Anthony Swarzak

As Expected, Mets Lose To Diamondbacks

The Mets lost this game 7-3. Sadly, one of the reasons for the loss was Seth Lugofinally having a poor game.

The guy we all want in the rotation allowed five earned on eight hits in five innings pitched.

It really was an off night for a guy having a great season. Unfortunately, despite Lugo bailing out the Mets several times this year, the Mets could not bail him out.

In the second, after a Dominic Smithdouble, the Mets had runners at second and third with no outs.

Kevin Plaweckigrounded out, and then on a shallow center, the noodle armed Jarrod Dyson threw it offline, and he still got it there in plenty of time to nail Jose Bautistaat the plate.

One of the reasons Bautista was sent was Lugo was due up. Of course, Lugo would single off his counter-part Zack Godley to start a rally. He’d score on a Todd Frazierdouble.

After the double, the Mets had runners at second and third with one out. Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrerastruck out to end that rally.

Sure, Alex Avilabailed out Godley more than a few times by stopping a few balls in the dirt with a runner on third. But really, this was in an inept Mets offense.

Things looked interesting with a Smith fourth inning homer off the foul pole to make it 3-2.

From there, Lugo allowed two earned. Newest Mets Chris Beck allowed a run in 1.2 innings of work. Anthony Swarzakallowed a run in the eighth.

In the ninth, a bewildered Mets team stood at the top railing almost willing something to happen.

There was a rally in the ninth against Jorge De La Rosa with Wilmer Floreshitting an RBI double scoring an unearned run.

At that point, the Diamondbacks went to their closer, Brad Boxberger, who got Michael Confortoto fly out to left to end the game.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Mets are really bad right now.

Game Notes: Smith made an appearance in LF

LuGOAT, ToddFather Beat Yankees

With the Mets blowing two games to the Yankees as part of an eight game losing streak, there wasn’t much reason to be optimistic the Mets would pull out a win tonight.

The Yankees were throwing their ace, Luis Severino, and, after a setback, the Mets were without Noah Syndergaard. Making matters worse, during the game, Asdrubal Cabrera tweaked one of the myriad of leg injuries he’s currently suffering leading to Jose Reyes taking over for him at second.

Well, a funny thing happened.

Seth Lugo, who has been terrific all year, not only matched Severino pitch-for-pitch, he was also better.

Emerging from the bullpen, Lugo went much deeper into the game than most expected. Through six innings, Lugo limited the Yankees to just two hits with no Yankee even reaching second base. Additionally, he walked none while striking out eight.

Amazingly, he departed with the lead.

Probably because the entire Yankees team fell asleep at the switch, Reyes hit a two out single in the fifth, which put him on base ahead of Todd Frazier‘s homer.

Mickey Callaway then did what he had to do and had Robert Gsellman pitch the seventh and eighth.

It almost came back to bite the Mets because Reyes is terrible.

After a Miguel Andujar one out single, Aaron Boone sent up Aaron Judge to pinch hit, and he hit what should have been an inning ending double play.

Not only did Reyes fail to touch second, but, with Andujar nowhere near him, he threw the ball away. Everyone was safe.

Given how the Mets season has gone, this is where it all typically falls apart. It didn’t with Gsellman getting Gleyber Torres to foul out before getting Brett Gardner to fly out to end the inning.

With Jeurys Familia going to the DL, the question was who would close games for the Mets. Tonight, the answer was Anthony Swarzak.

It was a little dicey with a one out walk to Greg Bird, and a 2-0 count to Gary Sanchez. Sanchez ripped a liner . . . right at Frazier, who made the quick throw for an inning ending double play.

With that, the eight game losing streak is over, and the Yankees were shut out for the first time all year. For this game to mean anything, the Mets will have to build off of this and win the ensuing series against the Braves.

Game Notes: For the second straight game, Cabrera led off and Brandon Nimmo by third.

Mets Lose To Yankees Again

If you looked at the Mets lineup today, it looked like the lineup you put together when you’re: (1) grasping at straws; (2) overthinking things; or (3) trying to do something different for its own sake:

As bizarre as the lineup looked, it worked . . . at least in the first.

