Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets. Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry. However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes. When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.
With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right? Let’s take a look:
Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation. In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.
The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer. Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well. Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.
Things changed at the tail end of 2017. Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become. d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September. As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.
VERDICT: 2018 – if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close
2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez
In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI. He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.
Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.
VERDICT: 2015 – Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw
We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.
For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.
VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one
This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.
Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.
VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy
Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015. After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores. Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half. Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.
Rosario is the future of the Mets. Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate. However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better. He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time. For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.
VERDICT: 2018 – Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high
Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets. Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting. Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup. He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist. Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.
With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets. To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player. This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.
VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.
From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers. They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits. In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well. Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.
The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player. Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder. Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015. Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.
VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important
When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then. Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.
VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then
2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald
Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen. This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year. Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness. One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.
When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins. Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.
VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside
For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015. When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived. Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.
Right now, Callaway looks like a genius. He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth. He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late. His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire. However, the season isn’t even a week old. Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.
Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series
If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation. The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager. Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw. However, in reality, it’s not. That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.
That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager. If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level. If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.
As I do from time to time, we need a “completely serious” analysis and projection of each and every Mets player who is expected to contribute during the 2018 season. While there are many prjoection systems which claim to be fool-proof, there are none that will be this accurate about the Mets:
Sandy Alderson – The other 29 GMs in baseball will be left in complete hysterics when Alderson is calling around for a right-handed reliever to help boost the team’s chances to making the postseason.
Mickey Callaway – The writers will overwhelmingly vote him as the National League Manager of the Year. The most cited reason for giving him the award will be the fact he didn’t insist on playing his worst players or forcing his players to play through crippling injuries.
Dave Eiland– Multiple Mets pitchers will hug him for actually fixing their mechanics and for listening to them when they say they’re hurting.
Tyler Bashlor – When someone notices how similar his name is to the ABC reality show hit The Bachelor, they’ll say how “The Bashlor” is handing out strikeouts like they’re roses. We should all hate that person.
Jerry Blevins– Until he eats a sandwich, the socks given away in his honor will hang around his ankles
Bryce Brentz– He’s going to be the guy who has one or two at-bats this season, and someone is going to invoke his name as a former Met to try to sound like he knows more about the Mets than you know anything.
Jay Bruce– After a four home run game, all Mets fans will want to talk about is when he is going to move to first base.
Asdrubal Cabrera – After a slump, Callaway will move Cabrera down in the lineup causing Cabrera to bring his kids to the clubhouse and have them ask why Callaway doesn’t want them to eat.
Jamie Callahan– His wearing #43 will serve as a constant reminder that not only was he part of the return for Addison Reed, but also how the Mets turned quality MLB players into six right-handed relief prospects. That will be the worst possible sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Yoenis Cespedes – After an MVP caliber first half, he will feel like he has earned just one game of golf as a reward during the All Star Break. He will immediately be vilified.
Michael Conforto – After a huge cut and a swing and miss, Conforto will wince for a moment thereby causing a passionate Mets fans behind home plate to have a heart attack. This will led to a call for the netting to be filled in and for fans to have to watch the game on a tape delay.
Travis d’Arnaud– During a remarkably healthy season, he will finally be forced to catch Syndergaard, who had spent most of the seaosn with Plawecki as his personal catcher. On the first pitch of the game, Syndergaard throws a 101 MPH fastball which immediately shatters d’Arnaud’s hand.
Jacob deGrom– After a slump, he’s going to look to grow his hair out. Once he realizes his hair cannot possibly reach it’s old length during the 2018, he’s going to grow a really long beard and change his entrance music to “Legs” by ZZ Top.
Phillip Evans– When he cashes in his check for his postseason share, Evans will fondly remember that April pinch hitting appearance.
Wilmer Flores – He will be in such hysterics during his struggles in his first game in the outfield his crying on the field in 2015 will look like a case of the sniffles.
Todd Frazier– It will take many Mets fans a long time to come to grips that Jersey Boy Todd Frazier does not use a Bruce Springsteen song as his walk-up music. That point will finally come when they realize Frank Sinatra is from Hoboken and not NYC.
