Did the Wheels Really Fall Off?

Over the course of their history, the Mets have made some really bad trades that were indefensible at the time they were made. While this isn’t a complete list, here are some of my “favorites”:

  1. The Midnight Massacre
  2. Lenny Dykstra, Roger McDowell, and Tom Edens for Juan Samuel, and 
  3. Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. 

Again, this is not a comprehensive list. Also, these were traded roundly criticized at the time, not ones that eventually turned out badly. 
It’s funny. Late last night into early this morning many people were joking about how people who went to bed early last night would react when they discovered the trade unraveled. It immediately made me think of the aforementioned Midnight Massacre. 

I thought about how people felt when they read the newspaper the next morning. We all know everyone hated the trade and vilified the Mets to the point that Shea was once known as Grant’s Tomb. The trade worked out as bad as everyone thought it would. I began to wonder if the Carlos Gomez trade would’ve joined the list of worst Mets’ trades ever. 

As I noted last night, Carlos Gomez was having a down year. Admittedly, I was unaware there were possible injury concerns. Reportedly, the Mets nixed the deal over Gomez’s hip issues. Gomez was reported that have said he’s stopped running due to his hip issues. 

The arguments started over whether there was a hip issue or not. Many pointed out that he was playing everyday.  Despite these opinions, the Mets believed Gomez had a degenerative hip issue. For what it’s worth, Gomez had trouble staying healthy this year. Regardless, the Mets seemed disappointed because they really wanted Gomez. 

Mets fans wanted him too. Would they have been as enthusiastic if Gomez landed on the DL with a hip issue?  Would they have booed him if he was ineffective due to his degenerative hip?  Would they be screaming same old Mets?  Yes to all the above, and part of the reason is they would’ve given up Zack Wheeler to get him. 

I’ve detailed before how the Mets could afford to part with Wheeler for a non-rental player.  However, it is dumb to trade him for a player that’s an injury risk even if he never gets injured and/or he would be a huge upgrade. 

As I’ve noted, Wheeler has been a league average pitcher with the Mets with a lot of potential. However, he seemed to turn a corner in the second half last year. He went 6-3 with a 3.04 ERA. He averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He dropped his WHIP from 1.357 to 1.286. 

He was making real progress in his first full professional season. He’s under team control until 2020. This is a valuable asset and trade chip. You don’t give that up for a hope and a prayer especially when the Mets don’t have the best history dealing with injuries

While Sandy Alderson and the Mets may invite criticism from time to time, this should not be one of those instances. Initially, he made a good trade to improve the team. He made a better decision walking away from the deal. 

Stop Beating Up the Reporters

Times sure are different. I realized this when my Dad texted me that Jose Reyes was traded. He read about it in the paper. I knew about it much earlier because I checked Twitter for updates on trade rumors. My Dad is 68. He goes a twitter over using the Internet; not on the Internet. 

However, for the rest of us diehard Mets’ fans, you follow all of the best writers on Twitter. You do that because they get information and tweet it right out. They immediately give you the information you can not wait to get. 

Sometimes, things get a little out of whack. I’ve heard the criticisms about how everyone wants/needs to be first. Many believe this makes some people skip all the steps necessary to confirm a story. If you’re saying this occurred with the Carlos Gomez trade, I think you’re crazy. 

I can’t believe every reporter got the story wrong. The Brewers players were saying goodbye to their teammate. The Mets’ owned SNY reported the deal. MLB reported it on their website (article now changed after the deal fell through). 

We now know the Mets backed out of the deal because of Gomez’s hip issues. Surprisingly, Zack Wheeler’s medicals weren’t the issue. In any event, the deal was done until it wasn’t. This wasn’t a reporters fault. In fact, I’d argue they all did an amazing job on the story considering how static it was. I think you should also appreciate not only the work they did today, but the work they do everyday. 

What Just Happened?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bartolo Colon is done. His 2.1 innings six earned run game is unacceptable. He pitches in a pitcher’s park, and his ERA is now 4.96. If MLB wants to improve scoring just make sure he pitches every five games. 

The Mets entered today one game back (two in the loss column), and Colon gave them no chance to make up ground or keep pace. In fact, the Mets lost ground. He even had his super secret weapon, Anthony Recker, and his .130 batting average. 

