Adrian Gonzalez

Lias Andersson Problem With Rangers Should Drive Better Player Development In All Sports

In 2017, in a somewhat surprising move, the New York Rangers made Lias Andersson the seventh overall selection in the draft. He was supposed to be the first big move in a Rangers rebuild, and to some he was touted as a future Captain of the Rangers who could led the team to their first Stanley Cup since 1995.

So far, it hasn’t panned out that way, and worse yet, things only seem to get worse and worse.

Andersson struggled in his first year, but he seemed to learn some lessons from it. During training camp, he seemed to prove himself and earned a spot on the roster to open the 2019-2020 season. The optimism quickly soured with him not producing and the ensuing debate/drama over his being on the fourth line.

This entire situation led to Andersson being demoted to the AHL, where he again struggled. Eventually, Andersson demanded a trade and all together up and left the Rangers. Since that time, there was an active debate over handling of him and other prospects as well as Andersson on how he handled the situation.

Recently, Andersson opened up about what has transpired. In an interview translated by Blueshirt Banter, Andersson talked about how he is struggling:

There has been many incidents, but I can’t divulge everything, I will do that at a later stage. There has been many incidents that has hurt me on a personal level, things that has made me struggle mentally. In regards to hockey this might be an idiotic decision but I have to think about my private life too.”, Lias falls silent, “I feel like I have lost the hunger and drive for [hockey] at the moment – and all these incidents has affected me. I feel like I have to get this under control first and foremost.

Since the interview, we have learned more about the situation. Andersson was apparently skating on two injured feet, and there have been unspoken incidents which have troubled him. Another important note here is Andersson’s father has been clear this is not some temper tantrum about his demotion to the AHL.

Andersson is struggling with something, is dealing with injuries, and he is not yet ready to talk about it.

With hockey uncovering some bullying issues, especially from coaches, there has been some speculation as to what happened with Andersson with some of it being irresponsible. Still without quite knowing what happened with Andersson, there is a lesson to be learned here about how teams handle prospects.

Before going further, there is an interesting baseball parallel here with Dominic Smith of the Mets.

Smith was drafted by the Mets with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 draft. Since that time, we saw Smith show the tools to be a good Major League player, but there was a narrative emerging about his being overweight and lazy. In terms of his being overweight, you could see it despite his spending much of his offseasons dedicated to getting into shape.

As for the lazy part, aside from it being a byproduct of how some view overweight people, Smith would oversleep and report late to the first Spring Training game of the 2018 season. That seemed to be the final nail in his coffin as the Mets first baseman of the future.

After that point, the Mets went forward with Adrian Gonzalez to start the 2018 season. After they moved on from Gonzalez, the Mets looked to Wilmer Flores, a player they would non-tender after the season, at first base. All-in-all, they never gave Smith a chance to succeed, and eventually without a real direct competition, Smith was passed on the depth chart by Pete Alonso.

After the 2018 season, we discovered Smith had been battling sleep apnea. With it finally being properly diagnosed and treated, we not only saw Smith stay in shape for the entirety of the 2019 season, but we would also see him become an impactful player with a 133 wRC+.

With Smith, you are really left wondering how things would have been different had the team handled his development differently. It is the same exact situation with Andersson.

In recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear teams are not devoting enough time and resources to the actual development of players. While we see teams increasingly looking towards analytics and conditioning to help develop and improve their players, we are not hearing enough about teams looking to help players develop mentally, and/or learn to better handle themselves as professionals.

Many times, we hear about how this manager, coach, or veteran is going to take a certain player under their wing and help them fulfill their full potential. Looking at the Mets, we actually heard Edwin Diaz speak about his problems handling New York, and he was looking forward to new manager Carlos Beltran helping him better handle the city in 2020.

While a manager is supposed to be there to help, players need more, especially when a manager has to handle a roster of 25 players, a full coaching staff, speak with the media, and deal with the front office. It’s too much for any manager to handle players like a Smith or Andersson who are clearly struggling and need the help the team is ill equipped to provide.

The help can come in the form of a mental skills or life coach for the team. Perhaps every team should have a form of a stipend to help players seek the personal help they need but really cannot afford as prospects. Perhaps leagues need to have an ombudsman of sorts to visit minor leaguers to investigate how teams are being run and why they aren’t meeting their goals.

Point is, the Rangers have effectively lost a very talented hockey player in Andersson to something which might have been avoidable. The Mets almost missed out on Smith having a productive career for trying to turn what was a physical ailment into a mental problem. Clearly, these organizations and others are very ill-equipped to handle the mental and life skills issues of players, and as a result, we are seeing players not even be allowed to be put in a good position to reach their full potential.

That is a very real and significant problem. What makes it worse is it is avoidable, and it is time someone starts focusing on how to help these players instead of trying to tell them and everyone else what is wrong with them because clearly, they have no idea.

