Armando Benitez

2000 Game Recap: Hampton Finally Picks Up First Mets Win

Don’t let the pitching line deceive you. This is exactly what the Mets thought they were getting with Mike Hampton. For this first time since putting on a Mets uniform, Hampton pitched like an ace, and he came away with his first win as a member of the Mets.

The Mets gave him some early breathing room in this game with a four run first. That inning featured an RBI double from Edgardo Alfonzo, RBI singles from Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile, and a sacrifice fly from Jay Payton. The Mets bats clearly came alive in Pittsburgh, and it appears they came along with the ride back home.

The Brewers did get two back in the second on a Raul Casanova RBI single, but Hampton would shut down the Brewers over the next five innings. Hampton was doing it all facing the minimum over those five innings as well as going 2-for-2 at the plate with a run and two walks.

The players around him was matching his pitching effort with an offensive onslaught. Alonzo had another RBI double, and Robin Ventura hit another grand salm. Jon Nunnally, who has been terrific in place of Rickey Henderson/Darryl Hamilton, had a sacrifice fly. Entering the top of the eighth, the Mets had a 10-2 lead.

At that point, Hampton’s pitch count was at a manageable 89, and he would get two quick outs to start the inning. Things started to turn against him with Marquis Grissom getting a single after a six pitch at-bat. Hampton at that point labored loading the bases, and he couldn’t quite get that last out.

After a bases loaded walk to Charlie Hayes and a two RBI single from Jose Hernandez, Bobby Valentine got his ace from the game. Rich Rodriguez got the Mets out of that jam. He’d get into some trouble in the ninth necessitating Armando Benitez come into the game to bail him out and record the save.

Overall, it was a 10-7 win for a Mets team now starting to get hot. The team who has struggled and played sloppy baseball has now won four of their last five, and they are back at .500. If they continue to hit like this and get starting pitching like this, they should get well past this mark in the very near future.

Game Notes: Rey Ordonez and Henderson were held out of this game due to injury concerns stemming from plays in Pittsburgh. Ventura is the active grand slam leader with 14.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Mike Piazza Sinks Pirates

Even with baseball being the ultimate team sport, there are times you just need your superstar to carry you. With the Mets not being nearly as fundamentally sound as they were last year, the team having some internal strife with the Rickey Henderson drama, and ultimately, the team starting the year two games under .500, they really needed Mike Piazza to go out there and right the ship against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He did just that.

The game was tied 1-1 heading into the top of the fifth with Wil Cordero hitting a solo homer in the second and Edgardo Alfonzo hitting a sacrifice fly in the third. Piazza would deliver his first big hit of many in this game with an RBI double scoring Alfonzo, who had just tripled.

After a Henderson error in the bottom of the fifth allowed the tying run to score the game, Piazza would again deliver in the seventh with one of his patented opposite field homers. In fact, the Mets would go back-to-back with Robin Ventura following Piazza’s homer with one of his own.

At that point, the Mets were leading 4-2, and they put Al Leiter in position for the win. In his first start since dealing with an injury issue, Leiter was good. Over 7.2 innings, he allowed three runs (two earned) while walking three and striking out six. The only real mar on this start was the homers he allowed to Cordero and Kevin Young.

Leiter should have walked away with the win, but Armando Benitez would blow his first game of the season. After two quick strikeouts, Jason Kendall doubled, and then he scored on a Pat Meares RBI triple. Fortunately, he rebounded by striking out Young to get out of the inning to send the game into extras.

John Franco came into the game, and he would come up big for the Mets pitching two shut-out innings. That helped send the game into the 12th. At that point, the Mets would not be denied.

Rey Ordonez hit a lead-off single against Jose Silva, and Benny Agbayani sent him to third on a double. Melvin Mora gave the Mets the lead with a two RBI single. Unfortunately, he’d get picked off of first on a hard Derek Bell liner right at Young.

The Mets rally didn’t end there. Alfonzo drew a walk, and then Piazza would hit a two run homer to give the Mets an 8-4 lead. On the night, Piazza was 5-for-6 with a two runs, a double, two homers, and four RBI. With this performance, he raised his batting average from .265 to .350.

Mostly, Piazza looked like Piazza, and for seemingly the first time this season, the Mets offense looked like the Mets offense we expected them to be. This should stand as a reminder not just about how important a player Piazza is but just how good this Mets team can be.

