of position. The results have been poor. The Mets collection of third baseman have a -1 DRS and -2.7 UZR which rank 20th and 27th in the majors respectively.
The main culprits there are Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores. Reyes has a career -8 DRS and -4.5 UZR at third base. Flores has a career -10 DRS and -1.9 UZR at third. Simply put, neither player is a third baseman.
We all saw that on yesterday’s game. Flores doesn’t have good range at third, and he’s iffy with his throws. In the sixth, he spiked a throw to home plate when he had Christian Arroyo dead to rights. It took a good play by Kevin Plawecki to save him from the error and to record the out.
There was no one to bail Flores out in the ninth. In what could’ve been a game ending double play, Flores threw the ball offline. A Neil Walker stretch prevented the ball from going into right field, big it couldn’t get the force out at second. As we know, this came back to haunt the Mets in a 6-5 loss.
The obvious question that arises is why was Flores still on the field. The Mets had a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning. Their closer, Jeurys Familia, is a sinker ball pitcher who generates a number of ground outs. With that being the case, isn’t it incumbent on Collins to put his best defensive infield out there?
Matt Reynolds, who is generally regarded as a good defensive infielder, was available on the bench. Certainly, he’s a better defender than Flores at third. Much better actually. Why wasn’t he in the game?
Keep in mind, this was another game Collins over-managed. He used four relievers to pitch two innings. He went to the extreme on the matchups to the point where he removed his eighth inning reliever, Addison Reed, because a left-handed batter was coming to the plate. He did that despite Reed pitching extremely well against left-handed batters during his time with the Mets.
If Collins is willing to empty his pen, why not his bench? What’s the justifiable reason for keeping the better infielder on the bench with a sinker ball pitcher on the mound? There is no good reason.
Look, we can all agree that it’s the players in the field who win or lose games. Certainly, Flores helped lost this game with his error. Familia was the one who gave up the subsequent hits. However, ask yourself whether Collins put his team in the best position to succeed in the ninth inning.
The answer to that needs to be a clear and unequivocal, “No.”
The Mets were up 6-1 in the eighth inning against a San Francisco Giants offense that showed no life all game long. This could be a function of the fact the Giants have scored the fewest amount of runs in the National League. In essence, with the Mets up by five runs, the game was over.
Not according to Terry Collins. He managed the game like it was a one run game in the seventh game of the World Series.
Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless seventh lowering his ERA to 1.47. With his being a reliever accustomed to pitching multiple innings, it was justifiable to send him out there to pitch the eighth. He opened the inning by hitting Justin Ruggiano.
This led to Collins lifting him for Jerry Blevins. Even with the left-handed Joe Panik and Brandon Belt coming up, this was completely unnecessary. The Mets were up five runs. You don’t need to start playing matchups late in the game. This was a chance to rest Blevins who is on pace for 96 appearance. Furthermore, left-handed batters are 1-19 against Robles this year.
This isn’t a one year fluke with Robles either. In his career, Robles has limited left-handed batters to a .164/.255/.304 batting line. That’s better than the .210/.262/.314 Blevins has allowed in his career. There’s no need to go to a lefty in that spot.
Once Blevins came in and did his job, there was no need to take him out. He needed just six pitches to get Panik and Belt out. He’s been much better against right-handed batters since joining the Mets. He very well could have pitched to Hunter Pence. Instead Collins went to Addison Reed.
With Reed coming into the game, he’s now on pace to make 81 appearances. That would top his career high in appearances which he set last year. As if using Robles, Blevins, and Reed wasn’t enough, Jeurys Familia came in to close the ninth.
Collins did that despite Blevins, Reed, and Familia having pitched on Monday. He did this despite knowing Tommy Milone was starting tomorrow.
Milone was picked up off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. Milone was available because he had a 6.43 ERA in six games this season. In his three starts, he’s averaging under five innings per start. Chances are the Mets are going to need to heavily rely on their bullpen in a day game after a night game.
Certainly, it’s too soon to pitch Paul Sewald after 3.1 innings on Sunday. To that end, he shouldn’t be available tomorrow. Fernando Salas needed a day off after pitching in seven of the last nine days.
This is all the more reason you let Robles finish that eighth inning. Then with a five run lead the Mets can pitch Rafael Montero in the ninth inning now that he’s once again out of the rotation.
Doing this keeps the key bullpen arms fresh for when the team really needs them. Instead, Collins burned the arms with a five run lead against the worst offensive team in the National League. This is how bullpens get burned out. This is why key bullpen arms aren’t as effective later in the season when they’re needed the most.