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the Mets don’t tell Wilmer Flores or Terry Collins about the Carlos Gomez trade. However because this isn’t 1925, he heard about the trade anyway (probably from someone in the clubhouse). Better yet, no one told Terry Collins. So he sends Flores out there crying at SS. Flores did get one last AB and a standing ovation. Collins finally pulled him off the field. After a big loss, Collins had a testy press conference. 

Wouldn’t you?  The man is facing the brunt of the blame for putting Flores in a tough spot. However, Collins had no idea about the trade. It’s insanity. 

Speaking of insanity – THERE WAS NO TRADE!   Let me say that again to let that sink in, THERE WAS NO TRADE!  Unbelievable. Only the Mets. There’s no one to blame, at least not now. I’m sure we’ll soon find out what happened. At the moment, we all feel like Collins watching his SS crying in the field: baffled, upset, out of the loop, and . . .


In other news, Lucas Duda is objectively awesome, and Collins is still using the platoon system. Colon is terrible and is possibly costing the Mets a playoff spot. Today was Flores’ last game for the Mets until it wasn’t. A lot of people, including me, wasted time with an analysis of a non-trade. 

It’s late. I’m confused. I’m going to bed. Maybe there will be some sanity tomorrow. 

Reunited and it Feels so Good

Since, I’ve started this blog, I’ve written a lot about trade rumors. I’ve written how trading Wheeler for an OF who’ll be with the Mets is s good idea. I’ve written how the Mets should pursue Carlos Gomez over Justin Upton. Finally, I’ve written about how the Mets were done making impact trades. 

So, here we are with Carlos Gomez, who is the perfect fit on this team. The Mets obtained him for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flored. 

First and foremost, with Juan Lagares’ suspect health and offense this year, he can play CF (he won a Gold Glove two years ago). He’s got a triple slash line of .266/.332/.409 and an OPS+ of 108. This all means he’s been very average at the plate this year. 

However, he’s coming off two fantastic seasons that has been him with a .284 average and 24 homers. As you can see, Gomez’s main problem this year has been the power. It’s a gamble, but I’ll take the gamble. 

Speaking of gambles, Carlos Gomez was previously traded away from the Mets. At the time, Omar Minaya “gambled” that Lastings Milledge was the better player.  As a result, the Mets traded Gomez instead of Milledge for Johan Santana. 

It’s funny, the Mets traded away Gomez to try to win the World Series. In 2015, they trade for him to try to win the World Series. I pray for better results. Unlike 2008, there may be some asking if the Mets gave up too much. I’ll admit the trade hurts, but you have to give away value to get value. 

Before Zack Wheeler was injured, he seemed to turn the corner in the second half of 2014. Other than that, he was just an average pitcher with real promise. It’s a shame he needed Tommy John surgery. Now, he won’t be available to pitch until around the All Star Break next season.  Judging by Matt Harvey’s season, Wheeler won’t be right until 2017, which is the season he’s arbitration eligible. He’s under team control until 2020. 

There’s a lot to say about Wilmer Flores. Unfortunately, most of those things are about how he hasn’t been very good with the Mets this year offensively or defensively. However, he’s only 23, and he’s shown promise. He deserved his standing ovation. 

I will write more about Wheeler and Flores later. I think they each need and deserve their own separate deeper analysis. Also, it’s fair to say they will be missed. 

However, this deal is about Gomez and Sandy Alderson going for it responsibly. Gomez is under contract next season for $9 million. I’m not going to get snarky and say they still haven’t really took on money because that $9 million will be offset by Bartolo Colon’s $11 million coming off the books. 

This is a major move involving a very good player. The Mets still need a SS and a LOOGY. They kept pieces to go get them. They’re a better team now with Gomez. It’s a good day to be a Mets fan. 

Feeling Deflated

Yesterday was a bad day. It was hot and humid. The air conditioning wasn’t working. There was just constant nonsense throughout the day.  I needed a break and turned on the radio to hear about the baseball trade deadline. I figured it would help clear my head.

I started with Mike Francesa. If you are in your 30s and 40s, he’s always been on the air (except in the summer) discussing New York sports. He was in a commercial break. I then flipped to Hahn & Humpty. Originally, I thought, well this is a pleasant surprise. However, they weren’t focusing on baseball; they were discussing the first female coach in NFL history. Even as I sit here now, I know how important a story it was, but I wanted/needed to hear Mets trade rumors. Were the Mets going to rethink everything and go after Jose Reyes? Was the team actually going to put their money where their mouth was and actually spend some money at the trade deadline? Probably not as they never seem flush with cash like the other New York franchises.

