Austin Jackson

Wheeler Wins Fifth Straight

If you’re looking for reasons to continue watching this Mets team, Zack Wheeler and his emergence has to be near the top of the list.

For those who forget, Wheeler started this season in Triple-A, and he has built his way to arguably being the Mets second best starter. That trek started with a string seven inning performance in Marlins Park in his first MLB start of the season.

Tonight, he had another string seven inning outing at Marlins Park.

For the first four, it appeared he might no-hit a Marlins team who traded Justin Bour earlier in the day. As an aside, the Marlins are money for a better return. What a novel idea.

Martin Prado broke up what could have been the threat of a no-hitter with a fifth inning single. The Marlins got no momentum from that, and Wheeler kept the Marlins off the board for 6.2 innings.

After back-to-back strikeouts to lead off the bottom of the seventh, Rafael Ortega singled, and Miguel Rojas homered. That would cut the Mets lead to 4-2.

Wheeler got out of the inning unscathed, and he has now pitched at least seven innings in four of his last five starts. He’s also now won five straight starts.

He won tonight due to his dominance and the Mets bats getting going to the tune of six runs on 13 hits.

The first run was a two out rally started by a Jeff McNeil two out single. Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto followed with consecutive singles off Jose Urena to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth in a rally started by a Conforto leadoff walk. After a fielder’s choice, he scored on a Todd Frazier RBI single.

The rallied continued with the Mets eventually loading the bases. Wheeler wouldn’t get the run home leaving it to Amed Rosario to try to get a big two out base hit.

He would deliver hitting it just off of Starlin Castro. Frazier scored easily, and Austin Jackson scored just ahead of Kevin Plawecki getting nailed by Magneuris Sierra as he tried to go from first to third.

After the Rojas seventh inning homer, the Mets got the runs right back. Jackson hit a ground rule double setting up runners at second and third. Plawecki then delivered with a two RBI single.

Seth Lugo pitched a scoreless eighth. Initially, Jerry Blevins got that ball to start the ninth, but after he hit Derek Dietrich, Mickey Callaway went to Drew Smith who finished the game.

While Smith has not received much work, he had had finished four of the seven games he’s appeared with no saves.

With the win, the Mets took round one in the battle for the basement of the NL East, which depending on your perspective is a good or bad thing.

Game Recap: With his third inning single, Conforto has now reached safely in his last 24 road games.

Mets Players Weekend Nickname Alternates

Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys.  Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.

For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues.  When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.”  With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”

Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released.  However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:

Tyler BashlorMickey, I’m Available To Pitch

Jose BautistaTrade Value Going, Going, Gone!

Jerry BlevinsOne Magic LOOGY

Jay BruceJason Bay

Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load

Travis d’Arnaud – d’L

Jacob deGromFewest Wins 4 Cy Young Winner

Phillip EvansDFA TBA

Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Todd Frazier Regrets, I’ve Joined The Mets

Robert GsellmanDon’t Care What You Think

Luis GuillormeAssistant to the Regional Manager

Austin Jackson2019 Opening Day CF

Juan LagaresOut For The Season

Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)

Steven MatzNot So Strong Island

Jeff McNeil2B/3B/OF

Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better

Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Corey OswaltVargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)

Kevin Plawecki – Plawful

Jose ReyesMelaza Virus

Jacob RhameStay (Refers to his roster spot and glasses)

Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted

Paul Sewald AAAAll Star

Dominic SmithWaist And Future Gone

Drew SmithMickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor.  They’re trying to prove a point.)

Anthony SwarzakStill Just One Good Season

Noah Syndergaard 60’6″ Away

Jason Vargas$16 Million Dollar Man

Bobby Wahl After All, I’m Your . . .

Zack WheelerFinally Good

David Wright – Hurts Here Doc

Mets Finally Score for deGrom

With Jacob deGrom entering today’s game with an MLB best 1.85 ERA and a career 1.99 ERA in day games, you knew he was going to completely shut down the Reds.

Even with him getting squeezed a bit by the home plate umpire leading to an increased pitch count, deGrom would dominate yet again.  In his six scoreless innings pitched, deGrom limited the Reds to just four hits and a walk while he struck out 1o.

Two of those four hits would come in the first inning with Phil Ervin and Scooter Gennett hitting back-to-back one out singles.  After Eugenio Suarez struck out, the Reds put on a play in an attempt to score a run.

