Aaron Altherr

Davis Just Delivered A Walk-Off

The Mets had every reason to lose this game. Marcus Stroman left the game after four with what was a hamstring injury, which for some reason has been an injury plaguing the Mets a bit of late. This made this a bullpen game for the team in what became an extra inning game.

It was an extra inning game partially because Brad Brach gave up the lead in the sixth. It hurt all the more because the Mets bottom of the lineup delivered that run.

Heading into the fifth, Adam Plutko was rolling having allowed just one hit. Given the lineup, he appeared poised to rip through the fifth carrying the 1-0 lead forward as the Mets were already in their bullpen with Jeurys Familia having pitched the top of the inning.

After getting the first out, Todd Frazier singled. The Mets followed the single with a hit-and-run which Juan Lagares hit to the wall for a double. As surprising as the Lagares double might’ve been, the and Luis Guillorme pinch hit double was all the more so.

In actuality, the big hits from Lagares and Guillorme weren’t really surprising. Both have been playing very well over the past month, and we’re even seeing Lagares get back to his Gold Glove form.

As alluded to earlier, Brach gave the lead right back. He’d issue a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, and then he’d allow a one out triple to Jose Ramirez. The triple ruling was a bit generous as J.D. Davis did misplay it along the wall, and Ramirez just beat the throw to third. While Brach did give up the lead, he did settle down getting the next two outs keeping the game tied.

It stayed tied partially because the Mets blew some chances.

The Mets had two on and one out as Frazier and Lagares found a way to start a rally again. This time, it was Rajai Davis pinch hitting, and he struck out. Amed Rosario failed to deliver as well popping out to end the inning.

As bad as that blown opportunity was, for some Mets fans, it was probably worse for them to see Oliver Perez pitch a scoreless eighth. Even worse that included strike outs of Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.

Perhaps worse than that was having to use Aaron Altherr as a pinch hitter in the ninth knowing he wasn’t going to deliver a big hit.

After Seth Lugo was Seth Lugo for two innings, it was time for Luis Avilan in the 10th. There were two outs, and Avilan had a 1-2 count to Santana. Three pitches later Santana reached across and hit a change-up for a go-ahead homer.

The Indians went to Brad Hand, who had been shaky of late. He was very shaky tonight.

Rosario began the inning with a double with the Indians catching a break because Rosario did not notice Greg Allen bobbling the ball on the transfer in center. In any event, Rosario would make his way to third when Joe Panik laid down a perfect sac bunt.

The Indians wanted no part of Alonso, so they opted to intentionally walk him to have Conforto hit the left-handed Hand. With the Indians infield halfway, Conforto hit a ball grabbed by Santana.

Instead of going home to try to get Rosario, Santana sought to start the 3-6-1 double play. The problem was Hand didn’t go to first apparently thinking Santana would go home. Instead of what could’ve been a close play at first, it was a tie game.

Wilson Ramos then extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single which rolled feet from home plate. This brought the hot hitting Davis to the plate. He battled back from 0-2 to a full count. Finally, on the eighth pitch, Hand hung a slider over the plate, and Davis delivered his first career game winning hit.

As much of a frenzy the crowd was in, the players were in one themselves. Davis Jersey was torn off his back in what seems to be the new walk-off celebration, and in the postgame Davis sounded like he’s been a Mets fan all of his life belting out a loud “Lets Go Mets!”

The Mets should not have won this game at all. This was a game they lose easily a month ago. They’re winning these games now, and they’re six games over .500 for the first time all season.

Game Notes: Ramos’ 15 game hitting streak is the longest streak a Met has had since Ruben Tejada‘s streak in 2012.

Mets Apparently Are Set With Aaron Altherr

So far this season, Aaron Altherr is hitting .085/.141/.169 (-20 wRC+) in 47 games this season. Last year, Altherr played 105 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, and he hit .181/.295/.333 (75 wRC+). As on outfielder this year, Altherr has a -1 DRS in 127.1 innings, and he was a 1 DRS in 524.1 innings last year. That followed a -4 DRS in 837.1 innings in 2017.

