Time to Move On from Alejandro De Aza

To put it as succinctly as possible, Alejandro De Aza has not been a good baseball player this year.  He rarely plays, and when he does play, he has only served as a detriment.  In 52 games, he has hit .169/.221/.247 with a 28 OPS+.  To put it in perspective, everyone’s least favorite Met, Eric Campbell, is hitting .159/.270/.222 with a 37 OPS+.  When you are incapable of outplaying Campbell, who is currently playing in AAA, you must question what purpose it serves having De Aza on the major league roster.

Initially, Terry Collins wanted De Aza to suceed.  It was less than a month ago that Collins said he wanted to get De Aza more playing time so he could get going and put up the numbers he once did.  Collins stayed true to his word as De Aza has played more in June than any other month.  De Aza has played in a season high 20 games and received a season high 42 plate appearances.  He has rewarded Collins by having his worst month of the season hitting .128/.171/.205.  Slowly, Collins realized that whatever the reason, this wasn’t working out, and he began to look elsewhere for outfield options in the wake of Juan Lagares on the disabled list and Yoenis Cespedes being a bit nicked up.  It has gotten to the point where Collins put Matt Reynolds in left for a game despite Reynolds never having played a game in the outfield as a professional.

Still, De Aza got some starts and at bats as he was the only completely healthy center fielder on the roster.  However, at this point, Collins may have had enough of De Aza.

On Satuday, the Mets were locked in a scoreless game in the top of the tenth.  De Aza was sent up there to bunt Wilmer Flores over to second base in the hopes that the Mets could FINALLY push a run across the plate.  De Aza then popped the bunt in the air and made zero effort to get to first.  This led to Braves’ pitcher Jim Johnson astutely letting it drop and completing the double play.  Collins was incensed and laid into De Aza.  After the game, he said, “I’ve seen [De Aza] play, and the one thing he is known for is how hard he plays. But it goes to show you — everybody gets frustrated when they don’t do the job.” (New York Post).  It seems that Collins had finally had enough.

Yesterday, Collins decided to put rookie Brandon Nimmo in right field, a position he has only played 32 times in six minor league seasons and Kelly Johnson in left field.  After Saturday, it is no surprise that De Aza was on the bench.  In fact, the only surprise would have been if De Aza received any consideration to start.

What is even more surprising is De Aza’s presence on the major league roster.  We can all agree De Aza is a much better player he has shown on the Mets, but so did John Mayberry last year.  For whatever reason, it hasn’t worked for either player during their time with the Mets.  The Mets were wise to cut bait with Mayberry last year, and they should do the same with De Aza this year.  In his stead, the Mets have a few good options in the minors that could easily replicate, if not improve, what De Aza has given the Mets this year.

First, there is Travis Taijeron.  He is currently hitting .306/.392/.568 in AAA right now.  He has shown powers at each level he plays, and he should be able to hit for some power in the big leagues.  He is a good defensive corner outfielder that may not be able to handle center that well.  However, with Nimmo on the roster, finding a backup center fielder is not as big a priority right now.

If the Mets wanted to go with a true back up center fielder and a player with big league experience, they could go with Roger Bernadina. Bernadina has played a steady center field over his major league career.  Over his last three major league seasons, he averaged a -0.2 UZR and a 0.7 DRS in center fielder.  These are unspectacular numbers, but it goes to show you he will not hurt the Mets if he is needed to play center field.

At the plate, he is a .236/.307/.354 major league hitter.  However, Bernadina played in the minor leagues all of last year.  Given what De Aza has done this year you’d be hard pressed to say Bernadina’s career numbers wouldn’t be an improvement.  In AAA, he has hit .298/.384/.466, which coincidentally, is very similar to the .276/.383/.466 he put up in the Pacific Coast League last year.  At a minimum, you can say that Bernadina is not a player in decline like Mayberry was last year and De Aza seems to be this year.

Given the Mets current World Series aspirations, they can ill afford to wait for De Aza especially since he looks dejected out there.  He is forcing the Mets hands to make a move similar to how the Mets made a move on Mayberry last year.  With Taijeron and Bernadina in the minors, the Mets can and should release De Aza and call-up a player who promises to put up better production.