Gennett broke for second, and he was supposed to stop when Devin Mesoraco threw through.  Gennett would go too far leaving him in position to get tagged out by Amed Rosario before Ervin could score.

While it was surprising the Mets made a good defensive play and took advantage of another team’s error, it was all the more surprising the Mets scored some runs for deGrom.  In fact, he would get eight runs of support, which was more than he received in any game he has had since the middle of June, which was a Mets game in Coors Field.

To put it in perspective, over his last four starts, the Mets scored six runs for him.  In entire Month of July, he received 10 runs of support.  Basically, today was an extreme and welcome outlier.

The first run came in the second inning when Austin Jackson doubled home Michael Conforto from first.  Conforto and Jackson would once again take part in the scoring in the fifth.

Conforto would get a one out hustle double, and he would come home to score on a Brandon Nimmo RBI double.  Nimmo scored on Jackon’s second RBI single of the game.

At that point, it was 5-0 Mets as in the previous inning, Reds starter Robert Stephenson loaded the bases by intentionally walking Mesoraco to pitch to deGrom.  deGrom would help his own cause by walking on four pitches, and Rosario would tack on another run with a sacrifice fly.

At 5-0 in the fifth, deGrom had nearly a half month’s worth of run support.  After six, it was up to the bullpen to make sure they didn’t blow a big lead for a pitcher everyone on the Mets owed a win.

Seth Lugo, Jerry Blevins, and Robert Gsellman did their job by pitching three scoreless to give deGrom the rare win.

The use of Gsellman was certainly odd as the Mets rallied in the eighth to tack on three runs.  Again, that was the result of Conforto and Jackson at work.  Conforto, who walked, scored with Wilmer Flores on Nimmo’s double, and once again, Nimmo scored on a Jackson RBI base hit.  This one was a double.

Speaking of Nimmo, this was a nice bounceback game for him with his going 3-for-5 with three runs, three doubles, and three RBI.

All-in-all, this was a very good game for the Mets, and it was the type of game which will hopefully get deGrom that Cy Young Award he so richly deserves.

Game Notes: A day after Mickey Callaway said he isn’t pressured by anyone, specifically the Wilpons, to play Jose Reyes, Reyes announced he wants to return to the Mets next season.

Calm Down on the Callaway Criticism

In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made.  Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team.  Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:

Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup

Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press.  Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves).  As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.

Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt

Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing.  At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning.  It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.

Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt.  He should have started that inning.  It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.

Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game

Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo.  If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.

Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game?  Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.

Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced

Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face?  Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt?  If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.

Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game.  By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.

Seriously, how is that a bad thing?

As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false.  Just completely false.

This is the National League.  A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning.  You don’t have that luxury.  Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted.  Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.

And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize.  After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again.  That’s a good thing.

As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:

Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.

Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.

Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game

The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky.  On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate.  Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen.  To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.

Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup.  That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup.  Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:

Summation

During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games.  It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.

When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism.  Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.

As for the other decisions?  Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants.  Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them.  Overall, remember the level of interference he has.

Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play.  In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series.  Give credit where it is due.

More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.

Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game.  Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement.  Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.

Wheeler Dominates And Gets aWin.

This is exactly the way the Mets are supposed to play things over the final two months of the season. Sure, it’s easy to say that after a 3-0 win, but even if the Mets fell behind or lost the lead, they did he right thing.

Zack Wheeler, who the Mets were right to hold onto at the trade deadline, once again showed the Mets he’s turned a corner.

Over seven shutout innings, Wheeler linter a Braves team who had the third highest batting average in the majors and the fourth most runs in the National League to just three hits and one walk.

Really, Wheeler dominated from the jump with him striking out the side in the first, which would set the tone for a none strike out night. Overall, only one Brave would even reach second against Wheeler.

That was Freddie Freeman with a leadoff double to start the seventh. Wheeler responded by getting three quick outs.

With this not being a Jacob deGrom start, Wheeler would get the run support he would need to get the win.

The first run, and really only run needed came in the second when new Brave Kevin Gausman hit Todd Frazier. He’d quickly move to third on a Jeff McNeil double.

Overall, McNeil was a perfect 4-for-4 as he raised his batting average from .190 to .320.

The Mets mostly squandered the two on no out situation, but Amed Rosario was still able to get Frazier home on a fielder’s choice to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Once again, it was Frazier and McNeil getting things started. They’d follow a Michael Conforto sixth inning leadoff single with consecutive singles to both load the bases and chase Gausman.

Austin Jackson hit one off the reliever Shane Carle for an RBI leadoff single. Kevin Plawecki brought the next run home with a sacrifice fly.

