Bartolo Colon

Call Devin Mesoraco The Groundhog

One of the fun parts of baseball is players sometimes have colorful nicknames.  One of the classic examples is Catfish Hunter getting the nickname Catfish because Athletics owner Charlie Finley thought the 19 year old James needed a catchy nickname.  To put it mildly, Finley was the opposite of the Yankees in that he actually encouraged players to express themselves and for them to have wild facial hair like Rollie Fingers‘ handlebar mustache.

The nicknames over the years have somewhat subsided, but with Player’s Weekend last year, we have seen these nicknames emerge like Michael Conforto being dubbed Scooter.  There was also the Mets fans naming Bartolo Colon “Big Sexy” even before it became ironic with his failure to pay child support.  To that end, it is time for Mets fans to step up again and find a nickname for Devin Mesoraco, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Given his unique look, prompting Rocko’s Modern Life type of comparisons.  Given his “Rocko” jersey for Player’s Weekend last year, it makes a ton of sense.  However, as Mets fans, we can do better.  Why not call him “The Groundhog.”

With him coming from Punxsutawney, PA, the home of the famous Punxsutawney Phil, it would seem a natural fit.

You can extrapolate this further to be a more clever and apt comparison.  With the trade, the Mets have emerged from the shadows of the Matt Harvey Era, and the team is back on the winning path with him behind the dish.  As a catcher, he crouches down deep, and he springs up to let the base runner know if it’s all clear, or if he will have to face six more weeks of winter.  Admittedly, these comparisons can be a bit pained.

Really, in the end, this is about being able to take something about his past, his birthplace, and merge it with a great movie like Groundhog Day.  There is a quote or gif for everything:

Really, it is endless, including the multiple uses of Ned Ryerson’s “BING!”  In the end if this takes off, and the Mets win the World Series, we will all celebrate.  While the champagne corks are popping and the beer is flying around the room, we will drink to both a World Series, and of course, to world peace.

deGrom Not An Excuse For NL DH

For the second straight season, the Mets potentially lost their best player to a fateful swing and miss.  Last year, it was Michael Conforto swinging and missing, falling to the ground, and having his season end with a disclocated shoulder.  This year, it was almost Jacob deGrom.

In deGrom’s third inning at-bat, he swung and missed at a Sean Newcomb pitch, and he struck out.  After that at-bat, deGrom would go out and pitch a scoreless fourth before heading into the tunnel into the clubhouse.  After a quick examination, it was determined deGrom needed to come out of the game.

Fortunately, deGrom suffered nothing more than a hyper-extended elbow, and by some miracle, he could make his next start.  However, knowing it was his elbow and with what happened with Conforto last year, we know things could have been worse, far worse.

Naturally, in some corners, it was a rallying cry for people to try to make their claims that the National League needs to implement the DH.  Of course, cooler heads like deGrom disagree:

Now, in the case of deGrom, the issue at the forefront for implementing the DH was to protect pitchers. Hopefully, this is just a straw man because it is a flimsy argument.

If deGrom was truly injured swinging the bat, at least to the extent he would have required a stint on the disabled list, his injury would have been as rare of an injury as the one Conforto suffered last season.  That doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t investigate ways to keep pitchers healthy.  It just means pitchers swinging the bat is really not one of those areas in which we see them befall injuries.

Look at it this way, can you remember the last time you saw a pitcher get injured swinging a bat?  Maybe even getting hit by a pitch?  It might just be me, but I don’t know recall any off the top of my head.

As for running the bases, my only memories are of Adam Wainwright and Chien-Ming Wang tearing tendons while running.  No, not because they were awkwardly sliding or misstepped on a base.  They were running.  This is a sport, and as we see with his highlight defensive plays, even Bartolo Colon runs.  Much as we may like, you can’t legislate running out of baseball.

And really, if we are that concerned about pitcher injuries, why aren’t the people calling for the DH calling for actual reforms which will protect pitchers?  How many times has a pitcher had to come out of a game, even for precautionary reasons due to a comebacker?  Whether it was liner off some part of the body, them foolishly trying to barehand a ball, or even one of those gruesome instances where a pitcher got hit in the head, we have seen more pitchers go down with injury due to comebackers than to taking an at-bat.

Why not look for protective screens or protective gear?  Note, those calls aren’t made because this isn’t really about pitcher’s health.  After all, why would you add another potent hitter to a lineup thereby forcing a pitcher to go full effort to record an out thereby putting additional strain on their elbow and shoulder?