Taking everything into account, Altherr is a bad baseball player, and he has been one for two years now. Despite that, the Mets have continued to keep him on the roster, and they do little to challenge his roster status.

When Jeff McNeil went down, the Mets had a need for someone who could fill-in in the outfield. Instead of a Dilson Herrera who has some outfield experience, the Mets instead went with Ruben Tejada, who was no threat to taking away his outfield reps. The team also didn’t call-up Rajai Davis, who also could have presented a threat.

On Davis, most fans remember his Uber ride and his hitting a pinch hit homer. What they don’t see is his hitting .287/.334/.410 with Triple-A Syracuse. That’s not as good as the .274/.384/.565 batting line Altherr put up in admittedly far fewer games with Syracuse. On the one hand, that makes the Mets decision to go with Altherr over Davis defensible. However, it is still curious why you would not even challenge Altherr when you needed that extra outfielder.

What’s all the more baffling is how the Mets let Billy Hamilton go to the Braves.

There are many things you can say about Hamilton and his deficiencies as a player. In 93 games with the Royals this year, Hamilton hit .211/.275/.269 (44 wRC+). That’s actually a step backwards for him as he hit .239/.299/.327 (69 wRC+) in 153 games for the Reds last year. No matter how you look at it, Hamilton is a bad hitter. Terrible actually.

That makes the fact he’s been a significantly better hitter than Altherr all the worse. Hamilton is also a much better outfielder. In fact, Hamilton is an elite defensive outfielder. In 716.1 innings this year, Hamilton has a 9 DRS. Since he was called up in 2013, his 60 DRS trails only Lorenzo Cain among qualifying center fielders.

Right there, Hamilton is a significantly better hitter and fielder than Altherr. When you factor in Hamilton’s great speed and base running, you realize Hamilton does EVERYTHING better than Altherr. Everything.

With rosters expanding in September, and the Mets depth depleted to the point where they have to not only carry Altherr on the roster but also play him, there is zero reason to not put in a claim for Hamilton. He was a significant upgrade, and he was someone the Mets were going to be able to carry on the roster into September. If the Mets were lucky enough to make the postseason, Hamilton would have been a huge weapon as a late inning pinch runner and/or defensive replacement.

Go back and ask the 1969 Mets about the Ron Swoboda and Tommie Agee catches. Go back and ask the 2004 Red Sox about Dave Roberts stealing a base. The ability or a player to make that one impact can make all the difference in the world. Instead, the Mets just let Hamilton go to the Braves, who were lower in the waiver priority, unchallenged.

The Braves will get the benefit of his base running and defense while the Mets cross their fingers on Brandon Nimmo being able to return from a bulging disc in his neck. They’re also hoping Dominic Smith, who is still in a walking boot and using a knee scooter, can return. They’re hoping J.D. Davis‘ leg won’t continue to be an issue. Same for McNeil, who has gone from being able to immediately come off the 10 day IL to needing a rehab stint. There’s also Jed Lowrie, a player who has fewer pictures of him in a Mets uniform than people have photos of Big Foot or the Lockness Monster.

Going into the season, Brodie Van Wagenen kept telling us the Mets were all-in, and the team would have no ifs. It’s August 20, and the team wouldn’t go all-in on improving their roster, and they are seeing IF one of their injured players could contribute. Mostly, they’ve decided the team is better with Altherr, who has been terrible for over a year now, than any of the better alternatives . . . like Hamilton.

Simply Amazin (Into The Wild) Podcast Appearance

On Sunday, I was invited to join Tim Ryder for the Simply Amazin podcast to discuss the series against the Royals as well as other Mets matters. Off the top of my head, I remember mentioning J.D. Davis, Pete Alonso, Ruben Tejada, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Amed Rosario, Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Luis Avilan, Jeff McNeil, Joe Panik, Juan Lagares, Dominic SmithZack WheelerSteven MatzRajai Davis, Luis Guillorme, and others.

Please take a listen and keep an eye (or ear) out for Thursday when I’m next scheduled to appear.