Rivera Should Be Thor’s Personal Catcher

When the Mets activated Travis d’Arnaud from the disabled list, they decided to send Kevin Plawecki down to AAA and keep Rene Rivera.  Obviously, Rivera is going to serve as d’Arnaud’s backup, but there is also a possibility that he could have an expanded role with the team as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.  It is a move that makes a lot of sense for both the Mets and Syndergaard.

It is no secret that Syndergaard struggles holding runners on base.  This became painfully obvious on April 25th when the Reds were a perfect five for five in stolen base attempts.  In Syndergaard’s next start, Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy each stole a base while he was pitching.  Coming into that game, Crawford had stole 14 bases over five years and Duffy had not stolen a base all year. For his career, base runners were 27 for 30 in stolen base attempts when he was on the mound.  Through May 1st, base stealers were 12/13 in five games  This was something that could have become a mental issue for a pitcher that was on the brink of realizing his full potential as an ace.

After that game, Terry Collins began to have River catch Syndergaard.  With  In fact, Rivera has caught eight of Syndergaard’s last nine starts.  In those eight starts, there have been fewer stolen base attempts.  Part of this has been Syndergaard making adjustments.  A larger part of that was Rivera’s arm behind the plate.  While base runners are still having success on the base paths, Rivera’s presence has at least allowed Syndergaard to focus on the batter instead of being overly concerned with the running game.

Overall, Rivera’s presence is a big reason why he should be Syndergaard’s personal catcher.  With the Rays, Rivera was a part in the development of Chris Archer, who is a pitcher with every bit of the potential and ability as Syndergaard.  With Rivera behind the plate, opposing batters hit for a 93 OPS+ as opposed to a 100 OPS+ with other catchers.  With Rivera gone this year, Archer is struggling.  He is 4-9 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.442 WHIP.  Rivera has had a similar effect on Syndergaard this year.  When River is behind the plate, Syndergaard has a 2.12 ERA and 1.026 WHIP.  This is the lowest ERA and WHIP combination Syndergaard has with any Mets catcher who has caught him for more than one game.

Aside from the positive effect of a Syndergaard/Rivera pairing, there is another consideration.  Throughout his career, d’Arnaud has had trouble staying on the field.  If the Mets were to give him every fifth day off during a Syndergaard start, it might allow him to be fresher as the season progresses.  As he’s fresher, he may be less prone to injury.  Presumably, not having his top hitting hand abused by Syndergaard’s 100 MPH fastballs could be beneficial to d’Arnaud when he’s at bat.  Overall, this could be a very successful strategy that other pitching dependent teams have used in the past.

During the Braves run with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, Maddux used a personal catcher.  It was mostly Eddie Perez who puts up similar offensive numbers to Rivera.  Maddux felt comfortable with Perez behind the plate.  Judging from Maddux’s Hall of Fame statistics, it’s hard to fault him for wanting his personal catcher.  Meanwhile, Glavine, Smoltz, and the rest of the Braves’ starting staff used the Braves’ starting catcher which was the offensively superior Javy Lopez.  With Lopez getting those additional days off, he was stronger as the season progressed, and he put up terrific offensive numbers.  Given how similarly these Braves teams are built to the current Mets team, the Mets should really consider following this model especially when you see how well a Syndergaard-Rivera pairing has worked.



Antonio Bastardo Isn’t Good in Even Numbered Years

The highest paid reliever in the Mets bullpen is Antonio Batardo. Part of that is a function of baseball’s free agency rules. Another part is the fact the Bastardo was coming off a terrific year with the Pirates. He was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, and a 128 ERA+. 

He hasn’t been that player this year. Sunday was another reminder of that. 

Jeurys FamiliaAddison ReedJerry Blevins, and Hansel Robles have received a lot of work lately. Robles especially. With that in mind, Terry Collins really had little choice but to go to Bastardo in the eighth after seven good innings from Bartolo Colon. Given how Collins has used Bastardo all year, you knew that was the last place he wanted to go in a 1-0 game. Bastardo showed us all why Collins distrusts him. 

Without recording one out, the Braves turned a 1-0 game into a 5-0 game. It was capped off with a three run homer from Adonis Garcia who is just the latest in Braves Mets killers. After this game, Bastardo now sports a 5.46 ERA and a 1.62 ERA.  His ERA+ is 88. It makes you question where it had all gone wrong for Bastardo. 

