Bartolo Colon

Postseason Contender Still Available As Pitchers And Catchers Report

Today, across Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers will officially have to report to Spring Training. Truth be told, many players have already reported with the hopes of helping their teams win a World Series. Of course, there are any number of players who have not reported partially because they do not have a team to report. In shocking fashion, the still pending free agents could comprise a postseason team:

C – Martin Maldonado
1B – Marwin Gonzalez
2B – Josh Harrison
3B – Mike Moustakas
SS – Manny Machado
LF – Carlos Gonzalez
CF – Adam Jones
RF – Bryce Harper

UTIL – Derek Dietrich

SP – Dallas Keuchel
SP – Gio Gonzalez
SP – Clay Buchholz
SP – Ervin Santana
SP –Edwin Jackson/Doug Fister/Bartolo Colon

RP – Craig Kimbrel
RP – Ryan Madson
RP – Sergio Romo
RP – Jim Johnson
RP – Santiago Casilla
RP – Erik Goeddel

RP – Jake Diekman/Tony Sipp/Xavier Cedeno

Say what you want about teams thinking they’re smarter than years past. Say what you want about players being unrealistic as to what their real value is. Everyone has their own perceptions, right or wrong. Ultimately, no matter what your perception, having a collection of players like this still being free agents is embarrassing for baseball.

It’s long past the time for teams to step up and do what it takes to bring key free agents onto their rosters to get them closer to a World Series.

As for the Mets, even if you do not support them pursuing a player like Harper or Machado (which is a bizarre stance), it’s hard to believe this is a complete team. A pitcher like Gonzalez or Jackson should be brought in to push Jason Vargas. With two defensive specialists like Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton who can’t hit, they could certainly use a Jones.

For that matter, to make this team even deeper, they could use a Dietrich, Gonzalez, or Harrison to combine with Jeff McNeil and Jed Lowrie. It also couldn’t hurt to have a Romo or Madson to bolster an already good bullpen.

When you boil it down, there are still difference makers in this free agent market. At this point, if you are not signing some of the pending free agents, you are not even trying to take advantage of unique opportunity before you. If that is the case, you are not doing all you can do to win in 2019.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should There Be A Universal DH

Once again, we have seen Major League Baseball has floated the idea of implementing the Designated Hitter in the National League only to drop the issue again. That said, in some corners there is the perception there will be a universal DH sooner rather than later. In others, it seems as if baseball wants to keep this topic forever as a debate.

To that end, the Mets Bloggers have undertaken the question about whether the National League should implement the Designated Hitter:

Michael Baron

he DH sucks. Plain and simple. However, pitchers aren’t hitting a lot in college. They’re not hitting a lot in the minors. Teams don’t even have their pitchers hit in exhibition games until the third week of March. Clubs are telling their pitchers to not invest energy into many of their at bats, they hardly run when they make contact, and quite frankly, most of them can’t bunt. The point is, more and more it has generally become an automatic out and if that’s how the game is evolving, I see no reason to not embrace a change like this.

Generally there is now no investment into that lineup spot in the NL anymore. Teams don’t want to invest there. They’d rather the pitcher strike out three times with RISP and less than two outs and turn in 7 innings of quality pitching. That’s where they see their value. And honestly, it’s fair at these salaries.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Okay, I am a traditionalist, so not a big fan of the DH, but I understand that it’s inevitably going to be a part of the game in the not-too-distant future. The thought of implementing it for 2019 is downright asinine, because teams are mostly finished constructing their rosters (sorry Bryce Harper and Manny Machado). It’s going to be a sad reality to not see guys like Bartolo Colon have their moments in the sun. I guess with Robinson Cano and Yoenis Cespedes though, we have built-in DH candidates on the roster.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

A little birdie told me that Brodie Van Wagenen was quite aware as to these behind the curtain machinations. I don’t need to have pitchers hit, nor am I going to die on a hill for double switches.