Mets Blow Golden Opportunity Against Braves

As impressive as this Braves club has been since the start of last year, and even with them having a big lead in the division, they can be beat. The key is to wait them out.

That’s what the Mets almost did with Steven Matz tonight who was brilliant despite not getting much help in the second.

Matz got himself into trouble allowing a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson and a walk to Adam Duvall. He’d recover by inducing what should’ve been a double play for Johan Camargo. Instead, it was a fielder’s choice with Amed Rosario making a slightly wide throw and Ruben Tejada fielding it like Chase Utley was ready to tackle him.

Following an Ender Inciarte double J.D. Davis was late getting to, it was 1-0 Braves. It’s be like that for a while because Matz was terrific and Dallas Keuchel was very good as well.

Keuchel got out of a jam in the first caused when Tyler Flowers didn’t get down on two of his pitches thereby putting Amed Rosario at third. He’d be stranded there when Michael Conforto struck out.

The Mets got to Keuchel with a rally in the sixth, but it was killed by a Wilson Ramos double play. Conforto followed with a hard fought walk giving Todd Frazier a chance. For a moment, it looked like Frazier would deliver all the way up until Freddie Freeman made the incredible over the shoulder catch on the bloop to end the inning.

Apparently, Freeman doesn’t need a bat to be a Mets killer.

Keuchel looked poised to get through seven until Matz had a two out single. That was it for Keuchel who was lifted for Chris Martin as the lineup flipped over.

Rosario had a hard hit ball which ripped through Johan Camargo. With Duvall trying to get Matz at third, Rosario moved to second. Duvall’s poor decision loomed large when a Davis bloop landed softly into center giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.

At this point, Matz was at 79 pitches. He allowed just the one earned on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He retired the last 14 straight.

Conversely, he ran the bases. There was a long delay when Pete Alonso‘s follow through hit Flowers in the mask necessitating a trainer’s visit. The last three outs of the sixth were very hard hit and two of them likely fall for hits if Juan Lagares wasn’t in vintage form.

Opposing batters hit 284/.330/.490 off Matz the third time through the lineup, and Donaldson hits 263/.385/.526 the third time he faces a starter.

Given all involved, Mickey Callaway went with Seth Lugo, who is the best reliever in the National League. He’s also a much more reliable pitcher in that spot.

It just didn’t work out with the umpire squeezing him. A bunch of balls found a hole. There was Alonso going deep into the second base hole instead of allowing Tejada to make a routine play.

Donaldson had a leadoff walk, and Duvall followed with a hard hit single. After that it was hit after hit after hit. By the time he was lifted for Luis Avilan, it was 5-2 Braves. After Avilan allowed an RBI single to Ozzie Albies, it was 6-2 Braves.

Because the Braves bullpen is terrible the Mets had a chance against Mark Melancon in the ninth.

After Tejada grounded out, Lagares jump started the offense with a single. Joe Panik pinch hit for Aaron Altherr and doubled. Rosario then hit an RBI single making it 6-3.

Now, at this point, it was Luis Guillorme pinch hitting instead of Davis batting because Davis was inexplicably double switched out of the game when Lugo entered the game. That decision didn’t come back to bite the Mets as Guillorme hit an RBI single pulling the Mets to within 6-4.

This set the stage for Alonso. Throughout the first half he was great against bullpens and from the seventh inning on. He hasn’t been that in the second half. It was more of the second half Alonso with him hitting what should’ve been a game ending double play.

Instead, Camargo missed second initially, and then he dropped the ball. Bases were now loaded for Ramos. He came up short striking out. The Braves went to old friend Jerry Blevins who struck out Conforto to end the game.

Ultimately, Callaway went with his best guy in the biggest spot in the game. He made the right decision there (with Lugo, not Davis). It didn’t work. It happens. Chances are Lugo won’t blow up like that again, and the Mets win this game the next 10 times.

Game Notes: Tejada was called up for the injured Jeff McNeil.

Possible Jeff McNeil Replacements

First and foremost, it’s obvious there is no replacing Jeff McNeil. The Mets can’t do that. As noted earlier, the Mets need Juan Lagares and Joe Panik to play like everyday players while hoping the healthy players on this roster raise their games. The Mets are also going to need production from the player who occupies McNeil’s spot on the roster (should he land on the IL).

