With there being no baseball, or really any professional sports being played right now, MLB The Show 20 continues simulating the 2020 season.
The second game of the season went much like the first. Like with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman and Stephen Strasburg each had a no decision. Robinson Cano also homered, and Jake Marisnick would be caught stealing.
The game would also go into extras. Like on Opening Day when Robert Gsellman pitched a second inning, Justin Wilson would do the same. Wilson would also take the loss after surrendering a run in the top of the 11th.
This time the rally started with a Howie Kendrick lead-off single. After a wild pitch and fielder’s choice, he’d be on third with two outs. Whereas the Mets couldn’t turn a double play to keep the run from scoring on Opening Day, Brandon Nimmo just couldn’t get to a Kurt Suzuki shallow bloop near the line.
Instead of a 3-2 loss, the Mets lost this one 3-2 with Sean Doolittle recording the save again. Doolittle taking care of business against the Mets might be the most unrealistic part of these simulations.
In the end, these simulations highlight just how close these two teams are on paper. From these simulations, we’ve apparently missed out on some exciting baseball games. On the bright side, these losses don’t count for anything.
Just like the rest of us, Major League Baseball is at home. Players, agents, and executives are at home staring at their cell phones and laptops just itching for things to do.
Sure, there are logistics which needs to take place. Baseball executives need to work out when the season can begin. They need to ensure facilities are being properly cleaned. Players need to be tested and quarantined. There is also other matters which may need to be addressed like the draft, World Baseball Classic, and other events.
Mostly, they are going to be sitting there and waiting. After all, the things which would normally preoccupy their time during the season won’t be there. Those day-to-day tasks are really going to be left for another day. That frees up time for baseball executives and agents to start getting idle hands, and they may be itching to do things.
If you are someone like Jerry DiPoto, who is a trade proposal a minute during the offseason, you are giving him a lot of time on his hands to attempt to make more deals. It also gives teams an opportunity to discuss extensions with their players.
To a certain extent, we are starting to see it in other sports. For the NFL, it is natural as their league year began, and they are beginning the process of getting under the salary cap and looking to build their 2020 rosters. In the NHL, the New York Rangers acted to sign defenseman K’Andre Miller.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) March 15, 2020
For the Mets, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents after the 2020 season. While it would be difficult to see extending Porcello right after giving him a one-year deal, the Mets may look to extend Stroman, especially after parting with Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to obtain him.
After the 2020 season, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Michael Conforto will have one more season before becoming free agents after the 2021 season. Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents the season after that. This is a significant group of players who are soon becoming free agents.
Perhaps, it would make sense to begin discussions with those players. Maybe it would make sense to talk to Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil to sign them to a deal buying out some of their arbitration years. After all, the Mets just bought some good will with Alonso with this pre-arbitration raise.
As noted, at this moment, there are some logistics Major League Baseball needs to handle with respect to the disruption and postponement of the 2020 season. Once that fog begins to clear, we’re going to be left with baseball executives with not much to do.
Sooner or later, they may get bored or antsy. As we saw with the famed story of how Joe DiMaggio was almost traded for Ted Williams, you get a bored General Manager knocking back a few scotches, and anything is possible. Very soon, every GM in baseball may find themselves in this position making everything very interesting.
Now that Major League Baseball has finally done the right thing in shutting down Spring Training and postponing the first few weeks of the 2020 season, we can now look at how this will impact individual teams. With respect to the New York Mets, this shutdown is exactly what they needed. That may seem a bit crass, but it is true nonetheless.
At the moment, the Mets were put in a precarious situation as Michael Conforto was dealing with an oblique injury. This injury left the Mets in a position where they needed to go with a couple of first basemen in J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the corners or go with Jake Marisnick in an everyday role despite his inability to be even a near league average hitter when he knew what was coming.
This shutdown doesn’t just give Conforto time to heal, but it also gives Yoenis Cespedes more time to heal and get ready for the season. According to all reports, he had been working quite hard to get back on the field, and he was making considerable progress. However, even with all of his progress, he had not yet been playing in full games.
