As most are aware, the Dustbowl refers to a period of severe drought which destroyed farms across six different states. To boil it down to an overly simplistic point, the situation was created because farmers did not understand how to farm and maintain the land. They sought immediate profit without an understanding of how their actions would have a long term impact.
It’s like what Brodie Van Wagenen is doing with the Mets.
Van Wagenen’s first major move as the General Manager was to trade Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn two former first round picks who are also two top 100 prospects, for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano along with $100 million of the $120 million remaining in his contract.
Also included in the deal was Gerson Bautista who was the prize from the Addison Reed trade. It also so happens Bautista throws near triple digits, and he started to put some of his control issues behind him in the Arizona Fall League.
In terms of the farm system, it was a big hit. Agree or disagree with the trade, the Mets opted for the short term goal of improving the 2019 roster, and the expense was two of your best prospects. While you could disagree with the move, you could understand the rationale.
What you can’t understand is the Mets trade with the Astros.
In J.D. Davis, the Mets obtained an infielder who hit .194/.260/.321 in 181 plate appearances. While he’s put up much better power numbers in the minors, talent evaluators believe he swings and misses often and struggles hitting good fastballs. (Mike Puma, New York Post).
While you may believe he just needs more playing time to succeed, you also have to understand it’s not coming with the Mets. Davis, should he even make the Opening Day roster, will have to fight Peter Alonso, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, and whoever else the Mets have on their bench for at-bats. Put simply, he’s not getting the at-bats he needs to succeed.
As for Sam Haggerty, no one truly believes he’s much of a prospect.
In exchange for that, the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, which is almost universally believed to be an overpay. Santana was the real prize obtained by the Astros as he’s a player many scouts are high on:
11) Luis Santana, 2B, Grade C+: Age 19, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2016, hit .348/.446/.471 with 27 walks, 23 strikeouts in 204 at-bats in Appalachian League; observers praised pure hitting skills and plate discipline, mixed opinion on power in 5-8, 175 frame
— John Sickels (@MinorLeagueBall) December 20, 2018
Santana is a two-time Sterling Award winner and was considered to be among the top 10 prospects in a much improved Mets farm system.
With respect to Adolph, he was the steal of the draft. The 12th round pick proved the skills which made him the MAC player of the year translated to professional baseball. He hit .276/.348/.509 for Brooklyn, was the MVP of the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, and he was considered by Baseball America to be the best defensive outfielder in the Mets farm system.
With respect to Manea, even with T.J. Rivera making it to the majors, it is difficult to buy in on undrafted players. However, Manea did hit .261/.368/.432, and the old Mets regime noticed with J.P. Riccardi saying, “He has got a chance to be something. He has opened up some eyes this year. He has got power and a pretty good idea of what he is doing behind the plate.” (Mike Puma, Baseball America). The Astros also noticed and are apparently very high on Manea:
Jeff Luhnow called catcher Scott Manea a "key piece" to the deal for the Astros, who are in obvious need of catching depth.
"We need more guys. Manea is a guy that we think can move pretty quickly and has a chance to be a big league catcher. That was a big part of it for us.”
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) January 6, 2019
The Astros are one of, if not the, best scouting organization in baseball. For their part, the Mets have a General Manager with zero front office or player development experience. There was an overhaul of the Mets minor league coaching staff before Van Wagenen was even hired.
Recently, Fangraphs reported, “Several league sources have told us that the Mets don’t scout beneath full-season ball.” As a result, the Mets “simply lack reports on a lot of players,” which will include two of the players they just traded.
Point is, Van Wagenen is flying blind here. He’s making decisions on players with insufficient information, and he’s making important decisions about their and the Mets future. Teams like the Astros are more than happy to take advantage.
This may be a problem created by a team too cheap to keep Wilmer Flores or sign any one of the cheaper free agents available like Mark Reynolds, but it’s also a problem of making bad decisions predicated on little, no, or bad information.
The Mets are destroying the farm, and they’re doing it on bad information. If this team doesn’t start spending, there’s going to be a lot of fallow years ahead for the Mets. It’s going to be a Dust Bowl driving people away from Citi Field.