So, I dig the DH.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

Many don’t want a DH in the NL, until they start driving in runs for their team. Another bonus, one less thing for a manager to screw up.

Metstradamus (Metstradums Blog)

I’m not a fan of the DH … but I’m old so that’s to be expected (get off my lawn). But what I’m less a fan of is half the teams in the league having to allocate roster space and salary differently than the other half. AL teams get to spend $20 million on a DH to hit 30/100 and completely ignore their bench, while NL teams actually have to spend on a bench. There’s a reason AL teams have killed NL teams in interleague play until last season. Everything else about the leagues have been homogenized, this very significant rule should be as well. While I would prefer the leagues to get rid of the DH, with every single minor and independent league having a DH, that’s not realistic. So bring it on, in the name of fairness.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I never asked for the DH and would never ask for the DH. I’d ask for its abolition altogether if possible, but I understand it’s not. Let the AL have its arrhythmic game. Let me have the one that flows naturally, with the pitcher batting ninth, occasionally surprising us with a hit and turning the lineup over until it’s time for the manager to make a decision.

MLB should feel free to add a team to each league, giving us 16 apiece in the NL and AL and eliminate Interleague play and save AL pitchers the intermittent horror of remembering how to approach a fundamental aspect of baseball until the World Series.

Bre S. (That Mets Chick)

I just want what benefits the Mets overall. Cano can fit as a DH, so can Cespedes and Peter Alonso. Tough decision.

Having a DH would certainly make the Mets lineup look better and more versatile. Plus cano is with the Mets until he’s what? 41-42? lol

Tim Ryder (MMO)

Do I want to? I’m indifferent. I don’t think I’d miss “traditional baseball”, though. I’m having a hard time justifying a collective .115/.144/.148 slash line for pitchers in 2018 with a 42.2 K% over 5k+ PA just to save the beautiful strategic aspect of the National League game. Plus, it could be beneficial for a suddenly depth-laden team like the Mets. The hypothetical luxury of plugging, say, Broxton into the OF late and with a lead AND keeping Michael Conforto or Brandon Nimmo in the game as the DH would be a good thing.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

I don’t like the DH, which I don’t think is a secret. But I would be willing to accept a universal DH if it meant everyone would be satisfied and we could back off these ridiculous pace-of-play proposals. Adding a DH doesn’t actually do much to change the game on the field; it’s just a different person hitting. But almost every pace-of-play proposal out there is a terrible idea. Pitch clock? Bad idea. The dumb thing with automatic runners on second in extra innings? Bad idea. So if a DH in the NL means we avoid those, then I would accept it. But if it’s just the first of a bunch of changes that Manfred is waiting to jam down our throats, then it’s a very bad thing.

Mets Daddy

I’ve written on my distaste for the National League DH on a number of occasions. Rather than regurgitate it all ad nauseum here, I’ll synopsize it by saying MLB needs to tread carefully. Once you implement the DH in the NL, you have forever changed the game by eliminating the purest style of baseball there is. It is a style many love dearly. Even if the die hards are still going to watch, it does not mean you should snub your noses at them to try to institute something which will likely not accomplish its purported goals.

Once again, I sincerely thank all of these very talented writers for contributing to one of these roundtables, and I encourage everyone reading this roudtables to click the above links and read their excellent work.

Universal DH Accomplishes Nothing

According to reports yesterday, it is apparent the topic of adding the Designated Hitter to the National League is once again on the table. For some reason, this is a topic brought up for discussion time and again, and it is not clear why as it really does nothing to the sport of baseball and its intended goals as defined by either the owners or the players.

Fan Interest

Putting aside for a moment how there are hardcore fans who prefer baseball without a designated hitter, there is zero proof that the designated hitter creates fan interest.

In fact, last year, nine of the top 15 teams in attendance were National League teams. Correspondingly, eight of the 10 teams with the worst attendance were American League teams. Those top end numbers held true in 2017 with six of the bottom ten teams in attendance being American League teams.