I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and I had to let someone know about it. I went all “letter to the editor” on Alan Hahn. Not exactly my finest moment. At least some good came of it, as my mood began to change for the better. Later that night, I did tune into his show while I was watching Thor’s dominance, and he was talking football again. But you know what? He had to because Tom Brady’s four game suspension was upheld. It was the biggest news in sports yesterday. It wasn’t the first time the NFL dominated the headlines when baseball is in the middle of one of its peak news cycles. It won’t be the last time either.

That’s the problem. No matter what your opinion of Bud Selig is, he did have some positive impacts on the game of baseball. He navigated the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and oversaw a sport that saw improving and record attendance. It is all the more impressive when you keep in mind that this was during our Great Recession. He also grew the sport from a $1.8 billion revenue sport to a $9 billion revenue sport. Finally, we have enjoyed labor peace since 1994.

However, there are problems that arose during his tenure (I’m not focusing on steroids here – there is another time and place for that). We’ve seen the Baseball Game of the Week be shift from Fox to Fox Sports 1. Local Programming (in New York it’s going to be paid programming) is going to be shown this Saturday over Angels-Dodgers. Think about that for a second. This game features: 1) two teams in a pennant race; 2) two teams in the second largest media market; and 3) the game focuses Mike Trout, the best player in baseball. All of this gets second billing to the Sham-Wow Guy.

As you can probably tell, MLB’s popularity has continued to fade in comparison to the NFL. The TV ratings for the World Series this past season was surpassed by Weeks 1 and 2 of Sunday Night Football. This was all on Bud Selig’s watch. I’m not doing this to complain. I’m doing this to point out what seems obvious to everyone else but myself.

Honestly, this all makes me feel deflated (by the way, in case you didn’t realize it yet, I love puns). Overall, I can care less if the MLB or NFL is more popular. I love the NHL, but I’m not going to sit here and pontificate on how that sport is ignored. The NHL was never a part of our past time. MLB used to be. I want to return to those days. I want to turn on the radio in July while the Mets are finally in the middle of a pennant race and hear baseball talk.

The sad part is I got swept up yesterday in the Deflategate talk. How could you not? If you are an NFL fan (and I am), you have to talk about it. If Clayton Kershaw was suspended for becoming a modern day Gaylord Perry, I would not stop talking about it. The problem is that I think most people would. If this news came to light in early December, most people would talk about the NFL as it approaches the stretch drive while the Kershaw news would fade until Spring Training.

To me that’s the problem. MLB is no longer moving the needle the way it once did. That’s a challenge for the new commissioner Rob Manfred.  I want Rob Manfred to move the needle so shows like Hahn & Humpty talk more baseball, at least during baseball season.  That’s also a challenge for me as I look to raise my son. I want him to be a Mets fan so we will always have something to bond over. Thirty years from now, I would like to talk about how the Mets are contending and need to add a player at the trade deadline rather than another NFL scandal. I really hope that is possible because I hate this deflated feeling.

Rumor Has It No More Trade Talk

I’m done with analyzing potential trades and players.  I don’t think the Mets are making any more moves.  I don’t think Sandy Alderson had the money to spend.  He was bluffing at that press conference because that’s his job.  He cannot announce to the world the Mets don’t have the money to add a contract.  That’s foolhardy.  It reduces your leverage in trade discussions, and it could keep fans away from the ballpark.  Both are bad for business, and if anything, Sandy is a good businessman.

Therefore, I’m not going to address how well I think Gerardo Parra will fit on this team, especially given Juan Lagares’ questionable health and offense.  I’m not going to address how a Jose Reyes deal will benefit the Mets on the field and in attendance.  I won’t go into how Justin Upton has been lousy since April and will only drag the Mets offense further down.  I’ve already wasted my breath on Jay Bruce.  We all know Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Gonzalez are not going to be moved by their teams.

Any other players the Mets get besides the aforementioned players are just background noise.  They are bench parts that don’t have the day to day impact the Mets need on the field.  If the Mets acquire someone, I’ll do a write up on the trade.  If the Mets get one of the above, I’ll concede how very wrong I was.

I’m not being pessimistic.  I’m being realistic.  I do think the team on the field can compete for the postseason and the World Series.  When Travis d’Arnaud returns, the team is that much better.  If David Wright returns, and is at least a shadow of himself, watch out.  If Steven Matz returns, we’re really cooking.