No, it’s not about health.  It is because some people prefer games with the DH.  Fortunately for them, the entire American League plays with the DH.  There are other fans who don’t like.  That is one of the great things about baseball.  If you like or dislike the DH, you have a league to watch, and you don’t have to subject yourself to the other league.

So really, don’t pretend this is about pitcher’s health.  It isn’t.  This is just because you can’t stand to see two or many three at-bats where a pitcher is hitting.  Overall, that’s a really bizarre reason to radically change the sport using the pretext of injuries which rarely if ever occur.

Keith Hernandez Has A Message For Mets Fans

With the Mets playing on the West Coast, and on a Friday night to boot, it is understandable if you missed the game last night.  If you did, you missed the special message Keith Hernandez had for Mets fans:

Actually, Keith was just showing us how he cut his finger shaving.  For those interested, Keith uses a single blade when he shaves.

Right now, that moment goes down in the annuls of famous Mets moments in San Diego including the David Wright barehanded catch, the Carlos Beltran/Mike Cameron headfirst collision, and the Bartolo Colon home run.

Overall, it’s silly moments like this, or when a Keith, who thought he was off camera, gave his assessment of Tanner Roark‘s performance, that makes this booth the best in baseball.  They’re honest, and you never know when they’re going to do something so innocently bizarre that you will never forget the moment.

Who’s Better: 2015 or 2018 Mets?

Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets.  Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry.  However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes.  When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.

With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right?  Let’s take a look:

CATCHER

2015: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki
2018: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki

Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation.  In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.

The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer.  Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well.  Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.

Things changed at the tail end of 2017.  Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become.  d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September.  As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.

VERDICT: 2018if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close

FIRST BASE

2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez

In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI.  He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.

Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.

VERDICT: 2015 Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw

SECOND BASE

2015: Daniel Murphy
2018: Asdrubal Cabrera

We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.

For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.

VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one

THIRD BASE

2015: David Wright
2018: Todd Frazier

This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.

Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.

VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy

SHORTSTOP

2015: Ruben Tejada
2018: Amed Rosario

Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015.  After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores.  Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half.  Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.

Rosario is the future of the Mets.  Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate.  However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better.  He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time.  For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.

VERDICT: 2018 Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high

OUTFIELD

2015: Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson
2018: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce

Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets.  Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting.  Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup.  He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist.  Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.

With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets.  To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player.  This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.

VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.

BENCH

2015: Michael Cuddyer, Wilmer Flores, Kelly Johnson, Juan Lagares
2018: Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, Jose Reyes

From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers.  They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits.  In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well.  Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.

The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player.  Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder.  Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015.  Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.

VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important

ROTATION

2015: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon
2018: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Jason Vargas

When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then.  Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.

VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then

BULLPEN

2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald

Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen.  This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year.  Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness.  One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.

When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins.  Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.

VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside

MANAGER

2015: Terry Collins
2018: Mickey Callaway

For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015.  When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived.  Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.

Right now, Callaway looks like a genius.  He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth.  He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late.  His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire.  However, the season isn’t even a week old.  Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.

Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series

VERDICT

If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation.  The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager.  Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw.  However, in reality, it’s not.  That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.

That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager.  If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level.  If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.

Five Prospects To Watch This Spring Training

The one thing that is interesting about Spring Training is you never know which prospect is going to make a name for themselves.  Personally, the one that always comes to mind is Dillon Gee having good Spring Training causing then Mets manager Jerry Manuel to take notice.  With that, Gee had an important champion in the Mets organization, and when the opportunity finally presented itself, Gee would get a call-up to the majors despite struggling in Triple-A with an injured shoulder.  From there, Gee has put together a nice MLB career.

This Spring Training, there are a number of Mets pitchers who will now have the opportunity to impress new manager Mickey Callaway.  Aside from the big names like Dominic Smith, here are five names to keep an eye on during this Spring Training:

RHP Tyler Bashlor

MMN Rank: 14

Bashlor was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft because he has great stuff highlighted by an upper 90’s fastball.  He combines that pitch with a sharp curve which has led to the flamethrower putting up big strikeout numbers in the minors.  His stuff was a big reason why he quickly went from closing in St. Lucie to closing for a Binghamton Rumble Ponies team who was fighting for a postseason berth.

If there’s any issue with Bashlor, it’s the walks.  In his career, he’s walked 5.0 batters per nine, and he walked 5.4 batters per nine in 34 appearances for St. Lucie.  Those are unsustainable numbers.

