Mets fans are besides themselves right now. They went from literally the worst owner in all of pro sports to someone who promises to be the best.
Right now, Mets fans are anticipating a whirlwind of an offseason. They’re already putting J.T. Realmuto behind the plate, Trevor Bauer on the mound, and George Springer in center. Oh, and they’re also expecting Marcus Stroman, Charlie Morton, and literally every free agent available.
Mets fans aren’t penciling this in either. No, they’re putting this down in Sharpee. That’s how high their level of expectation is right now.
That right there is going to be the biggest challenge for Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and the soon to be fully assembled Mets front office. Unless Cohen is prepared to start spending like a drunken sailor, there needs to be some leveling of expectation, and they need to do that while not diminishing the level of excitement.
Right there is one of the benefits of bringing back Alderson. With Alderson, the Mets fans already see someone they can trust to build a winner in New York. Agree or disagree with his moves, the fanbase is well aware he can do this job in this market.
If it’s James McCann instead of Realmuto, the fans can trust it’s not purely a cost savings driven decision. If the Mets opt for Jackie Bradley Jr in center instead of Springer, we can believe that is part of a larger plan to improve the defense to help the pitching.
However, there’s going to be a point where fans are going to want to see THE big name. The fans haven’t seen that happen since Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez signed with the Mets entering the 2005 season.
The Mets need to identify which player is the big name they need to pursue at all costs. That can be a free agent, and it could also come in the trade market with Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado available.
Right now, the excitement level surrounding the Mets is at the highest it’s been since Matt Harvey stepped on the field to pitch the ninth. Cohen needs to find a way to keep the excitement level there instead of having fans watch on in horror as their chances of winning a World Series fade away.
While the country and the world were waiting with baited breath to see who would be president, two teams began the rehabilitation process of the 2017 Houston Astros.
This offseason all of the aghast and offended MLB teams will be pursuing free agents like George Springer, Josh Reddick, Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton, and others. Member after member of that organization has been or will be pursued. That even includes Jeff Luhnow who Alex Rodriguez was rumored to want as a member of the New York Mets front office.
Seemingly every MLB team is willing to cast outrage and morals aside for all of the 2017 Houston Astros. The one exception is Carlos Beltran.
As the narrative goes, the sign stealing saga was all Beltran’s doing. It didn’t matter that the Astros organization had to put the technology in place to aide and abet the players, and it didn’t matter an operation of this caliber truly needed top to bottom coordination. No, as it went, Beltran was THE driving force.
Undoubtedly, Beltran played a role, and it was very likely significant. The same goes for every player from that 2017 team who went unnamed. However, when it came to the retired Beltran, he wasn’t afforded the same anonymity. No, he was put out there with a target on his back.
People were all too happy to go out there and come after him. They demanded his firing even fully knowing it could very well mean the end for him in baseball.
The real shame was this came during the time of Beltran’s own redemption story. He was returning to the Mets to win that World Series he couldn’t. He was returning to the place where the owners not only challenged his worth but also tried to stop him from saving his career.
Unfortunately, Beltran was thrown another curve. Again, he was left standing there without taking a swing. For the second time in his life, he was out.
Only this time it seems like it is for good.
That is very clearly different than the fates of Hinch and Cora. It is different than the fates of his former teammates. In the end, Beltran is going to forever be the fall guy for what happened in 2017. In roughly two years, we’ll see if his punishment includes not being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
But for right now, Beltran is out of baseball with no discernible path to return. While you could justify this, it is difficult to ascertain why he’s being held to a much higher standard than every other member of that organization.
It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.
It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven A Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:
Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.
Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.
For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.
If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.
The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.
Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.
According to reports, Jeff Wilpon has a Zoom call to say goodbye to New York Mets employees. Other reports confirmed he will not be seeking a role with the Steve Cohen led Mets even with his team holding onto a small minority ownership.
While he says goodbye, Mets fans say good riddance.