Dennis Cook made it interesting in the bottom of the 12th. After issuing a walk to Young and throwing a wild pitch, he allowed a single to Warren Morris and then an RBI double to Mike Benjamin. After that, with the Pirates able to send the game tying run to the plate, Cook settled down to get the last two outs of the game.

Believe it or not, this is the first time this season the Mets have won on back-to-back days. They are not entering a soft spot in their schedule. Hopefully, with that the Mets can put a run together and start looking like the World Series contenders we hoped they could be.

Game Notes: Franco earned the win. It was his first win in 112 appearances.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 9 Todd Hundley

When it comes to the number 9, there are some fan favorites and good baseball players who have worn the number in Mets history. There was J.C. Martin who paired with Jerry Grote to backstop the 1969 World Series champions. Gregg Jefferies accomplished the rare feat of twice finishing in the top six in Rookie of the Year voting.

Todd Zeile probably came an inch and Timo Perez hustle to claim this honor himself, especially with his spearheading the Mets players wearing the caps in the wake of 9/11. Brandon Nimmo is an on-base machine who already has the Mets single-season HBP record. Ultimately, this honor may one day belong to him, but for today, the best Mets player to wear the number 9 is Todd Hundley.

The son of former Cubs catcher Randy Hundley was born to play catcher. While there were questions about his bat, Hundley was known as a good defensive catcher. After Gary Carter was released, and Mackey Sasser struggled with the yips, he was rushed to the majors as a 20 year old.

While he got his first call-up in 1990, it took him a few seasons to stick on as the Mets starting catcher. Even with him being a good backstop, it was not until the 1995 season where Hundley truly established himself as a real everyday Major League catcher. That began from the first game of the 1995 season where he hit the first ever grand slam in the first game ever at Coors Field:

In that 1995 season, Hundley would deal with some injury issues, but he would put together his first real year as a player who could catch and hold his own at the plate. That 1995 season was an important year for him, but it was the following season which would define him.

The 1996 Mets were not a very good team, but they were a team with some of the best seasons in team history. In that year, Lance Johnson set the Mets single season record for triples. Bernard Gilkey set the Mets single season mark for doubles. Finally, Hundley would set the Mets single season mark for homers. It was actually much more than that.

Hundley’s 41 homers in 1996 would not only have him break Darryl Strawberry‘s single-season record for homers by a Met. It would also break Roy Campanella‘s single-season mark for homers by a catcher. Hundley would set the record with a homer off future teammate Greg McMichael:

For a Mets team with so much losing and with so many low points since that stretch in the 1980s, it was an important moment. It was so important to the team, they had a hologram picture of Hundley breaking the record on the 1997 year book.

That was an important moment for the Mets not only because of the record, but also because it was their first real sign of hope in years. With Hundley, they had a homegrown budding star to build a team around. In that year, he would make his first All Star team.

While Hundley didn’t set any records in 1997, he did something possibly even more important. He backed up what he did in 1996 by hitting 30 home runs the following year. He would once again be an All Star. More than that, he was a key part of a Mets team who was suddenly good. In fact, that team won a surprising 88 games, and they looked like an up and coming team.

More than that, Hundley and the Mets delivered the first blow in the first ever Subway Series game when baseball introduced Interleague Play. In the first inning of that game, Hundley would actually steal home. More important than that, he would catch every pitch of Dave Mlicki‘s complete game shutout which culminating in his framing a Mlicki curve to strike out Derek Jeter to end the game.

The Mets would take another step the following season emerging as real postseason contenders. Unfortunately, Hundley was not much a part of that. He missed the beginning of the year with reconstructive elbow surgery. That team got off to a slow start without him, and in an effort to save the season, the Mets obtained the shockingly available Mike Piazza, who was moved earlier in the season to the Florida Marlins.

That meant when Hundley came back there was nowhere for him to play. He tried left field, but he struggled out there, and for the good of the team, he told Bobby Valentine the team needed to reduce his role. That request did not come with a trade demand. Still, even though he was relegated as a back-up and pinch hitter, it did not mean he would not contribute.

Hundley’s last hurrah as a member of the Mets came in Houston. The Mets were a game out in the loss column for the Wild Card, and they needed every win they could get. In the top of the 12th, Hundley would hit a go-ahead homer helping the Mets keep pace. Unfortunately, it would not be in the cards for the Mets that year, and it was time from the team to move on from their homegrown star.