The simple fact is this is who Bastardo is. He pitches well every other year. Here are his ERA and ERA+ figures for his full years in the majors:

  • 2011: 2.64 ERA, 146 ERA+
  • 2012: 4.33 ERA, 94 ERA+
  • 2013: 2.32 ERA, 163 ERA+
  • 2014: 3.94 ERA, 95 ERA+
  • 2015: 2.98 ERA, 128 ERA+

This is a definitive pattern, and Bastardo has been following that pattern so far this year.  This is something the Mets should have anticipated when signing him this offseason (maybe they did when giving him a two year deal). 

To his credit, Collins hasn’t trusted Bastardo from the moment Curtis Granderson stepped up to the plate to begin the 2016 season. Collins has avoided putting Bastardo in high leverage situations, but he had no choice on Sunday.  It didn’t work out. Things typically don’t work out for Bastardo in even numbered years. 

It’s not the reason the Mets lost on Sunday. Bastardo wasn’t the reason the Mets failed to hit again.  Still, he was a big part of the Mets loss as he put the game out of reach. 

Congratulations Colby Woodmansee

On June 21, 2016, the Mets fifth round draft pick, Colby Woodmansee, played shortstop for the Brooklyn Cyclones.  He made it.  Woodmansee is now a professional baseball player.  It was a day both he and his father were eagerly awaiting their entire lives:

With the major league team just one borough away, it is easy to overlook the fact that the Cyclones are also comprised of professional baseball players who are living out their dream.    In our discussions about whether or not a certain player can actually make it to the majors, we lose sight of the fact that these are players who have made a major accomplishment by playing in the New York-Penn League.  Each and every player and their families should take time to be proud of and celebrate that achievement like the Woodmansees did yesterday.

And Woodmansee had a lot to celebrate.  He went out there and collected his first professional hit, run, RBI, and walk.  Overall, he went 2-3 with a walk, two runs, and two RBI.  He was the player of the game.  His team won the first ever professional game he played.  Cyclones fans and his family rejoiced.  Woodmansee’s childhood dreams finally came true.

There will be time to discuss what a night like that means for Woodmansee vis-a-vis his projectability to the next level of the minors and/or his chances of ever playing for the big league club.  Ultimately, that was not what that night was about.  That night was about a player fulfilling his dream.

Congratulations to Colby Woodmansee.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net

Ex-Brave Beats the Ex-Met

This was a bizarre day even for the Mets. The Mets sent down Michael Conforto and calling-up Brandon NimmoJose Reyes was brought back despite the domestic violence incident.  With all of that going on, the Mets still had a game to play. 

Jacob deGrom was shaky early on needing a few double plays to get out of a couple of innings unscathed. Overall, he pitched well against a bad Braves team. His final like was eight innings, seven hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. However, he did not get the win as the Mets offense failed him. 
There was a threat in the third when Yoenis Cespedes tried to stretch a single into a double.  He was easily out at second when he refused to slide. Instead of second and third with one it, Curtis Granderson stood alone on the basepaths with two outs. A Neil Walker pop out would put an end to the Mets only real threat against Braves’ starter Julio Teheran

Teheran matched deGrom zero for zero. He too lasted eight innings. He only allowed five hits, no runs, and no walks with seven strikeouts. You could call it a pitcher’s duel between two talented pitchers. You could also call it an contest in ineptitude between two dreadful offenses. 

The Braves chance for a walk-off win was stymied in the ninth when Granderson made a sliding catch in foul territory to end the inning and send the game into extras. 

The Mets finally broke through in the eleventh when ex-Brave Kelly Johnson hit a homer off ex-Met Dario Alvarez to put the Mets up 1-0. All that was needed was for Jeurys Familia to shut the door and recorded his 26th straight save to open the season. Given the Mets luck and Familia pitching more than one inning thd night before, it didn’t promise to be easy. It wasn’t. 

The Braves had a runner on second with one out and Freddie Freeman coming to the plate. At that point, Terry Collins made something readily apparent. He watches Mets games as closely as Mets fans do. He knows Freeman kills the Mets like other Braves’ Mets killers in the past like Chipper Jones (sorry Larry), Brian Jordan, etc. With that in mind, Collins ordered Famila to intentionally walk Freeman. 