The further back the season is pushed; the more time Conforto and Cespedes have to get ready to play games. With each day the start of the season is pushed back (that’s an unknown at this point), the greater the chance Conforto and Cespedes will be ready for Opening Day.
Even if they are not ready for the new Opening Day, they will miss fewer games as a result of the delay to the start of the season. That means we are this much closer to an outfield of Cespedes-Brandon Nimmo-Conforto. That type of outfield takes the Mets from postseason contender to World Series contender.
It is not just Cespedes who is rehabbing from an injury which robbed him of his 2019 season. Dellin Betances was only able to pitch 0.2 innings for the Yankees last year due to a shoulder injury and then a partially torn Achillies. It was only recently he began pitching in Spring Training games.
As is typically the case, it takes Betances time during Spring Training to go from the low 90s to the upper 90s. When Betances is able to get to that point, he is a completely different reliever. It may be difficult to remember now, but when Betances can ramp up his fastball to the upper 90s he truly is the best reliever in baseball. The more time he has to get back to that pitcher (which may not be a given) the better for him and the Mets.
Generally speaking, the more time the Mets pitching staff has to work on things, the better. This is the first year with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. There are things he wants to share with players, and there are tweaks in deliveries and pitch sequencing/usage he wants the staff to make. Getting to get some of that out of the way now as opposed to in games helps.
Speaking of more time to prepare for the season, this is Luis Rojas‘s first year at the helm. While he has managed most of these players previously, he has not done it at this level. The more time he has to bond with the team and manage expectations the better he and the team will be set up for success.
Overall, the coronavirus has created a serious situation, and things should not be taken lightly. It may seem crass to say this about a virus which is infecting people at a scary rate leading to the shut down of all pro sports and society as a whole, but this is a bad situation which will help the New York Mets.
Part of Spring Training is getting through healthy and ready for Opening Day. Fortunately, Brandon Nimmo‘s heart is fine, and his neck is not presenting any further issues. We are awaiting news on Michael Conforto. Right there, the Mets have had injury issues already with their two everyday outfielders.
Yes, there are only two.
Going over to Baseball Savant, there are only four players on the Mets really capable of playing the outfield on an everyday basis. Conforto led the Mets with a 6 OAA last year, Nimmo was not too far behind with a 3 OAA. After that Jeff McNeil had a 0 OAA indicating he could handle the position. In terms of McNeil, he is no longer part of the everyday outfield equation as he is slated to be the Mets everyday third baseman.
As good as Conforto was last year in the outfield, Jake Marisnick was even better with an 8 OAA in center last year. So defensively, the Mets have three outfielders. The problem with Marisnick is he can’t hit.
Among center fielders with at least 300 plate appearances, his 86 wRC+ ranked 26th. Keep in mind, that was when Marisnick knew what pitch was coming.
With the way Marisnick hits, or better put can’t hit, the Mets are looking for more offensive options in the outfield, As a result, the Mets plan on playing J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the outfield on an everyday basis with Marisnick as a defensive replacment. Presumably, Davis is going to get the bulk of the playing time. Simply put, that is a very bad idea.
Last year, Davis had a -7 OAA in left field. Some want to argue he was just thrown out there, and he will get better with more playing time. That argument overlooks Davis not having the skill set to succeed in the outfield.
Davis is not a fast runner. In fact, his sprint speed is only 26.3 ft/second. To put it into perspective, that makes him slower than Pete Alonso. Essentially, this means Davis has the speed of a first baseman in the outfield. As we saw with Daniel Murphy in 2009, just because you got away with it for a portion of one year, you should not rely on it going forward because you are going to get burned.
What was said about Davis applies to Smith as well. Even with a vastly superior -3 OAA, he is a step slower than Davis. What this highlights is you should not count on first basemen in the outfield for anything other than a start here or there.
Keep in mind, Davis and Smith having strong arms are non sequiturs. If you can’t get to a ball, it doesn’t matter how strong your arm is. A strong arm will never compensate for playing outs into hits and singles into extra base hits because you can’t get to a playable ball.
