This offseason, the New York Mets have a number of holes to fill in free agency. Chief among them is third base as the Mets have not had a third baseman since 2014 when David Wright was yet to be diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Since then, the Mets have better filling around the edges and singing players like Todd Frazier, who struggled to stay on the field.
Looking at the free agent landscape, it appears the two best options are going to be Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant. While Correa is a shortstop, he has indicated his willingness to change positions like Alex Rodriguez once did. With that being the case, Correa instantly becomes the top third base option available.
Correa just turned 27, and he is on pace to have his best ever season as a Major Leaguer. Currently, he has a 6.9 WAR, and he should meet or surpass the 7.0 he had in 2016. Notably, with Correa having three seasons of 6.7 WAR or better, we are talking about a future Hall of Famer.
The reason is Correa does not have a real hole in his game. This year, he has a 135 wRC+. This will mark the fourth time in his seven year career he has had a 135 wRC+ or better. Putting aside the 60 game 2020, he has always been above league average at the plate, and only one time has he registered a wRC+ below 123.
In the field, Correa is a great defensive shortstop. After his struggles in his rookie season, Correa has a a 47 OAA and a 62 DRS at shortstop. That puts him at a Gold Glove level at the position.
All told, Correa is a Silver Slugger level hitter at the plate and a Gold Glover in the field. He could be a right-handed balance to the Mets heavy left-handed hitting lineup, solve the eternal third base woes, and add yet another MVP caliber player to the roster.
Despite all of that, many are hand wringing over the likelihood Correa would have a qualifying offer attached thereby putting the Mets in a position to forfeit a first round pick. In the alternative, they suggest Kris Bryant.
Unlike Correa, Bryant has actually won an MVP award, and like Bryant, he has a World Series ring. While the Mets would be better for adding Bryant, he is not the same caliber of player as Correa, and he probably doesn’t solve the Mets third base question.
After being traded to the San Francisco Giants, Bryant has split time between third base and the outfield. That is much akin to what he did in Chicago. Part of the reason is Bryant is a versatile player which is a bonus. However, it is also the result of his not being a very good third baseman.
Since 2017, Bryant has not posted a positive OAA at third accumulating a -9 OAA. Over that time, he also has a -2 DRS. In the outfield, he has posted better numbers in left field with a 2 OAA and a 6 DRS. Looking at the numbers and the trajectory, you could argue Bryant is really a LF at this point in his career.
Now, you could try him at third for a while, especially if your confident in your shifting, but Bryant doesn’t quite have the bat he used to have which allowed him to offset his poor defense. Keep in mind, he is still a terrific hitter, just now the 144 wRC+ he was over the first three years of his career. In fact, since 2018, Bryant has been a 126 wRC+ hitter.
That is largely why we have seen Bryant fall from being an MVP caliber player to being “merely” an All-Star caliber player. After posting an 18.3 WAR over his first three seasons, Bryant has posted a 10.5 WAR over his next four seasons (with the 2020 season caveat). While Bryant has had strong seasons, and he has a 3.3 WAR so far this year, he’s just not the caliber of player Correa has.
We should note that disparity is likely only going to grow. Next year, Correa will be 27, and Bryant will be 30. Bryant is nearing the end of his prime as Correa is just entering it. As a result, you are likely going to get far better production from Correa over the course of their respective contracts. Indeed, Correa is better now and will very likely remain better.
If you’re a Mets team with not much help on the way from the minors and the impending free agency of players like Carlos Carrasco, Jacob deGrom (player option), Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Taijuan Walker coupled with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith being arbitration eligible, you are a franchise very much set on expanding this window. That goes double with Javier Baez, Michael Conforto, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard as free agents this offseason.
This is a Mets team which needs to focus on winning in 2022 or tearing it down to rebuild. If you are really focused on winning now, Correa is the far better option than Bryant regardless of the qualifying offer being attached. The Mets should not be overthinking it. Go get the far better player and make this Mets roster the best it can possibly be.