Against Yankee starter Domingo German, second place hitter Todd Frazier opened the scoring with his first homer since returning from the DL:

After third place hitter Brandon Nimmo tripled, Asdrubal Cabrera homered to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

From there, the Mets offense reverted back to itself throwing away golden opportunities. That gave Steven Matz a decent lead, but not a big one against a dangerous Yankee lineup.

For a while, Matz kept the Yankees at bay. He did what he needed to do to stymie rallies including picking off Aaron Hicks in the first.

Despite Matz pitching well, it didn’t stop Gleyber Torres from hitting a third inning homer to pull the Yankees to within 3-1.

In the sixth, Matz got himself into trouble by walking Gary Sanchez on five pitches, and then he hung a curve to Miguel Andujar. Suddenly, it’s a tie game, and you’re once again wondering just how the Mets are going to score.

Really, from the Cabrera homer through the sixth, the Mets offense did little. Then, against David Robertson, Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with an opposite field double down the third base line.

He wouldn’t move from that base. One of the reasons why was Mickey Callaway opted to pinch hit Luis Guillorme instead of Jose Bautista after a Kevin Plawecki strikeout.

Guillorme struck out against a reliever who had reverse splits.

In the ensuing inning, Anthony Swarzak hung his first pitch to Aaron Judge, who hit what would be the game winning homer.

In quite fitting fashion, this game ended with Jose Reyes flying out to end the game. Really, on a night where the Mets had no real bench to rely upon, it made sense there was no better option than Reyes, who we all knew would fail.

Game Notes: Cabrera was ejected an inning after he struck out looking for barking from the dugout. Yoenis Cespedes was pulled from his rehab start.

Bad Pitcher, Worse Team, Mets Loss.

Well, Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak were back today. The MLB worst Orioles were sending Alex Cobb and his AL worst seven losses and a 6.80 ERA to the mound.

This was supposed to be the day everything got better.

It didn’t.

In the first, the Orioles played two against Jason Vargas with a Manny Machado RBI single and a Danny Valencia sac fly. Believe it or not (you should believe it), the Mets could not overcome that deficit.

It wasn’t until the fifth that the Mets would get anything going with a Jay Bruce single and a Kevin Plawecki double.

Ultimately, with runners on second and third with no out, the Mets would only plate one run on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly. Bautista just missed it, but he missed it all the same.

With Seth Lugo pitching three scoreless and Swarzak returning with a scoreless inning, the Mets would have a chance to tie the game with a big hit, an error, really, anything.

And the Mets has a golden chance in the eighth.

After an Amed Rosario one out walk, Brandon Nimmo laid down a bunt. Valencia got to the ball, but he pulled the first baseman off the bag with his throw. With the heart of the order approaching, Asdrubal Cabrera hit into an inning ending and effectively speaking a game ending double play.

Now, the Mets are four games under .500, and you’re left wondering where the low point is going to be because the Mets certainly haven’t found it yet.

Game Notes: Cabrera is now one for his last 25.

Cubs Steal Home And Game From Matz

It’s exceedingly hard to put this game on Steven Matz. Arguably, doing so is completely absurd, and yet in some ways, the win/loss rules do that.

Through six innings, Matz allowed just two hits while striking out seven. With him locked in a pitcher’s duel with Jon Lester, and the Mets recent bullpen performances, you certainly understood why Mickey Callaway sent Matz out the the seventh.

Javier Baez and Willson Contreras led off the inning with back-to-back singles to at up runners with the corners with no outs. That’s when the Cubs put a set play into effect:

https://twitter.com/cubs/status/1003350544209940480?s=21

On that lazy throw to first, Baez immediately broke for home giving Adrian Gonzalez no chance of getting him at the plate.

While the natural inclination may be to jump on Matz, this was just the Cubs being ultra aggressive and smart. Somethings you just get beat.

Then, there are times you beat yourself.

