Adrian Gonzalez

How and Why Dominic Smith Became a Left Fielder

Last night, Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario collided in the outfield leading to a ball dropping and the go-ahead run scoring. When a gaffe like this happens, many are sent looking to pin blame. As has often happens since he was first called up to the majors, Smith was an easy target.

Before looking to levy the blame on him, it is important to review just how Smith became a left fielder.

Back in 2011, the now defunct Sandy Alderson regime made Brandon Nimmo their first ever draft pick. Since that time, the Mets have drafted and signed just 27 outfield prospects.

The breakdown goes: 2011 (six), 2012 (none), 2013 (three), 2014 (five), 2015 (three), 2016 (three), 2017 (four), 2018 (three).

Putting aside Nimmo and Michael Conforto, the outfielders the Mets have drafted since 2011 have played a combined 35 games at the Major League level.

Last year, Travis Taijeron hit .173/.271/.269, and this year, Kevin Kaczmarski is 0-for-5 with a walk.

Currently, the Las Vegas roster only has one outfielder drafted from the aforementioned draft classes on their roster – Kaczmarski. Kaczmarski is currently battling for playing time with players like Zach Borenstein, Bryce Brentz, Matt den Dekker, and Patrick Kivlehan.

Binghamton had Tim Tebow playing everyday because there really wasn’t a Mets draftee pushing him out of the lineup.

Champ Stuart, the Mets 2013 sixth round pick, is repeating the level, and he is hitting .136/.280/.264. Patrick Biondi, the Mets 2013 ninth round pick, is also repeating the level, and he is hitting .222/.333/.247.

Overall, that’s just three part time outfield draft picks playing in the upper levels of their minor league system. Combine them with Nimmo and Conforto, and that makes just five outfield draft picks playing in Double-A or high from the past eight drafts.

Given how much the Mets drafts have not provided much in terms of outfield depth, the Mets were faced with calling up a Major League has been or never was or to give the shot to Smith. Given how Peter Alonso was nipping at Smith’s heels from Double-A, learning another position did make some sense.

Believe it or not, Smith in the outfield was not as absurd a proposition as it may sound. He entered the year leaner and faster. As noted by Baseball Savant, his sprint speed is better Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce, two players the Mets have felt eminently comfortable in the outfield. When he was drafted, Baseball America noted Smith had a strong arm and was a “fringy defender with below-average speed” in the outfield.

Still, the Mets were forced into that position because of how they handled Smith.

After he struggled last year, they were wise to bring in competition for him in Spring Training in the form of Adrian Gonzalez. Partially due to Smith’s injury in Spring Training, Gonzalez did win the job. However, he played poorly.

In 21 April games, Gonzalez hit .227/.312/.394. After going 3-for-4 with two solo homers in a game at Cincinnati, Gonzalez returned to form hitting just .267/.323/.350 over his next 20 games leading to his eventual release.

With the way Gonzalez was playing, there was a real chance to call-up Smith and give him a shot. The Mets passed, and they instead decided to stick with a guy who was not producing.

When the Mets finally released Gonzalez, they gave Smith three games to prove he could produce at the Major League level. In those three games, he went 4-for-12 with a double, homer, and an RBI. After that three game stretch, Wilmer Flores came off the disabled list, and he was given the first base job.

With Flores being bestowed the first base job, Smith’s great experiment in the outfield truly began. With Smith not playing well in the outfield, he found himself on the bench, and eventually, he would head back to Triple-A. When he was sent back to Triple-A, he was entrenched as the left fielder because Alonso had been called up and given the first base job.

In the end, you have a former first round draft pick and former Top 100 prospect playing out of position because the Mets have failed to give Smith a chance, the team has failed to develop outfield prospects at the upper levels of their minor league system, and the team is more willing to give failing veterans a chance over a younger player who could improve with Major League coaching and playing time.

Overall, that is how you get a promising prospect in the outfield, and that is how you have two young players colliding in the outfield and costing the Mets a game.

Smith Blamed, Veterans Get Major Pass

There are many reasons why the Mets lost yesterday’s game, but ultimately, the blame has been and will continue to be placed on Dominic Smith for his colliding into Amed Rosario:

The two players colliding allowed Andrew McCutchen to score the unearned run and tag Tyler Bashlor with the loss instead of the Mets heading into the bottom of the 13th with the score tied 1-1.

Now, looking at that play ad nauseum, that’s Smith’s ball.

