Due to the rain-out yesterday, the New York Mets split a series against the Miami Marlins. There was a lot which happened in the span of those three days, which is just an indication of just how bizarre the start to this season has been:
1. Not calling a game which had zero chance of ever getting played was a very Wilpon like decision. Hopefully, this is something that we will not see happen again.
2. Whenever there is a threat of rain, teams should just use an opener. It is not worth wasting a pitcher’s turn through the rotation in the hopes of a game being played. Instead of getting someone like Robert Gsellman some work, the Mets are going to have to wait until Friday to see Marcus Stroman again.
3. Aside from David Peterson, the Mets starting pitching has been quite good this season. The best surprise might’ve been Taijuan Walker who looked like the pitcher many thought he would be when he was once a top 10 prospect in the game.
6. The umpires completely blew it when ruling Michael Conforto was hit by the pitch to force in the game winning run. The fact replay can’t fix that error is a failure of the system.
7. Just when you thought that was bad, on Sunday Night Baseball, Alec Bohm never touched home plate, was ruled safe, and the call was somehow upheld on replay. What is the point of the system when you can’t get obviously blown calls corrected?
8. By the way, Travis d’Arnaud did an amazing job receiving that throw and blocking the plate. There really is no one better in the game than him at doing that, and it is also notable the Mets have spent a ton of money on catchers who are no better than him.
9. These two plays are reminiscent of when Chase Utley went out of the baseline, tackled Ruben Tejada, never touched the bag, and was ruled safe on replay and awarded second base. By the way, the manager who asked for that review and wound up winning partially because of that absurdity was Don Mattingly, so he can save us from listening to his whining.
10. The booing of Conforto was ridiculous. Yes, he had a really bad four game stretch as all players are going to have during the course of the season. You would just think a player of his stature who has been a good Met for this long would have a longer leash than four games.
11. Dropping Conforto in the line-up was a pure panic decision. It’s not like he’s the only Mets player not hitting. For example, there was no booing of Pete Alonso despite his being hitless over his last 11 at-bats, and no one wants him dropped in the order. Remember, Conforto was great last year whereas Alonso comparatively struggled.
12. No, this is not a call to boo Alonso. It is also not a call to boo McNeil who has one hit this year. The same goes for James McCann and Francisco Lindor who have matching .176 batting averages with no extra base hits. It is was too soon to boo any of these players.
13. Conforto is eventually going to break out of his slump due to the ebbs and flows of the baseball season. His being dropped to fifth, sixth, or even seventh in the order will have nothing to do with hit.
14. If this was about rewarding the best hitters, Luis Guillorme would be playing everyday. That goes double when you consider J.D. Davis hit the IL. Guillorme is literally hitting .500 in his limited playing opportunities.
15. Brandon Nimmo has been phenomenal to start the season. He has flat out been the Mets best player with a 223 OPS+ and a 1 OAA in center. He’s been locked in to start the season. Yes, it is too soon to talk All-Star or even MVP consideration, but he looks like he’s poised to have a great year.
16. Of course, no one is better than Jacob deGrom. On the season, he has allowed one run over 14.0 innings while striking out 21. We are running out of words to describe how great he is.
17. We’re also running out of ways to describe just how terrible the lack of run support he receives is. It is beyond a joke deGrom is 0-1 to start the year. It’s really difficult to pinpoint the reason, but there is no rational explanation why this keeps happening.
18. Congrats to Joe Musgrove for throwing the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history. Doing that for the team you grew up rooting for is like Mike Baxter making the no-hitter saving catch for Johan Santana‘s. On that topic, Anthony DiComo certainly showed his true colors.
19. People need to stop this over the top criticism of Luis Rojas. We are five games into a disjointed season with COVID cancellations and front office blown decisions on a rain delay. Like all managers, he is not the one setting the lineup or deciding whether or not to play the games. He is working with the front office on these decisions, including scripting out how long the starters go and which relievers pitch. He’s just the face and fall guy for many of these decisions.
The New York Mets did not get off to the best of starts to the 2021 season. Their first series was canceled due to the Washington Nationals being infected with COVID. They blew Jacob deGrom‘s first start, and they could never recover from David Peterson getting blitzed.
The team returned to Citi Field with a 1-2 record, and the team had a number of issues. There were a number of players scuffling, and that included Jeff McNeil. With McNeil, things were very different than they had been in past seasons.
Through no fault of his own, McNeil was dropped from the top to the bottom of the lineup. After starting the season 0-for-7, he was given the day off in the series finale. On his birthday, he was dropped to seventh in the lineup hitting behind Jonathan Villar. After starting the day 0-for-2, McNeil was due to lead-off the ninth with the Mets on verge of losing their home opener in very frustrating fashion.