The Mets re-signed Piazza necessitating they trade Hundley. They did so moving him to the Dodgers in a deal which netted them Roger Cedeno and Charles Johnson, who was flipped to the Orioles for Armando Benitez. With that, even Hundley gone, he again helped make the Mets a postseason team.

In the ensuing years, he’d be one of the players named in the Mitchell Report putting an asterisk on some of his accomplishments. He’d also be long forgotten with the rise of Piazza, and he would see his record fall to Javy Lopez. Still, when he was with the Mets, in terms of the numbers, he was the best Mets player to ever wear the number 9.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Hundley was the ninth best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 9.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

2000 Game Recap: Rick Reed Again Looks Like Mets Real Ace

One pleasantly surprising development early in this season is Rick Reed right now looks like the best pitcher in baseball. Sure, over 162 games, that may not prove to be true. That said, looking at how he has performed, it is difficult to come to any other conclusion.

Reed’s start against the Phillies was the third time in as many starts he has had this season Reed has thrown at least seven innings while allowing one run on four hits. What made this start different than the others was Reed didn’t record a strikeout. Of course, that doesn’t matter when you are challenging hitters the way Reed does and getting softer contact and allowing your very good fielders behind you to make the plays they are capable of making.

So far, that has translated to a 0.79 ERA and 0.750 WHIP. Much like his brilliant start in Japan, Reed walked away from this one with a no decision, but he did put his team in a position to win.

Reed got the no decision partially because he could not make his own run hold up. After he struck out with the bases loaded in the second to end the inning, Reed would not be denied in the fourth hitting a sacrifice fly scoring Derek Bell. After that the struggling Mets offense went dormant again.

Bell was the one position player for the Mets who looked really good out there. In addition to going 3-for-4 with a walk, Bell made a spectacular diving grab to rob Mike Lieberthal of an extra base hit. For the first time since the trade, Bell looked comfortable out there, and he made a real impact.

With respect to Lieberthal, there was no robbing him his next time at the plate. He led off the seventh with a homer which skimmed the top of the left field wall. Just like he did last year, Lieberthal is killing the Mets, and he is really becoming an annoying Mets killer. With the Braves being full of them, Lieberthal sometimes gets overlooked in that mix.

In the eighth, the Mets had an opportunity to score because of Bell. After a lead-off single, the Mets would have a pair of groundouts leading to Bobby Valentine and Terry Francona playing musical chairs. Initially, Valentine sent Matt Franco to the plate to pinch hit for Rey Ordonez. Francona countered with Scott Aldred relieving Carlos Reyes. Valentine then went with Kurt Abbott to hit for Franco.

Even with Bell getting himself into scoring position by stealing second, and Abbott drawing a walk, Francona won the game within a game when Todd Pratt, pinch hitting for Reed, flew out to end the inning. This meant the MEts were going to a home run prone bullpen in the late innings.

It wasn’t pretty, but Turk Wendell and Dennis Cook combined to shut down the Phillies in the eighth to give the Mets the chance to take the lead in the ninth. They took advantage of that opportunity.

Jay Payton hit a one out single against Aldred, and after an Edgardo Alfonzo fly out, Francona tabbed Amaury Telemaco to face Mike Piazza. Piazza what was seemingly his first big hit of the season hitting a double to left-center. Payton flew around the bases, and he just beat Mickey Morandini‘s throw to score the go-ahead run from first base.

After a lead-off walk to Lieberthal, Morandini would sacrifice him to second. Lieberthal would stay there as Armando Benitez struck out Desi Relaford and Kevin Jordan to pick up his third save of the season in the Mets 2-1 victory.

Game Notes: With the left-hander Randy Wolf starting, Robin Ventura got the day off, and Melvin Mora hit lead-off and played third. Benny Agbayani would get the start with Rickey Henderson getting the day off after a game where he went 0-for-3 with two walks and an RBI.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Franco Blows Mahomes Gem

When you look at this game on paper, you think this is one where you wouldn’t take much issue if the Mets lost. Pat Mahomes was making a spot start for the injured Al Leiter, and he was squaring off against Kevin Brown. The Mets offense has been struggling, which may be a function of the fatigue of starting the season in Japan, and this was a day game after a night game.

