Brandon Nimmo

Mets Energy Level Better, Still Lose

Late in the season, both Robert Gsellman and Yoenis Cespedes gave you reasons to question their commitment. 

Like he has most of his career, Cespedes has failed to hustle this year. While deemed acceptable when things are going well, this becomes an issue for everyone. 

When he comes to Gsellman, he basically said as much. Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. When he was told Sandy Alderson said he needed to pitch better, Gsellman replied he didn’t care. 

On the field tonight against a very good Diamondbacks team, they were both very good. 

Gsellman was reminiscent of the pitcher we saw last year. He mostly kept the ball out of the air preventing him from being victimized by the long ball. With a much better defense behind him, which somehow included Wilmer Flores making some nice plays at third, Gsellman went deep into the game. 

In the odd chance the ball was in the air, the outfield got to those balls. This included Cespedes making not one but two hustle plays in the outfield. 

With the defense playing well behind him, and his sinker working, Gsellman arguably had his best start of the year. His final line was 6.1 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and three strikeouts. 

Even with that terrific outing, he still didn’t get the win because the Mets offense continued to squander their scoring opportunities against Taijuan Walker

The Mets could bring home Brandon Nimmo after he lead-off the top of the first with a double. 

Wilmer Flores and Dominic Smith lead off the second with consecutive singles. Amed Rosario  struck out. After Kevin Plawecki intentionally walked to load the bases, Gsellman struck out, and Nimmo lined out. 

Flores came up in the third with runners at first and second with one out, and he grounded into the 6-4-3 inning ending double play. 

Plawecki’s two out double in the fourth didn’t amount to anything with Gsellman hitting it back to the pitcher. 

Plawecki came up in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs. It would be runners on second and third after Rosario stole second. David Hernandez came on for Rubby De La Rosa, and he got Plawecki to tap it back to him to end the inning. 

Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth. 

Travis d’Arnaud, who came on for Plawecki in a double switch in the top half of the inning, hit a lead-off double. Nimmo then sacrificed him to third. 
Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Conforto then earned walks to load the bases putting the game in Cespedes’ hands. As noted above, he played this game with a different energy than he has been playing with for most of the season. 
Cespedes battled back from 0-2 against Archie Bradley to rip an RBI single past a diving Jake Lamb to tie the game. 

It only tied the game because David Peralta nailed Cabrera at the plate. It’s a tough play to pin blame on anyone. With it being so close, it was a good send by Glenn Sherlock. Likely, Cabrera would’ve been safe if his leg was on the ground instead of in the air. You can’t blame Cabrera because that was just tough luck. 

In any event, after a Flores foul out, this was now a battle of the bullpens. 

Jerry BlevinsPaul Sewald, and AJ Ramos did their jobs combining to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings helping send the game into extra innings. 

The Mets went to Erik Goeddel in a rare second straight day of work to pitch the 10th. In a rare appearance on consecutive days. We saw the reason why he rarely does this. 

Goeddel issued a lead-off walk to Gregor Blanco before allowing a game winning two run homer to A.J. Pollock:

https://twitter.com/citifieldhr/status/899824587944452096

The homer snapped a Meys bullpen 17.2 streak of not allowing an earned run. 

Mets still has a chance in the bottom of the 10th with the heart of the lineup due up against Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney

Conforto got the inning off on the right foot hitting an opposite field lead-off home run to pull the Meys within 3-2. That’s as close as the Mets got as Rodney set down Cespedes, Flores, and Smith to end the game. 

The main thing that really stood out today was the Mets played with a different energy. At this point in the season, it’s all we can reasonably expect. Well that and better situational hitting. 

When that happen, we will see a much better brand of baseball much like we saw tonight. 

GAME NOTES: Steven Matz is done for the year as he will undergo surgery to re-position his ulnar nerve. It is the same surgery Jacob deGrom underwent last year. 

deGrom Frustrated Like We All Are 

Jacob deGrom is all of us. He watched the Mets play behind him all afternoon with no run support and poor defensive, and he just threw his hands up in the air. 