Robert Gsellman – As he continues to wait in Las Vegas for his opportunity to get back to the Majors, he will eventually care what Sandy Alderson thinks of him.
Matt Harvey – He’s going to pull a reverse Ben Affleck by going from The Dark Knight moniker to Daredevil. He will earn that name by following Eiland’s instructions to throw inside with such reckless abandon to the point where people start to question if he’s gone blind.
Juan Lagares – After once again injuring his thumb on a diving attempt, the Mets will finally realize Lagares’ injures were the result of him literally using a gold glove to try to play center. While they found the answer and solution for the thumb injuries, they will still be perplexed on how to fix his hitting.
Seth Lugo– We won’t know if people keep referring to the hook with him because of his incredible curveball or because of how Callaway won’t let him face a lineup for a third time.
Brandon Nimmo– Despite putting up great numbers, the Mets will inform Nimmo they unfortunately have to send him down to Triple-A due to a temporary roster squeeze. When he’s still smiling through the ordeal, they will force him to seek psychological counseling.
Kevin Plawecki– On a day when the Mets are getting blown out, the frustrated Plawecki will use the last of his six mound visits to derisively tell his pitcher he can pitch better than this. The pitcher will remind him he has a better batting average than Plawecki.
Jose Reyes– One day, he will hit a triple and score on a mad dash to home plate. He will have that old Reyes smile, and it will electrify the crowd. It will also cause everyone to forget that he is one of the worst position players in all of baseball.
T.J. Rivera – After he comes off the disabled list, he’ll deliver in the clutch for the Mets and his teammates will honor him as the player of the game. The Mets will make sure he’s not standing in front of Plawecki’s locker when they take a photo to tweet out.
Hansel Robles– Many will credit him with the discovery of extra terrestrials by his discovery of a UFO in the Vegas night. Years later, Robles will sheepishly admit all he was doing was pointing up at another homer he allowed.
Amed Rosario– To the surprise of us all, Rosario will strike out looking when the pitcher throws him a pitch which he was surprised at and was not ready to swing at. Entire belief systems will be shattered.
Paul Sewald– After having spent a year with Terry Collins, he’s going to be the player most comfortable with having no defined role in the bullpen. However, it will be an adjustment for him not having to warm up multiple times per game.
Anthony Swarzak – The jokes about not knowing how to spell his name will get old by mid-April. The jokes will be rediscovered in August when more fans tune it to a Mets team that is a surprising contender. The jokes will continue to not be funny.
Noah Syndergaard– He will continue his “Twitter Feud” with Mr. Met. It will be discussed ad nausesum during nationally televised games. America will think it’s amusing only fueling the spat even further and giving no hope to Mets fans who have long since found this to be unfunny.
Jason Vargas – When Reyes introduces himself, Vargas will remind him they were teammates in 2007. Both recall that season and will agree it never happened.
Zack Wheeler– He will be converted to a reliever, and in a surprise to us all, he will lead the league in saves. In a surprise to him that league will be the Pacific Coast League.
David Wright– He will apologize and sheepishly admit the Mets crown was an embarrassingly bad idea. He will try to come up with a way to rectify it, but no one will listen to his ideas on the topic anymore.
The free agent market has been stagnant, and to the surprise of many, the Mets made a splash signing Jay Bruce to a backloaded three year $39 million contract.
Whenever a team makes a move, it tells you something about the team. It tells you something about how the team views both its postseason chances and the composition of their roster.
The problem with Bruce is you don’t know exactly what his signing is telling you about the team.
Prior to Bruce signing, Michael Conforto was penciled in as the 2018 right fielder. At least, that is the case when Conforto was to return.
While the Mets have been publicly bullish on his return, they readily admit he won’t be ready by Opening Day. Beyond that, we don’t know because there is no timetable.
And even when he returns, we don’t know if he will return to his All Star form.
Are we to read the Bruce signing as Conforto being out longer than anticipated and/or the Mets being uneasy about what Conforto will be when he returns?
Last year, Juan Lagares returned to his best defensive center fielder in baseball form with him leading all MLB center fielders in UZR/150.
As if this wasn’t enough to get you at least intrigued about him returning to an everyday role, Lagares is working with the coach who completely changed the course of J.D. Martinez‘s career.