What we didn’t count on happening was Mahomes out-dueling Brown for 5.2 innings. Maybe we shouldn’t have been too surprised with how great he was for the Mets last year.

For the first five innings, the Dodgers couldn’t get a runner past first base. That was the case right from the jump with Mahomes picking Devon White off of first after he led off the game with a single.

The Dodgers finally broke through against Mahomes when Mark Grudzielanek hit a lead-off homer against Mahomes. After two quick outs, Eric Karros would double leading to Bobby Valentine going to get his spot starter after a great outing. When Turk Wendell retired Adrian Beltre, Mahomes was in line for the win.

That was because the Mets offense was able to get the ball up against the sinkerballer Brown. In the second, Jay Payton hit his first career homer. In the ensuing inning, Edgardo Alfonzo hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The Mets offense would come alive with their backups, and they would put some insurance runs against the Dodgers bullpen. Kurt Abbott, Todd Pratt, and Melvin Mora led off the bottom of the eighth with three straight singles off Gregg Olson to expand the lead to 4-1.

The bases were then loaded on a catcher’s interference against Benny Agbayani leading to a Rey Ordonez RBI ground out. Even with the Mets not taking full advantage of the situation, you had to expect a 5-1 lead should have been more than enough. It wasn’t.

John Franco entered the ninth, and even without there being a save opportunity, he blew it. He gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, Karros. After striking out Beltre, he walked Chad Kreuter, and former Met Kevin Elster singled. White then hit a game tying three run homer.

Just like that, the great performance by Mahomes was wasted.

The Mets had an opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with Todd Zeile drawing a two out walk against Mike Fetters and then stealing second. Pratt would walk as well, but Mora could not drive them home.

Armando Benitez came on for the 10th, and after two quick fly outs, he gave up the game winning homer to Karros. After Jeff Shaw retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, the Mets lost about as frustrating a game as they can lose.

Game Notes: Fans booed Rickey Henderson lustily by the fans, and he returned the favor by clapping for himself after he flew out to Shawn Green in the fourth. Valentine would lift him for defensive purposes in the top of the seventh, and Mora would make a nice play in the wind. The first non-Orodonez start at short went to Mora and not Abbott.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Rick Reed Makes Most Of Moribund Mets Offense

Well, it appears Bobby Valentine isn’t messing around. After Rickey Henderson refused to run out a ball and Darryl Hamilton limped around the outfield, both players were out of the lineup. With respect to Hamilton, it is clearly a physical issue as he was placed on the disabled list, but with Henderson, it seems to be more than that.

This means Jon Nunnally and Jay Payton received the first opportunity to show they can be everyday players for a team with World Series aspirations. Nunnally first showed his mettle by drawing a lead-off walk against Darren Dreifort.

That walk sparked a rally for the Mets bats which have been quiet to start the season. After his lead-off walk, Derek Bell struck out, and Edgardo Alfonzo walked. That set the stage for Mike Piazza who hit an RBI double to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead. After Piazza, Robin Ventura hit an RBI ground out expanding that lead to 2-0.

For a moment, it seemed like Valentine’s bold decision making sparked this team, and they picked up where they left off at the end of the series against the Padres. Instead, the Mets bats once again went COMPLETELY quiet. After Piazza’s double, the Mets would have just one more hit, and they couldn’t push another run across even with Dreifort walking eight over five innings.

While the downside is the Mets offense continued to do nothing, the bright side is Rick Reed had another brilliant outing to start the season.

Over 7.2 innings, Reed allowed four hits and one walk. The Dodgers lone run to score in the game was off a Gary Sheffield fourth inning homer. There was some threat the Dodgers could build from there with Shawn Green following the homer with a double, but he’d get Eric Karros to ground out to end the jam.

The Dodgers would threaten again in the fifth with Adrian Beltre and Jose Vizcaino hitting back-to-back one out singles. Beltre would advance to third on a fly ball, and Vizcaino would steal second to set up second and third with two outs. Reed got out of the jam by striking out Todd Hollandsworth. It was one of seven strikeouts on the day for Reed.

With Piazza having made the last out of the seventh, and with Valentine always trying to find some spots to get his catcher some rest when he can, Todd Pratt entered the game with two outs in the eighth as part of a double switch which saw Armando Benitez come into the game for the four out save.