In uncharacteristic fashion, McNeil did not swing at the first pitch. Of course, the pitch being out of the zone by a good margin does that. McNeil would work the count in his favor, and then Miami Marlins closer Anthony Bass would throw one inside, and McNeil would tie the game with his first hit of the season:
— Athlete Logos (@athletelogos) April 8, 2021
After connecting, McNeil would have a bat flip reminiscent of the one Asdrubal Cabrera had roughly five years ago. No, this was not a game of the same magnitude, but this was a special game. It was the Mets home opener, and it was the first home game with fans in the stands since the end of the 2019 season.
Lost in that hit was the fact McNeil had actually been hitting the ball extremely hard to start the season. Going to Baseball Savant, McNeil was hitting the ball hard and was barreling it up. It really was only a matter of time before we start to see McNeil hitting the ball like we knew he could. McNeil chose the best time to do it. He would not only tie the game, but he started a rally which ended with the Mets winning the game.
With McNeil busting out of his early season slump and his getting the Mets first real big hit of the season, his homer and bat flip is our first Neon Moment of the Week for the 2021 season!
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I am very appreciative Athlete Logos has agreed to participate in this feature. If you like his work as much as I do, please visit his website to enjoy his work, buy some of his merchandise, or to contract him to do some personal work for yourself (like I have).
Back on August 16, 2017, the New York Mets faced a rash of injuries. Instead of postponing the game, Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher, rotated with Asdrubal Cabrera between second and third all game long. The reason that happened is Major League Baseball does not cancel games when teams face injuries.
At times, this leads to tough and frankly bad decisions. A classic example was when the New York Mets took a risk by designating Darren O’Day so Nelson Figueroa could make a start. That led to O’Day getting claimed by the Texas Rangers. O’Day is still pitching now whereas Figueroa last pitched in the majors two years after this decision, and he had a full career arc as the Mets postgame analyst.
Point is, teams are forced to play through injuries. Baseball is unforgiving that way. However, when it comes to COVID teams are not forced to play. Sure, the Miami Marlins played with COVID last year, and Don Mattingly was rewarded for putting the entire season in jeopardy by naming him the National League Manager of the Year, but that is another story for another day.
On the eve of Opening Day, there was a Washington Nationals player who tested positive for COVID, and through contact tracing, an additional four Nationals players were put into quarantine. Since that first test, four other Nationals players have tested positive, and the Opening Day game between the Mets and and the Nationals has been postponed indefinitely.
Again, if there were five Mets players injured and unavailable on Opening Day, the Mets would have been forced to play the game. They would have been put in the position over whether they call up players or roll with the players they had available. Understandably, COVID is different than a torn hamstring, but not really in terms of player availability.
Because of COVID concerns, Major League Baseball has allowed teams to carry a taxi squad of five players with them on road trips. When not on road trips, those players are at the team’s alternate site. Put another way, Major League teams are supposed to have five players ready to be called up to play at a moment’s notice if there is a COVID issue. Coincidentally, that number coincides with the amount of players the Nationals had out.
Now, there are reports Max Scherzer, the Opening Day starter, was away from the team. So, we know he was available. Past him, we really don’t have any idea who could or could not play. On a related note, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said their entire team is in quarantine. Again, while there are reports both teams could play on Saturday, in reality, if the entire Nationals team is in quarantine, there is really no knowing when they will be able to play.
That puts the Mets at a significant disadvantage to start their season. The Mets were setting their rotation where they did not have to use a fifth starter early on in the season. That helped alleviate the loss of Carlos Carrasco, and it did give them a preview of Joey Lucchesi, who may be destined for the bullpen once Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard are ready to return. Again, this was the Mets plan, but now, they can’t execute their plan because the Nationals players got infected with COVID at a time when none of the other 29 teams had any issues.
The answer can’t be for the Mets and Nationals to cancel an entire series. This would have the Mets dormant for half a week before they have to travel to play a Phillies team who has already been playing. This is how you create injuries and problems. Again, if the Mets suffer injuries as a result of this, no one is postponing their games until that players is healthy.
Really, Major League Baseball has to have a better answer than to shut down a healthy team abiding by COVID protocols. The Nationals should be forced to call up their Triple-A team to play if that what is necessary. On that note, there is no Triple-A baseball until May. These are games on the schedule, and the weather is permitting them to play.
Instead, the Mets are going to have to scrap their plans for the rotation, be forced to play cold against teams already warmed up, and they are going to have to force games in later in the season when we are already concerned about pitchers being able to sustain the 2021 season after the 2020 shortened season.
This is ridiculous, and Major League Baseball has to have a better response than postponing games and kicking the rock down the road. Of course, they don’t, so they are going to put the Mets in a precarious position now and in the future. And we know if anyone gets injured as a result of this recklessness, the Mets will play that game even if it means someone playing out of position the way d’Arnaud once did.
Entering this offseason, the New York Mets have discussed building depth, but to date, they haven’t quite accomplished it. Surveying the remaining free agents, Asdrubal Cabrera stands out.
As we remember, Cabrera and his family loved being part of the Mets. There was an opportunity for him to return, but Brodie Van Wagenen botched it. Fortunately, Van Wagenen is gone and can no longer screw things up for the Mets.