That coaches helped Martinez go from a .250/.272/.378 hitter in 2013 to a .315/.358/.553 hitter the following season. For a point of reference, Lagares hit .250/.296/.365 last year.
If Bruce stays in right, this would mean Conforto would go to center when he comes off the DL thereby forcing Lagares to the bench.
Are the Mets really willing to make Lagares a high paid defensive replacement with him making $6.5 million this year and $9 million the next? Is it possible the Mets aren’t interested in seeing whether Lagares could become at least an improved hitter thereby bringing him closer to the 5.5 win player they so eagerly extended prior to the 2015 season?
There’s no doubt Dominic Smith had a disappointing stint in the majors last year posting a -1.2 WAR in 49 games. After that stretch, the Mets let anyone who’d listen know they’ve soured on Smith. Even with them walking it back a bit, they still have been actively looking for a first baseman this offseason.
Here’s the thing – not only has Smith been getting in much better shape this offseason, but he’s also been a player who has gotten better after some early struggles at his new level.
Last year, Smith hit .324/.377/.498 in April in May. After that, he hit .336/.394/.537 until he was called up to the majors.
In Double-A in 2016, he hit .267/.317/.396 in April and May. After that, Smith hit .323/.397/.495.
What if Smith follows a similar path this season? Are you willing to bench him or demote him to Triple-A when he’s playing well?
One of the biggest issues with the 2017 Mets was their defense. They did not have a positive defender anywhere across the field. Things are going to be just as bad, if not worse, with this signing.
Likely, Bruce signing means an outfield of Yoenis Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce. Last year, Conforto had a -4 DRS in center in just 328.2 innings there. Based upon those numbers, why would the Mets actively look to put him in center not just this year, but over the next three years?
Also, why would you ask a player coming back from a significant shoulder injury to play a relatively unfamiliar position he has not had an opportunity to prepare to play this offseason?
This is asking for more poor defense from the Mets. That become all the more puzzling when we are currently playing in an era where batters focus on hitting the ball in the air.
Initially, it was believed the Mets had around $30 million to spend this offseason. However, after the Anthony Swarzak signing and Sterling Equities getting involved in the Islanders Belmont arena, that number was reportedly lowered to just $10 million remaining to spend in free agency.
If we take a look at Bruce’s backloaded deal, you will notice he is slated to earn $10 million next year. Is this really an accident? If it isn’t does this mean the Mets just spent all of their money on a right fielder when they are already had one? Why would you do that with huge holes on this roster including second base?
Building A Complete Roster
It is quite surprising Bruce was the choice. Todd Frazier, Mike Moustakas, Howie Kendrick, Lorenzo Cain, and Addison Reed remain free agents. Each one of those players fills a real need on this roster. Bruce is a luxury item that based upon budget reports prevents another move.
Such a move would be Jason Kipnis, who Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reports the Mets nixed a deal for him over money. Whether that was before or after signing Bruce is not clear. What is clear is the Mets still have limited resources, and they are now allocating them poorly.
Where to Go From Here
At the moment, the Mets are eventually going to be forced to figure out what to do with Lagares and Smith once Conforto is healthy. However, that is a little down the road. At the moment, the question is what do the Mets do to fill their other needs.
They just nixed Kipnis over $30.7 million over the next two years with a third year option. Are we really to believe Josh Harrison and his being owed $11.5 million with successive options is that much more palatable? If so, can we really believe the Mets will get him over teams like the Yankees who have a much deeper farm system?
Also, what are the Mets going to do to address the rest of the bullpen and their bench. Seeing where the finances are, it is not likely the Mets do much. This likely translates to a Jose Reyes reunion despite him being one of the worst regulars in all of baseball last year posting a -1.7 WAR.
And that’s the problem. Rather that looking to make significant improvements with their payroll constraints, Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons are going with a failed measure. Add power. Eschew defense. Go with guys you like personally. Hope it works out. Well, it didn’t work in 2017, and with a worse roster heading into next year, it’s not likely to work again in 2018.
So overall, the Bruce signing really doesn’t address any problems, it creates more issues, and it likely assures the Mets will not be competing for a spot in the postseason next year.