Yes, a more experienced left fielder is more aware on the play, and he would make a stronger call for the call.

For his part, Rosario should know who is in left, and he should have made a stronger call for the ball instead of acting like a timid second grader unsure of whether he really knew the answer to the teacher’s question.

That’s important when you consider Smith actually called for the ball first:

While it’s easy to pin the blame on this, it’s important to note this wouldn’t have been an issue if the veterans who the Mets insist on playing actually delivered.

In the 12th, Austin Jackson came up with runners on first and second with two outs, and he popped out to Brandon Crawford.

On the night, Jackson was 1-6, and he left five men on base.

Jose Reyes had the same situation in the 11th, and he softly lined out to Crawford.

On the night, Reyes was 0-5, and he loved left four runners on base.

Good thing he started over Jeff McNeil who singled in his only at-bat.

Really, the Mets offense did absolutely nothing after the Wilmer Flores RBI double. In fact, Flores was the only Met who was hitting with him going 3-6.

Jose Bautista, the other outfielder who has been playing over Smith, was 0-5 with three left on base.

Devin Mesoraco started over Kevin Plawecki, and he was 0-5.

Ultimately, the Mets played four 30+ year old impending free agents over younger players, and the four went 1-for-21 while stranding 13 runners on base.

In addition to Bautista and Jackson starting in the outfield, the Mets started Jack Reinheimer in left field, a player with only eight innings of outfield experience in the majors and 49.0 innings in the minors.

This became an issue in the seventh inning.

Heading into the seventh, Zack Wheeler had been absolutely brilliant pitching six scoreless innings.  Those six scoreless innings included his Houdini act in the fifth inning.

After an Evan Longoria double, the Giants had runners on second and third with no outs.  Wheeler responded by striking out Steven Duggar, Alen Hanson, and Derek Holland to get out of the jam.  Wheeler was so close to repeating the trick in the seventh.

Wheeler issued a leadoff walk to Crawford, which would be the only walk Wheeler would allow on the day.  Trouble was brewing immediately as Brandon Belt singled to set up runners at first and second with no outs.  It would be runners at the corners with one out after Crawford moved to third when Longoria lined out to Bautista.

After Duggar struck out again, Wheeler got Hanson to pop up to left.  With Rosario shifted over, and the inexperienced Reineheimer playing deeper than an experienced left fielder, the ball fell past the outstretched hands of Rosario.  Reinheimer was nowhere to be seen.

After the game, Wheeler channeled his inner Jon Niese and griped about players playing out of position, which led to the ball falling.  Wheeler was speaking about the shift, but considering how the Mets both the game and this season, he might as well have been talking about how the Mets play all of their players out of position.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets had a chance to get back the lead.  McNeil and Michael Conforto, two left-handed batters sat against the immortal Derek Holland, came up in successive pinch hitting attempts against the Giants bullpen, specifically Tony Watson.  They hit consecutive one out singles to set up runners at the corners with one out.

Rosario hit a 3-2 pitch for an inning ending double play.

To their credit, the booth did discuss how Crawford charged in a couple of steps to get the Rosario grounder, which led him to beat Rosario by less than a full step in turning the double play.

Overall, the Mets lost this game because of their refusal to play young players over the veterans.  Maybe if Smith was playing in the majors instead of Jackson, when this play happens, he and Rosario have the communication issues hammered.  Perhaps, if the Mets didn’t decided a done Adrian Gonzalez was a better option than him, Smith would have been a first base, and this never would have been an issue.

In the end, we will never know because the Mets would rather play 30+ year old players who no other team wanted at the trade deadline to try to win some meaningless games which could only hurt their draft position.

Game Notes: Wheeler’s seventh inning walk to Crawford was the first walk yielded by Mets pitching in 25 innings.

Mets Win A Series!!!!!

Well, the impossible has happened. After 17 tries the Mets have finally won a series. It’s been a long time.

The last series the Mets won was the May 18th – May 20th sweep of the Diamondbacks.

At that time, the Mets were 23-19 and just 3.5 games back. The winning pitcher, Noah Syndergaard didn’t have any issues with his finger, or his hand, foot, or mouth.

Adrian Gonzalez was the first baseman, and Jose Reyes was still a bench player. Jay Bruce was still able to play, and Yoenis Cespedes had two functioning heels.

Today, the Mets won with Corey Oswalt picking up his first career win. His final line was five innings, three hits, two earned, two walks, and four strikeouts.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Mets rallied starting with a Jose Bautista leadoff walk. He’d subsequently come around to score on a Kevin Plawecki RBI single.

