NL East All Swept Up

The Nationals resurgence was lead by the first overall picks Steven Strasburg and Bryce Harper. They were brilliant tonight. Strasburg went 7.1 innings with three earned and 13 Ks. The Mets barely touched him in the first seven innings. Harper went 3-4 with all three Nationals run scored on a double and two homers. It wasn’t enough. 

For the third straight night, the Mets rallied late to abuse the Nationals bullpen. For a while, it seemed that Travis d’Arnaud‘s second inning solo homer was all the Mets were going to get. Then in the eighth, Kelly Johnson pinch hit for Wilmer Flores [standing ovation], and hit a pinch hit homer to tie the game at 2-2. After a Curtis Granderson single, Strasburg was lifted. 

Matt Williams then brought on Drew Storen, who was completely ineffective in this series. Sure enough, he gave up the go-ahead homerun to Yoenis Cespedes. I know Cespedes isn’t a true MVP candidate, but his play has been nothing short of a miracle for the Mets. 

Harper hit his second homer in the eighth, and the Mets tacked on a run in the ninth to make the final score 5-3.  It was great to see deGrom get back on track and get the win. He had a good game with 7.0 innings, nine Ks, and only two earned. 

It was Mets second straight sweep of the Nationals. With the Mets now up seven in the NL East, it’s over. The Mets will win the division. These past three games were nothing short of amazing. They could’ve/should’ve lost all three, but they showed a resolve that championship teams show. Now they can begin rating their pitchers to gear up for October. 

It’s been seven years since we could say that. Only this time, our pitching is healthy. 

I Stumped Gary

I love trivia, especially baseball trivia. I was the first solo winner on “Beer Money.”  Hat tip to the “light hitting Mike Bordick.”  My father and I had a failed attempt to be on Beat the Booth. As a result, each and every week, I submit a #StumpGary question. 

The question on the TV didn’t exactly match my question:

The one on TV expanded my question to include David Wright, who technically is a Supplemental Pick for the loss of Mike Hampton. It’s a technicality, but it’s SNY’s network and broadcast. I have no problem with them changing the question. 

Here’s how it went:

<iframe src=’http://web.sny.tv/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=466879383&width=400&height=224&property=sny’ width=’400′ height=’224′ frameborder=’0′>Your browser does not support iframes.</iframe>

I also laughed when Gary was dismissive of the question because draft picks wasn’t his thing. The question was glossed over more than the usual question. I was still happy to see my Twitter handle on the screen. 

So, I’m proud to say I stumped Gary. Maybe next year, I can be on Beat the Booth. 

This Cespedes Thing Is Out of Control

Personally, I love Yoenis Cespedeswarts and all. I even make sure to celebrate Cespedes. That, however does not make him the NL MVP, no matter what anyone says

I realize his numbers with the Mets are terrific. He is hitting .307/.354/.660 in 35 games. That’s the key there. It’s only 35 games. The Mets have played 138 games, or 25% of the Mets season. Even if Cespedes plays in all remaining 24 games, he will only play in 59 total games or 36% of the season with the Mets. It’s like saying the first 100 games didn’t count. We know they did. 

In order to qualify for stats like batting average, on base percentage, and slugging, a batter needs 502 plate appearances. Right now, Cespedes sits at 164. He will get nowhere near qualifying. Even if he qualified, he would rank 9th in batting average (tying him with David Peralta) and19th in OBP (tying him with Brandon Belt). His .660 slugging would rank first, and his OPS would rank him third. One small slump and these numbers plummet as 164 plate appearances is a small sample size making these percentage based stats wildly variable. 

With respect to his other stats, we can only look at his numbers in the NL. His 32 runs scored are 116th in the NL, or 69 behind league leader Bryce Harper. His 47 hits are 151th in the NL, or 125 behind league leader Dee Gordon. His 9 doubles are 153th in the NL, or 30 behind league leader Todd Frazier. His 3 triples are 39th in the NL, or 6 behind Peralta.  His 13 homeruns are 48th in the NL, or 24 behind league leader Nolan Arenado. His 34 RBIs are 105th in the NL, or 72 behind league leader Arenado. 

For more sabermetrically friendly stats, Cespedes WAR is 1.7. This stat is important because even voters like Jon Heyman look at WAR. Cespedes is tied for 63rd with players like Nick Markakis. He’s far behind Harper and his league leading 8.7 WAR. 

Now, there is a Met, who is Top Ten in WAR. He’s Curtis Granderson, who used to be universally acknowledged as the Mets MVP. If you want a Met to garner votes, he’s the guy. Sure, his candidacy falls short, but so does Cespedes’. 

This Cespedes ride has been amazing, but let’s not make this more than what it is. He’s been a spark plug, but he’s not the NL MVP. He’s not even the Mets MVP, that’s Granderson. 

