Mets Need Lagares in the NLDS

It appears the Mets have soured on Juan Lagares. Last year, he was a Gold Glove winner, who showed some promise with the bat hitting .281/.321/.382. Using WAR, he was a top 25 player in the majors last year (12th in the NL). 

This year has been much different. Lagares hasn’t been the same offensively or defensively. His UZR has slipped from 18.6 (excellent) to 2.1 (average). His arm was terrific last year, but with his injured elbow, he doesn’t seem to have the same zip on the ball. With his defense compromised, you can’t justify his declining offense. This year he has regressed to .259/.289/.362. 

This is probably why the Mets tried to send him to the Brewers in the failed Carlos Gomez trade. This is the reason the Mets are playing Yoenis Cespedes out of position. It may be the reason he was the only Mets outfielder who didn’t get in the game yesterday. 

In any event, he’s been reduced to a platoon player and a late inning defensive replacement. His arrow is trending down while Eric Young, Jr.‘s is trending up. He’s been a terrific pinch runner that can come in handy in the playoffs. We also shouldn’t forget he’s a Collins’ favorite. 

Ultimately, what may save Lagares in the NLDS is the fact that the Dodgers starting rotation features three lefties. Collins refuses to play Michael Conforto leaving Collins to pick between Michael Cuddyer and Lagares. Cuddyer has only played in seven complete games since returning from the DL. This means the Mets need Lagares in the NLDS. 

This means the Mets need Lagares to get back on track offensively and defensively. 

EXCLUSIVE: Terry Collins’ Post Game Locker Room Speech

Both Terry Collins and David Wright have each been involved in multiple September collapses. With that said, I found it interesting that they both disagree with whether or not the Mets are playing tight. With that in mind I thought it would be helpful to look at what’s going on after Collins’ tough game last night:

Maybe the Mets will now keep their composure down the stretch now. 

Mets Magic Number is 5

In 1991, the Mets streak of finishing second or better in the NL East came to an end. The Mets had a 77-84 record, good for second to last in the division. 

Part of the problem was the Mets had a hard time retooling. Davey Johnson gave way to Bud Harrelson. Frank Cashen gave way to Jerry Hunsicker. Darryl Strawberry gave way to Vince ColemanGary Carter initially gave way to Mackey Sasser, who was terrific until he came down with Steve Blass Disease. The Mets knew they needed another catcher, so they traded for Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien:


O’Brien was meant to be that classic backup catcher who was terrific defensively. That was his reputation. However, he couldn’t play everyday because he was terrible offensively. In 1991, his first full year with the Mets (only year he wore 5 with the team), he hit .185/.272/.256. For his Mets career, he would hit .212/.289/.309.  While with the Mets, he would only play in losing teams. 

Really, his only claim to fame was his hockey style catcher’s mask, which he wouldn’t wear in a game until he was long gone from the Mets. Ultimately, he would serve as a mentor to the young Todd Hundley, but that would not be for a few more years. 

Charlie O’Brien reminds me of earlier this year when the Mets couldn’t generate any offense. He reminds me of a time when the Mets were trending downward as opposed to being on the verge of something potentially great. He reminds me that older players can effectively mentor younger players to help them be the best players they can be. 

Charlie O’Brien may have been on a Mets team that was heading in a different direction, but he exhibited some of the virtues that have helped make this Mets team great. So with that, let’s tip our caps to Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien. 

What Was Collins Thinking?

Well this game went haywire fast. One moment Bartolo Colon is cruising to another win against an NL East opponent. He had gone 4.2 perfect and was not threatened through six. The next thing you know, Terry Collins goes into full panic mode. 

The Braves quickly loaded the bases in the sixth. Collins then forgot how to manage. He brought in Addison Reed (fine move) by double switching Michael Conforto out of the game for Kirk Nieuwenhuis (ponderous). Essentially, Collins took out a good defensive OF for decent defensive OF who also hits left handed. If it was a defensive move, Collins left his best defensive OF, Juan Lagares, on the bench. 

It has to be the only reason. After Reed allowed a bases clearing double to put the Mets behind 3-2, he wouldn’t come back out for the seventh.  Don’t kill Reed. He was beat by Mets killer Freddie Freeman

When the Braves figured out they can use a left handed reliever, Nieuwenhuis was out of the game in favor of Michael Cuddyer, who didn’t get the job done. 

Collins did get one thing right. After Ruben Tejada singled to lead off the inning, Collins eventually realized Eric Young, Jr. was available to pinch run. He came on, stole a base, and he scored on a David Wright RBI two out single tying the game at 3-3. By the way, Young set a Mets record with nine runs scored before getting a hit. 

