While Brodie Van Wagenen was touting Dellin Betances‘ ability to “blow the cover off their ceiling,” the fact of the matter is the Mets offseason has been tremendously underwhelming thus far. Really, when you break it down, it’s difficult to ascertain how this team can make up 11 games on the Atlanta Braves.
With Zack Wheeler departing for the Philadelphia Phillies, that’s 4.1 WAR going to a division rival. While they haven’t yet signed with another team, it is expected Todd Frazier (2.2 WAR) and Juan Lagares (-0.7) will sign with other teams.
Combined, that’s a 5.6 WAR.
As a result, the Mets have yet to replace the production they’ve lost. What makes this problematic is their offseason appears fairly set.
Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are taking up two roster spots, and with their salaries, the Mets are not going to just cut bait. Instead, the Mets are going to hope Cespedes can do what Troy Tulowitzki couldn’t do – return from double heel surgery.
When they finally discover what was wrong with Lowrie that limited him to eight pinch hitting attempts last year, we can then have a conversation about what, if anything, he can contribute.
Remember, this a Mets team which finished 11 games behind the Braves. They also finished behind the World Series Champion Washington Nationals too. The Mets needed to gain ground, not lose it.
Keep in mind, they’re not just losing grounds to the teams ahead of them, they are also losing it to the Philadelphia Phillies. That 4.1 WAR the Mets lost in Wheeler went to the Phillies. Joining him there is Didi Gregorius, who had a 0.6 WAR in limited duty. When you add a healthy Andrew McCutchen, they have not only offset the 1.7 WAR they lost with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, but they have improved upon it.
Now, this is where someone may want to point out how the Braves and Nationals are both searching for a new third baseman, and that the third basemen they had last year were their best players. That is true. The Braves losing Josh Donaldson (6.1), and the Nationals losing Anthony Rendon (6.3) were significant losses.
With respect to Donaldson, it should be noted both teams are still in on him and trying to do all they can to sign him. If either team signs him, that narrative is no longer in place as it comes to that team.
Going beyond that, both the Braves and Nationals have made moves to bolster their teams in the event they cannot land Donaldson.
The Nationals have been aggressive this offseason re-signing mid-season acquisitions Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson. They have also added Starlin Castro (0.8), Eric Thames (1.6), and Will Harris (2.1). Combine that with the anticipation Carter Kieboom may be ready next year, and the Nationals have at least braced themselves for losing Rendon and missing out on Donaldson.
The Braves have also left third base open while addressing other areas. On the bullpen front, they have brought in Will Smith (2.2) while bringing back Chris Martin and Darren O’Day. They have also added Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. They also potentially upgraded their rotation signing Cole Hamels to replace Dallas Keuchel.
When talking about the Braves, they also have a wealth of young talent in Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Mike Soroka, and others to close the gap on the potential loss of Donaldson. The same can be said with the Nationals with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
As for the Mets, they could also seek to get some help internally with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario taking the next step. However, the issue with that is whether it is enough to overcome not just the diminution in the talent the team had last year, but also whether it is enough to overcome the significant gap which already existed between them and the rest of the teams in the division.
While it is certainly possible the Mets can win the division in 2020, it is also fair to say they certainly have not done nearly enough this offseason to do that. Really, when you boil it down, the Mets are relying more on luck than anything else. Considering what is ahead and behind them in the division, that is not the best plan, and when you boil it down, they really needed more than just Marisnick.
As this decade closes out at midnight today, the Mets will actually enter their seventh decade of baseball. Before proceeding forward, let’s take a look at the best moments from each year of this decade:
On the field, it was Angel Pagan hitting an inside-the-park home run and starting a triple play in the same game.
In a moment no one saw coming, Chris Capuano had a two hit shutout where he struck out 13:
This was the year of Harvey, and there was a lot to choose from with his near perfect game, bloody nose game, Harvey’s Better game, and others, but it’s hard to top him and David Wright starting the All Star Game at Citi Field.
Every single defensive play made by Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares:
With this being the fifth pennant in Mets history, there are many moments, but perhaps the biggest is Daniel Murphy‘s postseason heroics:
The Mets would need to make a late charge to make the postseason in consecutive seasons for the second time in team history. The lasting image from that run was Asdrubal Cabrera‘s walk-off homer:
After an injury plagued 2016, Michael Conforto would emerge as an All-Star, and his season was highlighted by an impressive homecoming:
It was melancholy, but we got to see Wright play one final game as a member of the New York Mets:
With Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson being free agents, you should expect every team who needs an upgrade at third base to be pursuing them heavily. That is everyone expect the New York Mets. The Mets have all but said they’re not pursuing either player, and they are not prepared to exceed the luxury tax threshold.
