With today being Thanksgiving, it is time to go around the Mets roster and say things we are thankful for:
Pete Alonso – he’s been better than even the highest and most absurd expectations anyone could have of him both in terms of his on the field play as well as the type of teammate and person he is
Carlos Beltran – for coming home
Robinson Cano – showed some late positive exit velocities showing there is some hope for a 2020 rebound
Yoenis Cespedes – for everyone questioning the drive of a man severely injured and needing career saving surgery, he is out there in the cold taking batting practice
Michael Conforto – re-established himself as one of the best young corner outfielders in the game, and with his talent, he’s on the verge of an MVP caliber season
J.D. Davis – quickly became a fan favorite and like few others seemed to really enjoy being a New York Met.
Jacob deGrom – best pitcher in baseball and starting to etch his likeness on the Mets Mt. Rushmore
Edwin Diaz – he survived the season, made no excuses, and he is doing what he needs to do to be the pitcher he was in 2018.
Jeurys Familia – he stopped using “Danza Kudro” meaning we no longer go to very bad places when that music begins blaring
Luis Guillorme – proved if given a chance he is a Major League caliber player giving the Mets some real needed middle infield depth
Chris Flexen – his move to the bullpen gives the Mets an interesting upside option in the bullpen
Robert Gsellman – he is one of those throwback type reliever who is always willing to take the ball no matter what
Sam Haggerty – it’s not often a player comes out of nowhere to provide real value to an organization the way Haggerty did with this speed
Jed Lowrie – to his credit, he did everything he could just to get those pinch hitting appearances late in the season
Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball who now gives Beltran a reliever who can break knees with his curve
Steven Matz – took that step forward and put to bed the unfair and wrong mentally weak narrative
Jeff McNeil – the man just does it all. He hits, plays everywhere, and he saves puppies.
Tomas Nido – became the defensive minded back-up catcher many believed him to be, and he played a part getting Mets pitchers head in the right place during different parts of the year.
Corey Oswalt – he put behind some injuries and gross mishandling by the organization to show he is a viable depth starting option for the organization
Wilson Ramos – drove in a number of big runs last year, and he has promised to be better behind the plate in 2020.
Amed Rosario – just a tireless worker who seems to be on the cusp of fulfilling the immense potential we all saw he had in the minors
Paul Sewald – he keeps proving himself to be better than the narrative, and he finally got his first Major League win to put an exclamation point on what is one of the better stories of the Mets farm system
Dominic Smith – that walk-off homer was a beautiful exclamation point on a season where he proved everyone who ever doubted him to be very wrong
Marcus Stroman – few have fully embraced being a Met like he has and fewer have been ready to thrive on the New York stage
Noah Syndergaard – not just a great pitcher, but also a guy who wants to be a New York Met.
Justin Wilson – was terrific in 2019, and with the LOOGY rules, he becomes an even more valuable bullpen piece in 2020
In terms of the talent still here, there is a lot to be thankful for. Hopefully, we will see the return of Zack Wheeler giving us all the more to be thankful for in 2020 and beyond.
One thing is abundantly clear – the Mets love them some Jeremy Hefner!
The Mets drafted him not once, but twice. After he didn’t sign with the team after the 2004 or 2005 draft, the Padres drafted and signed Hefner in 2007.
When he was designated for assignment by the Padres in 2011, he was claimed by the Pirates. When the Pirates did the same a month later, there was the Mets pouncing and finally getting their man.
A year later, Hefner would finally make his Mets debut. It would be quite notable as Hefner would become the first 26th man in Major League history when he entered in relief in the first game of the April 23rd doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants.
Hefner showed real promise in 2013 with a 1.80 ERA in June and a 3.33 first half ERA. Unfortunately, like Matt Harvey, his promising season ended when he succumbed to a torn UCL requiring Tommy John surgery.