Everything that is wrong with the Mets is in large part due to him, and with him gone, he know stories will soon leak out about how he was even worse than what we already knew.
We already know they failed to capitalize on two pennants. In 2000, it was letting Mike Hampton walk, refusing to sign Alex Rodriguez, and then following that up with actually signing Kevin Appier and Steve Trachsel.
There was forcing players like Pedro Martinez to pitch through injuries which everyone said should’ve shut down his season, and there was the attempts to try to prevent Carlos Beltran from getting career saving knee surgery.
There was not just signing Jose Reyes, but also holding him out as a role model. Better yet, around the same time, Ed Kranepool needed a kidney transplant only for pettiness to stop the Mets from initially reaching out to help (thankfully they eventually did).
Speaking of Mets greats, there is still no Tom Seaver statue at Citi Field, and now Tom Terrific is gone. Even when the Wilpons did think to finally act, they did it when Seaver had dementia and couldn’t enjoy the honors.
There was firing an unwed pregnant woman and really so much more. With actions like this, not only did Jeff Wilpon fail as a person in charge of building a winner, he disgraced the Mets organization.
Speaking of disgrace, the way the Mets got rid of people was deplorable. No one was allowed to keep their dignity. Willie Randolph was fired one game into a west coast trip and after the Mets won. Instead admitting they didn’t want to pay them fair value Justin Turner had his professionalism questioned and Wilmer Flores was said to have an arthritic condition he didn’t have.
Hopefully, Jeff Wilpon will be afforded the very same treatment he gave others when they left the Mets. It would only be fitting, and it would give Mets fans more reason to celebrate his being gone.
All over the internet yesterday was video of Endy Chavez‘s miraculous catch robbing Scott Rolen of a go-ahead homer in the top of the sixth inning of a tied Game 7. It was one of, if not the, greatest catch ever made, and it came against a hated rival with the pennant on the line.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 19, 2020
For 14 straight years, this catch is celebrated. We should all agree there should not be a 15th year.
After that catch, neither Jose Valentin nor Chavez could deliver on what was a bases loaded one out situation.
All told, this ranks as one of the most frustrating and depressing losses in Mets history. This loss was further exacerbated by collapses the following two seasons, and the complete and utter failure which was the first version of Citi Field.
That’s nothing to say about the Wilpons getting caught up in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme only for them to be needlessly propped up by Major League Baseball.
After that Chavez catch, everything just kept getting worse for the Mets and their fans. Frankly, after that catch is was a nightmare which lasted for nearly a decade. Much of the reason for that was the meddlesome ways of the clueless Jeff Wilpon who kept finding new ways to embarrass this franchise we all adore.
Every Mets fan should love Chavez for this catch and for all he gave the Mets. We can and should love the players from that era who were a mixture of snakebit and not quite fully supported by ownership never ready to go all-in on winning, and that’s even when they had the financial capacity to do that.
Still, we should all fall short of celebrating the mile. We can all acknowledge it was perhaps the greatest catch ever made. However, in the end, the Mets lost in the most excruciating way possible, and no Mets fan anywhere should really look to celebrate a moment which is intrinsically tied to the loss.
If you think this is too far or it’s too far, consider this. There is not a Red Sox fan alive who celebrates Dave Henderson‘s homer off Rick Aguilera. That is among the pantheon of the most clutch homers ever hit, and no one cares because the Red Sox lost that game and series in the most excruciating way possible.
Celebrating Chavez’s catch is really no different than celebrating Henderson’s homer. That’s why it’s time to stop and turn the page. With Steve Cohen at the helm, we instead need to look forward to celebrating big moments like the Mets winning the World Series.
The Mets need to learn their lesson from last offseason. The attitude was let Mookie Betts play out his contract, and then have the Mets sign him as a free agent once Steve Cohen takes over.
The problem with that line of thinking is you risk a player signing an extension, which is exactly what Betts did. We went to a team in the Dodgers who were happy to hand him a blank check.
