AJ Ramos

Mets, Dodgers, Sunday Night Game, Blowout

The New York Mets were playing on Sunday night.  They were scheduled to play the Los Angeles Dodgers who are currently on a pace to win 115 games.  The question wasn’t whether the Mets would lose.  The question was whether the game would be competitive.

SPOILER ALERT: It wasn’t.

Shocking, I know.

Effectively speaking, this game was over in the first inning.  The shame of it was the Mets initially seemed to get out of that inning unscathed.  Travis d’Arnaud made a strong throw to beat Justin Turner at second.  However, that’s not what happened.  Upon review, Turner made a swim move avoiding the tag.  It would turn out to be one of the three stolen bases on the nigh against d’Arnaud and Steven Matz.

After the play, Matz would give up a walk and three hits giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.  It would have been 4-0 except Michael Conforto made a good throw from center to nail Austin Barnes at the plate.   It was a good block of the plate by d’Arnaud.

However, it didn’t matter much.  Hyun-jin Ryu dominated a Mets team that frankly looks disinterested right now.  Over seven innings, he allowed just one hit to d’Arnaud while striking out eight batters over seven innings.  That would be the Mets only hit in the game.

On the other side, Turner would hit a two run homer off Matz, and Josh Smoker would allow a two run shot of his own to Cody Bellinger.  Apparently, Terry Collins doesn’t have access to Baseball Reference because he continues to try to use Smoker to get tough left-handed batters out despite Smoker having reverse splits.

That’s at least better than whatever Matz is doing now.  His last six starts, including tonight, have been absolutely terrible.  His pitching 5.1 inning is a moral victory at this point.  There is something clearly wrong with him whether it is mechanical, mental, or like most of his career, physical.

Because he is now a member of the Mets bullpen, AJ Ramos had to give up a run to make it 8-0. 

In sum, the Mets lost another game to the Dodgers, and they got swept in the season series in which they were not competitive.  This is the first time there has been a season series sweep in this 55 year rivalry.  Isn’t that just the perfect allegory to the 2017 season?  The Dodgers reach new heights while the Mets are irrelevant.

Game Notes: Turner made his old team pay again going 2-4 with three runs, a homer, two RBI, and two stolen bases.  Jay Bruce and Neil Walker sat with some injury issues.  Walker would make a pinch hitting appearance.

Mets Bullpen Picks Up The Win

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Mets play in a real Coors Field game, but the stage was set with Chris Flexen and Tyler Chatwood being the starters for tonight’s game. 

Flexen was getting hit hard all night, but he dodged a number of bullets thanks to some good defense from Amed Rosario and Yoenis Cespedes throwing out a runner at the plate. 

The floodgates would eventually happen in a five run third punctuated by a Carlos Gonzalez two run homer to dead center. 

After that Flexen was done having thrown 64 pitches in the three innings. He might’ve been coming out anyway, but his developing a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand essentially sealed the deal. 

Normally, you’d expect for this game to be over, especially with this Mets bullpen. Then again, this is Coors Field. 

Michael Conforto and Asdrubal Cabrera got things started in the fourth hitting back-to-back singles to set up first and third with no outs. The rally sputtered a bit with Cespedes hitting into a double play allowing Conforto to score. The Mets would pull to within 5-2 on a Jay Bruce solo shot:

In the fifth, Curtis Granderson got things started by ripping a ball past Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds. The play was scored as an error. Granderson would then score on a Rosario ground rule triple. Yes, you read that correctly. 

Rosario hit a call down the third base line. As Rosario was beginning to round second, a fan touched it before Gerardo Parra would  get to it. This was Rosario’s first extra-base hit and RBI. 

Travis d’Arnaud was then robbed of a base hit by Trevor Story. Instead of an RBI single, d’Arnaud had an RBI groundout, and the Mets pulled themselves within one. 

It’s in the sixth then the Mets offense really broke out. 

The sixth started with Cespedes doubling home Cabrera tying the game. . Bruce followed with a walk. After Brandon Nimmo hit into a force play, it was runners at the corners with one out for Granderson. Granderson untied the game:

The rally wouldn’t end there. d’Arnaud, Jose Reyes, and Conforto hit consecutive singles making it 9-5. A Cabrera RBI ground rule double made it 10-5. 

In that inning, the Mets batted around scoring six runs. 

What is truly remarkable about this game wasn’t the rally. It was the Mets bullpen keeping the Rockies at bay:

The Sewald outing was particularly informative for a player who may still yet be an important part of the Mets bullpen next year. 