Still, he has immense talent which could one day lead to him closing for the Mets one day.  Before we get to that point, he has an opportunity to work with Callaway, Dave Eiland, and Triple-A pitching coach Mickey Abbott to help him eliminate the walks.  If he does, he’s going to contribute at the Major League level next year.

LHP P.J. Conlon

MMN Rank: 24

For the second straight Spring, Conlon finds himself as a non-roster invitee with a an outside chance to make the Opening Day bullpen as a left-handed reliever.  Certainly, Conlon has earned the chance as he knows how to get batters out, especially left-handed batters.

Last year, he limited left-handed batters to a .252/.273/.358 batting line, and in 2016, he was even stingier limiting them to a .216/.267/.288 batting line.  Conlon does this because he located well, and he has a great change-up.

However, with his topping out in the 80s, it appears the Mets have their doubts about Conlon’s viability as a Major League starter.  In Spring, Conlon is both going to get the chance to prove his stuff will work in the Majors similar to what we have seen with Jamie Moyer and Bartolo Colon.  More than that, he’s going to get a chance to show he belongs in the Majors right now to fill a now vacant second left-handed reliever spot in the bullpen.

RHP Corey Oswalt

MMN Rank: 12

Oswalt is coming off an outstanding year in Binghamton, and as a result, he was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.  Oswalt did this because he was able to locate all four pitches, and he has shown the ability to throw his fastball in the mid 90s. While all of the Double-A took notice of Oswalt, the Mets did as well adding the starter to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

It is no secret the Mets have health issues with their starters.  Over the past two seasons, almost every Mets starter currently on the 40 man roster has had injuries requiring DL stints lasting more than half a season, requiring surgery, or both.  As of the moment, the Mets have not added another starter to the roster, which has created an opportunity to show he should be at the front of the line when the Mets inevitably need another starter.

2B Luis Guillorme

MMN Rank: 10

Right now, the Mets have a trio of injury prone second baseman in Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Reyes, and Wilmer Flores.  If one or any of the three go down with injury, there will be an opportunity for Guillorme, who is arguably the best defensive middle infielder in the Mets organization.

At the moment, we know he’s a great fielder.  The question mark on him is whether he can hit enough to play in the Majors.  To that end, early indications are Guillorme has increased his launch angle.  If true, and the transformation is a successful one, Guillorme’s career will transform to not if he can be the Mets second baseman of the future, but when he will be the Mets second baseman.  Given the aforementioned injury histories, he may get his chance next year.

C Patrick Mazeika

MMN Rank: 28

With Tomas Nido‘s BABIP normalizing, he had a disappointing year at the plate for Binghamton last year.  While the Mets are understandably high on him due to his defensive skills, Nido’s struggles do present an opportunity for another catcher to distinguish himself.

Essentially, Mazeika is everything Nido isn’t.  In his career, Mazeika has shown himself to be a good hitter, who is quite adept at getting on base.  What is interesting with him is he has shown glimpses of power; however, it should be noted those flashes have mostly come when he is filling in at first base for extended stretches.

What remains at issue is his defensive abilities.  It is an area where the 6’3″ catcher continues to make strides, but ultimately, the question is whether he is progressing quickly enough.  With him being a non-roster invite to Spring Training, he is going to get the benefit of getting in work with Major League coaches like Glenn Sherlock, which could help him make the adjustments necessary to take the next step in his career.

Ultimately, if the Mets coaching staff sees what they like with him, he may soon find himself in the Major League mix at catcher.  Having watched Travis d’Arnaud‘s injuries the past few years as well as Kevin Plawecki having mostly struggled in the Majors, his chance may come sooner than expected.

Overall, the Mets have a number of Minor Leaguers who are going to get a chance to go out there and show the Mets why they should be an important part of the future.  In the end, it is up to them to emulate Dillon Gee and make the most of this opportunity.  If they do, we may see them in Queens sooner than anticipated.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMN

Making Mets Austerity Work

On MMO some of the writers did their own postseason plans.  The guidelines are that we must stick to a budget in the $30-35 million range given what we’ve heard the Mets could spend. 

For signings, MLB Trade Rumors and Jon Heyman’s free agent predictions to come up the contracts for each player.
The Mets have several holes to fill and not a ton of money to work with which had me searching for deals on the free agent market and here is what I think should be done with the limited resources.

Fixing the Bullpen

As the Mets head into the 2018 season, their main goal for the team will be to rebuild a bullpen. Despite handwrining among fans, there is some talent present. Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins address three key roles. Around them, the Mets need to find four cost effective options.