Like many Mets fans, I was irritated about how last offseason was handled.
They brought back a team who was not good enough to win the Wild Card Game expecting them to both stay healthy and win a World Series.
The Mets postseason chances ended in injuries culminating in a 70-92 record.
Even better, Sandy Alderson completely botched the fire sale. The Mets traded Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker for a group of Minor League right-handed relieves. Oh, and sweet, sweet salary relief.
The plan of action would’ve been acceptable had the team opted to reinvest that money in the team. Well, not only did the Mets opt not to reinvest that money, they decided to hold onto more of it.
How do I respond to this?
I know why. It’s because if the shared experiences. I want to be able to enjoy the rare times the Mets are relevant with my sons.
Hell, I’d love to do that with my Dad as well. However, with the way this team is being operated from a financial and personnel standpoint, it seems like that’s becoming less and less of a possibility.
Sadly, the Wilpons don’t care about my story or other fans stories. They don’t have to because they’re making money anyway. They don’t have to because fans like me keep coming back for more, and even worse, we begin the process of indoctrinating our children at a young age.
So yes, I’m to blame why the Wilpons get away with operating the Mets this way. However, only the Wilpons themselves are to blame for choosing to operate the team this way.
For me, I’m a Mets, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fans. As you can tell, 2017 was not the best of years for me.
The season unofficially ended when Noah Syndergaard refused to get an MRI. Along with Thor, we saw Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler go on extended disabled list stints. It came to a point where Rafael Montero was a feasible rotation option. By the way, that speaks more about the rotation than Montero.
On the offensive side, we saw Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson go for pennies on the dollar. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker missed a ton of time, which meant Walker joined the aforementioned players and Addison Reed in fetching a group of minor league right-handed relievers that didn’t bowl anyone over.
Worst of all, Michael Conforto suffered a season ending and possibly career altering shoulder injury. He suffered that injury on a swing and a miss. If that isn’t the perfect euphemism for the Mets season, I don’t know what is.
But don’t worry. The Mets are cutting payroll, so we wont have to face the Mets failing to meet expectations again.
The year started with the wide receiving core not showing up after they all made sure to attend a boat party. The end result was the Giants missing a big opportunity to make a deep postseason run.
Expectations were high after that with the Giants being labeled Super Bowl contenders. As it turns out, you can’t be that without an offensive line and an over-matched head coach. The season slowly became a 2-13 embarasment that saw McAdoo sit Eli so he could find out if Geno Smith was his starter for next season, and the Giants to fire McAdoo for mishandling that and everything else.
To make matters worse, Eli Apple has gone from being a guy who was supposed to take the next leap to being benched to being called a cancer to announcing to reporters he had to go to the bathroom. Much like the Apple, the Giants season went from promising and quickly down the drain.
The Rangers were lucky and got to face the Atlantic side of the draw for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers beat the Canadiens, and then they blew a golden opportunity against the Ottawa Senators.
Due to salary cup constraints, the Rangers then traded away Stepan and Raanta for what was perceived to be an underwhelming return. The team overdrafted Anderson, and they got lucky with Chytil. They were also able to nab a promising young defenseman in Antony DeAngelo.
Well, Vingeault has once again done his best Terry Collins impersonation by benching the younger players, not letting them play, and giving the veterans enough rope to hang the entire Rangers season. The Rangers are currently in playoff contention, but they would likely be in better position if their head coach showed a modicum of interest in developing younger players.
Well, last season was a disaster leading to the team trading Melo for much less than they ever thought he could fetch in a trade. Still, the return has been palatable because Enes Kanter is a leader who gives the Knicks toughness. This would all be better except for the fact that KP still has issues staying on the floor, the Hardaway signing ate up a ton of cap space, and a favorable early schedule will likely lead to the Knicks falling apart in January.
So yeah, hopefully, 2018 will go much better because how could it not with Mickey Callaway and a new Giants head coach in place. Hopefully, the Rangers will as well. There’s also the hope Seton Hall rebounds from a March exit last year on an egregious intentional fall call. Hopefully, their making a deep run will be the start of a great 2018.