After a clean seventh, he was called to pitch another inning. He then worked around a Reynolds double. This is the latest example we’ve seen with Sewald where he’s comfortable pitching when there’s pressure. Better yet, he typically works his way out of if. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/ramosaj01.shtml

The good bullpen work carried forward to the ninth with AJ Ramos

This was all part of pitchers making the adjustments they need to make to succeed. Wins and losses don’t matter much when the Met is going nowhere. Rather, you’d like to see them improve at their role.  At least for tonight, we saw them successful in both fashions. 

Game Notes: Josh Edgin cleared waivers and was sent down to Triple-A. This was Bradford’s first career win. 

Five Mets Players Who Need A Bigger Role Now

The Mets have unofficially announced they are focusing their attention to the 2018 season.  Gone are Addison Reed and Lucas Duda, and in their stead are four promising minor league relievers.  The Mets have added AJ Ramos with an eye towards him being the primary set-up man for Jeurys Familia next year.  Amed Rosario has already played his first game with the Mets, and according to Sandy Alderson, Dominic Smith is not far away.

Seeing Ramos in the bullpen is a good start.  Rosario and Smith are even better.  However, that’s not enough.  As the 2017 season comes to an end, the New York Mets are going to have to find out about a number of players and how they factor into the 2018 season:

INF Wilmer Flores

2017 Stats: .287/.320/.486, 14 2B, 3B, 11 HR, 32 RBI, SB, 0.2 WAR

With Neil Walker being an impending free agent, Asdrubal Cabrera possibly having his option declined, and David Wright‘s continuing health issues, the Mets will enter the offseason with question marks at both second and third base.  Ideally, Flores could slot in at one of those two spots.

It was just two years ago, the Mets thought Flores could be the everyday shortstop for a playoff caliber team.  Since then, we have seen uneven performances at the plate and on the field.  The Mets have seemingly come to terms with him being a platoon bat, but lost in that is the fact he is still just 25 years old and an improving player.  That is exhibited by him being much better against right-handed pitching hitting .281/.326/.467 off of them.  If Flores can continue hitting like that against right-handed pitching, he could conceivably play everyday.

The key for him is to find a position.  That’s easier said than done, but he is a significantly better second than a third baseman.  In 667.0 innings at second, he has a career -7 DRS and a 0.3 UZR.  In 911.0 innings at third, he has a -16 DRS and a -4.4 UZR.  With that said, let Flores focus on second and see if he can be a solution there next year.

RHP Rafael Montero

2017 Stats: 1-7, 5.56 ERA, 21 G, 7 GS, 56.2 IP, 1.729 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, -0.4 WAR

Montero has survived this long on the roster, and he has finally shown the Mets some glimpse of the talent that caused the Mets to keep him on the 40 man roster.  Since his latest last chance to prove himself, Montero has a 4.14 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9.  In this stretch, we have seen him pitch into the seventh inning, and we have seen him meltdown.

While there have been promising signs, his usage runs counter-intuitive to his utility to the Mets.  If Montero is going to be with the Mets next year, it is going to have to be in the bullpen as there will be no room for the Mets to even consider him being a part of the rotation next year. This means the Mets should be utilizing the rest of the season to see how he pitches out of the bullpen whether it is using him as a long man or as a late inning reliever.

The Mets need to do this because Montero is out of options.  This means he either makes the Opening Day roster in the bullpen, or the Mets stand to lose a player they have stubbornly held onto for so long.  Before making that decision, they should at least see if the new and improved Montero can hack it in the bullpen.

CF Brandon Nimmo

2017 Stats: 16 G, 25 PA, 21 AB, 7 H, 2B, 2 RBI, .333/.440/.381

While the Mets left side of the infield defensive deficiencies have been oft discussed, not nearly enough attention has been paid to the centerfield situation.  On the season, Mets centerfielders have a 0 DRS, which may not sound so bad on the surface.  However, consider this is 19th in all of baseball.  Also, consider this number has been propped up by Juan Lagares having played 216.0 innings at the position posting a 7 DRS.

The Mets answer lately has been Michael Conforto, who has a 0 DRS, which is remarkable considering he has never really played there full-time at any level.  There is still the possibility he could be adequate there, but shouldn’t the Mets first find out about Nimmo first?

Nimmo has been a center fielder throughout his minor league career.  While there is some debate over his ability to play the position, he does have the experience out there, and he deserves to benefit from the same major league coaching that has helped Conforto play there.

More than that, Nimmo has shown the ability to be a top of the order hitter who can get on base.  At a minimum, he has showed enough to earn the opportunity to serve as part of a center field platoon with Lagares.

