During his press conference before the New York Mets first Spring Training game, Sandy Alderson addressed extensions. On that note, he specifically mentioned Michael Conforto, Francisco Lindor, and Noah Syndergaard as players the team will have discussions.
Going further, Alderson addressed how the offseason impacted building the team. He said James McCann helped allow the Mets to have the capital to bring on Carlos Carrasco and Lindor. He also admitted what impact George Springer could’ve had on the Mets:
Sandy Alderson suggested the Mets had interest in George Springer at five years, but not six. If the Mets had signed Springer, Alderson said, it probably would have precluded them from trying to extend Michael Conforto.
"At some point, even Steve Cohen runs out of money."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 1, 2021
In that, Alderson admitted it was Conforto or Springer. In some ways, that’s just common sense as Springer was commanding a huge salary, and before his deal was over, he was going to have to move to right field.
That had a direct impact on the Mets ability to keep one of Conforto or Brandon Nimmo. With Conforto hitting free agency first, it was much more likely to be Conforto gone.
Well, Springer has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. That clears the path for the Mets to keep their core on long term extensions. With Alderson essentially admitting it was Conforto or Springer, that means a Conforto extension must now get done.
It was the Mets who framed it as a Conforto/Springer choice. They now made their choice, and they must now follow through by giving Conforto an extension. After that, they can name him captain and watch on as he makes his attempts to become the Mets best ever position player.
Typically speaking, you don’t like to see pitchers jump over 100.0 innings from one season to the next. The problem is with the 60 game season in 2020 nearly every pitcher in Major League Baseball is going to have to make that jump. How to combat this is going to be a concern for all 30 Major League teams, especially the New York Mets.
The Mets have Marcus Stroman, who didn’t pitch last year, and they have Noah Syndergaard returning from Tommy John at some point this season. Carlos Carrasco is still building up his endurance on the mound after battling leukemia. There is also the opportunity for David Peterson to crack the Opening Day rotation. Throw in protecting Jacob deGrom, the best pitcher in baseball, and you see how the Mets may want to find a way to limit everyone’s innings.
There’s more to it as well. None of these pitchers threw even 70.0 innings last year. We don’t know when, but it is reasonable to assume at some point the Mets starters may face fatigue and may hit a wall. As we typically see, there are going to be a few pitchers who battled ineffectiveness and hit the proverbial dead arm periods. That’s even with extremely well conditioned pitchers like deGrom and Stroman.
Really, the Mets need to figure out the best possible way to let their pitchers keep strong all season long, and hopefully, be in a position to be as strong as possible heading into October. In a different way, that was an issue the Mets had in 2015.
That season, the Mets opted to throw their five best pitchers to start the season. To a certain extent, Zack Wheeler‘s needing Tommy John forced the issue there. Beyond that, the Mets didn’t really plan for making the postseason. Their season as well as Matt Harvey‘s return from his own Tommy John surgery as well as Scott Boras forcing the issue with innings limits forced the Mets to confront the issue.
At times, we saw a six man rotation. That was something which was met with some resistance from the Mets young starting staff. To a certain extent, you could understand that as baseball players, especially starters, are creatures of habit. Considering that being the case, perhaps it would be better to start the season with a six man rotation to give the Mets starters a better opportunity to adapt.
Certainly, the Mets have the arms to pull that off. To start the year, they already have a strong top of the rotation with deGrom, Stroman, Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. After that, they have a strong competition for the fifth starter spot with Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto. There is also players like Jerad Eickhoff and Corey Oswalt who could force their way into the conversation.
In terms of Spring Training competitions, we should not that they’re terrible in nature. You’re judging a bunch of players against differing levels of competition. You may get to face a team full of Double-A to Four-A players and dominate while another player gets to face Major League caliber competition. That leads to skewed results.
One way to combat that is to take your best six pitchers up north. You can ease your four best pitchers into the 2021 season and then get a better look at the fifth starters against Major League competition. This means while you are saving your best pitchers for the end of the season, you are also getting a better look at your pitchers in what could be described as a protracted competition.
Keep in mind, you can easily skip this sixth starter in the rotation if need be and have them available in the bullpen. With early season rain outs and off days, you may not want to go right to the sixth starter. That also gives the team an added benefit to see how a Lucchesi or Yamamoto could look coming out of the pen for an inning or more.