This is the way it works with Carlos Carrasco. He struggles in the first, and he shuts the opponent down after that. That’s what happened again in his start against the Miami Marlins.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 2, 2021
In the fourth, we’d see Francisco Lindor put his stamp on the game.
Brandon Nimmo led off the fourth with an infield single. He went to second when Isan Diaz threw it away. Lindor drove home Nimmo with an RBI double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. That put him in position to score when he induced Alcantara to balk.
Francisco Lindor is really good at thispic.twitter.com/mssjOn9eWj
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 3, 2021
This speaks to how bizarre the game was from a defensive standpoint. There were just a number a terrific defensive plays. However, there were also a number of errors and miscues. By some miracle, there were no unearned runs in the game.
Case-in-point, in the fifth, Jorge Alfaro reached on a Villar error. He took off on a pitch which Bryan De La Cruz lined to right. Javier Báez brilliant deked Alfaro allowing Michael Conforto to easily throw him out at first.
You don't see a 9⃣-3⃣ double play everyday. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/y5ISbRBXlg
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
We saw that in the sixth. Mets killer Miguel Rojas, who opened the game with a homer, hit a lead-off single, and he moved to second on an error from Carrasco. After a one walk, Luis Rojas brought in Aaron Loup.
While he’s been the Mets best reliever, Loup just didn’t have it. He’d walk back-to-back batters to force home the tying run. He’s dig down to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
After Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh, he was in line for the win. They’d get it for him giving him a team high nine wins.
Rojas went to his bench to have Dominic Smith pinch hit. Smith sat because he’s been struggling and due to his best 0-for-9 off Alcantara. After he ripped a double off Jesus Aguilar‘s glove, he’s now 1-for-10.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 3, 2021
If Aguilar didn’t touch it, the ball probably goes foul. However, he did, and in a fitting fashion, the go-ahead run scored on an almost play.
The Mets made good on that 4-3 lead. First, it was Trevor May in the eighth. May did all he could do that inning including trying to dive to catch a foul ball.
Trevor May deserves a tweet just for the effort… 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jNteyyWUPO
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 3, 2021
In the ninth, Edwin Diaz continued his recent stretch of dominance. He struck out two in a perfect inning saving the sloppy 4-3 win featuring seven errors and a number of misplays.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was claimed off waivers. As it happened after August 31, he will not be postseason eligible. Khalil Lee was sent down for Yennsy Diaz. Like Lee briefly was, Albert Almora is a September call-up.
Carlos Carrasco was really good, and he gave a glimpse into what a healthy 2022 season could be for him. Over 7.0 innings, he allowed two runs on three hits.
Past that, you really don’t want to know. That said, you can probably guess right.
There was the inability to hit with the bases loaded. A good reliever suffered from bad luck.
The Mets also completely overreacted to the left-handed starting pitcher. As we’ve seen previously, this resulted in having better pinch hitters. But, whatever at this point.
All this does is create the illusion of hope for a team who went 2-11 against the Giants and Dodgers. They can try to sell seven of those 11 games were one run games, but being honest, those one run games were about the Mets throwing away chances to win those games on multiple occasions.
Maybe the Mets go on a run. Maybe they don’t. Whatever the case, something is broken here. Luis Rojas will be blamed, but it’s not his fault. This is on the players and front office.
The New York Mets offense has been dreadful lately. With that being the case, you can never quite tell if it’s the offense or the opposing pitcher.
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers started Walker Buehler it’s easy to concede it was the starting pitcher. After all, Buehler is arguably the current NL Cy Young favorite. Despite that, the Mets almost got him.
That would be the last time a Dodger reached base. Carlos Carrasco settled in, and he would have his finest start since coming off the IL. It was the first time he went five innings, he struck out a season high six, and he seemingly started figuring stuff out.
After Carrasco, the Mets bullpen did their job putting up zeros. That kept the Mets in the game, and a Pete Alonso fourth inning solo shot had the Mets trailing 3-1 entering the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 21, 2021
That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.