As we have seen with the postseason, fans aren’t any more drawn to National League or the American League style of games. In fact, as Sports Media Watch pointed out in response to the declining postseason ratings, it’s the teams who drive the interest in ratings. There is always going to be more interest in the Yankees in the postseason. That is because they are the Yankees, not because they have a DH. Really, if that were true, fans would be more interested in an ALCS between the Rays and the Twins than they would be a Cardinals/Giants NLCS. We know that’s not the case.

When you break it down, if fans interest in games is not driven by the DH or the supposed corresponding offense, you are then trying to solve a problem which does not exist.

Higher Paid Players

With potential labor strife on the horizon, you will see how the Designated Hitter in the National League would create 15 new jobs thereby placating the players. That is wrong on many levels.

First and foremost, the DH does not come with 15 additional roster spots, and as such, it’s not a new job. Instead, it is a team merely reallocating their internal resources. Also, you may want to argue it is a higher paying job, but it’s not.

In the upcoming season, J.D. Martinez is the highest paid player who was signed to be a team’s designated hitter. The next highest is Edwin Encarnacion. When you see these $20+ million figures, you have the starting of a case being built. However, it should be kept in mind those players are really the exception.

According to Spotrac, the bottom half of designated hitters (as ranked by salary) made an average of $4.4 million. Keep in mind, the Mets just signed Jed Lowrie to a salary with a $10 million average annual value to be a super utility infielder. Breaking it down like this, the Designated Hitter is not adding higher paying jobs to anyone except the elite designated hitters. That is the same for any other position.

Beyond that, teams are simply not expanding their payrolls to sign a DH. No, their budgets and payrolls will remain the same. That means nothing will be solved on the labor front by adding a DH.

Need for Uniform Set of Rules

Since Ron Blomberg stepped to the plate in 1973, the American League and the National League have had a separate and distinct set of rules. According to Parks of Baseball, total MLB attendance in 1973 was 30,108,931 or an average of 1.25 million fans per team. Last year, at a time when teams were upset about declining attendance, the only two teams with attendance figures below that number were the Rays and Marlins. In fact, MLB teams averaged 2.3 million fans last year.

As noted by Baseball Almanac, every Major League team has had their best year in attendance over the past 30 years. As previously noted, the National League teams have been the biggest drivers of attendance.

Put another way, fans apparently have no issue with the different set of rules. In fact, you could reasonably argue the different set of rules could be generating interest and debate among fans. Then again, it could have no effect. As we have seen, implementing the DH doesn’t really do anything to garner interest.

Another point to be made here is the National League being the only league where pitchers hit is a false narrative. The Japanese Leagues have a similar design to MLB where the Pacific League has a DH and the Central League does not.

Putting all of that aside, there is absolutely nothing to suggest there is a need for a uniform set of rules, especially since baseball has fans which prefer baseball played different ways. Overall, there is certainly something to be said for creating a product which interests multiple groups of fans.

Protecting Pitchers

According to Roster Resource, there were 190 stints on the disabled list for starting pitchers. Of those 190 players, Jacob deGrom was the only one to land on the DL with hyper-extended elbow. It should be noted the DL stint was precautionary and only cost him one start.

Going deeper, the only time we really see pitchers land on the DL for offense related injuries are flukes. The chief examples are Adam Wainwright and Chien-Ming Wang with leg injuries, which basically amounts to a pitcher hurting themselves running. Put another way, they could have landed on the DL for chasing down a bunt. As for Wang, the real issue with his career was his shoulder.

Going deeper, there is a real debate whether avoiding these one-time freak injuries really protects pitchers more than facing a DH in the lineup.

Let’s assume for a moment, the pitcher is an automatic out. Judging from last year’s stats, that’s a fairly safe assumption. With the pitcher being an automatic out, that gives the pitcher fewer high stress pitches than they would have against a DH. Those higher stress pitches contribute more to wear and tear which can eventually lead to an injury.

