Carlos Beltran

Steve Cohen Continues To Face More Scrutiny Than Wilpons

In a recent article by Mike Puma of the New York Post, he indicated the New York Mets were going to have difficulty finding a President of Baseball Operations just like they did last offseason. That article cited the errors in the hirings made by Sandy Alderson and Cohen’s Twitter account.

Considering former Miami Marlins executive David P. Samson was the source, you can take all of this with a grain of salt. After all, Samson loved operating his teams and treating the Marlins fans every bit like the Wilpons did with the Mets.

That right there is the problem. There have been years of transgressions by the Wilpons largely unreported and/or criticized in the press. These are the same people who claimed they were duped in a Ponzi scheme. They had a number of hirings and a lawsuit hostile to women in their workplace. They threatened the press about the coverage of their team, and they would go so far as to restrict access in response to a negative story about them or a favored player.

They stripped the team down for financial solvency. They used SNY as an intermediary to do exactly what the McCourts did with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jeff Wilpon interfered with medical decisions which cut short Pedro Martinez‘s career, and he tried to interfere with Carlos Beltran‘s career saving knee surgery. By and through Sandy Alderson, there was the lie about Matt Harvey‘s innings limits, and we saw what happened with Harvey’s once promising career.

Overall, the Wilpons were just flat out bad people. They did horrid things, and they did them purposefully. They cared about no one but themselves and their own power. This largely went unreported and uncriticized except when a reporter would leave the beat.

However, with Cohen, if his eye glasses are askew or he tweets something, it is a capital offense demanding the power of the pen. In the end, those now criticizing him have let us know they’re not reporting what they know, but rather, what ownership tells them they’re allowed to report. If anything, these reports attacking Cohen are a credit to Cohen because he is not standing in the way.

If nothing else, that tells us the Mets are truly in a much better spot. It’s not just the money or the desire to win. While there have been missteps requiring reflection and growth, things have truly changed in how the team is operated. The only hope is these mistakes are cleaned up, and the Mets get back on the path towards winning a World Series.

Mets 2021 Uniforms: Back in Black

After the years of waiting, the New York Mets are finally bringing back the black jerseys on July 30, and they’ll be worn for all the ensuing Friday games.

These are the jerseys Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo wore the last time the Mets captured the pennant at home. They’re the jerseys David Wright and Carlos Beltran wore the last time the Mets clinched a division at home, and they wore them again to open Citi Field.

Now, we’re going to see current Mets greats carry on the tradition. Certainly, we should expect to see Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso accomplish similar feats to those Mets teams.

Friday nights are the perfect time for these jerseys. By limiting it, it prevents the issue fans previously had where the regular jerseys were almost entirely phased out for the black.

Of course, there’s also hope the Mets still embrace the blue alternates. It would be great to see Mr. Met return to the sleeve and have them worn on Family Sundays at Citi Field.

Overall, it’s great to see the Mets bringing back a fan favorite jerseys and treating them like a special event. Hopefully, it is something which stays well past this season.

Francisco Lindor Rat/Raccoon Story Genius

There is not one soul on the planet who believes Francisco Lindor‘s explanation about what happened. Really, no one believes there was a dispute between him and Jeff McNeil over whether they saw a rat or a raccoon in the clubhouse.

We know there was some sort of an altercation. Well, we at least expect there’s one. What really happened is only known by the Mets team.

Yes, it’s the job of the reporters to ask questions and get to the bottom of things. However, their reaction was been way over the top. Instead of bemusement, we saw a charge led by Todd Zeile where they were personally insulted.

Of course, they didn’t with Jeff Wilpon when he stood in the way of Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Jed Lowrie, and countless others with their career threatening and altering injuries. The same goes for creating an environment of harassment with Mickey Callaway, other employees, and his own actions. Who knows what other heinous acts went unreported.

That’s partially besides the point. The media gets to cover what they want to cover. Then again, teams and players in turn get to dictate how to respond to inquiries. There are several options including ignoring the questions, boilerplate answers, and as we saw with Lindor, having some fun with it.

And, the Mets did have fun with it. We saw McNeil have fun saying it was a possum. We also saw tweets from players like Marcus Stroman, Dominic Smith, and Tomas Nido.

Instead of the incident between Lindor and McNeil dividing them and the team, we saw it become a moment which brought the team together. We got a sense of that from Stroman.

It’s also something which has galvanized the fanbase. Mets fans are very protective of their players, and they’re all the moreso when they believe their players are being unfairly maligned.

