Amed Rosario

Making Mets Austerity Work

On MMO some of the writers did their own postseason plans.  The guidelines are that we must stick to a budget in the $30-35 million range given what we’ve heard the Mets could spend. 

For signings, MLB Trade Rumors and Jon Heyman’s free agent predictions to come up the contracts for each player.
The Mets have several holes to fill and not a ton of money to work with which had me searching for deals on the free agent market and here is what I think should be done with the limited resources.

Fixing the Bullpen

As the Mets head into the 2018 season, their main goal for the team will be to rebuild a bullpen. Despite handwrining among fans, there is some talent present. Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins address three key roles. Around them, the Mets need to find four cost effective options.

The first two parts of this bullpen need to be internal. In lieu of looking for a second left-handed reliever in free agency, the Mets need to utilize Hansel Robles in that role. For his career he has reverse splits, and he needs to be used accordingly. He also provides the benefit of giving the team multiple innings when needed.

Additionally, the Mets need to move Seth Lugo to the bullpen. In short bursts, Lugo is able to ramp up his fastball and use his curveball with more frequency. With that combination, Lugo can be a true late inning option and/or a long man. For those concerned about the loss of him as rotation depth, consider his struggles a third time through the order.

For the final two spots, the Mets should attack free agency. The first option the Mets should pursue is Seung-hwan Oh. Oh has been a dominant closer in the Korean Leagues, and he was dominant in his rookie season with the Cardinals. He had an off-year last year partially driven by an increased BABIP and HR rate as well as a drop in his strikeout rate. With a new pitching coach and a new situation, he could very well recover with the Mets giving the team an additional option at the closer spot.

When it comes to the final spot, the Mets should look to add a power arm like Juan Nicasio. After struggling in the rotation, Nicasio was transitioned to a full time reliever, and he grew into a dominant arm. With his being armed with an upper 90s fastball and good control, he’s probably just tapping the surface, and the Mets would be wise with their new pitching guru contingent to see the next wave.

Veteran Depth & Insurance Policies

Heading into the 2018 season, the Mets aren’t sure Dominic Smith is ready to be the Opening Day first baseman. Even with the best projections, they do not believe Michael Conforto will be ready by Opening Day, and after that, they don’t know what he can contribute. In addition to that, the Mets don’t have a second baseman.

The first part of that solution should be adding Howie Kendrick. The 33 year old had a bounce-back, albeit injury prone, season. Over the past season, Kendrick had a 121 wRC+, which ranks second best in his career. He also played first, second, and the corner outfield positions last year. While he was not outstanding at any of those positions, he was clearly capable of handling those positions. He’s your best bet to have a Jose Valentin type season for the team.

Another player worth taking a flyer on is Jose Bautista. In 2017, he fell apart offensively going from a .234/.366/.452 slash line to .203/.308/.366 leading the Blue Jays to utilize the buy out provision on his contract. At 37 years old, he’s not far removed from a productive season. He’s also just looking for an opportunity.

Fortunately, the Blue Jays helped him in that respect by moving him around the field last year. He played on game at first, eight at third, and 143 in RF. Based on the numbers, he’s no longer an everyday right fielder, but he is still talented enough to be a stopgap for Conforto. If he dedicated himself to getting better at first, he could serve as both competition and a platoon option for Smith.

The Trade

There is no secret some of the Mets biggest issues have been depth, versatility, and second base. While Ian Kinsler would address second base, and he is arguably the best defensive second baseman available, the Mets trade target for the position should be Jason Kipnis.

The Indians second baseman has been pushed out of a job due to injury and the emergence of younger players in his stead. Despite that, he is still a good hitter who hit .276/.349/.429 from 2013 – 2016 while averaging 36 doubles and 14 homers a season. He’s also a gamer willing to do anything to help his team win as evidenced by his playing center field at the end of the season and the postseason because that was what was best for the team. This is the type of attitude the Mets should be looking to instill in their current roster.

The center and outfield possibilities should also be intriguing to the Mets in the event of another Juan Lagares injury or the questions surrounding Conforto.

Kipnis is not going to come cheap, nor should he considering he’s an All Star player with a good contract. Earlier this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggested Robert Gsellman and Luis Guillorme as the package to get Kipnis. That may be a little light, and perhaps the inclusion of Wilmer Flores would be enticing to an Indians team heavy with left-handed hitters and could use a corner infield option, could potentially allow the Mets to complete this deal.