Later that inning, Mickey Callaway would face a tough decision. With two outs and the Mets down 2-1, should he pull Oswalt and chase the win, or should he keep Oswalt in and hope for another rally.

Callaway opted to pinch hit for Oswalt despite his just having thrown 62 pitches. Callaway’s decision was rewarded when Phillip Evans hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie the score.

The move looked even better when Amed Rosario hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

That lead grew to 6-2 with Bautista hitting a two run homer:

Then considering it is the Mets bullpen at work, it was time to hold on for dear life.

Once again, Tim Peterson didn’t have it. In the seventh, he allowed a Freddy Galvis two run homer to make it 6-4, and the Padres went right back to work.

Robert Gsellman would relieve Peterson with one out and one, and he would preserve the 6-4 lead.

Anthony Swarzak would then have his best outing as a Mets pitching two scoreless to pick up the save.

For Swarzak, it was more than just two scoreless innings, it was his throwing 95 with a really good slider. Really, he looked like the guy who the Mets thought they were signing.

Some more of that, and suddenly, things look much better for this team next year.

Game Notes: For reasons no one can explain, Reyes started over Jeff McNeil. Before the game, Cespedes announced he el have season ending surgery.

Good Luck Adrian Gonzalez

With the Mets being unsure about Dominic Smith, and the team not expecting Peter Alonso to break out the way he has this past season, the team took a flyer on Adrian Gonzalez to at least compete for the Opening Day first base job.

Really, this was a flyer on a prideful player who has had a terrific Major League career.  While Cooperstown may not being calling him, the former first round draft pick has had a fine career having done great things for the Padres and the Dodgers.

One of the reasons Gonzalez made the Mets Opening Day roster was his professionalism.  He came to Spring Training, and he put in the work.  Considering that work included his having to stretch and prepare two hours before the game just to get ready, it speaks to his desire to play well, and perhaps, to end his career on his own terms.

On Opening Day, he seemed to shut up many detractors hitting a go-ahead double to give the Mets the lead.  From there, Gonzalez would have a number of good moments for the Mets, including his grand slam against the Nationals:

Another one of his biggest moments was his coming off the bench in a tight 1-1 game in Miami.  Against the left-handed Chris O’Grady, Gonzalez hit a go-ahead RBI single that not only gave the Mets the lead, but hit also sparked a four run rally.   At the time, it increased the Mets record to 10-1.

The one thing you could count on from Gonzalez was a professional at-bat.  It may be why he was such an effective pinch hitter on the days he didn’t start.  As a pinch hitter, he was 4-6 with two RBI and a walk.

His professional at-bats are probably why he was one of the Mets better hitters in the clutch.  In what Baseball Reference characterizes as “High Leverage” situations, Gonzalez hit .368/.444/.553 with four doubles, a homer, and 16 RBI with five walks.

The problem for Gonzalez was not every at-bat was a pinch hitting appearance or in a high leverage situation.  Overall, he hit .237/.299/.373 with five doubles, six homers, and 26 RBI.  Like the rest of this Mets team, his numbers were dragged down by his recent slide with him hitting .179/.207/.268 over his past 17 games.

With the way the team has been playing of late, the Mets didn’t have the time to see if he could get back to being the .265/.341/.425 hitter he was towards the end of May.

During his tenure with the Mets, Gonzalez was able to get to 1,202 RBI.  That made him just one of 22 first baseman in the history of the game to have 400 doubles, 300 homers, and 1,200 RBI.

It’s possible this is the end for him.  If it is, it was a great career that saw him hit .287/.358/.485 with 317 homers and 1,202 RBI.  He made five All Star teams while winning four Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers.

He had a very good career, and despite the recent struggles, he actually acquitted himself pretty well with the Mets.  If nothing else, he did show there was something left in the tank.

Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but wherever he lands, best of luck to him.

Reasons Why Peter Alonso Isn’t Here

Well , once again Adrian Gonzalezis playing poorly. Including last night’s 0-for–3 with two strikeouts, he’s hitting .239/.304/.374 on the season.

Those numbers are unacceptable from a defensive catcher let alone a team’s everyday first baseman.

It’s not like he’s mired in a slump, or those numbers are the result of a poor start. Basically speaking, this is who Gonzalez has been all year. It’s time to make a switch.

That switch should start with Dominic Smith getting called-up to play in Gonzalez’s place, but with him hitting .267/.350/.379 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, he hasn’t earned the Mets first base job.

