Bobby Valentine

Welcome Back Carlos Beltran

While there are many potential pitfalls, the New York Mets hiring Carlos Beltran as the 22nd manager in team history is amazing, and it is cause for celebration.

By and large, it does seem like Mets fans are celebrating. Perhaps, it is because he is replacing an unpopular Mickey Callaway. It could be that after all this time the fans who had a certain level of frustration with him realized they were unfair, and with time having passed, they can better appreciate him. Whatever the case, the fans are excited, and that’s great.

Another factor here is after years where there was a hang up over Beltran wanting to sign with the Yankees in 2005, he made his intentions known he wanted to be a Met. As a result, Beltran only interviewed for the Mets job eschewing opportunities with the Cubs and Padres.

He now becomes the Mets first ever Hispanic manager. For what it’s worth, he was also their first true Hispanic superstar. As such, he is fully aware of what he’s taking on, and to that end, there’s arguably no one better to handle all that is coming his way.

His reward is not just being the Mets manager, but he’s also going to get to manage the Mets when they play in his home of Puerto Rico.

In Beltran, the Mets are getting a savant. As described in the book Astroball, Beltran picked up on things before the analytically driven team could. He also helped bring the team together as one unit. He accomplished that not just by being multilingual but a leader interested in making everyone in that clubhouse comfortable feeling like a member of the team.

With Beltran coming home to the Mets, we can envision how well it worked when other former Mets managed this team.

Gil Hodges engineered the 1969 Miracle Mets. Bobby Valentine was the first Mets manager who led the team to back-to-back postseasons. Most recently, Willie Randolph led the 2006 Mets to within an at-bat of a pennant.

Speaking of that at-bat, Beltran handled that with the class and dignity which has come to define him. He’s overcome both that and injuries to build a Hall of Fame career. He overcame all of that and some hard feelings which existed at the time he was traded for Zack Wheeler to not just want but to get the Mets manager job.

In the end, Beltran is back with the New York Mets where he belongs. After all these years, the fans love him, and he loves this team. He’s now coming home to where everything is possible.

He can guide the Mets to one or more World Series. He can join Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame. His 15 will hang in left field with Casey Stengel‘s 37, Hodges’ 14, Seaver’s 41, Piazza’s 31, and soon Jerry Koosman‘s 36.

In fact, when all is said and done, Beltran could emerge as one of the most beloved figures in Mets history. To be able to even contemplate this is incredible, and it is a reason why Beltran returning to HIS Mets is a dream come true.

20/20 Hindsight: Time To Say Good-bye to Postseason and Beloved Players

Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:

1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.

2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.

3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.

4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.

5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.

6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.

7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.

8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.

9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.

10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.

11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.

12. Hopefully, Mickey Callaway get his way and gets to bat Alonso leadoff over the final three games to help get him past Aaron Judge for the rookie home run record.

13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.

14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.

15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.

16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.

17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.

18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.

19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.

20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.

Mets Can Wear All Sorts of Crazy Hats But Not First Responder Ones

During the 2019 season, the New York Mets are going to wear all sorts of crazy caps for all sorts of reasons. Here are some examples of the hats MLB has chosen for their teams to wear to commemorate different dates on the calendar this year.

For Mother’s Day, teams wore special pink caps like they have for a few years now:

For Armed Forces Weekend, teams wore a special camouflaged cap:

For Memorial Day, all teams wore a patch on their cap and a poppy on their uniforms:

Like with the pink caps on Mother’s Day, there would be blue caps for Father’s Day:

For the Fourth of July, MLB teams would wear stars and stripes themed caps:

There would be more than few caps for the All-Stars for the game played in Cleveland:

Then, to much controversy, there was the Player’s Weekend caps and uniforms the players and fans seemed to hate with the teams being forced to wear them:

So for the year, Major League teams have worn pink and blue caps. They’ve worn camouflaged and stars and stripes caps. There was two different All Star Game caps as well as black and white caps. What we won’t see is the First Responder caps the Mets wore after 9/11 to help a city and a country heal.

The reason we will not see the caps is because Major League Baseball will not allow it. To be fair, they didn’t allow it in 2001, but Todd Zeile would not stand for it, and he on the field with the rest of his teammates. He would have the support of his manager Bobby Valentine and the entire Mets organization.

The only thing Major League Baseball has permitted is for them to be worn pre-game when the game is not televised. It’s at the same time players can basically wear whatever they want making this nothing more than a hollow empty gesture especially since MLB officials go scrambling to collect the caps before the National Anthem.