Filling In The Rest

In addition to the aforementioned players, the Mets would be well advised to bring in some veteran depth this Spring Training. On the starting pitching front Ubaldo Jimenez previously worked exceptionally well with current Mets manager Mickey Callaway, and Bartolo Colon left an impression with this current Mets staff. Both would make sense on a minor league deal with an invitation to

Hope

From reports, Manny Machado could well be available. However, with the state of the Mets farm system, the Mets are going to have to trade Major League players like Jacob deGrom and Amed Rosario to get him. 

Machado is well worth that return, and knowing the Orioles, they’ll want more – much more.  Again, Machado is worth it, but he’s also an impending free agent. Furthermore, the Mets don’t have the means to replace deGrom with a Yu Darvish or sign Machado to a contract extension. 

The other long shot is Marcell Ozuna.  The Marlins are dangling him, and he’s exactly the type of player that fits the Mets mold – underpaid and under team control for two years. Presuming you take back Starlin Castro and his contract in a deal, you’d probably be able to swing a more palatable deal. 

However, there does not seem to be any traction between the Mets and the Marlins on anything. Even if they were, teams like the Cardinals, Cubs, and Giants are interested. They seem more willing to go that extra mile than the Mets. Considering the Stanton deals that fell apart, there is less leg work for the Cardinals and Giants to do. 

Key Acquisitions: Seung-hwan Oh (1 year, $4 million), Howie Kendrick (2 years, $16 million), Jose Bautista (1 year $5 million), Jason Kipnis (2 years, $28.3 million), Juan Nicasio (2 years, $14M), Ubaldo Jimenez (minor league deal), Bartolo Colon (minor league deal)

Key Departures: Robert Gsellman, Luis Guillorme, Wilmer Flores

Total Cost: $33.9 million

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide For Four Year Olds

In previous years, I complied holiday shopping guides for when my son was two and when he was three.  Before creating this next list, I looked back, and I believe many of those items are still relevant, especially the Thomas table which my son periodically still uses to this day.

However, he’s older now, and his wants have changed.  Gone are the days of Thomas and now we have ushered in the days of Lightning McQueen.  With that in mind, and with other considerations, here is a list of items I do recommend for a four year for Christmas:

  1. Balance Bike with Helmet
  2. Boogie Board – not for the beach, one to write with
  3. Slot Cars
  4. Cars 3 Service Station or Mack’s Mobile Play Set
  5. Remote Control Car
  6. Thomasville Speedway Portable Set (bonus points for also being storage)
  7. Florida 500 Speedway
  8. Lego Juniors Sets
  9. Lego Table or Folding Table
  10. Board Games
    1. Candyland
    2. Connect Four
    3. Operation
    4. Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons Game
    5. Trouble
  11. Baseball Mitt
  12. Knee Hockey Set
  13. Portable Soccer Net and Soccer Ball
  14. Football Uniform Set and Nerf Football
  15. Paw Patrol Air Patroller
  16. Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
  17. Pig & Elephant Books
  18. Pete the Cat Books
  19. Pigeon Books
  20. Amed Rosario (or other player) Shirsey

For many of the aforementioned items, I included the Amazon link for ease of use.  I did this for two reasons: (1) everyone has access to Amazon; and (2) this late in the process, you have a better chance of getting something off the internet instead of at a store.  If you haven’t purchased the items yet, comparison shop to the best of your ability.

While I hope this list is helpful, we should always to remember to tailor what we buy for your child’s interests.  This is a large reason why I have only relisted one item from this year’s Top 25 Christmas Toys.

As always, please remember while you’re shopping, pick up a toy, no matter how small and donate it.

Mets Souring On Dominic Smith Begs For A Review of Sandy Alderson’s First Round DraftPicks

One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets General Manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system.  Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.

That went double when you consider he used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley HoltEven if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.

With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent Minaya acquired including Jacob deGrom, Lucas DudaJeurys FamiliaWilmer Flores, Matt HarveyJuan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.

Alderson deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders, and now the organization is at the point where it needs Alderson’s farm system to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team.  Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review Alderson’s first round draft history with the Mets:

2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder.  There was a p0int where this was expected to happen.  However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.

Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity.  However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.

2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)

2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher.  With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  Unfortunately, the Mets are not reaping the benefits of his ascension because he was moved to the Tigers as the centerpiece of the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS

Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season.  Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.

2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB

In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career.  After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively.  Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster.  Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.

2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI

After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A.  However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.

Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal.  If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.

