Amed Rosario

Mets Start Six Shortstops And Come Up Well Short

Even with him being limited due to injuries, Steven Matz was still one of the better starting pitching options left for this team. However, with impending season ending surgery, he’s shut down, and the Mets went with recently activated off the disabled list Tommy Milone

Milone entered this game with a 7.91 ERA, 10.50 with the Mets, and he picked up where he left off with J.D. Martinez hitting a first inning three run homer. 

He allowed a Chris Ianetta one out double in the third. With Amed Rosario being unable to field an A.J. Pollock grounder, it was 4-0 Diamondbacks. 

The remaining two runs were on Milone. He allowed an Adam Rosales homer in the fourth and a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double in the fifth. 

At that point, it was 7-0 Diamondbacks. If you were still watching at that point, the question is why?

Michael Conforto missed the game with a thumb injury. Dominic Smith wasn’t in the lineup because the Diamondbacks started the left-handed Patrick Corbin, and Terry Collins apparently breaks out in hives and hyperventilates when he has to play a young left-handed hitter against a left-handed pitcher. Using the same logic, Collins played Matt Reynolds over Brandon Nimmo in right. 
Really, there were not many reasons to watch this game. Sure, things are bad right now with the Mets, but with the team they put on the field, this was downright unwatchable. Most 7-1 games are. 

The one run was a Rosario home run, his first at Citi Field. 

Other notable events was Gavin Cecchini going 1-2 at the plate and making a decent play in the field:

Of note, Cecchini has a base hit in every game he’s started this year. 

Kevin McGowan made his major league debut pitching 1.1 innings. He left the bases loaded in the seventh, and Hansel Robles walked in a run. 
Also of note, the Mets went with an all shortstop infield:

1B – Wilmer Flores 

2B – Gavin Cecchini

3B – Asdrubal Cabrera

SS – Amed Rosario

If you don’t think of Flores as a shortstop, then the all shortstop infield was accomplished with Reynolds moving from right to first in a double switch. 

If you do consider Flores a shortstop, then six of the Mets position players in the starting lineup were shortstops or former shortstops as Juan Lagares was originally signed as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. 

Admittedly, this is a rather long tangent, but these are the things you dwell on when your team is as listless and over-matched as the Mets were today. Trust me, this tangent was more interesting than anything that happened in the field tonight. 

There was a ninth inning rally against Matt Koch, one of the two relief prospects traded to obtain Addison Reed in 2015. where Smith hit a pinch hit RBI ground rule double making it 7-2. 

Andrew Chafin came on and allowed a Reynolds RBI groundout followed by a Rosario RBI triple to make it 7-4. 

This lead to the Diamondbacks bringing on Fernando Rodney to get the final out of the game. After he retired Cecchini, the tomfoolery was over. 

Game Notes: David Wright player a rehab game for St. Lucie. He was o-4 with two strikeouts as the DH. Jeurys Familia made a rehab appearance for Brooklyn throwing a scoreless inning. 

Mets Energy Level Better, Still Lose

Late in the season, both Robert Gsellman and Yoenis Cespedes gave you reasons to question their commitment. 

Like he has most of his career, Cespedes has failed to hustle this year. While deemed acceptable when things are going well, this becomes an issue for everyone. 

When he comes to Gsellman, he basically said as much. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When he was told Sandy Alderson said he needed to pitch better, Gsellman replied he didn’t care. 

On the field tonight against a very good Diamondbacks team, they were both very good. 

Gsellman was reminiscent of the pitcher we saw last year. He mostly kept the ball out of the air preventing him from being victimized by the long ball. With a much better defense behind him, which somehow included Wilmer Flores making some nice plays at third, Gsellman went deep into the game. 

In the odd chance the ball was in the air, the outfield got to those balls. This included Cespedes making not one but two hustle plays in the outfield. 

With the defense playing well behind him, and his sinker working, Gsellman arguably had his best start of the year. His final line was 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts. 

Even with that terrific outing, he still didn’t get the win because the Mets offense continued to squander their scoring opportunities against Taijuan Walker

The Mets could bring home Brandon Nimmo after he lead-off the top of the first with a double. 

Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith lead off the second with consecutive singles. Amed Rosario  struck out. After Kevin Plawecki intentionally walked to load the bases, Gsellman struck out, and Nimmo lined out. 

Flores came up in the third with runners at first and second with one out, and he grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play. 

Plawecki’s two out double in the fourth didn’t amount to anything with Gsellman hitting it back to the pitcher. 

Plawecki came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs. It would be runners on second and third after Rosario stole second. David Hernandez came on for Rubby De La Rosa, and he got Plawecki to tap it back to him to end the inning. 

Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth. 

Travis d’Arnaud, who came on for Plawecki in a double switch in the top half of the inning, hit a lead-off double. Nimmo then sacrificed him to third. 
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto then earned walks to load the bases putting the game in Cespedes’ hands. As noted above, he played this game with a different energy than he has been playing with for most of the season. 
Cespedes battled back from 0-2 against Archie Bradley to rip an RBI single past a diving Jake Lamb to tie the game. 

It only tied the game because David Peralta nailed Cabrera at the plate. It’s a tough play to pin blame on anyone. With it being so close, it was a good send by Glenn Sherlock. Likely, Cabrera would’ve been safe if his leg was on the ground instead of in the air. You can’t blame Cabrera because that was just tough luck. 

In any event, after a Flores foul out, this was now a battle of the bullpens. 

Jerry BlevinsPaul Sewald, and AJ Ramos did their jobs combining to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings helping send the game into extra innings. 

The Mets went to Erik Goeddel in a rare second straight day of work to pitch the 10th. In a rare appearance on consecutive days. We saw the reason why he rarely does this. 

Goeddel issued a lead-off walk to Gregor Blanco before allowing a game winning two run homer to A.J. Pollock:

https://twitter.com/citifieldhr/status/899824587944452096

The homer snapped a Meys bullpen 17.2 streak of not allowing an earned run. 

Mets still has a chance in the bottom of the 10th with the heart of the lineup due up against Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney

Conforto got the inning off on the right foot hitting an opposite field lead-off home run to pull the Meys within 3-2. That’s as close as the Mets got as Rodney set down Cespedes, Flores, and Smith to end the game. 

The main thing that really stood out today was the Mets played with a different energy. At this point in the season, it’s all we can reasonably expect. Well that and better situational hitting. 

When that happen, we will see a much better brand of baseball much like we saw tonight. 

GAME NOTES: Steven Matz is done for the year as he will undergo surgery to re-position his ulnar nerve. It is the same surgery Jacob deGrom underwent last year. 

deGrom Frustrated Like We All Are 

Jacob deGrom is all of us. He watched the Mets play behind him all afternoon with no run support and poor defensive, and he just threw his hands up in the air. 

The play that caused it was a seventh inning Dee Gordon grounder to Amed Rosario. Like he did in his first game against the Rockies, Rosario did a glove tap, and that was the difference between safe and out. 

Before that play, Travis d’Arnaud took the easy route getting the out at first instead of attempting to go for a double play on a poor Adam Conley sacrifice bunt attempt. 

This was all prelude to another Giancarlo Stanton home run. If deGrom is Superman, Stanton is 245 pounds of Kryptonite. Stanton’s three run homer here was his fourth off deGrom in his career, and it gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead. 

Not to be outdone, Yoenis Cespedes dropped a flyball later that inning. It brought the boo birds out on a day he showed continued lack of hustle. At least, he hit a homer in the first. 

Marcell Ozuna single after the Cespedes two base error gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was a disappointing start for deGrom, but that’s to be expected when he isn’t getting any help in the field or at the plate. 

His final line would be 6.1 innings, 10 hits, five runs, five earned, no walks, and eight strikeouts. 

When deGrom threw his arms up, something he later admitted he shouldn’t have done, he spoke for all Mets fans tired of seeing the same mistakes being repeated game-in and game-out. 

With d’Arnaud and Cespedes, it is more of the same. We see great defensive aspects to d’Arnaud’s game, but he just doesn’t trust his arm. For Cespedes, his lack of hustle borders on the pathological. 