The play that caused it was a seventh inning Dee Gordon grounder to Amed Rosario. Like he did in his first game against the Rockies, Rosario did a glove tap, and that was the difference between safe and out. 

Before that play, Travis d’Arnaud took the easy route getting the out at first instead of attempting to go for a double play on a poor Adam Conley sacrifice bunt attempt. 

This was all prelude to another Giancarlo Stanton home run. If deGrom is Superman, Stanton is 245 pounds of Kryptonite. Stanton’s three run homer here was his fourth off deGrom in his career, and it gave the Marlins a 5-1 lead. 

Not to be outdone, Yoenis Cespedes dropped a flyball later that inning. It brought the boo birds out on a day he showed continued lack of hustle. At least, he hit a homer in the first. 

Marcell Ozuna single after the Cespedes two base error gave the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was a disappointing start for deGrom, but that’s to be expected when he isn’t getting any help in the field or at the plate. 

His final line would be 6.1 innings, 10 hits, five runs, five earned, no walks, and eight strikeouts. 

When deGrom threw his arms up, something he later admitted he shouldn’t have done, he spoke for all Mets fans tired of seeing the same mistakes being repeated game-in and game-out. 

With d’Arnaud and Cespedes, it is more of the same. We see great defensive aspects to d’Arnaud’s game, but he just doesn’t trust his arm. For Cespedes, his lack of hustle borders on the pathological. 

At least with Rosario, the play was part of growing pains. Same goes for Dominic Smith going 0-3 with three strikeouts against the left-handed Conley. It certainly doesn’t help Terry Collins having him out of the lineup against left-handed pitching. 

It should be noted young players don’t just come with growing pains. They come with improvement. 

We saw that with Brandon Nimmo leading off the eighth with a pinch hit double and Michael Conforto following with a one out walk. This led to the Mets making a game of this, which was a nice departure from most Sunday games. 

Nimmo scored on a Cespedes double. Conforto scored on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly, and Cespedes scored on a two out d’Arnaud RBI single. 

That made the score 6-4, which was as close as the Mets would get. 

Rosario struck out to end the eighth inning rally, and Asdrubal Cabrera hit into a game ending double play in the ninth. 

Like most Sunday games, this was a tough watch. It was tough seeing veterans continuing to have the same issues. The hope is that while these veterans never learned how to correct theirs, the young players like Smith and Rosario will. 

If they do, these tough games will all be worth it. If they do, the Mets may very well compete again next year.

Game Notes: Gavin Cecchini got the start at second. With his ninth inning single, he now has a base hit in all five games he’s started. 

Montero Wins – Yes, Seriously, He Did

In his major league career, Rafael Montero had a staggering 2-13 record. You’d be hard-pressed to say that record was the result of his team failing to pick him up. To be fair, he’s usually been so poor, he never really gave his teammates a chance. That wasn’t the case tonight. 

Montero was great for five innings allowing the Marlins to just four hits and two walks. He then ran into some issues in the sixth beginning with the opposing pitcher, Vance Worley, getting a lead-off single. 

The Marlins then got a trade-off they take every day of the week with a Dee Gordon, who hit a fly ball Brandon Nimmo couldn’t get, but he was still able to get Worley at second. 

After a Giancarlo Stanton walk and a Christian Yelich strikeout, Montero was on the cusp of getting out of the inning unscathed. 

He seemed like he did when Marcel Ozuna hit a ball to left. Mets fans thought Yoenis Cespedes could get it. Keith Hernandez gave him a pass. In any event, it was 1-0, and the way Worley was going, it seemed like that was all the Marlins needed. 

That changed when Matt Reynolds pinch hit for Montero and earned a lead-off walk. That walk ignited the Mets offense. 

After the walk, Nimmo singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs. Asdrubal Cabrera then tied the game with a deep fly ball to right. 

Don Mattingly tried to stem the tide by bringing in Drew Steckenrider. It didn’t work. 
Runners were at the corners again after a Cespedes single and a Steckenrider wild pitch. In a tough at-bat, Michael Conforto hit a hard grounder that ate up Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. 