Overall, there is a lot of benefit to having a six man rotation to start the season. Pulling it off properly requires a deft touch by Luis Rojas. If done properly, the Mets can secure a postseason spot, and they can have deGrom at full strength to have a similar run to what he had in 2015. In fact, imagine what he could do now! But before that, we just have to figure out a way for him and the rest of this rotation to navigate the 2021 season.
Look across the diamond. The New York Mets are a significantly better baseball team. It’s not just better in terms of the rotation and starting lineup, but it’s also better in terms of their burgeoning depth. Despite that, somehow, the Mets failed to address their biggest need of the offseason – third base.
J.D. Davis is the incumbent third baseman, and simply put, he has done nothing but prove he has no business playing the position at the Major League level. In his career, he has played 770.0 innings there, and he has amassed a -19 DRS. As previously put in perspective, that was worse than what Wilmer Flores posted as the position, and there was near unanimous consent Flores should never man the position again.
The Mets were well aware of this, and that’s why they seemingly went out of their way this offseason to say they were going to upgrade at third base. He said the position was “up in the air,” and the team went on what seemed to be wild goose chases for Kris Bryant and Eugenio Suarez. For all we know, they are still doing all they can to pry those players loose from their current teams.
When the Mets were unable to acquire a real third baseman before the start of Spring Training, Luis Rojas was reluctant to name anyone as the team’s third baseman. That would appear to be an indictment of Davis, especially with second base becoming vacant with Robinson Cano‘s season long suspension.
At least on the surface, it would seem Davis would keep his slot at third with Jeff McNeil becoming the everyday third baseman. However, that’s not entirely possible with Davis not being able to play the position. In fact, Davis is literally the worst fielder in the Major Leagues.
Over the past two seasons, Davis has amassed a combined -29 DRS. That includes a -17 DRS at third and a -12 DRS in left field. Just to put in perspective how bad that is, he is the only player to appear TWICE among the worst 30 fielders over the past two seasons. As we’ve seen, the Mets just can’t hide him in the field. That goes double for third.
Making Davis at third even worse is the current complexion of the Mets pitching staff. Overall, this is a heavy ground ball pitching staff. To wit, here are their GB/FB ratios since 2017:
- Marcus Stroman 2.66
- Noah Syndergaard 1.68
- Carlos Carrasco 1.35
- Taijuan Walker 1.34
- Jacob deGrom 1.34
- Joey Lucchesi 1.33
- David Peterson 1.22
- Jordan Yamamoto 0.80
Looking at the make-up of the Mets top eight starting pitching options, seven of them induce batters to hit the ball on the ground. That makes having a good defensive infield more of an imperative. Yes, Francisco Lindor goes a long way towards doing that, but by playing Davis next to him, the Mets are effectively neutralizing Lindor’s effect.
Digging deeper, the Mets are going to play Pete Alonso at first where he is not a good fielder. That means the Mets are going to trot out a ground ball staff and have the Major League worst defense at the corners. Really, this does not remotely make any sense whatsoever. Really, it’s ponderous the Mets would even consider going in this direction.
When you look at it from that perspective, Davis cannot play third everyday. It only serves to hurt the team. Ideally, the Mets would pull off that blockbuster we’ve been waiting for them to pull off all offseason to acquire a third baseman, or they need to play Luis Guillorme everyday at second pushing McNeil to third, where he is a better fielder.
No matter what the Mets do, they simply cannot make Davis the everyday third baseman. They’ve done far too much this offseason, and they’ve built their team a certain way. Allowing Davis and his defense, or lack thereof, diminish or neutralize it, makes zero to no sense.
The Mets have signed Taijuan Walker to join a rotation which already has Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Carlos Carrasco. With Noah Syndergaard set to return from Tommy John this season, that means the fifth starter role on the Opening Day rotation is a temporary one.
Entering 2020, Peterson was the top pitching prospect in the Mets organization, and at one point in his minor league career, he was considered a top 100 prospect. Even though he pitched for the Mets in that bizarre and truncated season, in many ways, Peterson remains a pitching prospect, and he should be treated as such.