Getting the obvious out of the way, this is unacceptable. There is really no excuse for the Mets to not at least realistically pursue either player. That said, that is exactly where we are leaving the Mets to find “creative” ways to find someone to replace Todd Frazier at the hot corner.
Based upon Brodie Van Wagenen’s comments, that replacement is going to be an internal option. Looking at things, that is a scary proposition.
J.D. Davis simply cannot handle the position defensively. In 220.0 innings at third last year, he posted a -9 DRS. To put it into perspective, that is actually worse than how Wilmer Flores played the position, and back then, Mets fans were screaming to move him off third.
The other option mentioned was Jed Lowrie. Even mentioning his name is bizarre. Last year, he was limited to eight plate appearances and was not able to play in the field. At the moment, you are hard pressed to find a reason why the Mets can count on him any more than they can count on Yoenis Cespedes as the Mets readily admit they still do not know what is wrong with Lowrie.
The other name mentioned was Jeff McNeil. Due to his versatility, the 2019 All Star who had a 143 wRC+ and a 3 DRS at third is a very viable option for the position. However, for a moment, lets put a pin in that.
When looking at third base, the one name which hasnt’ been mention, but perhaps should be mentioned is Robinson Cano.
Last year, Cano had a bad year by any measure. Due to multiple stints on the disabled list as he battled hamstring issues, he played a career worst 107 games (in a non-PED suspension season). The 93 wRC+ was the second worst of his career, and the -6 DRS was the worst defensive year he has had since 2015. In fact, this was just the second negative DRS he has had since 2008.
With Cano coming off an injury plagued season and with next year being his age 37 season, we should hardly expect those defensive numbers to improve. With second being a fairly rigorous position, you wonder if it would be better for Cano to switch positions to one which would allow his legs more rest, and in turn, would help him offensively.
Looking back to when Cano came off his PED suspension in 2018, that is exactly what the Mariners did. From August 14 until the end of the season, Cano would play 41 games. His breakdown of those games were: 2B (23), 1B (14), 3B (2), DH (1). Yes, Cano’s primary position was second, but he only mainly played second.
Getting the obvious out of the way, there is no way Cano is an answer at first base as Pete Alonso is firmly entrenched there. As for DH, except for isolated interleague games, there is no long term solution at DH. That leaves third.
At the moment, there is little more than conjecture to see if Cano can handle third on a long term basis. We could look at hit -2 DRS in 2018 as evidence he can’t, but that’s as small a sample size as you get. Moreover, that was with him being thrown at the position with little to no preparation.
Through it all, we should remember Cano is a smart player with good hands and a strong arm. His real issue is his range and durability. This is not too dissimilar from what we saw with Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera wasn’t exactly great at third last year with a -4 DRS in 812.0 innings, but it should be noted it was a lot better than the -17 DRS he put up at second base the preceding season.
When it comes to Cano, you can reasonably expect him to be not just a negative defender at third, but also worse than McNeil. However, that is only part of the equation. Taking a more global view, McNeil at second and Cano at third probably presents the best possible defensive alignment while presenting Cano with a position less strenous on his legs thereby keeping him in the lineup more.
If you think about it more, this is a move which is going to have to be made eventually. Cano is signed through the the 2023 season, and he is signed for a lot of money. Looking at the team, they need his bat in the lineup to be successful. To that end, the Mets need to find the best way to both keep his bat in the lineup and help ensure his contract is not more onerous than it already is.
Looking at everything, the solution is to move Cano to third base. That is unless the Mets are actually going to do the right thing by pursuing Rendon or Donaldson.
The 2019 Washington Nationals World Series winning team had many parallels to the 2015 New York Mets pennant winning team. Really, the parallels go further than that. Those parallels bring forth a sense of melancholy when you consider what the Nationals could do that the Mets didn’t.
First and foremost, you think of how David Wright isn’t going to get the ring which Ryan Zimmerman just one. The two of them grew up together, were first round draft picks, and they were both Gold Glove All Star third baseman playing in the same division. They’d both suffer career altering injuries. In Wright’s case, it was career ending, but Zimmerman was able to overcome his injuries. That is part of the reason why Zimmerman has a ring, and Wright doesn’t.