It was a smart play as it prevented Freemam from killing the Mets again. It was a smart play as it set up the double play. When Nick Markakis hit the comebacker, the Mets got end the game by turning the double play. The 1-6-3 double play was the Mets third of the night. 

With all the emotion from today and drama that followed the Mets around most of this year, it is easy to forget the Mets are only two games back in the division and one in the loss column. The Mets will try to get closer tomorrow. 

Game Notes: In honor of the Negro Leagues, the Mets wore Brooklyn Royal Giants gear. As Nimmo didn’t get to Atlanta in time, the Mets started Alejandro De Aza, who was 0-4 with a strikeout. Travis d’Arnaud threw out another would be base stealer. 

An Examination of the Jose Reyes Signing

A woman is on the hotel bed before her husband pulls her off the bed. He proceeds to push her. When that isn’t enough, he grabs her around the throat and throws her into a sliding glass door leading out to a balcony. There’s an ensuing crash that stirs security.

The husband and wife are separated by security. The wife requests a medic to come to the hotel to treat injuries to her left leg and scratches to her throat – the same throat her attacker grabbed before throwing her into a glass door. When medics arrive to treat, it’s agreed she should get further treatment at the hospital.  During the time period she is separated from her husband, the wife cooperates with the police and gives them sufficient information to file a police report and have the District Attorney’s Office proceed with pressing charges against the husband.

The prosecution is ready to go to trial. However, the trial never happens. The victim wife refuses to cooperate.  The husband now is a free man. If you didn’t know it by know, that’s what we know happened with Jose Reyes and his wife.

Yes, there are various people saying there could have been any number of things that could have happened in the room that have gone unreported.  That is undeniably true.  You could say there was alcohol or that she was antagonizing him verbally or that she had the audacity to fight back causing Reyes to escalate the violence.  There are a number of scenarios you could conjure up to make the October 31, 2015 incident between Reyes and his wife seem better or worse depending on your point of view.  No matter what you think might have or could have transpired, we don’t know anything different from Reyes’ wife’s account as no one has presented anything contradicting her statements to the police.  Even if you have a doubt in your mind as to everything that transpired, Reyes still hit his wife, and that is inexcusable.

To say the Rockies thought so as well when they released him is not being completely honest.  The Rockies’ shortstop of the future, Trevor Story, has played well enough that they don’t need Reyes.  There is no way you’re considering Reyes at third when you have Nolan Arenado.  Same goes for second with DJ LeMahieu.  It was easy for them to take a principled stand when they had no room for a greatly diminished Reyes on the roster.  It’s a whole other matter when you actually have a need for Reyes as the Mets apparently think they do know when they signed him to presumably play third base.


As a pure baseball decision, a Mets-Reyes reunion makes sense.  He Reyes is flat out a better ballplayer than Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly.  Even with how well he’s played since his recent call-up, it’s hard to fathom that Matt Reynolds is a better baseball player than Reyes.  Maybe, just maybe, you could argue that he’s a better everyday option than Wilmer Flores despite having never played third base in the majors.  In that sense you can understand the signing.

Another reason for the reunion is because everyone remembers what Reyes used to be.  As a Met, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 11 triples and 41 stolen bases a year.  He was electric in the field and on the base paths.  He’s the Mets all-time leader in stolen bases and triples.  He’s the best shortstop in Mets history.  He was a beloved player, and many wish he never left the Mets in the first place.

However, as is apparent with that October 31, 2015 incident, Reyes is not who Mets fans think he is.


Since he left the Mets, Reyes has gotten progressively worse. Last year when the Blue Jays were chasing their first playoff berth since 1993, they moved Reyes, who had become a liability, for Troy Tulowitzki.  At that time, Reyes was only hitting .285/.322/.385 with no triples and only 16 stolen bases.  When he went to the Rockies, he complained about the trade and openly stated he wanted out.  He finished the year hitting .259/.291/.368 in Coors Field of all places.  He played a poor shortstop in both places.

