Gio Gonzalez Should Be Pitching a New York Team Tomorrow

According to his deal with the New York Yankees, Gio Gonzalez can opt out of his minor league deal today. If and more likely when he exercises his opt out, the Yankees have 48 hours to decide whether or not they want to call him up to the majors or release him.

Now, calling him up may not be as clear cut with him due $300,000 per start. If he were to make even 20 starts, he’d be due $6 million on top of his $3 million base salary. You’d have to imagine even for the Yankees $9+ million is a lot for a sixth or seventh starter.

Of course, the Yankees could circumvent this two ways. First, they can use their exclusive window to renegotiate a deal. On that front, it is interesting to see if Gonzalez switching from Boras to CAA would serve as a benefit or impediment in those discussions.

The other option would be to call him up and put him in the bullpen. If he was in the bullpen, he’s not earning $300,000 per appearance. It should be noted this isn’t necessarily a bad faith decision as Chad Green and Jonathan Holder have gotten off to poor starts.

In the short term, Gonzalez can be a boost in the bullpen, and in the long term, he’s insurance for a Yankees rotation who still does not know when or if Luis Severino will return.

While the Yankees have plenty of incentive to keep him, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports the Yankees are not expected to keep Gonzalez thereby making him a free agent.

If the reports are true, the Mets need to immediately pounce.

With the news Jacob deGrom is headed to the Injured List with a not yet known elbow injury, we’re reminded how thin the Mets starting pitching depth is. We’re also reminded how much the Mets rotation needs another starter with each and every Jason Vargas start.

With respect to Gonzalez, he has been good in his last two Triple-A starts. Over his last 11 innings, he has allowed two earned while walking three and striking out 18. It should be noted that’s good, not great. But by the same token, unlike Dallas Keuchel, he has actually pitched in competitive games and can be ready to pitch literally tomorrow. For that matter, he promises to be much cheaper.

With respect to Gonzalez, it’s difficult to argue he’s much more than a fifth starter. He walks too many, and his strikeouts have continuously declined since 2012. Last year, he walked 4.2 per nine while striking out just 7.8 per nine. That’s a rather unacceptable 1.85 K/BB.

According to Baseball Savant, Gonzalez did have excellent spin rates while being above average in yielding hard hit balls and exit velocities. Still, Gonzalez has been quite hittable, and as noted, he makes matters worse with the free passes.

And yet, he’s a better option than Vargas, who has pitched just 9.1 innings over three starts because the Mets have no faith in him past 80 pitches. That’s if they even have faith in him with his first 80.

At the point, Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, and Drew Gagnon have yet to prove themselves at the Major League level. We can ascertain the Mets level of faith in each of them by them not really being put in a position to push Vargas during Spring Training.

So overall, it’s fairly clear the Mets need another starter, and they need that starter now. While Keuchel is the pitcher most everyone wants, Gonzalez is the guy who is cheaper and will be ready to pitch sooner. When you break it down, the Mets can do worse than Gonzalez.

In fact, the team has been doing worse than him, which is why they need to act fast to sign him as soon as he becomes available.

Diaz Dictate

Last night, we once again saw Mickey Callaway‘s go to Robert Gsellman, who is arguably the team’s fifth best reliever with the game on the line in the eighth inning. Callaway did this because he had little other choice.

Much like what Brian Cashman once did with Joe Torre and Joba Chamberlain, Brodie Van Wagenen has implemented his own version of the Joba Rules. A Diaz Dictate if you will.

As Brodie Van Wagenen and Callaway would explain, Edwin Diaz is only to be used for three outs in the same inning, and he is to be used for save situations only.

This means when the game is on the line with one or two outs in the seventh, the Mets must pitch anyone other than Diaz. It does not matter if the team had a short start from someone like Jason Vargas and has to throw Chris Flexen the following day in place of an injured Jacob deGrom.