Benitez was up to the task getting four of the five Dodgers he faced out. That saved Valentine of some double guessing with his star player on the bench and out of the game in a one run game at a time when the Mets offense has not been able to do anything at the plate.

Regardless of the continued concerns you may have about this offense, a win is a win. More than that, you see the Mets are not willing to go down watching players like Henderson not doing everything he can do to help this team win. There was a clear message delivered, and the Mets answered with a win. We’ll see what happens from there.

Game Notes: With Hamilton being placed on the DL, it appears Benny Agbayani will no longer be sent down to the minors when Glendon Rusch is activated. Al Leiter is dealing with an issue leading to Pat Mahomes being slated to make an emergency start tomorrow.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

2000 Game Recap: Derek Answers The Bell

It is a good thing the Mets left Al Leiter home to prepare for this Shea Stadium Opening Day start because it appeared the Mets bats were jet-lagged from their trip home from Japan. That may be a bit of a misnomer because aside from the Benny Agbayani Sayonara Slam, the Mets offense has not been the dynamic offense it was last year.

Leiter was great for the Mets against a good Padres lineup which includes future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and Phil Nevin, who was actually drafted ahead of Derek Jeter and had a breakout season last year. Nevin aside, Leiter dominated this lineup allowing just five hits over eight one run innings where he walked none and struck out seven.

The problem for Leiter and the Mets was not only Sterling Hitchcock matching him pitch-for-pitch, but the Padres had a 1-0 lead entering the seventh due to Nevin’s second inning homer off of Leiter. Entering that seventh inning, the Mets had just two hits, and just one runner in scoring position.

Finally, Hitchcock made a mistake issuing a lead-off walk to Edgardo Alfonzo. Mike Piazza followed with a single putting runners on the corners with no outs. That’s when Todd Zeile had his first big moment as a Met delivering a game tying sacrifice fly.

The Mets then squandered their chance to take the lead. After Zeile’s sacrifice fly, Hitchcock hit Robin Ventura, and the Padres went to the bullpen to summon Donne Wall. He responded by striking out Darryl Hamilton and Rey Ordonez to get out of the jam.

Like Hitchcock, Wall looked unhittable. After striking out Hamilton and Ordonez, he would come out for the eighth, and he would get Jon Nunnally to pop out before striking out Rickey Henderson. As an aside, it is really bizarre Bobby Valentine would go with Nunnally to pinch hit for Leiter.

Nunnally has not been good for two years running. While there is a case to be made for the L/R split, last year Nunnally hit .286/.286/.357 off right-handed pitchers last year whereas Agbayani hit .279/.347/.512 off of them last year. Throw in his grand slam in Japan, and you have to wonder why he didn’t come to the plate.

Fortunately, it didn’t matter. Just like when Zeile had his first big Mets moment, Derek Bell would have his own with a go-ahead game winning homer off of Wall. Armando Benitez, in his first year as the Mets full-time closer picked up where he left off last year by mowing down the Padres in the ninth.

We can harp on things like the Mets offense not appearing through three games this year. However, behind that has been some really good pitching and two wins. If the Mets keep playing like that, this is a team who can fulfill the World Series aspirations we have for them.

Game Notes: After experimenting with Hamilton batting second in Japan, Valentine put Bell in his comfortable second hole in the lineup from his Astros days. That could be a function of the left-handed pitcher going.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Mets Now Have Longest World Series Drought In National League East

With the Washington Nationals defeating the Houston Astros to win the 2019 World Series, the National League East has joined the American League Central as the only divisions in baseball to have had each of their teams win a World Series.

In terms of the AL Central, while all of their teams have won a World Series, not all of them have done it recently. For example, the Cleveland Indians last won in 1948, which was before the Mets or Nationals even came into existence. The Nationals first became a franchise in 1969, and they played their first game against Tom Seaver and the New York Mets. Little did anyone know it at the time, but that 1969 Mets team would win the World Series.

The Mets next World Series title came in 1986. As noted by Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions, Jesse Orosco would become the last relief pitcher to have an RBI in a World Series game. This would also mark the last time the New York Mets have won a World Series.

Since that time, each of the Mets division rivals have won at least one World Series.