That became a 5-1 lead when Wilmer Flores hit a three run homer. 

If you thought the three run homer by Flores off a right was a surprise, the ensuing two run homer by Kevin Plawecki was a downright shock. 

That Plawecki homer put the cap on a seven run inning where the Mets batted around. It also put Montero in line to win just his third game of his career. With him getting two wins this year, this is his first major league season with more than just one win. 

After that, we got to see why Dominic Smith is so well regarded by the Mets. 

In the eighth, he made a diving stop to rob Yelich of a potential extra base hit . . .

. . . and he followed that with his first homer at Citi Field. 

He absolutely clobbered that ball hitting it beyond what were the original fences. 

Between Hansel Robles and Chasen Bradford, the Mets locked down the 8-1 win. 

By the way, for all of the Mets refusal to have even a decent defense, the team turned five double plays. The defense did its part, and as you see, when you’re this good defensively, even Montero looks very good. 

Game Notes: Rene Rivera was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. With him a Cub, and Curtis Granderson a Dodger, the Mets were able to call up Plawecki and activate Tommy Milone from the DL.  

Montero Wins – Yes, Seriously, He Did

In his major league career, Rafael Montero had a staggering 2-13 record. You’d be hard-pressed to say that record was the result of his team failing to pick him up. To be fair, he’s usually been so poor, he never really gave his teammates a chance. That wasn’t the case tonight. 

Montero was great for five innings allowing the Marlins to just four hits and two walks. He then ran into some issues in the sixth beginning with the opposing pitcher, Vance Worley, getting a lead-off single. 

The Marlins then got a trade-off they take every day of the week with a Dee Gordon, who hit a fly ball Brandon Nimmo couldn’t get, but he was still able to get Worley at second. 

After a Giancarlo Stanton walk and a Christian Yelich strikeout, Montero was on the cusp of getting out of the inning unscathed. 

He seemed like he did when Marcel Ozuna hit a ball to left. Mets fans thought Yoenis Cespedes could get it. Keith Hernandez gave him a pass. In any event, it was 1-0, and the way Worley was going, it seemed like that was all the Marlins needed. 

That changed when Matt Reynolds pinch hit for Montero and earned a lead-off walk. That walk ignited the Mets offense. 

After the walk, Nimmo singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs. Asdrubal Cabrera then tied the game with a deep fly ball to right. 

Don Mattingly tried to stem the tide by bringing in Drew Steckenrider. It didn’t work. 
Runners were at the corners again after a Cespedes single and a Steckenrider wild pitch. In a tough at-bat, Michael Conforto hit a hard grounder that ate up Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. 

That became a 5-1 lead when Wilmer Flores hit a three run homer. 

If you thought the three run homer by Flores off a right was a surprise, the ensuing two run homer by Kevin Plawecki was a downright shock. 

That Plawecki homer put the cap on a seven run inning where the Mets batted around. It also put Montero in line to win just his third game of his career. With him getting two wins this year, this is his first major league season with more than just one win. 

After that, we got to see why Dominic Smith is so well regarded by the Mets. 

In the eighth, he made a diving stop to rob Yelich of a potential extra base hit . . .

. . . and he followed that with his first homer at Citi Field. 

He absolutely clobbered that ball hitting it beyond what were the original fences. 

Between Hansel Robles and Chasen Bradford, the Mets locked down the 7-1 win. 

By the way, for all of the Mets refusal to have even a decent defense, the team turned five double plays. The defense did its part, and as you see, when you’re this good defensively, even Montero looks very good. 

Game Notes: Rene Rivera was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. With him a Cub, and Curtis Granderson a Dodger, the Mets were able to call up Plawecki and activate Tommy Milone from the DL.  

Tough Loss But The Young Guys Did Play 

Don’t read too much into tonight’s game. The game started off on a strange foot when Neil Walker was pulled off the field (and his being removed from the lineup) during batting practice with his reportedly being dealt to the Brewers. 

There was also the matter of Aaron Nola, who has been pitching like a Cy Young contender of late. Including tonight’s start, Nola now has a 10 start streak with him pitching at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs. 