Harvey would return for 2015 glory, but Hefner wouldn’t. While he rehabbed with Harvey, something went wrong, and he would need another Tommy John surgery. He’d be a warning sign for Harvey causing the team to force him to ease up on his rehab. For all we know it also caused the Mets to be smarter with Zack Wheeler, who missed two years with his own Tommy John surgery and ensuing complications.
Like Wheeler, Hefner was a Met in name only as he watched the team won a pennant. Sadly, he’d be released at the end of the year, and his comeback attempt with the Cardinals didn’t lead to another shot in the majors.
Hefner landed on his feet as a member of the Twins organization as a scout, and this past year, he was the assistant pitching coach. He’s become very well regarded in the game in very short order. Once again, the Mets pursued him.
This time, it was much easier. Following a theme with their hiring Carlos Beltran, the team brought back Jeremy Hefner. Once again, he’s home with the Mets where he belongs. Once again, the Mets finally got Hefner in a Mets uniform.
Since the black jerseys were first introduced in 1998, they have garnered much debate amongst fans. For some, they are like the racing stripe jerseys. It is the jersey they associate the Mets wearing when they were on top of the world. Think back to it. The Mets wore the black jerseys for some really monumental occasions:
There were many more moments as well. With the Mets soon to embark on the 20th anniversary of that 2000 pennant, there seems to be a recent push to bring back those jerseys. Certainly, it is something we saw Pete Alonso, Marcus Stroman, and some other brilliant writer bring up over the last few months.
Now there, were a few problems with the black jerseys. To a certain portion of the fanbase, it was an abandonment of the Mets true glory years. These were not the jerseys of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. It looked nothing like the jerseys of Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Darryl Strawberry. Really, it was a complete abandonment of the Mets roots which was supposed to be a partial homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.
On more than one occasion, we heard Howie Rose lament about the infrequency in which we all saw the pinstripes. That was truly bizarre as they remained the designated home jersey. The black jerseys were only supposed to be an alternate, but they were treated as anything but that. Throw in the awful cap, and you see things did need to be eventually changed.
— Athlete Logos (@athletelogos) November 24, 2019
Since 2011, the black jerseys have been retired. In that time, the Mets have had a welcome return of the pinstripes, and they finally added the blue alternates fans had wanted to see for years. Still, with the anniversary, it being the jersey many grew up seeing, and people liking the look of it, people also want to see the black jerseys. With Carlos Beltran‘s return, it does seem like the right time to do it.
What many don’t want to see is the black jerseys overdone. They also want to see the pinstripes and the blue alternates. To that end, as previously proposed, the black jerseys should become the Friday night jerseys. If nothing else, it would be a call back to this epic Mike Piazza homer, which not so coincidentally, was on a Friday night:
As for the blue alternates, the Mets should put Mr. Met back as a sleeve patch, and the team should wear them as part of the Family Sundays.That ensures the blue alternates don’t get lost in the shuffle, and as noted, the Mr. Met patch is a nice touch for the days when the team has the Mr. Met dash.
For the weekday games, the Mets should wear the pinstripes.
Aside from Friday and Sunday, this need not be a hard and fast rule. The team could catch fire in one jersey leading to the team wearing them more as a good luck charm. The team could opt to feature one as part of a national showcase game for Fox or ESPN. The one caveat being it makes little to no sense to wear the black jerseys during hot summer days. But overall, this is the framework which really works well for the team.
Planning it all out this way, allows the Mets to do some advertising around it, and it seems to satisfy all fans. More than that, it gives the team an opportunity to really boost jersey sales. Overall, when this keeps everyone happy, and it leads to more money for the team, it is difficult to imagine why the team would not proceed with this plan.
This offseason, the Mets need to address the rotation, bullpen, catcher, third, center, and depth across the board. This becomes all the more complicated when you consider just signing Zack Wheeler will put the Mets over the luxury tax.
Still, there is some small hope. After all, David Wright‘s contract is insured and expiring. Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract is expiring as well. A good portion of Jacob deGrom‘s salary is deferred. Putting this all together, maybe the money is there, and maybe the Mets will take it on the chin one year and resetting the next.
