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.
The Mets are in a spot where they need to find a fifth starter to replace Zack Wheeler in the rotation. Finding such a starter is complicated because the team is attempting to at least give the allusion they are trying to contend in 2020, but so far, they have very limited resources this offseason. In some ways, that makes Rick Porcello a prime candidate, which according to reports, he is.
Porcello, 30, is just a few years removed from winning the 2016 American League Cy Young. With his Cy Young, being a local kid from Morristown, New Jersey, and his having won a World Series, he is someone who could be sold to the fan base. The fact he has proven to be a durable starter who will make 30 starts a year and pitch over 170.0 innings is of real value. In essence, he could be viewed upon as a Bartolo Colon who keeps himself in shape, doesn’t cheat, and is not a deadbeat dad.
Make no mistake, Porcello does have real value as a fifth starter for any team. There is also some potential for some upside with him. After all, his ERA was worse than his FIP, and the Red Sox having just a putrid defense last year with a -40 team DRS. To that end, the Red Sox were particularly bad on the infield.
Among the biggest culprits were SS Xander Bogaerts (-21 DRS) and 3B Rafael Devers (-6 DRS). Ultimately, the Red Sox team -11 DRS at second was the second worst in the majors. Their -12 team DRS at third and -20 team DRS at short were the third worst in the majors. When you are a pitcher like Porcello who is a sinkerball pitcher, albeit one who is generating more fly balls in two of the last three years, that is not a recipe for success.
That is exacerbated by the batters only going the opposite way against Porcello 22.3% of the time. Ultimately, if Porcello is going to be successful, he needs a strong infield defense behind him. Moreover, with Baseball Savant noting how Porcello likes to pound the bottom of the strike zone, he needs a catcher who is adept at framing the low strike. Breaking it all down, Porcello and the Mets are a very poor match.
In terms of the infield defense, the Mets actually had a worse team defense than the Red Sox with a -93 DRS. That was the worst in the National League, and the second worst in the Majors. Remarkably, that was even worse than the -77 DRS the team had in 2018. What makes those numbers all the more daunting is the Mets appear set to lose Todd Frazier, their best defensive infielder, to free agency.
Like the Red Sox, the Mets were bad defensively across the infield. The Mets -5 DRS at first and -7 DRS at second were sixth worst in the majors. Their -5 DRS at third was the seventh worst in the majors. Finally, their -18 DRS at short was the fourth worst in the majors. As noted by Mark Simon of The Athletic, this is all exacerbated by the Mets being one of the worst defensively aligned infields in the majors. Part of that is an organizational philosophy which tries to minimize the extent to which the infield is shifted.
Now, there were some positives to the infield defense with Amed Rosario playing at a 0 DRS in the second half last year. Of course, behind that is the fact he has consecutive -16 DRS seasons at short. Also, while Frazier is leaving in free agency, Jeff McNeil has proven to be very good at third base in this brief Major League career. If it is him who takes over at third, and not J.D. Davis, the Mets might be able to put Porcello in a position to succeed.
The caveat there is Rosario’s second half improvement is real, and McNeil’s successes are not a short sample size illusion. If we believe in that, and there is reason to believe, that could help Porcello who has a high pull rate against him. However, that is mitigated by Robinson Cano and his poor play (-6 DRS) at second last year. It is very difficult to imagine Cano will be better at second in his age 37 season.
Even if the Mets find a way to configure the infield successfully, Wilson Ramos presents a significant problem.
As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, the Red Sox were the fourth best framing team in the majors last year. With respect to Porcello, he had “the 13th-most pitches in the shadow zone (edges of strike zone) called for strikes in 2019.” With respect to Ramos, as noted by MMN‘s Roberto Correa, Ramos was in the bottom 15 in the Majors in framing. Particularly, Ramos struggled in the so-called shadow zone and the low pitch.
