Mets Forgot Some Things On The Moving Van

Today was the day the Mets loaded the moving vans to head down for Spring Training in Port St. Lucie. While the Mets were careful to laod the equipment, there were several things the Mets have forgotten to bring down with them:

1. A Starting Center Fielder

When Juan Lagares is healthy, he is as good a defender as there is in all of baseball. His glove alone makes him an everyday player. With the improvements he made offensively, you could see him being an above average MLB center fielder. The problem is he’s never healthy. Over the past three years, he has not cracked 95 games played. Behind him is Keon Broxton who has hit .221/.313/.421 in his Major League career.

Behind them is a collection of has beens and never will bes. For all the moves the Mets have made this offseason, it is difficult to believe this is what the Mets envisioned as their center field solution.

2. Starting Pitching Depth

After being named a 2017 All Star, Jason Vargas has been terrible. Since that All Star Game, he has a 6.04 ERA, and opposing batters are hitting .278/.351/.506 against him. Consider for a moment he is probably the team’s best fifth starter option. That is because behind him the Mets have a collection of players who have posted ERAs above 5.00 at the Major League level the past few seasons.

This was the problem when the Mets traded Justin Dunn. The team lost its best internal sixth starter. They lost the pitcher who could get called up and be a real difference maker to put the team over the top. Instead, they are hoping Chris Flexen is a significantly better pitcher after his knee surgery, or Hector Santiago turns back the clock four years to be the guy who put up good stats with shaky peripherals.

3. Last Piece of the Puzzle

Undoubtedly, the projected 2019 Mets roster is better than the roster the Mets had last season. After all, when you’re a below .500 team, when you add a few quality players, you don’t have anywhere to go but up. Still, what the Mets have added is not enough.

Looking at the Fangraphs projected standings, the Mets are still just the second best team in the National League East. That puts them square in the Wild Card race. Consider for a moment, that is before the other three big teams in the division are done adding to their rosters. Certainly, a closer for the Braves, or the Phillies making one to three significant additions completely changes that dynamic.

Whether you are in the boat of the Mets adding a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or not, you have to admit the Mets parting with five prospects, including their two best in Jarred Kelenic and Dunn, while taking on Robinson Cano‘s contract, is not worth it when you are putting all of your eggs in getting to a one game playoff.

Sure, we have seen teams like the Giants and Royals use that game to propel them to the World Series. We also saw the Mets waste a gem from Noah Syndergaard in that game. Point is, the Mets haven’t done enough. Fortunately for them, there are still significant pieces available even with pitchers and catchers reporting next week. They need to go out and do something.

Patriots Winning The Super Bowl Is A Bad Omen For The Mets

Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:

2002
Super Bowl XXXVI
Mets: 79-86

After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.

What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.

2004
Super Bowl XXXVIII
Mets:
71-91

This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player.  Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.

As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.

As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.

Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.

2005
Super Bowl XXXIX
Mets:
83-79

With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific  collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:

The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.

Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.

2015
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1

Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.

2017
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: 70-92

The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.

Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.

Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.

As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.

2019
Super Bowl LIII
Mets: ?

This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.

The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.

Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.

Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.

 

Trivia Friday: 2015 Mets Still With The Organization

The Mets have had a significant amount of turnover since they appeared in the 2015 World Series. Just this offseason, the Mets have seen Wilmer Flores leave. With him gone, there are just ten players remaining from the 2015 Mets who are still with the organization. Can you name who they are? Good luck!


Travis d’Arnaud Juan Lagares Michael Conforto Yoenis Cespedes Jacob deGrom Noah Syndergaard Steven Matz Dilson Herrera David Wright Jeurys Familia Zack Wheeler

The 2015 Pennant Winning Infield Is Gone

Looking at Twitter yesterday, something occurred to me. With David Wright medically retiring and Wilmer Flores signing with the Diamondbacks, the 2015 Mets pennant winning infield is all gone.

The first to go was Daniel Murphy. That was the result of the Mets deciding they would rather have Ben Zobrist then later Neil Walker as their second baseman in 2016. Juan Uribe would also depart via free agency as he would pursue an opportunity to be the Indians everyday third baseman.

Kelly Johnson would leave via free agency, but the Mets would soon realize their mistake by not re-signing him. As a result, they would trade Akeel Morris to the Braves to reacquire Johnson. That move would be a key factor in the Mets making it back to the postseason in 2016.