As R.A. Dickey once noted, they’re not even allowed to be on the field for the commemorative ceremonies, and players are threatened with fines. The last player who tried to defy Major League Baseball to do the right thing was David Wright, but the caps were gone before he had the chance to do it.

To their credit, the Wilpons have tried and have been rebuffed. The players have tried and were rejected. The fans have begged for them. Through all of it, one thing remains clear: Major League Baseball still doesn’t care, and they clearly forgot.

Just remember that the next time you see a “fun” pink or blue cap on the field.

Mets Finally Listening To What Everyone Told Them Over A Month Ago

It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.

Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.

There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.

Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.

With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.

The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.

To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.

J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.

And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.

Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.

Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should The Mets Bring Back The Black Jerseys?

While this is the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets, it is also the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Mets. As part of the 1969 celebration, it appears we will finally get to the Tom Seaver statute Mets fans have been clamoring for over the past decade. However, it does not appear there will be similar celebrations for the first Mets team to make consecutive postseasons this year.

You could present the argument the Mets could do something subtle like dusting off the black jerseys and wearing them like the Mets wore the old racing stripe jerseys three years ago. Of course, the mere mention of bringing back those jerseys tends to set off a firestorm. With that in mind, our roundtable answers the question as to whether the Mets should ever bring back the black jerseys in any way, shape, or form:

Pete McCarthy (OABT)

Only the black hats with blue brim.

Bre S. (That Mets Chick)

I wouldn’t completely bring them back but it would be cool to see them on occasion. The Mets wore the 86 racing stripes in 2016 on Sundays. It would be nice to see them maybe on Friday nights. (Sunday day games might be too hot for black uniforms).

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

I love the black jerseys, but it’s strange because until last September, David Wright would have been the last active Met to wear them. Now, as far as I can tell, assuming Jose Reyes is done, the only remaining Mets who wore the black jerseys during their original run are Jason Vargas — maybe — and Carlos Gomez — probably. That’s nothing against the jerseys; it’s just a hell of a thought that Juan Lagares is the longest tenured Met, and the current Mets who go back the farthest as Mets are Jason Vargas and Carlos Gomez. I guess my point is yes, absolutely bring back the black jerseys, but also wow, what a weird, crazy world we live in.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I’m not nostalgic about the black unis, especially since we only stopped wearing them seven years ago. I can’t get nostalgic about a uniform that a truckload of Mets fans complained about when they actually wore them. Love the blues much better and would rather wear those on Friday nights.

That said, if you want to bring the black unis back to mark an anniversary, save them until next season. This season belongs to ’69. A truly historic team like that deserves the entire season. Sneaking in a ’99 tribute seems odd to me. Instead, honor the 2000 team. They are probably the most underappreciated team in Mets history. Partly because the ’99 team overshadows them, and partly because they lost to the Yankees, who overshadow everybody. I understand that the roster was essentially the same, but the 2000 team never even got so much as a congratulatory rally at Shea Stadium. A good amount of pennant winners who lost the World Series at least got that, and I think the Mets would have had that if they had lost to anybody except the Yankees. They deserve their due. (Even Armando Benitez.) So I say do it next season.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Wear period uniforms when they induct Alfonzo, Valentine and Leiter into the team Hall of Fame. Also, induct Edgardo Alfonzo, Bobby Valentine and Al Leiter into the team Hall of Fame.

Come 2022, I’d endorse doing for the 60th anniversary what the Reds are doing for their 125th, sprinkling in different throwbacks throughout the season, the black ones included.

Metstradamus

Greg, I thought of that too. If we want to have throwbacks for years ending in 9, give us the ’69 unis, the black unis, but also the two button pullovers from ’79 and the Mark Carreon specials from ’89.

Mets Daddy

I do like the special days one. Personally, I thought Piazza’s 31 should’ve been in black.

Greg Prince

Decade Nights or whatever shouldn’t take that much imagination to pull off.

It also requires a tacit admission that the Mets existed in years besides 1969, 1986 and the current year.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

I was never a huge fan of the black jerseys but if it makes the Mets money they may bring them back. Seems like so many sports teams had a black third jersey and it kind of got played out. From a design point of view, you use black as a shortcut to make the uniform look better… but it doesn’t always work.

James Schapiro

The real question: black uniforms or snow-whites?