Zimmerman might’ve won in 2012, but the Nationals would lose in the NLDS. One of the reasons for that loss was Stephen Strasburg was shut down.
Unlike Matt Harvey, Strasburg heeded the advice of Scott Boras, and Strasburg put his career above one shot at a World Series. To the Nationals credit, they did the same. Of course, the Mets pressured Harvey to pitch, and in the process, they reneged on their previous agreements. In the end, Harvey would pitch more innings than anyone had previous pitched post Tommy John.
As noted previously, Dave Martinez did what Terry Collins didn’t do. He lifted Strasburg one batter in the ninth. Through and through, the Nationals knew how to treat and handle their franchise starter, and the Mets didn’t.
On the subject of Martinez, it is noteworthy he was a first time manager in 2018 like Mickey Callaway. Like Callaway, both were on the hot seat entering this season. In fact, both of them had seats scolding hot at points during the season. The Nationals stuck by Martinez, and they won a World Series, while the Mets are conducting a search for their next manager with former Mets player and current Nationals first base coach Tim Bogar among the candidates.
In terms of players with ties to both teams, Asdrubal Cabrera would win his first ring with the Nationals. To his credit, Cabrera did all he could do in 2016 to get the Mets into the Wild Card Game, but the Mets would lose that game. Obviously, the Nationals would win that game making a stunning come from behind victory.
Other interesting tidbits was Max Scherzer having a start similar to the one Jacob deGrom had in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. Scherzer faced off against Zack Greinke much like deGrom did four years ago. Another interesting tidbit was like with Daniel Murphy in 2015, it took a home run from the second baseman to give their team a 3-2 lead. Well, actually Howie Kendrick was the DH last night, but he has been a second baseman for much of the year.
Finally, when thinking of the Washington Nationals franchise, you come to think of Gary Carter. He was the first ever player from that franchise inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it was the result of the Baseball Hall of Fame not permitting him to wear a Mets cap like he wanted. Part of the reason why was Carter didn’t want to go in the Hall with a team with whom he had no ties.
In the ensuing year, the Nationals unretired his number, and there is little reference or honoring him or the other Montreal Expos greats. Still, while the Nationals fans don’t remember him, we, as Mets fans will, especially because it was Carter who started the greatest rally in World Series history. That rally helped that 1986 team accomplish what the 2019 Nationals did – win a World Series.
Even with the Mets missing out on the Wild Card by three games, we will actually see some Mets in the World Series. Technically speaking, there are former Mets players in the World Series. So, in that sense, no matter who wins the World Series, we are going to see a Mets player get a ring.
Joe Smith – The 2006 third round pick was a valuable member of the Mets bullpen for two years before getting traded in the ill fated J.J. Putz trade. As luck would have it, Smith was the best reliever in that deal. In fact, Smith has had a very good career as a reliever with a good stretch in the postseason. In recent years, he’s tried to stay as close to his Ohio home as possible to be near his mother who is suffering from Huntington’s Disease. On that note, he has spent much time promoting awareness of this disorder through HelpCureHD.org.
Collin McHugh – The Mets never quite knew what they had with the 18th round pick of the 2008 draft trading him for Eric Young Jr. The same could go for the Rockies who designated him for assignment. McHugh rose above it all being one of the first pitchers to truly benefit from this Astros front office effect on pitchers. While he’s been a key part of the team’s recent run, he’s been sidelined this postseason with injuries.
Brent Strom – Strom was actually the third overall pick of the 1970 draft, but due to injuries, he would never quite make it either with the Mets, who eventually traded him to the Cleveland Indians, or as a Major Leaguer. After his Major League career, he’s found his footing as a coach, and during his tenure as the Astros pitching coach, he’s become one of the more noteworthy pitching coaches in the game.
Asdrubal Cabrera – The Mets signed Cabrera as a free agent, and his second half of the 2016 propelled them to the Wild Card Game. His play in that second half, along with that iconic bat flip, made him a fan favorite even through the issues regarding his trade demands. As much as fans loved him, Cabrera loved being a Met with his being traded and not re-signed breaking his son’s heart. Cabrera would have his chance to return, but with Brodie Van Wagenen not calling him back after the team signed Jed Lowrie over him, Cabrera opted to go to Washington instead.