While Murphy, Uribe, and Johnson left via free agency, the Mets just plain got rid of Ruben Tejada. Even with Chase Utley destroying his leg, the Mets would tender him a contract. On the eve of Opening Day, the Mets would opt to release Tejada thereby saving them some money.

Lucas Duda lasted a little bit longer. In 2016, he would suffer a back injury, which cost him most of the season. He would rebound in 2017, but the Mets wouldn’t. As a result, he was moved at the trade deadline in exchange for Drew Smith.

That left just Flores and Wright. With Wright going down just 37 games into the 2016 season, it was really just Flores remaining. Even with the Mets not winning the past few seasons, Flores was a reminder of that glorious 2015 season with a number of walk-off hits and game winning RBI. Those memories are now history as Flores was non-tendered, and he signed a free agent deal with the Diamondbacks.

Really, when you look at the Mets team, 2015 seems forever ago.Looking at the current roster, the only position players who will be active on Opening Day are Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares. If Travis d’Arnaud is healthy, that makes three, and when he returns, if he returns, Yoenis Cespedes will make four. There isn’t much remaining from the pitching staff either. From the starting rotation, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz remains, and in the bullpen, Jeurys Familia is only one remaining, and that is because he was brought back in free agency.

It really is a shame too. That 2015 group was very likeable. It was a team who electrified not just Mets fans, but all of baseball. At the time, it seemed like this was going to be the dawn of a new era of Mets baseball. If things broke right, it could be another run like there was with the 1980s Mets teams. Sadly, it never happened.

Still, we have the memories. Hopefully, the Mets now have a team who could win. And who knows? Perhaps we will one day talk about how the players who got their experience with the 2015 team being the players who leaned on that experience to help put the Mets over the top in 2019.

Christian Montgomery Domestic Violence Photos And Cheering For Jose Reyes

Back in 2014, Ravens running back Ray Rice punched his then fiancee, now wife, knocking her out cold. Without seeing the video, the NFL determined Rice should only receive a two game suspension. At the time, Rice was still upheld as a role model by the Ravens. Ravens fans and fantasy football fans were contemplating how Rice would perform when he returned.

Remember, while there was outrage in certain parts of the world, the main focus was on the football impact. That was until TMZ released the video of what he actually did.

The response was overwhelming. A now suddenly image conscious NFL suspended Rice indefinitely, and they worked to institute a new domestic violence policy. Other leagues would do the same, including Major League Baseball. Little did we know at the time, but baseball’s policy would soon be put to the test.

Starting with Aroldis Chapman, there have been nine MLB players suspended for domestic violence. With each incident, there have been different reactions by each team. The Reds wanted no part of Chapman, and as a result, they traded him to the Yankees. The Blue Jays had a similar reaction with Roberto Osuna trading him to the Astros rather than having him pitch another game for their franchise.

Other teams have had different reactions. It may be callous to assert this, but it’s eminently fair to say the Chicago Cubs don’t care about it. Back in 2016, they traded away huge haul in the form of Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, and Adam Warren to obtain Chapman. This offseason, they opted to tender Addison Russell a contract despite fully knowing Russell’s history.

With respect to Russell, this past year was not the first time Russell was accused of abusing his now ex-wife. In 2017, his now ex-wife made the claim on social media, but she deleted the posts. She also wouldn’t cooperated with MLB investigators, and as a result, MLB would levy no suspension upon Russell.

While his ex-wife was not willing to cooperate in 2018, she was in 2018. She found the strength and courage to tell her story. While previous MLB incidents had been detailed in police reports and newspaper articles, Melissa Russell, gave a face and voice to the abused. The allegations were harrowing, and the details gut-wrenching. It was the closest thing to a Ray Rice video MLB has seen.

That was until last night.

Last night, images surfaced on Twitter accusing former Mets minor league Christian Montgomery of beating his girlfriend on Friday night. Before clicking the link, be warned they are graphic and disturbing images.

It should be noted Montgomery has not been with the Mets for over two years now. Back in July 2016, he was put on the restricted list after testing positive a second time for a “drug of abuse.” With the two positive test results, plus a 5.65 ERA over five minor league seasons, Montgomery was proving he was not nearly talented enough to put up with his off-the-field behavior.

What we don’t know is if the Mets knew or factored in his domestic violence issues (to the extent this was an issues at the time). What we do know is the same month Montgomery was suspended was the same month Jose Reyes played for the Mets again.