At least with Rosario, the play was part of growing pains. Same goes for Dominic Smith going 0-3 with three strikeouts against the left-handed Conley. It certainly doesn’t help Terry Collins having him out of the lineup against left-handed pitching. 

It should be noted young players don’t just come with growing pains. They come with improvement. 

We saw that with Brandon Nimmo leading off the eighth with a pinch hit double and Michael Conforto following with a one out walk. This led to the Mets making a game of this, which was a nice departure from most Sunday games. 

Nimmo scored on a Cespedes double. Conforto scored on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly, and Cespedes scored on a two out d’Arnaud RBI single. 

That made the score 6-4, which was as close as the Mets would get. 

Rosario struck out to end the eighth inning rally, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a game ending double play in the ninth. 

Like most Sunday games, this was a tough watch. It was tough seeing veterans continuing to have the same issues. The hope is that while these veterans never learned how to correct theirs, the young players like Smith and Rosario will. 

If they do, these tough games will all be worth it. If they do, the Mets may very well compete again next year.

Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini got the start at second. With his ninth inning single, he now has a base hit in all five games he’s started. 

Remaining Reasons To Watch The Mets

Right now, the Mets are just a bad baseball team.  When you are a fan of a bad baseball team, it is sometimes difficult to find seasons to watch.  Thankfully, there still remain reasons to watch the Mets:

Jacob deGrom – This year, deGrom has returned to pitching like an ace.  No, he may not be the guy he was in 2015, but he’s still a great pitcher.  You know with him on the mound the Mets have a chance to win the game.  With his ability, anything is possible.

Michael Conforto – We have been watching Conforto have one of the best, if not the best, season a young Mets player has ever had.  He will soon be the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers.  He’s showing how special he is taking on more leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse.

Chris Flexen – Very quickly, Flexen has gone from over-matched to holding his own.  He’s just 23 and had just seven Double-A starts under his belt.  Just holding his own at this point is remarkable.  Sooner or later, he may just prove he belongs at this level.

Juan Lagares – One thing that really stood out in the Subway Series was this man can still play Gold Glove defense.  In fact, he might be the best outfielder in baseball with his league leading 34.0 UZR/150.  Metrics aside, it’s a joy to watch him play center field defense, and you never know when he is going to make his next great play.

Amed Rosario & Dominic Smith They have essentially been presented as this generations David Wright and Jose Reyes or Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.  If they’re at those levels, the Mets will quickly turn things around.  If they are truly this good, we won’t want to miss a minute of them playing.  To that end, we have already seen great defense from them, and they’ve already homered in the same game.

With that, there are five very good reasons to continue watching this team.  Other than that, we can watch because we’re Mets fans, and we love our team.  I know I watched the Jeff Torborg, Art Howe, or Jerry Manuel Mets teams, I can certainly watch this team.

Mets May Have Soured On Cecchini Before He Gets His Shot

With Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes suffering injuries, we got to see Travis d’Arnaud shift all game between second and third base.  With the Mets not wanting to be put in that situation again, the Mets have flown both Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini to New York as a precaution.  In the event both Reynolds and Cecchini are activated, it appears that Reynolds, not Cecchini, will be the one who will get playing time.

Before the game and before injuries were an issues, Sandy Alderson informed reporters he was inclined to give Reynolds a long look in September.  Alderson also stated the team will not be giving Cecchini a long look at second base in September.  Alderson’s statements could be interpreted to mean the Mets are now moving on from Cecchini.

In one sense, this shouldn’t be that surprising.  After struggling at shortstop and with the rise of Amed Rosario, Cecchini was moved to second base.  While he has been good defensively at second, he has taken a step back offensively.

Cecchini had a breakout offensive season in 2015 in Binghamton.  He continued that success last year in both Las Vegas and the Arizona Fall League.  Seeing him hit .267/.329/.380 this season, it makes you question what was the issue with him.