Lastly, Nimmo was the first first round pick of the Sandy Alderson Era.  Doesn’t the team owe it to themselves to see what a player they heavily invested in can do at this level before looking to further address the outfield situation in the offseason.  Consider that once the Mets sign another outfielder, whether that is Jay Bruce or Lorenzo Cain, the Mets have effectively made a first round pick a fourth or fifth outfielder without so much as giving him an opportunity to win a job.

RHP Paul Sewald

2017 Stats: 0-3, 8 H, 4.07 ERA, 35 G, 42.0 IP, 1.238 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, o.4 WAR

After being used in a variety of roles this season, Sewald has found himself being used in the seventh inning or later in his last 10 appearances.  In those appearances, Sewald is 0-1 with six holds, a 2.79 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, and an 11.2 K/9.

Even with him walking five batters over that stretch, Sewald has shown he should get a closer look in one of the two primary set-up roles.  With Reed going to the Red Sox, and Ramos presumably becoming the new closer, there is no reason why the Mets wouldn’t use Sewald as their eighth inning reliever to close out the season, or at least until Familia comes off the disabled list.

If Sewald shows he can handle the stress of protecting a late inning lead at the major league level, the Mets are that much closer to building a bullpen that can compete in 2018.

3B Neil Walker

2017 Stats: 63 G, 266 PA, 233 AB, 35 R, 62 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, .266/.347/.455, 0.9 WAR

Since Wright went down with spinal stenosis, third base has been a black hole for the Mets.  With Wright presumably missing the entire 2017 season, it is now clear the Mets cannot rely upon him to return to play third or any position next year.  With no prospects coming through the pipeline, it is likely the Mets will have to address the position in free agency or via trade.

If they are going the free agency route, it may behoove them to re-sign Walker.  The two sides were interested in a long term contract extension this offseason.  Just because the two sides were unable to reach an accord does not prevent Walker from returning.

Considering Walker’s back issues as well as his getting older, he may be best suited to playing third base.  Certainly, the way he has hit as a Met, he does have the bat to play the position.  The only question remaining is if he can play the position.  The Mets have 59 games to find out.

If Walker can do it, the Mets know they have a team player who has been a liked figure in the clubhouse.  They will also have a veteran who can help show Rosario and Smith the ropes.  More than that, they have a middle of the order bat to really extend the lineup.

Assessing The Addison Reed Trade

In assessing how the Mets fared in the Addison Reed trade, let’s start with the obvious.  The fact Sandy Alderson was able to turn Miller Diaz and Matt Koch into a great run with Reed plus Red Sox prospects Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista was absolutely phenomenal.  No, it doesn’t rank up there with Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, but nevertheless, it was a coup.

Still, the question remains whether Sandy got a good return for the 2017 version of Reed.

Let’s start with this.  Since joining the Mets, Reed has been one of the best and more versatile relievers in baseball.  He has deftly handed the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning.  His 142.0 innings pitched since joining the Mets is fifth in baseball, and his 2.09 ERA over that stretch is great. Intuitively, you may not believe Reed is a top reliever in baseball, but he was.  From 2016 to the present, Reed posted the sixth best fWAR in the majors (3.5).  Aside from Kenley Jansen and Andrew Miller, who we all know are otherworldly right now, Reed is as good, if not better than any reliever in baseball.

Looking over the list of potential free agents, Reed could have arguably been considered one of if not the best reliever on the free agent market.  With that being the case, it was likely worth gambling and giving him the qualifying offer putting his value at a second round pick or the equivalent.

Looking at the Mets haul, they most likely received that.  The trio of arms all throw in the upper 90s.  With respect to Nogosek and Bautista, they both have a good but inconsistent slider, and there are some control issues.  If they figure it out, and realistically speaking, they are in the right organization to do so, the Mets have two potential late inning relievers.  With Callahan, they have a near MLB ready reliever who can generate a high number of strikeouts and could be ready to help the Mets as soon as next year.  To that end, the Mets certainly did receive a second round equivalent.

Where the debate becomes dicey is when you ask the question whether the Mets could have done better.

For starters, there is no real way of knowing that.  We are not privy to the general back-and-forth between general mangers.  We also don’t know if there was a theoretical better offer the Mets rejected because they liked the players the Red Sox offered more.

We should also consider, last year, the Yankees seemingly built an entire farm system (hyperbole) by trading Miller and Aroldis Chapman.  Each trade fetched the Yankees two of their trade partners’ top five prospects.  In terms of Gleyber Torres, it got them one of the best prospects in baseball.

