Brandon Drury

Luis Rojas A Convenient Fall Guy For Mets

It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.

In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.

That season didn’t go as hoped. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John and Marcus Stroman opting out probably ended that season before it began.

Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.

Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.

The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.

Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.

Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.

This was the year where ReplaceMets were a thing. Patrick Mazeika and Brandon Drury were getting plate appearances in big spots (because there was no other options), and they were delivering.

Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.

Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.

The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.

Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.

We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.

There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Bรกez-Lindor thumbs down drama.

At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.

Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.

What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.

Instead, he’s out as manager.

With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.

Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.

The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.

Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.

Luis Rojas Right To Lift Taijuan Walker For Aaron Loup

The New York Mets were up 2-1 (an actual lead!) when the San Francisco Giants came to bat in the top of the seventh. An inexplicable stretch would follow.

Kris Bryant, a player the Mets opted to not obtain at the trade deadline, reached on a Jonathan Villar error. Keep in mind, this is a roster basically bereft of third baseman, and Villar is masquerading there (poorly) right now.

After Bryant reached on the error, Alex Dickerson singled. Now, that single probably should’ve been caught, but Jeff McNeil has lingering leg problems, and Michael Conforto got a late read on the bloop.

With first and second and no outs, Luis Rojas had a decision to make. Does he stick with Taijuan Walker who had allowed just a Bryant homer entering the inning? Or, does he go to Aaron Loup to face the left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford?

Rojas went with Loup, and Walker was justifiably angry. After the way he pitched, why wouldn’t he?

Just because Walker was at 74 pitches and was angry doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. Here are some stats:

  • Walker (pitches 76-100) .250/.321/.500
  • Walker (third time through order) .279/.324/.500
  • Loup 1.03 ERA
  • Loup (2nd Half) 0.00 ERA
  • Loup (vs. LHB) .159/.203/.159
  • Loup (2nd Half) .167/.234/.167
  • Loup (Runners 1st & 2nd) .100/.182/.100

Look at the numbers up and down. Loup was the right decision. As for the potential Walker was cruising arguments, so was Matt Harvey.

Yes, Loup did allow a two run RBI double, and the Mets then trailed 3-2. That doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. After all, if Walker’s career numbers held true, something bad was likely to happen that inning.

For some, they still think Walker should’ve stayed in the game. They’re absolutely wrong. Many will blame Rojas for the loss. Those people should never be taken seriously.

Remember, the Mets hit into five double plays. Nine men were left on base. They were 2-for-8 with RISP. They wouldn’t accept the Giants trying to hand the game to them.

Case-in-point was the ninth. Brandon Belt overran a foul ball, and Jonathan Villar followed with a single. Brandon Drury reached when Dickerson pulled a Bump Bailey causing the easy fly ball to hit the ground.

Francisco Lindor popped out to the infield before Brandon Nimmo walked to load the bases. That brought up Alonso with the bases loaded. Instead of the walk-off, we got a pop out to end the game.

Alonso was just bad in the game going 1-for-5 hitting into two double plays and stranding seven. He came up with the bases loaded in the sixth too, and the Mets only scored due to a Bryant throwing error.

All told, the Giants begged the Mets to win this game. Despite the Giants best efforts, and aside from a Dominic Smith RBI double in the sixth, the Mets offense was just plain bad.

People can make it all about Rojas all they want. However, just know, when they do that, they’re flat out wrong, and in the end, they’re just looking for a fall guy instead of just admitting this team isn’t as good as advertised.

That’s on the GM and the front office. Not Rojas.

J.D. Davis, SS Because Who Cares Anymore

With the injuries the New York Mets have faced, Jonathan Villar has become the everyday shortstop. Believe it or not, he’s actually done a good job with a 2 OAA and 2 DRS.

The issue is what happens when Villar needs a day or gets hurt himself. Looking at the roster, there really isn’t an answer on this roster. That may be why Luis Rojas offered up J.D. Davis as a possible name.

If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Davis couldn’t play left field, and he’s played there. He can’t play third, and he’s played there. He can pitch and play first, but you’ll never find him at either position.

Seriously, Davis has no business being in a position where he has to move, field, and throw. He has poor reaction time and instincts, and he needs to at least double clutch.

It’s seriously at the point where he makes a routine play look nearly routine, we get hyperbole. You can understand because it’s a complete shock to see it.