Like with other incidents, we only heard what Reyes did. We never got the Ray Rice video. We didn’t have the photos from Montgomery. We didn’t even have the Russell story. This allowed the team, media, and even fans to have a certain level of cognitive dissonance. We knew something happened, but we didn’t know exactly what happened. At least, that is what many of us have told ourselves.

Sure, Reyes’ wife went to the hospital, but no one actually saw what she looked like upon arrival. Really, no one saw her until June when she attended Reyes’ first game back. She was in Brooklyn as the fans cheered and welcomed back Reyes. Nary was there a boo of voice of disapproval in the stadium in either Brooklyn or in Queens.

It’s no different than what we saw happened with Chapman or Osuna. It’s no different than what we have seen with any of the players accused of or suspended for domestic violence. If you don’t see it or the results of it, you don’t have the understanding of what truly happened. To a certain extent, that’s human nature.

If you look at the photos from the Montgomery accusations, you have a better understanding of what happened with Reyes even if the circumstances and the injuries were different. Looking at those pictures, you have to question how exactly Reyes was nominated for the Marvin Miller Award. If you are a fan who wanted him to return or still wear his jersey, the hope is the pictures should force you to revisit your opinion.

In the end, just remember that when there is an incident of domestic violence, there is a woman who looks like Ray Rice’s wife or Christian Montgomery’s girlfriend. There is a woman with a story like Addison Russell’s ex-wife has. If you’re a team looking to sign a player like Chapman, or a fan cheering for a Russell, or a Mets fan getting wrapped up in nostalgia wearing your Reyes jersey, just revisit these videos, pictures, and stories.

When you’re done, ask yourself if that is something you want to support.

What About Dom?

Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been quite vocal in his support of Peter Alonso, and you can understand why with the season Alonso just had last year. However, with the way the Collective Bargaining Agreement is structured, it makes little sense having Alonso on the Opening Day roster.

As we saw back in 2015, the Cubs played Mike Olt for six games to start the season. After he hit .133/.188/.333, Olt was put on the disabled list with a fracture. Three days later, Kris Bryant was added to the Major League roster as was long anticipated. By working it this way, the Cubs gained an extra year of control. As a result, Bryant will be a free agent after the 2021 and not the 2020 season.

That decision did not prevent the Cubs from winning 97 games in 2015, and it certainly did nothing to prevent the Cubs from winning the 2016 World Series. That is an important consideration for the Mets with respect to Alonso.

When you break it down, it would be irresponsible for the Mets to put Alonso on the Opening Day roster. If Alonso is as great as the Mets believe, you want an extra year of control over him. As a result, despite assertions to the contrary, it is very possible the Mets keep Alonso in the minors to start the season.

Now, the Mets have built their roster to allow that decision. By signing Jed Lowrie, the Mets could go with Lowrie at third and Todd Frazier at first base. The team could also opt for T.J. Rivera, who was the first baseman for Puerto Rico in the last World Baseball Classic. Going deeper, J.D. Davis has played first base. The team has wanted to make Travis d’Arnaud more versatile, so maybe they can hide him at first base as he works to strengthen his throwing arm post Tommy John.

Then, there is former first round pick Dominic Smith.

Smith has not received a true shot in the majors. He was called up later than Amed Rosario in 2016, and he struggled mightily. While Rosario did as well, the Mets only brought in competition for Smith, which based upon his 2016 performance was fair game. Smith then all but handed over the first base job to Adrian Gonzalez by being late to the first Spring Training game, a game he was slated to start, and then he was injured.

What is interesting is what happened after that. Gonzalez was released, and the Mets opted to go with Wilmer Flores at first base all summer long while making Smith an outfielder. The Mets did this even when the Mets were well out of the race.

Now, this is a problem this current regime inherited much like how Alonso wasn’t called up last year and now have to consider whether to forego another year of control. If the plan is to hold back Alonso for a couple of weeks, that means Smith will have a chance to compete for a position on the Opening Day roster.

If you’re going to open up a competition for first base, even if it is for the first base position over the first few weeks, that means Smith has a chance. The question which ensues is what happens if Smith outplays everyone in Spring Training, including Alonso. What if he reports to Spring Training in shape?  What if he is stronger and now able to hit the ball with more authority?