With Reed arguably being the top reliever on the market with at least eight teams interested, it makes you question how the Mets walk out of a deal without an organization’s top five prospect.  The counter-argument is the prices this year are not the same as they were last year.  In the end, we have no idea if this was the proverbial best trade, and the reviews on the trade have been all over the place.

Ultimately, I find the trade underwhelming, and I do question the Mets motives a bit.  If you look at their recent moves, they have all been bullpen driven.  Lucas Duda was moved for Drew Smith.  The team went out and obtained AJ Ramos.  Now, the Mets got an arguably low return for a trio of fireball throwing relievers.  I’m not so sure the Mets approached this trade deadline with the intent on rebuilding the minor league system as much as they were intent on rebuilding their bullpen.

In the end, if the Mets goal was really to build the bullpen in the trade market, they have to back that up by spending real money in the free agent market to back up their decisions.  If they don’t do this, they may not have only lost out on the possibility on maximizing their returns for the pieces they did move, they may also miss out on the 2018 postseason.

deGrom Not Being deGrominant Isn’t Enough

With Jacob deGrom having won eight straight starts and today’s game being a day game, you’d think this game was as close to being a lock as you could imagine. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards today. Home Plate Umpire Shane Livensparger had an inconsistent strike zone, and that’s putting it nicely. He also lost some focus after losing control and hitting Mitch Haniger in the face with a fastball. 

After the game, deGrom admitted the HBP affected him:

It should come as no surprise. After all, deGrom is human. How else can you explain him allowing a two RBI base hit to Jarrod Dyson?

The Mariners lead grew to 3-0 in the the inning. That wasn’t so much on deGrom as it was Neil Walker. Walker took what should’ve been a double player grounded off the bat of Robinson Cano. Instead of the double play, it was second and third with no outs.

It really is a testament to deGrom the only damage that inning did not spiral out of control. The only run scored that inning was a sacrifice fly off the bat of Nelson Cruz

The 3-0 lead was problematic because the Mets offense couldn’t get going. In fact, the Mets didn’t get a hit with a runner in scoring position until there were two outs in the ninth inning. 

Before that, the Mets were 0-8 with RISP with a wake of missed opportunities. The biggest one was in the sixth inning.

The Mets had Yovani Gallardo on the ropes. It led the Mariners to go to Tony Zych, walked both Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores to force in a run. With Jose Reyes lining out on a 3-2 pitch, the rally was over. 

Asdrubal Cabrera killed a rally the following inning by hitting into a double play. 
The Mets best chance came in the ninth. Michael Conforto singled home Flores, who led off the inning with a double. It pulled the Mets to within 3-2.

It was another good game for Conforto in his hometown. At the plate, he was 1-4 with an RBI and a walk. In he field, he made this play:

 Sadly, that’s where it ended with Cabrera striking out to end the game. 

The Mets now have one more game in Seattle. For many, this will be their last ever game in a Mets uniform. If that’s the case, let’s hope things go different than they way they did today. 

Game Notes: Lucas Duda homered in his second consecutive game for the Rays. AJ Ramos should report in time to be active for Sunday’s game. 

AJ Ramos Should Get You Excited

Last night, the Mets made a surprising trade obtaining AJ Ramos in exchange for minor leaguers Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes

It’s an interesting trade to say the least. When looking at a pitcher like Gonzalez, he has the stuff where trading him could haunt you one day. With that said, Gonzalez will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason meaning the Mets need to add him to the 40 man roster to protect him from the draft. 

It’s no guarantee the Mets would add Gonzalez to the 40 man roster, and it was certainly plausible an organization would pick him in the draft. To that end, it certainly makes sense to get something for Gonzalez instead of losing him for nothing. 

The deal should also help the Mets maximize the return for Addison Reed. All the teams who were in on Ramos were in on Reed. If someone really wants a late inning reliever, the cost for Reed is likely higher than it was yesterday as there is one less viable option.

These are all well and good reasons to like this trade. However, that’s not the reason why I like this trade for the Mets. The reason why I like this trade is what it signifies. 

The New York Mets are going for it in 2018. 

The Mets are in the middle of a fire sale. The team is likely getting younger with rookies Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario expected to be important parts of the team. The uncertainty of David Wright continues to hang over this organization. The players returning to the roster have all had injury  issues. There’s a couple of holes that need to be filled. 

On of those holes is the bullpen, and Ramos goes a long way towards filling it. 

With his sinker-slider repertoire, he not only has the ability to return to his All Star form, but with his working with Dan Warthen, he could be even better. 

Regardless of what happens, Mets fans should be excited about this deal. It is an indication the Mets will do all they need to be a much better team in 2018. That news alone should get that Mets fans excited. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on MMO