Al Leiter

Bold 2022 Mets Predictions

The New York Mets will be led by Buck Showalter as the team sets to try to win their first World Series since 1986. Since this is their 60th season, here are 60 bold predictions for the season.

1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.

2.  Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.

3.  Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.

4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied the award.

5.  Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.

6.  Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.

7.  The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.

8.  Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.

9.  Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.

10.  Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.

11.  Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.

12.  Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.

13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.

14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.

15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.

16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.

17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.

18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.

19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.

20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.

21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.

22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.

23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.

24. So will Eric Chavez.

25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.

26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.

27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.

28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.

29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil Lee.

30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.

31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.

32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.

33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.

34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.

35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.

36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.

37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.

38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.

39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.

40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.

41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.

42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.

43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.

44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.

45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.

46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.

47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.

48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.

49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.

50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.

51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.

52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.

53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).

54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.

55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.

56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.

57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.

58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.

59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.

60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.

Buck Showalter Showing Shades Of Bobby Valentine

During Spring Training, Buck Showalter has made it a point to bring Keith Hernandez down to the field. In fact, as reported by Bob Klapisch of nj.com, Showalter removed the old rule which banned Hernandez from the batting cages. Showalter made it a point to get rid of the dumb rule (which was explained away because Hernandez was a part of SNY).

Specifically, Showalter noted, “I wanted people to notice Keith next to me and it wasn’t by coincidence. To me, Keith Hernandez is Mets royalty. He can go wherever he wants around here. This is his team.”

Showalter is exactly right here. After all, Hernandez was the first captain in team history. That 1986 team constantly talks about how much Hernandez meant to that team in terms of his leadership and defense. To keep that away from the team is pure and utter Wilpon nonsense. Well, the Wilpons are gone and so is much of their stupidity.

This was something Bobby Valentine had done so well during his Mets tenure. We didn’t just see the Mets greats pass through Spring Training for a photo op and media attention. That is something we will see this Spring with Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, David Wright, and others passing through and working with the players for a day or so.

Valentine had taken it a step further than that. Valentine put Mookie Wilson on his coaching staff. We also saw it with him having Al Jackson, an original Met just inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, on his coaching staff. There many be many reasons why Valentine did that, and it could very well be because Davey Johnson once did the same thing with him and Bud Harrelson on the Mets coaching staff.

Being a Met is different than being a part of any other team. It’s being the big market target while sitting in the shadow of the Yankees. It’s having a fan base who clings to Tug McGraw‘s “Ya Gotta Believe!” who also expects Tom Glavine to implode completing the collapse. We know Gary Carter is going to start an improbable rally while fully expecting Lucas Duda to throw it nowhere near Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets are the most unique team in all of sports, and they have the fanbase to match. Each and every player who has come through here fully understands it. After all, Carlos Beltran went from reviled while playing here to a standing ovation at the All Star Game wearing the enemy St. Louis Cardinals uniform and fans who cheered him as a conquering hero when he was brought back as the manager.

Valentine knew all of this, and he had a coaching staff reflect that. Showalter seems to get that as well, and he wants the former Mets to be a part of this team both in Spring Training and beyond. He understands the team history, and in the end, Showalter just implicitly gets it.

When the Mets have a manager who gets what being a New York Met is all about, magic happens. We saw it in 1986 and 1999. Mookie brought home Ray Knight. Robin Ventura hit a grand slam single. Seeing how Showalter is managing this team, Mets fans should be ready to see what is coming next.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Right At Home In Queen City

The New York Mets showed they had real fight in the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and they would show even more in Cincinnati:

1. With all the injuries to the pitching staff, Marcus Stroman had the biggest start of the year. Those eight innings were a godsend.

2. The reason the Mets are in first isn’t just because of performances like we saw from Stroman. It’s because of performances like we saw with Stephen Nogosek and Geoff Hartlieb. Even though they lost that game, it saved the pen.

3. Of course, Robert Stock, who is well past Plan Z, makes a spot start, and he leaves the game with an injury after an inning.

4. For over a month now, Dominic Smith has returned to form. He’s hitting for power, and he’s getting big hits.

5. James McCann has had his adjustment period, and he’s been better than the catcher they thought they were signing. Since May 29, he’s hitting .300/.361/.485.