The first two parts of this bullpen need to be internal. In lieu of looking for a second left-handed reliever in free agency, the Mets need to utilize Hansel Robles in that role. For his career he has reverse splits, and he needs to be used accordingly. He also provides the benefit of giving the team multiple innings when needed.

Additionally, the Mets need to move Seth Lugo to the bullpen. In short bursts, Lugo is able to ramp up his fastball and use his curveball with more frequency. With that combination, Lugo can be a true late inning option and/or a long man. For those concerned about the loss of him as rotation depth, consider his struggles a third time through the order.

For the final two spots, the Mets should attack free agency. The first option the Mets should pursue is Seung-hwan Oh. Oh has been a dominant closer in the Korean Leagues, and he was dominant in his rookie season with the Cardinals. He had an off-year last year partially driven by an increased BABIP and HR rate as well as a drop in his strikeout rate. With a new pitching coach and a new situation, he could very well recover with the Mets giving the team an additional option at the closer spot.

When it comes to the final spot, the Mets should look to add a power arm like Juan Nicasio. After struggling in the rotation, Nicasio was transitioned to a full time reliever, and he grew into a dominant arm. With his being armed with an upper 90s fastball and good control, he’s probably just tapping the surface, and the Mets would be wise with their new pitching guru contingent to see the next wave.

Veteran Depth & Insurance Policies

Heading into the 2018 season, the Mets aren’t sure Dominic Smith is ready to be the Opening Day first baseman. Even with the best projections, they do not believe Michael Conforto will be ready by Opening Day, and after that, they don’t know what he can contribute. In addition to that, the Mets don’t have a second baseman.

The first part of that solution should be adding Howie Kendrick. The 33 year old had a bounce-back, albeit injury prone, season. Over the past season, Kendrick had a 121 wRC+, which ranks second best in his career. He also played first, second, and the corner outfield positions last year. While he was not outstanding at any of those positions, he was clearly capable of handling those positions. He’s your best bet to have a Jose Valentin type season for the team.

Another player worth taking a flyer on is Jose Bautista. In 2017, he fell apart offensively going from a .234/.366/.452 slash line to .203/.308/.366 leading the Blue Jays to utilize the buy out provision on his contract. At 37 years old, he’s not far removed from a productive season. He’s also just looking for an opportunity.

Fortunately, the Blue Jays helped him in that respect by moving him around the field last year. He played on game at first, eight at third, and 143 in RF. Based on the numbers, he’s no longer an everyday right fielder, but he is still talented enough to be a stopgap for Conforto. If he dedicated himself to getting better at first, he could serve as both competition and a platoon option for Smith.

The Trade

There is no secret some of the Mets biggest issues have been depth, versatility, and second base. While Ian Kinsler would address second base, and he is arguably the best defensive second baseman available, the Mets trade target for the position should be Jason Kipnis.

The Indians second baseman has been pushed out of a job due to injury and the emergence of younger players in his stead. Despite that, he is still a good hitter who hit .276/.349/.429 from 2013 – 2016 while averaging 36 doubles and 14 homers a season. He’s also a gamer willing to do anything to help his team win as evidenced by his playing center field at the end of the season and the postseason because that was what was best for the team. This is the type of attitude the Mets should be looking to instill in their current roster.

The center and outfield possibilities should also be intriguing to the Mets in the event of another Juan Lagares injury or the questions surrounding Conforto.

Kipnis is not going to come cheap, nor should he considering he’s an All Star player with a good contract. Earlier this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggested Robert Gsellman and Luis Guillorme as the package to get Kipnis. That may be a little light, and perhaps the inclusion of Wilmer Flores would be enticing to an Indians team heavy with left-handed hitters and could use a corner infield option, could potentially allow the Mets to complete this deal.

Filling In The Rest

In addition to the aforementioned players, the Mets would be well advised to bring in some veteran depth this Spring Training. On the starting pitching front Ubaldo Jimenez previously worked exceptionally well with current Mets manager Mickey Callaway, and Bartolo Colon left an impression with this current Mets staff. Both would make sense on a minor league deal with an invitation to

Hope

From reports, Manny Machado could well be available. However, with the state of the Mets farm system, the Mets are going to have to trade Major League players like Jacob deGrom and Amed Rosario to get him. 

Machado is well worth that return, and knowing the Orioles, they’ll want more – much more.  Again, Machado is worth it, but he’s also an impending free agent. Furthermore, the Mets don’t have the means to replace deGrom with a Yu Darvish or sign Machado to a contract extension. 