This means the Mets will have to send in lesser relievers against the Phillies, a team they will fight season long for the division, or the Cardinals, a team the Mets will potentially be competing against for a Wild Card spot.

This means if there is a tie game on the road, Diaz doesn’t enter the game. Like we saw in Philadelphia, Diaz stays in the bullpen like Buck Showalter once had Zack Britton infamously stay in the bullpen in a tie game waiting for a save opportunity which may never arise.

Right now, there’s no gray area. There’s no assessing the team’s and bullpen’s needs day-to-day. Instead, the Mets are putting a premium on limiting Diaz’s usage.

Ultimately, like with the Joba Rules, it means the General Manager does not trust the manager with a young reliever. It means despite all the Mets gave up to acquire him, the Mets are not going to allow Diaz to be the game changing closer they purported him to be. It means a supposed all-in team is willing to lose games to save a closer for a postseason run which may never materialize.

Mets Win Despite Vargas And Bullpen Restrictions

With Jason Vargas taking the mound, Robinson Cano chose a good game to break out.

His two out first inning double off Adam Wainwright helped set up a two run rally. He scored on a Wilson Ramos RBI single, and Michael Conforto (who walked) scored on a J.D. Davis RBI double.

In the second, Cano had another hard hit ball off Wainwright. This time it was an RBI single which scored Juan Lagares. With that, through two, by some miracle, the Mets were up 2-0.

Really, once again, Vargas wasn’t good. He was helped by the wind blowing in, and he somehow navigated through three walks, three hits, and an Amed Rosario error over four.

Surprisingly, the only Cardinals run off Vargas was a Jose Martinez fourth inning solo shot.

With Vargas going just four and Wainwright going just three, this became a battle on the bullpens, and the Mets bullpen did what it needed to do. That doesn’t mean it was easy.

Entering the bottom of the sixth, the Mets had a 5-1 lead because of a fourth inning rally and Pete Alonso annihilating a Ryan Helsley pitch:

The Mets would every single one of those runs. First, in his second inning of work, Seth Lugo allowed a two run shot to Lane Thomas.

After needing just seven pitches to mow down the Cardinals in the seventh. Jeurys Familia began the eighth. He was chased after allowing a one out double to Yadier Molina.

With the left-handed Dexter Fowler due up, Mickey Callaway went to Justin Wilson, who wasn’t sharp, nor was his defense. Fowler grounded it to third. Despite already playing the line, Davis had to dive for the ball. Despite not having a play, he made an awful throw to first which Alonso was lucky to keep nearby. While lucky, he couldn’t prevent Fowler from going to second or Molina from scoring to make it 5-4.

After a Kolten Wong walk, the Cardinals had runners on first and second with one out. Due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s Diaz Dictate, Callaway couldn’t go to his best reliever. With Callaway using Lugo in the fifth and sixth, he couldn’t go to his second best reliever.

This meant once again, with the game on the line Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. This time, Gsellman got out of the jam by getting Jedd Gyorko to pop out and Matt Carpenter to ground out.

Now, things were far from easy for Edwin Diaz in the ninth. He needed McNeil to rob Paul DeJong of an extra base hit.

Even with the help, Diaz would white knuckle this one as the Cardinals rallied with two outs. Marcell Ozuna walked, and Martinez hit a single to set up runners at the corners. With Molina at the plate, Mets fans were justifiably nervous, but those concerns were assuaged as Molina lined out to Lagares to end the game.

With that, the Mets bullpen made a game closer than it needed. Van Wagenen hamstrung his manager, and Callaway didn’t properly align the relievers he was permitted to use prior to the ninth in the highest leverage situations. Despite all that, the Mets improbably won on a day Vargas started.

Game Notes: Jacob deGrom was placed in the IL with a not yet specified elbow injury. He will have an MRI on Monday. After six consecutive multi-hit games, McNeil was 0-5.

Trivia Friday: Mets Best Defenders

Last year, the Mets were the second worst defensive team in the National League with a combined -77 DRS. So far, the Mets ate the worst defensive team in the National League with a -22 DRS.