Tim Bogar – Bogar spent four years as a Met as a utility player who was best known for his pre-game segments on Diamondvision. After his career was over, he had a decorated career as a minor league manager, and he’s been a respected coach leading to him being the National’s first base coach. With him being on the short list on the Mets managerial search, he may have a return to Queens after this World Series.
Chip Hale – Hale is a respected longtime coach who served as Terry Collins‘ third base coach in 2010 – 2011. In terms of team history, he goes down as one of the best third base coaches they have ever had.
Kevin Long – Long was the Mets hitting coach from 2015 – 2017. During that time, he was credited for players like Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes taking their offense to new heights, which was one of the reasons the Mets won the 2015 pennant. Partially due to his work as a hitting coach, he was a favorite to replace Collins as manager. When the Mets hired Mickey Callaway over him, he would leave for the Nationals organization where he has led young hitters like Juan Soto to the World Series.
Henry Blanco – Blanco had a reputation as a defensive catcher who spent one year with the Mets as a backup to Rod Barajas. After his playing career was over, he has followed a similar career path to Dave Duncan going from defensive catcher to pitching coach with Blanco having been the Nationals bullpen coach for the past two years.
In the end, no matter who wins, there will be a former Mets player who has a ring. As a fan of those players and coaches during their time with the Mets, we can take some sense of satisfaction when they get their ring. Of course, being happy for a particular player and being happy a certain team won are two completely different things.
On the one hand, the Mets took two out of three, which is a good result against the Nationals as they push for a Wild Card. On the other hand, there was an absolutely brutal loss in that mix making this result feel worse than anticipated:
1. It is high time Mickey Callaway gets credit for keeping this team together. There have been a number of absolutely brutal losses and each time the team picks itself up and surprises us. There are a number of things you can point to that you don’t like with Callaway. However, the way he manages that clubhouse appears to be truly special.
2. Getting back to that bullpen meltdown, that was arguably the worst regular season loss between games 1 – 161 in team history. The least said about it the better. Honestly, if you want to dwell on it, you can go here or here, but there needs to be no more focus on that.
3. Robinson Cano showed no ill effects of the hamstring going 3-for-4 with a walk, homer, and two RBI. The Mets need him to be just like this, which coincidentally is just how Moises Alou was in 2007.
4. Just to outline the job Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, Edwin Diaz has allowed more homers (13) than Cano has hit this year (11).
5. On that front, the Mets have still gotten nothing from Jed Lowrie, who has requested to continue his rehab assignment, one which has not gone well at all. After playing seven innings in the field on August 31, he has DHed twice, had a day off, and played just five innings in the field. This is shaping up to be one of the worst signings in Mets history.
6. Brandon Nimmo is not only back, but he is in mid-season form drawing six walks in 12 plate appearances. He also has a double and a homer. This is exactly what he did last year when he was the second best hitter in the National League. It may be time to put him back atop the lineup.
8. Pete Alonso‘s 45 homers are the most in a player’s first season. Of note, Mark McGwire and Aaron Judge had cups of coffee previous to their full first season. On the subject of Alonso and Judge, Alonso is on pace to tie his 52 homer mark.
9. There were two completely shocking things from Juan Lagares yesterday – an error and a homer to dead center.
11. After struggling since his return from the IL, Jeff McNeil has been himself again going 5-f0r-14 in the series with two homers and seven RBI.
12. There is something special when you watch a player like Zack Wheeler struggle so much on the mound only to allow one run over five innings. The way he fought when the Mets needed him to fight like that to get the team back on the winning track.
13. Jeurys Familia has been horrible his past two outings presenting what is probably the low point of his season, which is truly saying something. The only thing worse than Familia is the Mets other right-handed relief options not named Seth Lugo in the bullpen.
14. Lugo continues to be great, and he bailed the Mets out by going two innings a game after he pitched. It’s scary to think where this team would be without him.
15. At the moment, Lugo, Justin Wilson, and Luis Avilan are about the only reliable arms in the bullpen. In terms of Lugo and Wilson, they both have elbow issues, and the Mets need to be careful with them. In case there is a postseason, they need to keep them fresh. They also need to keep them healthy for 2020.
16. We see Asdrubal Cabrera still has that clutch gene going 4-f0r-12 in this series with a double, homer, and four RBI. The Mets did well getting Joe Panik, but you wonder how things would have been different had Van Wagenen not decided to sign his own former client who has not played a game this year.