Tonight, that one run came off a Yoenis Cespedes fourth inning homer that briefly gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. There’s the argument it should have been a 2-0 lead. 

In the third, Amed Rosario hit a one out double. He found himself on third when Brandon Nimmo struck out on a wild pitch. The wild pitch allowed Nimmo to reach first instead of the inning ending. 

Rosario and Nimmo then attempted a double steal. Cameron Rupp threw through.  Seeing this Rosario took off. With Nimmo seemingly having the base, Freddy Galvis didn’t hesitate coming off the bag to meet the throw and go home nailing Rosario. 

That play would loom large during a two run fifth inning. 

Up until that point, Steven Matz was cruising. He had four no-hit innings, which ended with the Phillies hitting back-to-back singles to start the fifth. Matz was so close to getting out of this jam. 

First, Rupp popped out, and then Nola laid down a sac bunt. Matz couldn’t get the big out yielding a game tying single to Cesar Hernandez. Galvis then hit a seeing eye single that was just past Jose Reyes giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Ultimately, that was the game-winning hit. 

Nola continued to shut down the Mets. His final line was seven innings, two hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and eight strikeouts.  This made Ricardo Pinto  a welcome sight in the eighth. 

Curtis Granderson and Reyes each walked setting up two on and two out for Cespedes. Pinto would strike out Cespedes on three straight pitches to end the rally. 
From there, the Phillies would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth off Erik Goeddel giving them a 3-1 lead. 

Ultimately, the Mets lost a difficult game. They lost a teammate, and they faced a tough pitcher. With that said, they did the right thing and played some young guys. More than that Matz progressed from where he has been. 

Given how the Mets are constituted, they’re going to lose a lot of games. That’s understandable. The only thing you can reasonably ask is when they lose, it’s a good game, and the young players are getting their feet wet. That happened today, so all-in-all, that’s not too bad a day. 

Game Notes: Michael Conforto started the game in center, and Nimmo played right. Reyes wasn’t initially supposed to be in the lineup, but took over for Walker in the lineup and played second. Asdrubal Cabrera played second. 

Bruce Wasn’t Worth The Qualifying Offer

One of the reasons Mets fans were angry about the return of Ryder Ryan for Jay Bruce was the fact many believed the Mets could have offered Bruce a qualifying offer, and they then could have recouped a second round pick when Bruce signed a big deal elsewhere.  While we all should be able to agree Ryan was not second round value, the point that Bruce would automatically reject a qualifying offer is flawed.

This past offseason teams have shown they no longer value players like Bruce the way they once did.  If the Mets inability to move Bruce this offseason wasn’t any indication, and if the return the Mets got for Bruce wasn’t any indication, then look at what happened to Mark Trumbo last year.

Trumbo took a one year flier with the Orioles, and he had a monster year leading the majors with 47 homers.  In total, Trumbo hit .256/.316/.533 with 27 doubles, a triple, 47 homers, and 108 RBI.  That was good for a 122 OPS+ and a 123 wRC+.

On the strength of this season, the 30 year old Trumbo would reject the qualifying offer only to be met with a tepid free agent market.  Without Trumbo being able to garner the interest he believed would be present, he went back to the Orioles on a three year $37.5 million deal.

It wasn’t just Trumbo either.  Other sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Chris Carter were met with surprisingly soft markets this offseason.

The conclusion that can be best drawn for this is the market just doesn’t value sluggers the way it once did.  With the qualifying offer being worth around $18 million next year, there was a very real chance Bruce was going to accept that qualifying offer meaning the Mets got no draft pick compensation.

It would also mean the Mets outfield would have been a disaster defensively.  We know Bruce is not a center fielder, and we also know Yoenis Cespedes no longer belongs out there.  The argument would be Michael Conforto could.  He has shown he can handle it in spurts, but long term that is a bad proposition.  In 327.2 innings there, Conforto has a -2 DRS and a 0.2 UZR.