If you are an organization, you don’t take your best Major League ready pitching prospect and put him in the rotation for just two months with the plan of moving him back to the minors or even the bullpen. As a plan, that makes zero to no sense. It’s a gross mishandling of a prospect.
That’s before you also consider Peterson still needs to develop. He did walk 11.7% of the batters he faced. Even with the caveat of Wilson Ramos behind the plate, that’s terrible, and it will not be sustainable for the course of a full season. To be fair, this has not been a significant issue during his minor league career, and as Derek Carty, then of Fangraphs, pointed out ground ball pitchers can get away with a higher walk rate.
The control manifested itself in other areas than just walk rate for Peterson. Last year, he was below average in terms of barrel rates and 10.2% of fly balls against him went for homers. That’s a rate which followed him from Double-A, and that is a poor rate. If you are a pitcher who pitches to contact like Peterson does, you cannot yield that high of a home run rate. These are areas Peterson should be able to address and improve. However, that is difficult when you are bouncing between the majors and Triple-A.
The good news for the Mets is they have built depth sufficient to allow Peterson to continue to develop in the minors. They have both Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto. In terms of Yamamoto, he only has one option remaining, and you don’t want to burn it if you don’t need to do it. With Lucchesi, the Mets have a pitcher who had a much better FIP than Peterson.
That’s an important consideration here. Peterson is not definitively better than the pitchers in the Mets organization. Aside from Lucchesi and Yamamoto, the Mets also have pitchers like Jerad Eickhoff, who should not be completely discounted with his now being over a full season being removed from a biceps issue, and Corey Oswalt.
The point is for two months the Mets have options. Those options could also include bullpenning games with them having both Lucchesi and Yamamoto. When you examine all the options, you see the Mets don’t need to force Peterson into the rotation for two months only to remove him and send him down to Syracuse or the bullpen. No, the better course is for Peterson to start the year in Syracuse to develop and be ready for when the first pitcher in the rotation goes down with an injury.
Look, the New York Mets still have work to do this offseason. That’s a result not just of how terrible Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon were, but it’s also representative of where the Mets aspirations are.
To that end, instead of looking at a rotation of Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, and eventually Noah Syndergaard buttressed by impressive depth, fans see a team in need of another starter. To be fair, the Mets organization does as well.
In light of that, the Mets pursued James Paxton, and they’ve pursued other starters as well. Except, the Mets didn’t get Paxton. He would return to the Seattle Mariners for a little more money to pitch at a place where he’s had success to rebuild his value.
Remember, Paxton has an injury history, and he’s coming off an injury. Would Paxton have made the Mets better? Sure. However, what he provides is fungible as compared to the free agent market.
If the idea is to add a starter for depth, wouldn’t it be better to add the guy you can count on to be healthy? With that being the case, Paxton and Odorizzi aren’t the answer. Walker and Porcello are.
Regardless, missing out on Paxton is not remotely a big deal when you have these other options.
The same can be said about the Mets missing out on Justin Wilson.
Undoubtedly, with Seth Lugo‘s injury, there is an increased need for the Mets to bring in another reliever. Losing Lugo turns a bullpen which was looking like a strength and turning it into a question mark.
Yes, Wilson was quite good with the Mets, and he’s likely to be quite good next year. To that point, it makes the Aaron Loup signing all the more curious. Wilson would’ve likely been far superior for that role, but for some reason, the organization thought Loup was the better fit.
Even with that, there still remains quality options available. There’s Trevor Rosenthal who seemed to put the injuries behind him to return to his dominant form. David Robertson is coming off Tommy John, and he’s been a dominant late inning reliever in his career. There are other interesting names like MVP vote getter Ryan Tepera.
If the Mets want a strictly left-handed reliever, Oliver Perez is available. Put the old nonsense aside, Perez has been a quality reliever. There’s also Tony Watson, who can provide every bit what Wilson could’ve provided.
In total, there’s still plenty of quality arms on the free agent market who can easily provide what Paxton and Wilson would’ve. In fact, there are pitchers available who are in fact better. Because of this, there is absolutely zero reason to get upset over missing those two or other similarly skilled pitchers.