17. Mets are 10 games over .500 at home, and 17 of their final 23 games are at home. Their six road games come against the Rockies and Reds. Looking at this schedule, there is the potential for a lot of wins on the schedule.
18. In order for the Mets to get into the postseason, they are going to have to have no more missteps, and they are going to have to beat the Dodgers and Braves at home. Keep in mind, if the Mets do have the luck to make it to the postseason, they are going to have to do this in October as well.
19. Robert Gsellman is trying to get back this year from a torn lat by throwing yesterday. With no real opportunity for a rehab assignment, you do have to wonder just how much of a chance he is going to get to come back. That said, given the state of the bullpen, you might as well throw him out there when he’s finally ready.
20. All told, somehow the Mets are still alive even with the chances being fleeting. Lets just enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts, and who knows, maybe they will pull it out.
This was a show down not just of the past two Cy Young winners in the National League. In many ways, it was a showdown between the two pitchers who could finish 1-2 in this year’s Cy Young voting.
Advantage Jacob deGrom . . . at least in the Cy Young race.
In the first, the Nationals had deGrom on the ropes scoring a run on a pair of doubles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Juan Soto. Matt Adams would strike out getting deGrom off the hook. It wouldn’t be the first time he and the Nationals would do that.
This wasn’t classic deGrom. Instead, this was the version of deGrom who uses his guile and intellect to navigate his way out of jams. Overall, deGrom would have just 1-2-3 inning all night. In a way, deGrom not having his best stuff and getting his way out of trouble minimizing damage proves his greatness every bit as much as his 10+ strikeout performances.
The key moment for him did feature some luck. In the sixth, after Juan Soto was hit by a pitch, Adams singled. After that single, Kurt Suzuki hit about the longest single you’ve ever seen. He hit it to the center field wall, and Brandon Nimmo couldn’t make the catch on the leaping attempt. For some reason, Adams stopped at second keeping the double play in order.
Three pitches later, deGrom got the ground ball he needed with Gerardo Parra hitting into the inning ending 4-6-3 double play. That was a huge chance for the Nationals, and it was a key moment in the game.
At that point, the Mets led 4-2. Part of the reason was Mickey Callaway seemed to guess right stacking his left-handed batters against Scherzer. To the consternation of some Joe Panik and Luis Guillorme would play over J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario, but Callaway would be vindicated partially because the Mets opted to attack Scherzer. The strategy worked in the fourth.
On three straight pitches, Scherzer allowed singles to Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto before allowing an RBI double to Wilson Ramos. Of course, Nimmo would be the first batter in the inning to take a pitch, and in that at-bat, he’d hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly. Then, well, the impossible happened:
HOW ABOUT PANIK AT THE DISH THO 💥 pic.twitter.com/vbQTaFIiM1
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 4, 2019
That was Panik’s first homer as a Met, and it was his first since May 28th. It gave the Mets a 4-2 lead which the Mets would not relinquish partially because the Nationals bullpen is terrible.
One of the key plays in this game would prove to be Jeff McNeil homering off Roenis Elias in the top of the eighth. It proved so important because Callaway would make a very questionable move sending deGrom out for the eighth.
Anthony Rendon hit an infield single neither deGrom nor Todd Frazier could field. Then, instead of having Luis Avilan up or going to a warmed up Seth Lugo, Callaway allowed deGrom to face Soto a fourth time, and Soto made deGrom and the Mets pay by hitting a two run homer.
The homer pulled the Nationals to within 5-4, and it would sour what was an impressive deGrom performance. With Lugo shutting down the Nationals, it wouldn’t cost deGrom the win.
The Nationals would stick with the left-handed Elias in the ninth, and Nimmo would homer to leadoff the inning expanding the Mets lead to 6-4. Things would devolve from there for the reverse splits Elias who allow a hit to Panik.
Daniel Hudson “relieved” Elias, and he’d immediately walk Frazier. After Guillorme lines out, Tomas Nido hit what should’ve been the inning ending double play. It wasn’t as Trea Turner forgot how many outs there were, and he’d only get Nido at first.
McNeil made the Nationals pay with an RBI single, and Alonso would put this game supposedly out of reach with his 44th homer of the year putting the Mets up 10-4.
This allowed Callaway to pull Lugo and go to Paul Sewald to wrap it up. While Sewald typically thrives in these situations, he was bad tonight recording just one out while Turner and Rendon would drive runs home.