Instead of focusing on what could be, I’m going to focus on what is and enjoy that.  I don’t think people do that enough nowadays.  I’m going to sit down tonight and watch the Mets game with my son until he falls asleep.  I’m going to watch the team on the field, and I’m going to enjoy the game (hopefully).  I’m just not going to sit here anymore and fret over what could be.  I’m going to enjoy what is.

You’re a Good Man, Terry Collins

We don’t always realize it, but professional athletes, coaches, and front office executives are human beings.  We are too quick to call for someone to be fired or to call them incompetent.  Sure, we all know Ted down the hall is an awful employee.  He spends half his day on the internet and the other half of his day just being bad at his job.  Everyone knows it, but no one is beating down the boss’s door calling for him to get fired.  Yet, we have no problem doing that in the world of sports.

Fans call to WFAN, make posts on Twitter, and even write about it on their blogs.  Trust me when I tell you I’m not being judgmental here.  I’ve done the same thing, and I will continue to do the same thing.  For them, they know it’s part of their role.  However, what I have never liked about it is how we all (myself included) tend to dehumanize the person we want to get fired.  These people are capable of wonderful and terrific things.  For example, this tidbit appeared on the internet yesterday.

It really took me back.  Do you remember when you lost a loved one?  A kind word or simple gesture means a lot to you.  It helps you through the grieving process.  It is important to you not just that people care about you, but it’s important that the person you grieve was important and will be remembered by other people.

Overall, Terry Collins has acted with dignity while the manager of the Mets.  What I didn’t know about him was level of empathy for a fan.  He didn’t owe that letter to anyone.  He could have moved onto something else like figuring how the lineup card.  No, he took the time to treat someone with dignity and respect.  It was an amazing gesture.

I know in the future that I will continue to criticize Collins’ decisions.  While I may never call for him to be fired, I won’t criticize anyone that does.  That’s the nature of his business.  However, in the future, when I either criticize him or call for him to be fired, I will remember him as a human being.  I will refrain from the ad hominem attacks.  I will treat him with the respect that he showed one of our fellow Mets fans.  He deserves at least that much.

Mets Need to Stomp Out Mejia

How stupid can you possibly be?  Jenrry Mejia became the first person in Major League history to be suspended twice in one season under MLB’s stiffer policy for PED use. You would’ve thought after the first suspension, he would’ve tried to conceal his usage. 

I used to really like Mejia. I was angry at Jerry Manuel for setting his career back. I didn’t think the Mets gave him a fair shake in the rotation last year. However, I became impressed how he adapted to the bullpen. He finished last year with 28 saves. He looked poised to become the closer for years to come. Ideally, Jeurys Familia and Bobby Parnell would be be his setup men for a terrific 7-8-9 tandem. 

While warming up in the bullpen on Opening Day, he felt pain in his elbow. As he was being placed on the DL, he was getting suspended for 80 games. Between that suspension and his latest suspension, it appears I was wrong about him. 

I don’t want him on the Mets. I don’t want to raise someone who roots for cheaters. I don’t want to say to my son we shouldn’t root for Mejia because he cheats, but I’m cheering right now because he helped the Mets. I’m not a fan of moral equivalence, and I don’t like being put in that situation. 

I applaud The 7 Line for donating the Mejia t-shirts rather than profit from their sale. I only wish Sandy Alderson had this type of moral courage. 

You see Sandy LOVES his steroid guys. He built those great A’s teams with steroids guys. (for the record he denied knowing this even though Tony LaRussa said it was well known). He signed Bartolo Colon. Colon missed a steroids suspension while playing for the Mets on a technicality. He signed Marlon Byrd. There are others, but I’m not going to belabor the point. 

Sandy’s reaction?  He stated, “[t]here is a tremendous amount of disappointment, to some extent anger.”  The Mets’ front office is “ticked off” at Mejia’s suspension.  Given his history, he doesn’t have the right to this reaction. I think they’re only upset he got caught. 

Don’t believe me?  Then tell me why Mejia hadn’t been released yet?  He’s no longer an asset. He’s one suspension away from being gone from the game. If the Mets truly care about steroids enough to be “ticked off,” they should send a message and release him. 

I’m all for repentance and rehabilitation. I agreed Mejia had his suspension and his right to return to the Mets. If he was clean, he should be allowed to play. He’s shown no interest in playing clean. He needs to be booted off the team. 