The biggest culprits are Amed Rosario (worst SS in the NL by DRS) and J.D. Davis (worst infielder in baseball). This is a far cry of the days John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, and Rey Ordonez made up the best infield in history.

What we don’t know is what their DRS would’ve been. The reason is DRS came widely available in 2003. Can you name the Mets best defensive players at each position since then? Good luck!


Tom Glavine Kevin Plawecki Daniel Murphy Jose Valentin Chris Woodward Endy Chavez Juan Lagares Jeff Francoeur

Mets Need Todd Frazier Back

Right now, the Mets have the worst defense in the National League, and they have the worst left side of the infield defense. Amed Rosario has been the worst shortstop in the National League, and J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball.

Now, it is fair to point out these are small sample sizes. However, historically, both of these players have been poor defenders. Considering this is their respective histories, the Mets are in desperate need for a defensive upgrade at third. Fortunately, they already have a very good defensive infielder on their 40 man roster. It’s just a matter of when he will be available to play.

During Spring Training, Todd Frazier suffered an injury. As a result, he opened the season on the Injured List. For a player who had never been on the Injured List over the first seven years of his career, Frazier has now landed there three times over the past year plus.

So far, it has been slow going for Frazier. Over 10 rehab games for St. Lucie, Frazier has struggled hitting .200/.282/.200. However, yesterday, he finally broke out. He was 1-for-2 with a run, home run, three RBI, and two walks.

That could be a sign he’s finally ready and not a moment too soon.

The Mets have lost four of their last five games with their defense being a culprit. Davis plays way too deep, he has difficulty getting in front of balls, and his throws have been very poor. Really, his defense has been hurting the team.

Defense is one thing Frazier does really well. Since 2017, his 12 DRS is the fourth best among third baseman. His UZR is fifth best. Put another way, the Mets are getting the chance to replace the worst third baseman with one of the best.

It’s a reason why McNeil should continue playing left. Another reason is the Mets organization outfield depth is poor. Moreover, Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares not hitting, and Brandon Nimmo dealing with neck issues.

With McNeil in left, Frazier can play third until Jed Lowrie returns (whenever that will be) or Frazier establishes he shouldn’t be playing everyday. At a minimum, the Mets defense will be vastly improved. Best case, he goes on and has a Ray Knight type of season.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Losing Division Games

The Mets followed splitting with the Braves by losing two of three to the Phillies. As a result, the Mets have lost four of their last five – all of them in the division. Here are some observations from the disappointing series.