On Gonzalez’s throw home, Contreras took second, and he’d move to third on a Kyle Schwarber single. Ben Zobrist, who just killed the Mets in this series, hit a pop up to shallow right THAT HAD NO BUSINESS SCORING A RUN.

NO BUSINESS!!!!!!!

But of course, the hobbled Jay Bruce allowed second baseman Luis Guillorme call him off. With Guillorme not being in the same strong position to make a throw home as a charging right fielder, Contreras not only took off, but he also scored.

Of course, Bruce would also fail to deliver at the plate as well.

The Mets had threatened immediately with Brandon Nimmo and Jose Bautista each drawing walks to begin the bottom of the first. Neither would score with Bruce being the first of three straight Mets to strikeout as Lester got out of that jam.

The Mets couldn’t get anything going again until the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs. The rally would end on a Gonzalez ground out.

Ultimately, the Mets had no shot to win this one as they accumulated just three hits while getting shutout in this 2-0 loss. They’ve now scored just one run over their last 23 innings.

That’s borderline noncompetitive. Borderline.

Game Notes: Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak will be activated before Tuesday’s game.

Rosario’s Signature Game Leads To Mets Win

More than any game this season, you expected the Mets to lose yesterday.  Jason Vargas and his 10.62 ERA were pitching on three days rest.  The team made a flurry of moves to add Tim Peterson, Buddy Baumann, and Scott Copeland, a trio many joked were really names spit out by the Madden name generator, to the roster.   Once again, they had an extremely short bench.

And to make matters worse, the Braves were pitching Julio Teheran, who has owned the Mets in his career.

But something very interesting happened.  Vargas was actually good.  The veteran lefty would pitch five shutout innings against the Braves.  Better yet because of a pair of fourth inning doubles from Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets actually had a 1-0 lead through five.

Interestingly enough, many were actually second guessing Mickey Callaway‘s decision to pull Vargas after five.  The main arguments were he was pitching well, and he had only thrown 65 pitches.

Those arguments neglect the obvious counterpoint that Vargas was on short rest, and he’s been bad all year.  Those five innings were a gift, and rather than look in the horse’s mouth to see if anything was left, he thanked the baseball gods and gave the ball to Peterson.

Peterson is an interesting story because as the Mets 2012 20th round draft pick, he was going to have to do more than the average prospect to prove himself.  He has done just that coming off a 1.14ERA in Binghamton last year, a terrific stretch in the Arizona Fall League, and a 3.45 ERA and 12.6 K/9 for Las Vegas this year.  With the rash of injuries, at 27 years old, Peterson was finally going to get his shot.

He would immediately prove he belonged pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning, an inning where he faced Ozzie AlbiesFreddie FreemanNick Markakis.  That is no small feat indeed.  In fact, in his two innings of work, he would allow just one hit.  Unfortunately, that one hit was a Johan Camargo homer to the same exact spot he hit his walk-off against Gerson Bautista the previous night.

Fortunately, that homer would cut the lead to 2-1 because the Mets came up with two huge two out hits against Teheran.  First, Amed Rosario hit a rope to center past Ender Inciarte that turned into a two out triple.  Then, Brandon Nimmo would jump on a 3-2 pitch and rip a single to right to give the Mets a then 2-0 led.  That triple set up an important insurance run, but it would not be the last impact Rosario would have on this game.

In the top of the eighth, Shane Carle relieved Teheran, and the Mets immediately went on the attack.  After a Jose Bautista double, Bruce was intentionally walked, and Kevin Plawecki worked out a six pitch walk.  Gonzalez, who the Braves are paying $21.8 million not to play for them, hit an RBI single giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.  The rally would end there as Luis Guillorme hit into an inning ending double play.

Callaway then made a decision he promised to make heading into the season, but he has not followed through.  He brought Jeurys Familia into the eighth inning because the Braves had the top of the lineup coming up.  No, this was not going to be a six out save chance.  Rather, Callaway was using his best reliever to get out the best hitters in the Braves lineup.