2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)

2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB

After Terry Collins made him a strict platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be.  He made his first All Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster.  Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.

2015 – No Pick

It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer.  This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason.  In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391.  Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.

2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9

When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation.  Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher.  In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.

Ultimately, the talent is there.  The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.

2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)

The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals.  After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed an underslot deal.  He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.

2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)

2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20.  Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon.  Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down.  Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.

Synposis

Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.

If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors.  Of those six players, two are All Stars.  Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players he drafted.

On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential.  For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination.  However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility.  In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.

Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.

Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted.  For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki.  If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.

Mets Pre-Sale? No Thanks

If you are a Citi Cardmember, you have the exclusive chance to go out and purchase Mets tickets before they go on sale to the general public on November 17th.  Essentially, the Mets are really encouraging fans to go out there and start spending their hard earned money at a time when they are cutting payroll.

No, payroll doesn’t win championships; players do.  But look at the current state of the Mets roster and ask yourself whether the requisite talent is present. Look at it this way.  If the Mets do not make another move, here is Opening Day defensive alignment:

C Travis d’Arnaud
1B Dominic Smith
2B Wilmer Flores
3B Asdrubal Cabrera
SS Amed Rosario
LF Yoenis Cespedes
CF Juan Lagares
RF Michael Conforto

It’s not exactly a group the Mets are excited about themselves.  In 2016, they explored trading d’Arnaud, and when they couldn’t move him, they got him a catching guru.  Sure, d’Arnaud was better, but he wasn’t exactly the All Star we all hoped he could be.

The reports are also that the Mets have soured on Smith, and they are not only looking to have him start the year in Triple-A, but they may actually pursue a first baseman in free agency.

With respect to Flores and Lagares, the Mets have long since determined each are platoon players.  That could be where Brandon Nimmo finds a role as a platoon partner.  However, that’s only if he’s not the starting right fielder, which is dependent on when Conforto will be ready to play again.  That will also depend on whether Cespedes has a healthy season.

And by the way, the Mets have a massive hole in their pitching staff.  The team does not believe enough in AJ Ramos to be the primary set-up guy leaving them looking for another reliever.  Truth is, they probably need two or three.

In the rotation, the Mets have Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.  After that, there are a number of question marks.  This means the Mets could use another starter.  If the Mets truly want to contend, they would get a top tier pitcher like Yu Darvish, but more likely, the team will be looking at fifth starters.

When you look at all these holes, the $30 million the Mets have to spend is nowhere near enough.  And by the way, this also doesn’t address what promises to be a weak bench.  Based upon past history, that bench will be weak with Sandy Alderson only being interested in building depth if the Mets promise to be good.

So, with the Mets having all these problems and them not looking to spend the money that is required to fix the roster, the question to Mets fans is this: Why are you in a rush to give them money they won’t fully invest in becoming the postseason contender this team was just a year ago?

Mets Better Be Right About Mickey Callaway

Anytime you enter into a search for a new manager, you are really dealing with the realm of the unknown.  For first time managers, you really have no idea if that person is truly ready for the big leagues, he is better suited to the minors, or is a better coach.  For every Davey Johnson you hire, there are also the Joe Torres of the world, who were talented managers, but not ready to manage at the time you gave him the job.

Really, in these instances, you have to look at the relevant information available and the recommendations of other baseball people.  Mostly, you’re going with your gut.

The Mets gut told them to go out there and hire Mickey Callaway.

The Mets only needed one interview to choose Callaway over former manager and Mets coach Manny Acta.  It was sufficient enough for them to bypass current hitting coach Kevin Long.

Callaway had impressed so much during his interview and during his time with the Cleveland Indians, the Mets were not willing to wait.  They had Fred Wilpon sit down and sell him on the franchise similar to how the team once did with Billy Wagner and Curtis Granderson.

Give the Mets credit here.  They identified their man, and they did all they could do to bring him into the organization.  Deservedly so, many complimented the Mets on making a smart hire, including the fans who were skeptical of the direction the Mets would go.

Their man also happened to be a pitching guru, who will now be tasked with the responsibility of fixing Matt Harvey as well as finding a way to keep Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia healthy for a full season.

If Mets fans want a reason to be excited for this season, there is no bigger reason than Callaway choosing to manage this pitching staff.  By doing so, he’s announced he’s a believer, and he’s put his and the Mets future on this lines.

The team hiring Callaway so early and so aggressively had a domino effect.  It looks like the first domino to fall will be hitting coach Kevin Long.