There are some plausible explanations for this.  For starters, Cecchini’s 2015 and 2016 stats were partially fueled by a high .348 and .357 BABIP.  Certainly, his being an aggressive contact line drive hitter with low walk and strikeout rates, he is susceptible to swings in his BABIP from year to year.  To that end, it may not be such a surprise to see Cecchini see his BABIP drop to .329 this year and his offensive stats drop they way they have.

Another possible explanation is Cecchini has had to put extra work and attention to learning second base.  With the Mets focus this season with making their players more versatile, Cecchini has also had to work on his play at shortstop.  This is a plausible explanation as to why we have seen Cecchini struggle at the plate this year.

Still, this is a talented player.  It was one of the reasons the Mets made him their first round draft pick (12th overall) in 2012.  In his two brief stints in the majors, he has not been over-matched at the plate.  Last year, he hit two doubles in seven at-bats.  In his call-up this year, he had a four game hitting streak that included a home run off Clayton Kershaw. Seeing this, and how much the Mets have invested in him, it seems peculiar the Mets would just pass on giving him an extended look in the majors.

Then again, this seems to be a pattern with Sandy Alderson.  He and his front office have truly struggled with contact hitters like Cecchini who have not shown power at a young age.  Many will point to his decision to non-tender Justin Turner, but there is also the way the Mets have handled T.J. Rivera.  The team continuously passed him over for players who did not pan out.

Cecchini may or may not be an everyday second baseman or even a Major League player.  At this point, we don’t know, but it also seems odd to take that stance when he’s still just 23 years old, who has not been afforded the opportunity to receive the benefit of Kevin Long’s tutelage.   There’s also the matter of the Mets giving playing time to Reyes, Flores, and Asdrubal Cabrera.  In large part, the Mets know what they have in them, and for the most part, they haven’t been good enough to help the Mets win this year.

We don’t know that with Cecchini.  It’s time to give him a chance.

 

Jake Not Great, Collins Hates Young LHH

This wasn’t the best of Subway Series games for Mets fans. 

Jacob deGrom was good but not great. 

The Yankees first got to him in the third when Ronald Torreyes hit a lead-off double that Yoenis Cespedes couldn’t even be bothered to hustle to field. His lack of hustle was all the more damning when Torreyes made it to second with ease despite slipping on the first base bag. 

Of course, Cespedes would hustle on two infield singles in the game. 

The Yankees then took a 1-0 on an Aaron Hicks RBI single. 

That lead grew to 4-0 on a pair of homers. The first was a two run Yankee Stadium special off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth. The Gary Sanchez solo shot in the sixth would’ve been out anywhere. 

Even with the four runs, deGrom was largely effective. His final line was 7.1 innings, nine hits, five runs, five earned, two walks, and four strike outs. 

deGrom would get the loss because Sonny Gray dominated the Mets for six innings. He had only allowed one walk and four hits while striking out five. 

Dominic Smith knocked him out of the game with his first career homer in the seventh:

It was an opposite field shot just past Hicks’ glove. The homer brought the Mets to within 4-2, bit the Mets wouldn’t get closer. 

One reason why was home plate umpire. Dellin Betances began to get wild after getting two quick outs to start the eighth. Betances then walked Cespedes, and he found himself down 3-1 to Michael Conforto

The 3-1 pitch was certainly a strike, but the 3-2 pitch was low. Even if it was technically a strike, it was not called a strike all night. 

That was the Mets last chance to tie the game. 

The Yankees expanded the lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Aaron Judge led off with a double by just beating out Cespedes throw to second. It became runners on the corners after Didi Gregorious fought off a pitch and blooped it just over the head of Wilmer Flores

It was a bad situation that could have been worse if not for Juan Lagares. Sanchez hit a ball to the deepest part of the park. Instead of it going for extra bases, a shallow playing Lagares not only ranged all the way back, but he also got into good throwing position. This kept Gregorious at first. 

Jerry Blevins and Chasen Bradford got out of the inning keeping the score at 5-2. Unfortunately, that insurance run would loom large with the Mets challenging Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. 
It started with Terry Collins pinch hitting Jose Reyes for Smith because Collins is apparently the only person on the planet who doesn’t know Rafael Devers hit a home run off Chapman. 