This is the point where most Mets fans cry out for Peter Alonso, who has been tearing up Double-A hitting .313/.448/.582 with nine doubles, 15 homers, and 49 RBI.

Despite the enthusiasm those stats garner, there are some concerns about making such a move.

For starters, Alonso pulls the ball 44.1% of the time making it easy for MLB teams to shift against him. This will likely lead to his .343 BABIP cratering.

Another consideration is his 23.4 percent HR/FB ration. It’s just a terrific number. The question is just how sustainable that is. As a point of reference, Alonso had a 16.8 percent home run to fly ball ratio last year. That’s a big jump, which puts him into Giancarlo Stanton territory.

Alonso has real power, but being at Stanton’s level is perhaps a higher stratosphere many believed he would be.

There’s also the fact he’s in a slump going just seven for his last 38 (.184) with only one homer. The one positive there is he continues to draw walks.

His continuing to draw walks speaks to a much better approach at the plate, which has helped fuel his power numbers.

There’s also his defensive issues. While Alonso is much improved with his more slender physique, he’s made six errors this year, which is a .985 fielding percentage.

There may be other things the Mets could cite for their decision to not being him up, including but not limited to how big a jump it is to go from Double-A to the majors.

Whatever the case. whoever is playing first base now is likely just a stopgap for when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list.

At that point, with Brandon Nimmo playing like an All Star, and with the Mets likely not wanting to sit Jay Bruceor Michael Conforto, that likely means Bruce shifts to first base.

And if Bruce is at first, there’s no room for Gonzalez or Alonso on this roster any longer. With no real playing time available, mostly due to the presence of Bruce on this roster, the Mets likely don’t want to call up Alonso. Rather, the better decision is to let him continue to improve in Double or Triple-A.

Ultimately, it is the Mets decision to give Bruce a three year $39 million deal, even with the Mets already being set at the corner outfield position, that is going to be the major impediment to the Mets properly addressing their first base situation.

Mets Find New Way To Ruin deGrom’s Greatness

In the bottom of the first, Brandon Nimmohit the second pitch of the game from Masahiro Tanaka. From there, the Mets offense did nothing.

It was as if the Mets said to Jacob deGrom, “Here’s your run. Now go win this game.”

For five innings deGrom was brilliant, and he was keeping his pitch count down. It was as if he was going to make sure he wasn’t going to let the bullpen blow this one.

The bullpen wasn’t going to get that chance because the defense did.

A Tanaka grounder somehow ate up Adrian Gonzalez who booted it leading to Tanaka teaching with one out.

Tanaka went to third after a Gleyber Torres single and Brett Gardner walk. deGrom then got Aaron Judge to fly out to medium depth right field.

Naturally, Jay Bruce labored to get to the ball, and he made an absolutely dreadful season throw home that was already rolling by the first base bag.

The throw, which rolled past Gonzalez, was not in time to catch a hobbled Tanaka, who had to exit the game with a leg injury.

Because he’s Jake, and he’s great, he got out of that jam allowing just the one earned run.

That said, we knew the Mets were going to lose this one. It really was an inevitability from a team who has not scored more than one run in a game since the first of this month. That stretch is made all the worse when you consider it includes a 14 inning game.

Mets had a golden chance in the sixth withJonathan Holder needing to warm up on the fly to get ready to pitch that inning. They went down 1-2-3.

They seemed to be getting to Chad Green in the seventh. Two on, two out, and Devin Mesoraco struck out swinging.

That was a real shame because it set the stage for deGrom to lose his first game of the season.

After a Torres two out single, Gardner got a hold of one which bounced off the top of the right field wall for a two run homer.

After Giancarlo Stanton homered off Paul Sewald, the Yankees lead was 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

If you woke up from a coma, you might’ve gotten excited in the bottom of the ninth.

Nimmo was hit by Aroldis Chapman‘s first pitch. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an infield single (no, seriously).

After Michael Conforto flew out to center, Todd Frazier hit a ball hard that Miguel Andujar made a nice play on. That said, it was a somewhat slow moving play, and it was a play that only Cabrera would be out at second.

To put a nice capper on everything, Bruce popped out to end the game because he apparently had not done enough to help cost the Mets this game.

Game Notes: Noah Syndergaard suffered a setback and won’t be activated for Sunday. Seth Lugo will start in his place. Jeurys Familia was placed on the DL before the game, and Jacob Rhame was called up to take his place.