With runners at first and second with one out and Soto due up, Callaway was forced to go to Avilan. He didn’t get the job done allowing a single to Soto to load the bases.
Zimmerman would hit a two run double just past the diving Conforto, and suddenly the laugher was 10-8 with the tying runs in scoring position. Then, Suzuki hit a Gabe winning three run homer to cap off a seven run ninth.
There are no words for how bad a loss this is.
The Nationals came into town, and the Mets players and fans raised their games in what was the biggest series since 2016. There was a lot to digest, mostly positive:
1. Who in the pool had Todd Frazier having the biggest hit all season?
2. That ninth inning culminating in Michael Conforto‘s first walkoff hit was crazy, and it was perhaps the best Mets moment since Asdrubal Cabrera‘s famous walk-off homer against the Phillies in 2016.
3. Things were so crazy for the Mets this series that Amed Rosario was understandably overlooked. He was 4-f0r-14 in the series with a double, and he made what proved to be somewhat of a game saving catch robbing Brian Dozier of an RBI single.
4. Marcus Stroman proved to be the perfect man to start that series. Even though he had allowed four earned on his six plus innings, he was electric to begin the game, and he really helped get the fans into that game. That set the stage for what was an electric Citi Field.
5. When Wilson Ramos homered off of Patrick Corbin, Citi Field was the loudest I’ve ever experienced it. To put that into context, I was there for when David Wright homered in Game 3 of the World Series.
6. J.D. Davis is unconscious right now. Since his hot streak started on June 30, his 189 wRC+ is the best in the National League. Like Steve Pearce in the World Series last year, just enjoy this ride for as far as it takes the Mets. Hopefully, like with the Red Sox, it will take them to a World Series Championship.
7. There is perhaps no bigger Mets fans and cheerleader right now than Dominic Smith. Despite being on a knee scooter, he has been leading “Lets Go Mets” chants from the dugout, and he has been rolling around the outfield with his “LFGM 2019” license plate cheering with the team. Seeing all of this, it is hard not to love him.
8. Noah Syndergaard put together another seven inning start giving the Mets a chance to win. That’s six in a row, and he has a 1.91 ERA over this stretch. It is a shame he had a rough start to the season while he was trying to figure out the ball because with the stretch he is on now he could have very well been in Cy Young discussions.
9. One important development this weekend was Ramos catching everyone this weekend which is an indicator as to how the Mets would handle things in the postseason should they make it that far. You can certainly understand the Mets pursuing that route with the way he’s been hitting of late. In August, he is hitting .400/.432/.714.
10. While you understand the push, the Mets need to be mindful Ramos is 32 and injury prone. He does not need to be catching day games after night games especially when Jacob deGrom is pitching. Let deGrom compensate for the lack of offense by shutting down the opponent. This will allow Ramos to stay fresh and continue hitting at this level.
11. It is just like to deGrom to struggle and allow zero earned runs. What was not like deGrom was his failing to really cover first base on that Pete Alonso throw. He also needs to make a better throw to Ramos, who should have had that throw anyway. Really, that was just an ugly play all around.
12. Brad Brach quickly endeared himself to Mets fans by relaying a story about how the lifelong Mets fan bought a Mets jersey to attend Game 3 of the 2015 World Series and calling it one of his favorite moments. He further endeared himself by getting Luis Avilan out of that sixth inning jam yesterday.
13. Joe Panik also made a good impression on Mets fans. He may have only had two hits in the series, but both times he got a hit was in the middle of a rally. He also played a good second base. In all, he looked like a real boost to this team.
15. Speaking of Lagares, when are the Mets going to learn he can’t bunt? You cannot send him up there to bunt. In the future, if the Mets need a bunt to get down, and Guillorme has already been used, the Mets should sent in Steven Matz, who is very good handling the bat.
16. While the position players all contributed, the bullpen was not very good with much of their struggles masked by the Mets comebacks. When Seth Lugo allows a run, you know things are going bad for the bullpen. Of course, with Lugo being Lugo, he rebounded from the Juan Soto homer to close out the win.
17. Soto has joined Anthony Rendon in being Mets killers. If the Mets didn’t step up Friday and Saturday night, those two really were in a position to bury the Mets chances of making this miracle run.
18. Speaking of Mets killers, Edwin Diaz has been one of those. He has been worse than anyone could have possible imagined. He’s already lost his role as the full-time closer, and now there are rumblings the Mets should consider demoting him to Triple-A to get straightened out. Of course, that happens the same weekend Jarred Kelenic is promoted to Double-A.
