As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons. The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person. The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”
Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.
For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera. Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.
In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second. That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014). Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.
Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS. That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.
Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third. This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap. That deal was nixed over money.
With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began. In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP. Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.
As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363. It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243. Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better. Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.
At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder. The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right. Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.
In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418. In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence. With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.
Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited. More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year. Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch. In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.
Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason. That honor goes to Jason Vargas.
The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth. At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.
Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter. Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen. Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.
The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP. He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.
What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department. From reports, Vargas was not the only one. Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven. Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?
In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been. It’s the Wilpons.
They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over. They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wright‘s insurance policy into the team. They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window. They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.
Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.
What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone. That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.
Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.
For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues. When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.” With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”
Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released. However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:
Tyler Bashlor – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch
Jose Bautista – Trade Value Going, Going, Gone!
Jerry Blevins – One Magic LOOGY
Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load
Travis d’Arnaud – d’L
Phillip Evans – DFA TBA
Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Robert Gsellman – Don’t Care What You Think
Austin Jackson – 2019 Opening Day CF
Juan Lagares – Out For The Season
Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)
Steven Matz – Not So Strong Island
Jeff McNeil – 2B/3B/OF
Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better
Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Corey Oswalt – Vargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)
Kevin Plawecki – Plawful
Jose Reyes – Melaza Virus
Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted
Paul Sewald – AAAAll Star
Dominic Smith – Waist And Future Gone
Drew Smith – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor. They’re trying to prove a point.)
Anthony Swarzak – Still Just One Good Season
Noah Syndergaard – 60’6″ Away
Jason Vargas – $16 Million Dollar Man
Zack Wheeler – Finally Good
David Wright – Hurts Here Doc
Zack Wheeler took to the mound three years to the date he and Wilmer Flores were almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez. While we got to see Flores’ reaction to the trade, we never did quite see Wheeler’s reaction.
At the time, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery; a result of him being diagnosed with a torn UCL on the eve what would be a magical 2015 season. Wheeler would sit down with Sandy Alderson to tell him he didn’t want to leave. He wanted to be a part of this team and whatever they could do next.
Even in this lost season, Wheeler has consistently maintained he wants to be a Met.
Well, if Wheeler really wants to be a Met, then he needs to stop pitching this well as Major League Baseball heads towards the trade deadline.
Wheeler completed dominated a Pirates team in the thick of the Wild Card race.
Wheeler would put on a show pitching six scoreless against a Pirates team in the Wild Card race. He would pitch six scoreless in an all around dominant effort with him walking out just one batter and striking out seven.
With the Mets giving him Jacob deGrom like run support, Wheeler would take matters into his own hands.
After a Luis Guillorme two out single, Wheeler would double him home to give him a 1-0 lead. This would make the second straight game he has hit a double, which would make him a much hitter than Jose Reyes:
Zack Wheeler has hit a double in back-to-back starts.
Jose Reyes has two doubles since June 26 in 55 at-bats.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) July 29, 2018
In the top of the seventh, Mickey Callaway would have a decision to make. The Mets had runners on second and third with two outs and Wheeler’s spot coming up. Even with Wheeler being one of the better hitters in the lineup, Callaway opted to go with Michael Conforto.
Conforto would not start the game because he jammed his thumb. Even with the jammed thumb, the Pirates were scared enough to intentionally walk him to face Amed Rosario. Rosario didn’t come through, but he Mets bullpen would.
First, Seth Lugo pitched two scoreless before giving the ball to Anthony Swarzak, who converted his second save chance with the Mets. With respect to Swarzak, he’s been much better since Jeurys Familia was traded. There may be any number of factors, including his getting fully healthy and his making adjustments. Whatever the case, he’s looked and been dominant, giving the Mets a real weapon in the ninth inning.
But the story was Wheeler, who for the first time in his career, has won three consecutive starts. In those games, he has a 2.61 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, and a 4.25 K/BB ratio. This has left the Mets with a dilemma. Do you keep him and have him take a step further forward next year, or do you cash in now?
Given how he wants to be here, and how he’s pitching, it may just make sense to keep him.
Game Notes: With the split, this marks the first time the Mets did not lose consecutive series since May 15 – 20 when they split a two game series with the Blue Jays and swept the Diamondbacks.
Well, the impossible has happened. After 17 tries the Mets have finally won a series. It’s been a long time.
The last series the Mets won was the May 18th – May 20th sweep of the Diamondbacks.
At that time, the Mets were 23-19 and just 3.5 games back. The winning pitcher, Noah Syndergaard didn’t have any issues with his finger, or his hand, foot, or mouth.