That McNeil at-bat is where home plate umpire Nestor Ceja which would’ve left Eric Gregg scratching his head. McNeil appeared to work out a walk loading the bases. That was until Ceja called a pitch a foot off the plate a strike.
Yeah…about that… pic.twitter.com/rzyA5f6Wis
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 21, 2021
That bogus strikeout was the difference between bases loaded one out and two on with two outs. It would make a huge difference.
It was Alonso driving in another run with an infield single pulling the Mets within 3-2. Problem is it shouldn’t have been a single.
Good catch from SNY broadcast: Alonso's infield single appeared to hit his foot in the box, which would have rendered it foul: pic.twitter.com/Ie99PAaL2m
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 21, 2021
Alonso who has a ton of hard hit outs lately got some assistance from his cleat. On the subject of Ceja, he had called a foul off Jonathan Villar‘s foot when the ball easily cleared his foot.
Davis would strike out. It was the fifth time Davis struck out with the bases loaded, and he has yet to get a hit in that situation. It’ll be interesting to see how he blames that on Alonso.
After Kenley Jansen made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, the Mets fell to two games under .500 and six games behind the Braves. There are just no words for that right now.
It’s really unfair to say the New York Mets season hinged on one game. After all, there’s still 45 games remaining, and we’ve seen crazier stuff happen.
That said, the Mets showed us nothing in this pivotal game against not just the Los Angeles Dodgers, but also former division foe Max Scherzer. Absolutely nothing.
Being honest, if Jacob deGrom is done for the year, and he very well might, the Mets are going nowhere without Carrasco. Carrasco hasn’t seemed ready since returning from injury. He’s yet to hit five innings, and this is his second straight start under three innings.
For the first of many times in the game, the Mets had a chance to get back into the game. That’s when Luis Rojas made what could be a fireable decision.
With the Mets down six in this game, about to be swept, and with the Phillies and Braves having won, Rojas sent Carrasco to the plate with two on and one out.
What makes this decision all the worse was he was lifting Carrasco anyway. Rojas would explain he had a short bench and didn’t want to go through it.
To that, it should be noted Brandon Drury pinch hit in the eighth and stayed on to pitch the ninth. As bad as that may seem, when Drury wasn’t getting out of the inning, Kevin Pillar came off the bench to relieve him.
That’s right. For the first time in Mets history one position player relieved another on the mound.
That’s basically how to get to down six with a chance to pull closer in the second to a 14-4 loss. What makes it even worse is how the Dodgers just begged the Mets to get back into the game.
While the Dodgers had just one error, they had gaffes all over the field. Dodgers relievers walked three and the ERAs of the relievers they used were 8.22, 6.64, and 9.53.
In the end, the Mets were 0-for-12 with RISP stranding 10 base runners. Really, this isn’t new. That’s the story of the 2021 Mets offense.
This is a team who showed their competing the first two days was more fluke than talent. They can’t get the big hit. They’re inability to take advantage of chances. They get blown out on national television after the Braves and Phillies have won.
They’re now heading out to California to play against the San Francisco Giants and Dodgers. Compounding the level of competition was the Mets being a horrendous road team.
Maybe they’ll shock us over the next week and final month of the season. That would be great. However, if we’re being honest, without magic, the Mets appear like they’re done and won’t be winning the division.
For New York Mets fans salivating for one of those good old fashioned Terry Collins throw the players under the bus press conferences, interim GM Zack Scott gave it to them. While it lacked the flair, the substance was on point.
"Most of the time, it's compliance issues"
Zack Scott says there's no systemic issues with the Mets' training staff in regards to injuries this season, and soft tissue injuries can be linked back to players not following through completely on plans set in place for them pic.twitter.com/82xIQULReK
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 10, 2021
Scott said the Mets have been mediocre, and their play of late has been unacceptable. In all honesty, both were true, and there’s no issues with him saying that.
Then, Scott went on to say the soft tissue injuries were really the result of players not following designed protocols from the team. Essentially, the Mets washed their hands from the vast majority of injuries their players faced.