Last year, we saw most of the players the Mets traded at the deadline appear in the postseason. Notably, Jay Bruce hit a couple of homers in the Indians ALDS loss to the Yankees. Similarly, Addison Reed would not get out of the ALDS as the Red Sox lost to the Astros. This year as the postseason has begun there are former Mets on all teams except the Rockies. Can you name those players? Good luck!
Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended. Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him. Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.
There is the sadness with David Wright leaving. He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced. He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field. Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.
Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players. Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform? Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform? Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud? How about Juan Lagares? With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense. Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together? Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?
Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again? He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed. Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year. At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play. That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.
Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away. Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year. Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson were traded away last season. Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories. Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas. Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.
What we have left is good, really good. We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted. After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.
We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner. Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace. Steven Matz actually made 30 starts. Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close. This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.
Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30). When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse. In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top. If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.
Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.
There’s a hesitation there. After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top. Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.
Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring. Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different. The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade. But after that? Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short. After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.
In the end, this is a really likeable team. Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys. They are what makes being a Mets fan great. We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring. That can’t happen.
In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one. Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here. Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series. I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.
Bautista has a 12.46 ERA in five Major League appearances, and he has a 5.08 ERA in the minors.
Callahan had a 9.72 ERA in seven appearances for Las Vegas before going down with season ending shoulder surgery.
Nogosek has a 5.49 ERA with a 6.8 BB/9.
It is just one year, but the pieces received in exchange for Reed last year are actually worse than you could have imagined. What makes that all the worse is the return for Reed was deemed underwhelming at the time of the trade.
This is important to note because as noted by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the New York Mets had the audacity to liken the return they received from the Oakland Athletics for Jeurys Familia to what they received from the Boston Red Sox for Reed.
With that, you don’t need to go searching out for an analysis from a scouting outlet, reporter, or talking head. The Mets themselves are telling you they got a terrible return for not just their biggest trade piece, but also for the top reliever remaining on the trade market.
But don’t take it from the Mets, take it from Keith Law’s scathing review in his ESPN Insider piece on the topic:
If the New York Mets are just going to trade their most valuable major league trade assets for salary relief, rather than try to improve the club, then it’s time for MLB to step in and force the Wilpons to sell the team, just as the league did with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers. Trading Jeurys Familia for two fringe-at-best prospects is not how any team, regardless of payroll level, should operate in this environment. For a franchise that operates in the largest market in the league to do this — and do so ten days before the trade deadline rather than waiting for someone to offer a legitimate return — is embarrassing for the Mets and Major League Baseball as a whole.
What makes this all the more maddening is the Mets have recently been quite public about how they are now in “excellent financial health” and that this time, they would be willing to eat salary to improve their return in a trade.
The very first chance they go to do it, they proved they were lying. Sure, they can go and spin it any way they want, but plain and simple, the Mets were lying.
Remember, reports on Friday were the Mets were on the verge of completing a trade with the Athletics, and then there was a stall. As reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the money, not the return, was the issue. In fact, the reports were the holdup was there was another team more willing to take on more of Familia’s salary.
NOT another team jumping in with a better prospect haul. No, another team willing to pay more of Familia’s salary. The end result was the small market Athletics taking on all of Familia’s salary.
You have to look long and hard for a person who like the trade it prompted former General Manager and writer for The Athletic, Jim Bowden to write, “The return they got from Oakland was so light, I had to make calls and texts around both leagues to see if I was missing anything. I couldn’t get a single unbiased team to support the return the Mets got.”
Wahl is yet another one of the Mets newfound hard throwing right-handed relief prospects. He’s putting up really good numbers in Triple-A (albeit with scary peripherals), and like Matt Harvey, he’s a pitcher with TOS.
Toffey, well, he’s been described anywhere from a fringe prospect to a future bench player. Oh, and as Law noted, “I know [Toffey’s] father and J.P. Riccardi, one part of the Mets’ interm GM structure, are friends, but I don’t know if that was a factor in the deal.”
Naturally, John Ricco would come out and say it was Riccardi who ran point on the deal with the Athletics. Of course, this happened a day later because apparently one of the three GMs the Mets have had a previously scheduled engagement.
Think about that for a second. The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and one of your GMs, the guy who is front and center with the media, has a previously scheduled engagement. Seriously?
So, basically, if you take the Mets at face value, he wasn’t around when the deal went down. But that’s fine because it was Riccardi who “ran point” on the trade because of his relationship with the Athletics.