If you’re a team who does not go out and get Francisco Lindor, you’re assuming the very same risk. The Mets should not be assuming that risk.
The counter-argument is the Mets don’t need Lindor. After all, Andres Gimenez had an impressive rookie season. Amed Rosario, while being lost at the plate this year, was significantly improved defensively. This is all true while also missing the point.
In 2020, the Mets finished in last place with a 26-34 record. During the course of the year, one thing which should have been made abundantly clear was this Mets team isn’t good enough to win right now. In fact, if the last two years are any gauge, they’re not all that close.
What they Mets need is better players across the diamond. It’s not just a catcher, center field, and pitching issue. Really, aside from the first base glut with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith and the two corner outfield spots, the Mets seem desperate for upgrades and shifting of players to new positions.
Yes, the Mets could use an upgrade at shortstop when Lindor is the player available.
Since his MLB debut in 2015, Lindor has been a top three player in the sport. He’s been the best infielder, and he’s the best middle infielder by a healthy margin. He is literally everything you want in a baseball player.
By DRS, he’s been the fourth best defensive SS in the game since 2015. By wRC+, he’s the seventh best hitter. Overall, there’s no one better at short than him.
That includes Gimenez and Rosario, and it’s a wide margin between him and those two. By obtaining Lindor, you’re making a significant push towards closing the talent gap in the NL East.
Let’s look at it another way. Since his breakout season in 2017, Lindor has been a .276/.341/.503 hitter. In the three previous seasons, he’s averaged 42 doubles, three triples, and 34 homers.
No shortstop in the history of the New York Mets have ever put up these kinds of numbers. They’ve never done it on a one year career year, and they’ve certainly never come close putting up these numbers on an annual basis. When you think about it, over the 58 year history of the Mets, it’s takes their shortstops 2-3 years to put up the extra base hits Lindor can do in one year.
Here’s another way to examine it. Lindor has a 118 wRC+ since 2017. Over that time frame, only Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo (Alonso didn’t qualify) have a better offensive production.
Over that time frame, Mets shortstops Gabe a 90 wRC+. Getting Lindor would make the Mets lineup deeper and more dangerous. They’ll also be doing that while having a Gold Glove caliber player at the position.
There is no doubt Lindor makes the Mets a significantly improved team. There also should be no doubt he’ll come at a high price. If he’s willing to sign an extension, nearly any price would be worth it. He’s that good.
Anytime you can get a future Hall of Famer in his prime, you have to do it. It is a game changer for the organization, and it can bring your team to another level.
The Mets are certainly familiar with that concept. Gary Carter helped them win a World Series. Mike Piazza took them to back-to-back postseasons. Carlos Beltran helped lead the Mets to one at-bat from a World Series. Hall of Fame talent significantly improves your team and your postseason chances.
The Piazza and Beltran examples are especially illustrative. With Piazza, the Mets already had Todd Hundley. With Beltran, the Mets already had Mike Cameron. Rather than be happy with the status quo for a team not good enough to win, the Mets improved on a strength, and it led to a better future.
That’s Lindor right now. Yes, the Mets may very well be served to go forward with either Gimenez or Rosario. However, with all due respect to both, neither of them are Lindor, nor are they close.
If the Mets want to truly win now, they should be making every reasonable effort to get Lindor in a New York Mets uniform.
Through the Wilpons majority ownership, we have seen one embarrassing moment after the next. It just never ended with them, not even when times were good.
Leigh Castergine was fired. Jose Reyes was brought back and held out as a role model.
They had Steve Cohen offer well over market value for the team, and the financially strapped Wilpons bungled the deal. They bungled it over control of the team and escalating salaries for them. Now, they’re looking to sell the team for what is likely a lower price.
By all accounts, 2020 is it for the Wilpons. After this season, they’re gone. But seeing them in action all of these years, you knew they couldn’t go out without embarrassing themselves, the Mets franchise, and all of baseball one last time.