So, when you break it down, Conforto and Nimmo are everyday Major League outfielders. Beyond them, McNeil is a third baseman now, Marisnick can’t hit, and neither Davis nor Smith can be relied upon to adequately field the position.
Overall, this puts the Mets in a situation where they need to find another third baseman to move McNeil to the outfield, or they can just go out and sign Yasiel Puig. Keep in mind, that’s what they need to do when everyone is healthy. Things become much more dire if Conforto gets bad news.
The plan was to fill-in here and there with some combination of J.D. Davis, Jake Marisnick, Dominic Smith, and maybe Jeff McNeil. As for McNeil, he’s slated as the everyday third baseman making his filling-in as an outfielder a rob Peter to pay Paul situation.
In sum, the Mets are very shallow in the outfield. The situation worsens when you consider there isn’t any real Triple-A depth. That makes hoping Yoenis Cespedes can return into NEEDING Cespedes to return.
Seeing Troy Tulowitzki‘s inability to return from the same surgery, that’s not an enviable position. That goes double when you consider Tulowitzki didn’t suffer a broken ankle during rehab like Cespedes did.
All told, the Mets cannot sustain an injury to either Conforto or Nimmo because that leaves them with two outfielders who should not be playing everyday in the outfield.
Already this Spring, Nimmo has had a heart scare, and now, Conforto is being evaluated for an oblique injury. Throw in Davis’ shoulder, and the Mets shallow outfield depth is already being tested.
The Mets supposedly have designs in winning the 2020 World Series, and their purported plan is to have depth across the board. That only works if you have depth, which the Mets don’t have in the outfield.
Sooner or later, the Mets are going to need Puig. The longer they wait to sign him the more they run the risk of his not being there when they become truly desperate.
It’s time to stop messing around and pretending like two everyday outfielders are sufficient. It’s time to sign Puig.
With the fears over the outbreak of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball is starting to take preventative measures. Different teams have prevented their players from signing autographs for fans. When it comes to the spread of disease and the health of their players, you understand why teams are doing this.
For Spring Training, this is troublesome. This is a time where fans get more access to the players than at any point during the year. That is all the more the case with expanded netting around ballparks. With the reduced access to players, fans get less time to interact and to get autographs.
Some teams are sensitive to that, and as a result, they are having their players sign some items, and those items are going to be distributed to fans. This is something teams should think about doing year-round.
For young fans, batting practice presents an opportunity to get autographs. Unfortunately, not every player takes batting practice, and some of the better players have team obligations pre-game which stands in the way of their ability to sign and take pictures with fans before games.
As a result, some young fans aren’t going to get autographs or get to see the players they want to see. To a certain extent, that’s life. Kids are just going to have to suck it up and grow from it. However, that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t now be thinking outside the box and using this idea to grow the game.
Take the Mets for an example.
Every Sunday, the New York Mets have Family Sundays. On Family Sundays, there are some fun activities outside the ballpark for young fans. After the game, those young fans have the opportunity to run the bases. Perhaps, the Mets could also give away some player signed items to young fans at games.
Maybe it is a box of pre-signed baseballs given to young fans as they enter the game. It could just be random giving kids a chance to grab a Pete Alonso or Paul Sewald. Perhaps, they could do themed days.
One week could be rotation week with a ball signed by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and Rick Porcello. Another week could be the outfield with autographs from Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and whoever else lands in the outfield. With the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, there could be a ball signed by players from that team including Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be balls either. It could be baseball cards, or it could be other items teams have in stock and are just trying to move. In fact, you usually see that at the end of the year with the team having a wheel for fans to spin to win a “prize” which was really nothing more than a promotion they never could give away.
In the end, Major League Baseball is adapting to the threat of the coronavirus, and they are trying to make the game experience safer for their players and fans. They could take what they learned from this, and they can carry the policy through the season. If done well, they could make the game experience more fun for kids and help grow the game.
During the Mets Spring Training game against the St. Louis Cardinals, ESPN miked up Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. If baseball was hoping to make players more accessible and let their personalities shine to grow the sport, they chose the right team and the right group of players.
That goes double when it comes to Alonso and Smith.