What if Smith claims the Opening Day first base job?  Better yet, let’s assume he gets the chance.  What happens if he hits and plays good defense at first?  What do the Mets do if they are winning early in the season with Smith being part of the equation? Do the Mets stick with Smith, or do they turn around and give the first base job to Alonso the first chance they get?

Right now, the narrative is Alonso is better than Smith; that Smith is a bust. Lost in that is Smith is younger, and he has taken his lumps. He has the chance to learn what he has to do. Much like how he kept the weight off last season, we may see a more mature Smith who has taken the next step forward to become a productive Major League player.

It does not make sense to overlook Smith. He is still young, and he still has potential. For all we know, he may still yet prove to be better than Alonso. It’s also true Alonso is the better player. At this point, it is all theory, and since it is theory, no possibilities should be discounted. That includes allowing Smith the opportunity to outplay Alonso and win the first base job not just in 2019 but in the ensuing seasons.

If the Mets are truly doing the right thing, they should let each player get a real shot at first base. That means Smith and Alonso. It also means Frazier and the rest of the roster. Ultimately, you win the division by sending out your best players. Today, the Mets think that’s Alonso, and that’s fine. The real trick is having an open mind to pivot from that decision if Alonso struggles or someone else proves themselves.

Congratulations Dillon Gee

After an eight year career, former Mets pitcher Dillon Gee has announced his retirement from baseball. While Gee spent time with the Royals, Rangers, Twins, and even Japan, he is a New York Mets player through and through. The fact Gee emerged to even be that is quite remarkable.

Gee was a 21st round draft pick out of the University of Texas. He didn’t throw consistently in the 90s. None of his breaking pitches were great. Looking at that profile, you would not immediately peg him as a guy who was going to make it to the Major Leagues.

Overlooked through all of that was Gee knew how to pitch. He could locate his pitches, and he knew how to sequence them. With that knowledge and his underrated stuff, Gee just dominated in the minors. A year after he was drafted, he posted a 1.33 ERA in Double-A Binghamton. He would come to Spring Training in 2009, and he would catch the eye of then Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

You could have expected to pinpoint that as the moment where Gee took off. He didn’t because in Triple-A Gee was 1-3 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in just nine starts. He watched on like the rest of us as the Mets dipped down to Triple-A for Tim Redding, Nelson Figueroa, Pat Misch, Fernando Nieve, and Jon Niese. As that 2009 team faltered, Gee was left with us Mets fans wondering, “What if?”

The reason why Gee was no in the mix was a torn labrum leading to season ending shoulder surgery for a torn laburm. As we would eventually see with Johan Santana, that could be a career killer. Fortunately, even with him struggling in the minors in 2010, it wasn’t one for Gee.

Gee would finally get his chance at the end of the 2010 season, and over the course of seven brilliant innings against the Nationals, he proved he belonged. He did that all the more so as Gee had a 2.18 ERA in five MLB starts. That stint established he was a Major Leaguer, and he would become a fixture in the Mets rotation.

There were several highlights from Gee in his Mets years. In 2011, he would start the season 7-0 surpassing Jon Matlack‘s rookie record of six consecutive wins to start a season. He would set a career high with nine strikeouts in a game. And then, once again, there was an issue with his pitching shoulder. This time, Gee had a clot an arterial clot requiring season ending surgery. By the end of 2012, he had a promising start to his career, and he also had two significant and potentially career altering shoulder surgeries.

Once again, Gee would beat the odds, and he would once again establish he was a big league pitcher. While he teetered early on in 2013, he would re-establish himself in May with a terrific start against the Pirates allowing just one run in five innings. After that, he would have two more moments which would be arguably be the highlight of his career. The first was a 12 strikeout performance against the Yankees in the Subway Series:

It was a huge moment as the victory secured the Mets ever, and to date only, season sweep against the Yankees in the history of Interleague Play.

Later that season, Gee would flirt with a no-hitter for six innings against the Braves. It wasn’t the first or last time Gee would have that type of a performance, but it was special nonetheless.

This would lead to his being the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter. Just being an opening day starter put him in the same conversation as pitchers like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, and Johan Santana. It was a special honor for a pitcher who persevered throughout his career.

Unfortuantely, Gee would have injury issues in 2014, which helped lead to the rise of Jacob deGrom. That coupled with Matt Harvey returning and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz on the horizon made his spot tenuous going forward. With the team being unsure what he was going forward coupled with another injury, Gee’s time was all but over. Finally, Gee would be released by the Mets in June meaning Gee would miss the ride.