Long has had a positive impact on the players on this Mets roster.  He helped turn Yoenis Cespedes from a slugger to a star.  By OPS+ and wRC+, Asdrubal Cabrera had two of his best five offensive seasons.  Michael Conforto would prove he could hit left-handed pitching at the Major League level.

With Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith being two cornerstones of the franchise, Long was exactly the man you wanted to help them reach their offensive ceilings.  Now, that won’t happen because Long is likely gone.

Another person you would want to help lead young players like Rosario and Smith is Joe Girardi.  In his one year with the Marlins, and this past season working with young players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees made a surprising run this season that ended with a Game 7 loss in the ALCS.

What is interesting is the Mets were rumored to want Girardi.  As reported by the New York Post, the Mets were looking to possibly “pounce” on Girardi if the Yankees did not bring him back.

That was written during the ALDS when it appeared Girardi’s job was in jeopardy.  After the Yankees recovered and upset the Indians and took the Astros to seven games, there weren’t too many people who stuck believed Girardi would be looking for another job.

And yet, he is.  This should at least raise some questions whether the Mets should have done their due diligence.  Maybe another round of interviews were in order.  Conducting that extra round could have left the Mets open to the chance of not making an hire before Girardi became available.

Maybe if there was a second round of interviews, Long feels more appreciated instead of taking his binders to another job.  That other job could be as the manager or hitting coach of the Washington Nationals where he would reunite with Daniel Murphy.  Maybe with Long at the helm, the Nationals finally get past the NLDS.

If that were to happen, and if Callaway falters, it would be too much for Mets fans to bear.  Yet again, the Mets let one of their own go to the Nationals leading them to further success because they were enamored with someone from another organization.  Like with Murphy and Justin Turner, Sandy Alderson will have opened himself up to justifiable second guessing.

The team jumped the gun costing themselves a chance to hire a terrific manager in Girardi, and it might have cost them the opportunity to retain a coach they thought highly enough of they almost made him their manager.  The Mets were left with a manager who has never managed professionally, and they have to rebuild a coaching staff.

Instead of making the safe choice like they did when they hired Terry Collins, the Mets instead chose to go for the high risk – high reward hire.  It worked with Davey, and it failed with Torre.

This is exactly why the Mets need to be right about their decision to hire Callaway.

Amed Rosario’s Best Tweet

Amed Rosario has an interesting Twitter account where he constantly reminds us all #DontBeSurprisedBeReady. Well, yesterday, he had hit best tweet ever, which was technically a RT:

Sandy Better Get To Work

Yesterday, Odell Beckham, Jr. broke his leg as the Giants lost to go to 0-5.  It doesn’t matter how optimistic a Giants fan you are, the season is over.

The Rangers still have a talented group, but they got off to a 1-2 start.  One of the “highlights” of the young season is Alain Vigneault benching promising young player Filip Chytil for no other reason than he’s a young player.  There is still reason to believe the Rangers can make a run, but any excitement you would have is tempered by Terry Collins, sorry, AV, leading the way.

The Knicks, well, they are the Knicks.

If things continue this way, it promises to be a long winter until Spring Training begins.

Unless Sandy Alderson gets to work, it’s going to be a full year without hope.  He needs to build a bullpen beyond AJ Ramos and Jeurys Familia.  There needs to be more on the infield than Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario.  There needs to be more starting pitching depth due to the injury histories of Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler.

There’s a lot to do here.  Hopefully Sandy does it.  If he doesn’t, it’s going to be a long year in the New York sports scene.

Reason For Mets Fans To Root For A Yankees – Nationals World Series

You’d be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who’d even contemplate a Yankees-Nationals World Series. After a horrible season, certainly one of the five most disappointing in Mets history, a Yankees-Nationals World Series is about the last thing Mets fans need.

Or is it?

The Mets entered the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which was ranked twelfth in the majors. That number was a bit deceptive as it included David Wright‘ insured contract. After the 75% reimbursement for Wright’s contract, the Mets Opening Day payroll was $140 million. That would’ve bumped them down to 15th.

Really, a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series had a middle tier payroll. A Mets team located in the largest media market in the world was middle of the pack in spending.

That’s fine if the Mets were well constructed, but as we knew at the time, they weren’t.

Now, with the Mets facing even bigger holes this offseason, the Mets are planning to . . . wait for it . . . cut payroll. Instead of the $155 (or $140) million mark, the Mets plan to cut payroll by $135 million. They’re doing this despite having even more holes to address this offseason.