Unfortunately, Collins inane managing came back to haunt the Mets. In the eighth inning, Conforto’s spot came up with two outs and one on. Instead of Conforto, it was the pinch hitter Kelly Johnson, who struck out. In the next half inning, Freeman hit a three run homerun off Jeurys Familia giving the Braves the 6-3 lead. 

Collins was horrendous tonight. He claims the Mets are tight. He looked like he was the one that was tight . . . at least I hope that was the reason. 

Wilmer Flores

Now batting for the New York Mets, the shortstop, Wilmer Flores!

Sean Gilmartin Has Come a Long Way

During the Rule 5 Draft, the Mets selected Sean Gilmartin to be an additional lefty in the bullpen. He was not viewed as a lefty specialist, but the Mets did view him as a possibility to join Josh Edgin in that role. 

During Spring Training, it was discovered that Edgin needed Tommy John surgery, thereby ending his year. Right on the eve of Opening Day, the Mets traded for lefties Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres. Gilmartin made the team, but he was suddenly a man without a role. It didn’t help that he started the year poorly. 

After his first four appearances, he had an ERA of 6.00. He then ripped off a torrid stretch into the 4th of July where he only allowed three runs in 26 appearances and 23.1 innings pitched. In six of those appearances, he pitched more than one inning. He became a viable part of the bullpen. 

Right now, he’s not only the long man out of the pen, but he’s the only viable lefty. He’s not a LOOGY, and he’s not their best pitcher against lefties, but he’s effective enough (.267/.319/) to pitch against them. Truth be told, he’s much better against righties (.216/.294/.278). In his 47 appearances, he’s gone more than one inning on 15 different occasions, including one stellar three inning outing. He created a role for himself as the long man out if the pen. 

Overall, he is 3-1 with a 2.74 ERA (2.60 FIP), and a 1.216 WHIP. The eye test says he’s had a good year. His FIP suggests he’s been excellent this year. With the Mets’ current lefty situation, he will likely be on the playoff roster. That’s a far cry from a player on the Opening Day roster with no role. 

As we’ve seen this year, he’s come a long way. 

The Mets Should Honor Yogi

Earlier this year, the Mets organization embarrassed themselves by not having a patch to commemorate the late Nelson Doubleday. I hope the Mets don’t repeat the mistake with Yogi Berra

Yes, Yogi was a Yankee. He was also a Met. He was the man who took over when Gil Hodges tragically passed. As a manager, he brought the Mets their second pennant. He was good enough for the Mets to ask him to come back for the ceremony after the Last Game at Shea:

Yogi was a big part of the Mets history. When the Mets are chasing an NL pennant and a World Series, it would be fitting to have a tribute to the greatest winner in MLB history. When times get tough, it would be great to have the reminder of the Met who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”   
He deserves to be honored with a patch. 

RIP Yogi Berra

Baseball mourns today with the passing of Yogi Berra. He was a Hall of Fame catcher, a three time MVP (most ever for a catcher), and he won 10 World Series as a player. The 10 rings he won was the most ever by a player making him the biggest winner the sport has ever seen. He was a winner for so much more than that.

He was a husband and a father. He was a member of our military, who was part of the D-Day invasion. He was married to his wife for 65 years before he became a widower. When his wife was ill, he moved with her from their home to an assisted living facility. Two of his sons played professional sports.

He left behind the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center. It’s a place dedicated to teaching baseball and social values to children. It strived to promote the values of “social justice, respect, sportsmanship, and educational excellence.”  Fittingly, Yogi said the hours were, “[w]e’re open ’til we close.”

It’s fitting because that’s what we remember about Yogi – the Yogisms. That’s how I became introduced to Yogi Berra. It was at my Nana’s house with my Dad and uncle (who’s a huge Yankee fan) talking trivia and spouting off the Yogisms laughing away. They made you smile, and much of them carried wisdom (some not):

  • “It’s déjà vu all over again!”
  • “You better cut the pizza in four slices because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.” (that’ll be my lunch order today)
  • “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
  • “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
  • “Slump?  I ain’t in no slump. I’m just not hitting.”
  • “I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4.” 
  • “It gets late early out there.”
  • “Never answer an anonymous letter.”
  • “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”
  • “Pair off in threes.”
  • “You can observe a lot by watching.”
  • “When you see a fork in the road, take it.”
  • “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

Yogi said these while a Yankee. He’s one of the greatest Yankees ever. Scratch that. He’s one of the greatest baseball players ever. He was also an important part of the Mets history. 