With Alonso, he was exactly what he’s been since day one. He was cheering on his teammates like Marcus Stroman when he recorded a strikeout, and he talked about his hitting philosophy and approach. It should come as little surprise that the player who coined #LFGM would drop not one, but two F-bombs:
Pete Alonso dropping the F bomb on live TV. pic.twitter.com/ojNvMveHwp
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) March 4, 2020
What’s funny is while he was miked, we caught Brandon Nimmo saying the word “crap,” which is pretty funny considering the squeaky clean image he has as a player.
While Alonso being miked up was good enough, and you got fun insights from players like McNeil, the clear star of the broadcast was Smith. Of all the players, he was the one whose personality and sense of humor shined the most. We saw that when he make Astros’ sign stealing related jokes at his expense not once, but twice:
Here's audio of Dominic Smith joking about former 2017 Astros player and now teammate J.D. Davis having plenty of "cheat sheets" pic.twitter.com/kr4yGFQzq5
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) March 4, 2020
With Smith, you really got a sense of how funny and self depreciating a person he is. In addition to cracking jokes at his and his teammates expense, noting they call McNeil “Squirrel” all the more knowing he hates it, he also spoke about the impact the RBI program had upon him personally.
Smith was so engaging ESPN opted to bring him back on before the end of the telecast. Of course, part of that could’ve been attributed to his having ear piece troubles and his completely talking over Davis.
Overall, Smith was the most engaging and likable player to be mikes up. That’s really saying something considering Alonso was one of the other players. On that note, we’re going to be lucky to get more Alonso during the season as there will be a microphone at first base at Citi Field this year.
That said, the ability to get to know these Mets players is worth it, especially Smith. Really, he’s everything MLB wanted from this experiment, and he can only grow in popularity from this, and he should because this experience highlighted what a great guy he is.
Overall, this was a great day for baseball and the New York Mets because we got a sense of the great personalities there are on this Mets team. These are easy guys to root for, and when they win, it’ll be all the better because we’re getting to know and love them for more than their baseball prowess.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you want to listen to it, it’s provided here.
When we discuss player’s health and injuries, fans always want to know, and the media has a duty to report the things they know to the public. Of course, in the case of Matt Harvey, the media and fans can become aware of health information and act juvenile.
Seeing that reaction, and seeing the procedure didn’t prevent him from starting on Opening Day against the Royals, you go back to whether we should know about a player’s health issues, especially those which do not keep a player off the field.
This issue was brought back to the forefront with Brandon Nimmo‘s heart scare. Actually, we don’t know if it was or was not a heart scare. However, that is where some people’s minds went when they saw the reports Nimmo was undergoing a precautionary screening for reasons unknown or unspecified by the manager Luis Rojas.
No one really had an idea what was the reason for the tests, and many Mets fans were worried about the fan favorite. We didn’t know if this was a serious issue leading to a future J.R. Richard situation, or if this was a complete non-issue. It wouldn’t be until his wife said there was really no issue for fans to have any sort of relief.
I’m just gonna say it. Brandon is fine (other than wishing he could just do his thing & play!) The timing was inconvenient & has caused a media storm. He’s healthy and feels great, just have to be sure of these things. Hopefully we can get this all cleared up and move forward!
— Chelsea Jane Nimmo (@chelseajnimmo) February 27, 2020
As we would later find out directly from Nimmo, himself, he has a larger heart and an irregular heartbeat. This led to him joking he has a larger heart because he has “a lot of love to give.” Gallow’s humor aside, we’re all fortunate Nimmo is alright, and he is healthy enough to play baseball in 2020.
Seeing that he is healthy enough to play, and his heart condition doesn’t interfere with his ability to play, you do have to question why the Mets made a player’s personal health issues available for public consumption. Do we really have the right to know about things personal to Nimmo when it has no impact on his play on the field or his ability to even play? Shouldn’t some things be left private.
Digging deeper, they kept the issues with Yoenis Cespedes‘ heels secret for years. Why did the Mets feel we needed to know about Nimmo’s heart issue which may or may not have kept him off the field, but we didn’t need to know about Cespedes’ heels which was impacting his ability to hustle and stay healthy, and more to the point would eventually require him to undergo major surgery?