The move almost blew up with Albies and Freeman hitting a pair of one out singles followed by Markakis smoking a grounder up the middle.  That’s when Rosario made a truly great defensive play to save the inning and perhaps the game:

That 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, and it might’ve saved the game.

In the top of the ninth, Rosario and Nimmo added an insurance run off Miguel Socolovich with a pair of one out doubles to increase the Mets lead t0 4-1.  That three run margin was more than enough for Robert Gsellman to record his first one inning save.

Ulitmately, in a series of many twists and turns, the Mets battled through injury and fatigue and somehow walked away with a split. Perhaps more importantly, we now have a signature game from Rosario, who suddenly seems like he is figuring it out in each and every aspect of his game.  He’s been exciting, and as he continues to develop, you have more and more reason to get excited about this Mets team.

It speaks to the resiliency this team has, and it will be interesting to see what it means for this team as it begins to get healthy with Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak on the horizon.

Game Notes: To make room for the aforementioned three relievers, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame were sent down to Triple-A.  To make room for Copeland and Peterson on the 40 man roster, Juan Lagares was transferred to the 60 day disabled list, and P.J. Conlon was designated for assignment.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should Lugo Start?

The Mets once vaunted rotation seemingly has three holes in it.  Steven Matz has failed to pitch at least five innings in half of his starts.  Against teams that are not the Miami Marlins, Zack Wheeler is 1-3 with a 6.97 ERA.  Jason Vargas finally lasted five innings in his last start, and those five scoreless innings lowered his ERA from 13.86 to 9.87.

With each poor start, there is a renewed call for Seth Lugo to join the Mets rotation.  To a certain extent, those fans will get their wish when Lugo gets a spot start next week.  However, the question still remains about whether he should be in the bullpen or the rotation.  In this edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we tackle that exact question:

Michael Baron (MLB)

It’s not that simple, especially without having Anthony Swarzak at their disposal. Right now, they don’t have an effective reliever – other than Lugo – against left-handed hitters. AJ Ramos has struggled as well. Lugo is one of three relievers they can count on to get the ball to Jeurys Familia, and because the rotation is so thin, he continues to come up aces in extended relief outings. Also, Lugo seems to have found a niche in relief, knows how to get outs in short stints utilizing a heavier fastball and that curve, proving to be a huge asset for them in this role. But, there is a need in the rotation – starters not named Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard have an ERA over 6 (as of 5/20) and are struggling to throw even 4 innings consistently. So, they might have to rob Peter to pay Paul at some point in Lugo’s situation.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

If Anthony Swarzak can be as effective as Lugo has been when he returns from the disabled list, then and only then should Lugo be considered for a role in the starting rotation. Otherwise, why mess with a good thing? There’s no guarantee Lugo will be able to pitch as effectively when he has to pitch five-plus innings as a starter. It’s up to Wheeler, Matz and Vargas to step up their game so Lugo can continue to be at the top of his in the bullpen.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Moving a pitcher whose primary flaw was the inability to get batters out a third time through the order from a role where he’s more effective because he doesn’t have to do that would not seem to strengthen either the rotation or the bullpen.

Breanna Susa (MMO, That Mets Chick)

He’s a vital part of the bullpen, but if the rotation continues to struggle I would want him in the rotation. But only when Swarzak comes back, so they aren’t short handed in the bullpen.

Mets Daddy

Ultimately, the Mets are going to need to try something.  Ideally, you would give a llook to Corey Oswalt or Chris Flexen in the rotation, especially with a doubleheader scheduled for Monday.  It should be noted Oswalt had a terrific start yesterday in Las Vegas, and Flexen’s last start in Vegas was great as well before he was called up to languish in the Mets bullpen.

Really, the Mets need to try something here because unless the Mets are facing the Marlins, neither Wheeler nor Vargas has been cutting it.  Who knows what will get Matz going again?  In the end, Lugo may just be the best available starting pitching option, and the Mets are going to have to replace him with one of the aforementioned pitchers in the bullpen.  While that may sound risky, it should be noted Lugo has been a much different pitcher in the bullpen than he has in the rotation.  Maybe the same will hold true for Wheeler, Matz, etc.