Tonight was that night.
As a backdrop, Dominic Smith bore his soul in an emotional post game news conference. Michael Conforto said he’d have Smith’s back, and he made good by working with the Marlins to not play akin to what the NBA and other MLB teams were doing.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen would address this with reporters. Keep in mind, this exchange which was supposed to be off the record was posted to the Mets website:
Holy shit Rob Manfred is trying to force the Mets to pull a social justice awareness stunt tonight by having the players symbolically leave the field at 7:10 before returning an hour later to play at 8:10 even though the players don’t want to play tonight pic.twitter.com/4BJLaPUkoy
— Nick Albicocco (@NickCocco18) August 27, 2020
Well, when you trash the commissioner, and it gets public, there are going to be ramifications, and the need for apologies need to proceed.
First up, was Van Wagenen who both apologized to Commissioner Rob Manfred and pinned the blame for the poorly received idea on Jeff Wilpon:
Well, that apparently wasn’t sufficient. This incident actually required the Wilpons to spring to action. Fred and Jeff Wilpon offered their version of events and apologies:
Both Fred and Jeff Wilpon managed to misspell Brodie as Brody. This was just a perfect encapsulation of who the Wilpons are and their failed stewardship of the Mets organization.
Their organization took the players emerging and bungled it. The same owners who had NOTHING to say publicly when Smith cried rushed to admonish their GM and misspelled his name in the process.
Even better, they took ownership of an idea universally dismissed as plain stupid and seen as insensitive by many. While this was happening, one of the Mets official accounts called for Manfred to be fired.
If this was anyone other than the Wilpons, you’d be absolutely shocked at the level of incompetence involved here. Seeing how this is the Wilpons, you can’t be remotely shocked they were a complete embarrassment one last time.
After last night’s game, Dominic Smith was moved to tears speaking about his pain and fears. He was raw, emotional, and honest. It moved many people. It led Mets fans to go out and buy his jersey and support his foundation.
Buying my @TheRealSmith2_ Jersey tomorrow even though I can't actually afford it.
— what a Metstake🏳️🌈 (@ChristinaMets15) August 27, 2020
If you only have a few bucks to spare, consider donating to @TheRealSmith2_‘s charity rather than buying his jersey (which is just giving money to MLB).
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) August 27, 2020
We also saw former Mets players like Paul Lo Duca speak to how moved they were by hearing Smith’s words.
Wow Dom Smith had me in tears. Much respect. #lgm
— Paul Lo Duca (@paulloduca16) August 27, 2020
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen? Well, he’s been silent. He has had no quotes for the published articles on the moment. He also has sent no tweets
Remember, this was the same man who had been caught illegally texting game decisions to the clubhouse. Van Wagenen can reach his phone to text for his manager to make a pitching change, but he can’t reach his phone to send a tweet in support of one of his players who was clearly in pain.
The same goes for the Wilpons. They’ve been silent. This is still their organization, and there’s been no press release or quote in support of Smith.
Dominic Smith clearly felt all alone yesterday, and it caused him pain. That was a time for Van Wagenen and the Wilpons to come out and publicly support him. They opted not to do so.
Dominic Smith deserved better than that from them. We all do.
Just make this the latest exhibit in a very long line as to why we’re all counting down the days until the Wilpons are gone. This is another example why Van Wagenen needs to follow them out the door.
Last night, Travis d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with five RBI. Three of those five RBI came on an eighth inning double which put the Braves ahead 11-10. This was the same d’Arnaud he rage released last year.
You couldn’t help but notice the same game d’Arnaud won, the .208/.269/.250 hitting Ramos flew out with the tying run on second to end the game.
Case-in-point, Ramos called six outside pitches when Marcell Ozuna was up last week, and on a 3-2 pitch, he called the same pitch Ozuna struck out on the previous day. Short of using a megaphone, Ramos couldn’t have made the pitch type and location any more obvious.