According to various reports, the first person under consideration is Ruben Tejada. Part of the reason the Mets are considering Tejada is the great year he is having in Syracuse. Through 71 games, he is hitting .330/.408/.476 with 19 doubles, a triple, six homers, and 38 RBI.

It should be noted like the Major Leagues, there has been a juiced ball issue in Triple-A, and Tejada’s numbers could be attributed to that. For example, Tejada hit .230/.291/.298 in 101 games for Triple-A Norfolk last year. Tejada last played in the Major Leagues in 2017 when he hit .230/.293/.283 in 41 games for the Orioles.

The bigger issue with Tejada is the fact he has never played the outfield in his professional career. One of the things which made McNeil so important was his versatility and ability to play almost all seven defensive positions. With respect to Tejada, he has mostly played third base this year along with some time at second and short. Overall, while Tejada may hit, he is not going to be able to provide the versatility the Mets need causing the team to have to lean on Aaron Altherr all the more.

Another former Met on the Syracuse roster who should merit consideration is Dilson Herrera. Unlike Tejada, Herrera has some outfield experience playing 10 games in the outfield for Syracuse and 11 games for the Reds last season. It should be noted Herrera did not rate well with a -2 DRS in 56.2 innings for the Reds last year, but he should have the opportunity to work with Luis Rojas, who has done a fine job helping Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis not be nightmares in left field this year.

Offensively, Herrera has had a very good year in Syracuse hitting .255/.332/.528 with 26 doubles, a triple, 22 homers, and 53 RBI. Now, the juiced ball effect should be taken into account for Herrera like it was with Tejada. That said, Herrera hit .297/.367/.465 in 71 Triple-A games last year. Herrera did not impress during his call-up to the Reds last year hitting .184/.268/.414 in 53 games. However, it should be noted he hit five homers for the Reds last year showing Herrera could help provide some pop off a bench currently bereft of it.

Looking at former Reds currently in the Mets system, the team should also consider Arismendy Alcantara. Looking at his Major League numbers, Alcantara has hit less than Tejada or Herrera. In fact, over the course of his limited playing time from 2014 – 2017, he hit .189/.235/.248. Like Tejada and Herrera, he his having a good year with Syracuse hitting .302/.363/.523 with 12 doubles, five triples, 10 homers, 41 RBI in 73 games.

Defensively, he is much more versatile than either Tejada or Herrera. In fact, over his career, the two positions he has predominantly played have been center field and second base. In many ways, that makes the switch hitter a very good replacement for McNeil as he is going to provide the same level of versatility the Mets need.

If the Mets wanted to look outside the organization, Josh Harrison was released by the Detroit Tigers on August 9. In 31 games for the Tigers, he hit just .176/.219/.265. Part of his struggles could be attributable to his having an injury plagued year with him having a shoulder injury in March and a left hamstring tendon strain which landed him on the IL on May 28. Harrison has not played in the Majors since then.

Harrison has not played well in his seven game rehab stint before his release. Of course, the long layoff could have been a factor. However, it should also be noted Harrison hit .250/.293/.363 in 97 games for the Pirates last year.

One other note with Harrison is he’s not as versatile as you would believe. Since 2016, he has predominantly played second base, and he last played more than one game in the outfield in 2017. He last played more than 10 games there in 2015. Put another way, he is really now just a 31 year old infielder who is on the decline.

Looking at all the options, the Mets need to consider what they want for the bench piece. Are they looking for a platoon for Panik at second? Do they want the best possible hitter to pinch hit? Are they looking to catch lightning in a bottle? Do the Mets value versatility, comfort with a particular player, or possibly a name which could inspire faith among the team and fanbase?

The Mets focus is going to dictate which direction they should go. Ultimately, given the ability to play multiple positions and the team’s need for a bat off the bench, arguably, the Mets should look towards Dilson Herrera. However, the decision is not that clear cut, and the Mets can very justifiably decide to go with any of the other aforementioned players.