19. One of the brightest spots all weekend was Jeurys Familia striking out the side on Sunday. Whether this is the Mets straightening him out or his stepping up in a big moment, it was a great thing to see, and it gives the Mets some hope for the future, especially if Diaz is not ready to really contribute for the rest of the year.
20. The Braves have not had a good August with a 6-5 record. That record looks all the more suspect when you consider they split four game series with the Reds and Marlins. This has helped keep the Mets alive in the division race, and now, the Mets have a real opportunity to go to Atlanta and go from alive to being a real threat.
With Robinson Cano landing on the Injured List, the Mets depth has once again been exposed. Considering how the Mets operate, it is very likely Adeiny Hechavarria will become the team’s everyday second baseman with Luis Guillorme on the bench.
Now, you could argue the Mets should move Jeff McNeil back to the infield, but there are almost no real viable outfield options unless you believe Juan Lagares or Aaron Altherr should play everyday. With them hitting .190 and .111 respectively that is hardly the case. With that in mind, the Mets have few options to upgrade their roster.
Asdrubal Cabrera is about the only free agent available worth investigating. The 33 year old was designated for assignment after hitting .235/.318/.393 in 93 games for a Rangers team falling out of contention. He was not very good in the field either with Cabrera having a -3 DRS in 793.0 innings albeit with a 2.7 UZR.
Cabrera has not been the same player hitting .233/.307/.393 (82 wRC+) since leaving the Mets in the July 27, 2018 trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. Prior to that trade, Cabrera hit .279/.339/.464 as a Met. That includes his phenomenal second half in 2016 which helped propel the Mets to the top Wild Card spot. Part of the reason for that is as Baseball Savant notes Cabrera having below average exit velocity and hard hit percentages. Despite these numbers, it may well behoove the Mets to have Cabrera as a late inning pinch hitter off the bench especially considering his penchant for heroics in big spots.
Tejada is probably the one option who could fill-in at shortstop if needed, and he has arguably been hitting better this year than any point in his professional career. In 64 games for Syracuse, Tejada is hitting 343/.421/.498 with 17 doubles, a triple, six homers, and 35 RBI.
The caution with Tejada is he has not played in the majors since 2017, and he hit .230/.293/.283 that year for Baltimore. Tejada played for Triple-A Norfolk the following year hitting .230/.291/.298 in 101 games. When looking at things from that prism, Tejada has made adjustments this year, and as a result, is a much better player; a player who could help contribute at the Major League level.
Like Tejada, Herrera is having a strong season in Syracuse hitting .250/.331/.538 with 23 doubles, one triple, 22 homers, and 48 RBI. Unlike Tejada, Herrera does not play shortstop. However, he may be more versatile with him playing first (28 games), second (24 games), third (31 games), left field (six games), and right field (four games) this year. Ultimately, if he was added to the roster, Herrera could prove to be a right-handed power threat off the bench which the Mets have not had since J.D. Davis has been pushed into everyday duty with Dominic Smith‘s injury.
Herrera still has played 10 games in the outfield for Syracuse, and he was a -2 DRS in 56.0 innings in left for the Reds last year. While that’s an extremely small sample size, it also speaks to how little experience Herrera has in the outfield.
With that in mind and with the Mets lack of outfield depth, the best option in Syracuse would be Rajai Davis, who notably hit a pinch hit homer for the Mets earlier in the year. Unfortunately, he is not an option as he has been on the IL since July 17. Beyond Davis, none of the other outfielders in Syracuse really present even a hypothetical upgrade.
In the end, the Mets decision may be between signing Cabrera or calling up one of Tejada or Herrera. That assumes Herrera is fine after fouling a ball off his shin on Saturday. If he is not good to go, that further limits the Mets already limited options.
Well, now the Mets are just two games under .500, and they are four games back of the second Wild Card. They are now heading to Pittsburgh, a team they just swept, to try to get over .500 and make further headway in the Wild Card race:
1. You know things are going well when Robinson Cano powers the offense, Amed Rosario is playing Gold Glove level defense, Wilson Ramos wasn’t the worst defensive catcher, and Jeurys Familia was pitching a clean inning.
3. This is not paid advertising, but with Alonso’s statement, you should consider buying one of the new LFGM t-shirts from Athlete Logos. On a personal note, I have used Athlete Logos for personal projects, and he has done a great job. Seriously, why have you not bought a shirt yet?