The other long shot is Marcell Ozuna.  The Marlins are dangling him, and he’s exactly the type of player that fits the Mets mold – underpaid and under team control for two years. Presuming you take back Starlin Castro and his contract in a deal, you’d probably be able to swing a more palatable deal. 

However, there does not seem to be any traction between the Mets and the Marlins on anything. Even if they were, teams like the Cardinals, Cubs, and Giants are interested. They seem more willing to go that extra mile than the Mets. Considering the Stanton deals that fell apart, there is less leg work for the Cardinals and Giants to do. 

Key Acquisitions: Seung-hwan Oh (1 year, $4 million), Howie Kendrick (2 years, $16 million), Jose Bautista (1 year $5 million), Jason Kipnis (2 years, $28.3 million), Juan Nicasio (2 years, $14M), Ubaldo Jimenez (minor league deal), Bartolo Colon (minor league deal)

Key Departures: Robert Gsellman, Luis Guillorme, Wilmer Flores

Total Cost: $33.9 million

Scrubs: My Disasterous 2017 Mets Season

In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season.  It wasn’t quite a comedy.  It wasn’t quite a drama.  Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it.  And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:

J.D. – Michael Conforto

There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers.  Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:

Turk – Noah Syndergaard

Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away).  Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.

Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson

Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted.  They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care.   Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.

Elliott – Jacob deGrom

The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center.  Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge

Carla – Curtis Granderson

For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room.  She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone.  There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.

Kelso – Fred Wilpon

He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone.  As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference.  In reality, they haven’t changed one bit.  Just ask Enid.

Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera

He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone.  Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone.  Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.

The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes

Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves.  However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.

Ted – Travis d’Arnaud

There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization.  At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken.  In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.

Jordan – Terry Collins

As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly.  Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms).  That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.

Murphy – Ray Ramirez

They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path.  Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.

Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda

Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.

Laverne – Jose Reyes

Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back.  For Laverne, she came back under a different name.  For Reyes, it was a different position.

Enid – David Wright

Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.

Sean – Kevin Plawecki

They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response.  “Nobody cares!”

Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford

Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.

Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!

Hooch –Hansel Robles

When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy.  Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.

Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon

He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.

Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen

They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt.  For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve.  For Dr. Wen, it was:

Ben – Neil Walker

He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did.  Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.

Dan – Jay Bruce

When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him.  He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help.  Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.

Leonard – Seth Lugo

It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).

Julie – Wilmer Flores

Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone.  In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.

Jill – Matt Harvey

We all just assumed the worst in their intentions.  However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong.  Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed.  Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.

Gift Shop GirlCarlos Beltran

We had our chance with him, but we blew it.  We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.

Paige – Brandon Nimmo

Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.

Mickhead – Barwis

We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season.  We just don’t have the proof.

Mets Can’t Forget Veteran Leadership

In Marc Carig’s Newsday post-mortem on the 2017 season, he detailed how the trades of Jay Bruce and Neil Walker helped deteriorate the clubhouse.  With the Mets so heavily invested in Amed Rosario to be not just a big part of the 2018 season, but the next decade, the Mets need to make sure they bring in character guys this offseason to not only improve the clubhouse culture, but also provide the leadership that Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and other Mets young players could benefit.

The hope is that David Wright could help serve that role in some respect, but with his health issues, no one can be sure he can provide anything next year.  Fortunately, for the Mets, there are plenty of other guys available this offseason.  Better yet, they could serve roles beyond providing leadership:

OF Curtis Granderson – Granderon was seen as a leader on the Mets clubhouse, and he helped a young crop of Mets players reach their full potential helping them win the 2015 pennant.  Putting Aprils aside, Granderson is as reliable and clutch a player as the Mets have ever had.

RHP Bartolo Colon – Even with Colon having a poor year last year, there were signs his leadership among the pitching staff was missed.  One area that was pointed at was walks.  From 2015 to 2016, Mets pitchers gave up the fewest walks in the majors.  Last year, the Mets gave up the fourth most.  In terms of leadership, Colon could help, but the Mets need to be cautious to not promise him anything more than a chance to compete for a spot on the team as the soon to be 45 year old is nearing the end of his career.

3B Todd Frazier – In addition to his being a clubhouse presence, Frazier is a plus defender at third base posting the third best DRS among MLB third baseman with over 1,000 innings at the position.  He’s also in the top half of batters per wRC+ and OPS+. Additionally, with his first base experience, he could serve as a platoon partner for Smith, or even take over if Smith should prove not ready to play a full season at the MLB level.