Metstradamus

James, black over the snow whites. Not close.

Mets Daddy

Whites were always too Brooklyn Dodgers for me

Greg Prince

I dare the Mets to bring back the 1997 ice cream hats for one game in 2022. The pillbox hats from 1976. And, of course, the Mercury Mets getup from 1999.

Mets Daddy

I actually liked the ice cream hats on their own. With the white jerseys, they were terrible

Metstradamus

They had a chance to bring back Mercury Mets on the 20th anniversary. Of course they blew it.

Greg Prince

Mercury Mets would be ideal for 2021. That was the date of “the future,” in 1999.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

I’m torn on the black. I did like them, but like always, the team ruined the concept by never truly executing the look properly. The hybrid cap, black with blue bill was atrocious, & did not match the jersey. (Sorry, Pete). They also de-emphasised blue in criminal fashion, wearing the home uniform with black undershirts / sleeves and socks made the team look hideous. If they bring them back, which they will, the all black cap and special one Tim only snow White pants (it looks terrible with the pinstripe pants) is the only way the jersey should be worn. Also Mercury Mets = infamnia.

But I hate the introduction of black as a major element because it ruined the rest of the uniform. That the Mets wore this monstrosity at home in the World Series still irritates me to no end. Hybrid cap, black undershirt, black drop shadow = again, infamnia

I hated the cap, I really, really hate it. If Mets bring back this hideous thing, then I vote No on black alts.

Mets Daddy

On the hat, I agree. As I noted previously, the hats need updating. I also think the jerseys themselves were overused. If the Mets were so inclined, I think bringing them back for Friday nights may be the best possible solution, mostly because I associate the Friday night black jerseys with Mike Piazza hitting that home run to cap off a 10 run rally against the Braves.

Overall, this was one of my favorite roundtables thus far, and I hope this roundtable encourages you to check out the excellent work of the people who contributed to this roundtable.

Five Key Questions For The 2019 Season

With the Mets hiring an agent as opposed to a front office baseball executive, you knew Brodie Van Wagenen was going to have a learning curve. As such, he was going to make some bad moves, and certainly, you knew he was going to make some curious decisions. Some may inure to the Mets benefit while others may not. If these questionable decisions do work out for the Mets, then a World Series may very well be in the team’s future.

Why Isn’t Cano Playing First Base?

Robinson Cano was the big bat the Mets acquired this offseason, and the plan is for him to be a fixture in the Mets lineup. However, that is for as many games as he is able to play. To his credit, Brodie Van Wagenen has been quite vocal about the need to give Cano more days off than he is accustomed due to Cano being 36 years old.

If we harken back to 1999, Bobby Valentine did this with a 40 year old Rickey Henderson to get the last good season out of Henderson. That also led to the Mets claiming the Wild Card and going to the NLCS.

For Cano, it is not just his age, but it is also his position. Players who play up the middle play the more taxing defensive positions in baseball. That takes more of a toll on a 36 year old player. Given Jed Lowrie‘s presence on the team, you have to wonder why the team doesn’t make Lowrie the second baseman with Cano playing first.

Putting Cano at first would be putting him in a position where he would not be as subject to fatigue over the course of the season. It should also be noted with Cano already 36 years old and his signed for five more seasons, it is a position switch he will eventually have to make. If he is going to have to make the switch, why not do it now so the Mets could coax more at-bats and games from him over the course of the season?

Where Is Davis Getting His Opportunity?

With J.D. Davis‘ minor league stats, you could make the argument all he needs to succeed at the Major League level is an opportunity to play at the Major League level. Certainly, it’s a fair point to raise when someone hits .342/.406/.583 in 85 Triple-A games and .175/.248/.223 in 42 MLB games.

The problem is you’d be hard-pressed to where exactly he would get that opportunity.

He’s behind Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie at the third base depth chart. He’s behind Peter Alonso and Frazier on the first base depth chart. He’s a right-handed compliment to right-handed hitters. He’s not suited to play outfield in the majors, and even if he was, he’s buried on the outfield depth chart as well. Combine that with Lowrie and Jeff McNeil being the versatile players on the roster, and you have to wonder where he gets hit at-bats.

After you are done contemplating that, you are left to wonder why the team would trade three good prospects in Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, and Scott Manea for him when they could’ve just as easily signed Mark Reynolds or Matt Davidson.

Was McNeil Playing LF the Original Plan?