If the Mets continue to refuse to spend, maybe it will be the sole highlight of the year.
Let’s all gather round and see what Santa left under the Mets Christmas tree:
Jake Arrieta – Mets have enough SP, don’t they?
Jay Bruce – His heart is in San Francisco
Yu Darvish – Not in this lifetime
Lorenzo Cain – Nope
Bartolo Colon – Rejected
Howie Kendrick – Nowhere to be seen or heard from
Todd Frazier – In Toms River
Curtis Granderson – Can’t be naughty and expect to get someone so nice
Jason Kipnis – Hot In Cleveland
J.D. Martinez – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Mike Napoli – Somewhere over Minneapolis
Eduardo Nunez – Probably too broken . . . even for the Mets
Addison Reed – Not home for the holidays
Neil Walker – Doesn’t want to come back
Really, there’s nothing there except for what I really hope is a piece of coal.
After the purported hand-wringing Sandy Alderson was doing over the free agent reliever market, the Mets finally pulled the trigger, and they signed Anthony Swarzak to a two year $14 million deal.
There is a lot to like about Swarzak. Last year, the 32 year old had his best ever season going 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 10.6 K/9. As noted by D.J. Short of Rotoworld, Swarzak had a higher swinging strike percentage than old friend Addison Reed. Part of that could be attributed to the fact he added about two MPH on his fastball.
He’s also been a platoon neutral pitcher his entire career with his best season being in 2017. While limiting right-handed batters to a .218/.259/.346 batting line, left-handed batters were worse against him hitting .198/.294/.281.
These stats are all the more incredible and important when you consider he predominantly worked in the 7th and 8th innings. The Mets needed another set-up man to work with AJ Ramos to hand the ball to Jeurys Familia in the 9th.
Overall, this is all important, and the signing helps the Mets. However it isn’t enough, especially because this is all but a shapshot of Swarzak’s career.
It was just in 2015 Swarzak had a 5.26 ERA and 1.516 WHIP in the Korean Leagues. In 2016, his first season back from Korea, he was 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA for the Yankees.
While he was obviously improved since then, it was mostly on the strength of some outliers. Prior to last season, he yielded a .304 BABIP. In 2017, that number was .272.
Prior to 2017, Swarzak left 69.8% of runners on base, which is right around league average. Last season, his LOB% was a career best 82.9%.
Maybe these numbers were all the result of improved stuff. Maybe it was him becoming more comfortable in the bullpen. It’s just as possible the increased velocity and some of the BABIP and LOB% will regress to league and career norms.
Overall, the Mets did acquire a quality reliever who should prove to better than internal options like Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, and Josh Smoker. Moreover, Swarzak is getting the opportunity to work with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. If there’s a tandem you trust to help Swarzak make 2017 the new norm instead of an outlier, it’s them.
Still, with the stark contrast between the 2017 and career numbers, the Mets need to hedge their bets that Swarzak may very well regress. In the end, this means that while Swarzak may very well prove to be a nice addition, he’s far from being the final piece of the puzzle.
On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family. With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.
Jamie Callahan – One day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.
Gavin Cecchini – He made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors. That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.
Yoenis Cespedes – With Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.
Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.
Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.
Jacob deGrom – With him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.
Phillip Evans – After winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.
Jeurys Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad. It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.
Erik Goeddel – No matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.
Ty Kelly – He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.
Juan Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.
Kevin McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.
Rafael Montero – For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.
Tomas Nido – Even with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.
Brandon Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.
Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.
Neil Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him. Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.
Jacob Rhame – He’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.
Rene Rivera – After failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.
Fernando Salas – Despite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.
Paul Sewald – As a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.
Dominic Smith – He finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)
Josh Smoker – After the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.
Noah Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.
Adam Wilk – Because Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.
Zack Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what. We should all be so lucky.
Dan Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.
Mets Fans – Well, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.
Tonight at 8:00 P.M. is the deadline for the Mets to add players to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. At the moment, the Mets 40 man roster stands at 35, which means the team could add as many as five eligible players to the roster.