6. People bemoan managers not making gut calls anymore, but Luis Rojas‘ bizarre decision to pinch hit McCann for Tomas Nido paid off to the tune of a go-ahead two run homer.

7. Actually, that wasn’t Rojas, it was Dave Jauss filling in for the suspended Rojas. Jauss certainly seemed to enjoy his time at the helm, and fans seemed to love his infectious personality.

8. We’re seeing it from Edwin Diaz again. There’s just too much Armando Benitez in him. Yes, that’s both a compliment and reason to worry.

9. Luis Guillorme might’ve had one tough inning defensively, but he’s been great all season. It’s long past time messing around and just let him play everyday.

10. Michael Conforto had a huge Two home run game in the comeback extra inning win. At the time, it seemed like he was taking off, but then he stopped hitting again.

11. That’s not too dissimilar from J.D. Davis who is one for his last 10 with five strikeouts.

12. This is just a reminder that unless the Mets move Jeff McNeil to third, they really need a third baseman at the trade deadline.

13. McNeil’s bat has awoken with him hitting .316/.395/.421 over the past few weeks.

14. The loss of Jose Peraza is going to hurt more than you expected at the beginning of the year. He’s been playing great defense, and he has a bevy of clutch hits.

15. People love to love situational hitting and small ball, but then they go berserk when the Mets are mashing homers.

16. Jesse Winker is a no-good evil Mets killer. Actually, he’s not evil. He has fun with the fans and the game. Still, the Mets should never even contemplate pitching to him in a big spot again.

17. In a big spot late in the game, you don’t know it Kevin Pillar is going to get a base hit, but he’s certainly going to tattoo the ball.

18. Gary Cohen deriding skyline chili was like Bud Harrelson punching Pete Rose combined with Al Leiter‘s one hitter. Put another way, Gare landed a punch, and there was no way Cincinnati could come back from it.

19. While we all call Taijuan Walker the best free agent signing, truth is, it might really be Aaron Loup.

20. The Mets certainly love playing in these band boxes in Cincinnati and Philadelphia because they continue to win games in these cities.

Game Recaps

Mets Refused To Lose

Mets Battled But Were Just Short

Marcus Stroman Came Up Huge

Keith Hernandez Reminder Mets Need Better Attention To Own Hall Of Fame

During this series between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, it was announced Keith Hernandez will FINALLY be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. It didn’t exactly go great:

The Edward Jones advertisement being larger than Hernandez’s name is embarrassing. Then again, at least the Cardinals are attending to their Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals have an official committee, and they have fan votes to determine who belongs in their Hall of Fame. More than that, they actually have a Hall of Fame.

When Citi Field first opened, there was some lip service to the Mets Hall of Fame. As time progressed, and the impact of Madoff continued, we saw the Team Store push into and completely overwhelm the Mets Hall of Fame.

Aside from that, there’s been a serious lack of attention to inducting new members. The last member inducted was Mike Piazza in 2013. That’s unacceptable.

Right now, 13 of the top 24 Mets by WAR have not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Put another way, most of the best players in team history have not been recognized.

That includes Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter. That’s shocking with Alonzo being the best second baseman in team history, and with Leiter being the only Mets pitcher to win a play-in game.

It’s more than that. Bobby Valentine led the Mets to consecutive postseasons. Johan Santana had many great moments including the first and only no-hitter in Mets history. There’s also Nelson Doubleday who purchased the Mets and brought in the right people leading to the best run in Mets history.

Point is, the Mets Hall of Fame is severely lacking. Case-in-point. David Wright has not yet been inducted. We can argue over retiring his number, but his not being in the Mets Hall of Fame is absurd.

The Mets need to have Wright and others in the team Hall of Fame. For that matter, there needs to be a real Mets Hall of Fame.

This is a franchise with real history and great moments. It’s well past time it’s celebrated and properly honored. The Mets need a real and proper Hall of Fame. Hopefully, it will happen soon.

Brandon Nimmo Looks And Sounds Serious About Winning

When you think of Brandon Nimmo, you think of a player who is always smiling, hustling, and just seems to have an “aww shucks” mentality. That’s not to say he doesn’t come to beat you.