  1. Noah Syndergaard‘s peripherals are fine, and in the long run, he’s going to have Thor like numbers.
  1. What killed Thor and continues to kill the Mets pitching is a National League worst defense.
  2. J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball, and with his sprint speeds, he would be terrible in LF. In the long run, he really serves no purpose in this Mets team.
  3. It’s bizarre the Mets would let Davis Be this bad at third, continue to trot him out there, and not even allow a more physically fit and athletic Dominic Smith an opportunity to prove himself in left field.
  4. Amed Rosario continues to hurt this team with bad defense (worst SS in the NL) and his poor plate discipline. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Mets, Andres Gimenez has gotten off to a brutally slow start in Binghamton.
  5. So far Wilson Ramos is killing the Mets. By DRS, he’s the worst catcher in the NL, and he’s become a glorified singles hitter with a 58.3% ground ball rate.
  6. Not one Mets everyday infielder has a positive DRS.
  7. Keon Broxton needs to be better. He has a 47 wRC+, and we saw him overpowered by a 94 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to end the game. He’s also a -1 DRS in the outfield.
  8. Juan Lagares has been better every which way than Broxton, and as a result, he needs to get the bulk of playing time in center.
  9. With neither Broxton nor Lagares hitting, the Mets need to keep Jeff McNeil in left field, especially since that’s his ultimate destination when Todd Frazier and/or Jed Lowrie return.
  10. Mets desperately need Frazier’s glove. Not only will it give the Mets at least one plus defender on the field, but it will also allow Rosario to not have to cover nearly as much ground.
  11. With Frazier finally hitting the ball yesterday, he should be called up and immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
  12. Jeff McNeil is turning into a modern day Ichiro Suzuki. This is not hyperbole. When you break down the numbers, he should be regressing. Instead, he continuously adapts his approach and has incredible contact skills.
  1. You knew sooner or later Steven Matz was going to lay an egg, and boy did he. One thing to note here is he was this bad his first start of the 2016 season. He responded to that by putting up nine straight starts allowing two earned or less.
  1. So much for Zack Wheeler‘s second half being a fluke.
  1. To acquire Edwin Diaz, the Mets gave up two top 100 prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn), and they took on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. So naturally, when the game is on the line, they won’t use him.
  2. With the Mets limiting to Diaz to just the ninth, we once again learn the Mets statements about every game mattering only applied to Pete Alonso.
  1. Good for Brodie Van Wagenen for taking the bullet on Diaz’s usage. He made the call, and he stood there like a man to defend himself. Also, good job by Mickey Callaway not throwing everyone under the bus and whining about the restrictions.
  1. Sometimes, you should just appreciate a player for what they do well. Paul Sewald went out there twice and ate up innings to help save that bullpen. Considering how well he handles that role, he has a spot in this bullpen.
  2. On that note, great job by Drew Gagnon pitching 5.1 innings on three days rest. Should Jason Vargas fail again on Friday, Gagnon has earned the first shot to replace him in the rotation.

Arrieta Was Just Better Than Wheeler

The Mets-Phillies season series began with Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Nola, which is about as good as a pitching match-up as you could possibly get. When you have a match-up like that, you are naturally going to overlook the match-up of Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta. While overlooked, this pitching match-up did not disappoint like Syndergaard and Nola.

For his part, Wheeler was good, but not quite great. With the umpire squeezing him a bit, he got into trouble in the second loading the bases with one out. He did well to limit the damage to just a sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco. It should be noted on the sacrifice fly, Keon Broxton made just a horrible throw to the plate almost lobbing it on the run instead of doing a full crow hop. This is noteworthy because with his momentum heading towards the plate, he had a real shot at J.T. Realmuto.

In fifth and sixth, it wasn’t a rally, but rather the long ball. In those innings, Wheeler allowed solo shots to Scott Kingery, who just killed the Mets in this series, and Cesar Hernandez.

Overall, with the Mets bullpen a bit depleted, partially due to Steven Matz giving the team no outs yesterday, Wheeler pushed himself, and he pitched seven innings allowing just the three runs while walking three and striking out five. This was the type of effort the Mets needed to win the marathon, but it was not good enough to win the game.

The reason is Arrieta was great. He overpowered the Mets lineup and induced a number of weak grounders. Really, Arrieta was not in any trouble until the seventh, and the trouble started with a Michael Conforto lead-off homer.

Conforto’s homer woke up the Mets offense a bit. J.D. Davis hit a single, but the effort was for naught as Travis d’Arnaud hit into an inning ending double play. Arrieta would benefit from the double play again in the eighth as a Jeff McNeil double play erased Dominic Smith from the basepaths.

In the ninth, the Phillies would not let Arrieta try to get out of more trouble. Part of the reason for that is Pete Alonso hit a single off of him. As the ninth unfolded, you started to believe the Phillies made a mistake.

The left-handed Adam Morgan got Conforto to fly out (which was deep enough to advance Alonso), but he then plunked Robinson Cano. Hector Neris come on, and he struck out Davis before allowing Amed Rosario to hit an infield RBI single. Neris then hit Wilson Ramos, who was pinch hitting for d’Arnaud.