Really, the only time to get upset is in the event the Mets don’t add another starter or reliever. That said, based on all we’ve seen this offseason, it’s hard to believe that’ll happen.
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.
— Simply Amazin' (@SimplyAmazinPod) February 15, 2021
There are factors for that including Lindor’s expiring deal and the Mets taking on $34.3 million in salary for 2021 alone. Seeing that could make you believe the Mets could obtain Kris Bryant and his $19.5 million in Bryant’s last year before free agency.
Such optimism is misplaced for a number of reasons. First, the Chicago Cubs are somewhat vacillating between tearing it down and competing in a dreadful NL Central. Mostly, the Cubs aren’t going to let their homegrown superstar, the man who fielded what was the final out of their first World Series in 108 years go at a discount.
If you’re a team like the Mets, the question is how far do you go to get Bryant. The answer should be very far.
Yes, Bryant struggled in 2020. His career low 77 wRC+ was largely due to a mixture of his shoulder and oblique issues and just the truly bizarre nature of the 2020 season.
Keep in mind, there should be some positive course correction with Bryant having a .264 BABIP which is well off his career mark of .339. Of course, part of that was his poor contract numbers. He wasn’t squaring balls up or hitting balls hard.
Again, Bryant dealt with an oblique injury. Presumably, that should not be an issue in 2021. If that is the case, Bryant could return to the player who had a 139 wRC+ over the first five seasons of his career.
That 139 mark bests all Mets hitters over that time frame. In fact, it’s the 17th best in all of baseball and third best at his position. His fWAR over that stretch has him as the best third baseman in the game. Notably, his bWAR has him lower down the list, but that said, he’s still among the best in the game.
Keep in mind, he’s not just a third baseman. He’s also spent time at first and all three outfield positions. This would give Luis Rojas some flexibility both in setting the lineup and late in games.
All told, Bryant would fill a huge hole on the roster, and he arguably becomes the second best player on the roster. Put another way, he makes the Mets a SIGNIFICANTLY better team. He may even make them the World Series favorites.
What do you give up for this? A lot!
Rumors are the Cubs have interest in David Peterson. Honestly, he shouldn’t be the hold-up. Peterson shouldn’t be getting in the way of the Mets and the World Series. That goes double when the Mets can possibly obtain another piece from the Cubs.
Sure, there is a line. There always should be one. That’s likely in the vicinity of Francisco Alvarez and Matthew Allan. Keep in mind as the Mets draw this line, they will receive a compensatory second round pick should Bryant not re-sign (presuming he’s extended a qualifying offer).
At the end of the day, the Mets have to ask who exactly in their system is worth not adding the missing piece to this roster. Which prospect or player should stand in the way of the best infield in all of baseball and quite possibly a World Series.
And that right there is why the Mets should be willing to pay a hefty price for Bryant.
So, the Mets didn’t get Trevor Bauer. Instead, Bauer went to his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers for what might’ve been less money. Despite Bauer really not being better than the Mets fifth best starter, the over the top criticism started:
— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) February 5, 2021
Welcome back, @Mets.
— Brian Monzo (@BMonzoRadio) February 5, 2021
This is just scratching the surface of what we find at the bottom of the barrel. For their sake, you hope this is just schtick because these are purely horrid opinions.
Yes, we all know the Mets didn’t get Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or George Springer. Instead, they got better players and a much deeper roster. In fact, just look at who they signed/acquired so far this offseason:
- Francisco Lindor
- Carlos Carrasco
- Marcus Stroman
- James McCann
- Trevor May
- Sam McWilliams
- Aaron Loup
- Joey Lucchesi
- Jordan Yamamoto
We’ve also just learned with the Bauer bidding the Mets have at least $40 million they can invest in the 2021 team. It can also be used to extend players like Michael Conforto, Lindor, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard.
If someone can take a look at that and what the Mets can still do, and say to you this is the same old Wilpon run Mets, they’re either lying, trying to get attention, think you’re gullible, have no idea what they’re talking about, or some mixture of these.
Make no mistake, this has been a phenomenal offseason. Yes, we can quibble with a move or two, but in the end, calling this anything but a success is dumb. Really, the people pushing these narratives really know better.