But more than any of that, pitchers don’t get hurt batting or running the bases. Invoking the argument is a complete red herring.

No One Wants to See Pitchers Hit

As referenced in the first point, that is false. With the National League garnering higher attendance, people obviously want to see pitchers hit. We also see plays like Bartolo Colon‘s home run endlessly replayed because people love seeing it. They want it because this is partially what makes baseball great – the chance you can see anything. Of course, without pitchers hitting, you don’t get to see just anything.

Beyond that, there is way too much focus on the amount of at-bats a pitcher receives. Last year, Max Scherzer led the majors in plate appearances by a pitcher with 78 over the course of 35 games. That averages out to two at-bats per game.

Two.

In essence, we are supposed to believe the cure-all for what ails baseball is eliminating at most two at-bats on average per game from the best pitchers in baseball. We are supposed to believe that is going to increase interest and attendance. It is going to drive salaries through he roof at a time when teams have alligator arms when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are free agents.

No, the fact is there are a significant people who are diehard fans who prefer baseball without the DH. There are also fans who love the DH. It is something that is a talking point which does create interest and debate in the game. Overall, a universal DH does nothing to improve the game or improve player relations. Really, it is no more than pointless and unsubstantiated rhetoric.

Three Years Later, Game Changing And Franchise Altering Options Still There

Today is the three year anniversary of Yoenis Cespedes officially signing a three year $75 million contract with the New York Mets. The contract came with the opt out the Mets had said they didn’t want to offer anyone, and it was a surprise for a team who had seemed to move on from Cespedes early in the offseason.

For those who recall, the Mets had signed Alejandro De Aza on December 23, 2015. With his signing, the plan was apparently to have him platoon with Juan Lagares in center field. He would be in the same outfield as Michael Conforto, who after a promising 2015 season, looked primed to be an everyday player and Curtis Granderson, a man who was a series of infield and managerial gaffes away from being the World Series MVP.

That was a respectable, but not an especially formidable outfield for a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series. It caused frustration because the De Aza signing didn’t exactly put the team over the top. The money saved on Michael Cuddyer‘s retirement was arguably poorly spread between De Aza, Jerry Blevins, Antonio Bastardo, and Bartolo Colon.

No, this team needed Cespedes.

What was odd was Cespedes was still a free agent. Sure, there were better regarded free agent outfield options in Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Alex Gordon. There were other attractive options available as well. Still, this was a player who thrived in the biggest market in the world hitting .287/.337/.604 with 14 doubles, four triples, 17 homers, and 44 RBI in 57 games.

Extrapolating that over a 162 game season, and Cespedes would have accumulated 40 doubles, 11 triples, 48 homers, and 125 RBI. Now, it shouldn’t be anticipated Cespedes could do that over a 162 game schedule. However, what we did see is Cespedes is a difference maker just like he was with the Athletics.

Yet, still he lingered with little interest. Sure, the Nationals were rumored to have offered Cespedes $100 million, but it was the typical Nationals offer with deferred money, which did not seem to interest Cespedes. The fact this was the only real offer kept him around thereby allowing the Mets to swoop in and get Cespedes on a good deal for both sides.

It was a coup by Sandy Alderson. It was a necessary move which helped the Mets reach the postseason again in 2016. It marked just the second time in team history the Mets would go to consecutive postseasons. It happened because Cespedes lingered allowing the Mets to make a bold move.

This is the same situation which is present with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Somehow, some way, the two best free agents entering this free agent class are still available. For reasons unbeknownst to us, there are few teams in on either one of these players. In adding either one of these players, the Mets would take their 2019 team and put it over the top. A team who is projected to win around 85 games would move into the 90+ win range. That’s what happens when you add superstars and potential Hall of Famers.

It was the impact Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter had on those 1980s Mets teams. We saw that impact again when the Mets went out and traded for and re-signed Mike Piazza.