It’s not going to happen.
Aside from the usual pessimism, Forbes reported “Sterling Equities has yet to put in any money for its share” of the “highly leveraged” new Islanders arena. Ultimately, it is unknown how much of the $800 million financing is the Wilpon owned Sterling Equities responsibility, but that’s just axiomatic as the money isn’t there.
If the money isn’t there for the Islanders arena, it does beg the question whether it’ll be there for the Mets. Perhaps, that is the reason why the Mets focused on a cheaper option in Carlos Beltran instead of a Joe Girardi. On that note, the Mets supposedly didn’t discuss the money available for a manager.
At this point, you really have to wonder what money is available. So far, there isn’t $1 available for the Islanders arena. If there isn’t any money available for a project the Wilpons are partially responsible for $800 million, you wonder how much more they’re going to contribute towards their mid market Mets payroll.
At some point, you really have to begin to wonder what exactly Commissioner Rob Manfred is doing. While Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopolous is fanning the flames of the already tense situation with the Player’s Association by heavily alluded to collusion, his sport has been embarrassing itself left and right.
The first bit of huge news yesterday was Mike Fiers admitted the World Series Champion 2017 Houston Astros cheated by stealing signs with a camera and relaying those signs using different sounds. One of those sounds were whistles like the allegations we heard from the New York Yankees this past postseason. At the time, AJ Hinch mocked those making the accusations, but apparently where they was smoke, there is now Fiers.
This isn’t the first time the Astros were accused of cheating. Based on how they operate their team, it won’t be the last. What is really interesting is Major League Baseball purportedly did investigating into those accusations, and each time they made no public statements of wrongdoing.
This would say either MLB was unable to uncover something, or perhaps, they didn’t want to announce what they discovered. It’s not a cover-up per se, but it does have an air to it.
Now, their World Series title does seem a bit tainted. That’s a real shame for players like Justin Verlander who finally got over the hump with that Astros team and for Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who got that elusive World Series ring in his final ever game. For what it’s worth, Beltran denied the accusations.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the San Francisco Giants hired Gabe Kapler as their new manager.
Keep in mind, while Kapler was fired from the Phillies for being a bad manager, it is much worse than that. This is the same Kapler who is part of an FBI investigation regarding what is alleged to be criminal actions involved with the recruitment of international teenage free agents. At the time, Kapler was the Director of Player Development.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Nick Francona spoke with Sports Illustrated about Kapler’s involvement in trying to cover-up sexual assault allegations against Dodgers prospects on multiple occasions. There were other issues including stalking allegations. Each time, Kapler and the Dodgers tried to cover it up (successfully), and quite notably, on one occasion, Kapler actually met with the victim’s family.
Keep in mind, those are the things we do know, and we only know it because Francona came forward.
Given his actions, there should be no room for Kapler in baseball. Yet somehow, he has another job in the same state where many of his transgressions occurred. This is on the same day the Houston Astros might have finally been nailed for cheating.
Overall, November 12, 2019 was just an outright embarrassing day for baseball. Fans of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers just discovered their teams might’ve been cheated out of a World Series.
On that front, you have to wonder how Joe Girardi, who was fired after that season, and Yu Darvish, who was beat up by the Astros batters, have to feel. The answer is probably nowhere near the emotions of the victims Kapler’s player development program left in his wake.
Seeing Kapler hired and the Astros cheating finally uncovered, you really have to wonder what Manfred is doing. Any commissioner with an interest in the image of his sport would have been proactive on this, and they would have ensured the guilty parties stayed out of baseball. Not Manfred. Once again, he is nowhere to be seen, and he took no action when baseball and really human beings needed it most.
Tonight, Pete Alonso is going to be named the National League Rookie of the Year. The only question right now is whether or not it will be unanimous. Considering Jacob deGrom wasn’t a unanimous choice for Cy Young last year, we should not discount anyone making a dumb decision by not voting for Alonso.