Thor is the Story

There was a lot of stories and distractions today around the Mets. First, there were fans clamoring for the return of Jose Reyes. Then the Mets made it clear they had no interest in Reyes. Next, David Wright resumed baseball activities. Finally, Jenrry Mejia embarrassed Major League Baseball, the Mets, and himself with his second PED suspension THIS YEAR!

Noah Syndergaard took the mound Tuesday night and made himself the story. He was perfect through six innings, and he finished with an incredible line of 8.0 innings pitched, 9 strikeouts, 3 hits, and no walks. 

After Thor allowed the first single to potential trade target Will Venable, he allowed an infield single to Yangervis Solarte. On the Solarte single, Ruben Tejada tried to do too much. Rather than smother the ball, he tried a glove flip to Daniel Murphy to try to get the force out. Instead of a Web Gem, Tejada nearly put the ball into right field. Venable advanced to third on the play.  It was 2-0 with runners on first and third with no outs. 

Thor then threw down the gauntlet (sorry comic book fans if this is mixing metaphors). He got Matt Kemp to pop out and induced Justin Upton, another trade target, to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Despite having only thrown 107 pitches, Thor was lifted after eight innings (perhaps due to the innings limit dilemma). Tyler Clippard made his Mets debut and worked his way around a leadoff double. 

After this inning, I finally put my son to bed. Growing up, there was a rule in my household: bed time was suspended until a Mets’ pitcher allowed their first hit. The longest bed time reprieve I remember was David Cone losing a no-hitter on a dribbler down the third base line that refused to go foul. I knew my son wouldn’t remember seeing Thir pitch a perfect game, but I would remember watching it with him. That would’ve made it all the more special maybe next time. 

When setting today’s lineup, Terry generally followed the platoon system. With the righty Shields on the mound, Collins went with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Daniel Murphy. However, after his walk-off hit on Sunday, Juan Uribe was in the lineup. It should be noted that coming into the game Uribe had gone 2/5 with one walk and a triple against Shields. 

My belief is that this is the Mets’ best defensive infield alignment. Incredibly, Murphy was the defensive star of the game making two nice defensive plays whe the no-hitter was still viable. 

Kudos is also due to Lucas Duda, who hit a mammoth two run homerun in the first inning. It appears the pressure is off and the power is back. His other outs were hard hit balls. Curtis Granderson put the game away with a two run homerun in the eighth. 

However, the story of the game and th day was Thor, who pitched like an ace. It seems the stud muffins are pushing each other to be better. It’s incredible, and it’s the type of thing that drives a team towards the postseason. 

Step in the Wright Direction?

When the Uribe/Johnson trade went down, I lamented that it may be a sign David Wright was done for the year. Hopefully, today may be a sign I was wrong because Wright took grounders at Citi Field and felt great

For what it’s worth, there were doctors who believed Wright could return to play this season. However, this same physician said Wright would return sooner rather than later. To be fair, that is open-ended. 

Overall, doctors seem to agree baseball activities exacerbate spinal stenosis. Specifically, the rotation/twisting actions involved in swinging a bat exacerbate the spinal stenosis symptoms. Stephania Bell noted setbacks on the comeback trail are common. Therefore, while it is terrific Wright is taking grounders, it is notable that it was not reported he took batting practice or hitting off of a tee.  Even assuming he did and he’s 100% ready to resume play, he’s most likely going to need a lengthy rehab assignment. 

Wright has not picked up a bat in about three months. Accordingly, Wright probably needs his rehab assignment to be something akin to Spring Training. Keep in mind, this year the Mets position players reported on February 24th. With the season start date of April 6th, that means Wright originally had 41 days to get ready for the season, which doesn’t include any preparation he did on his own before the season. 

If Wright began a rehab assignment right now, he would be ready by September 7th (using the 41 day parameter). The Mets’ last game is October 4th. If the Mets want Wright to play before the playoffs, he’s going to need to begin his rehab assignment by August 24th, at the latest. Realistically, you would want him to play at least one week (possibly more) before the end of the season. With what he means to the team and the nature of his injury, I can’t imagine the Mets would accelerate his rehab assignment. 

The absolute deadline for Wright to begin a rehab assignment is quickly approaching. If all goes right, he just might make it. The slightest set back means he won’t. I pray he can do it because, when he’s right, he’s a huge upgrade over Uribe/Murphy. 

UPDATE: apparently Wright did hit off a tee while he was in LA. While this is much more promising, the tight time tables remain in place. My fingers are crossed.