The Mets took advantage of unexpected opportunities. They struck when no one else expected them to strike. The result was a period of relevance, winning, and increased attendance. The chance is there. The Mets need to strike now and bring in one of Harper or Machado. The 2019 season rests on it.

What Exactly Is The Mets Type of Player

Jon Heyman of Fancred reported the Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado because, as one Mets official put it, Machado isn’t “our type of player.”

With the Mets saying isn’t their type of player, the question needs to be asked about what exactly is the Mets type of player. Well, here are a few examples.

Jose Reyes – beat wife until the point she needed to be taken to a local hospital

Bartolo Colon cheated not just the game with a PED suspension, but he cheated on his wife. To top it all off, he didn’t pay sufficient child support for his second family.

Francisco Rodriguez – assaulted the grandfather of his children in three Mets family room at Citi Field

Jenrry Mejia – first ever player to be banned from baseball due to failing three PED tests

Bret Saberhahen set off firecrackers around reporters and shot bleach at them with a water gun

Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at fans which would injure a child

Wally Backman brought back to organization as a minor league manager after he had been fired by the Diamondbacks after domestic “disputes” came to light

This is just a small list which doesn’t include everything Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry did, or Keith Hernandez’s participation in the drug trials.

The overriding point here is the Mets type of person wants is a hot head who beats people weaker than them. To that extent, the Mets could not have given Machado a bigger compliment.

Reasons Mets Are Justified In Not Pursuing Manny Machado

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.”  While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise.  There are several reasons why:

  1. Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
  2. With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players.  You don’t need three.
  3. Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
  4. The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
  5. With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
  6. Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series.  After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets.  If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
  7. The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus.  You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
  8. For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
  9. Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
  10. It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.

So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?

Former Mets Available In Free Agency

It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players.  It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year.  If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:

Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.

Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game.  There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.

Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn.  If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.

Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player.  The debate is over.  He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.

Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse.  There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.

Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.

Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year.  If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.

Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense.  The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.

Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank.  They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank.  That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.

Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.

Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder.  Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse.  It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.

Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.

Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return.  If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.

Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.

Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East.  Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.

Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York.  If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.

AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured.  He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again.  The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.

Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017.  He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year.  The Mets have plenty of those already.

Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets.  If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.

Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.

Montero Gone Both Too Soon And Too Late

Well, the impossible has finally happened. The New York Mets have FINALLY parted ways with one time top prospect Rafael Montero. It is somewhat ironic it comes in the same month when Jacob deGrom is likely to win the Cy Young Award. Mostly, it’s just shocking and strange.

This was a long anticipated moment, and yet one in which many believed would never happen.

Looking back, it was Terry Collins who first made an issue about Montero’s ability to pitch. With the Mets coming off a pennant, Collins went out of his way to challenge/chastise Montero. Collins would tell him the Mets re-signed Bartolo Colon because Montero had not held up hid end of the bargain because he was not good enough to be a part of the Mets rotation.

The reason Montero wasn’t ready to take on that role was because he was hurt. At least, that is what he said. He kept alleging it, and the Mets doctors never found anything, at least not anything they deemed sufficient enough for his complaining of pain. While he was complaining of pain, we were all complaining about the results.

In 2016 and 2017, he was 5-12 with a 5.87 ERA, 1.790 WHIP, and a 1.61 K/BB ratio. Things got so bad with him many talked themselves into him being a late bloomer when he had a 4.15 ERA in August 2017.

That included the Mets who kept Montero over relievers like Josh Smoker, Chasen Bradford, and Erik Goeddel. The later two had good 2018 seasons, which was something which stung all the more when you saw how much the Mets needed relief help.

The Mets releasing players who contributed elsewhere just so the Mets could stubbornly see what they had in Montero was becoming the norm.

Fact is, the Mets were in this deep, so they might as well see how all of this played out. Then a funny thing happened. The guy who always seemed to complain about injuries was actually injured.