One of the benefits of having McNeil on the roster is having a versatile player on the roster. Despite the team’s initial reluctance last year, he is someone who has received playing time at all four infield positions, and he has always trained in the outfield. To that extent, penciling him as the team’s starting left fielder, even against just right-handed pitching made a ton of sense.

That plan made even more sense when you consider Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are both capable center fielders with Juan Lagares being the best defensive center fielder in the game. Really, breaking it down, moving McNeil to left field was probably the best way to handle the Mets resources.

However, the plan to move McNeil to left field does raise some interesting questions. For example, why didn’t the team send him to winter ball to play outfield. Also, why would the team expend resources to obtain Keon Broxton only to make him a fifth outfielder? Moreover, if McNeil is your outfielder, shouldn’t the team have a better insurance option against his inability to play left field than Broxton?

What’s the Plan for Backup Catcher?

When the Mets traded Kevin Plawecki to the Indians, they were effectively announcing Travis d’Arnaud was healthy enough to be the backup. That was called into question when Mickey Callaway said Devin Mesoraco signed with the Mets because of his relationship with Jacob deGrom.

It would seem if the Mets signed Mesoraco to catch deGrom the team now has one catcher too many. Does this mean the team is planning on moving him on the eve of Opening Day, or is Mesoraco willing to catch in the minors until the inevitable injury to d’Arnaud or Wilson Ramos. If that is the case, what impact does this have on Tomas Nido, and his future?

On the bright side, the Mets have good depth at the catcher position, but that only remains true to the extent they are keeping everyone. If they are the challenge is then to keep everyone happy and sharp, which is much easier said than done.

Where’s the Starting Pitching Depth?

With Jason Vargas struggling since the 2017 All-Star Break, you would have thought the Mets would have done more to address their pitching depth. That goes double when you consider the team traded Justin Dunn, their best starting pitching prospect, and with David Peterson and Anthony Kay being at least a couple of years away.

With the health issues facing Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, you would’ve thought the Mets would have been pressed more to add starting pitching depth. When you couple that with Van Wagenen knowing Jeff Barry councils his pitching clients to limit their innings, you would believe the Mets would have pressed to go more than four deep in the pitching rotation.

But the Mets haven’t. Not really. Their depth is essentially the same group who posted an ERA over 5.00 as MLB staters along with Hector Santiago, a pitcher now better suited to the bullpen.

When you look at this rotation the best health they had was in 2015, and that was a year the team needed 10 starting pitchers to get through the season. This team has nowhere near that type of depth.

As it turns out, more than anything, it may turn out to be the pitching depth which is the biggest key to the 2019 season. If the team is healthy, and deGrom and Syndergaard go against their agent’s advice, it is possible the team has enough pitching to get through the season. If the pitchers do impose pitching limits and there is more than one pitching injury, the team’s hopes of winning anything may be done, and that is even if the other questions are answered in the affirmative.

Should The Mets Retire Davey Johnson’s Number?

While it is not an official policy, the Mets organization will only retire the numbers of players who enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap.  That is why the only Mets players who have their numbers retired are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza.  If the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Gary Carter‘s choice, he would have gone into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap, and as a result, his number would have been retired as well.

That would have pleased many Mets fans who want to see his number be retired.  More than Carter, Mets fans seem to want to see Keith Hernandez‘s and David Wright‘s numbers retired.  With respect to those two, chances are neither enter the Hall of Fame, and just like Carter, chances are Hernandez is inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cardinals cap.

Much of the Carter and Hernandez push is related to both players being key veterans on the 1986 World Series team.  Oddly enough, the same case has not been made for Davey Johnson.

Back in 1984, Frank Cashen tabbed Johnson to be the Mets manager.  He was entasked with leading a Mets team to not just win a World Series, but really to just win games.  The Mets had not been over .500 since 1976, which was Seaver’s last full season with the Mets.  Seaver was back in 1983 only for the Mets to lose him again.

The winning happened immediately.  Behind Rookie of the Year Dwight Gooden, and a young core which included Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Ron Darling, and Sid Fernandez, the 1984 Mets finished second place in the National League East with a 90-72 record.  This began a string of eight straight seasons where the Mets would finish second or better in the division.  Johnson would oversee six of those seasons.

The 1985 Mets won 98 games, which was then the second most wins the Mets had ever accumulated.  They were that close to winning the division.  Entering 1986, Johnson would declare the Mets were the team to beat, and his team would back him up.  Their 108 wins is the third most ever by a National League team.