UTIL Howie Kendrick – Kendrick put a tough 2016 season behind him, and he had one of his better offensive seasons, albeit an injury prone one.  With the Mets having a number of holes, Kendrick could slot into any number of them.  That includes RF with the uncertainty as to when Michael Conforto could begin the season.  In addition to that, Kendrick has been long considered a positive presence in the clubhouse.

DH Carlos Beltran – It’s not likely Beltran is going to play next year with him being over 40, coming off his worst season, and with him already having won his World Series ring.  Still, if he’s available, and the Mets have struck out other fronts, the team should consider a reunion with a player who had a profound impact on a young Astros team. He could do the same with the Mets playing the 1984 Rusty Staub or 2006 Julio Franco role.

Overall, the Mets have viable veteran options to help the team.  If not one of these players, the Mets need to find another player who could serve that role.

Free Agency Won’t Be The Easy Way To Build The 2018 Mets

With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency.  In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher.  In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.

During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades.  That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster.  To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.

One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited.   That’s not limited by recent standards.  Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down.  According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.

Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million.  That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Dominic Smith
2B: Wilmer Flores
3B: Asdrubal Cabrera
SS: Amed Rosario
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
CF: Brandon Nimmo
RF: Michael Conforto

Bench: Kevin Plawecki, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Juan Lagares

SP: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
RP: Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Josh Smoker, Jerry Blevins

Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe.  Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.

For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe.  It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster.  From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs.  It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:

There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.

Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player.  This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second.  Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.

Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.

In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons.  Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.

 

Will Harvey For The Ninth Become The Endy Catch?

Today is the 11th year anniversary when Endy Chavez raced back to the fence, leaped to catch a sure fire Scott Rolen homer, and make perhaps the greatest catch in Major League history:

If you’re going to say Willie Mays, that’s acceptable.  Let’s just split the difference and say this was the greatest double play in Major League history.

Watching that play and remembering that game time and again, there are some things that stick out in your mind.  The stands were rocking.  Carlos Delgado was fired up like never before.  The Mets seemed unbeatable that day.  Everything built to a fever pitch in the bottom of the sixth.  Degaldo walked.  Rolen made a throwing error not only allowing David Wright to reach, but to set up runners at second and third with no outs.  Shawn Green was intentionally walked loading the bases.

Then, Jose Valentin struck out, and everyone’s hero, Endy Chavez, flew out to center to end the rally.  From there, we saw the Yadier Molina homer, the Carlos Beltran strikeout, collapses in 2007 and 2008, the Madoff scandal, and really the Mets failing to play competitive baseball in the first six years in Citi Field.

In many ways, Chavez’s catch became a highlight in the truest sense of the word because that was the apex.  Everything came crashing down after that.

It’s not too dissimilar from when we saw Terry Collins send out Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

During that game, the Mets looked unbeatable.  Harvey had shut down the Royals pitching eight scoreless allowing just four hits and striking out nine.  When he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, the fans were rocking, and everyone believed the Mets were not only going to win that game, but they were going to complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.  How could you not?  The Royals had just lost Game 7 at home the previous season, and the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard for Games 6 and 7.

Like the aftermath of the Chavez catch, it didn’t work out that way.  Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain and allowed an RBI double to Eric Hosmer.  After a Mike Moustakas ground out, Hosmer was on third and the infield was drawn in.  Then to the surprise of everyone, Hosmer broke for the plate while Wright was throwing to first to get Salvador Perez.

Lucas Duda threw it nowhere near homeplate.  The Royals tied the game up there, and they beat up on a tired Addison Reed and Bartolo Colon in the 12th to win the World Series.

From there, we saw the Mets have to fight tooth and nail just to get to a Wild Card Game last year.  Madison Bumgarner outdueled Syndergaard, and Conor Gillaspie homered off Jeurys Familia.  This past season, seemingly everyone but Ray Ramirez was injured as the Mets dropped from World Series contender to fourth place in the NL East.  The roster now has a number of holes and a number of question marks with the team announcing it’s going to cut payroll.

Depending on what the team does this offseason, and depending on the health of players like Michael Conforto, the Mets could once again be looking at an extended period of irrelevance.  When Harvey took the mound for the ninth inning roughly two years ago, no one could have possibly believed that to be true.

Then again, when Chavez made that catch, no one could believe what would be in store for the Mets over the next decade.