Today, the Mets won with Corey Oswalt picking up his first career win. His final line was five innings, three hits, two earned, two walks, and four strikeouts.
Later that inning, Mickey Callaway would face a tough decision. With two outs and the Mets down 2-1, should he pull Oswalt and chase the win, or should he keep Oswalt in and hope for another rally.
Callaway opted to pinch hit for Oswalt despite his just having thrown 62 pitches. Callaway’s decision was rewarded when Phillip Evans hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie the score.
The move looked even better when Amed Rosario hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
That lead grew to 6-2 with Bautista hitting a two run homer:
Hasta Bautista! 👋 pic.twitter.com/Mndd4etjko
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 25, 2018
Then considering it is the Mets bullpen at work, it was time to hold on for dear life.
Robert Gsellman would relieve Peterson with one out and one, and he would preserve the 6-4 lead.
Anthony Swarzak would then have his best outing as a Mets pitching two scoreless to pick up the save.
For Swarzak, it was more than just two scoreless innings, it was his throwing 95 with a really good slider. Really, he looked like the guy who the Mets thought they were signing.
Some more of that, and suddenly, things look much better for this team next year.
Game Notes: For reasons no one can explain, Reyes started over Jeff McNeil. Before the game, Cespedes announced he el have season ending surgery.
Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.
It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”
Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.
With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.
The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.
It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.
In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.
Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.
Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.
With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.
In some ways, the Mets final game before the All Star Break was a microcosm of the entire first half of the season. It started with a lot of promise, and things would quickly unravel from there.
Really, the biggest thing you want to take away from this game is just how good Corey Oswalt pitched. He only needed 59 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed just one earned on two hits while walking none.
In four of his five innings, he got the Nationals to go down 1-2-3. The only issue was the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams led off the inning with back-to-back singles setting the stage for a Michael Taylor RBI ground out. Even with that rally, Oswalt still impressed inducing Matt Wieters to hit into a rally killing and inning ending double play.
Of course, with how well he was pitching, you knew Mickey Callaway was going to be double guessed for lifting him for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
At the time, the score was tied 1-1, and to be fair, the Mets weren’t really setting the world on fire against Jeremy Hellickson.
After Jose Reyes hit a one out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Amed Rosario had a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI and not just get the lead but keep Oswalt in the game. He struck out. Dominic Smith, who was given a talking to by Callaway, pinch hit for Oswalt, and he was hit by a pitch.
Unfortunately, Brandon Nimmo, who hasn’t been hitting near as well since he was hit on the hand in Atlanta, couldn’t deliver.
Seth Lugo came out of the pen for a shutdown inning, but after that it was the typical Mets comedy of errors coming out of the bullpen.
The Mets would use Anthony Swarzak, Tim Peterson, and Jerry Blevins in the seventh. None of them were effective. Swarzak was the worst with him walking the two batters he faced before getting pulled. Ultimately, to add insult to injury, it was Daniel Murphy who delivered the go-ahead hit in what would become a five run inning.
In the end, the Mets lost 6-1, and they have not won a series since May. They have the fewest wins in the National League, and they continue to play Reyes everyday while not giving younger players like Jeff McNeil or Smith an opportunity.
Really, this is a bad team whose front office is managing it to the ground.
Game Notes: Blevins escaped the seventh inning jam by picking off a runner. That was his third pick off of the season tying him with Steven Matz for the team lead.
I had a previously scheduled event at the precise time as first pitch yesterday. With the Mets 16 games under .500, that should not have been an issue. And yet, I couldn’t help but follow the game on my phone.
I was pumped when I saw the 7-0 led propelled by a Michael Conforto three run homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 14, 2018
I then lamented how Wheeler may soon join Matt Harvey as an ex-Met as this dream rotation is dismantled before it really ever got off the ground.
In the end, really, I write about the Mets because I love this team no matter how bad they are and no matter how awful ownership is.
The Rays have become a story in baseball for using an opener, i.e. a reliever, to start some games. They’ve arguably had to experiment with it due to the state of their starting pitching. The obvious exception to that is today’s starter Blake Snell, who has been phenomenal this year.
Snell is an ace, and when you face him, you have to take advantage of your opportunities and not make mistakes.
Well, Steven Matz did make mistakes, including walking and hitting Snell, but he fought through it with what was a really good start. In fact, in a fair and just world, Matz gets through his 6.1 innings unscathed.