UPDATE: According to reports, the Mets are going with Tejada.

Mets Season Now Hinges On Juan Lagares & Joe Panik

As bad as it looked, it sounded worse. Jeff McNeil hit the first base bag awkwardly, and he was clearly in pain hobbling and hopping around in foul territory. After the game, he and Mickey Callaway tried to put a good face on it, but they came across despondent.

Even if this isn’t the worst case scenario, it looks like McNeil will have to miss sometime. We can pray for a game or two, but it’s probably more than that.

No matter the length of time, the Mets are now going to have to rely on Juan Lagares and Joe Panik to produce instead of looking at them being complimentary players.

If you want to be glass half full, Lagares seems to be locked in recently. We saw a vintage Lagares defensive play when he robbed Yan Gomes of an extra base hit on Saturday. Last night, he was 4-for-4 against the Braves. That matched his hit total for all of July, and it was his fifth four hit game in his seven year career.

Looking back, the last time Lagares had struggled offensively and defensively like this was in 2015. Those struggles led to the Mets first trying to obtain Carlos Gomez, and then later “settling” on Yoenis Cespedes.

In 2015, after the Mets obtained Cespedes and the Mets started playing more meaningful games, Lagares stepped up god game. From August 1 until the end of the season, he hit .287/.326/.471. In that postseason, Lagares hit .348/.375/.435.

Maybe, Lagares has that ability to raise his game in these pressure situations. That’s at least the hope now.

The other hope is Panik can raise his game right now. So far, he hasn’t hit much with the Mets going 2-for-10 with a walk. However, what he has contributed has counted for something.

His single Friday led to Michael Conforto‘s walk off hit. His teaching on an error on Saturday led to J.D. Davis‘ go-ahead sacrifice fly. His RBI single Sunday was part of a three run inning to tie the game at 3-3.

That’s what the Mets need from Lagares and Panik. There’s no way they can match what McNeil gave the Mets. There’s maybe five players in all of baseball who could do that. Maybe. Instead, they need to make their hits count while also reaching back and rediscovering their Gold Glove form.

More than anything, if they give the Mets very good to elite defense, the Mets still have a chance. Both players have the skills to do it, so to that end, there’s a legitimate chance.

If they do that, they help the pitching, which in turn, lowers the bar on the amount of runs the Mets need to score to win.

The onus for scoring those runs will have to be shared collectively by the lineup. At the moment, you can’t ask more from Davis than what he’s been giving. The same goes for Wilson Ramos.

The burden shifts to Amed Rosario to pick it back up after going 4-for-23 over his last five games. Todd Frazier needs to return or get close to his June form. Pete Alonso has to get back to his first half form instead of being the guy hitting .188 in that second half hitting the occasional homer. Finally, no matter how good Conforto has been, as a leader and as a guy who’s been here before, he needs to raise his game to another level.

If these things happen, and you get a spark from one of Ruben Tejada, Dilson Herrera, and/or Arismendy Alcantara from Triple-A or a Luis Guillorme and Aaron Altherr from the Major League roster, McNeil missing any time doesn’t have to be a death knell for the season.

Overall, everyone on this roster raising their game is very possible. However, nothing is going to be possible unless Lagares and Panik raise their games. I’d they don’t do that, chances are McNeil missing time will be the reason the Mets moss the postseason.

Brandon Nimmo Returning Would Be A Game Changer

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Brandon Nimmo may soon be beginning a rehab assignment which would put him on a schedule to hopefully return to the Mets lineup before September, and at least before the end of the season. If you are skeptical he could return, after all Nimmo had a rehab assignment earlier this year which did not end well, his wife offers hope as well:

If Nimmo is back, the Mets are a significantly improved team. It’s easy to forget, but Nimmo is one of the best players on this team.

Last year, Nimmo was the second best offensive player in the National League with a 149 wRC+. Despite getting injured during Spring Training, Nimmo was on his way to repeating his 2018 season. Through the first 17 games of the season, he was hitting .241/.388/.463 before being removed from the April 16 game against the Phillies after getting hit on the hand.