Why Have Dom And Rosario Been Handled So Differently?

In 2017, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith were Top 100 prospects, and they both appeared to be cornerstone players for the Mets. They were supposed to join Michael Conforto as the wave of young position players who could help a pitching staff led by Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard win a World Series.

As we all know that hasn’t happened, and in all likelihood, it’s not going to happen.

Starting in 2017, we didn’t see the results from either prospect. In 46 games, Rosario hit .248/.271/.394. He had a 75 wRC+, 1 DRS, and a 0.3 WAR. He had glimpses of pure excitement, but he didn’t hit, and his fielding was not the Gold Glove level advertised.

Unfortunately, things have gotten worse for Rosario. Since his 2017 debut, he is hitting .257/.296/.380. He has an 85 wRC+, which is fourth worst among Major League shortstops over that span. As bad as that is, his -22 DRS is the worst among Major League shortstops, and it is the fourth worst of all Major League players. In total, he has a -1.5 WAR.

Despite these struggles and his failing to make noticeable progress from a statistical standpoint, Rosario’s stature with the team has never been challenged. In 2018, the team had Jose Reyes as the backup shortstop and mentor. This year, the Mets entered the season with Luis Guillorme, and they sent him down after just 16 games leaving Rosario as the only shortstop on the roster.

While we have not seen Rosario yet develop, we have also not seen him challenged by the Mets in any way, shape, or form. This is a completely different experience than Smith’s.

As bad as Rosario has been since his debut, Smith has been worse. In 2017, Smith hit .198/.262/.395, and he had a -1.1 WAR. Because of his struggles, the Mets brought in Adrian Gonzalez in a first base “competition.” Smith certainly made things easy for the Mets when he was late showing up for the first Spring Training game.

During the 2018 season, the Mets gave time to Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores, and Jay Bruce at first base while they moved Smith to left field, where he faltered. As the season progresses, Smith saw his status of the first baseman of the future complete evaporate with every Pete Alonso homer.

The end result was Smith obviously being part of the Mets long term plans. Even though he came into Spring Training in phenomenal shape and having made clear improvements to his game, he didn’t get much of a chance to fight for the first base job, one Alonso arguably won anyway. Smith didn’t even get a small chance like Mike Olt once did while the Cubs waited to get an extra year of control over Kris Bryant.

No, the Mets just passed over Smith. They punished him for not being what they hoped he would be. Ironically, he may just be showing the Mets he’s ready to be that player hitting .400/.516/.480 as a bench player and late inning defensive replacement.

Conversely, Rosario continues to struggle. He’s not hitting or fielding well despite being given every opportunity to do so. At some point, the question needs to be asked if Rosario received the treatment Smith received, would he be a better ballplayer now? We don’t know, and we will never know.

The only thing we do know is there were two different sets of rules for Smith and Rosario. One was allowed to struggle, and the other wasn’t. One was challenged, and the other wasn’t. So far this year, one has improved, and the other hasn’t. Time will tell if the double standard will have cost the Mets the future of both players.

What About Dom?

Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been quite vocal in his support of Peter Alonso, and you can understand why with the season Alonso just had last year. However, with the way the Collective Bargaining Agreement is structured, it makes little sense having Alonso on the Opening Day roster.

As we saw back in 2015, the Cubs played Mike Olt for six games to start the season. After he hit .133/.188/.333, Olt was put on the disabled list with a fracture. Three days later, Kris Bryant was added to the Major League roster as was long anticipated. By working it this way, the Cubs gained an extra year of control. As a result, Bryant will be a free agent after the 2021 and not the 2020 season.

That decision did not prevent the Cubs from winning 97 games in 2015, and it certainly did nothing to prevent the Cubs from winning the 2016 World Series. That is an important consideration for the Mets with respect to Alonso.

When you break it down, it would be irresponsible for the Mets to put Alonso on the Opening Day roster. If Alonso is as great as the Mets believe, you want an extra year of control over him. As a result, despite assertions to the contrary, it is very possible the Mets keep Alonso in the minors to start the season.

Now, the Mets have built their roster to allow that decision. By signing Jed Lowrie, the Mets could go with Lowrie at third and Todd Frazier at first base. The team could also opt for T.J. Rivera, who was the first baseman for Puerto Rico in the last World Baseball Classic. Going deeper, J.D. Davis has played first base. The team has wanted to make Travis d’Arnaud more versatile, so maybe they can hide him at first base as he works to strengthen his throwing arm post Tommy John.

Then, there is former first round pick Dominic Smith.

Smith has not received a true shot in the majors. He was called up later than Amed Rosario in 2016, and he struggled mightily. While Rosario did as well, the Mets only brought in competition for Smith, which based upon his 2016 performance was fair game. Smith then all but handed over the first base job to Adrian Gonzalez by being late to the first Spring Training game, a game he was slated to start, and then he was injured.