The raccoon is also a fun angle reminiscent of the rally raccoon. For that matter, Mets fans always enjoy a good animal story whether it’s the black cat or Yoenis Cespedes‘ rally parakeet.

Whatever the case, Lindor took what could’ve been a divisive moment, and he made it absurd. From there, the players and fans rallied together. His ability to do that may very well pay dividends now and in the future.

Francisco Lindor Traditionally Slow Starter

The New York Mets are 11 games into the season, and they are not quite getting the offensive performances they expected from key players. One of those players is Francisco Lindor. So far this year, he is hitting just .189/.340/.216 (62 OPS+).

Now, when it comes to Lindor, he is a new face to the Mets. Since we have not been following his career, we do not know what a typically Lindor season is. Every player is different, and they typically thrive over different parts of the season.

When looking at Lindor’s career, he is more of a second half than a first half player. His batting average, OBP, and SLG are all better in the second half. In fact, he has a career 113 wRC+ in the first half as opposed to a 122 wRC+ in the second half.

Part of the reason for that is Lindor has typically struggled in the months of March/April and June. In March/April, he has a .792 OPS (108 wRC+), and in June, he has a .762 OPS (97 wRC+). In no other month of the season does Lindor have an OPS under .828 or a wRC+ below 113.

Looking deeper into Lindor’s career, his performance in April is really no indicator on how he will perform that season. For example, his best offensive season was 2018. In that season, Lindor had a .740 OPS and a 100 wRC+. Contrast that with the previous season, 2017, Lindor had a 1.018 OPS and 156 wRC+ at the plate in the first month of the season. Putting aside the COVID shortened 2020 season, that 2017 season was his second worst at the plate.

Now, if you are prone to panic, yes, Lindor’s start to the 2021 season has so far resembled his start to the 2020 season. So far this year, he has a .557 OPS and a 69 wRC+. That is actually a step back from his first month of the season last year (July) where he had a .690 OPS and 77 wRC+.

Of course, not every season is equal. Last year, Lindor and all of baseball had to deal with a shutdown and abbreviated Summer Camp. This year, Lindor seemed primed to have a great start of the season, and then the Mets didn’t play in over a week because the Washington Nationals were infected with COVID. After that, the Mets have had a series of rain and even snow postponed games. That makes it difficult for any player to get going.

There is also the fact Lindor is adapting to a new team and a new city. He’s no longer the big fish in a small pond. He’s now a shark in the ocean. Everyone has an eye on him and his every move. We’ve seen superstars like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran struggle with that in the past only to eventually take their game to an even higher level than it had ever been.

Right now, the next step for Lindor is to take a look at his May, and more importantly, his second half. Lindor usually thrives in May, but he also regresses in June. If he follows his typical career norms, we may see some “What is wrong with Lindor” analyses coming heading into the All-Star Break. There is bound to be some hand wringing that the trade and contract were a mistake.

When and if that comes, they should largely be ignored as panic. The true test for Lindor is going to be how he comes out of the All-Star Break. That is the point of the year where Lindor typically recharges and takes off. No matter what happens between now and then, we can expect Lindor to finish the season strong.

In that end, that is what we want. Let Lindor continue playing great defense and acclimate himself to New York. Sooner or later he is going to be completely comfortable, and he’s going to play a stretch of games which allow him to get in a rhythm. Before all is said and done, Lindor is going to be great, and hopefully, he is going to lead the Mets towards having a special season.

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.

Jacob deGrom Again Gets No Run Support

At this point, it’s a sick joke. Really, you have to wonder if someone is doing it on purpose. It just has to be a prank or a gag.

Jacob deGrom allowed one run on five hits. The one run coming on a Jazz Chisholm solo homer in the second. Other than that, the Miami Marlins had zero chance against him.

deGrom’s final line was 8.0 IP, 5 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 14 K. The 14 strikeouts tied a career high for deGrom.

His reward for this effort? A loss.

It’s not even like deGrom didn’t help himself. In fact, he had one of the Mets three hits.

That’s right. The Mets only had three hits. Yes, Trevor Rogers was nasty, but it just seems no matter how the opposing pitcher is, he’ll look like Cy Young when deGrom is on the mound.

After Edwin Diaz allowed two in the ninth, the Mets would go on to lose 3-0.

Michael Conforto would be booed, and we would see J.D. Davis put on the IL before the day was over. We’d also see Jonathan Villar start over Luis Guillorme due to his offense only to go 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

This was a complete disaster which seems to be the case when deGrom takes the mound. Put it this way. On the season, deGrom has allowed just one run over 14.0 innings. He’s allowed eight hits and walked two while striking out 21.