Matz got the grounder with Wilson Ramos grounding it right at Amed Rosario. Rosario charged in, and the ball hit him in the heel of the glove. This cost him a shot at Duffy, and it gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
With the Mets offense completely sputtering and shooting itself in the foot, that one run was enough.
In seven of the nine innings, the Mets got their leadoff runner on base. In three of those innings, it was a leadoff double.
Still, the Mets had one really good opportunity in the seventh, and it as bad luck that cost them.
Jose Reyes led off the eight with a double past the outstretched arms of Duffy. Then, in what was a tough at-bat against Snell, Brandon Nimmo hit a ball which seemed destined for center field. Instead it tipped off of Snell’s foot leading to a 1-4-3 put out.
So much for the momentum from Bautista’s grand slam.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores had nearly half of the Mets seven hits going 3-4 with a double.
If you feel like you’ve seen this game before, you probably have.
The first crack against him was in the fifth as old pal Curtis Granderson double home a run. After that, Wheeler settled down and put up a couple of more zeros.
In the seventh, the Mets added an insurance run on a Michael Conforto double. At that point, the Mets had a 6-1 lead, and there was no indication the Mets would Mets this up.
Jose Bautista in his first game back in Toronto misplayed the Grichuk single into a two base error leaving him on third.
Oddly enough, pulling Wheeler was designed to prevent things from falling apart. The only issue is the Mets bullpen is bad.
Gsellman took care of that by allowing a game tying three run homer to the first batter he saw – Yangervis Solarte.
For those understandably clamoring for Tim Peterson in that spot, well, today wasn’t your day.
In the eighth with the score now tied 6-6, Peterson came on, but after two outs, he walked Grichuk before allowing a go-ahead two run homer to Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.
That’s the ballgame with the finishing touch being former Met Tyler Clippard git Conforto to ground out to end the game.
Basically speaking, there is no lead the Mets bullpen can protect.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith got the start, and he played first. He was 2-4 with two doubles. Mesoraco was lifted in the seventh after getting hit by a foul ball and a swing in successive innings. So far, he has passed concussion protocols
Coming off the news their general manager, the man who brought all of them to the Mets, was once again fighting cancer, and he was going to take a leave of absence, which was phrased more like a termination, the Mets seemed game to win one for Sandy Alderson.
In the first, surprise leadoff hitter Jose Bautista led off with a single off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. After two quick outs, he found himself on third after an Asdrubal Cabrera walk and a Kuhl wild pitch. Both runners would score on a Wilmer Flores seeing eye single through the left side of the infield.
From there, the Pirates would make three errors, Pirates pitching would throw three more wild pitches, and Kuhl would leave early due to injury. They would not be able to take advantage of any of it, which put Steven Matz in a precarious situation.
To start the game, Matz was terrific, and he would not yield a hit until David Freese hit a leadoff single against him to start the inning. That leadoff single would create some trouble for Matz.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets would have an opportunity to reclaim the lead for Matz. After Kevin Plawecki was hit by a pitch, the Mets would have runners at first and second with two outs. Jose Reyes would fly out to left to end the inning. On the play, Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows almost overran the ball, but he recovered in time to make the inning ending catch.
That all loomed large as it allowed Mickey Callaway to give Matz the seventh. With two outs in the inning, a terrific outing was spoiled as Polanco hit what looked to be the game winning homer.
Fortunately for Matz, the Mets would bail him out as Michael Conforto delivered hit own two out home run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score anew.
With Matz off the hook, Callaway initially went to Anthony Swarzak to keep the score tied in what would become a truly bizarre top of the eighth.
With Josh Harrison following a Meadows one out walk, Callaway took no chances, and he brought in Jeurys Familia. Familia used his fabled sinker to induce what should have been an inning ending double play. That never materialized as Reyes took his sweet time not only getting to the ball, but also flipping it to Cabrera.
With Harrison making a good hard-nosed slide, Cabrera had little choice but to record the out and jump to avoid the slide. That offended Familia who got into words with Harrison leading to the benches clearing. Things died down when Cabrera hugged Harrison, which was something the booth did not take kindly.
Familia still got out of the jam, and he pitched a scoreless ninth. Tim Peterson, who has been very good in limited duty, followed with a scoreless tenth.
In the tenth, Conforto got things started with a leadoff walk against LHP Steven Brault. Things got more interesting when Todd Frazier followed the walk with a single. After Cabrera popped up not one but two bunt attempts, with the second one being caught, Flores would get his third walk-off hit of the season with a single down the third base line.
On a day of tears, it is quite fitting that Flores would be the guy to get the game winning hit.