Taking the Mets at face value, Riccardi made this deal, and yet, the former GM could not speak with the media because they needed the guy who has never been a GM and who has ducked the media in the past to be the point man with the media to speak on a deal he had no part (or very little part) in making.
And just when you didn’t think it could get any better, the Mets are hyping the international bonus pool money and what Omar Minaya can do with it. Being fair, seeing how he signed Familia for $100,000, that’s a reason to like the deal.
So, in the end, we have the Mets coaxing the Athletics to eat more of Familia’s salary rather than get a better return, one of the GMs obtaining his friend’s son in a lackluster return, one of the selling points being how one of the GMs could use the international bonus money, and the one guy who has nothing to do with the deal or how it will be utilized being the guy who answers questions about the trade and the return. Furthermore, the same front office is comparing the deal to a trade which has so far blown up in their faces.
Under normal circumstances, you would say this is display of complete and utter incompetence, and no organization would want to be embarrassed publicly in this fashion.
However, this is the Mets team run by the Wilpons. As a result, this is just business as usual for what has become a complete and utter mess of an organization.
Ultimately, if you want a succinct analysis of the Mets trading Familia, it’s shame on the Mets and the Wilpons for continuing to operate their team in this fashion.
With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline. The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.
Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom. If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects. The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals. With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.
Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline. He’s much better working deals in the offseason.
So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals. Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:
Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9. Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.
Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.
Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries. Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).
Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer. The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.
Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup. The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.
AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery. That would take him off the table. The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.
Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.
Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals. Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:
Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career. The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base. Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.
Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.
Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups. He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.
So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler. Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild. To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.
And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.
Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history. Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.
Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.
Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.
If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure. Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.
Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn. If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.
While any game where the Mets are trying to snap out of this horrendous June skid has its own level of interest, this game had some extra intrigue because the Mets were facing one of the two pitchers they traded in 2015 to obtain Addison Reed.
Well, on this night, it seemed as if the Diamondbacks got a much better return for Reed than the Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek triumvirate the Mets received from the Red Sox at last year’s trade deadline.
Things look good real early for the Mets as Brandon Nimmo hit a first inning homer off of Matt Koch. After that, Koch allowed just a fifth inning single to Dominic Smith that went nowhere before he allowed a Michael Conforto solo shot in the sixth inning.
All told, Koch pitched six innings allowing the two homers while walking one and striking out five. To be fair, with the way the Mets offense is going, we can’t tell if Koch is the one who got away or if a pitcher with a 4.20 ERA entering the game looked good because any semi-competent pitcher can shut down the Mets right now.
Now, the aforementioned Conforto homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2. They were behind because Jason Vargas wasn’t great . . . again.
After getting a lead, he surrendered it almost immediately in the second on a rally started by his first issuing a leadoff walk to John Ryan Murphy and then hitting David Peralta. Now, Peralta made no effort to get out of the way of the ball, a point Mickey Callaway seemed to be chirping about from the dugout, but there’s not point being bitter, right?
Anyway, Murphy came around and scored on an ensuing Ketel Marte single.
Vargas got out of that jam, but he allowed solo shots to Paul Goldschmidt and Peralta in consecutive innings to put the Mets down 3-1.
After his five innings, you could honestly say Vargas kept the Mets in the game. That’s a real accomplishment from where he was to start the season.
By the seventh, the Mets were down a run, and they were still in this game. After 1.2 fine innings from Hansel Robles, Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face a stretch of left-handed Diamondback batters starting with Daniel Descalso.
With two outs and an inherited runner from Robles, Blevins first allowed Descalso to single, and then he hit the left-handed hitting Jon Jay to load the bases.This led to Callaway bringing in Sewald, who is struggling every bit as much as Vargas and Blevins. He proceeded to walk Nick Ahmed to force home a run.
Think about that. Robles was the Mets best reliever of the night, and he is the one charged with a run after Blevins’ and Sewald’s inept performances.
Speaking of poor performances, after Amed Rosario hit a solo shot in the eighth inning to pull the Mets within 4-3, Jacob Rhame came in and allowed solo homers to Peralta and Jake Lamb. At that point, the Mets were down 6-3, and they were well past their quota for runs in a game.
Ultimately, this game amounted to the pitchers Sandy Alderson brought in to help this team completely failing, but sure, let’s all blame Callaway for this team’s performance.
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.