Up until that point, he had a a great 16.1 percent walk rate, and he was still a magnet getting hit by a pitch twice. Even with the struggles which ensued from getting hit on the hand and his neck, Nimmo maintained that 16.1 percent walk rate. Put another way, the skills which made him a great hitter in 2018 were still present in 2019 even with the injuries.

Taking that into account, Nimmo is a significant upgrade to the Mets outfield situation. It’s not just over Juan Lagares or Aaron Altherr, both of whom are not performing this year. It is also over Dominic Smith (who is also on the IL) and J.D. Davis. While Smith and Davis are good stories this year, they are not better than Nimmo and certainly not as an outfielder.

Putting that aside, Nimmo gives the Mets actual outfield depth and options. With him as an outfield option, Jeff McNeil can move to second base if needed. This gives more options for late inning double switches and defensive substitutions. With Nimmo returning, this will be the best Mets bench since the 2015 bench with Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Michael Cuddyer, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Wilmer Flores/Ruben Tejada.

Nimmo returning makes the starting lineup better. It deepens the bench giving the team more options. It takes a Mets team already in contention, and it makes them even better. When Nimmo returns, we may be talking much differently about this club and their chances of making the postseason and doing damage in the postseason.

Mets Significantly Improved With Brad Brach And Joe Panik

This past week the New York Mets could not bring themselves to trust Donnie Hart or Chris Mazza to close out a five run ninth inning lead against the worst team in the National League. There were two opportunities to use them, and the Mets passed each time. More than anything, this was a sign the Mets were 1-2 arms short in the bullpen and something needed to be done.

With Cody Allen, Brad Brach, and Greg Holland available, the Mets opted to sign Brach, who was arguably the best choice of the three.

Yes, Brach has walked an inordinate amount of batters this year. Part of that is the fact Willson Contreras has been one of the wort pitch framers in all of baseball with a -8.5 FRAA. This follows a year in which he was a -15.4 FRAA. Yes, Wilson Ramos has been bad behind the dish, but his -7.1 FRAA is still an improvement. With Ramos being better and Tomas Nido being a good framer, Brach will be getting some help on that front.

More than the walks, Brach still has the ability to get batters out. He has struck out 10.6 per nine which is is best mark since his 2016 All Star season. As noted by Baseball Savant, there are issues like barrels and exit velocity, but there are other factors like his fastball velocity and spin rate which provide hope.

On the hope front, it should be noted Brach had a very similar season last year with his struggling with the Orioles. He was moved to the Braves as the trade deadline, and he turned things back on after the trade. In his 27 games for the Braves, he was 1-2 with a 1.52 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and an 8.4 K/9.

Overall, by career ERA, August has historically Brach’s second best month of the season. If that proves true, and his career worst .375 BABIP stabilize (.291 career BABIP), things are really looking up for Brach, and that is before he gets to make adjustments working with Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, and Ricky Bones.

At a minimum, Brach is another arm to the equation, and he is likely one who will be used unlike Mazza, who is still on the roster, or Hart, who was optioned to Syracuse. Unlike those other two relievers, Brach has Major League success, and with that comes some hope for upside.

The other player the Mets added is Joe Panik, who fills a need a second base with Robinson Cano likely done for the season with a torn hamstring.

Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Panik has not been good this year. In fact, this is the worst season of his career by any measure. He has a career worst batting average, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, and WAR. With his having a -0.4 WAR and a 69 wRC+, you can understand the Giants trading for Scooter Gennett and releasing Panik.

Even with Panik not being good enough for a Giants team who held onto Madison Bumgarner with the hopes of getting a Wild Card spot in Bruce Bochy‘s last season, it does not mean Panik is not an upgrade over what the Mets currently have.

The Mets current second base options are worse than Panik at the plate. Adeiny Hechavarria (62 wRC+) and Luis Guillorme (2 wRC+) have been worse at the plate. You could argue putting Jeff McNeil at second base is a better move, but Juan Lagares (40 wRC+) and Aaron Altherr (-33 wRC+) are probably even worse options than Hechavarria, Guillorme, or Panik.