4. Now that things are going well again, we hear from Brodie Van Wagenen. This should surprise no one as he was taking victory laps after his big moves in the offseason, and he was nowhere to be seen when the Mets were struggling, and everyone was demanding answers. What makes his suddenly speaking again all the worse was his Tweet was a clear rip-off of Alonso’s. At this point, just let the players be front and center and go hiding like you did previously.
5. As noted yesterday, Jacob deGrom is pitching like he did last year, and suddenly, he is right near the top of the Cy Young race. With Max Scherzer hurt, deGrom can very well pass him over the next month.
6. Noah Syndergaard has four straight outings of seven plus innings with eight plus strikeouts. Just like deGrom is in his Cy Young form, Syndergaard is in his 2016 form.
7. Remember Syndergaard once said the Mets are a second half team. He’s backing up that statement by pitching like the best pitcher in baseball lately. Seeing him pitch like this you have to be happy the Mets did not trade him. Seeing him pitch, you really have to wonder why the Mets aren’t considering giving him a contract extension, especially with him wanting to be here.
8. Speaking of being happy a player who wants to be here wasn’t traded, Zack Wheeler was great yesterday. There are parameters for a contract extension for him with Nathan Eovaldi being a really good comparison. With the threat of the qualifying offer, you would think the Mets have leverage to get something done here.
9. With the Mets not selling, there was a legitimate case to be made the Mets should have added a reliever. While the Mets didn’t directly do that, by replacing Jason Vargas with Marcus Stroman in the rotation, the Mets did just that. With the pitching staff going 6-7 innings or more every night there is less of a need for your bullpen every night.
10. The pitching staff really has been great lately with them having the best ERA in the National League since July, and the best pitching staff in all of baseball since the All-Star Break. This is the result of the starters going deeper into games. This is a replication of the plan in 2015 which served the team quite well.
11. It also works well when Seth Lugo pitches like the best reliever in the game. That should surprise no one because he is that. There is no reliever more versatile and smart. Recently, he has pitched multiple innings, earned a save, and came in to face one batter to get the Mets out of a bases loaded jam.
12. On the pitching front, Mike Petriello of MLB.com points out just how much Ramos’ inability to frame the low pitches has hurt a Mets team heavily reliant on sliders and sinkers. That may be a reason why Syndergaard has thrived with Tomas Nido behind the plate. On that front, the Mets may want to consider pairing Stroman with Nido too.
13. Howie Rose made an interesting comparison between Edwin Diaz and Tug McGraw yesterday noting like Diaz, McGraw really struggled up until August of that 1973 season. On August 1, McGraw had a 5.77 ERA. From August 1 until the end of the season, he had a 1.65 ERA for a Mets team which made a miracle run.
14. For Diaz, it is time he turns things around. He has a 5.14 ERA, and he has allowed a run in three straight games with a homer in two of his last three games. On the home run front, he has allowed more homers than he did last year, and he is one off of a career worst.
15. Michael Conforto has been great. He had key walks leading to runs in tight games, and when he came up with the Mets needing insurance runs he delivered including his massive 11th inning homer. Yesterday, he had his hitting streak snapped, but he still contributed with a great sliding catch.
16. Jeff McNeil had a great catch of his own flying into the netting in the right field corner to make a catch. Even with his defense, he needs a day to rest what his an ailing wrist. Lately, he has been struggling at the plate. Over his last seven games, he is hitting .174/.240/.435.
17. The Mets are still winning with McNeil and Alonso struggling because everyone around them has picked it up. That includes Rosario who is really breaking out in every aspect of his game. That also includes Conforto who seems to have shaken off the effects of his concussion. There is also Todd Frazier, who has been much better of late.
18. One interesting development of late is the Mets going to Aaron Altherr over Juan Lagares for a late inning defensive replacement. Prior to this year, it would have seemed to be insane, but this year, it looks like the right move.
19. I’m still laughing over this deGrom quote I saw on MMO: “I would’ve hated to see anybody go. We’re staying together and that says they believe in us and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.” Apparently, deGrom didn’t think Vargas was anybody.
20. The last time the Mets tried to make a run like this was 2016 with Asdrubal Cabrera being the bat who helped push them into the top Wild Card spot. With Cabrera now available, the Mets should really consider bringing him back to be a big bat off the bench.