Niese Needs to Frame His Excuses Better

On Monday, Jon Niese had the biggest start of his career, and he was terrible. He had one of his typical meltdowns after a call didn’t go his way. However, we finally got a glimpse into his mindset:

So, nothing is his fault. It’s not him at all. It was Travis d’Arnaud‘s fault. First, he could’ve shook d’Arnaud off. Second, d’Arnaud helps Niese immensely with his poor pitch framing. This juvenile behavior is nothing new for Niese. Only this time, Niese couldn’t be further from the truth. 

d’Arnaud has an excellent reputation for pitch framing. Basically speaking, if d’Arnaud is getting you the strike there, it wasn’t a strike, or maybe, just maybe the umpire blew the call. Whatever the pitch is, Niese had to execute it, and yet again, he failed to do so. Niese sure doesn’t consider this when he’s yelling and screaming at d’Arnaud. 

Additionally, pointing to d’Arnaud is a red herring. Niese has been terrible since the All Star Break. He has a 5.75 ERA and a 1.456 WHIP. From August on, he has a 6.58 ERA with a 1.512 WHIP. Has the d’Arnaud caught him in all of his bad starts?  Of course not. Niese is just pitching poorly, and he’s angry with the world. 

The way he’s going, he only has a few more starts left before watching the playoffs from the bench. I wonder who he will have to blame then. 

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

After last night’s big homerun, I wanted to write a post about Kirk Nieuwenhuis‘ chances of making the postseason roster. I then realized such conversation is premature without first discussing who is definitely going to be on the roster, and what the roster needs will be. 

Please note this list assumes all injured players will be healed and ready for the playoffs. And yes, I’m taking Matt Harvey at his word. So without further ado, here’s my best approximation:

Position Players

  1. Travis d’Arnaud
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Lucas Duda
  4. Wilmer Flores
  5. Daniel Murphy
  6. Ruben Tejada
  7. Juan Uribe
  8. David Wright
  9. Kelly Johnson
  10. Yoenis Cespedes
  11. Michael Cuddyer
  12. Curtis Granderson
  13. Juan Lagares
  14. Michael Conforto

Pitchers

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Bartolo Colon
  4. Noah Syndergaard
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Tyler Clippard
  7. Addison Reed
  8. Hansel Robles

While typically an MLB team carries 12 pitchers, that number is usually reduced to 11 relievers. That means there’s three spots open for pitchers like Sean GilmartinDario AlvarezCarlos Torres (if healthy), Erik GoeddelLogan VerrettJon Niese, and of course Steven Matz. Notice, I did not put Bobby Parnell and Eric O’Flaherty on the list. If all the position players make the list, there’s only room for 11 pitchers anyway. 

With an injury, like Cuddyer’s, the decision will come down between Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young, Jr., and yes, Eric Campbell

The Mets have tough decisions to make. They have about a month of tryouts. So far, Gilmartin, Alvarez, and Nieuwenhuis have made their cases. Other players have their opportunities as well. It’s nice having this conversation instead of talking about next year. 

Wilmer Flores

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

Mets Still Aren’t Signing Ce$pede$

Roc Nation initiated talks with the Mets to eliminate the five day window for the Mets to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes after the World Series. I think it’s important to note that it was Roc Nation and not the Mets who initiated these discussions because it further signals that he’s not returning to Flushing. 

The Contract

We have heard that Cespedes wanted a $120 – 150 million contract when he came to the Mets. His play with the Mets and his popularity with the fans is only going to drive that price tag higher. 

Furthermore, Sandy Alderson already had an aversion to second generation contracts like the one Cespedes is going to receive. I imagine his position has only stiffened with David Wright and his spinal stenosis

Outfield Depth

I think we can all agree that Michael Conforto needs to play everyday next year. That locks down LF. Curtis Granderson still had two years and $31 million remaining on his contract. Between that and his good year this year, it means he’s playing RF next year. That locks up the corner OF without even considering Michael Cuddyer and the $12.5 million he’s due next year. 

That leaves CF. The Mets have presumably the best defensive CF in the game in Juan Lagares. He has three years and $20 million left on his contract. I can’t imagine the Mets are going to make him a bench player after one poor, injury plagued year. 

Additionally, it should be added Cespedes has not been a good CF in his career. In fact, he’s been quite bad. True, it appears he’s playing a capable CF with the Mets. However, I’d like to put my faith in two and a half years worth of data over a little more than one month. 

I will acknowledge that the Mets will play him in the unlikely event he re-signs. However, I doubt that will happen as the Mets already have a full OF and needs at SS, the bullpen, the bench, and potentially second base. 

The Warts

Look, I love Cespedes as much as the next Mets fan, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook some of his issues. 

First, he doesn’t get on base. His career .OBP is a paltry .320. Second, he’s not always engaged defensively, and he has some bad habits. This is something you overlook for a two month rental that’s mashing the ball. For a guy with a massive contract, the fans will eviscerate him.  I’d rather not see it get to that point. I’d rather Mets fans enjoy the ride. 

Conclusion

There are many reasons not to sign Cespedes. For $150 million, I’m sure the Mets agree. So, let’s enjoy what has been an amazing year. Let’s continue witnessing this Cespedes Miracle and enjoy it for as long as it goes. 

Mets Deep Six the Nationals

It was like the Saturday press conference.  Matt Harvey was there by himself, all alone. He seemed unprepared and less sure of himself. He bungled everything from the start. In the process, he managed to anger the Mets fans. 