Arguably, you get more defense at second with Hechavarria (1 DRS) and Guillorme (1 DRS), but Panik is no slouch. He is a former Gold Glove winner, and he has a 0 DRS. Ultimately, when you take the combination of the defense and the bat, Panik is a steadier presence at second.

It should also be noted like with Brach, Panik is historically very good in August with his career triple slash line being better in August than any other month. While it has been just five games, that has proven true so far this year. Overall, Panik finishes seasons well, and the Mets need someone who can finish this season well at second to help propel them into the postseason.

Ultimately, bringing Brach and Panik back home on the roster makes the Mets a significantly improved team. That’s the case even with Brach and Panik not being very good players this year. In some ways, you can treat this as an indictment of the Mets. However, it’s not about that. Right now, the only thing we should care about is the Mets improving. With Brach and Panik, the Mets are improved. With them being improved, they’re in a better position to make the postseason.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Marlins Like Good Teams Do

The Mets are three games over .500 for the first time since April 23rd. They are now just one game behind in the Wild Card race, and they are eight games out in the division. Things are much more interesting in Queens.

1. The Mets went 14-2 against an easy stretch of games which included the Padres, White Sox, Pirates, and Marlins. Malign this all you want, but this is exactly how good teams play against bad teams.

2. The pivotal point in this series was with the Mets trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh in the second game of the doubleheader. The homers by J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso saved the game, and it served not just as a launching pad for the Mets winning that game but also sweeping the series. Who knows how much further that inning will take them.

3. Davis has been the Mets best hitter at home. For some reason, Citi Field is like Coors Field to him. With the Mets having a lot of home games remaining, he becomes increasingly more important to the team.

4. Conforto has arguably been the Mets best player in the second half. Since the All Star Break, he is hitting .315/.406/.641. Before his concussion, Conforto was hitting .274/.412/.519. Ultimately, when he is healthy, this is the level of player Conforto is, and that level is being a great player.

5. Alonso has homered in three straight, and he is just two behind Cody Bellinger‘s National League Rookie record. He is four behind the Mets single season record shared by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran. He’s followed every bad month with a good month. His defense has been much better than it was last year. What else is there to say about him?

6. Like many of the Mets players, Wilson Ramos has stepped it up. So far in August, he is hitting .417/.440/.708. To a certain extent, this outburst should have been foreseen. Traditionally, August is Ramos’ second best month of the season, and he hit .337/.396/.483 in the second half for the Rays and Phillies last year.

7. The Mets need these bats and others to step up in Robinson Cano‘s absence. While Cano has been frustrating at times, his replacements have not fared that well this year. The combination of Aaron Altherr, Luis Guillorme, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Juan Lagares have combined to go 2-for-26 with a run, three walks, a double, and 10 strikeouts.

8. Seeing this production, the Mets should go out and claim Joe Panik. As noted yesterday, even at a 69 wRC+, Panik would be the best hitter of this group. His defense would also be an improvement over what Cano offered. It should also be noted Panik has some upside as well.

9. On the idea of upside candidates, the Mets need some bullpen help. The Mets appear loathe to use Donnie Hart and Chris Mazza, and the Mets cannot continue to operate with no trust at all with two of the arms in their bullpen. On that front, Cody Allen, Brad Brach, and Greg Holland are available. The Mets also have quality organization options in Chris Flexen, Eric Hanhold, and Paul Sewald.

10 One interesting development with no August trades is we are seeing teams designate players for assignment now instead of floating them through waivers and holding onto them until competing teams look to obtain them right before rosters expand to 40 in September.

11. As we have seen with Lee Mazzilli and Addison Reed, the player the Mets obtain in August can make a huge different for a team looking to win a pennant and a World Series. Given the team’s depth and bullpen issues, they need to take a hard look at whomever hits the waiver wire over the next few weeks.

12. There was a time where people were calling for Mickey Callaway to be fired, and now, we are seeing writers begin to advocate for his winning National League Manager of the Year.

13. Remember most discussions about the manager are narrative driven and are reflective of a team’s performance. They are rarely, if ever, resultant of actual analysis of player progression and effort.