Seeing how the Mets played this year, the biggest thing they need to do is to upgrade defensively.  That goes double for key defensive positions like shortstop and center field.  Fortunately, the Mets have Amed Rosario at short.  Who knows if the answer is Juan Lagares or a name outside the organization for center.  The one thing we do know it’s not Bruce.

There’s another consideration as well.  The Mets need to make wholesale changes this offseason, which is going to require a lot of money.  For a team that took a lesser return for Bruce partially due to the savings it brought them, we should worry about Bruce’s $18 million hindering the Mets ability to fully address all of the teams needs just like it happened last year when Neil Walker accepted his qualifying offer.

Overall, the Mets needed to trade Bruce to get some return for him.  The return was lackluster for many, but in reality, it reflects more upon how teams value sluggers like Bruce.  At a minimum, the Mets got something for him, and they have freed up playing time for Dominic Smith and Brandon NimmoAll they have to do now is actually play those players.

Give Us A Reason To Watch

Look, we can all agree the Dodgers are a much better team than the Mets.  There are several reasons why this is the case, and there is another time to re-evaluate how the Mets have gone from beating the Dodgers in the 2015 NLDS to being completely over-matched in a three game series where Clayton Kershaw didn’t even pitch.

Teams have bad series all the time.  Even when the Mets are good, we see clunkers like this from time to time.  However, this series seemed more than that.  This was a team thoroughly out-classed on the field.  It makes you shudder when you consider the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo going.

At this point, it’s time to press the reset button.  We all know the Mets aren’t going to the postseason.  With each passing day, even getting to .500 is a pipe dream.  For what it’s worth, getting to .500 is detrimental.  The Mets need to lose as many games as they can to get the best possible draft pick they can in the 2018 draft.  You want the Mets to be able to go and draft the next Michael Conforto.

No matter what happens, we know the Mets are going to continue to lose a number of games to close out the season.  That’s fine.  We’ve all accepted it.  What we cannot accept is turning on the game and watching a team lose without any purpose whatsoever.

What is the team accomplishing by playing Wilmer Flores and Jay Bruce at first base?  Neither one of them are going to be the first baseman next year.  That job is going to Dominic Smith.  With each game Flores and Bruce play first, and Smith remains in the minors, the Mets have accomplished absolutely nothing.

What does playing Curtis Granderson everyday accomplish?  He’s been a good Met and an even better man.  He’s also accepted a role as the team’s fourth outfielder.  It’s likely he will be gone after the 2017 season.  With each game he plays, you learn nothing about him.  All the while, Brandon Nimmo sits languishing on your bench not even getting at-bats in Triple-A to help him improve as a player.

For that matter, why is Gavin Cecchini in Triple-A?  Do we really need to learn more about Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera?  Isn’t one or two of them likely gone after the season?  If not, aren’t their roles going to be much different in 2018?  Reyes should be firmly on the bench in 2018, and Cabrera has shown he should be at third base.  If that is the case, why isn’t Cecchini playing second base over these two?

Ultimately, you can justify playing any of the aforementioned veterans you want.  Certainly, you want Neil Walker to showcase himself to teams after a lengthy disabled list stint.  However, the aforementioned veterans have already been showcased and teams have passed on them for a variety of reasons.  Playing them everyday serves this Mets team no purposes.  That is unless the Mets are going to have a huge push to celebrate Bruce passing Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the Mets single season home run record like they pushed Reyes winning the Mets first ever batting title.  Note, Reyes’ batting title didn’t exactly draw fans to the park.

Calling up Amed Rosario was a step in the right direction.  Seeing Paul Sewald pitch in some high leverage situations is another step.  Taking a chance on Chris Flexen was inspired.  However, it’s simply not enough.  Sooner or later, Mets fans are going to tune out these games . . . if they haven’t already.

To that end, it’s time to get Smith and Cecchini up here and play them everyday or close to it.  Fans would rather see them work through some growing pains at the major league level than watch Bruce, Cabrera, Granderson, Reyes, and Walker lose in lackluster fashion.

It’s time to turn the page if for no other reason than it’s time to give fans a reason to watch what has become a dreadful team.