Both Coors Field and the Rogers Centre are known as hitter’s parks, and last year Reyes didn’t hit much in either park.  Clearly, the Mets hope is that Reyes will be rejuvenated by becoming a Met again.  It’ll be interesting to see if it comes to be especially since Citi Field is decidedly less hitter friendly than either ballpark Reyes called home last year.  In the event Reyes doesn’t produce, the Mets will be left in a difficult situation as they may need to bench Reyes.  Seeing how he reacted in Colorado, it is fair to question how he would accept a benching.

Ultimately, you could understand the Mets rolling the dice on Reyes if the other options didn’t work.  However, the Mets haven’t tried everything.

Earlier in the year, the Mets passed on Ruben Tejada even though he was better than Reyes last year, has actually played third base, and did a good job as a utility player for the Mets last year.  The Mets still haven’t tried Dilson Herrera at second base this year like they had done in years past.  The Mets made this move before finding out if Yusilesky Gourriel could be a viable option for the team this year.  There are other options on the trade market as well.

However, the Mets decided to sign Reyes despite the fact that he may be a distraction (aside from any perceived clubhouse issues that arose in Colorado).  The Mets will have to address the domestic violence issues upon officially signing Reyes.  They may have to do it more frequently than that.  There may be various advocacy groups who seek to have protests or other efforts to denounce the Mets and Reyes.  It’s the type of situation the Mets tried to separate themselves from back in 2010.


In 2010, it was alleged Francisco Rodriguez unleashed a verbal tirade against his girlfriend.  When her father sought to intervene, K-Rod proceeded to punch him.  He continued to punch him and bang the man’s head against a wall.  The Mets initially put K-Rod on the restricted list for two days.  When it was discovered K-Rod injured his thumb in the altercation, the Mets put K-Rod on the disqualified list and withheld the remaining $3.1 million from his 2010 salary.  They further sought to make his contract non-guaranteed, but ultimately backed off that stance once K-Rod filed a grievance.

Unlike Reyes, the charges were not dropped against K-Rod.  In the offseason, he would plead guilty to the misdemeanor.  Part of his sentence was to undergo therapy.  Presumably, this therapy is similar in nature to the therapy Reyes is currently undergoing as part of his MLB suspension.

It is worth mentioning that in 2012 K-Rod was arrested again for domestic violence.  In this incident, it was alleged that he struck his girlfriend in their home (different girlfriend than the one he had in 2010).  K-Rod would not stand trial for this incident as the alleged victim recanted her story that K-Rod caused her injuries, and the two key witnesses were flown back to Venezuela.

In that offseason, K-Rod would re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers who cheered him after each and every strikeout and each and every scoreless appearance.  It was not too dissimilar to how the Mets fans cheered K-Rod in 2011 when he recorded 23 saves before being traded to the Brewers.


When Reyes ultimately steps back on the field, he is going to be cheered again by Mets fans.  He will be greeted with JOSE! chants.  This really shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Ultimately, fans want to cheer for players no matter how despicable they are.  Anyone who read the book, The Year the Bad Guys Won, knows about the various and sundry issues with the 1986 Mets.  There was Darryl Strawberry and his having fist fights with his wife.  There was Dwight Gooden‘s problem with drugs that go so bad he missed the championship parade because he was high at his dealer’s apartment in the projects.  Ron Darling, Tim Teufel, Bob Ojeda, and Rick Aguilera got into a bar fight in Houston where they assaulted bouncers who turned out to be off-duty police officers.  This is just a snippet of the problems with this team.  Still, these players are forever revered and will be cheered wherever they go now matter what happens.

They are cheered because they produce.  It’s the same way with this team.  Terry Collins is beloved by many.  However, many overlook his past drunk driving conviction.  Bartolo Colon can seemingly do no wrong except when it comes to using steroids and failing to pay child support.  There are Mets who have done far worse than either of these guys.  Some of these acts are know.  Others aren’t.  Still, fans cheer them for their performance on the field.  In that way, Mets fans are no different than other fans.  We have to look no further than the Yankee fans cheering Aroldis Chapman in his first game back from his own suspension.


Still, when Mets fans are cheeering Reyes, they are cheering for a player that beat his wife to the point where she needed to go to the hospital.