When Alonso is named as the Rookie of the Year, he will join deGrom in a list of Mets who have won the Rookie of the Year award. Those other Mets are Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Darryl Strawberry, and Dwight Gooden. If you’ll notice, Alonso will join Strawberry as the only other Mets position player to win the Rookie of the Year. Alonso will also be the first infielder.
If you dig deeper, there is something else you’ll notice. Each and every one of the Mets players who have won a Rookie of the Year award have been part of a Mets pennant winning team. Of the group, Strawberry had to wait the longest with his appearing in the 1986 World Series three years after he won the award.
Alonso is a middle of the order type of bat who can power the Mets to a pennant in the near future. He broke all of Strawberry’s rookie records. He surpassed the Mets single season mark shared by Todd Hundley and Alonso’ new manager Carlos Beltran. He also passed the rookie first base mark held by Mark McGwire and the overall rookie record held by Aaron Judge.
With Alonso’s drive and determination, we can see him being the type of player who can help lead the Mets to a World Series. He has shown that ability. The question is whether the team is going to help him and his teammates get there. But that is a question for another day.
For today, it is about Alonso. He is going to receive an award he has well earned, and with that award comes promise for the future. No matter what happens, Alonso will always carry that promise with his bat. For that reason alone, today is a day to rejoice and to appreciate the slugger whose ability on the field may only be surpassed by his ability as a teammate.
By now, Mets fans are well aware playing in New York is just different, and there are some players who struggle with the experience. There are countless examples, and it is really difficult to ascertain who will struggle, and who will succeed.
Bobby Bonilla was kid from the Bronx who grew up a Mets fan. When he hit free agency, he wanted to be a Met, and it proved to be the worst thing that ever happened to him.
While he did have good years, he wasn’t the player we expected. It led to booing and probably worse. Things were so bad he had to wear earplugs.
Jason Bay handled Boston extraordinarily well, but he couldn’t quite handle New York. However, to be fair, there would prove to be extenuating circumstances like the outfield walls and concussions.
What’s really interesting is even being a Yankee previously isn’t an indicator of immediate success. For example, Curtis Granderson needed an adjustment year before taking off in 2015.
That adjustment year is something we’ve seen on multiple occasions. The most classic example is Carlos Beltran who went from complete and utter bust to Hall of Famer.
What is interesting with respect to these and other players who have struggled with the environment is they are not always upfront about how difficult it is to play and adjust to playing in New York.
To an extent, that makes Edwin Diaz unique.
In an interview with Nathalie Alonso of MLB.com, Diaz admitted to his struggles, and he also spoke about how he hopes Beltran can help him adjust. Certainly, it would make a lot of sense considering they have had very similar experiences.
What really stands out is he’s admitted to needing help learning how to handle the city and the need to prepare himself mentally.
While Diaz did not address the booing, it certainly had to be a factor. It’s hard to believe it wasn’t.
Considering his performance and the fans frustrations, you can understand their booing. In fact, you could say it was merited. However, now, we know it was the worst possible thing fans could’ve done.
On Opening Day, the fans need to give Diaz a standing ovation. We need to show our support of him and ease some of his anxiety. When he struggles, the fans need to refrain from booing him. Rather, the fans need to understand him.
He’s admitted to a struggle. That doesn’t make him mentally weak. In fact, it makes him strong. Anyone who admits a struggle and admits for help is strong. That said, he does need help.
It’s incumbent on fans to help the extent they can. Don’t boo him. Support him. Give him peace of mind. This is what fans need to do to help Diaz perform to the best of his ability, which at the end of the day, is all the fans want.
A reinvigorated Diaz returning to his 2018 form is something this Mets team desperately needs to succeed. Let’s do all we can to make sure that happens.