For all that, he’s 0-2.

Game Notes: Jed Lowrie claimed he sought to have knee surgery while with the Mets only to be told if he went through with it the team would file a grievance. This is similar to the Carlos Beltran situation only he called the Mets bluff.

Mets Shouldn’t Be Retiring Any More Player Numbers

Mike Piazza perhaps let the cat out of the bag when he intimated the New York Mets may start retiring more numbers. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock when the organization announced Jerry Koosman‘s 36 was going to be retired.

Looking at the Mets franchise history, this is quite the Steinbrenner type of move.

After the simply bizarre act of retiring Casey Stengel‘s number, the Mets put the highest of standards for retiring player numbers. In fact, prior to the Koosman announcement, it was an honor solely reserved for Hall of Famers.

It’s a standard which frankly makes sense. Number retirement should be an honor presented to the true legends of your franchise. By definition, that’s what the Hall of Famers are.

If we sort through team history, if not for a completely and arbitrary application of an theretofore unenforced rule Gary Carter would be in the Hall of Fame as a Met. That would’ve led to the retirement of his 8.

It’s also quite possible we may one day see Keith Hernandez and Carlos Beltran inducted. With that should come their numbers being retired. At least with respect to Hernandez, that would be an extremely popular decision.

Past that duo, the only player who you can conceive of hitting that level is Jacob deGrom. That’s something that needs consideration.

When a number is retired, the franchise is putting a player at the level of Tom Seaver, Piazza, and quite possibly deGrom. Looking at the team history, they don’t have players at that level. They really don’t.

That includes David Wright who is an extremely popular choice amongst the fans. If not for injuries, he very well might’ve. By the same token, if not for addiction, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry not only would’ve been at that level, but quite possibly, would’ve been a step above Wright.

Fact is Wright is a Mets great, but he’s not a baseball great. Yes, he deserves honoring by the Mets, but a number retirement is just too high of an honor. That should be reserved for the true legends to wear a Mets uniform.

Keep in mind, as discussed on the Simply Amazin Podcast, much of the case for Wright can dwindle over time. For example, if Michael Conforto re-signs, he should take over a good chunk of Wright’s records.

After that, we could see someone else surpass both players. Part of the reason is the records on the books isn’t particularly impressive for a franchise. Keep in mind, that’s not saying Wright’s career numbers aren’t impressive. They are. However, as a franchise leader, it’s not.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The issue just is where you start drawing lines.

For example, for all the push for Wright, John Franco remains the franchise all-time saves leader, has the most saves of any left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and he was a captain. Despite that, there seems little to no push to retire his number even with his being a Met longer just as long as Wright.

Really, when you look at both, yes, they should be honored, but in reality, it should be short of number retirement. In reality, that’s why there’s a Mets Hall of Fame.

The answer should be to make the Mets Hall of Fame into a destination at Citi Field. Really showcase the Mets greats honoring them the way they should be honored. That’s far more fitting than trying to elevate players like Wright to the levels of Seaver.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with not having many numbers retired. In many ways, that makes that honor all the more meaningful. It’s better to keep it that way while also finding an appropriate way to honor the Mets greats who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.

Mets Need To Extend Francisco Lindor PERIOD

When the New York Mets obtain a star, some have some trepidation. There are bad memories associated with the 1992 Mets as well as with future Hall of Famers like Roberto Alomar and All-Stars like Carlos Baerga.

Yes, those names were specifically chosen. They were not just chosen because they were great players before joining the Mets. They were also great Cleveland Indians players traded to the Mets.

What does that have to do with Francisco Lindor? In reality, absolutely nothing.

Alomar was 34 when the Mets obtained him. Baerga was hitting .267/.302/.396 with the Indians when the Mets obtained him.

Lindor is the best shortstop in baseball. In fact, since his debut in 2015, only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts have a higher WAR. That’s it. That’s the list.

No one asked if Trout should get the $426.5 million he received. There wasn’t a question about Betts’ $365 million extension. Yet, somehow, we see fans and articles question whether Lindor should receive an extension at all.

Really, it’s nonsense hand-wringing. It’s assuming everything goes wrong for the Mets. It’s remembering only the bad while conveniently forgetting Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and even Johan Santana.

The Mets traded for those stars and gave them extensions. Hernandez led to the best stretch in Mets history and the team’s second World Series.

Piazza set records for homers as a catcher, led the Mets to consecutive postseasons for the first time in their history, the homer after 9/11, and he became the second player to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Santana had the last great moment in Shea Stadium history, and to date, he’s thrown the only no-hitter in Mets history.