Furthermore, most Mets fans, even those who didn’t want Reyes in the first place, still want the team to succeed.  Most will cheer him if he makes a big defensive play or gets a big base hit.  Mets fans cheered Bobby Bonilla when he got hits, and there may be no more reviled Met than him (NOTE: only comparing fan reception as Bonilla has never been charged with a crime).  You may not want Reyes on the team, but you want the Mets to succeed.  No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Reyes, that means you too want Reyes to succeed.

If all goes according to plan, Reyes will be an important part of the Mets, and he will help the Mets win the World Series.  If that is the case then in some sick, twisted way, you could say the best thing that happened to the 2016 Mets was the October 31, 2015 incident.


Being completely honest, I’m going to root for the Mets whether or not Reyes actually plays for them this year.  Even if I won’t purchase any tickets directly from the Mets, I will still use the tickets in my possession.  When Reyes comes up to bat or makes an error, I’ll boo.  I’m not going to participate in any JOSE! chants.  When he gets a hit or makes a good defensive play, I’ll cheer.  It’s the same way I reacted to Bobby Bonilla, even if that is an unfair comparison.

For Reyes, I want him to be worth it.  I want him to do more than show he’s atoned. I want him to speak out on the matter (even if it’s complicated as the statute of limitations has not expired). I want him to show he’s a better person for having gone through this incident. Whether or not October 31, 2015 was an isolated incident, I want the physical altercations between him and his wife to cease. I want his family to be safe. 

On the field, I want the Mets to win the World Series this year no matter who is on the roster.  With that said, it will be a bit unsettling having Reyes be an important part of the equation.  I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the Mets might be able to win a World Series because Reyes beat his wife.  Having Reyes contribute will take some of the joy out of winning – whether it be a game or a World Series.






Addison Reed is Fatigued

Before Thursday night’s disaster, the Mets were 34-1 when they were leading after seven innings.  After Addison Reed grooved one down the heart of the plate to Adonis Garcia, the Mets record is now 34-2 when leading after seven innings.  It’s hard to get on Reed for the loss as he has been so good this year.  In fact, the Mets have not blown a lead in which Reed pitched the eighth and Jeurys Familia pitched the ninth.

Reed is a huge reason why.  So far this year, Reed has pitched the best he ever has in his entire career.  Up until last night’s blown save, Reed was 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP.  During the month of May, he did not allow one earned run in 12 appearances.  He limited batters to a .205/.225/.205 batting line.  It seemed that as the season was progressing, he was getting stronger.

Unfortunately, Reed’s success has not carried forward into June.  So far, he is 1-2 in the month of June with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.313 WHIP.  Batters are hitting .262/.311/.476 against him.  He has already made 11 appearances this month (he made 13 in April and 12 in May), and he is starting to show some signs of fatigue.  It is showing both in the results and his velocity  In April, he threw a 92.9 MPH fastball and an 86.8 MPH slider.  In May, he was throwing a 93.8 MPH fastball with an 87.4 MPH slider.  In June, his velocity is down.  He’s throwing a 92.6 MPH fastball and a 85.3 MPH slider.

Ultimately, this is what Reed has been his entire career.  He has typically been a pitcher that wears down over the course of the season.  Here are his career monthly splits:

  • March/April 2.79 ERA
  • May 3.83 ERA
  • June 5.54 ERA
  • July 3.66 ERA
  • August 2.08 ERA
  • September/October 5.21 ERA

This is Reed’s typical June swoon. He tires as the season progresses, and he’s rejuvenated with the All Star Break.  He’s following the same pattern this year but with far better results. 

Overall, Terry Collins may need to watch how he uses Reed for the rest of the season as the Mets will need him at his best for the pennant race and beyond. 

Editor’s Note: this was also published on metsmerizedonline.com

It’s Never Easy

This was supposed to be an easy game. The Mets were up 5-0 heading into the top of the fifth. James Loney hit a three run homer to make it 8-0. However, that’s not all that happened in the top of the fifth. Steven Matz was rubbing his pitching elbow in the dugout. Everyone saw him doing this but Terry Collins and Dan Warthen. 

Matz came out in the fifth throwing a slower fastball (from 94 MPH to 92 MPH). The Braves opened the inning with three consecutive doubles. The second double was a can of corn off the bat of Nick Markakis, but Yoenis Cespedes lost it. It’s not really on Cespedes as the outfield lighting at Turner Field is a joke. 