Gee missed the ride despite his being a mentor to young pitchers like Harvey. He missed the ride despite him being one of the building blocks who not only had to take their licks pitching in front of inferior Mets teams, but also trying to take this team back to contention. Something, he never got to experience. Instead of being bitter, he was right there with all of us rooting for that Mets team to win the World Series:

Gee was a Met through and through. For six years, he gave the Mets everything he had. He did not let two shoulder surgeries stand in his way. He rose to become an Opening Day starter, and his fingerprints were all over that 2015 team. In the end, Gee should be proud of everything he accomplished. It was a very good career, and as a fan, it was a privilege to watch him pitch every fifth day.

Best of luck in retirement Dillon Gee!

Mets May Have Best Bullpen In Baseball

Last week, the Mets added Justin Wilson to a bullpen who already had Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. With Wilson previously serving as the Tigers closer in 2017, the Mets can now run out three straight closers in the seventh, eighth, and ninth. If Mickey Callaway wants to be imaginative, it allows him to slot these three pitchers as needed to close out a game.

For instance, if the Braves have Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman due up, he can go with Wilson that inning and deploy Familia and Diaz in the others. That could be mean Wilson in the seventh, eighth, or possibly even the ninth. When you build that type of versatility in the bullpen, your bullpen is even better.

Then again, you don’t even have to go that far as all three of those pitchers are fairly platoon neutral meaning you can just run them out there and let them get batters out. Of course, this means you also get the chance to rest some of your better arms as needed. The fresher the arms are in your bullpen the better your bullpen is.

While we can assume that trio are the three main guys who are set to close out games, it is very possible the best pitcher in the Mets bullpen is actually Seth Lugo, a pitcher who truly emerged as the Mets answer to Andrew Miller last year.

Last year, Lugo was 3-4 with three saves, a 2.66 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. Behind those numbers, he emerged as a guy who you could trust in any situation. If you needed a guy to come in and strike a batter out? Bring in Lugo. The starting pitcher knocked out in the first?  Bring in Lugo. Middle of the order due up in the late innings? Bring in Lugo. No matter what the situation, if you need big outs, you bring in Lugo.

Right there, the Mets have four top end pitchers in their bullpen. With Familia and Lugo, you know you can trust two of them to go multiple innings. This means when you have the really important games, at most, you really need just five solid innings from your starters. That’s important to note when Jason Vargas is starting games.

When it is Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, you take your terrific six innings, and you don’t need to push them further. Then again, you will because they’re great pitchers. Keep in mind, when they are great for six, seven, or even eight innings, your bullpen looks all the better because you only need one or two of your great relievers.

That’s the key. Few, if any teams, can pair the type of rotation the Mets have with the type of bullpen they have built. Breaking it down and examining it, you realize a strong rotation and a strong bullpen buttresses each other, and it makes them both stronger.

It also allows you to not overuse relievers like Robert Gsellman, Luis Avilan, Daniel Zamora, Kyle Dowdy, Hector Santiago, Drew Smith, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, Tyler Bashlor, or whoever else the Mets run out there with the aforementioned top four relievers. It’s not just overuse, it’s overexposing. Being able to diligently use these arms makes them stronger, and it makes the bullpen better.

That’s the key here. Building a bullpen or pitching staff is not just about the arms you have. It is about where you are opting to deploy them. The Mets have three closers set for the final three innings. They have a pitcher like Lugo who can be used as a weapon who can not just be unleashed at any time but at the most opportune times. You can then have three guys you can match-up as needed. With the Mets starting rotation, they probably will not be needed anywhere as often as other teams need their fifth, sixth, seventh, or even eighth best reliever.

In the end, that is how you truly build a great bullpen. You get the guys, and you put them in the right spots to maximize their skill set. Overall, this is why the Mets have the makings of the best bullpen in baseball.

Al Leiter Making Right Decision Leaving Booth

In recent news former Mets great Al Leiter has announced he will not be returning to the YES booth for the 2019 season. With him leaving the booth, he is leaving behind a promising and good broadcast career which had begun when he was a player providing commentary during the 2003 NLCS.

During that NLCS, you could see Leiter was going to be a gifted broadcaster. He hasn’t disappointed in his time as a Yankees color commentator or as an analyst on MLB Network. Seeing his work, you knew no one was pushing him out the door, and yet Leiter has announced he is leaving.