In terms of the Mets 2019 pitching staff, we would see this have a significant impact on both Noah Syndergaard and Edwin Diaz with Diaz being the far more vocal of the two. Really, across the board, Mets pitchers performed worse with Ramos behind the plate as the pitching staff adjusted from historically strong framers like Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If Porcello is a Met in 2020, we will likely see him have similar struggles.
Ultimately, Porcello may well prove to be a quality fifth starter or better for some team in 2020. He may very well prove to be a surprise for teams who have good defensive infields as well as a catcher who can get him the low strike. Unfortunately, that team is not the New York Mets. As a result, Porcello should look elsewhere for that bounce-back season, and the Mets need to find another pitcher to fill that fifth spot in their rotation.
It was hard to tell what the Mets needed more tonight. Was it their inept offense scoring runs, or did they need a win at all costs?
Things did start well for the Mets, who were using a revamped lineup. Jeff McNeil doubled off Padres starter Cal Quantrill, and Amed Rosario got the Mets on the board with an RBI single. Robinson Cano snapped an 0-for-14 streak with a ground rule double putting runners at second and third with no outs.
Pete Alonso hit an RBI single scoring Rosario giving the Mets a 2-0 lead before the team even recorded an out. Then, it all stopped. After beginning the game 2-for-2 with RISP, the Mets were 0-for-their next 9 stranding seven.
The 2-0 lead would prove to not be enough for Noah Syndergaard, who appears to lose both concentration and velocity during the game.
Noah Syndergaard's velo this game is going in the wrong direction pic.twitter.com/qX2BJmgRG7
— David Adler (@_dadler) May 8, 2019
In the first, Syndergaard could have gotten out of a jam. He got Eric Hosmer to hit a grounder which could have potentially been an inning ending 3-6-1 double play. Of course, that doesn’t work when you overrun the base and whiff on catching the ball. Rosario was charged with the error, and Franmil Reyes scored pulling the Padres to within a run.
The Mets threatened in the second, and they had runners at first and second with one out. Rosario would strike out, and Syndergaard would have a second lapse in as many innings getting picked off second to end the inning.
We then saw Syndergaard lose velocity and leave the ball up. That led to homers hit by Reyes and Ty France to give the Padres a 4-2 lead.
That lead grew to 5-2 in the sixth with Hosmer and Hunter Renfroe, two players the Mets have seen more than enough of, playing a big role.
Hosmer doubled past an outstretched McNeil. Renfroe then hit a sharp grounder to Cano, who whiffed on the ball while appearing to be readying to nail Hosmer at third. That made it 5-2 Padres.
Overall, Syndergaard pitched 6.0 innings allowing five runs (four earned) in nine hits and one walk with five strikeouts. The shame of it was he got help from his defense, especially from Michael Conforto, who threw out a runner trying to stretch a double into a triple and with a diving catch.
Air Mike. pic.twitter.com/XvQ7SbRAFj
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) May 8, 2019
The Mets would get him off the hook anyway in the seventh as their lineup finally woke up.
Runners were at second and third after a McNeil walk and Rosario hustle double. After Cano struck out, Alonso singled to pull the Mets to 5-3. It was 5-4 after Conforto hit a sacrifice fly.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 8, 2019
With two scoreless from Seth Lugo, the Mets entered the ninth with a chance.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 8, 2019
Diaz would unleash a wild pitch putting runners at second and third leading the Mets to intentionally walk Manny Machado to load the bases.
Diaz got Hosmer looking on a close 3-2 pitch inside and on the black. This put the game in Renfroe’s hands. While he hit a walk off grand slam against the Dodgers, he hit into a game ending fielder’s choice.
The Mets desperately needed this win, and there were a number of Mets who got the monkeys off their backs. There was Cano and Nimmo, but nothing stood out as much as Alonso getting his revenge against the Padres by going 3-for-5 with two runs, a homer, and four RBI.
Four years ago, the Nationals and Mets kicked off the 2015 season with two former Cy Young Award winners. Like today, it was Max Scherzer for the Nationals. For the Mets, it was Jacob deGrom in place of Bartolo Colon. While that 2015 opener was a low scoring game, today was a true pitcher’s battle.