That’s the type of inning it was as Matz allowed six earned on eight hits. The big blow was a Brandon Snyder opposite field pinch hit three run homer.

Matz would eventually get chased after a Freddie Freeman RBI single. Hansel Robles then came in to bail out the Mets and preserve the bullpen again. The latter was very important with Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins unavailable. Robles got out of the inning without allowing another run. He would go 2.2 innings for yet another well earned win. For the week, Robles has pitched 8.1 innings. 

Everything seemed calm down until Cespedes was picked off base in the seventh. Cespedes rolled his ankle stepping on first and had to be helped off the field. Every Mets fan breathed a sigh of relief as Cespedes took the field in the bottom of the seventh. 

Once Cespedes was alright, it was easy to admit that a lot of good things happened tonight:

  • Neil Walker was 3-4 with three runs scored
  • Loney was 2-3 with three runs, three RBI, a double, and a homer
  • Travis d’Arnaud was 1-4 with three RBI

The last two RBI were interesting. For some reason, the Braves walked Michael Conforto to load the bases to face d’Arnaud.  Considering the fact that Conforto has been terrible since May, it was an odd decidion, and d’Arnaud made the Braves pay with a two RBI single. 

It was good to see the Mets offense clicking, and it was great to see Jeurys Familia break Armando Benitez‘s record for consecutive saves to begin the season. 

Familia would have to go four outs for his 25th save. Antonio Bastardo allowed a two out double to Markakis in the eighth, and Terry Collins went to Familia. Familia got Adonis Garcia, last night’s villain, to get out of the inning. However, the ninth wouldn’t be easy. 

Familia allowed the first two on base, and then Chase d’Arnaud, Travis’ brother, was sent up to bunt. Wilmer Flores dove for the bunt, but barely missed it. However, it confused the Braves. Flores ran back to third for the force, and he threw to second to complete the unconventional 5-5-4 double play. Familia struck out the last batter if the game. 

Still, that pitch went to the backstop. It forced d’Arnaud to race to the backstop and make a quick throw to first. It was off-line, but Loney held the bag to end the game.

 It was a fitting end to a strange 8-6 game that was never easy. 

Where’s Dilson Herrera?

There exists two Dilson Herreras.  The first Dilson Herrera is the player who absolutely rakes in the minors hitting .310/.362/.504 over two seasons at AAA.  This is the player the Mets see as their second basemen of the future.  They see him being the Mets everyday second baseman as soon as Opening Day 2017.

Then there is the other Dilson Herrera.  This Herrera has struggled at the plate in his limited time in the majors.  When Daniel Murphy went down in 2014, Herrera struggled in the 18 games he did play hitting only .220/.303/.407.  Last year, when David Wright went down, Herrera was first summoned as the Mets long-term plan to improve the team.  Herrera struggled again only hitting .195/.290/.317 in 25 games.  Ultimately this forced the Mets to start looking elsewhere to fulfill the void left by Wright’s injury.  It seems the Mets believe the Dilson Herrea who has struggled in the majors is the true Dilson Herrera.

In 2016, David Wright went down again.  However, this time, the Mets did not turn to Herrera.  Instead, they went with a combination of Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly until Wilmer Flores returned from the disabled list.  Even when the Mets lost Lucas Duda to his own long-term injury, the Mets still refrained from calling-up Herrera.  Instead, they made a trade for James Loney.  You could make the argument that the Mets could have moved Neil Walker and moved him to third base.  However, the Mets made the arguably rational decision not to ask Walker to play a position he has only played 15 times in his career and a position he hasn’t played in about 10 years.  With that in mind, it didn’t make sense to call-up Herrera as he would have had to stay on the bench.  You want a young player like him getting regular at bats and improving.  It is hard to do that from the bench.  Overall, the Mets seemed content to go with Loney and Flores at the corner infield positions.

Yes, the Mets have struggled offensively with Flores and Loney at the corner infield positions.  However, it’s hard to blame either of them for these struggles.  Loney has hit a respectable .291/.349/.405 since coming over to the Mets.  Since he has returned from the disabled list and taken over third base responsibilities, Flores has hit .262/.319/.415.  The production isn’t exactly awe-inspiring, but they are solid numbers not only for temporary replacements, but also for bottom of the lineup hitters.  Still, the Mets have World Series aspirations, and they realize that if they want to get to that point, they probably need to do better than Loney and Flores on the corners.