In an impressive at-bat, Broxton laid off some tough pitches to work the count full, but in the end he would strike out as he couldn’t hit a 94 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate. With that, the Mets lost the series against the Phillies, and they have now lost four of their last five games, all of them divisional road games. As if things weren’t tough enough, they now travel to St. Louis to have Jason Vargas start in place of a sick Jacob deGrom.

This is how 10-8 looks worse than it actually is.

Game Notes: McNeil was 2-for-4, and his multi-hit game streak now stands at six.

Phillies 14 – Mets Who Cares

In Major League history, there have been five starters who have faced eight batters and retired none. Three of those pitchers were Mets first round picks. Paul Wilson, Bobby Jones, and now Steven Matz.

For Matz, it was a combination of things including poor defense. Specifically, Amed Rosario had two first inning errors.

The errors hurt, but it didn’t cause Matz to walk three batters. After a Maikel Franco homer, Matz was pulled for Drew Gagnon.

The poor defense continued after Matz departed the game. Jeff McNeil completely botched a ball which was ruled a double for Andrew McCutchen.

Things were so poor defensively in the eighth inning even Keon Broxton completely lost one in the lights. That was also ruled a double. This time for Andrew Knapp.

All in all, the Mets were beaten badly. In the 14-3 win, the Phillies had two separate batters with five RBI – J.T. Realmuto and Scott Kingery.

As bad as that was, a resurgent Brandon Nimmo left the game with what was characterized as a neck injury. We will see.

While this was mostly a lost game, the Mets had some highlights. Despite being on three days rest, Gagnon pitched 5.1 innings to help save the bullpen. He was better than what his final line suggested, especially when you consider three of the earned runs against him came in his fifth inning of work when he was likely completely gassed.

Paul Sewald also did his part pitching 2.2 scoreless. Their combined work really helped save the Mets pen, and unfortunately, their reward will likely to be sent down to permit the Mets to get two new fresh arms up into the pen.

Jeff McNeil continued to hit, Robinson Cano started to hit, and Wilson Ramos hit his first homer as a Met. Other than that, this game was terrible.

Game Notes: All but one Mets game this year has gone beyond three hours.

Callaway Needs To Manage to Game Not Save Situation

Last night, the game hung in the balance with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Even after Jeff McNeil had bailed out Jeurys Familia with a fine play to start a 5-4-3 double play, Familia walked the subsequent two batters to load the bases. With the heart of the Phillies lineup coming up, Mickey Callaway needed to get Familia out of the game.

This past offseason, the Mets made a blockbuster deal with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. In the deal, the Mets paid a hefty price including not just Justin Dunn, but also Jarred Kelenic. At the introductory press conference for the two new Mets stars, Jeff Wilpon admitted the Mets parted with Kelenic partially to make sure Diaz did not go to the Phillies.

This was the precise moment the Mets needed Diaz. They needed a pitcher whom they touted as the best reliever in baseball to do what the best reliever in baseball does. He needed to go out there and strike out Jean Segura and ensure the Mets took the lead into the ninth. That’s not what happened.

Instead, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman, who is arguably the team’s fifth best reliever. In terms of pinch hitting, this is equivalent to Callaway sending up Juan Lagares to face a tough right-handed reliever with bases loaded and two outs in the eighth just so he could save Dominic Smith for a pinch hitting opportunity in the ninth inning.

In terms of pinch hitting, you are not sending one of your worst options at the plate with the game on the line, but for some reason, Callaway opted to send one of his worst relievers out there with the game on the line.

After the game, Callaway would rightfully point out Gsellman has a job to do, and he needs to get out of that jam. However, this is a bit misleading. While it is Gsellman’s job to get out of that jam, it is also incumbent on the manager to put the right people in the right situations. Using the earlier example, if Lagares strikes out while Smith is on the bench people would be far less understanding.

Now, we did learn after the game the Mets do not want Diaz pitching more than three outs during the regular season. Putting aside whey the team would sacrifice two former first round picks for a one inning reliever, we still have to question the strategy.