What is interesting is what happened after that. Gonzalez was released, and the Mets opted to go with Wilmer Flores at first base all summer long while making Smith an outfielder. The Mets did this even when the Mets were well out of the race.

Now, this is a problem this current regime inherited much like how Alonso wasn’t called up last year and now have to consider whether to forego another year of control. If the plan is to hold back Alonso for a couple of weeks, that means Smith will have a chance to compete for a position on the Opening Day roster.

If you’re going to open up a competition for first base, even if it is for the first base position over the first few weeks, that means Smith has a chance. The question which ensues is what happens if Smith outplays everyone in Spring Training, including Alonso. What if he reports to Spring Training in shape?  What if he is stronger and now able to hit the ball with more authority?

What if Smith claims the Opening Day first base job?  Better yet, let’s assume he gets the chance.  What happens if he hits and plays good defense at first?  What do the Mets do if they are winning early in the season with Smith being part of the equation? Do the Mets stick with Smith, or do they turn around and give the first base job to Alonso the first chance they get?

Right now, the narrative is Alonso is better than Smith; that Smith is a bust. Lost in that is Smith is younger, and he has taken his lumps. He has the chance to learn what he has to do. Much like how he kept the weight off last season, we may see a more mature Smith who has taken the next step forward to become a productive Major League player.

It does not make sense to overlook Smith. He is still young, and he still has potential. For all we know, he may still yet prove to be better than Alonso. It’s also true Alonso is the better player. At this point, it is all theory, and since it is theory, no possibilities should be discounted. That includes allowing Smith the opportunity to outplay Alonso and win the first base job not just in 2019 but in the ensuing seasons.

If the Mets are truly doing the right thing, they should let each player get a real shot at first base. That means Smith and Alonso. It also means Frazier and the rest of the roster. Ultimately, you win the division by sending out your best players. Today, the Mets think that’s Alonso, and that’s fine. The real trick is having an open mind to pivot from that decision if Alonso struggles or someone else proves themselves.

Dodgers Won 2015 NLDS War

Back in 2015, the Mets somehow held onto a Game 5 and series clinching win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite having nothing, Jacob deGrom kept the Dodgers to two runs over six innings. That was more than enough as Daniel Murphy took over that game in what was one of the truly great postseason games a player has ever had.

He’d double home the first run of the game in the first off Zack Greinke. On a fourth inning walk to Lucas Duda, Murphy went first to third against a shifted and lackadaisical Dodgers infield allowing him to score the tying run on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly.

The big blow came in the sixth when Murphy hit the go-ahead homer putting the Mets up 3-2.

After a scoreless sixth, it was Noah Syndergaard with a scoreless seventh followed by Jeurys Familia recording the six out save to send the Mets to the NLCS and eventually the World Series.

At the time, the Mets seemed to be the young team on the rise. In addition to deGrom, Syndergaard, and Familia, the team had Matt Harvey, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and eventually Zack Wheeler again.

The team also had a highly rated farm system, albeit one they raided for this one with a myriad of trades including Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes.

In 2016, both teams returned to the postseason. The Mets captured the top Wild Card spot only to be shut out by Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants. That year, the Dodgers would lose in the NLCS to the eventual World Series winning Chicago Cubs (two years later and that sentence still seems bizarre).

After that, the Mets have had consecutive losing seasons while the Dodgers have gone to back-to-back World Series. Why?

Well, for starters, the Dodgers build a deep team with a deep bench. They do not have top heavy rosters which crumble when there is one injury. For example, Clayton Kershaw has not thrown over 175.0 innings in a season since that NLDS, and yet, the Dodgers remain a great team.

Also, while the Mets are off purging the Murphys and Justin Turners of the world, the Dodgers are finding them. In addition to Turner, we have also seen Chris Taylor and Max Muncy figure things out in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers are also not afraid to take risks or trust their young players. Gone from the 2015 team are Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, and Jimmy Rollins. Instead, the Dodgers have players like Cody Bellinger.

For the Mets part, well, Adrian Gonzalez was their Opening Day first baseman.

Mostly, the separation has been financial. The Dodgers ownership has been willing and motivated to keep this championship window as open as possible, and they have with the largest payroll in baseball.

Looking between the 2015 NLDS and 2018 NLCS, Turner, Joc Pederson, and Yasmani Grandal were the only players in both starting lineups. Pederson and Grandal are still under 30.

On the pitching front, Kershaw, Pedro Baez, Alex Wood, and Kenley Jansen were the only pitchers to pitch in both series.

The Dodgers are not just a financial juggernaut, but they are also a supremely well run organization. This is a complete opposite of what the Mets have been, and judging from their current GM search, will continue to be.

This is all why the Dodgers are competing for World Series while the Mets are once again also-rans.

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.