In the end, all that matters is Nimmo is alright. His health is the number one priority. Looking past that, we really need to reassess whether information like this NEEDS to be made public and why the Mets choose to make information like this public while keeping other information a secret.
If you give a Met a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of 2% milk,
When you give him the milk, he is getting ready to hit like Straw,
When the Met is done eating his cookie,
He’ll want another and another and another.
He will go outside to get an Insomnia Cookie.
When he is outside he will see the Home Run Apple,
Seeing the apple will make him want to crush baseballs.
The pitcher will have to pitch a ball,
The outfielders ready with their gloves.
To the pitcher, he’ll look strong like a Polar Bear with his bat.
The pitcher will throw a pitch,
He’ll hit a HOME RUN!
He’ll do a bat flip and dance like a Squirrel to celebrate.
When he starts to dance, the press will want to take his picture.
When he sees his smiling face, he’ll want to text the picture to all of his friends.
When talking, they’ll talk about how to play the game the Wright way.
They’ll talk about scouting reports, camaraderie, and giving the extra 2% on the field.
Talking about the extra 2% will remind them they’re thirsty.
So, they’ll get a glass of milk.
And chances are . . .
If they gets themselves a glass of milk, they’re going to want a cookie to go with it.
We haven’t completed the first week of Spring Training games, and suddenly, the Mets are moving towards being put in a position where they will need to find their Opening Day left fielder. Arguably, we are not yet at that day, but from the looks of it, that day of reckoning may soon come.
Yoenis Cespedes has been rehabbing from his double heel surgery, and according to indications, he is doing roughly 85% of what the other Mets players are doing. Cespedes has been pushing hard, but no one quite knows if he is going to be able to be ready for Opening Day, and if he is, no one knows if he can play everyday.
To some, Cespedes was seen as a luxury because the Mets had other options in the outfield. Depending on how things shake out, that may no longer be true.
J.D. Davis dove for a ball at third, and he is being at least temporarily shut down. He has a “pre-existing” labrum tear and inflammation. Davis says he will be ready for Opening Day, but we heard the same refrains from Jed Lowrie last year, and when we look at history, the Mets have a terrible history diagnosing and handling injuries.
Brandon Nimmo, who was supposed to be ready to go for Opening Day, is now dealing with a cardiac issues. He is undergoing cardiac screening, and at this point, we don’t know what the exact issue is, and really, we don’t know how this issue (to the extent there is one) will limit him.
Right there, the Mets are potentially down three outfield options. That leaves Jake Marisnick, who was a below average hitter even when he knew what pitch was coming, and Dominic Smith, who suffered a stress fracture playing the outfield last year. Keep in mind, where the Mets stand right now, they are in a position to play Marisnick and Smith everyday with their backup outfielder being Jeff McNeil, who is also their everyday third baseman.
The question is what then happens when or if either Marisnick or Smith go down? There just isn’t the depth in Triple-A to sustain an injury. When you look at it, the Mets are getting increasingly shallow in the outfield, and that is before the season even begins.
With Puig, the Mets are getting a good fielder, who even at his worst, is a league average bat. No, Puig is not the superstar many thought he’d be when he debuted with the Dodgers. Rather, he is a solid, good, durable, and reliable everyday Major League outfielder. Put another way, he is exactly what the Mets don’t have.
Now, it is possible Cespedes will be ready by Opening Day. Davis’ shoulder and Nimmo’s heart may not keep them out of the Opening Day lineup. Marisnick could have a career year, and after a full offseason, Smith could be ready to play everyday in the outfield. Still, that is a lot of question marks, and it is unwise to hinge your season on all of that breaking in the Mets favor.
Seeing that is the case, the Mets should be acting quickly to sign Puig. If nothing else, they’ll put themselves in a position to have too many player for too few spots. That’s a much better problem to have than not having Major League caliber players to play the outfield because the Mets waited too long to act and some other team signed Puig at the precise moment they needed him most.