That may well be why when Davis made a routine play in what was a lopsided loss, Gary Cohen suggested Davis had shortstop skills.

Giving Cohen the benefit of the doubt, he’s sometimes so wry, you can miss the joke. He can also be like anyone of us watching a game into the early hours of the morning leaving us a little delirious. It’s also possible he’s watching the Mets fall apart looking to cling to something good.

Whatever the case, the statement was as insane as the thought itself.

Putting Davis at short is more of a give-up than a position pitcher pitching. It’s more so than Brandon Drury being relieved by Kevin Pillar. It’s just preposterous.

So that said, just do it. The Mets aren’t going anywhere with this stretch of games and with the way they’re playing. Put Davis at short and then use him as a defensive substitution in center.

After all, as Davis intimated after the loss dropping them to .500, it’s not necessary to stay over .500. With that being the case, let Davis play wherever he wants.

Mets Fall To .500 With No End In Sight

The New York Mets briefly fooled us. For a brief moment, Mets fans actually thought the Mets were game and could possibly get a win.

The Mets had fallen behind in the fourth when Rich Hill lost it. Honestly, with Hill, you expect it to happen at some point in the fourth or fifth.

Buster Posey got it started with a double, and he scored on a Darin Ruf RBI single. Ruf then made a complete blunder not stepping on the bag when the throw came in behind him.

The rally continued anyway with the Giants getting three more hits. Wilmer Flores had the third driving home the second run of the inning. Things might’ve gotten worse, but Miguel Castro got the Mets out of the jam.

What’s shocking is the Mets, who seemed dead in the water, rallied. It was all the more surprising against Kevin Gausman.

After the first two reached, Pete Alonso drove a two RBI triple to Triple’s Alley to tie the score. He then scored on the rarest of rare things, a Dominic Smith sacrifice fly. Improbably, the Mets had a 3-2 lead.

That lead was very temporary. In the very next inning. Kris Bryant hit a two run homer off Castro. It was his first of two on the night.

Trevor May took the mound in the seventh. He struggled and didn’t look right. Theres certainly an explanation for it with his wincing on the mound. Whatever the case, Belt and Bryant homered.

Later on in the inning, Brandon Crawford hit an RBI trouble extending the Giants lead to 7-3. At that point, it was game over.

Yes, Jonathan Villar would hit a two run homer in the eighth, but it was really window dressing. The reason is the Mets ability to hit with RISP is non-existent.

Case in point was this inning. Brandon Drury followed with yet another pinch hit. The tying run was on base with one out as the Mets flipped the lineup.

Brandon Nimmo popped out. Michael Conforto grounded out. This was just another chapter which saw the Mets strand nine on base while going 1-for-7 with RISP.

At the end of the day, the Mets lost 7-5. They’ve now lost four in a row again. They’ve done it twice in less than two weeks. Heads typically roll after games and stretches like this.

Game Notes: Alonso’s triple was the first for the Mets in 68 games).

Dodgers Effectively End Mets Season

It’s really unfair to say the New York Mets season hinged on one game. After all, there’s still 45 games remaining, and we’ve seen crazier stuff happen.

That said, the Mets showed us nothing in this pivotal game against not just the Los Angeles Dodgers, but also former division foe Max Scherzer. Absolutely nothing.

The end was quick with the Dodgers jumping all over Carlos Carrasco. Justin Turner and Will Smith homered in the first giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

In the second, Trea Turner doubled home a run, and Max Muncy hit the first of his two homers in the game. After two, it was 6-0.

Being honest, if Jacob deGrom is done for the year, and he very well might, the Mets are going nowhere without Carrasco. Carrasco hasn’t seemed ready since returning from injury. He’s yet to hit five innings, and this is his second straight start under three innings.

For the first of many times in the game, the Mets had a chance to get back into the game. That’s when Luis Rojas made what could be a fireable decision.

With the Mets down six in this game, about to be swept, and with the Phillies and Braves having won, Rojas sent Carrasco to the plate with two on and one out.

What makes this decision all the worse was he was lifting Carrasco anyway. Rojas would explain he had a short bench and didn’t want to go through it.

To that, it should be noted Brandon Drury pinch hit in the eighth and stayed on to pitch the ninth. As bad as that may seem, when Drury wasn’t getting out of the inning, Kevin Pillar came off the bench to relieve him.

That’s right. For the first time in Mets history one position player relieved another on the mound.