Once again, it was an opportunity largely squandered, but the Mets did enough to get a 3-0 lead.

Surprisingly, Mickey Callaway would tab Bobby Wahl for the eighth. He’d get into some trouble, but he worked around it to get the ball to Robert Gsellman.

Gsellman for the ninth is an inspired move as it lets you know if he could be part of the later inning bullpen mix.

Well, tonight, Gsellman was up for the challenge much loot McNeil was just for almost the full night.

Overall, the Mets have young players and a chance to play them. For tonight, it worked.

Mets Fans Should Not Want Alonso Called Up

Last night’s starting lineup had Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Austin Jackson, and Devin Mesoraco in it while Wilmer Flores, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, and Kevin Plawecki sat.

This isn’t really an anomaly as the aforementioned 30+ year old veterans on expiring deals have been getting regular playing time over the younger players.

Earlier this season, Dominic Smith was up with the Mets for a 31 game stretch. The 23 year old former first round pick started in just 16 of those games. During this time, Mickey Callaway described Smith as a bench player.

That’s better than what Guillorme got. Despite his not getting a chance to ever really prove himself, he was described as a pinch hitter and late inning replacement who should not be getting starts the rest of the year. Naturally, this was said on a day Reyes got a start at second.

Seeing how the Mets don’t play the young players when they’re here on how they seemingly go out of their way to disparage those players, as a fan, ask yourself why you would want Peter Alonso called up right now.

Do you want to see him on the bench behind Bautista, or in the event be actually does manage to return this year, Jay Bruce?

Do you want to see him get benched for failing to scoop out a Reyes throw in the dirt leading to his eventual (punishment) benching?

Do you want to see him sit and have the team refer to him as a late inning power threat off the bench?

Judging from what we’ve seen this year and the last, we know that’s what’s going to happen to Alonso.

With that in mind, again ask yourself, do you really want to see the Mets call up Alonso this year?

Smith’s And Alonso’s Battle Is The Veterans, Not Each Other

After not being utilized by the Major League club, the Mets sent Dominic Smith back down to Triple-A where his traditional first base position was already occupied by Peter Alonso.

For the past year, Smith and Alonso had been battling it out to see who was going to be the Mets first baseman of the future. In that time period, Smith has struggled while Alonso has thrived. That has especially been the case this year with a slimmed down Smith not being able to hit for any power in a hitter friendly Pacific Coast League while Alonso has been drawing comparisons to Mark McGwire as he has leaped into Top 100 lists this summer.

While it is interesting to debate them from afar, it is more interesting to see how they stack up when they are in the same lineup on a day-in and day-out basis.

Much like he has done for most of the season, Alonso has risen to the challenge.

Before Smith was sent back down to Triple-A, Alonso was hitting .196/.323/.477 while striking out in 28.5 percent of his plate appearances in the 29 games. Since he has been in the same lineup as Smith, he is hitting .286/.333/.429 with three doubles, a homer, and 10 RBI in 10 games.

Unfortunately for Smith, he has struggled. In his 10 games back in Las Vegas, he is hitting .200/.267/.400. On the bright side, he did put together a four game hitting streak where he was 6-for-16 with two homers and four RBI. At a minimum, that once again shows us Smith does have the talent to perform at this high a level, but again, the question remains if he can do this on a long term basis.

In total, we are seeing glimpses from both Alonso and Smith as to why they should be considered the Mets first baseman of the future. The question is when or if either is going to get a chance a the Major League level.

At the moment, they are being blocked by Wilmer Flores, Jose Bautista, and Austin Jackson not just for playing time but also roster spots on the Major League roster. After that, the Mets will have Jay Bruce, who may be better suited to first, and Yoenis Cespedes, who may be limited to first base after his double heel surgery. This is in addition to Flores, who was already playing over Smith when both were on the Major League roster.

It seems like Smith will get called-up again this year, but seeing the veterans and how he was previously utilized, we shouldn’t expect him to get much of a look.  With respect to Alonso, the Mets have been adamant he is not coming up this year.

That’s why, in the end, while we are seeing Smith and Alonso battling head-to-head against one another to make the case why either one of them should be considered the Met first baseman of the future, their real battle is with the Mets organization to prove why they should get the job over more established and much higher paid veterans.

Given how they are battling in Triple-A instead of the Majors, it does not seem as if they are going to get a fair enough shake to prove themselves . . . at least not this year.