Blame Sandy Alderson, Not Mickey Callaway

In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”

Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:

So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.

A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?

This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame.  What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.

Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch.  For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers.  Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner.  It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.

Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS.  Amed Rosario has been making continued strides.  After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate.  It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.

We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco.  Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.

The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?

Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.

Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries.  What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”

He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.

Consider this.  After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland.  After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery

Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.

The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.

For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster.  This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.

This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason.  No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder.  Three year $39 million deals are not that.  Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.

Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.

That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions.  Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.

Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing.  No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.

The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications.  With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy.  Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base?  Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway.  His bullpen management has been suspect at times.  Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win.  Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.

It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager.  Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?

Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.

Cubs Steal Home And Game From Matz

It’s exceedingly hard to put this game on Steven Matz. Arguably, doing so is completely absurd, and yet in some ways, the win/loss rules do that.

Through six innings, Matz allowed just two hits while striking out seven. With him locked in a pitcher’s duel with Jon Lester, and the Mets recent bullpen performances, you certainly understood why Mickey Callaway sent Matz out the the seventh.

Javier Baez and Willson Contreras led off the inning with back-to-back singles to at up runners with the corners with no outs. That’s when the Cubs put a set play into effect:

https://twitter.com/cubs/status/1003350544209940480?s=21

On that lazy throw to first, Baez immediately broke for home giving Adrian Gonzalez no chance of getting him at the plate.

While the natural inclination may be to jump on Matz, this was just the Cubs being ultra aggressive and smart. Somethings you just get beat.

Then, there are times you beat yourself.

On Gonzalez’s throw home, Contreras took second, and he’d move to third on a Kyle Schwarber single. Ben Zobrist, who just killed the Mets in this series, hit a pop up to shallow right THAT HAD NO BUSINESS SCORING A RUN.

NO BUSINESS!!!!!!!

But of course, the hobbled Jay Bruce allowed second baseman Luis Guillorme call him off. With Guillorme not being in the same strong position to make a throw home as a charging right fielder, Contreras not only took off, but he also scored.

Of course, Bruce would also fail to deliver at the plate as well.

The Mets had threatened immediately with Brandon Nimmo and Jose Bautista each drawing walks to begin the bottom of the first. Neither would score with Bruce being the first of three straight Mets to strikeout as Lester got out of that jam.

The Mets couldn’t get anything going again until the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs. The rally would end on a Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, the Mets had no shot to win this one as they accumulated just three hits while getting shutout in this 2-0 loss. They’ve now scored just one run over their last 23 innings.

That’s borderline noncompetitive. Borderline.

Game Notes: Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak will be activated before Tuesday’s game.

Mets Finally Under Sewald Level

Well, it took 58 games, but the Mets are finally under .500. Again, it was a combination of the same issues which cost the Mets this game.

Through six innings, the Mets had a 2-0 lead compliments of a Brandon Nimmo homer and six very strong shutout innings from Zach Wheeler.

For some reasons after Wheeler threw 97 pitches, Mickey Callaway stuck with him for the seventh.

After Addison Russell and Tommy La Stella led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Callaway made a double-switch bringing in Jose Reyes (because why not?) and Paul Sewald.

The game quickly unraveled from there.

Kyle Schwarber hit a sac fly, and with Michael Conforto missing the cut-off man, La Stella went to second, which made it easy for him to score on the ensuing Ben Zobrist double.

The Cubs took the lead later that inning on a Kris Bryant RBI single.

Now, the justification for no Robert Gsellman was he needed another day off. Honestly, you can never question managers over giving fatigued pitchers a day off. However, you can question why Sewald for a second inning after a seventh where he had nothing.

Well with one on and two out, Willson Contreras hit a ball, Reyes should have fielded. With him failing to make the play, two runners were on base for a Schwarber three run homer instead of the Mets getting out of the inning.

The Mets did rally in the eighth with a Jose Bautista double putting runners at second and third with two out. Joe Maddon brought in Brian Duensing to face Adrian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez delivered with a two RBI single to pull the Mets within 6-4. That rally would stall as Maddon brought in Steve Cishek, who got out of the jam by striking out Kevin Plawecki on a 3-2 pitch.

From there, Jeurys Familia allowed the Cubs to tack on an insurance run to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead. With the Mets failing to do much of anything in the ninth, that would be the final score.

And with that, the Mets are now under .500.