What’s hilarious about that is the Mets started a game with a threat of rain. Remember, before first pitch, the home team decides whether or not to proceed. After that, it’s the umpires.
With the Mets proceeding, they got one inning from Carlos Carrasco. After he sat around a bit, he had to simulate a game to continue with the process of stretching out.
Because the game was suspended, the Mets bullpen, starting with Drew Smith, has to pitch eight innings. And, that’s before the second game of a doubleheader.
Keep in mind, the day after that, Rich Hill takes the mound. The Mets learned the hard way Hill is just a five inning pitcher. That means even more stress for the bullpen. That means they’ll be overtaxed as they hop on a plane to head out west.
So yes, Scott and the Mets can put these injuries on the players. They are in charge and can say whatever they want. However, behind that is a series of pitching decisions and decisions like tonight which have led to pitcher injury after pitcher injury after pitcher injury.
For all we know, it’s these types of decisions and missed opportunities which have trickled down to the position players. Overall, the Mets are right in saying the players have their share in the injures. However, as the Carrasco one inning suspended game shows, this front office isn’t as innocent as they told us they are.
This should’ve been a great day for the New York Mets. The black uniforms were back for limited engagement, Carlos Carrasco was making his season debut, and they added Javier Baez at the trade deadline.
For his part, aside from surrendering a homer to Jonathan India on his first pitch, Carrasco was terrific. Over four innings, he allowed just that one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 31, 2021
Jonathan Villar then hit into an inning ending double play. That was about it for the Mets offense for the night. They wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, and they squandered that opportunity as well.
It was still theoretically a game in the ninth as it was only 3-1. That was until the Reds roughed up Anthony Banda in his second inning of work for three runs making it a 6-1 Reds lead.
In the ninth, in what may prove to be his last Mets at-bat, Brandon Drury hit a pinch hit RBI double. It proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the Mets 6-2 loss.
As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, Nimmo was going to be taken out of the game with a hamstring issue resulting from a dividing catch. Jacob deGrom was shut down again with more forearm inflammation. It should also be noted with the Mets falling to add a reliever the bullpen struggled.
All told, even with the Baez addition, this was just about as bad a day as you can get. The Mets looked bad and might be in real trouble soon.
By no means is it fair to suggest the New York Mets and their players were throwing the game. Certainly, there was nothing Jerad Eickhoff wanted more than to have a strong start.
In many ways, this was the future of Eickhoff’s MLB career. He had already been DFA’d multiple times this season with no one willing to pick him up. That meant he was there for a Mets team desperate for a pitcher.
There’s no doubt the Mets were overturning every stone they could. After all, they just pulled the trigger on a trade for Rich Hill. Clearly, they wanted better than Eickhoff, but they just couldn’t find it.
It was a disaster for Eickhoff. He joined Pat Mahomes as the only Mets starter to walk five and all 10 ER. It was just that bad over his 3.2 innings.
Luis Rojas and the Mets were clearly asking him to wear one in what was a thinly veiled attempt to punt the game from a starting pitching standpoint. As noted, Eickhoff could only give them 3.2 innings.
Eickhoff left the mound to a chorus of boos. It’s unfortunate that’s the way he goes out. Certainly, he will be DFA’d in short order, and with the trade deadline this week and Carlos Carrasco due to come off the IL on Friday, there’s no way Eickhoff pitches for the Mets again.
To their credit, the Mets tried to make a game of it. Jeff McNeil‘s two run homer in the fifth not only extended his hitting streak to 14 games, but it pulled the Mets to within 10-3.
That was certainly the case when Diaz allowed a homer to Austin Riley, a player who is absolutely killing the Mets, hit a two run homer in the sixth. That made a prayer of coming back seven runs back against a bad Braves bullpen, an unrealistic nine run deficit.
Brandon Drury hit a window dressing two run homer to make it 12-5, but this was a game the Mets blew by not having a legitimate Major League starter. We can debate what the Mets should or should not have done, but in reality, there was no one on this roster to put the Mets in position to win.