Reyes got the infield hit, but who cares?  The rest of this season is about player development, and the Mets gain nothing from pinch hitting for Smith against a tough lefty. 

It’s complete and utter nonsense. It’s the same nonsense that held up Conforto’s development. 

If this is the way Collins manages from here on out, it’s time to get rid of him. 

That said, Amed Rosario made things interesting with an opposite field two run homer to bring the Mets to within 5-4. 

Gregorious would make a nice play taking a base hit away from Travis d’Arnaud, and Lagares would ground out to end the game. 

It was a frustrating loss not just because deGrom wasn’t at his best, but also because Collins continued the same poor managing. 

Game Notes: This is the first time Smith and Rosario homered in the same game. 

Subway Series Will Be About Conforto And Judge Comparisons

Baseball is a funny sport sometimes.  On some level, it seemed like the 2017 season was going to be about the comparison between Amed Rosario and Gleyber Torres.  You couldn’t help but compare the two.  They were both shortstops atop nearly every prospect list, and they were going to be playing in the same city.  If you remember, there was a short-lived time when comparing Rey Ordonez and Derek Jeter was actually a thing.

A lot has happened since Spring Training.  For starters, Torres got hurt.  In addition to that, the Yankees have seen the rise of Aaron Judge.  He’s seemingly a lock for the American League Rookie of the Year, and he’s in the MVP discussion.  When he won the Home Run Derby, there was some discussion about his being the new face of baseball.

In the other borough, the Mets have seen the re-emergence of Michael Conforto.

After a whirlwind 2015 season, including two homers in Game 4 of the World Series, Conforto busted out of the gates in 2016.  He quickly became the best player on the Mets, and he was soon moved to the third spot in the lineup.  Unfortunately, from there Conforto would injure his wrist, get uneven playing time, and face multiple demotions to the minors.  He entered the 2017 season without a sure spot on the Opening Day roster.  That would change with injuries and his play.

Conforto would emerge as the Mets lone All Star this season.  Through 99 games, he has hit .285/.392/.576 with 19 doubles, a triple, 26 homers, and 64 RBI.  He is on pace to become the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers.  His 152 wRC+ is the 12th best in the majors and sixth best in the National League.  That 152 wRC+ is the fifth best among outfielders, and it is the third best among players under 25 years of age.  The only two with better marks are Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa.

Simply put, Conforto is one of the top young players in the game, and his career has a tremendous upward trajectory.

That’s what happens when you’ve shown you can hit anywhere in the lineup.  It’s the result of his being able to move past his struggles and be a much better player for it.  His doing this while being bounced around the outfield is all the more impressive. The question for some is whether Conforto is a more impressive player than Judge.

So far this season the answer is no.  Judge leads Conforto is every statistical category – traditional and advanced.  With that said, between Conforto’s strong second half coupled with Judge’s struggles, that gap is narrowing. In the end, we don’t know how much it will narrow.  Much of that depends on Judge’s ability to make the adjustments we already know Conforto is making.

If you ask as of right now, who is the better player, it’s Judge.  However, if you ask who will be the better player going forward, the answer is not as clear.  Most Mets fans will take Conforto, and most Yankees fans will take Judge.  Both will be justified in their decision.  In the end, the comparisons are fun, but ultimately unnecessary.

With that said, the comparisons will be unavoidable.  That goes double for when it’s Subway Series time.  Fortunately for Mets fans, the Mets will fare much better than they did in the Ordonez-Jeter comparisons.  That will also be the case when the inevitable Rosario-Torres comparisons begin.

Good Luck Neil Walker

The Neil Walker legacy with the Mets is a complicated one.  For many, he’s only to be judged as his not being Daniel Murphy.  For others, they rejoice over the fact Walker coming to the Mets meant Jon Niese was no longer a Met (he would return).  Putting aside who he was not, Walker had an interesting legacy as a Met.

The one thing that was obvious was when Walker was actually able to play, he played extraordinarily well.