Nimmo is one of the toughest outs there is in the game, and he makes the pitcher work like few others. He’s also had a penchant for the big hit or key defensive play. That said, he just doesn’t have that “look” of a steely resolve of a player who just comes to beat you.

That was actually a hallmark of that 1999 Mets team. Whatever it is, we saw that with Edgardo Alfonzo, Rickey Henderson, Al Leiter, John Olerud, Mike Piazza, Rick Reed, Robin Ventura, and really, the entire team. It was just a mentality and attitude they had.

Looking at the current Mets team, Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard seems to be the only Mets players who truly have that mentality. Judging from his interview during Spring Training, Nimmo may be finding it as well.

This shows this Mets team knows it’s good. It’s really good. They know they have a target on their backs, and like that 1999 team, they’re coming after the Atlanta Braves and all of baseball.

Before a pitch is thrown, this Mets team is already developing a swagger and a quiet confidence. They’re coming prepared, and they’re not letting anyone get in their way.

Seeing Nimmo there is yet another reason to believe in this team. During the course of the season, we’ll find 162 more.

Leiters: Like Father, Like Son

In his first conference game of the season, Jack Leiter furthered his case to be the first pick in the draft throwing a 16 strikeout no-hitter.

It’s at least somewhat reminiscent of Al Leiter throwing the first no-hitter in Florida Marlins history.

How many father/son duos can say they both have no-hitters? How many of them can say they were Major League pitchers (Jack will certainly be one in the not too distant future).

Seeing Jack pitch, as a Mets fan, you can’t help but feel good for Leiter, who was a very good Met who belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame.

It also serves as a reminder how Leiter took a step back from broadcasting to be able to spend time with his son and see him pitch. It allowed him to not only help his son reach this level, but also for him to just be a dad who gets to enjoy these moments.

Someday, you hope to see Jack Leiter continuing to follow in his father’s footsteps and pitch for the Mets. Mostly, you wish for him to have the great career he seems poised to have.

Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia Poised To Make Mets History

Tom Seaver did something unique in New York Mets history. When he took the field for player introductions before Game 1 of the 1986 World Series, he became the first pitcher to stand on the field for three separate Mets postseason games.

Of course, Seaver was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, and he never did pitch in that series. To date, no Mets pitcher has pitched in three separate postseasons for the Mets . . . yet.

Back in 2015, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia were big pieces of a Mets pitching staff which not only led the team to the postseason but also a pennant. They’d join Addison Reed as the only members of that 2015 staff to pitch in the ensuing postseason when the Mets lost the Wild Card Game.

That trio joined a number of the 1999-2000 Mets pitchers to pitch in consecutive postseason. That list included Armando Benitez, Dennis Cook, John Franco, Al Leiter, Rick Reed, and Turk Wendell.

They are just part of a group of Mets pitchers to pitch in multiple postseasons. The other pitchers in that group are Rick Aguilera, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Roger McDowell, Tug McGraw, and Seaver.

That’s a total of 17 pitchers who have appeared in two postseasons for the Mets. However, none have appeared in three.

If Syndergaard can return from Tommy John, and Familia can stay healthy and productive, they’re going to get that chance because this is an excellent Mets team. This is a team which should get there, and maybe this time Syndergaard and Familia can celebrate a World Series.

After that, with both being pending free agents, the question will be whether they’ll get the opportunity to get to pitch in a fourth postseason. Time will tell.

Mets Old Timer’s Day Lineups And Ideas

It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.

It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:

MGR Davey Johnson/Bobby Valentine

P Dwight Gooden/John Franco

C Todd Hundley/Mike Piazza

1B Keith Hernandez/John Olerud

2B Tim Teufel/Edgardo Alfonzo

3B Howard Johnson/David Wright

SS Rey Ordonez/Jose Reyes (I don’t want him there, but he’ll be invited)

LF Cliff Floyd/Endy Chavez

CF Mookie Wilson/Carlos Beltran

RF Darryl Strawberry/Curtis Granderson

Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.

Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.

For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.

If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.

The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.

Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.

Mets Wear Caps, We All Win

Ever since Al Leiter wore all of the caps in a complete game victory of the anniversary of 9/11, Mets players haven’t been permitted to wear the First Responders caps again. That was until last night.