While what the Mets should do with Lugo remains uncertain, one thing that remains certain is the Mets have a great fanbase and group of bloggers who regularly write about the team.  I encourage you to read their work in the attached links.

Mets Free Agent Signings Didn’t Produce In April

During the offseason, many Mets fans, myself included, had implored the Mets to go out on the free agent market and address the real needs this team had.  Instead, the Mets went out, looked for bargains, and they signed more Major League free agents than they had during Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets general mananger.

On the surface, it must be working out because the Mets are 17-9 and in first place.  With the salt and pepper shaker bit, the Mets seem to have built a strong clubhouse and a strong team who is in good position to make the postseason.

However, if you dig a little deeper, you will see of all the players the Mets signed this past offseason, Todd Frazier is really the only one producing.  While we are dealing with small sample sizes, here is the respective WAR for each of the Mets free agent signings:

Adrian Gonzalez-0.3 WAR
Jay Bruce 0.0 WAR
Jose Reyes -0.2 WAR
Jason Vargas -0.3 WAR
Anthony Swarzak 0.0 WAR

Combined, these free agent signings have accumulated a -0.8 WAR. Now, there are bound to be some caveats to this, and one of those caveats is injuries.

Vargas and Swarzak have both spent time on the disabled list. With Swarzak, his being on the disabled list has prevented him from contributing.  With Vargas, his injury limited him to one start, and in that one start where he allowed nine runs on nine hits in 3.2 innnings, he was arguably rusty.  At least you hope Vargas was rusty.

With respect to Bruce, he has been hampered by plantar fascitiis.  As a result, the Mets have not seen the player who got off to a terrific start last year.  Instead, this looks more like the Bruce of 2014 – 2016 who averaged a 0.1 WAR.

Bruce’s injury and Gonzalez’s ineffectiveness have had it’s impact on the Mets which go far beyond their recent 7-8 streak.  No, their presence on the team has limited Brandon Nimmo‘s playing time.  Nimmo has started the season hitting .313/.488/.563 with a double, two triples, a homer, three RBI, and a stolen base.  If this were a true meritocracy, Nimmo would be leading off and playing everyday.

Instead, because he made the mistake of being born in the 1990s instead of the 1980s, he’s on the bench.  As a result, the Mets are not fielding their best team each and every day.

Speaking of which, it is still baffling how Reyes is still on this roster.  Last year, he had a -0.6 WAR, 94 wRC+, and an MLB worst -26 DRS among infielders.  Basically put, he couldn’t hit and couldn’t field.

As for the argument he’s a mentor for Amed Rosario, then he’s failing at that job too.  Rosario has an unfathomably low 4.3% walk rate, a  high 25.3% strikeout rate, and a -2 DRS.  Overall, he’s hitting just .238/.282/.325 with five doubles, a triple, no homers, eight RBI, no stolen bases, and two caught stealings. The end result of that is Rosario having a -0.2 WAR.

Looking at Rosario’s numbers, he’s nowhere close to living up to his potential.  Rosario is a truly gifted player, and the Mets have a lot invested in him and his development.  So far, whatever Reyes is telling him, just isn’t working.  And if Reyes is playing poorly and isn’t helping Rosario along, you need to again question why Reyes is here.

The good news is we should reasonably expect Bruce and Vargas to improve.  Sooner or later, Swarzak will return and be a real shot in the arm for the bullpen.  To that extent, the Mets could be a significantly better version of the 17-9 team they are right now.  Of course, part of being a better team is putting their younger players like Nimmo and Rosario in a position to succeed.  To that end, the Mets may need to re-look at the players they signed this offseason and cut bait where appropriate.

 

Editor’s Note: This was partially adapted from the 3 Up, 3 Down piece published on MMO

Mets Handling of Swarzak’s Injury May Indicate a Real Culture Change

During Spring Training, the Mets seemed to be going down the same path they always do with their handling of Yoenis Cespedes‘ wrist.  He had soreness in the wrist, and the tried to play through it.  Finally, he would get a cortisone shot and miss some games.  Considering how he has started the season, a crisis was clearly averted.  However, it did seem like the injury and how it was handled was a little too reminiscent of how things were handled under the old regime.