The reason is his son, Jack, is a senior in high school, and he is committed to Vanderbilt. If Jack is anything like his father, his uncle Mark Leiter, or even his cousin also named Mark Leiter, he has a real Major League future ahead of him. If that is the case, Al Leiter is going to be in New Jersey doing work for the MLB Network, or he will be in the Bronx, or he will find himself anywhere where the Yankees travel.

That does not leave him much time to watch his son pitch during his senior season. It doesn’t give him time to give parental advice to help prepare his son for college or even the draft. It doesn’t leave enough time for him to spend time with his son because his son finds himself in places like Tennesse, whether that is for college or for an Appalachian League affiliate.

In his career, Leiter made approximately $68 million. He’s done a fine job as a broadcaster presumably earning a good salary. With his reputation and his relatively young age (53), Leiter has the chance to do this. This is all every parent wants, and Leiter has that opportunity. Good for him for taking full advantage.

When he’s ready to return, there could be a chance for him at SNY as the Mets have begun taking more of a look at the 90’s Mets team. We have seen Todd Zeile recently hired to replace Nelson Figueroa and Bob Ojeda before him. Sooner or later, we know Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are going to leave the Mets booth.

Maybe, there will be room for a new booth with Gary, Leiter, and Mike Piazza. It would be the type of booth which could generate the same chemistry and cache with Mets fans. And who knows, maybe we will see Leiter calling games his son is pitching.

But before then, let’s hope the best for Jack Leiter and hope Al enjoys each and every minute of the ride.

Three Years Later, Game Changing And Franchise Altering Options Still There

Today is the three year anniversary of Yoenis Cespedes officially signing a three year $75 million contract with the New York Mets. The contract came with the opt out the Mets had said they didn’t want to offer anyone, and it was a surprise for a team who had seemed to move on from Cespedes early in the offseason.

For those who recall, the Mets had signed Alejandro De Aza on December 23, 2015. With his signing, the plan was apparently to have him platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. He would be in the same outfield as Michael Conforto, who after a promising 2015 season, looked primed to be an everyday player and Curtis Granderson, a man who was a series of infield and managerial gaffes away from being the World Series MVP.

That was a respectable, but not an especially formidable outfield for a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series. It caused frustration because the De Aza signing didn’t exactly put the team over the top. The money saved on Michael Cuddyer‘s retirement was arguably poorly spread between De Aza, Jerry Blevins, Antonio Bastardo, and Bartolo Colon.

No, this team needed Cespedes.

What was odd was Cespedes was still a free agent. Sure, there were better regarded free agent outfield options in Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon. There were other attractive options available as well. Still, this was a player who thrived in the biggest market in the world hitting .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 homers, and 44 RBI in 57 games.

Extrapolating that over a 162 game season, and Cespedes would have accumulated 40 doubles, 11 triples, 48 homers, and 125 RBI. Now, it shouldn’t be anticipated Cespedes could do that over a 162 game schedule. However, what we did see is Cespedes is a difference maker just like he was with the Athletics.

Yet, still he lingered with little interest. Sure, the Nationals were rumored to have offered Cespedes $100 million, but it was the typical Nationals offer with deferred money, which did not seem to interest Cespedes. The fact this was the only real offer kept him around thereby allowing the Mets to swoop in and get Cespedes on a good deal for both sides.

It was a coup by Sandy Alderson. It was a necessary move which helped the Mets reach the postseason again in 2016. It marked just the second time in team history the Mets would go to consecutive postseasons. It happened because Cespedes lingered allowing the Mets to make a bold move.

This is the same situation which is present with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Somehow, some way, the two best free agents entering this free agent class are still available. For reasons unbeknownst to us, there are few teams in on either one of these players. In adding either one of these players, the Mets would take their 2019 team and put it over the top. A team who is projected to win around 85 games would move into the 90+ win range. That’s what happens when you add superstars and potential Hall of Famers.

It was the impact Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter had on those 1980s Mets teams. We saw that impact again when the Mets went out and traded for and re-signed Mike Piazza.

The Mets took advantage of unexpected opportunities. They struck when no one else expected them to strike. The result was a period of relevance, winning, and increased attendance. The chance is there. The Mets need to strike now and bring in one of Harper or Machado. The 2019 season rests on it.