When you include the postseason, the 1986 have won more games than any other National League team over the past century.

Yes, this does speak to how great the 1986 Mets were, but it also speaks to Johnson’s managerial abilities.  He was ahead of his time using data and statistics to inform his decisions.  Yes, those 1980s Mets teams were talented, but it was Johnson who got everything out of those talented teams by optimizing his team’s lineups.

This is why Johnson would become the first ever National League manager to have 90+ wins in each of his first five seasons.

He’s also the only Mets manager with two 100 win seasons.  He joins Gil Hodges as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series, and he was the first Mets manager to go to two different postseasons.

Johnson is the Mets all-time leader in wins and winning percentage.  He is second only to Terry Collins in games managed.  He is second to Bobby Valentine in postseason wins, which is partially a function of Major League Baseball adding an additional postseason round when they added the Wild Card in 1994.

Despite all of these records and his impact on the franchise, Hodges and Casey Stengel remain the only two managers who have had their numbers retired by the Mets.  Given how the standards to retire manager numbers (to the extent there is any) is far lower than for players, it is odd how nearly 30 years after Johnson managed his last game, he has not had his number retired.

His number not being retired may become more of an issue going forward as once again he is a candidate on the Today’s Game ballot for the Hall of Fame.  With his having a better winning percentage than Hall of Famers like Bobby Cox (a manager who also has just one World Series to his credit), and his being only one of two managers in MLB history to lead four separate franchises to to the postseason, there is a real case to be made for Johnson’s induction.

If inducted, he is likely going to enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Mets.  If so, any and all excuses to not retire his number have gone by the wayside.  Of course, that is unless you are not of the belief Johnson has not done enough to merit having his number retired anyway.

Given how his number has not been retired, it is certainly still up for debate whether it should or should not be retired by the Mets organization.  Going forward, when debates happen,,when taking into account standards already set forth coupled with the impact on the organization, Davey Johnson should probably be first in line when it comes to having his number retired.

Mets Not Permitted To Wear First Responders Caps Again

One surprising thing popped up on my son’s school calendar.  It was to wear red, white, and blue for what is being referred to there as Freedom Day. Having lived through the events of 9/11 and dealing with my own fears and loss due to the terrorist attacks, it just struck me as odd that 18 years later, children would wear red, white, and blue to celebrate America.  Odd, but good.

What also strikes me as odd is how Major League Baseball continues to not permit the New York Mets to wear the First Responders caps during the games played on 9/11.  Ultimately, when we talk about how we get from devastating terrorists attacks to children honoring America, the First Responders caps were an important part of the story.

It meant a lot to New Yorkers to see the New York Mets wear those caps.  We all shed a tear as John Franco wore an FDNY cap in honor of his fallen friend as he earned the win in the first game back after the attacks.  There was not a dry eye anywhere when Mike Piazza hit that home run off Steve Karsay to win the first game played in New York after 9/11.

Wearing the caps was the brainchild of Todd Zeile.  He defied Major League Baseball and encouraged his team to do the same.  They all did it playing at Shea Stadium, a place that was a staging ground for the recovery and relief efforts.  He had the full support of his manager Bobby Valentine, and yes, his ownership, who have unsuccessfully petitioned Major League Baseball to wear the caps during a game.

What remains odd is how fearful Major League Baseball is that another Mets player will defy them like Zeile once did.  In fact, as R.A. Dickey once pointed out, Major League Baseball has threatened severe fines against players who choose to defy them, and they have taken the steps to collect the caps from the dugout and clubhouse after batting practice.  This isn’t normal behavior.

In that sense, it’s odd. Across the country, schools are honoring America.  Adults are taking time to remember, and some of us still mourn.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is making sure teams don’t infringe on a licensing deal because somehow allowing the Mets to wear First Responder caps is a bad thing for Major League Baseball and New Era.

Really, in 18 years, it’s just plain shocking no one sat across the table and figured this out.  There could have been some sort of happy medium wherein either New Era makes the caps, or that they create a new cap to both honor the fallen while keeping in the spirit of the licensing agreement.

Instead, Major League Baseball will go out of their way to announce the Mets will wear the caps during batting practice, which as we have learned, you are not required to wear officially licensed gear.  In their minds, they probably think they are offering a best of both worlds solution.  They’re wrong.