Mets Bullpen Picks Up The Win

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Mets play in a real Coors Field game, but the stage was set with Chris Flexen and Tyler Chatwood being the starters for tonight’s game. 

Flexen was getting hit hard all night, but he dodged a number of bullets thanks to some good defense from Amed Rosario and Yoenis Cespedes throwing out a runner at the plate. 

The floodgates would eventually happen in a five run third punctuated by a Carlos Gonzalez two run homer to dead center. 

After that Flexen was done having thrown 64 pitches in the three innings. He might’ve been coming out anyway, but his developing a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand essentially sealed the deal. 

Normally, you’d expect for this game to be over, especially with this Mets bullpen. Then again, this is Coors Field. 

Michael Conforto and Asdrubal Cabrera got things started in the fourth hitting back-to-back singles to set up first and third with no outs. The rally sputtered a bit with Cespedes hitting into a double play allowing Conforto to score. The Mets would pull to within 5-2 on a Jay Bruce solo shot:

In the fifth, Curtis Granderson got things started by ripping a ball past Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds. The play was scored as an error. Granderson would then score on a Rosario ground rule triple. Yes, you read that correctly. 

Rosario hit a call down the third base line. As Rosario was beginning to round second, a fan touched it before Gerardo Parra would  get to it. This was Rosario’s first extra-base hit and RBI. 

Travis d’Arnaud was then robbed of a base hit by Trevor Story. Instead of an RBI single, d’Arnaud had an RBI groundout, and the Mets pulled themselves within one. 

It’s in the sixth then the Mets offense really broke out. 

The sixth started with Cespedes doubling home Cabrera tying the game. . Bruce followed with a walk. After Brandon Nimmo hit into a force play, it was runners at the corners with one out for Granderson. Granderson untied the game:

The rally wouldn’t end there. d’Arnaud, Jose Reyes, and Conforto hit consecutive singles making it 9-5. A Cabrera RBI ground rule double made it 10-5. 

In that inning, the Mets batted around scoring six runs. 

What is truly remarkable about this game wasn’t the rally. It was the Mets bullpen keeping the Rockies at bay:

The Sewald outing was particularly informative for a player who may still yet be an important part of the Mets bullpen next year. 

After a clean seventh, he was called to pitch another inning. He then worked around a Reynolds double. This is the latest example we’ve seen with Sewald where he’s comfortable pitching when there’s pressure. Better yet, he typically works his way out of if. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/ramosaj01.shtml

The good bullpen work carried forward to the ninth with AJ Ramos

This was all part of pitchers making the adjustments they need to make to succeed. Wins and losses don’t matter much when the Met is going nowhere. Rather, you’d like to see them improve at their role.  At least for tonight, we saw them successful in both fashions. 

Game Notes: Josh Edgin cleared waivers and was sent down to Triple-A. This was Bradford’s first career win. 

Five Mets Players Who Need A Bigger Role Now

The Mets have unofficially announced they are focusing their attention to the 2018 season.  Gone are Addison Reed and Lucas Duda, and in their stead are four promising minor league relievers.  The Mets have added AJ Ramos with an eye towards him being the primary set-up man for Jeurys Familia next year.  Amed Rosario has already played his first game with the Mets, and according to Sandy Alderson, Dominic Smith is not far away.

Seeing Ramos in the bullpen is a good start.  Rosario and Smith are even better.  However, that’s not enough.  As the 2017 season comes to an end, the New York Mets are going to have to find out about a number of players and how they factor into the 2018 season:

INF Wilmer Flores

2017 Stats: .287/.320/.486, 14 2B, 3B, 11 HR, 32 RBI, SB, 0.2 WAR

With Neil Walker being an impending free agent, Asdrubal Cabrera possibly having his option declined, and David Wright‘s continuing health issues, the Mets will enter the offseason with question marks at both second and third base.  Ideally, Flores could slot in at one of those two spots.