For the Mets, they still lead the division by 3.5 games. Ultimately, they’ll be fine with getting two starters back and the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, for Eickhoff, this may be it. Certainly, someone could grab him as minor league depth. It’s just hard to imagine he’s going to get a real chance to start in the majors again.
With Jacob deGrom down, and with Carlos Carrasco looking further away than initially hoped, the New York Mets have a real need for a starting pitcher. In fact, at the moment, their rotations is Megill, Walker, Stro, and Who Knows?
So, obviously, the Mets are going to need a starting pitcher, and they are going to need one sooner rather than later. Who they can get, and what the cost will be, is anyone’s best guess.
While we know this is a priority, this is not the only area the Mets need to address at the trade deadline. As a result, they should not and cannot get myopic in their endeavors to improve the team. This is a front office well capable of multitasking, and they are well aware of those needs.
Right now, those needs include pitching in general. While the rotation is getting all the focus, the bullpen needs help as well. Since June 1, the Mets bullpen has been one of the worst in baseball. In fact, they own a 5.21 FIP which is the second worst in baseball. Their 4.69 ERA may only be 13th worst, but that is the worst among any teams currently in a postseason position.
While the bullpen has been a strength early, it has been a liability of late. Part of that is fatigue and players hitting the IL. The other part of it has been Edwin Diaz regressing and starting to resemble the unreliable closer who lost his job in 2019. With that being the case, the Mets need to seriously take a look at adding at least an arm or maybe two.
The other big area of need is third base. Right now, Mets third basemen collectively own a -8 DRS, which is the third worst in the National League. Coincidentally, it is the only position where the Mets own a negative DRS defensively.
Part of the reason is the Mets aren’t playing Jeff McNeil there. Instead, they have asked Luis Guillorme, Jose Peraza, and Jonathan Villar to play out of position. That has yielded poor results. The other problem is J.D. Davis has long proven completely incapable of proving the position. The boiling point on Davis should have been when he literally just stood in foul territory in Pittsburgh when Walker unsuccessfully tried to knock a ball foul.
As we see, the Mets have three real areas of need with the rotation, bullpen, and third base. You can also make the case with Peraza suffering a broken finger, the Mets could afford to add a little more depth to the roster. Overall, if the Mets want to win the World Series, and they have the core to do it, they need to look at more than the rotation.
The New York Mets had a golden opportunity with seven straight games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Somehow, they started the stretch with a split:
1. Blowing a five run first inning lead to the Pirates is completely unacceptable.
2. Part of blowing that game was bullpenning. As correctly noted by Zack Braziller, if you’re the Mets, you do that you should choose a seven inning game and not the nine inning game.
3. That game was exactly why they waited so long on calling the Jacob deGrom start.
5. It’s odd that Rojas and the Mets don’t trust Drew Smith. For the most part, when he’s been called upon, he performs.
7. . Taijuan Walker was a very deserving All-Star, and it will be great to see him pitch on Tuesday. It’s still shocking to believe the Mets were his only offer.
10. With the draft last night, and Kumar Rocker fortunately falling to the Mets, its interesting to note with Smith, Nimmo, and Conforto, the Mets starting outfield is all first round picks.
11. This is just another reminder of how just impossibly good the Mets are at drafting. They really don’t pay those guys enough money.
13. On that note, it’s interesting to hear Rojas say he’s not giving Davis the job back. It’ll also be interesting to see what exactly the Mets do with the position at the trade deadline.
14. Seeing the series against the Pirates, the Mets main need at the deadline seems to be the bullpen. Too many of their guys are tired and have been pushed too much.
16. The Mets offense has shown they can be clutch, and they’ve shown the propensity for the big inning, but we’re not seeing them be able to sustain an onslaught throughout a game.
17. Luis Guillorme continues to be clutch and a good pinch hitter.
18. Heading into the break. deGrom is the Mets best pitcher, and Lindor is the best position player. For all the hysteria, that’s what you ultimately expected.
19. For all the disappointment and consternation over this split, the Mets are still in first place heading into the break.