In the strike shortened 1995 season, the Atlanta Braves finally got over the hump when World Series MVP Tom Glavine pitched eight shut out innings allowing just one hit against an absolutely stacked Cleveland Indians lineup. Two years later, Glavine would lose Game 6 of the NLCS to MVP Livan Hernandez and the Florida Marlins.

When Edgar Renteria singled home Craig Counsell in the 11th inning of Game 7, that Marlins team would win their first World Series. Six years later, the Marlins would win their second World Series when Josh Beckett pitched a complete game shutout on three days rest to beat the 2003 New York Yankees in six games.

In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies would break through and win the second World Series title in team history. Their clincher came when they and the Tampa Bay Rays resumed a rain shortened game the following day. The Phillies returned to the World Series the following year, but they lost in six to the New York Yankees.

That leaves the Mets with the longest drought, which stands at 33 years, as the longest in the division. It is not like the Mets haven’t had their chances.

Everything changed in 1988 with Mike Scioscia‘s grand slam. The 1999 Mets couldn’t pull off the miracle with Armando Benitez and John Franco blowing a save before Kenny Rogers walked in the series winning run. The following year, both Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza would come just short of hitting homers.

The 2006 Mets saw Guillermo Mota shake off Paul Lo Duca, and Carlos Beltran take a wicked Adam Wainwright curveball. There were the ensuing collapses the following years with Glavine getting shellacked by the Marlins in 2007, and Scott Schoeneweis allowing a homer to Wes Helms the ensuing year.

The Mets wouldn’t return to the postseason until 2015. Their World Series hopes were dashed when Daniel Murphy overran a ball, and Lucas Duda thew one away. The following year, Madison Bumgarner proved why he is an all-time great postseason pitcher with his throwing a complete game shutout in the 2016 Wild Card Game.

With Zack Wheeler being a free agent, the Mets offseason was already going to be an interesting one. It is now all the more interesting as you consider all the moves this team will need to make to bring home the team’s first World Series since 1986.

20/20 Hindsight: Time To Say Good-bye to Postseason and Beloved Players

Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:

1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.

2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.

3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.

4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.

5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.

6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.

7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.

8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.

9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.

10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.

11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.

12. Hopefully, Mickey Callaway get his way and gets to bat Alonso leadoff over the final three games to help get him past Aaron Judge for the rookie home run record.

13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.

14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.

15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.

16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.

17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.

18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.

19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.

20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.

Despite The Score, Zack Wheeler’s A Winner

Zack Wheeler might’ve taken the loss tonight, but when he stepped off the mound, perhaps the last time as a New York Met, he walked off a winner.

This year was his reward. It was his reward for being the first piece brought in when he was obtained in exchange for Carlos Beltran. It was his reward for telling the team he wanted to stay after the Carlos Gomez deal fell apart. It was his reward for persevering after needing two years to recover from Tommy John.

In those two years, he missed two postseasons. Last year was a lost year. Finally, this year, the Mets battled back to get into the Wild Card race, and Wheeler would be one of the main reasons why.

Entering tonight, he was 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA since August 1. Over his last five starts, he’s allowed just one earned in each starting while averaging roughly 6.2 innings per start.

Tonight seemed more of the same. Over his first seven innings, he allowed just two hits while walking none and striking out 10. With him being under 90 pitches and this perhaps being his final start as a Met, Mickey Callaway let Wheeler go back out for the eighth.

Certainly, he earned that right not just with his pitching but his driving home the first run in the seventh. With Brandon Nimmo following with a sacrifice fly, Wheeler carried a two run lead into the eighth.

The home plate umpire COMPLETELY blew the call. Instead of Tyler Heineman striking out on a pitch down the middle of the plate, it was called a ball.

Heineman would hit the next pitch out for a game tying two run homer.

When old friend Curtis Granderson homered in what could be his last ever at-bat in Citi Field, the Marlins went ahead 3-2. After Austin Dean homered off Edwin Diaz in the ninth, the Marlins would win 4-2.

With that, Wheeler took the loss. It doesn’t matter because ultimately Wheeler proved himself to be a winner in his Mets career. Hopefully, both he and the Mets can find a way to make that Mets career extend past tonight.

Game Notes: The homer against Diaz was the 15th he allowed in the ninth inning this season. That’s equal to the amount Armando Benitez allowed in his worst two seasons combined.