It was just two years ago, the Mets thought Flores could be the everyday shortstop for a playoff caliber team.  Since then, we have seen uneven performances at the plate and on the field.  The Mets have seemingly come to terms with him being a platoon bat, but lost in that is the fact he is still just 25 years old and an improving player.  That is exhibited by him being much better against right-handed pitching hitting .281/.326/.467 off of them.  If Flores can continue hitting like that against right-handed pitching, he could conceivably play everyday.

The key for him is to find a position.  That’s easier said than done, but he is a significantly better second than a third baseman.  In 667.0 innings at second, he has a career -7 DRS and a 0.3 UZR.  In 911.0 innings at third, he has a -16 DRS and a -4.4 UZR.  With that said, let Flores focus on second and see if he can be a solution there next year.

RHP Rafael Montero

2017 Stats: 1-7, 5.56 ERA, 21 G, 7 GS, 56.2 IP, 1.729 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, -0.4 WAR

Montero has survived this long on the roster, and he has finally shown the Mets some glimpse of the talent that caused the Mets to keep him on the 40 man roster.  Since his latest last chance to prove himself, Montero has a 4.14 ERA, 1.297 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9.  In this stretch, we have seen him pitch into the seventh inning, and we have seen him meltdown.

While there have been promising signs, his usage runs counter-intuitive to his utility to the Mets.  If Montero is going to be with the Mets next year, it is going to have to be in the bullpen as there will be no room for the Mets to even consider him being a part of the rotation next year. This means the Mets should be utilizing the rest of the season to see how he pitches out of the bullpen whether it is using him as a long man or as a late inning reliever.

The Mets need to do this because Montero is out of options.  This means he either makes the Opening Day roster in the bullpen, or the Mets stand to lose a player they have stubbornly held onto for so long.  Before making that decision, they should at least see if the new and improved Montero can hack it in the bullpen.

CF Brandon Nimmo

2017 Stats: 16 G, 25 PA, 21 AB, 7 H, 2B, 2 RBI, .333/.440/.381

While the Mets left side of the infield defensive deficiencies have been oft discussed, not nearly enough attention has been paid to the centerfield situation.  On the season, Mets centerfielders have a 0 DRS, which may not sound so bad on the surface.  However, consider this is 19th in all of baseball.  Also, consider this number has been propped up by Juan Lagares having played 216.0 innings at the position posting a 7 DRS.

The Mets answer lately has been Michael Conforto, who has a 0 DRS, which is remarkable considering he has never really played there full-time at any level.  There is still the possibility he could be adequate there, but shouldn’t the Mets first find out about Nimmo first?

Nimmo has been a center fielder throughout his minor league career.  While there is some debate over his ability to play the position, he does have the experience out there, and he deserves to benefit from the same major league coaching that has helped Conforto play there.

More than that, Nimmo has shown the ability to be a top of the order hitter who can get on base.  At a minimum, he has showed enough to earn the opportunity to serve as part of a center field platoon with Lagares.

Lastly, Nimmo was the first first round pick of the Sandy Alderson Era.  Doesn’t the team owe it to themselves to see what a player they heavily invested in can do at this level before looking to further address the outfield situation in the offseason.  Consider that once the Mets sign another outfielder, whether that is Jay Bruce or Lorenzo Cain, the Mets have effectively made a first round pick a fourth or fifth outfielder without so much as giving him an opportunity to win a job.

RHP Paul Sewald

2017 Stats: 0-3, 8 H, 4.07 ERA, 35 G, 42.0 IP, 1.238 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, o.4 WAR

After being used in a variety of roles this season, Sewald has found himself being used in the seventh inning or later in his last 10 appearances.  In those appearances, Sewald is 0-1 with six holds, a 2.79 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, and an 11.2 K/9.

Even with him walking five batters over that stretch, Sewald has shown he should get a closer look in one of the two primary set-up roles.  With Reed going to the Red Sox, and Ramos presumably becoming the new closer, there is no reason why the Mets wouldn’t use Sewald as their eighth inning reliever to close out the season, or at least until Familia comes off the disabled list.

If Sewald shows he can handle the stress of protecting a late inning lead at the major league level, the Mets are that much closer to building a bullpen that can compete in 2018.

3B Neil Walker

2017 Stats: 63 G, 266 PA, 233 AB, 35 R, 62 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 34 RBI, .266/.347/.455, 0.9 WAR

Since Wright went down with spinal stenosis, third base has been a black hole for the Mets.  With Wright presumably missing the entire 2017 season, it is now clear the Mets cannot rely upon him to return to play third or any position next year.  With no prospects coming through the pipeline, it is likely the Mets will have to address the position in free agency or via trade.

If they are going the free agency route, it may behoove them to re-sign Walker.  The two sides were interested in a long term contract extension this offseason.  Just because the two sides were unable to reach an accord does not prevent Walker from returning.

Considering Walker’s back issues as well as his getting older, he may be best suited to playing third base.  Certainly, the way he has hit as a Met, he does have the bat to play the position.  The only question remaining is if he can play the position.  The Mets have 59 games to find out.

If Walker can do it, the Mets know they have a team player who has been a liked figure in the clubhouse.  They will also have a veteran who can help show Rosario and Smith the ropes.  More than that, they have a middle of the order bat to really extend the lineup.

Mets Must Trade Jay Bruce

Looking at the numbers, Jay Bruce is having one of his better seasons as a professional and a much better season than most expected with his nightmare stint with the Mets last year.  So far, he has played in 91 games hitting .264/.328/.523 with 25 homers and 67 RBI.  If he were to finish the season with the Mets, he may very possibly challenge the Mets single season home run mark of 41 shared by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltran.  He should not get that chance.

Simply put, the Mets have to trade Jay Bruce at the trade deadline.

The 30 year old right fielder is a free agent at the end of the season.  Given the fact the Mets are not going anywhere this season with or without him, there is no reason to hold onto him.  There’s even less reason when you consider the Mets are probably better off without him next year.

Heading into next year, the Mets will have Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto firmly set in the Mets outfield for the next three years.  During their tenure with the Mets, both players have shown they are capable of handling center on a short term basis, but both players have also shown they should not be playing center field on a full time basis.  With respect to Cespedes, it is clear neither side wants him moving back to center.

On Conforto’s part, he seemingly wants to play the position.  On the surface, he appears serviceable at the position with a 225.2 innings at the position, Conforto has a 0 DRS and a 1.2 DRS.  Given his work ethic and his athletic ability, he could improve those numbers.  However, he’s not likely to improve them to the point where he’s a good enough defender at the position.

Ultimately, the Mets need a good center fielder.  Their Mets center fielders, including Conforto, have posted a 0 DRS, which is 18th in the majors.  The Mets are in the bottom half of the league defensively at an important defensive position.  That has been a common theme with this team.  This is a bad defensive team that has been bad at key defensive positions.

This has had a direct result on the struggles on the pitching staff.  As a team, the Mets pitchers have allowed an absurdly high .320 BABIP, which is dead last in the majors.  Yes, the pitching staff has had some issues, and yes, the left side of the infield, which is atrocious with a -29 DRS contribute to this.  Another contributing factor is the lack of a true center fielder who can cover the amount of ground a major league center fielder needs to cover.  Again, the Mets center fielders are 18th in the majors.  The team needs an upgrade.

Part of that is finally finding out what Brandon Nimmo can provide.  At a minimum, the Mets need to see if he can platoon with Juan Lagares next year.  For that to happen, the Mets need to trade Jay Bruce to free up some playing time for Nimmo.

If Nimmo can handle the job, great.  If not, the Mets could decide to go with Lagares, or they can look outside the organization for players like Lorenzo Cain.  The one thing they cannot do is bring back Jay Bruce.

Bruce has been a good player for the Mets, he has been healthy, and he has done all the team has asked him to do.  The reward for that is to send him to a contender.  It’s not to bring him back on an overpriced deal or to risk getting stuck overpaying him on a qualifying offer next year.  Bringing him back is only going to cement the Mets defensive problems, and it is going to lead to another season like this.  No one should want that, Jay Bruce included.

Accordingly, it is time the Mets put defense front and center, and move on from Jay Bruce.