Already, there have been two instances where Diaz came on to get just one out. So clearly, the Mets are not going to shy away from Diaz entering the game to get a huge out. What is bizarre is the Mets were not trusting their best reliever to go get that out.

If Gsellman allows a hit to Segura or Harper, it’s game over. Diaz never sees the game, and the Mets lose. Why is this a more acceptable result than having Diaz get one out?  That was potentially the game right there, and the Mets didn’t have the guy they gave up so much to acquire go get that out.

If the Mets didn’t want Diaz going four outs, then have hit get that out. Callaway then had the option to give the ball to Gsellman or Justin Wilson for the ninth. Both relievers have closed games in their careers. We have also seen Callaway give the ball to Jacob Rhame for a save.

Overall, Callaway does not have to manage to the save statistic, he has to manage to the game situation. When he was managing to the statistic, the Mets almost blew a game against the Phillies. The Mets almost didn’t get a chance to use the pitcher they were so afraid the Phillies were going to get. Ultimately, that is completely unacceptable.

 

 

Diaz Saves Game Three Innings Too Late

The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract because they apparently believed Edwin Diaz was such a difference maker, they needed to not only have him, but they also needed to keep him away from the Phillies.

While Diaz has five saves in as many opportunities, tonight was the first time the Mets really needed their difference making closer.

Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Mets were up by a run, and Jeurys Familia immediately got into trouble, and he couldn’t get out of it even with Jeff McNeil making a nice play on a very hard hit grounder by Maikel Franco to turn the 5-4-3 double play.

With a runner on third and two outs, Familia loaded the bases by walking Andrew Knapp and Andrew McCutchen. This is the exact spot the Mets needed Diaz.

They needed him to come into the game to strikeout Jean Segura to end the threat and take the 6-5 lead into the ninth. The Mets needed their supposed big time closer to face the middle of the Phillies order to get four outs to get the save.

Mickey Callaway didn’t even have him warming. Instead, he put this game in Robert Gsellman‘s hands.

Gsellman walked Segura on four straight pitches to force home the tying run. Fortunately, Bryce Harper popped out to end the inning. Normally, you’d question why Gsellman and not Luis Avilan for Harper, but you avoid asking it because you know there’s no possible good answer.

All told, the Mets absolute failure to use Diaz was the reason why the Mets blew this lead and had to fight even harder to try to win a game they already were well in position to win.

Neither Aaron Nola nor Noah Syndergaard pitched like aces today as both allowed five earned. For Nola, it was over four innings, and for Syndergaard, it was over five.

The frustrating thing with Syndergaard was he was handed leads of 3-0 and 5-4, and he couldn’t hold either.

Seth Lugo calmed things down with two brilliant innings, and Brandon Nimmo homered to put the Mets in position . . . to blow the lead.

Somehow, the Mets survived Gsellman for 1.1 innings and one from Avilan, who was bailed out by Segura swinging at a pitch well out of the zone to end the 10th.

The Phillies went to Pat Neshek to start the 11th. He got into trouble immediately by allowing a single to Juan Lagares and walking Nimmo. Callaway then almost blew the game again.

Travis d’Arnaud was the last bat on the bench, so with the pitcher’s spot up, Callaway used d’Arnaud to try to sac bunt. Well, d’Arnaud doesn’t bunt well, and his at-bat ended in a pop out. Robinson Cano then struck out putting the game on Michael Conforto‘s bat.

Conforto tattooed a ball which was too hot for Rhys Hoskins to handle at first. With the ball bouncing off him, Lagares, who was hustling on the play, scored from second giving the Mets a 7-6 lead.

With the lead, Callaway finally turned to Diaz, who struck out Harper, Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto to earn the save. Too bad he didn’t get that chance earlier in the game.

Game Notes: Despite his being on two days rest, the Mets called up Drew Gagnon. To make room for him on the roster, Luis Guillorme was sent to Syracuse. Dominic Smith got lucky not getting thrown out if the game after spiking and breaking bid helmet after being called out on a very borderline strike three.