 

Pick A Lane On Mets Criticism

There are many, many reasons to criticize the Mets.  Even with the presence of smart baseball people, who have been a part of well-run organizations in their previous stops, the Mets are a mess.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is directly attributable to ownership.

That same ownership has decided that rather than appointing one of their existing assistant general managers to be the interim general manager, they would each role share with them presenting ideas they used to offer to Sandy Alderson directly to Jeff Wilpon.  Yes, Jeff Wilpon essentially named himself the general manager.

The end result of that has led to a number of decisions which have made the Mets even more of a laughingstock then they already have been.

The Jeurys Familia trade was widely panned.  Making matters worse, we subsequently discovered Will Toffey, the key prospect in the deal not only needs offseason shoulder surgery, but his dad is also friends with J.P. Riccardi. It so happens Riccardi was the pointman for the deal.

We didn’t know that initially because the Mets went into media silence.  The reason for that was the team was actively ducking the media over their continued bungling and outright lying in delivering the message about what they knew and didn’t know about Yoenis Cespedes‘ heels.

Consider that over the course of a few days, John Ricco and the Mets went from saying they didn’t know Cespedes needed surgery to saying surgery was a last resort to saying he needed the surgery.

What was even better about all of this was the Mets waited for this noise to clear before calling on Ricco to speak with the media about the Familia trade, a trade which he said Riccardi ran point and that one of the key pieces was the international money which Omar Minaya could utilize well.  So basically, the team sent out the one guy of the three to speak on a deal who didn’t work on getting the deal done or who will utilize the assets acquired.

Meanwhile, the Mets continual insistence Jeff McNeil was a second baseman blew up in their faces.  Within a week of this proclamation, McNeil would play third in a Triple-A game, and eventually he would be called up to play third base in the majors.

After the trade deadline, the three general managers hopped on a conference call where they told everyone ownership entasked them with being creative and open to all possibilities.  That resulted in them getting a poor return for Familia.  Worse yet, the team was unable to move Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins, or Devin Mesoraco despite them being 30 year old veterans on expiring deals.

Better yet, they added to the over 30 mix by signing Austin Jackson on the eve of the trade deadline.

Looking at what they did and didn’t do, there are still some up in arms that the team didn’t unload Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, or even Noah Syndergaard.

Seriously?

After what we have seen from this front office in a very limited time period, you really trusted them to make major deals on these players.  You really thought they were capable of getting the type of return the Rays got for Chris Archer?

Have you been remotely paying attention to anything that has happened over the past two years?

Honestly, how could you want this structure get rid of players who will have a huge market during the Winter Meetings should the Mets eventually decided to tear it all down and rebuild?

That’s just being completely delusional.

Again, the Mets need to be held to task for many things they do.  They need to be constantly reminded of their failures and ineptitude.

That said, with those failures and ineptitude, how can we possibly trust them to do anything until they bring in a fresh voice into the organization who knows what he is doing?

Mets Failure To Make Trades Leaves Vets Blocking Promising Younger Players

Looking over the Mets roster, Jose Bautista, Jerry Blevins, Devin Mesoraco, and Jose Reyes are all veterans who are over 30 and have expiring contracts.

When you consider, the Mets added Austin Jackson to the mix, that’s five 30 year old players on expiring deals who were not moved at the trade deadline.

The issue isn’t just the Mets inability to get something, anything for these players. It’s the fact these players can and will stand in the way of a younger player.

Looking over this roster, there is no reason why Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil aren’t in the lineup everyday. Until Todd Frazier returns, the Mets have second, third, and left to use to figure out playing time.

Speaking of which, the Mets still have both Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso in Triple-A. It’s truly bizarre that neither one of them are up here now, especially with Smith’s purported ability to now play left field.

With McNeil’s, Guillorme’s, Smith’s, and Wilmer Floresversatility, the Mets have the ability to find playing time for everyone. With that versatility, we can not only see who’s ready to contribute at the Major League level, but also who’s a real part of the Mets future.

Instead, we’re going to see way too much of Bautista, Jackson, and Mesoraco in the starting lineup than is warranted for a team this many games under .500. We may very well see a game where they play on the same day as Reyes and Blevins.

Certainly, there are better odds of this happening than seeing an infield of Flores-Guillorme-Amed Rosario-McNeil with Smith in left. That’s before we even consider Alonso.

That’s not how you properly play out the string, and it’s a reason why the Mets are who they are and perennially winning teams are what they are.