That’s basically how to get to down six with a chance to pull closer in the second to a 14-4 loss. What makes it even worse is how the Dodgers just begged the Mets to get back into the game.

While the Dodgers had just one error, they had gaffes all over the field. Dodgers relievers walked three and the ERAs of the relievers they used were 8.22, 6.64, and 9.53.

In the end, the Mets were 0-for-12 with RISP stranding 10 base runners. Really, this isn’t new. That’s the story of the 2021 Mets offense.

This is a team who showed their competing the first two days was more fluke than talent. They can’t get the big hit. They’re inability to take advantage of chances. They get blown out on national television after the Braves and Phillies have won.

They’re now heading out to California to play against the San Francisco Giants and Dodgers. Compounding the level of competition was the Mets being a horrendous road team.

Maybe they’ll shock us over the next week and final month of the season. That would be great. However, if we’re being honest, without magic, the Mets appear like they’re done and won’t be winning the division.

Mets Platoon Obsession Dodged A Win

With the left-handed Julio Urias starting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets panicked and sat most of their left-handed hitters. That meant the Mets sat their best hitters.

What’s annoying about it was Urias has reverse splits. It’s all the more annoying because players like Dominic Smith are better against left-handed pitchers than their right-handed hitters.

Well, the Mets shot themselves in the foot. Brandon Drury, Kevin Pillar, and Albert Almora combined to go 0-for-6 with one walk and two strikeouts. In defense of Almora, that walk was a great at-bat, and it began the way towards Luis Rojas substituting players into the game to undo the inane front office lineup.

The irony of the game would be the Mets didn’t do anything until the left-handed bats could themselves in the game.

Down 4-0 after a strong effort from Tylor Megill and some gaffes by James McCann, the Mets rallied starting with a Michael Conforto two out double.

The left-handed batters did their job. Smith followed with an RBI single getting the Mets on the board.

Brandon Nimmo walked (of course), and Alonso was walked to load the bases. Jeff McNeil, another LHP not in the starting lineup, hit a two run single pulling the Mets within one. That run scored on a Will Smith passed ball.

The bats who couldn’t be trusted to be in the starting lineup, the Mets best bats, tied the score with a big two out rally.

Edwin Diaz got into trouble in the ninth starting with his walking former Met Billy McKinney to start the inning. Diaz got out of the inning leading to more platoon based nonsense.

Now, Aaron Loup has been the Mets best reliever all year, and he was fresh pitching just once over the last week. Meanwhile, Jeurys Familia has been heavily worked lately, and he has been starting to show the strain.

Well, despite Loup’s success against right-handed batters over the past two years, and the reverse splits of Smith, the Mets opted for Familia. The end result was a tired Familia giving up a go-ahead two run homer.

The Mets did get one back in the 10th, but it wasn’t enough. They lost 6-5 in a game they severely hampered themselves by being overly beholden to 1960 platoon theory.

It’s annoying the Mets handcuffed themselves like this unnecessarily and really purposefully ran converse to the analytics. They need to be better and do better than this.

Suspended Mets Offense Awakens

The New York Mets began the suspended game down 3-1. Rich Hill volunteered to pitch earlier than his spot because the Mets needed a starter. He’d be far from the only person who stepped up on the day.

Now, while Hill stepped up, he wasn’t great. The deficit grew to 4-1 in the second when Victor Robles hit an RBI double.

Then, something happened to the Mets offense. That something was Joe Ross. As fans, we tend to focus on the Mets killers of the world, but we overlook the Rosses of the world who just wilt when they see the orange and blue.

Brandon Nimmo awoke the offense with a leadoff double in the third. That led to the dreaded bases loaded no outs situation. Michael Conforto got the Mets past the mental hurdle of never scoring with an RBI groundout. This sparked a three run inning tying the score at 4-4.

It was the first time in a week the Mets scored more than three and just the second time all month. Whether it was Ross or not, the Mets offense seemed to be clicking.

They needed it to because Hill ran out of gas in the fifth. After allowing the first two to reach, he allowed a Luis Garcia two RBI double putting the Nationals up 6-4. That’s when the Mets went to the bullpen to ask Jeurys Familia to stop the bleeding.

Familia didn’t exactly do that. The first batter he faced, Riley Adams, drove home Garcia with an RBI single. After a sacrifice bunt, he was in scoring position. That set the stage for Jeff McNeil to save the game.