The shame of it is as we become further removed from 9/11, the more we move about our everyday lives.  In the 18 years since, we have graduated from school, gotten married, and started families.  For those of us who remember, we also have to remember work and running a household.  Moreover, we have to get our children ready for days like “Freedom Day.”

So in different places in America, we’re mourning and honoring while Major League Baseball is forgetting and enforcing.

 

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Our Expectations For the 2018 Season

Well, Opening Day is a week away, and Mets fans are getting excited for Mets baseball.  Whether this will turn out to be 2015 or 2017 again remains to be seen.  Depending on your point of view, you could argue the Mets winning the World Series just as competently as you could argue them having to once again sell at the trade deadline.  With this season really up in the air, we turned to our Roundtable, and we asked them what they expect the Mets to do in 2018:

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

What do I expect? I expect hope. Pain. Happiness. Sadness. Great tweets. Bad tweets. Excitement. Anger. A reminder of the second half of 2015. A reminder of moments. “Payroll flexibility”. Health. Injuries. Complicated high fives. Announcers giggling. Anxiety. Feats of power. Feats of nonsense. And I dunno, 83 regular season wins?

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

I know I am being optimistic, but I actually think Mets will be in contention for a wildcard all year, and if the rotation is healthy, could push the Nats for the NL East. I don’t say this as a Mets fanboy (and I think my record is very clear on how critical I can be), but as someone who believes the new on-field regime can take this club to whole new level. A competent manager who understands pitching, a bench coach who clearly knows what he’s doing, and a pitching coach who’s proven he can do more with less, for the first time since Bobby V and Bob Apodaca changed the culture in 1997, this team has the right guys in place. 90 wins.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

It may be my lack of sleep from having a 1 year old, but I believe the Mets will win the East. Before the past few seasons started if the Mets were predicted to win, they lose. This year looks good for us, especially if at least 3 out of the 5 starting pitchers stay healthy.

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

I expect the Mets to contend for Wild Card, though if the rotation returns to health and productivity we could see them at least hang around late in the season for the division.

I believe the Mets left side of the infield defensively is going to give the pitching staff a little boost as well.

If that rings true, the key to the season could come down to what Sandy Alderson does at the deadline to fill needs.

Metstradamus (Metstradums Blog)

For your latest, my expectation is 84 wins, factoring in reasonable injury expectation. This bullpen has the ability to make a lot of starters unhappy and that will keep the win total down. Come back to me if they sign Greg Holland.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

The Mets’ general creakiness at several positions concerns me, as does their tendency toward fragility, but what fun is pessimism? The Mets will compete better and longer than they did last year, and let the wins pile up from there.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

I can’t answer these questions, because I’m a Mets fan, and I’ve always – literally, always – been convinced that we’re a few pieces, at most, away from being a pennant-winner. Look at this team – we’ve got what could be a very solid rotation, a lineup that could rake if the dice fall the right way, and a guy who has the potential to be a top closer in baseball when he’s healthy. Are things going to go that well? You tell me (the answer is no). But what fun is it to go through all the nightmare scenarios and predict which one will happen? For now, I’m sticking with the optimistic scenario: we come out of nowhere and shock the world. Doesn’t it sound both desperately far-fetched and surprisingly realistic?

Mets Daddy

Like most Mets fans, I’m an optimist on Opening Day.  Right now, I expect Todd Frazier to be the 1999 Robin Ventura.  I foresee Matt Harvey putting his career back together.  I am all the more excited watching Michael Conforto healthy and already hitting homers.  If you ask me right now, I’m going to say World Series contender.

Putting my enthusiasm aside, I’ll say this – The NL East is a little more open than we originally believed it to be.  Daniel Murphy wont’ be ready for Opening Day, and who knows when he’ll come back.  For that matter, who knows what he’ll be when he returns.  No one can reasonably expect Ryan Zimmerman to produce like he did last year.  It was an outlier.  The Nationals are relying way too much on Michael Taylor having figured it out, and Matt Wieters isn’t good behind or at the plate.  Also, they lost Dusty Baker, who was a manager who seemed to resonate with that clubhouse.

We take for granted the Nationals will win the division because the Mets have so many question marks and because we have seen the Nationals have great year after great year.  They may very well have another one, but it’s far from a certainty.  Immaculately, I think this is a closer race than we may have originally thought it to be.

So overall, the Mets Bloggers seem to be a little more bullish on the Mets than many other places.  If you are curious why they feel this way, please click on the links next to their names to see their superb work which expounds upon their opinions about the Mets further.