Walker impressed everyone right away with a tremendous April last year.  During his torrid month, he hit .307/.337/.625 with a double, nine homers, and 19 RBI.  While the nine homers really stood out, what was the most impressive was his hitting from the right side of the plate.  Although he was a switch hitter throughout his career, Walker never did much of anything as a right-handed hitter.  That changed with him putting in the work with Kevin Long.  Seemingly overnight, he became a power threat from both sides of the plate.

More than that, he was a very good defensive second baseman.  While he may not have had the range he once did, he was a smart and smooth player out there.  More than anything, he didn’t make mistakes or unforced errors.  In sum, Walker was a pro’s pro at the plate and in the field.

After April, Walker’s play fell off a cliff.  We’d soon find out the reason was Walker needed season ending back surgery.  Many a game, Walker took to the field with numbness in his feet.  Baseball is an extraordinarily difficult game to play.  It’s even more difficult when you can’t even feel your toes.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Mets made Walker a qualifying offer.  In a much less surprising move, Walker accepted it.  The Mets tried to work out a long term deal with the player to try to stretch out some of the $17.2 million Walker was due, but for good reason, Walker didn’t want to reduce that salary even if he was sincere in his wanting to remain a New York Met.

Again, when Walker was healthy, he was productive with the Mets.  In 73 games this season with the Mets, Walker hit .264/.339/.442 with 13 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, and 36 RBI.  Over the course of a 162 game season, those numbers prorated would have been 28 doubles, four triples, 23 homers, and 81 RBI.  That’s tremendous production from the second base position, especially with the solid defense Walker gives you.

However, that was the issue with Walker’s tenure with the Mets.  He was just couldn’t stay on the field.  Last year, it was back surgery.  This, year it was a torn hamstring.

Still, when we did get to see Walker play, we saw a good ballplayer.  More than that, we saw a player who was great in the clubhouse.  After Amed Rosario got caught up in a tough play that led to a Mets loss, Walker met up with Rosario before the players left the field to talk to him about it.

When he reported to Spring Training this year, Walker brought with him a first, second, and third baseman’s mitt to prepare for the season.  Walker didn’t just want to just be a second baseman, he wanted to be someone who did whatever he needed to do to help the Mets win.  We learned how rare a trait that could be in a player.  Ultimately, Walker would see time at first and third.  Eventually, this did lead to his being traded to the Brewers.

As a Mets fan, I want to see him go out there and do all he can do to take down the hated Cubs and Cardinals.  As someone who has grown to really appreciate Walker, I want to see him succeed.  In fact, with the Mets having holes to address this offseason at second and third, I’d like to see him return to the team.  Until that point, here’s hoping he has a long postseason run.

Hopefully, this isn’t the end of Walker’s Mets career.  If it is, I’ll appreciate him doing all his body would let him do, and I appreciate him trying to do everything he could do to not only improve as a player, but also to help the Mets win.

Tough Loss But The Young Guys Did Play 

Don’t read too much into tonight’s game. The game started off on a strange foot when Neil Walker was pulled off the field (and his being removed from the lineup) during batting practice with his reportedly being dealt to the Brewers. 

There was also the matter of Aaron Nola, who has been pitching like a Cy Young contender of late. Including tonight’s start, Nola now has a 10 start streak with him pitching at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs. 

Tonight, that one run came off a Yoenis Cespedes fourth inning homer that briefly gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. There’s the argument it should have been a 2-0 lead. 

In the third, Amed Rosario hit a one out double. He found himself on third when Brandon Nimmo struck out on a wild pitch. The wild pitch allowed Nimmo to reach first instead of the inning ending. 

Rosario and Nimmo then attempted a double steal. Cameron Rupp threw through.  Seeing this Rosario took off. With Nimmo seemingly having the base, Freddy Galvis didn’t hesitate coming off the bag to meet the throw and go home nailing Rosario. 

That play would loom large during a two run fifth inning. 

Up until that point, Steven Matz was cruising. He had four no-hit innings, which ended with the Phillies hitting back-to-back singles to start the fifth. Matz was so close to getting out of this jam. 