The Nationals jumped on Harvey early scoring two in the first and one in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Like he was Sunday, David Wright was there for him hitting a second inning solo homer. Other than that, no one supported him . . . including himself. 

Terry Collins let him leadoff the sixth with the team down two runs. It’s hard to argue with Harvey cruising and the bullpen usage yesterday. The Mets then wasted a gift triple to Curtis Granderson. Then the bottom of the sixth happened. 

The first two got on, and then Harvey bobbled a bunt loading the bases with no out. Harvey got a strikeout, then Michael Taylor stepped up to the plate. He then hit a Little League Grand Slam. It was a hard hit ball so a limited SS like Wilmer Flores [standing ovation] couldn’t make a play on it.  Then Cespedes charged the ball hard, but he olayed it allowing Taylor to go round the bases and give the Nationals a 7-1 lead. Apparently, the Nationals official scorer is a disgruntled Mets fan so it was ruled all seven runs were earned. 

The Mets woke up in the seventh and showed the Nationals who was the better, more resilient team. Down 7-1, the Mets went to work. They loaded the bases and Granderson got an RBI walk, and then Cespedes redeemed himself by hitting a bases clearing double to bring the Mets within 7-6. Upon reloading the bases, Lucas Duda got an RBI walk tying the game at 7-7. 

In the eighth, forgotten man Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch hit go-ahead homerun. Tyler Clippard did his job in the bottom of the inning. 

In the ninth, Jeurys Famila let up a leadoff single. He was helped out by Duda who made a nice play getting the lead runner out on a terrible Anthony Rendon bunt. Familia walked Bryce Harper, who is seemingly 0 for 2015 against the Mets. It would set up a huge 5-4-3 double play to end the game, and perhaps the NL East race. 

It took awhile, but the Mets picked up Harvey and themselves. This Mets team is resilient and looks like they’ve locked it up. Let’s now get Harvey ready for October. 

Post script: I stumped Gary 

  

The Future Begins Now for Herrera

Today, the Mets presumably made their last round of call-ups. The players getting called up are Johnny MonellLogan Verrett, and Dilson Herrera. Monell is just a warm body. Verrett seems to be joining the rotation. What’s Herrera’s role?

Honestly, I have no idea. The second base options right now are Daniel MurphyKelly JohnsonWilmer Flores [standing ovation], and to a lesser extent, Juan Uribe. There’s no room there. Eric Young, Jr. is the speed guy, and frankly he’s got more versatility. In fact, he’s also a 2B option. So again, why is Herrera here?

There are a few plausible options. The first is rewarding his season in the minors where he hit .331/.384/.515. Maybe the Mets are concerned about Murphy’s quad, and they want Herrera to stay active in case he’s needed. Maybe he’s just a pinch hitter in case the Mets have the need in an extra inning game. 

My thought is that he’s here because he’s the second baseman of the future. The Mets want to expose him to a pennant race. The aforementioned 2B options?  None of them have a contract beyond this year, except Flores, who’s also a SS.  If he gets ABs, great. If not, that’s fine as well. The idea is to let him soak it all in from the atmosphere to the advice from the veterans. 

After a brief tenure with the Mets last year and earlier this year, it appears the future may finally be now for Herrera. 

Do You Still Celebrate Harvey Day?

It’s been an eventful week for Matt Harvey, the Mets, and Mets fans. Who are we kidding?  It’s been an eventful two years. All season long, Mets fans have celebrated Harvey starts as “Happy Harvey Day!”

I get the impression Mets fans aren’t celebrating Harvey Day anymore. They’re willing to overlook his 12-7 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. They’re overlooking how they pined for him all of 2014 because he was the key to being a team that could be a World Series contender. They’re overlooking the fact that Harvey has so far delivered.

I understand the anger. I understand the frustration. I can even understand why people presume that they can tell someone to tell someone to do with their health and career. What I can’t understand is forgetting all that Harvey has done for the Mets. What I can’t understand is the Mets fans double standards. 

Mets fans actually booed a looming free agent superstar in Mike Piazza. For comparison purposes, it would be like the Mets fans booing Yoenis Cespedes now, and Cespedes is nowhere near the player Piazza is.  I’m sure the Mets fans will elect to boo Harvey as well. I guess that puts Harvey in good company. 

Also, the Mets have botched the handling of Harvey’s inning limits, whether or not the 180 was a strict limit. Seriously, they’ve aborted the six man rotation on three different occasions. They’ve refused to bring back Dillon Gee. They never called anyone else up to take Steven Matz‘s place in the six man rotation when he was injured

The Mets made their choice. They let Harvey, and the other pitchers, rack up innings so they had a better chance of winning games in the short term. They were hoping they could bully their pitchers to ignore doctor’s, and yes, agent’s advice, to go beyond their innings limits. We’re going to boo Harvey for this?

I’m not. I’m going to cheer Harvey today (from my living room). I’ll cheer him in this and all other starts he makes in 2015 and beyond. I hope you will as well.