In what was a flashback, Alcidies Escobar, a 2015 Kansas City Royal, was up against Familia with the opportunity to end the game. He’d rip a liner, but McNeil got higher than we’ve ever seen him robbing an RBI base hit and ending the inning.

The Mets then started chipping away at that lead. In the bottom of the inning, McNeil drew a leadoff walk, and he was still there with two outs. On a 3-2 pitch, a clearly hobbled McNeil was running when Conforto ripped an RBI single through the shift.

Thanks to a double clutch from Carter Kieboom on the relay McNeil scored easily. Conforto tried to advance on the throw, but he was caught in a run down easily making the last out.

Gabe Klobosits relieved Ross to start the seventh. Nimmo would led off the inning with a single. Two batter last later, Pete Alonso came sooo close to giving the Mets the lead. Instead, it was an RBI double pulling the Mets within a run.

While the Mets wouldn’t get the lead there, they finally would in the eighth. With a runner on second, Jonathan Villar was up there hybrid bunting, that is, he was up to sacrifice, but he always bunts to get a base hit.

That always puts extra pressure on the defense, especially with his speed. Nationals pitcher Mason Thompson fielded it rather cleanly and easily, but he appeared to rush the throw leading him to throw it away. The tying run scored, and Villar was in scoring position.

Later in the inning, we’d see pinch hitting extraordinaire Brandon Drury. For some reason, just like Matt Franco in 1999, some pinch hitters just get locked in at the plate. That’s been Drury this year, and he delivered again with a go-ahead RBI single through a drawn-in infield.

Astonishingly, that was the first Mets lead in 43 innings. Somehow that seems impossible. Then again, the Mets have been terrible of late losing four straight and nine of 10.

The Mets got to this point not just due to the offense but the bullpen as well. Familia, Miguel Castro, Drew Smith, and Trevor May combined to pitch four scoreless allowing just the two hits. They walked none and struck out two.

While the Mets were armed with the lead heading into the ninth, they weren’t out of the woods. The very mercurial and rusty Edwin Diaz was coming in for the save, and the first batter he’d face was Juan Soto.

Diaz made quick work of Soto striking him out on four pitches. With Soto down, it was effectively game over at that point. Diaz hit the easy save, and the Mets finally won a game.

This is what we envisioned the Mets offense can and should be. There are reasons why he saw it happened with Ross being one of them.

There was also Nimmo being a table setter. McNeil was spraying the ball, and Alonso’s talk about the process produced tangible results.

Mix in Conforto getting further away from COVID and returning to form with some luck, which is always needed, and you get a huge Mets win. The key now is to build off of this.

Game Notes: The second game of the doubleheader was rained out. The Mets signed Josh Reddick to a minor league deal.

At Least Mets Kept Their Team Chemistry

The New York Mets talking points entering the trade deadline was they didn’t want to disrupt their team chemistry. The trade deadline came and went, and they didn’t disrupt it.

They left their holes in the rotation and bullpen unaddressed. Arguably, they didn’t address third base. But, they didn’t disrupt that team chemistry. Now, they’re losing games.

Taijuan Walker wasn’t great, but it was a step forward for him. Again, the big issue is the long ball. The Miami Marlins two homers accounted for two of the four runs he allowed over 5.2 innings.

Seth Lugo was pushed for two innings again even if he’s showed he can’t really do that since his surgery. He’d let up what proved to be a crucial run in that second inning of work.

Offensively, they cracked the three run mark for just the fourth time over their last 13 games. It all came down to Brandon Drury in the ninth. He couldn’t drive home the game tying run from second, and so, the Mets lost 5-4.

The Phillies won putting the Mets only 1.5 games ahead of them. Unlike the Mets, the Phillies actively worked to address their needs. They’re ascending, and the Mets are on the verge of collapse.

The good news is if the Mets do collapse, they have a great clubhouse to help each other get through it.

Now, this is overly sarcastic, and the Mets can still very well win this division. That said, they didn’t try to win it. The Phillies did, and the Mets team, who can’t get out of their own way or get healthy enough, is in very real trouble.

Legend Of Brandon Drury Grows

There’s no other way to put it. The New York Mets flat out stole this game.

The Mets blew the 1-0 lead when Rich Hill surrendered a three run homer to Eugenio Suarez in fourth. That deficit grew to 4-1 when Kyle Farmer homered in the fifth.