On the eve of the 2018 season, it was discovered Montero had a torn UCL, and he needed season ending Tommy John surgery. While it could be a different injury than the ones he had which had caused him pain in the past, it was certainly interesting to see him finally diagnosed with an injury which COULD explain his struggles.

With the surgery, it is likely he would not pitch until sometime around the 2019 All Star break. Looking at Zack Wheeler, there was a chance he may not pitch at all in 2019. With him being out of options, there was a legitimate question if he’d ever pitch for the Mets again.

Still, the Mets had gone this far down the rabbit hole with Montero, and to a certain extent, they were almost obligated to see how he could pitch when he was finally healthy and/or not complaining of pain to his pitching arm.

Maybe, the poor pitching we’ve seen was the result of a torn UCL. Maybe, just maybe, with a surgically repaired elbow, Montero could be the pitcher the Mets envisioned he could be, or at the very least, he could become a competent MLB pitcher.

Well, if that does happen, it’s going to happen somewhere else because the Mets out-righted Montero to get the roster back under 40 players. Montero then opted to become a free agent.

The Mets out-righted Montero while keeping Drew Gagnon, a 28 year old rookie with a 5.63 career Triple-A ERA. Say whatever you want about Montero, but from a pure talent standpoint, he is better than Gagnon. It’s the reason why Montero got so many chances.

And that where’s we are with Montero. The Mets and Montero are parting ways instead of seeing if Montero could pitch like the pitcher the Mets stubbornly believed he could be. Instead, after all that time and seeing all those other pitches go and produce elsewhere, Montero is an ex-Met.

For all the times the Mets should have parted with Montero, the organization chose to do this now instead of all those other times when they should have held onto another player. They chose now even though Montero was finally the player they should have kept.

If the Mets had done this at any other time, and Montero succeeded, many would have understood. Fact is, most probably still will. And yet, if a healthy Montero does prove himself to be competent MLB pitcher and Gagnon pitches like someone with a career 5.63 Triple-A, the Mets will have definitively made the wrong choice here . . . just like all those other times they cut good players from the roster to stubbornly keep Montero.

Free Agents Mets Should Avoid This Offseason

With the way Yasmani Grandal is outright struggling during the NLCS, he is invariably going to damage his value on the free agent market this offseason.  Exactly how much remains to be seen, and you will likely see in some uneducated corners that the Mets should not pursue Grandal this offseason.  To a certain extent, it’s absurd to ignore a player’s entire career over a few games.

When looking at Grandal, this is a Mets team built on pitching, and as such, they should prioritize a catcher who thrives at pitch framing.  They should also avoid players who are terrible at it.  Really, overall, there are a number of players the Mets should absolutely avoid this offseason.

C – Wilson Ramos

In case you have missed the past decade of Mets baseball, the last thing this franchise needs is another injury prone player who is over 30 years old.  As bad as their injury issues were previously, they suddenly become worse when they wear a Mets uniform.  When you combine that with Ramos having terrible pitch framing numbers and his probably getting a fairly large contract, the Mets should be a hard pass on him.

1B – Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez’s reputation seems to be much better than the player he actually is.  This is not unusual for a player who is not too far removed from a great year or for a player who is playing for a great team.  Breaking down Gonzalez’s career, he is a .264/.318/.419 hitter with just one good offensive season under his belt.  He’s a versatile player whose best position is LF.  He’s going to be 30 and overpaid.  Mostly, he’s a complimentary piece which helps a great team like the Astros but will not be a significant contributor to a team like the Mets.

2B – DJ LeMahieu

With the emergence of Jeff McNeil, the Mets are not likely in the market for a second baseman, but then again, due to McNeil’s versatility, they could opt to sign a second baseman and move McNeil elsewhere.  If they do so, they need to avoid LeMahieu.  While very good defensively, this is a guy who just can’t hit outside of Coors Field, and for what it’s worth, he doesn’t hit all that well at Coors Field either as evidenced by his career 96 wRC+ there.