Accordingly, the Mets have begun to consider different possibilities.  Next week, the Mets are going to bring in Yulieski Gourriel for a workout presumably to see if he is capable of playing second or third base.  Also, it seems increasingly likely that the Mets will bring Jose Reyes back to Queens to either play second or third.  If the Mets were to bring either Gourriel or Reyes aboard, it is at least possible, that move would require the Mets moving Walker to third.  With that in mind, it is surprising that the Mets haven’t at least investigated the possibility of calling-up Herrera to play second.  It’s simply ponderous.

If you want justification for the Mets decision, you could point to Herrera only hitting .290/.337/.496 in AAA this year.  However, this overlooks the fact that Herrera had an extremely slow start after dealing with some early season injuries.  Since April 24th, Herrera is hitting .301/.354/.488 with 13 doubles, two triples, and 11 homers.  Over the course of the entire season, Herrera is hitting .338/.385/.606 with runners in scoring position.  Herrera is hitting, and he can certainly help the Mets.  It is surprising that the Mets are going to pursue other opportunities before even giving Herrera a look in the majors.  It’s even more surprising given the fact that they have also given Kelly and Matt Reynolds opportunities this year.

The Mets haven’t even tried calling up Herrera through the Mets offensive struggles.  They gave lesser prospects chances at playing time.  Now, they are looking outside the organization for offensive help.  Overall, while no one is saying it publicly, it seems that the Mets are not as confident in Herrera as they once were.  It’s odd that it may have come to this when Herrera is still only 22 years old.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

It’s Nimmo Time

Upon hearing the news that Yoenis Cespedes will not have to go on the disabled list with his sprained wrist, everyone from Terry Collins to Mr. Met to each and every Mets fan breathed a sigh of relief.  As soon as everyone realizes that Cespedes is day-to-day and Alejandro De Aza will get more playing time, the trepidation may return even after yesterday’s well played game.

Given that prospect, it might be time to call-up Brandon Nimmo up to the majors now to play center until Cespedes is ready to resume playing everyday.

Nimmo has certainly earned the promotion. He has gotten progressively better as the season as progressed. Here are his monthly splits:

  • April .260/.333/.315
  • May .326/.421/.565
  • June .388/.455/.642

Over his last 46 games, Nimmo is hitting .370/.453/.603 with 14 doubles, seven triples, five homers, and 34 RBI. Nimmo’s production is quickly moving from short sample size to true talent level. No matter the case, he’s playing extraordinarily well. This is the precise point you want to bring a player to the majors.

Furthermore, Nimmo helps the Mets in a lot of ways. On a station-to-station team, he’s a top of the order hitter that had the speed to take the extra base. He’s also a good defensive center fielder, which would permit Cespedes to play left field, his Gold Glove position, when he’s capable of returning to the line-up on a full time basis.

There’s just one problem with this line of thinking. It discounts Michael Conforto. This is the same Conforto that was a vital part of the Mets offense not only last year, but this year as well. This is the same Conforto that has risen to each and every challenge before him.

This is also the same Conforto who has hit  .153/.213/.314 in the 42 games he has played since May 1st. Over the past week, he’s 1-14. He’s 4-44 against lefties this year.  There are many reasons why he could be hitting this poorly from his injured wrist to his approach at the plate. Whatever the cause, he’s not figuring it out in the majors right now, and he’s hurting the team in the process. The Mets need to do what is best for him and the team by sending him down to AAA. He can correct his approach there and gain some confidence while batting in the hitter’s haven that is the Pacific Coast League.

In the interim, Nimmo gets his well earned shot. Terry Collins can figure out left field until Cespedes is ready. With his recent play and especially yesterday’s game, it may not hurt to give Matt Reynolds some more games in left field. At least for right now, that is what will be best for the Mets.

It will also benefit the Mets in the future. Nimmo and Conforto are a big part of the Mets future.  Conforto needs to get himself straight at the plate, and eventually, Nimmo has to be thrown into the deep end to see if he can swim. Both can happen now, and both players could be better for it. It’s time to send down Conforto and call-up Nimmo.

Editor’s Note: this article was first published on metsminors.net