After the sudden, unexpected death of Gil Hodges in 1972, Yogi took over as the Mets manager.  In 1973, he was the manager when the Mets made an improbable run. They were in last place on July 26th. They were 12 games under .500 on August 16th. We all remember that Tug McGraw said, “Ya gotta believe!” It was their manager, Yogi, that said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

The 1973 Mets went on a tear winning the NL East with a 83-79 record. As Yogi would say, “We were overwhelming underdogs.”  Those overwhelming underdogs beat the Big Red Machine in the NLCS, and they came within one game of beating an all-time Oakland A’s team to win the World Series. 

Yogi has left behind a lasting memory for baseball fans. He was a great man on and off the field. He doesn’t belong to the Mets. He doesn’t belong to the Yankees. He now belongs to the angels. “May the souls of the faith departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.”  

One last thing with Yogi, it’s still not over. He’s gone, but he won’t be forgotten. His life, playing career, and quotes will keep him alive in our minds and hearts. If you have an opportunity, please go to his funeral or memorial service because as Yogi would say, “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

My MVP Vote

As a member of the IBWAA, I have an opportunity to vote for the NL & AL MVP Awards. With the email, there were no instructions. For guidance, I looked at the BBWAA rules, which in summation, are as follows:

  1. The player need not play for a playoff team;
  2. The amount of games played; and
  3. The total value of the player (offense, defense, and character). 

These are good guidelines, but I’m not beholden to them. Here are some other things I intend to consider:

  1. Weight should be given to the player in a pennant race;
  2. A team not making the playoffs is not a penalty to a player if the team is in a pennant race;
  3. Pitchers can be considered for the award. 

Now, I have not made up my mind yet on all 10 slots in the AL and NL right now, so I can’t show you how I will apply my criteria. What I can do is show you my thoughts on past races. 

I agree with the results of the 1998 NL MVP Award. I put more weight to Sammy Sosa beating Mark McGwire even though McGwire had the better year. Sosa’s team was in a playoff race. I think there was enough there to give Sosa a boost over McGwire. Although now, truth be told with what we know about steroids, I think the award should have gone to Moises Alou

I highly disagree with the results of the results of the 1999 AL MVP Award going to Ivan Rodriguez (steroids aside). Pedro Martinez was the best baseball player on the planet that year. His team was in a pennant race. Pudge was maybe the fifth best choice for AL MVP. 

Now, as you may tell I like WAR. It’s not perfect, but it at least attempts to measure offense and defense. It attempts to equate a SS to a 1B. However, I’m aware of its limitations. Accordingly, I don’t see it as the end all, be all of stats. Similarly, I’m not focusing on HRs and RBIs. It’s a balancing.

I’m not done with the balancing yet. Once I am, I’ll submit my ballot. For this site, I’ll publish my entire ballot. I’ll do a short post on why I picked the players I picked to win the award. When and if I vote for Mets, I’ll do a longer post on that player. 

In the meantime, if you have suggestions, please put them in the comments. I assure you I’ll read them and consider them. Thanks. 

Mets Magic Number is 6

Even though the Mets lost, the Mets Magic Number is now 6 because the Nationals lost to the Orioles. With the Mets having two Rule 5 picks pitching in a game, and both of the Mets young catchers getting into the game, I thought the best choice for magic number 6 would be Kelly Shoppach:

In 2012, the 74-88 Mets traded for the impending free agent Shoppach for a player to be named later. The idea was to get a good look at him to see if the team wanted to re-sign him and/or to get him to work with Josh Thole. Neither one would be back. 

Shoppach only hit .203/.276/.342 in 28 games. His play did not inspire the Mets to re-sign him. Thole would be moved in the famed R.A. Dickey trade that netted the Mets 2015 cornerstones, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud

The player to be named in the Shoppach deal was Pedro Beato, a former Rule 5 draft pick like Sean Gilmartin is this year. We did learn this year the player to be named later was almost Jacob deGrom, which would’ve been disastrous. Note, Sandy Alderson was reported to be alright with trading deGrom at the time until one of his advisors warned him not to make the deal. 

But I digress. The seeds of the 2015 Mets were laid in the 2012 offseason. Much of the way the roster is currently constituted has to do with the Shoppach trade and his faired as a Met. If he succeeded, it’s possible he stays, and who knows what happens with d’Arnaud from there?  Maybe nothing changes?  Maybe Shoppach isn’t as effective a mentor as John Buck. My doctor won’t let me address the deGrom possibilities. 
So as the Shoppach trade arguably set the wheels in motion, let’s offer a hat tip to Magic Man Number 6 Kelly Shoppach.