The point is for every Alomar, there’s a Piazza. For every Jason Bay or Bobby Bonilla, there’s a Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson.

There’s also the matter of next year’s free agent class. Lindor should find himself the biggest target, but Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story will also be available.

Do the Mets want to sort through this class and have the Los Angeles Dodgers run up the bidding like they did with Trevor Bauer, or the way the Toronto Blue Jays did with George Springer. That’s nothing to say of the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox who are resetting under the luxury tax to position themselves to attack free agency next year.

That’s whenever free agency does begin. Remember, the CBA expires at the end of the season, which very well may lead to a strike or lockout. In those circumstances, it makes it all the more difficult to navigate your way through the offseason.

Regardless, all of that distracts from the main point. Francisco Lindor is a top three player in the sport and future Hall of Famer who is in his prime. Instead of inventing reasons to try to justify not extending him, we should all just demand the Mets extend him.

Simply Amazin – Don’t Freak Out

I had the privilege of appearing on the Simply Amazin’ podcast with the great Tim Ryder. During the podcast, names discussed include but are not limited to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, Rick Porcello, Francisco Lindor, J.D. Davis, Carlos Beltran, Bobby Valentine, David Wright, Bobby Thompson, Ralph Branca, Alex Cora, Luis Guillorme, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, James McCann, J.T. Realmuto, James Paxton, Trevor Rosenthal, Aaron Loup, Mike Piazza, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Jose Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, James Loney, Moises Alou, John Olerud, Davey Johnson, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Corey Oswalt, Luis Rojas, Jeremy Hefner, Jim Eisenreich, Alex Fernandez, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Darryl Strawberry, Albert Almora, and more

Please take a listen.

Willie Randolph, Not Carlos Beltran For Mets Bench Coach

One of the hopes Mets fans have with Steve Cohen taking the helm is his new regime correcting a lot of the wrongs committed by the Wilpons. There are countless examples of how poorly the Wilpons treated their former players, and that gives Cohen a real chance to seem magnanimous.

One area where he’s already planning to do this is an Old Timer’s Day. Another area Mets fans want to do this is by bringing Carlos Beltran back to the organization.

With Hensley Meulens not returning as bench coach, many fans see this as the opportunity to bring back Beltran as bench coach. Realistically speaking, Beltran is the worst possible choice for this job.

The modern bench coach job is very complicated. As a result, of all the jobs on the coaching staff, manager included, bench coach is the single job where you absolutely cannot have a novice like Beltran in charge.

As Brad Mills explained to the Sporting News, “You work with everyone from the groundskeepers to the traveling secretary, and you might even make sure the field is ready for early work.” Put another way, the bench coach has to make sure all the planning and preparation for the game is completed.

The bench coach is handling scouting and game prep. He’s running quality control before and during the game. He’s discussing strategy with the manager. He’s fostering relationships with players. He has his hands in everything. As was the case with Derek Shelton and Rocco Baldelli, that included media responsibilities.

With Beltran never having worked on an MLB coaching staff at any level, and with his front office experience having been just one year, he is ill-suited for the job. Very ill suited.

While you can understand Mets fans wanting to repair the relationship with Beltran, this isn’t the time or the job. However, just because the Mets shouldn’t use this opportunity to right a wrong with Beltran, it doesn’t mean they can’t hire a bench coach who can simultaneously right a wrong.

The Mets could very well look to hire Willie Randolph for their vacant bench coach position.

Randolph has the fifth most wins by a Mets manager, and he has the second best winning percentage. In his time as manager, he did a lot of good things including helping David Wright and Jose Reyes reach their full potential.

In addition to his successes as a Mets manager, he was on Joe Torre‘s coaching staff for the last Yankees dynasty. That includes his being a bench coach. Randolph has also been a bench coach in Milwaukee and Baltimore.

All told, Randolph knows the role extraordinarily well. He also knows the challenges Luis Rojas faces as the Mets manager. He knows how to develop players and handle a coaching staff. He knows how to win in New York, and he knows the intense scrutiny a manager faces.

If the 66 year old Randolph is interested in the position, the Mets should interview him for the role. If Rojas has a comfort level with him, Randolph should absolutely be hired for the job.

With that, the Mets will hire an exceptionally qualified person for the job thereby making the Mets a better team. It will also have the benefit of righting the wrong of how he was fired in 2008.

Ultimately, if the Mets want to right some wrongs, they should hire Randolph. If they want the best man for the job, they should hire Randolph. He’s just the perfect fit for this job right now.