Before the game, Pete Alonso, who had first responders cleats made for his teammates last year, announced on WFAN, the team would once again be permitted to wear the caps. Alonso said Jeff Wilpon was instrumental in getting MLB to permit the Mets to wear them, and to that, it seems the Wilpons did something truly great on their way out.

With that, we all had a significant and important victory. These caps are important to Mets fans and New York. It’s a part of the healing process and remembrance of 9/11.

With Jacob deGrom on the mound, it seemed like the Mets were well poised to get a win on the field. Even with Michael Conforto misplaying a Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. flyball into an RBI double in the first, deGrom was great again.

The issue with a deGrom start is run support. With the way things go when he starts, that one run is liable to be enough to lose. It’s certainly seemed that way in the second when Lourdes Gurriel robbed Andres Gimenez of an RBI.

The Mets wouldn’t be denied in the fourth when Conforto would make up for his earlier misplay with a go-ahead three run homer.

Things would go from bad to worse to abysmal for the Blue Jays. Later that inning, Anthony Kay relieved Chase Anderson, and he should’ve gotten out of the inning. Instead, the Blue Jays lost a Jeff McNeil ball in the lights, and the Mets would have a 4-1 lead.

Things turned from bad to ugly for Kay and Blue Jays in the fourth. Kay would load the bases, but he’d get exactly what he needed – a double play ball off the bat of J.D. Davis.

Blue Jays shortstop Santiago Espinal short hopped the sinking liner. Instead of trying for a double play, he went to cut the run off at home. Apparently, Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen was completely unprepared for the perfect throw as he whiffed on it allowing a run to score. That set the stage for a Dominic Smith grand slam, and it didn’t stop there.

The Mets scored 10 in that inning, and they’d go on to score 18 in the game. In addition to the Conforto and Smith homers, in the game, they’d also get a homer from Wilson Ramos. Ramos would also have an RBI double as would Gimenez. This really was an unprecedented level of support for deGrom.

Due to an interesting quirk with the save rule, Erasmo Ramirez would pick up the save by pitching three scoreless innings and preserving the Mets 17 run lead.

The Mets appear to be playing good baseball again. They certainly will need to keep this up if they’re going to have any shot at the postseason.

Game Notes: The Yankees were also permitted to wear the First Responder caps. Alonso cycled through the caps first wearing a Sanitation cap.

You Can Wear 21 But Can’t Wear The First Responder Caps

This week, MLB made the fitting tribute of allowing Puerto Rican players and Neil Walker to wear 21 in tribute of Roberto Clemente. It’s a departure from the norm, but it’s a necessary one because there are people and events so important, we need to honor them.

It’s why Major League Baseball players wear 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. It’s why the Houston Astros wore caps last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It’s why MLB has special caps for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and other days of the year.

Actually no, those are a cash grab. That’s what brings us to the Mets not wearing the first responder caps.

Not since Al Leiter wore a cap for each of the first responders on the one year anniversary of 9/11 have players been permitted to wear the caps. Truth be told, the Mets weren’t allowed to wear them in 2001, but Todd Zeile led his teammates in defying that order.

We know the great lengths MLB has gone to stop it. That includes sending operatives in to collect the caps pregame. Even when David Wright purportedly tried to hide a cap to wear it on the field, they found it and confiscated it.

The reason this is happening is MLB hasn’t found a way to market the caps for profit. Make no mistake, MLB loves making profits off tragedy and crisis. After all, they’re selling you officially licensed face masks during this pandemic.

That’s well within their rights. No one is going to tell them to not make money. After all, they’re a business.

On that note, doing the right thing here and allowing players to wear caps honoring first responders doesn’t cost anything. If anything, it helps get attention for the sport. That’s not too dissimilar from MLB already does when they and the Mets will promote the Mike Piazza home run today.

As an aside, the Wilpons selling that jersey for a profit is another indication of why they needed to be gone. Fortunately, they will be soon.

Overall, MLB did right by Clemente and Robinson. They honored the moon landing. They need to now allow the first responder caps because Pete Alonso getting everyone cleats doesn’t cut it.

If anything, it highlights how everyone but MLB seems to get the importance of remembering 9/11 and the impact that event has had on New Yorkers to this day.