Typically speaking, the Mets won’t go that far for a few reasons. First, the team will need to add players this offseason to help bolster a team desperately in need at some key positions. Second, the team may want to keep some spots open so they could add a player or two during this year’s Rule 5 draft. Considering there are some teams facing a roster crunch, there may very well be some intriguing names that become available.
For the moment, let’s assume the Mets will add five players with the team likely considering DFAing a couple of names already on the 40 man roster. If the Mets have that ability, here are the players I believe the Mets should add to the roster.
RHP Tyler Bashlor
Level: St. Lucie & Binghamton
Stats: 3-2, 3.44 ERA, 46 G, 13 SV, 49.2 IP, 84 K, 1.309 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, 15.2 K/9
Bashlor is a power arm who can routinely get it into the high 90s. This along with his curveball is a reason why he gets huge strikeout numbers. The problem with him is he walks too many batters. It’s been a problem his entire minor league career. To that point, there is one caveat. In the small sample size he worked with Glenn Abbott in Binghamton, he only walked 2.5 batters per nine, which is a much more manageable number. If he can keep that up, he’s a shut down reliever who could very well be a future closer for the Mets.
RHP Gerson Bautista
Level: Carolina League & St. Lucie
Stats: 3-3, 4.22 ERA, 37 G, 9 SV, 59.2 IP, 73 K, 1.592 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 11.0 K/9
Bautista was the crown jewel of the Addison Reed trade. The reliever has immense talent with the ability to get up to triple digits on the radar gun. What is really interesting with him is that once he became a Met, he was finally able to harness his abilities. In 10 appearances with St. Lucie, he had a 1.88 ERA, 0.907 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, and a 12.6 K/9. If he is truly that pitcher, he has an outside chance to pitch in Queens in 2018.
MI Luis Guillorme
Stats: .283/.376/.331, 20 2B, HR, 43 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS
Guillorme is a throwback player who is a highlight reel at second or short. At the moment, he’s more than ready to contribute defensively at the Major League level. Offensively, Guillorme finds his way on base, and he’s a smart baserunner. He’s also aware that he needs to begin hitting for more power, and he has set out to do that. Given his work ethic, it shouldn’t be ruled out he will hit for enough power where he may one day be a top of the lineup hitter.
RHP Corey Oswalt
Stats: 12-5, 2.28 ERA, 24 G, 24 GS, 2 CG, SHO, 134.1 IP, 119 K, 1.176 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
Oswalt was not only the best pitcher in the Mets organization this past season winning a Sterling Award, he was also the best pitcher in the Eastern League as evidenced by his being named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. He’s a four pitch starter who may not dominate opposing batters, but he knows how to get people out. Given the rash of injuries the Mets have faced in their starting rotation in successive seasons, this is something that should not be overlooked, and the Mets certainly should not risk a chance of losing him.
RHP Adonis Uceta
Level: Columbia, St. Lucie, Binghamton
Stats: 6-0, 1.51 ERA, 41 G, 14 SV, 59.2 IP, 67 K, 0.905 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 10.1 K/9
The Mets converted this former starter to a reliever, and he took off this season. With him mainly focusing on his two best pitches, a mid to high 90s fastball and an outstanding changeup, Uceta dominated opposing batters. For a three month stretch, he did not allow one earned run while oppositing batters hit .133/.198/.158 off of him. It’s a big reason why he quickly rose through the farm system last year, and it’s a big reason why he could contribute in the Mets bullpen next season.
Overall, it’s unlikely the Mets protect as many as five players, and it’s equally unlikely the team protects three relief pitchers. To that end, it’s really a debate over who to protect. Do you protect Bashlor and Uceta, who could reasonably contribute in the bullpen next year? Or maybe, you protect just one of them to make sure you keep Bautista who is likely the best arm of the three. It’s not the easiest decision in the world, but it is one that Alderson now faces.
With the Mets only having so many holes this offseason, it appears the team is going to have to make a few strikes in free agency. Presumably, the sooner the team locks up a Todd Frazier or an Addison Reed, they can quickly shift their focus to the next need. There’s just one problem. In his tenure as the Mets GM, Sandy’s first free agent acqusition has typically been lacklaster.
Can you name the first MLB free agent Sandy has signed with the Mets each offseason? Good luck!