This is normally where we go to Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. On that note, the Mets called up Brian Dozier despite his bit really fully preparing for the season and his not taking part in summer camp.
By hastily starting an ill-prepared Dozier, the Mets have admitted Cano is no more than a platoon player making that trade somehow worse.
On the topic of the platoon, you know who was a really good right-handed platoon option? Wilmer Flores.
However, the Mets non-tendered Flores partially because of a knee condition he never actually had. Instead, they replaced him with Jed Lowrie, a player who actually had a knee injury.
That knee injury is the invented condition of PCL laxity. Even better than the conjured up diagnosis was it taking nearly a year-and-a-half to get a second opinion.
While the Mets are getting nothing from the impending free agent Marisnick, and their bullpen has been struggling Blake Taylor has been terrific out of the Houston Astros bullpen.
The list with Van Wagenen goes on and on. He told us he was replacing Zack Wheeler with Marcus Stroman, who was in the same rotation. He then let Wheeler walk and actually replaced him with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha while trying to tell us the pitching improved.
Don’t forget his continuously telling us he wasn’t going to fire Carlos Beltran only to fire Beltran before he managed a game.
It’s like Van Wagenen is George Costanza. Every instinct is wrought with failure. The key difference is Costanza was the assistant to the traveling secretary, and Van Wagenen is the GM.
The other difference is Van Wagenen is real. He’s all too real.
Last year, Robinson Cano began the year as the Mets third place hitter, and he’d stay there for a good part of the season. He’d stay there despite many screaming Mickey Callaway needed to remove the washed up second baseman coming off a PED suspension from the middle of the lineup.
Heading into 2020, it seemed like the days of Cano batting third were behind us. At the end of last year, Cano was supplanted by Michael Conforto in the third spot in the lineup, and it stayed that way when Cano returned from the IL.
Couple that with Callaway (and Carlos Beltran gone), the Mets seemed poised to reshape the middle of their lineup without Cano taking a prominent spot. Seeing the lineups in the Yankees series and the comments from Luis Rojas, that will not be the case.
Luis Rojas all but said yesterday that Canó will bat third. That's not to say the situation can't change, but it appears to be the plan. https://t.co/WOaDL1sx62
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 19, 2020
Once again, Cano is going to be batting third for the Mets. Apparently, two separate managers looked at Cano and independently determined Cano needs to bat third.
Of course, that’s nonsense. We know that’s not what’s happening here. The truth is the GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, is making this decision.
First off, we know that because that’s how baseball teams now operate. We also know it’s true because we’ve learned Van Wagenen does not respect any boundaries. In fact, despite it being against MLB rules and regulations, he will text game decisions to the clubhouse.
Sources confirms that Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has acted during games, texting to staffers, including to remove Jacob deGrom during that Arizona start earlier this year in which he left early.
It's happened more than once.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) June 25, 2019
As it pertains to filling out the lineup, we’re well past the days of a manager setting the lineup on his own volition. That doesn’t mean he has no input. One famous story was when Terry Francona told the front office if they wanted him to bench Mike Lowell against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, they were welcome to tell Lowell themselves (Lowell started that night).
However, that’s Francona, a future Hall of Fame manager with two World Series under his belt.
Callaway was a manager who was on the hot seat before 2019 Opening Day, and he was ducking chairs thrown at him by Van Wagenen. Rojas was the guy the Mets hired only because they fired Carlos Beltran after the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal (only for the Mets to keep J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick). Neither have the presence or footing in the organization to even think about attempting what Francona did.
The Mets can try the smokescreen of saying they’re just trying to get Cano at-bats. On that, we should note, Cano batted third, not leadoff. Cano also came out of both games. He needed at-bats so much, he exited both games early?
No, he batted third because that’s where the Mets, specifically Brodie Van Wagenen, wants him. Maybe the Mets relent now due to the public pressure, but in the end, if Cano bats third look no further than his former agent turned General Manager who gave up a king’s ransom to get him.