The Mets need a second baseman, third baseman, and a rebuilt bullpen. They should also consider adding a fifth starter, center fielder, backup catcher, and a capable bench. How the Mets can do all of this with less money is anyone’s guess.

Based on how the Mets have been run during the Sandy Alderson era, it seems as if the bullpen and bench will be the two poorest constructed areas. The Mets have been able to address both in the past by making in-season trades. Those trades have helped deplete the farm system.

Overall, if the Mets are going to return to being World Series contenders, they’ll have to spend. That’s hard to do unless Sandy is given more money this offseason.

That brings us back to the original Yankees-Nationals World Series point.

As much as Mets fans do not want to see it, the Wilpons want to see it even less. Remember Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Mets were “not eager” to trade Jay BruceLucas Duda, or really anyone to the Yankees.  They didn’t want to have those players being the Mets.  More than that, they don’t want to see the Yankees in the spotlight.

Likely, they don’t want to see Daniel Murphy leading the Nationals to the World Series.  With everything Murphy has done since leaving the Mets, he makes the Mets look worse and worse.  Seeing Murphy having a third straight terrific postseason may be too much for this franchise to bear.  That goes double when you consider the Mets have a gaping hole at second base – one that could have been filled by Murphy if the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of him.

If the Yankees and Nationals make the World Series, it would just rub salt in the Mets wounds.  On the American League side, you have a team the Mets cannot bear to see successful.  On the National League side, you have the Mets biggest competition in the division going to the World Series led by a former fan favorite.  That’s a lot for an image conscious ownership group to bear.

Who knows?  If that happens, maybe it will spurn the Mets to action.  We could actually see the Mets open up their pocketbooks to address the needs of this team.  Adding some players to a solid foundation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto could very well propel this team back to where they were in 2015.

Then again, maybe the Mets don’t spend the money they need to fix this team.  If they’re not going to spend the money, then they deserve the indignity of seeing the Nationals and Yankees in the World Series.  They deserve to get their own personal worst case scenario.  The hope for Mets fans is it will be too much for them to bear that they will finally do something about it.

Dickey Great, Taijeron Walks Off

Almost five years ago to the day, R.A. Dickey took the mound for the Mets, and he earned his 20th win of the season all but locking up his highly improbable Cy Young Award. 

While Dickey hasn’t been anywhere near that good since the 2012 season, he looked like that pitcher once again tonight. He controlled his knuckleball extremely well not walking anyone. He kept the Mets honest by throwing his fastball just enough. 

Through six, the Mets accumulated just two hits – a second inning double by Brandon Nimmo and a third inning Travis Taijeron single. They didn’t amount to anything. 

Really, the Mets didn’t seem like they were going to touch Dickey until Kevin Plawecki hit what seemed to be the first mistake Dickey made all night for a two run homer. The homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2 making the game a bit more perilous for Dickey than originally anticipated when the inning began. 

It would be a two out Amed Rosario triple that finally chased Dickey from the game. With Dickey having been a beloved Met during his tenure, he received a well earned ovation as he entered the dugout.

Dan Winkler struck out Taijeron to end the jam preserving the 3-2 lead. 
The Braves were up 3-2 because they got to Rafael Montero early. 

A pair of first inning doubles from Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. 

In the second, Montero got himself out trouble by issuing a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson. He scored on a Jace Peterson double, and Peterson scored on an Ozzie Albies RBI single. It was be enough to ensure Montero would finish the year with an ERA over 5.00. 

On the season, Montero finished 5-11 with a 5.26 ERA. Keep in mind, this is what was deemed to be a resurgent year for Montero where the Mets think he could realistically be a contributor next year. 

While the three runs were enough to ding Montero, it would not prove enough to give Dickey a win partially because Sam Freeman was snake bit. 

The first issue was his issuing a one out walk to Nori AokiJohan Camargo would then throw the ball away on a Jose Reyes grounder setting up second and third with one out. 
Asdrubal Cabrera then ripped a line drive that should have give the Mets the lead. It would only be a game tying sacrifice fly because Inciarte did it against the Mets again:

After a scoreless ninth from Jeurys Familia, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off. It was going to be difficult against A.J. Minter who has had a terrific rookie season. 

The Mets would give the rookie his first loss of his career. 