14. The Mets need better than Wayne Randazzo on the radio. He has no sense of team history, and as evidenced by his being unaware of egg creams, he’s not even well versed in the area. Really, when you break it down, you really have to question what he does well.

15. It certainly isn’t analysis with his attributing Conforto’s success to Alonso. Aside from the studies refuting the concept of lineup protection, it’s absurd a hitter as good as Conforto needed lineup protection to succeed.

16. The Mets radio play-by-play job is perhaps the radio job with the highest standards there are. Two of the greatest to ever do it, Bob Murphy and Gary Cohen, have held that job. Howie Rose is every bit their peer. We need better than Randazzo.

17. The Mets defense has been much better of late. We saw this with the Mets infield turning 10 double plays against the Marlins. When you play defense this way, all the pitchers look better. The real key has been Amed Rosario becoming a plus defender at SS.

18. Jason Vargas getting roughed up by the Diamondbacks is a reminder bad players outplaying their peripherals regress, and the Mets trading him to the Phillies was the one trade which really helped the Mets chances of grabbing a Wild Card.

19. The last time things were like this with the Mets, they had just obtained Yoenis Cespedes right before sweeping the Nationals to tie for the division lead and make a march towards the pennant. This year is starting to have the same feeling.

20. Marcus Stroman‘s first Citi Field start is going to be absolutely electric. That game and the series cannot get here soon enough.

Time For Panik Citi

With Robinson Cano likely down for the rest of the year, the Mets need to figure out what they’re going to do at second base. While Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Guillorme provide top level defense, their offense is lacking.

The offensive second base option is Jeff McNeil, but that would lead to Juan Lagares or Aaron Altherr in center. That’s effectively the same situation as with Guillorme or Hechavarria.

There was a chance to upgrade somewhat offensively, but Asdrubal Cabrera signed with the Nationals. As luck would have it, the Mets may have another opportunity.

In somewhat of a surprise move, the San Francisco Giants designated Joe Panik for assignment. With the Mets void at second base, it is worth investigating.

So far, this has been the worst year of Panik’s career. He has a career worst wRC+, OPS+, and WAR. It’s hard to make the case a negative WAR and sub replacement level hitter would be an improvement.

On that front, since Cano went down, the combination of Guillorme/Hechavarria/Lagares/Altherr have gone a combined 1-for-19 with three walks and seven strikeouts. No matter how bad Panik has been, he’s better than that. With Panik, there’s also some upside.

In addition to his having a career worst wRC+, he’s also had a career low .254 BABIP. With his having a career .287 BABIP this would indicate a lot of bad luck. Bad luck is further indicated when you look at Panik lowering his ground ball rate, hitting more line drives, and his hitting the ball harder. He’s also been more selective at the plate with a 9.3 perfect walk rate, which is the second best of his career.

Even with numbers indicating he should have better stats, he doesn’t, and he hasn’t for nearly 10 years now. With Scooter Gennett now a Giant, the team has moved on ftom him. They did that despite Panik playing much better defense this year.

No, he’s not the Gold Glove caliber there anymore. Still, his 0 DRS is better than he’s been over the last two years, and it’s a step up from what Cano was defensively.

Looking at Panik overall, if he were on this Mets team, his 69 wRC+ would make him the best hitter out of a group including Altherr, Guillorme, Hechavarria, and Lagares. Like that group, he has a very good reputation as a fielder even if he’s just merely good at second now.

Arguably, the one thing Panik really doesn’t offer is versatility. In his career, he’s only played 9.2 innings away from second base. While a noteworthy, the Mets would be claiming Panik to play everyday. When you look at the options currently available and the chance there’s some upside in his bat, claiming Panik off waivers is a worthwhile endeavor.

Yes, the Mets should claim him. If they don’t, Panik could opt to go to another team under his own volition, or another team, like the Nationals or Phillies could claim him as a bench piece or to even try to block the surging Mets from trying to sign him. Given how much help the Mets need and their depleted depth, it’s time to make Flushing Panik Citi once again.