With the Mets hiring Carlos Beltran, they are not only bringing home one of the greatest players in team history. They are also having a future Hall of Famer try to guide the Mets to their third World Series in franchise history. Looking over the 150 years of baseball, that is a feat accomplished by only nine other Hall of Famers.
Perhaps most daunting, it was last accomplished in 1978, and it has only been twice accomplished by Hall of Famers who were not player/managers. Can you name those two managers and all nine Hall of Famers? Good luck!
In 2004, Carlos Beltran was one of the best players in baseball. Between his time with the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros, he hit .267/.367/.548 with 36 doubles, nine triples, 38 homers, 104 RBI, and 42 stolen bases.
By WAR, he was the tenth best player in baseball. In the postseason, there was no one better than him as he hit eight homers in 12 postseason games.
This led to his signing a huge seven year $119 million contract. It was a contract befitting his burgeoning superstar status.
Only he wasn’t a superstar in 2005. Rather, he looked like a overpaid player who could make fans wonder if this deal would be as bad or worse as the Bobby Bonilla signing.
There was his rolling over on pitches hitting weak grounders to second. He had this inexplicable propensity to bunt. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, he and Mike Cameron dove for the same ball in San Diego leading to one of the more horrific collisions you’ll ever see.
Overall, Beltran only hit .266/.330/.414 with 34 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, and 78 RBI. The 97 OPS+ would be the third worst of his career. Things were so bad Beltrán was booed lightly during player introductions on Opening Day in 2006.
That 2006 season proved to be the best season of Beltran’s career.
The 8.2 WAR was the best of his career, and frankly, he was flat out robbed of the MVP award. His 41 homers tied Todd Hundley for what was then a Mets single season record (surpassed this year by Pete Alonso). He was an All-Star in addition to winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
This was easily the best season any Mets outfielder ever had, and it is in the conversation for best ever season by a Mets position player.
After the complete and utter disaster that the 2005 season was, Beltran immediately turned things around, and he set himself on a path which will eventually lead to his Hall of Fame induction.
In 2018, Diaz was arguably the best closer in the game with a Major League leading 57 saves with a 0.791 WHIP and a 15.2 K/9. He was so great that year the Mets admitted to including Jarred Kelenic in a deal just to keep him away from the Phillies.
Like with Beltran in 2005, things were horrid for Diaz.
In addition to blowing seven saves and losing the closer’s role, Diaz allowed a career high 15 homers. To put it into perspective, Diaz allowed 15 homers over the 2017 and 2018 seasons combined.
He’d have a career worst 5.59 ERA, 9.0 H/9, 36 ER, 73 ERA+, 4.51 FIP, 1.379 WHIP, and other categories as well. It was a nightmare of a season which led to Mets fans first being frustrated and later booing him.
Through it all, like Beltran, Diaz remained incredibly talented. No matter how much people want to over emphasize the effect New York has on player performance, ultimately talent wins out in the end. No one knows that better than Beltran.
With Beltran now Diaz’s manager, he can pull his former Puerto Rican World Baseball Classic teammate aside and impart the wisdom which helped him overcome the adversity he faced his first year in New York to become a Hall of Famer.
Remember, Beltran is one of many who experienced struggles in his first year with the Mets, and he’s one of the few who overcame it and became an even better because of it. With him at the helm, he can make sure Diaz can have the very same transformation.
The Mets did good by hiring Carlos Beltran as the 22nd manager in team history. In Beltran, they have someone who is a very good communicator who has the ability to unite a clubhouse while also teaching players things to help them significantly improve. Given his skill set, he can be a superstar manager like he was a superstar player.
However, Beltran in and of himself is not going to be enough to take this Mets team over the top.
With Zack Wheeler being a free agent, the team is going to need a fifth starter. At the moment, internal options like Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt are not ready to step up to fill that void. The team has mentioned Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as options, but that only serves to further damage what is already a weak bullpen.