3B – Asdrubal Cabrera

When he was with the Mets, Cabrera was a clutch second half player.  Despite all the injuries, he tried to play everyday.  He was a popular player, and he was much better than anyone could have anticipated he would be when the Mets signed him.  That said, he’s no longer an everyday player, and it’s questionable just how much he’d be willing to accept a utility role.

SS – Jose Reyes

Over the last two seasons, he was just about the worst player in baseball, and he was a malcontent who was not above going to the press to try to lobby for more playing time.  His team in a Mets uniform or really any MLB uniform should be over.

LF – Rajai Davis

As we saw with Jackson with season (more on him in a minute), the Mets are likely looking for a cheap right-handed hitting veteran who can play CF.  After Davis hit that incredible game tying homer in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, he has not done much since.  He may come cheap, but the 37 year old will be cheap for a reason.  The Mets need to do much better than this to fill out a bench.

CF – A.J. Pollock

Back in 2015, Pollock was a superstar in the making.  He was a Gold Glover, and he was probably the third best center fielder in all of baseball.  Since that time, Pollock has been injury prone, and he has not played more than 113 games in a season.  He’s no longer a big bat in the lineup.  While his defense is still good, it has been in decline, and there is a fair question over how long he can stay there (whether due to injuries or regression).  He’s going to get a big contract, but it should not be by a Mets team with a horrendous history of dealing with over 30 year old injury prone players.

RF – Austin Jackson

The Mets signed Jackson late in the season presumably to see if he should be part of the mix next season.  In 57 games, Jackson was a bad hitter and an equally poor fielder.  Especially with Juan Lagares coming back from injury (again), the Mets should steer well clear of Jackson.

SP – Bartolo Colon

We get it.  Fans love him because he’s fat, old, has been suspended for steroids, and didn’t pay child support to his second family.  When you strip down the whole contrived lovable gimmick, he’s a bad MLB pitcher who should either be retiring, fighting for a bullpen spot, or rounding out a terrible team’s rotation just like he did with the Rangers this past year.

RHP Reliever – Cody Allen

Like with Bryan Shaw last year, there will likely be a call for the Mets to reunite some of the Indians bullpen with Mickey Callaway.  While the urge is understandable, the Mets should resist as the wear and tear of his workload seemingly took a took a toll on him this season.  After posting very good numbers in the first six years of his career, Allen had a career worst 4.70 ERA, 93 ERA+, and a 4.56 FIP.  While he may be salvaged to be a good reliever, with how the market has gone insane with relievers the past few years, it’s not likely Allen will be paid as the rehabilitation project he just might be.

LHP Reliever – Jerry Blevins

Look, Blevins has had a good career, and his best years were clearly with the Mets.  His numbers were skewed this year by a bad April and an equally bad September.  More troubling than that is Blevins really struggled getting left-handed batters out this season.  While it’s possible that issue will iron itself out, the real issue is his walks.  For three straight seasons, his walk totals have gone up while his K/BB ratio has gone down.  With the emergence of Daniel Zamora and with other relievers available this offseason, it’s time to turn the page.

2018 Mets Season Ends On A Sad Note

Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended.  Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him.  Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.

There is the sadness with David Wright leaving.  He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced.  He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field.  Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.

Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players.  Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform?  Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform?  Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud?  How about Juan Lagares?  With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense.  Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together?  Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?

Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again?  He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed.  Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year.  At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play.  That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.

Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away.  Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year.  Addison Reed, Lucas Dudaand Curtis Granderson were traded away last season.  Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories.  Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas.  Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.

What we have left is good, really good.  We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted.  After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half.  Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.

We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner.  Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace.  Steven Matz actually made 30 starts.  Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close.  This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.

Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30).  When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse.  In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top.  If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.

Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.

There’s a hesitation there.  After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top.  Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.

Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring.  Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different.  The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade.  But after that?  Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short.  After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.

In the end, this is a really likeable team.  Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys.  They are what makes being a Mets fan great.  We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring.  That can’t happen.

In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one.  Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here.  Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series.  I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.