First, Rupp popped out, and then Nola laid down a sac bunt. Matz couldn’t get the big out yielding a game tying single to Cesar Hernandez. Galvis then hit a seeing eye single that was just past Jose Reyes giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Ultimately, that was the game-winning hit. 

Nola continued to shut down the Mets. His final line was seven innings, two hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and eight strikeouts.  This made Ricardo Pinto  a welcome sight in the eighth. 

Curtis Granderson and Reyes each walked setting up two on and two out for Cespedes. Pinto would strike out Cespedes on three straight pitches to end the rally. 
From there, the Phillies would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth off Erik Goeddel giving them a 3-1 lead. 

Ultimately, the Mets lost a difficult game. They lost a teammate, and they faced a tough pitcher. With that said, they did the right thing and played some young guys. More than that Matz progressed from where he has been. 

Given how the Mets are constituted, they’re going to lose a lot of games. That’s understandable. The only thing you can reasonably ask is when they lose, it’s a good game, and the young players are getting their feet wet. That happened today, so all-in-all, that’s not too bad a day. 

Game Notes: Michael Conforto started the game in center, and Nimmo played right. Reyes wasn’t initially supposed to be in the lineup, but took over for Walker in the lineup and played second. Asdrubal Cabrera played second. 

Bruce Wasn’t Worth The Qualifying Offer

One of the reasons Mets fans were angry about the return of Ryder Ryan for Jay Bruce was the fact many believed the Mets could have offered Bruce a qualifying offer, and they then could have recouped a second round pick when Bruce signed a big deal elsewhere.  While we all should be able to agree Ryan was not second round value, the point that Bruce would automatically reject a qualifying offer is flawed.

This past offseason teams have shown they no longer value players like Bruce the way they once did.  If the Mets inability to move Bruce this offseason wasn’t any indication, and if the return the Mets got for Bruce wasn’t any indication, then look at what happened to Mark Trumbo last year.

Trumbo took a one year flier with the Orioles, and he had a monster year leading the majors with 47 homers.  In total, Trumbo hit .256/.316/.533 with 27 doubles, a triple, 47 homers, and 108 RBI.  That was good for a 122 OPS+ and a 123 wRC+.

On the strength of this season, the 30 year old Trumbo would reject the qualifying offer only to be met with a tepid free agent market.  Without Trumbo being able to garner the interest he believed would be present, he went back to the Orioles on a three year $37.5 million deal.

It wasn’t just Trumbo either.  Other sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Chris Carter were met with surprisingly soft markets this offseason.

The conclusion that can be best drawn for this is the market just doesn’t value sluggers the way it once did.  With the qualifying offer being worth around $18 million next year, there was a very real chance Bruce was going to accept that qualifying offer meaning the Mets got no draft pick compensation.

It would also mean the Mets outfield would have been a disaster defensively.  We know Bruce is not a center fielder, and we also know Yoenis Cespedes no longer belongs out there.  The argument would be Michael Conforto could.  He has shown he can handle it in spurts, but long term that is a bad proposition.  In 327.2 innings there, Conforto has a -2 DRS and a 0.2 UZR.

Seeing how the Mets played this year, the biggest thing they need to do is to upgrade defensively.  That goes double for key defensive positions like shortstop and center field.  Fortunately, the Mets have Amed Rosario at short.  Who knows if the answer is Juan Lagares or a name outside the organization for center.  The one thing we do know it’s not Bruce.

There’s another consideration as well.  The Mets need to make wholesale changes this offseason, which is going to require a lot of money.  For a team that took a lesser return for Bruce partially due to the savings it brought them, we should worry about Bruce’s $18 million hindering the Mets ability to fully address all of the teams needs just like it happened last year when Neil Walker accepted his qualifying offer.

Overall, the Mets needed to trade Bruce to get some return for him.  The return was lackluster for many, but in reality, it reflects more upon how teams value sluggers like Bruce.  At a minimum, the Mets got something for him, and they have freed up playing time for Dominic Smith and Brandon NimmoAll they have to do now is actually play those players.