The game winning rally started with a Plawecki single, and Juan Lagares pinch ran for him. Terry Collins then uncharacteristically allowed Dominic Smith to face a left-handed pitcher. The decision was all the more surprising when you consider the Mets had a bench full of right-handed batters. 

Smith rewarded Collins’ faith when he drew the first walk Minter has issued in his brief career. Not just a walk to a left-handed batter. First walk. 

After Rosario failed to lay down the sacrifice bunt, Taijeron delivered with a single to left giving him the first walk-off hit of his Major League career. 

Five years later, Dickey was great, and the Mets won the game. If this was really the end of his career, it was a fitting end for a pitcher that really helped turn the Mets around. 

Game Notes:  AJ Ramos has been unavailable with a bicep issue, and he may be done for the season. 

Robin Ventura As Mets Manager: Grand Slam Or Single?

With the Mets moving on from Terry Collins, the Mets will begin their managerial search, and according to reports, the Mets will consider Robin Ventura.  Certainly, there is a reason why Mets fans would be pleased with the decision:

Ventura was a fan favorite, who was part of the greatest defensive infield of all time.  There is a certain level of buzz and excitement his hiring would create with fans.  However, that is not the sole basis to hire a manager.  Thankfully, we know the current front office will not be swayed as such.  Otherwise, Wally Backman would have been hired as the manager in 2010.

Therefore, we know the Mets will only hire Ventura only if he’s the right manager for the job.  The question is whether hiring him would be a grand slam or a single.

On the one hand, Ventura once finished third in the 2012 American League Manager of the Year voting.  That season, Ventura’s White Sox surprised many with an 85-77 record.  One of the reasons why that team was so successful was because Ventura effectively managed Chris Sale‘s first season as a starter.  Sale wasn’t his only young pitcher.  He also managed Jose Quintana and old friend Addison Reed in their rookie seasons.

While those pitchers may not have reached their full potential immediately, they had a solid foundation from Ventura’s years as their manager.  Now, much credit there goes to Pitching Coach Don Cooper, Ventura was still the manager, and he deserves a portion of the credit.

One of the reasons why he deserves credit is because Ventura actually rated well in bullpen management using the stat Bullpen Management Above Random (BMAR).  Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the stat “assess[es] how closely each manager lined up his best relievers with his team’s highest-leverage relief opportunities.”  (Grantland).  Among active managers, Ventura would rank fifth in voting.

Certainly, the Mets could use a manager who works well with pitchers and handles a pitching staff well.  That goes double when you consider the Mets will have to handle all the injured pitchers coming back next year and the development of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith

The rest of Ventura’s stint as White Sox manager was a bit of a mixed bag.  While he effectively managed they young pitchers, Adam Eaton, and Jose Abreu when he came to the United States, he never quite developed either Alexei Ramirez or Gordon Beckham.

After that surprising first season as the White Sox manager, Ventura’s teams failed to contend, or for that matter, finish over .500.  What was troubling there was the White Sox heavily invested in their 2015 and 2016 teams.  Whether it was Ventura or the mix of players brought to the White Sox remains to be seen.

That 2016 season was a difficult one for the White Sox.  Kenny Williams had instructed Adam LaRoche he couldn’t bring his son to the clubhouse as frequently leaving the player to retire leaving behind angry players.  This was just the first incident.  While he didn’t lose the clubhouse then, he might have later in the season.

Later, Sale would infamously cut up all of the throwback jerseys because they were uncomfortable.  Upon learning of Sale’s actions, Ventura would scratch him, and the team would suspend him.  This led to a Sale tirade with him attacking Ventura saying, “”Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department.  If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”  (MLB.com).

Overall, when looking at Ventura’s tenure as the White Sox manager, it’s a mixed bag.  He’s been able to develop some players while not getting through to others.  He’s largely kept control of his clubhouse, but in the end, he eventually lost his star player.  Of course, this happens to even the best managers, and it’s easy to over-analyze the final days of his White Sox tenure.

The one thing we do know is Ventura always handled himself well with the media throughout these issues.  It is not too dissimilar for how well he handled himself as a player while with the Mets and the Yankees. Considering he played with the Mets in difficult times (9/11, decline as a player, team under-performing), it is easy to believe he could handle the press well as a Mets manager.

Taking everything into consideration, Ventura merits consideration and an interview for the Mets managerial opening.  If the Mets wind up hiring him, they will have a manager whose strengths might just coincide with what the team needs.  If he’s better for his experience with the White Sox all together.  In the end, Ventura would be a fine choice as manager.