Since leaving the Mets, Cabrera has been a 98 OPS+ hitter. While below average, he was still the clutch hitter we remember. Case-in-point, Cabrera hit .323/.404/.565 in 38 games with the Washington Nationals helping them claim a Wild Card spot.
While we saw he wasn’t a shortstop anymore, he did provide a capable glove elsewhere, and he’s been quite versatile.
Since 2018, Cabrera has been a 5 OAA at second, 8 OAA at third, and a 0 OAA at first. It should be noted DRS paints a significantly different picture. Melding the two and taking other defensive metrics into account, Cabrera can capably fill-in across the infield.
Remember, at this point in his career, Cabrera is a utility player. As such, on a game-in and game-out basis, he just needs to establish he can give the other infielders a rest of be able to enter on a double switch.
With respect to Cabrera being a depth option, he’s been a good pinch hitter in his career. As compiled by Baseball Reference:
Looking at Cabrera’s ability to come off the bench, you see he could be a very useful player. He can certainly give you a full game at first, second, and third, and in a pinch, he can be thrown in at short.
He’s an effective pinch hitter who is also a switch hitter. That’s important for this Mets team. While we see most of the starting lineup is left-handed, much of the bench is right-handed. Cabrera offsets both.
Now, at 35, he’s not likely going to get a Major League deal from anyone. That actually inures to the Mets benefit as their roster is full with the team still needing at least a third baseman and center fielder.
On a smaller note, signing Cabrera would free up Luis Guillorme to start at second. At the moment, Guillorme is partially relegated to the bench because of his ability to play across the infield. Adding Cabrera could allow Guillorme to slot in just at second.
Overall, Cabrera was a popular and clutch Met. He has the ability to play multiple positions. Cabrera can still hit. For a Mets team looking to upgrade their depth, Cabrera certainly checks all the boxes, which is why the team should push to bring him back.
The New York Mets have a number of needs this offseason, and they’re oft discussed. However, the biggest one that’s overlooked is the giant hole at third base.
Simply put, the Mets cannot afford to put J.D. Davis there again. He’s been terrible at the position in his career, and there’s really no reason to expect any different in 2021.
In his career, Davis has a -19 DRS and -5 OAA in 770.0 MLB innings. With his posting a -8 DRS and -3 OAA at the position in 2020, it would appear his skills are regressing instead of progressing. When you break it down, he’s no more than a 1B/DH thereby leaving the Mets searching for a third baseman.
That’s a spot which likely would’ve gone to Jeff McNeil, who had his own issues at third. However, with Robinson Cano‘s suspension, it would seem McNeil is the everyday second baseman. Accordingly, the Mets will have to look outside the organization to fulfill their third base vacancy.
That is problematic because the options available aren’t great.
After Turner, one popular name in some circles is DJ LeMahieu. There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of LeMahieu including his stats being Yankee Stadium fueled, his price tag, and his declining defense. There’s also the issue of his not actually being a third baseman even if he can reasonably be expected to transition.
After those two, it’s a pretty severe drop-off. Former Mets Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are probably the next best options, but at this point in their careers, they’re best served being utility players.
Of course all of this depends upon your impression of Ha-Seong Kim. The Kiwoom Heros of the KBO have posted him. With that, he really looks to be the first KBO shortstop entering his prime to come to the MLB.
MLB Trade Rumors calls Kim a “unicorn given his blend of age, power, speed and defensive aptitude at a premium position.”
While Kim is a shortstop, he’s split time between short and third. It will be interesting to see how well he could play in the majors. That said, he’s awfully tantalizing in a very shallow free agent group.
In fact, given Turner’s age and LeMahieu’s many question marks, Kim may be the best option available. In fact, he could be the only real option available to the Mets.
With that being the case, the Mets are in a very difficult situation. They’re either looking to overpay Turner or LeMahieu to get them to come to a team they don’t necessarily want to join, or they’re rolling the dice on Kim. After that, it’s either an internal option or a trade, which is much easier said than done.
It seems at least once a year the Washington Nationals just embarrass the Mets. While much has changed in this COVID19 world, apparently, this tradition has survived.
Brandon Nimmo had a rough night in the outfield. He didn’t make an error, but he didn’t get to a lot of balls. He wasn’t the only one off during the Nationals 16-4 thrashing of a the Mets.
The Nationals hit four homers with two of them coming from former Met Asdrubal Cabrera. That included a true juiced ball homer.
JUICED BALL HR OF THE NIGHT pic.twitter.com/uGxSYEHKSb
— Dylan Hornik (@_Hornik_) August 11, 2020
You may remember Cabrera from his stint with the Mets. If not, you may remember him as the guy Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t give a courtesy call to when he instead opted to sign his former client Jed Lowrie, who had a busted knee.
Lowrie gave the Mets nine pinch hit attempts, and Cabrera helped the Nationals win the World Series. He also helped destroy the Mets tonight. So, thanks for that Brodie.
Really, the less said about this debacle, the better. It’s time to turn the page and just try to figure out how to piece together a starting rotation. Again, thanks for that Brodie.
The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.
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.