In 2019, Lugo and Justin Wilson were the only dependable relievers in that bullpen. When you look at it, even assuming a bounce-back from Edwin Diaz, this team still needs at least two big arms in the bullpen this offseason. They will need more if Gsellman or Lugo move to the rotation making that decision to rob Peter to pay Paul.
The Mets also need a center fielder, third baseman, backup catcher, and just plain old depth. With Juan Lagares having his option declined, they need a defensive replacement. The team cannot rely upon Jed Lowrie to contribute anything. Tomas Nido was a good defensive catcher, but with his complete inability to hit, you wonder how much you can rely upon him to be on the roster for a full season.
All told, this is a Mets roster which needs a lot of work. Given the dearth of prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A level last year, the team is going to have to acquire those players this offseason instead of looking from within. With all the prospects the Mets traded away over the last year, it is going to be difficult to trade their way back to contention.
That leaves the Mets with spending, and with the Mets being owned by the Wilpons, that is a dicey proposition.
Now, there are some who will say the Mets did spend last year. According to Spotrac, the Mets 2019 payroll was $160.5 million which ranked 10th in the majors.
Lost in that was how David Wright‘s $15 million is included in that amount. Wright had a portion of that salary covered by insurance, and the Mets renegotiated future payments with Wright. The figure also included Yoenis Cespedes‘ $29 million salary which was covered by insurance. Between Wright’s full salary and 70% of Cespedes’ salary being covered, the Mets payroll was reduced by $35.5 million.
That reduces the Mets REAL 2019 payroll to $125 million, which would’ve ranked 18th in the majors. That number is all the worse when you consider Adeiny Hechavarria and Carlos Gomez were cut before roster bonuses were due, and Jason Vargas was traded so the team could clear payroll space after obtaining Marcus Stroman.
As of today, the Mets payroll is $168.8 million. Now, that figure includes Wright’s $12 million, Cespedes’ $29.5 million, and the $5.1 projected arbitration figure due Joe Panik. On that front, as noted earlier, Wright’s contract was been renegotiated, and it is very likely Panik is non-tendered. With respect to Cespedes, there will be no insurance protection this year.
When you dig a little more, that $168.8 includes Jacob deGrom‘s $27.5 million salary. On that front, the $27.5 million figure is for competitive balance tax purposes only. In reality, deGrom is only making $13 million meaning $12.5 million of his salary is deferred.
This means the Mets ACTUAL payroll obligations are $139.2million. That is before the Mets go forward looking to add players this offseason. Still, people will point to the competitive balance tax as a reason why the Mets can’t spend. Let’s take a look at it for a second.
Putting reason aside, assuming the Mets sign Wheeler to a deal with a $30 million average annual value raising the payroll obligations to $188.8. That puts the Mets $19.2 million short of the $208 competitive balance tax figure.
Taking a more realistic approach, assume the Mets don’t go and sign Anthony Rendon. For a minute, just assume the Mets sign a Mike Moustakas ($10 million AAV), Drew Pomeranz ($8 million AAV), and a backup catcher like Jonathan Lucroy ($2 million AAV). Assume the rest of the roster is filled out for a cost of around $5 million, which is probably the very low end.
Assuming Panik is non-tendered, that puts competitive balance payroll at $213.8 million. That would incur the “tax penalty.” The amount of the penalty? It would only be $1.2 million. That’s it.
When looking at the $1.2 million remember the Mets already have $12 million off the books with Wright and $12.5 million deferred with deGrom. As a result, the $1.2 million is more than covered. When you look at it, the Mets can really blow past that $208 million this year.
In fact, the Mets should considering they have Cespedes’$29 million coming off the books completely, and the same can be said for Wright’s $12 million. Essentially, the Mets have $41 million coming off the books.
Whether the Mets will be proactive remains to be seen. If history is any measure, they won’t. Just remember, when they don’t, we should not let them invoke the competitive balance tax as a reason because it is not in any way a real impediment.
The only impediment to the Mets spending are the Mets themselves, and that is not in any way acceptable.