Game Notes: Jay Bruce left the game in the fifth with back issues. Jose Lobaton was called up, and to make room for him on the 25 and 40 man roster Scott Copeland was designated for assignment.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Level Of Confidence In Mickey Callaway

Over the past week, the Mets have had a number of bullpen meltdowns, and it just seems like no matter what Mickey Callaway does he is making the wrong decision.  After the 12-2 start, the Mets have dipped down a few times to .500, but they have not fallen below that .500 mark quite yet.  Criticism is starting to come from all directions including from Mike Francesca, who from his shiny new Twitter account, jabbed, “Imagine the problems the Mets would be having if the team wasn’t in the hands of a pitching guru?”

Considering it’s after Memorial Day, which has long been an unofficial litmus test for teams, now is as good a time as any for the Mets Bloggers to proffer what their level of confidence is in Callaway:

Michael Baron (MLB)

It’s hard to conclude anything – positively or negatively – in 2 months. It’s just not fair. We can definitely argue he has made mistakes, hope he has learned lessons, and dealing with the balance between stats, plans and gut feelings. But it’s 50 games – I’m hoping the next 50 games show growth in these areas. But it would help if his players could execute and he had more tools in his bag.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

He’s still in my circle of trust. I don’t understand why he told every reliever to suddenly perform as awfully as possible, but maybe he read about an Argentinian tech company who used a similar unorthodox team building exercise to eventually acquire record fourth quarter sales numbers? You just don’t know with that guy. But seriously folks, it doesn’t matter what order he puts in the veteran, high-priced relievers and Jason Vargas if they are all bad, so I don’t see how you can yell at Mickey for AJ Ramos turning into the world’s most charismatic pumpkin. And because he doesn’t want a phone call from Frederick and/or Jeffrey, Jose Reyes gets a start or two a week.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

It takes more than two months to undo eight years of foolishness. The Mets FIP last year was 4.49; this year it’s at 3.92 despite brutal starts by key pitchers. Sure, his lineup choices are odd, his in-game decisions even odder, but they resemble some of Terry Collins‘ head-scratchers. What’s the common denominator? A meddlesome COO (Reyes) and a front office that seems to be scripting the daily lineup and BP usage. That’s my take, anyway. I have confidence in Mickey. Let’s see if he can start wresting more of the in-game stuff away from the suits.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

My feeling is the manager can win or cost a team around 5 games per season. I think he’s doing fine but baseball managers have always been later on my list of team priorities, right below training and medical staff.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Sometimes, it’s incumbent on the players to make plays. Not everything can be traced back to a bad managerial move. Now should be the time to look at Sandy and what kind of depth he has set the team up with to endure something like this.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I don’t not trust him. How’s that? Unfair to withdraw one’s faith one-third into a manager’s first season, though the impression I get is 1) he’s groping for answers, patterns and/or a change of luck; 2) actually managing is more difficult than doing it in theory. I’m sure we’d all discover the same had we really impressed in our interview for the job.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

There was always some level of doubt, but the moment it became absolutely clear beyond much debate that we needed a new manager was when Terry forgot to pinch-run for Wilmer representing the tying run, and he got thrown out at the plate. On that level, I trust Mickey far more than I ever trusted Terry: he’s got a basic level of competence where you know he’s not just going to lose his mind and do something ridiculous. I think we all internally hoped for more, though – we were hoping he would turn out to be some kind of visionary who would single-handedly turn us into a World Series winner. Mickey isn’t that – I’m not sure if anybody has ever actually been that. Maybe Gil Hodges. Which means Mickey isn’t Gil Hodges – which is fine. He still knows his way around a baseball game, and I’m always relatively confident that he won’t screw things up all by himself.

Mets Daddy

While we have been rightly focusing on the bullpen meltdowns and Callaway’s missteps in causing some of those meltdowns, we are missing some of the real good he is doing.  Amed Rosario is blossoming, and Brandon Nimmo has made himself into a real good Major League leadoff hitter under his watch.  We’ve also seen Callaway coax a second (or third) act out of the careers of Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco.

While we expected Callaway to pull a Rumplestiltskin and weave a gold out of a collection of broken arms, his job is much more than that.  He’s in charge of a full 25 man roster, and there is enough there with his work with the full roster to believe he was the right man, and that he will continue learning and growing on the job.

While there may be some question about the job Callaway is doing and his future as a manager, one thing is for certain – this is a terrific group of writers, and I encourage everyone to take the time out to read their excellent writing on Callaway and all things Mets.