Over the last few seasons, the Mets had a culture where they either pressured players to play through potentially serious injuries, or they allowed players to push through without a proper examination.  We saw it time and time again.

Cespedes has sat around for days and weeks before being placed on the disabled list.  Last year, even with the Mets admitting Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler were not at complete strength, they began the year in the rotation, and eventually, they went down with stress reactions.  The Mets were quite vocal in their criticisms about how Steven Matz needed to pitch through this injuries, and in the last two seasons, we have seen him undergo season ending surgeries.

Perhaps the biggest indication there needed to be a change was the Mets handling of Noah Syndergaard last year.  After being scratched from a start with what was believed to be biceps tendinitis, Syndergaard refused to get an MRI.  In his next start, he lasted just 1.1 innings before having to leave the game with a torn lat.  The injury cost him almost four months, and really, it helped cost the Mets the 2017 season.

Something had to change, and the Mets did so at least on paper bringing in new personnel with different ideas on how to both prevent and treat injuries.

Considering the Mets past history coupled with the somewhat questionable handling of Cespedes’ wrist injury in Spring Training, it really made how the Mets were going to handle Anthony Swarzak‘s injury an important test case.

As initially noted by Tim Britton of The Athletic, the Mets did not initially schedule any tests for Swarzak.  Theoretically, those test would not even be needed as Swarzak reportedly feeling better the next day.  And yet, in a complete change from how things were handled previously, the Mets scheduled a precautionary MRI on Swarzak.

While the reports were Swarzak “only” had a sore left oblique, the team put him on the disabled list and called up Hansel Robles.

Precautionary exams.  Putting players on the disabled list immediately.  Having a full 25 man roster available for each game.  This is a stark contrast to how injuries used to be handled with the Mets, and it is hope we will not see a repeat of the injuries which befell the Mets over the last three seasons.

As the Mets broke camp and began the season, it seemed like this year was going to be different.  Seeing how Swarzak’s injury was handled, things really might be different.

Who’s Better: 2015 or 2018 Mets?

Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets.  Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry.  However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes.  When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.

With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right?  Let’s take a look:

CATCHER

2015: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki
2018: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki

Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation.  In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.

The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer.  Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well.  Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.

Things changed at the tail end of 2017.  Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become.  d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September.  As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.

VERDICT: 2018if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close

FIRST BASE

2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez

In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI.  He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.

Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.

VERDICT: 2015 Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw

SECOND BASE

2015: Daniel Murphy
2018: Asdrubal Cabrera

We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.

For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.

VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one

THIRD BASE

2015: David Wright
2018: Todd Frazier

This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.

Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.

VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy

SHORTSTOP

2015: Ruben Tejada
2018: Amed Rosario

Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015.  After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores.  Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half.  Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.

Rosario is the future of the Mets.  Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate.  However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better.  He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time.  For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.

VERDICT: 2018 Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high

OUTFIELD

2015: Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson
2018: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce

Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets.  Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting.  Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup.  He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist.  Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.

With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets.  To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player.  This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.

VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.

BENCH

2015: Michael Cuddyer, Wilmer Flores, Kelly Johnson, Juan Lagares
2018: Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, Jose Reyes

From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers.  They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits.  In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well.  Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.

The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player.  Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder.  Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015.  Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.

VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important

ROTATION

2015: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon
2018: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Jason Vargas

When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then.  Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.

VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then

BULLPEN

2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald

Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen.  This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year.  Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness.  One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.

When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins.  Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.

VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside

MANAGER

2015: Terry Collins
2018: Mickey Callaway

For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015.  When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived.  Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.

Right now, Callaway looks like a genius.  He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth.  He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late.  His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire.  However, the season isn’t even a week old.  Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.

Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series

VERDICT

If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation.  The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager.  Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw.  However, in reality, it’s not.  That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.

That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager.  If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level.  If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.