At that point, the Mets looked dead in the water as Wade Miley dominated them over the first five innings, but the Mets got something started in the sixth.

Jonathan Villar drew a lead-off walk, and Pete Alonso singled. That brought the newest Met, Javier Baez, up as the tying run. Well, that was at least until Villar was picked off at second. That loomed large as Baez hit his first homer as a member of the Mets:

That got the Mets to within 4-3, but notably, it did not tie the game. They’d need to bullpen to shut down the Reds offense to give them that chance.

For a moment, it didn’t look like the Mets were going to get that chance. Joey Votto got a hold of a Seth Lugo pitch, and for a moment, it seemed like he tied the Major League record by homering in eight straight games.

Instead, it hit the top of the wall. There were now runners at the corners with no outs. Lugo rebounded by striking out the next two. Luis Rojas then went to Aaron Loup.

Loup returned the favor for Villar by catching Votto too far off the bag. Votto broke for second, but Pete Alonso didn’t panic, and he started a run down of Farley for the final out of the inning.

This meant the Mets had a chance entering the ninth. Jeff McNeil would draw a lead-off walk off Heath Hembree, and Luis Guillorme entered as a pinch runner. Hembree then uncorked a wild pitch moving Guillorme to second.

After Hembree struck out Baez and James McCann, the Reds went to Sean Doolittle to get out Dominic Smith even though Smith hits lefties well. Doolittle did get ahead of Smith, but Smith delivered the game tying single.

This meant Rob Manfred Gimmick Baseball Time. The Reds started the inning with Jonathan India on second. He moved to third on a wild pitch. Jesse Winker didn’t beat them like he normally does because he walked.

Diaz responded in a way he did in the first half and not the second half. He rebounded by striking out the next two, including Votto, before getting Tyler Naquin to line out hard to center.

In the 10th, Luis Cessa found himself pitching against the Mets on the six year anniversary of when he was traded by the Mets as part of the Yoenis Cespedes deal. On his fourth pitch, Brandon Drury continued his hot hitting July with a walk-off single.

In the end, the Mets won a game they really had no business winning. Make no mistake, this is the hallmark of a good team amidst a special season.

Mets Teetering With Reds Loss

This should’ve been a great day for the New York Mets. The black uniforms were back for limited engagement, Carlos Carrasco was making his season debut, and they added Javier Baez at the trade deadline.

Instead of this being the Yoenis Cespedes celebration with Lucas Duda carrying the Mets to first place, you have to wonder if the Mets are in real trouble.

For his part, aside from surrendering a homer to Jonathan India on his first pitch, Carrasco was terrific. Over four innings, he allowed just that one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four.

It should be noted, part of the reason he gave up one run was a phenomenal play by Luis Guillorme to rob Eugenio Suarez of a would be RBI single.

At that time, the Mets should’ve had a lead. Before Sonny Gray could blink Jeff McNeil doubled home Brandon Nimmo to tie the score. Then, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs.

The promising rally completely fell apart. Michael Conforto struck out in what would be an 0-for-4 night with a golden sombrero and a dip below the Mendoza Line.

Jonathan Villar then hit into an inning ending double play. That was about it for the Mets offense for the night. They wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, and they squandered that opportunity as well.

That wasn’t the case with the Reds. Miguel Castro‘s struggles continued. He allowed a double to India, and Jesse Winker was a Mets killer again driving him home.

Drew Smith‘s long ball troubles continued as he allowed a homer to Joey Votto the following inning. This was the seventh consecutive game Votto homered.

It was still theoretically a game in the ninth as it was only 3-1. That was until the Reds roughed up Anthony Banda in his second inning of work for three runs making it a 6-1 Reds lead.

In the ninth, in what may prove to be his last Mets at-bat, Brandon Drury hit a pinch hit RBI double. It proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the Mets 6-2 loss.

As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, Nimmo was going to be taken out of the game with a hamstring issue resulting from a dividing catch. Jacob deGrom was shut down again with more forearm inflammation. It should also be noted with the Mets falling to add a reliever the bullpen struggled.

All told, even with the Baez addition, this was just about as bad a day as you can get. The Mets looked bad and might be in real trouble soon.

Game Notes: In addition to getting Baez for Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Mets also obtained Trevor Williams. Williams was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse.