Brandon Nimmo

Mets Defense Sets Baseball Back A Century Or Two

David Peterson had no-hit the Chicago Cubs for the first 3.1 innings. That was despite a moving and ever changing strike zone.

The Mets had a 2-0 lead, and things looked great. After all, Francisco Lindor hit his first homer with the Mets:

Not only would the Mets lose this one, but they would lose bad. Adding salt in the wound was how embarrassing a loss it was. The fourth inning defense was just about the worst you’ve ever seen:

It was 2-1 Mets after the Cubs hit three consecutive singles. With runners on first and second, Javier Baez hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, J.D. Davis, the worst defender in baseball, booted it.

That error not only allowed the inning to continue, but it opened the floodgates. It also precipitated just a series of gaffes.

Michael Conforto threw one away. Lindor booted one and then threw it away. After all was said and done, the Cubs scored seven runs. Gary Cohen called it a circus, and he was being kind.

In the fifth, Lindor had a bloop, and Pete Alonso had a blast. That’s putting it mildly. Alonso killed that ball:

At that time, they had hope. It was just 7-4. The problem was the Mets weren’t done playing just awful baseball.

Lindor and Jeff McNeil got crossed up on who should play a ball. That turned into a Willson Contreras double. James McCann had a catcher’s interference.

One potential inning ending double play ball deflected off Robert Gsellman‘s leg and into center. Another was hit to Davis who took his time and STILL nearly threw it into the outfield.

That was just the three run fifth.

In the sixth. Trevor Hildenberger walked the bases loaded before allowing a grand slam to Javier Baez. At that point, it was 14-4, and frankly, it seemed like the Mets were lucky to be that close.

It got to that point Guillorme pitched. That’s right, their second best defender pitched while Jonathan Villar took over at short with Davis at third.

Guillorme allowed two runs making it 16-4. The sad part is this ruined Guillorme’s 0.00 ERA entering the game.

Perhaps, the most impressive part of the game was Guillorme. With the Mets down 12 and two outs in the ninth, Guillorme battled, and eventually, he pulled off the single. The Mets wouldn’t score that inning.

The Mets lost, but at least they played Davis at third. That, and not winning games or supporting their young sinkerball pitcher, is what’s really important.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo sat out with a sore hip. Luis Guillorme is hitting .417/.563/.417, but he can’t start over Davis.

Umpires And J.D. Davis Cost Mets Chance To Win

Taijuan Walker took the mound looking to build off of his strong start to the season. Instead, he was plagued by bad umpiring and defense.

It got so bad Walker was ejected in the fourth. At that point, he had had enough of getting squeezed. The same could be said of Luis Rojas who was also ejected.

After 3.2 innings Walker had allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and SIX walks. He struck out seven, but again, six walks.

Things should have gone better for Walker even in an abbreviated start. In the third, Walker got the ground ball he needed to get out of the inning. The bad news is Willson Contreras hit it at J.D. Davis.

What should’ve been a routine play was an error the Mets could’ve have. With that, it was 1-0 Cubs.

As bad as that was, there was the all around disaster in the fifth. Kris Bryant hit a ground ball towards Davis, who threw the ball away again.

If you’ll notice, Bryant never touched first, and yet, he will still called safe. That right there speaks to the state of umpiring and just how bad Davis was in this game.

It’s notable Davis has the yips, and he can’t get a throw off without double clutching and taking a few steps. For some reason, that was the over exaggerated narrative about Jeff McNeil, but for Davis, it’s ignored.

The good news is the Mets bullpen held up. After Walker was ejected, Robert Gsellman (0.2), Jacob Barnes (2.0), Jeurys Familia (1.0), and Trevor May (1.0) combined to keep the Cubs scoreless. That kept the score at 3-1, and, theoretically, gave the Mets a chance to win.

They didn’t.

Once again, the offense was flat out bad. As a team, they were 1-for-6 with RISP leaving 10 men on base. For five innings, they made Jake Arrieta look like the Arrieta of old.

Things were at their worst in the ninth. Craig Kimbrel was looking for the save, and he was wild. He was begging the Mets to take walk after walk after walk.

Two of the first three batters did walk. The second one, Davis struck out on a ball he had zero excuse swinging at:

After a Luis Guillorme pinch hit single to load the bases, the Mets seemed to be in great shape to tie or take the lead.

It was at that point Kimbrel regained his control. He struck out Brandon Nimmo, and then Francisco Lindor jumped on the first pitch he saw.

When Lindor grounded out, the game was over. This was easily the most frustrating loss of the season. On the bright side, it’s just one game, and they’re still in first place.

Game Notes: This was the guest time Nimmo did not reach safely this season.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets On Rocky Mountain High

The New York Mets flew into Colorado, and they were greeted with snow. That meant another postponement and another doubleheader to the schedule. It just seems like this is the way 2021 is going to go:

1. Marcus Stroman has been nothing short of phenomenal. He’s fielding his position better than anyone, and he’s 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA. He’s been better than expected, which is saying something.

2. As great as Stroman has been, Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on the planet. His striking out 14 and nine in a row once again put him on the precipice of Tom Seaver‘s level. That’s a testament to how great he is.

3. One remarkable thing is through the first seven years of their careers, deGrom has a better ERA+ than Seaver, and seeing the way he has started this year, it will continue through their first eight seasons. Of course, Seaver threw a lot more innings.

4. It was nice to see deGrom get picked up by his offense for once. It was also great to see Francisco Lindor deliver his first game winning RBI as a member of the Mets. Certainly, it will be the first of many.

5. Lindor’s enthusiasm out there is only matched by Stroman’s. When you have these two players out there, it makes the Mets not just more likeable but more exciting to watch.

6. While Lindor and James McCann have not hit yet the way we expect them to hit, their defense has been terrific. Case in point was McCann gunning down Trevor Story to end the game with an exceptional tag from Lindor.

7. The defense still hasn’t been there from Michael Conforto who has had a misplay and a poor throw on Saturday. On the bright side, he has started hitting again.

8. Pete Alonso has started picking it up. He has been hitting it hard all year, and at least in Coors Field, his rockets were finding holes.

9. The best way to describe how great Brandon Nimmo has been to start the season is a 1-for-4 day is an off-day. After all, it was the first time all season he only reached base fewer than two times.

10. It looks like it just might be one of those hard luck years for Jeff McNeil as not matter how much he hits it hard, it is just going to find someone.

11. While we can expect the bat to turn around, we don’t know when his glove will. He made an error which almost cost the Mets the win. While it is still early, he is at a -1 OAA. He’s generally better than that, so it is still too early to be concerned.

12. That said, the Mets best defensive alignment is still with McNeil at third and Luis Guillorme at second. That is something to keep in mind when the Mets continue to run out ground ball pitcher after ground ball pitcher.

13. Speaking of Guillorme, despite his playing very well to start the season, it appears with J.D. Davis activated off the IL, he’ll never play again. That is all the more baffling considering the Mets have all of these ground ball pitchers, and Guillorme is a flat out better player.

14. There was far too much of an overreaction to Luis Rojas going to Robert Gsellman and Jacob Barnes in the second game of the doubleheader. The Mets simply cannot keep going to Trevor May and Miguel Castro every day. They are going to burn out, and then you’re stuck with Barnes trying to hold leads.

15. The bigger issue was Barnes making the roster in the first place. The Mets had better options, and they eschewed them to carry him on the roster. Case-in-point, it appears Joey Lucchesi is probably better suited to the bullpen, which would have allowed them to carry Jordan Yamamoto.

16. Speaking of Mets pitching decisions, Steven Matz has been phenomenal to start the season. Trading him was a completely unforced error. Hopefully, it will not cost them at some point this season. And yes, he would have been successful with the Mets this year.

17. Seeing all that has transpired, it is hard to believe Sandy Alderson still has a job with the Mets. Perhaps, Steve Cohen is allowing the organizational review to complete before taking action. Until that time, Cohen at least deserves the benefit of the doubt.

18. On that topic, we are three weeks into the season, and Mickey Callaway is still employed by the Los Angeles Angels.

19. So far, Edwin Diaz has been really good. If so, that is great news for the Mets and their chances of winning the division.

20. Jonathan Villar hitting a pinch hit RBI double driving home pinch runner Albert Almora speaks to the depth the Mets have built. If they continue getting contributions from their entire roster like the way they are right now, this is going to be a truly special season.

Marcus Stroman Great On Mound And With Glove In Win

If you want to be the great team the New York Mets want to be, you have to win rubber games against the Colorado Rockies. Marcus Stroman made sure they wouldn’t lose.

Stroman was brilliant on that mound. That includes not just his pitching. It was his Gold Glove defense as well. Because of that the Rockies couldn’t get anything going.

In the first, Stroman got Ryan McMahon to hit into a double play. In the third, the opposing pitcher, Antonio Senzatela, tried to get down a sacrifice bunt, but Stroman pounced off the mound.

Stroman got the lead runner, and Francisco Lindor got a superstar call. While it seemed he didn’t quite catch it, the umpire ruled it was dropped on the transfer.

Stroman would just completely shut down the Rockies offense. After that third inning walk which came before that bunt play, no Rockie would reach base again until the seventh.

Stroman needed to be that good too because the Mets offense was again not clicking. In fact, things were so bad, Brandon Nimmo didn’t reach base until the eighth inning. Fortunately, the Mets did just enough to score the runs they needed.

In the second, after a Pete Alonso leadoff single, Michael Conforto had just his second extra base hit of the season with a double. Jeff McNeil hit an RBI groundout scoring Alonso giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the Mets offense did nothing from there stranding Conforto at third. He wouldn’t be stranded there in the fourth.

Conforto hit a two out single, and he went first to third when a McNeil grounder went through CJ Cron‘s legs. J.D. Davis hit an RBI single increasingly the Mets lead to 2-0.

After that, the Mets wouldn’t score another run. In fact, the Mets wouldn’t get another runner into scoring position until the eighth.

In the eighth, Nimmo finally reached with a lead-off single. He’d steal second with no outs, and he’d move to third when Mychal Givens threw a wild pitch. He’d be stranded there.

In the ninth, McNeil got too aggressive. He hit a ball in the right field corner. However, Charlie Blackmon made a strong relay to McMahon, who nailed McNeil trying to stretch a double into a triple.

That put all the pressure on the Mets pitching. Stroman and Edwin Diaz were up to the task.

In the seventh, the Rockies finally got to Stroman when Trevor Story hit a one out double against Stroman. He’d come home to score on a Blackmon RBI single. Stroman responded to this adversity by striking out Cron and Garret Hampson to end the inning.

As great as that all was, Stroman saved his best for last. In the eighth, Josh Fuentes hit one up the middle. Stroman moved bsckwards, caught it behind his back, and got the ball to first in time.

As an aside, that was a very good stretch by Alonso to ensure Fuentes was out.

Stroman would last eight innings, which is the deepest any Mets pitcher would go in a game this year. He’d allowed just one win on three hits and one walk. He’d strike out five.

Stroman earned his third win of the season. That’s because of his dominance and Diaz conveying the save . . . or was it James McCann?

After Diaz retired the first two Rockies, Story would single. He would then try to steal second to put himself in scoring position for Blackmon. He wouldn’t get there:

The Rockies asked for replay, but Story was out. With that, the Mets earned the win in the rubber game and moved back to three games over .500. They now head to Chicago where they try to avoid weather delays again.

Game Notes: This was the first game all year Nimmo did not reach base twice. This was just their second nine inning game over a six game span.

Mets No Fuego In Second Half Of Doubleheader

After a big comeback to get Jacob deGrom a victory in the first half of the doubleheader, the Mets couldn’t replicate the feat to get Joey Lucchesi off the hook. With that, their four game winning streak snapped.

The Rockies jumped all over Lucchesi in the first. The first out he recorded was a long sacrifice fly by Trevor Story. Two batters later, CJ Cron hit a two RBI double giving the Rockies an early 3-0 lead.

On the other side, German Marquez was dealing for the Rockies. The only time he would get in trouble was the fourth when Jeff McNeil hit a two RBI double to pull the Mets to within 3-2.

With McNeil as the tying run at second, Jonathan Villar grounded out to end the inning. The Mets would get no closer, and this game would turn into a rout.

After Lucchesi went three, Robert Gsellman made his 2021 debut. He pitched effectively pitching a scoreless fourth. That should’ve helped keep the Mets in the game.

Jacob Barnes relieved Gsellman, and he imploded in the fifth. Like Lucchesi, the Rockies jumped all over him.

With runners at the corners, the Mets couldn’t turn a double play on a weakly hit Charlie Blackmon grounder. That allowed a run to score, and it extended the inning.

After Cron walked, Josh Fuentes hit a three run homer to expand the Rockies lead to 7-2. That put the game out of reach and allowed Luis Rojas to continue using his not often used relievers.

In addition to Gsellman and Barnes, Trevor Hildenberger would appear in this game. In his Mets and season debut, he pitched a scoreless inning. However, it was too little too late.

Marquez pitched a seven inning complete game. There are a few reasons we can pinpoint, but the Mets didn’t have it in the second game. That means a runner game tomorrow.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo extended his on-base streak to 23 games (dating back to last year)

Jacob deGrom And Edwin Diaz Combine For 17 Strikeouts In Win

To start the game, Jacob deGrom didn’t have his best stuff. In fact, he was “only” hitting 96 on the gun. Naturally, he was phenomenal.

Starting with a strikeout of Josh Fuentes in the second, deGrom would strike out nine consecutive. That was one short of Tom Seavers Major League record of 10 in a row.

That’s when the defense completely failed deGrom. Fuentes led off the fifth with a grounder up the middle. Jeff McNeil would Field it cleanly but throw it away allowing Fuentes to reach safely.

Then, Dom Nunez would hit a ball off the wall. Michael Conforto played it terribly off the wall. With him chasing the ball down, Fuentes scored easily, and Nunez had a triple.

Yonathan Daza followed with a shallow liner to right. In what was very likely driven by deGrom pitching, Nunez went home. He scored easily as Conforto made a poor off line throw which gave James McCann no chance to field it and make the tag.

Ramiel Tapia followed with a flick of the wrist Coors Field homer. Just like that, a 1-0 lead turned into a 3-1 deficit courtesy of three unearned runs.

As is normally the case, deGrom received next to no run support. That was even with Chi Chi Gonzalez starting for the Rockies.

deGrom led off the third with a single. In what was a completely inane decision, Brandon Nimmo, the Mets best hitter was called upon to sacrifice deGrom to second, which he did.

After a Francisco Lindor ground out and Dominic Smith walk, Pete Alonso delivered with an RBI single. At the moment, it seemed like it was all the run support deGrom would need.

It also appeared that was all deGrom was going to get. Part of the reason was all of the double plays.

In the second, it was J.D. Davis killing a potential rally with a double play. In the fourth, Trevor Story made a great play off a McCann grounder to turn another double play.

In the sixth, Alonso got one of the runs back hitting his second homer of the season:

deGrom’s final inning was the sixth, and he was great again. He would strike out two more. This would mark the second straight start where he struck out 14.

Overall, deGrom allowed three runs (zero earned) on three hits with one walk. Believe it or not, he’d actually pick up the win.

McCann led off the seventh with a single off Rockies closer Daniel Bard. Luis Rojas would send in Albert Almora in to pinch run. He’d soon look like a genius.

Jonathan Villar pinch hit for deGrom and hit a double to right. Almora dashed from first, and he JUST got his hand in to score the game tying run.

After a Nimmo infield single put runners on the corners, Lindor delivered his biggest hit in his nascent Mets career. His RBI single gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.

With the 4-3 lead, Edwin Diaz came on for his first save chance of the season. He struck out the side to earn his first save. That means he and deGrom managed to strike out 17 Rockies over a seven inning game.

With the late rally, deGrom earned his first win of the season. Overall, he’s 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA. Not a bad way to start the doubleheader.

Game Notes: With Davis activated off the IL, Jose Peraza was optioned. With this being a doubleheader, Stephen Tarpley was called up as the 27th man.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Leave Phillies All Wet

With two rainouts, the series between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies turned from a four game set to a Mets three game sweep. There was a lot to unpack here:

1. Due to rain outs and COVID, the Mets have only played in eight out of a possible 13 games.

2. That’s going to mean a lot of seven inning double headers this year, which in turn means, the Mets are likely to set a record for fewest innings played over a 162 game season.

3. The seven inning doubleheaders are terrible. The runner on second in extras is worse. Having a runner on second in the eighth inning is an abomination.

4. For all the nonsense thrown Marcus Stroman‘s way, he took the ball on one day of rest, and he was dominant. The Mets are very lucky to have him.

5. The top of the lineup is now clicking big time with Francisco Lindor heating up and Dominic Smith batting third.

6. Lindor’s defense is difference making. The fact he is also a good hitter is what makes him so special.

7. Brandon Nimmo has been PHENOMENAL. He’s hitting an absurd .464/.583/.571, and he’s reached base at least two times in every game the Mets have played.

8. Michael Conforto has been hit by pitches more than he’s gotten hits. The last one was intentional, and Jose Alvarado should’ve been suspended for it.

9. Conforto’s struggles are giving cover for Pete Alonso who has really struggled this year. He’s not hitting balls out the way he did the last two years.

10. That said, he’s had a couple of big RBI, including driving home Lindor in extra innings.

11. For all the flack Luis Rojas gets, he was aware of the pitcher spot extra inning loophole to get Lindor on base. He’s also gotten his outfield defense playing better than expected.

12. Perhaps the most important thing to happen this young season is Aaron Loup getting five outs. That included that huge double play to escape a jam.

13. With Loup there and Jeurys Familia showing signs of returning to his 2015 form, the Mets may not have to rely on Miguel Castro and Trevor May every night like they had been.

14. It’s interesting Robert Gsellman hasn’t gotten into a game yet. Hopefully, he’s not too rusty before the Mets head to Colorado where bullpens are usually taxed.

15. David Peterson‘s start was so impressive. That goes double when the Phillies have owned him in his young career.

16. James McCann had his first big hit with his first Mets homer, but his real impact has been his work behind the plate where he’s done a masterful job handling this pitching staff.

17. Mets pitchers have a 2.81 ERA, which is third best in baseball. That’s BEFORE Carlos Carrasco, Seth Lugo, and Noah Syndergaard have thrown a pitch.

18. You get the sense you’re in for a special season when Jonathan Villar gets the game winning hit in the first end of the doubleheader, and then he does it again in the second half.

19. Even with Villar doing that, and J.D. Davis coming off the IL, Luis Guillorme continues to prove every game he gets an opportunity, he’s the Mets best option at third.

20. With the Mets being the only NL East team over .500 and their going to play a bad Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs teams, they’re going to get an opportunity to put an early stranglehold on the division.

Michael Conforto Becoming Problem For Mets

There has been an overreaction to Michael Conforto struggling at the plate to start the season. He has slumped like most of the lineup, and he’s been dropped three spots in the lineup.

Based on his career, he’s going to eventually be fine. We know Conforto will hit and put up good numbers. What we don’t know is how he will be defensively.

Yes, it is absolutely too soon to judge this year’s defensive numbers. That said they merit a look. According to Baseball Savant, Conforto has a -1 OAA and a -1.6 JUMP

This follows Conforto’s 2020 season where he saw similarly poor defensive numbers. Last year, Conforto was a -5 OAA with a 0.1 JUMP.

Now, neither of these sample sizes are really sufficient to absolutely derive the conclusion Conforto is now a bad defender after being a very good one through the 2019 season. In fact, the two seasons combined are still way too small of a sample size to be even remotely statistically significant.

That said, we still need to pay attention because Conforto’s slipping defense has coincided with his having lost a step. That’s a very real problem.

In 2019, Conforto had a 7 OAA in RF, and he had a 27.5 ft/sec sprint speed. Notable with that sprint speed was it was the slowest up to that point of his career.

What was interesting was before 2019, Conforto had seen gradual improvements in his sprint speed. Since 2019, Conforto has completely lost a step.

In the shortened season last year, Nimmo’s sprint speed was just 26.8. So far this year, it’s 26.4. That’s a very real issue.

Now, it should be noted there are some explanations for the loss in sprint speed. There was the COVID interrupted season last year making it extraordinarily difficult to work out and train. On the eve of Spring Training this year, Conforto actually contracted COVID.

Maybe he can regain that extra step at some point. However, it’s not there now, and that’s a huge problem.

Remember, the Mets outfield alignment partially hinges on Conforto being a good defensive right fielder. Brandon Nimmo is out of position in CF (even if he’s been quite good there so far this year), and Dominic Smith is not an outfielder at all.

Conforto continuing on what may be a defensive decline can be a very real problem. Suddenly, what could’ve been a passable outfield, especially with a mostly ground ball staff, becomes a very real question mark which could cost them games.

That is going to put more onus on Luis Rojas and the Mets front office. Right now, they’re only using a defensive replacement for Smith late in games. At some point, they may need to have the very uncomfortable conversation with Conforto about his needing to come out of games as well.

On the bright side, the Mets are well suited for that with Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora. However, if the Mets do need to walk down that path, their chances of extending Conforto may then be kaput.

Before the Mets even contemplate this, they need to see if Conforto can begin getting his speed back, and they need to see if they can better position him to offset his loss in speed. They also need to assess if it will ever come back.

The future of the Mets actually hinges on this decision. They’re making an important decision on someone who can be their next captain. They’re making a decision on someone who may be starting his decline.

It’s too early to know for sure, but we have warning signs. That makes Conforto a very big problem for the Mets.

David Peterson Out-Duels Zack Wheeler

This should have been a pitching mismatch with Zack Wheeler dueling against David Peterson. The disparity was widened due to Peterson’s struggles against the Phillies in his young career.

Instead, Peterson threw the best game of his young career.

Over six innings, Peterson would limit the Phillies to one run on two hits and no walks. He’d strike out an astonishing 10 batters. The only blemish was a Jean Segura homer in the fifth.

Peterson needed to be this good because Wheeler was fantastic as well. The key with good pitchers like him is to jump on them early before they get in a groove.

Brandon Nimmo, who seemingly can’t make an out anymore, led off the game with a single. Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith followed with a pair of singles to put the Mets up 1-0 without recording an out.

The Mets chances of blowing it wide open early was stymied when Pete Alonso hit into a double play. The bright side was a run scored to make it 2-0.

It was 2-1 heading into the seventh when Luis Rojas tabbed Jeurys Familia. With Miguel Castro and Trevor May realistically unavailable, this was a good spot to see if Familia could grab big innings again.

Familia would walk J.T. Realmuto to start the inning, and Realmuto would go to second on a fielder’s choice. Segura followed with an infield single putting runners at the corners. On the play, Linder tried to pick Realmuto off third to no avail.

When Didi Gregorius was announced as a pinch hitter, Rojas went to Aaron Loup. Loup did his job getting the ground ball to induce the inning ending 6-6-3 double play.

Loup had his best game with the Mets. After getting the inning ending double play in the seventh, he retired the Phillies 1-2-3 in the eighth striking out two.

While the Mets bullpen was at work, Joe Girardi got a little greedy with Wheeler pushing him to start the seventh. After retiring Nimmo, Lindor and Smith got back-to-back hits setting up runners at the corners.

After 108 pitches, Girardi finally lifted Wheeler for Sam Coonrod. Coonrod got Alonso out, but Lindor would score on the sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.

The top of the Mets lineup was fantastic tonight. The top three batters combined to go 8-for-14 with three runs, a walk, and an RBI.

The Mets added some more insurance runs in the eighth. Michael Conforto led off the inning by getting hit on the elbow . . . again. Astoundingly, Conforto’s elbow has been hit by four pitches, and he’s gotten three hits with his bat. James McCann made JoJo Romero pay by hitting his first homer as a Met:

Edwin Diaz came on in a non-save situation in the ninth, and he closed the door on the Mets 5-1 victory. Mets are now the only team in the NL East two games over .500, and they don’t seem like they’re looking back.

Game Notes: Nimmo leads the majors with a .583 OBP. There is rain in the forecast putting tomorrow’s game in jeopardy.

Luis Rojas Doing Good Job For Mets

Certainly, the New York Mets have made some truly odd decisions this season. That began their first game of the season where Kevin Pillar batted lead-off, Brandon Nimmo was eighth, and Dominic Smith was left out of the lineup all together. The curious lineup decisions continued with Jeff McNeil batting seventh for a stretch and completely overreacting to Michael Conforto slumping.

While Luis Rojas has received his share of the blame for those decisions, it is important to note he is not the one making out the lineup card. We are well past the days of Casey Stengel playing hunches. No, the lineup now is much more of a collaborative process, and unless you are someone like Terry Francona, your standing and stature to make those decisions alone differs.

To be fair, it’s not just the lineup. There have been other decisions. There was using Aaron Loup when the three batter rule meant he had to face J.T. Realmuto. He has used Trevor May and Miguel Castro quite often so far this season. The latest was letting Marcus Stroman bat in the sixth only to let Jeurys Familia pitch in the seventh.

That last decision was one of several which has caused fans to question his abilities. There has been a growing narrative where Rojas was not ready for this job and is in over his head. Certainly, one of the contributing factors was his being thrust into the job after Carlos Beltran‘s firing. However, when it came to that decision, there was much more happening than most were aware:

When assessing managers, we far too often overlook the fact there is much we don’t know. For example, we don’t understand players have personal conversations with players, and they have to make assessments and decisions based upon those conversations. We really don’t know why some players are unavailable.

There’s also the fact we tend to only judge one or two decisions per game and blow it out of proportion when it comes to assessing the total job. First and foremost, it would seem from Stroman’s tweet, Rojas has the back of everyone in that clubhouse. To a certain extent, that is no surprise with Rojas managing most of these players in the minors, and those players respecting him.

Players certainly respect him when he goes out there arguing with the umpire after Jose Alvarado threw not once but twice at Conforto. More people respect him when he takes ownership of the team’s issues and doesn’t pass the blame to the players. He also accepts the responsibility for the decisions clearly made by the front office.

Another overlooked factor is how much certain players have improved. It’s still early, but we have seen Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo play significantly improved defense. We have also seen him make Dominic Smith passable in left field. Make no mistake, this is significant because the Mets need for each one of these things to happen if the team wants to truly compete this season.

And remember, when assessing Rojas, the Mets have had a simply bizarre start to the season. They didn’t play the first series due to the Nationals getting infected with COVID. They had a suspended game after three batters and a rain out. At one point, they had played five games and had five games postponed. Despite that, he has his team ready to play, and they seem primed to take off.

Overall, Rojas isn’t perfect, but no manager is. He is still growing into the job, and he is learning. Overall, he has a real skill-set to thrive in this job, and he is doing many thing which are helping the Mets win games. This is not a manager in over his head. Rather, this is a manager who knows exactly what he’s doing, and the Mets are better off for having him in the dugout.