Well, at least they should. They should because it’s absurd to think adding a top five player in the game on Lindor on top of everything else they did is disappointing or a failure. It’s really beyond absurd.
This has been nothing short of a great offseason. Arguably, it’s among if not the best the Mets have ever had.
This wasn’t the best week for the New New York Mets regime. Jared Porter’s text messages surfaced, and he had to be fired.
George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Brad Hand signed with the Washington Nationals. The New York Yankees obtained Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates without having to part with a huge prospect cost.
Believe it or not, these has actually caused some anxiety and consternation amongst Mets fans.
Bauer or Bust for the Mets
— Sal Licata (@sal_licata) January 25, 2021
Brutal…Mets needed to sign him https://t.co/oRIsNtgBZV
— Evan Roberts (@EvanRobertsWFAN) January 25, 2021
Seeing Mets fans beginning to lose their minds, it’s clear they’re forgetting just how vastly improved this Mets team is.
After all, the Mets obtained Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, in one fell swoop the Mets got the best player and pitcher any team will obtain this offseason.
Keep in mind, many thought the 2020 Mets were a postseason team, and this team has made major upgrades:
- SP Rick Porcello -> Carlos Carrasco
- SP Michael Wacha -> Marcus Stroman
- RP Jared Hughes -> Trevor May
- C Wilson Ramos -> James McCann
- Andres Gimenez/Amed Rosario -> Francisco Lindor
Also, for the all the claims the Mets aren’t spending, people are ignoring just how much the Mets have already invested in the 2021 team. To date, the Mets have already added $61.3 million to the payroll.
Are people going to claim the Mets are being cheap when they’ve added what amounts to the Tampa Bay Rays entire payroll already? Consider that’s before the Mets are even done.
At the time no one say the Lindor trade happening. It went from rumored to confirmed in about an hour. Who knows what else is on the horizon.
Before jumping the gun and lambasting this front office like it’s one which has been run by the Wilpons, look at what they’re already done. Take time to realize they’re not done building this team.
There may come a time to criticize them, but it’s not today. It’s not when the Blue Jays gave Springer a way over the top contract, the Nationals had a closer job to offer the Mets didn’t, and the Yankees rolled the dice on a pitcher who has had two Tommy John surgeries.
Things have already improved immensely under Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson, and they will continue to get better.
When looking to sign a player, the first question is whether that player would improve the team. Clearly, Trevor Bauer clears that hurdle.
The next is whether that player is a worthwhile investment. That’s where it gets complicated for Bauer.
Bauer is noted to want to pitch every fourth day, and he purportedly is seeking $30+ million. Putting aside, the Mets logjam trying to extend players, the Mets have to justify making Bauer their highest paid player when he’s not that.
Putting aside 2020 for a moment, here’s how Bauer would stack against a fully healthy Mets rotation from 2016 – 2019:
- Jacob deGrom 151 ERA+
- Carlos Carrasco 126 ERA+
- Noah Syndergaard 119 ERA+
- Trevor Bauer 119 ERA+
- Marcus Stroman 113 ERA+
- deGrom 2.82 FIP
- Syndergaard 2.83 FIP
- Carrasco 3.37 FIP
- Bauer 3.70 FIP
- Stroman 3.80 FIP
Looking at it, Bauer is clearly fourth. However, when you compare the relative levels of competition, Stroman has put up his numbers against VASTLY superior competition.
Taking that into account, when Syndergaard returns, that makes Bauer the fifth starter on this Mets team. Yes, he’d be by far the best fifth starter in the league, but a fifth starter nevertheless.
Now, Bauer did have a great 2020. However, it should be noted that came in a shortened season against absolutely dreadful competition. Moreover, Bauer, himself, put into question just how he was able to accomplish it.
If you’re the Mets, how can you possibly sign a pitcher to the highest contract when he’s likely going to be your fifth best starting pitcher? While a team could do whatever they want, this would seem like a mismanagement of resources.
No, the Mets should be better allocating those resources to positions of need like third, center, and the bullpen. They should be looking to extend their players including Stroman and Syndergaard. They should be letting another team roll the dice with Bauer.
The Mets have four pitchers better than Bauer. They should let that quartet led them in 2021 and hopefully well beyond that.