Over 7.2 innings, Scherzer looked like the pitcher who has dominated the National League over the past three years. In each of those seasons, Scherzer led the league in the strikeouts including striking out 300 batters last year. Against, the Mets he would strike out 11 batters. Looking at him pitch, his stuff was completely unfair:
Max Scherzer, 96mph Fastball and 86mph Slider, Overlay.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 28, 2019
He was all the more dangerous with him getting some really favorable calls, two of which came against Michael Conforto. With him allowing just two hits and three walks, it was clear he did not make many mistakes. But on the one he did make, Robinson Cano would send it opposite field for a homer in his first at-bat as a Met:
— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) March 28, 2019
That would not be the only impact Cano would have on this game. In addition to the home run, Cano would make a heads up and savvy veteran play in the field in the third when the Mets 1-0 lead was teetering:
De-fense 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/6TvlfBlCDz
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 28, 2019
With the ball not being hit quite hard enough and with Jeff McNeil having to hesitate a slight second to keep the runner from breaking right away, Cano was smart in catching Victor Robles making a rookie mistake breaking to home on the play. Robles’ mistake took the 1st and 3rd one out situation and turned it into an inning ending double play.
Basically, deGrom took it from there. If there was any question deGrom was going to repeat his 2018 Cy Young season or if the extension drama affected his preparation for the season, they were quickly dispensed. In six shutout innings, deGrom just walked one and would strike out 10 batters. He ramped up his game when he needed.
For example, in the sixth, Trea Turner led off the inning with a single, and he would quickly steal second (his second steal of the game). With Turner’s speed, Wilson Ramos never really had a chance against him. That was evident when Turner stole third after an Anthony Rendon ground out. With a runner on third and one out, deGrom would just embarrass Juan Soto:
Jacob deGrom, Unhittable 88mph Changeup. 😮
Soto = 😡 pic.twitter.com/UaNe8TPQIn
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 28, 2019
What was curious about that top of the seventh was Nationals Manager Dave Martinez would leave in Scherzer to strike out to end the inning. This meant Scherzer would go one inning too far.
Dominic Smith would get the rally started with a one out walk against Scherzer. Scherzer was lifted after striking out Brandon Nimmo for the third time, and Pete Alonso would get his first career hit with a single off Nationals reliever Justin Miller.
Martinez would go to they lefty Matt Grace to face Cano. Cano proved he still is a platoon neutral bat sending an RBI single to left scoring Smith to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
Callaway would then go through some mechanations to set up the final two innings.
After his first career hit, Alonso was lifted for Keon Broxton. Broxton then stayed in the game for defense replacing Conforto in right. With Alonso out of the game, Smith would stay in the game at first for defense. After that, it was Jeurys Familia getting through a scoreless eighth in his new role as Mets set-up man.
Edwin Diaz would make his Mets debut in the ninth with a two run lead to protect. He’d get the Nationals in order to preserve the 2-0 lead and register his first save as a Met. Interestingly, the first two outs were fly balls to right with Broxton fighting through the tough sun to record the out.
All in all, the Mets have once again won on Opening Day continuing their MLB best winning percentage on Opening Day. They’re now 38-20 (.655) on Opening Day. That’s not the only impressive record from today.
With his performance today, deGrom had his 25th straight quality start putting him one behind Bob Gibson for the all-time record. At the same time, deGrom extended his own MLB record with his 30th straight start allowing three earned or fewer.
Today, Brodie Van Wagenen looked like a genius. Cano delivered the only two RBI in the game. Alonso delivered a hit in a rally giving the Mets an insurance run. Diaz had the save. And of course, the pitcher he long advocated to extend pitched like an ace. Really, this is as good a start to the Van Wagenen Era as he could have hoped.
Game Notes: For the first time in Mets history six players were taking part in their first ever Opening Day (Alonso, Smith, McNeil, Luis Guillorme, Tomas Nido, Tim Peterson). Conforto and Lagares were the only two Mets not to reach base safely at least once in the game.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.