It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.
Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.
There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.
Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.
With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.
The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.
To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.
J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.
And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.
Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.
Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.
The New York Mets were swept/embarassed by the Miami Marlins, a team who is rivaling the 1962 Mets in futility. There doesn’t need to be anything else said, but here it is anyway:
1. Managers get fired for the way the Mets played this weekend, but if we are being honest, this has nothing to do with Mickey Callaway. This is all on the team Brodie Van Wagenen built.
2. Van Wagenen fled Miami before the series was over and was not present to answer one question about the team he built or their play. That’s absolute cowardice.
3. Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote an article finally directing the blame towards Van Wagenen. We also saw Mike Puma of the NY Post say attention will eventually need to turn to to Van Wagenen, but first, the media wants Callaway gone first. Where were these articles in March when Van Wagenen was mortgaging the future to build what projections had as a fourth place team?
4. We all knew Robinson Cano didn’t hustle. With his PED suspension, we knew there was a chance he would be a chance he regressed,especially with him turning 36 years old. Van Wagenen was the only person who dismissed this.
5. Too often, we make the mistake of confusing players struggling with them not caring. The Mets players are probably embarrassed and still trying hard. They’re just not good right now for a multitude of reasons.
6. Then again, it’s hard to make that claim with Cano when he just blatantly did not run. There’s not hustling, and then there’s what he did. While we thought he had his defenses, it turned out they were lies, at least the scoreboard one.
7. Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic were tow of the biggest risers on MLB Pipeline‘s updated Top 100. Also, Edwin Diaz hasn’t had a save opportunity in well over a week. It’s almost like trading two top 100 prospects and taking on a $100 million commitment for a closer is a terrible idea. Who knew?
9. To be fair to Frazier, he has been the Mets player during this five game losing streak. On the converse, it speaks volumes about this team that Frazier has been their best player during this losing streak.
10. The Mets trotted out a lineup on Sunday where the bottom four hitters were Adeiny Hechavarria–Juan Lagares–Tomas Nido–Noah Syndergaard. We’re really killing the manager for a lineup that noncompetitive lineup not scoring? That’s four straight 8/9 hitters!
11. The Mets have completely bought into Chili Davis, a man fired by the Red Sox and Cubs because of this philosophy. This is what happens when you make terrible hiring decisions.
12. Syndergaard deserves credit for how he pitched on Sunday. There is no reason whatsoever why he lost that game. In addition to that, the bullpen deserves a lot of credit for continuing to pitch well through all of this. This group is one of the few who deserves credit for actually showing up and performing anywhere close to expectations.
13. With is injury history and how abdominal injuries tend to linger, it’s great to see Jeff McNeil was able to play. Hopefully, we should not see any drop off from his level of play. The Mets can’t afford it.
14. Carlos Gomez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and he airmailed a ball on Friday. That throw not only let the one run score easily, but it also put the batter into scoring position. Seeing Gomez play so far, he’s actually worse than what Keon Broxton was forever hammering home the point things can always be worse with the Mets.
15. So far, the Mets have held Broxton, a fifth outfielder, and Travis d’Arnaud, a back-up catcher, accountable for the team’s poor play. That’s obvious scapegoating, and it had no effect because things don’t change when you get rid of a fifth outfielder and back-up catcher to try to send a message to the everyday players you, as an organization, outright refuse to make accountable.
16. If Mike Francesa is going to genuflect when he has Jeff Wilpon in studio, he can’t suddenly rail on the Mets. Well, he can if he wants; it’s his show. Just know that when he does that, he exposes himself to be a fraud, and it helps Michael Kay catch up.
17. The Mets were completely dominated by the Miami Marlins. The Marlins.
18. Through all of this, don’t be confused. There are plenty of reasons to fire Callaway. Just don’t for a second believe firing him is the thing that is doing to turn this team around. It’s not.
19. When the Mets play tonight, Boo, don’t boo, who cares? If you’re in the park spending money, the Wilpons don’t care. They got what they want out of you. That’s not to say it’s the fans fault. The point is the Wilpons don’t care about contending. They only care about creating the appearance of it to generate revenues.
20. Through all of it, we can say a lot of things, but the most succinct thing to say here is the Mets suck.
When a team disappoints, the manager will be on the hot seat. So far this year, the Mets are one game under .500, the organization had a meeting to discuss what was wrong with Mickey Callaway and to see if there are things the team can do to prevent a repeat of what happened last year. Considering how the team traded away all those prospects in a clear win-now move, it does not seem Callaway is going to stand on firm footing.
The question is whether Callaway should be on the hot seat. The Mets Bloggers offer their views:
There’s no question about it. I never like to blame the roster or it’s issues on the manager, but the fact remains they have under-performed to this point in the season. The schedule has been rough, but that’s not an excuse for good teams. And the decision making in the dugout continues to be perplexing at its best, which only exacerbates the problems they have. I think there could be action taken if the Mets don’t come through what should be a lighter 16 games heading into Memorial Day over .500.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Unfortunately, yes, I think he should be. His players appear to enjoy playing for him. But if the results aren’t there, despite his players’ support, he’s gonna have a hard time sticking around.
Joe Maracic (Joe Art Studio)
I never want to see someone lose their job but Mickey should be on the hot seat. Back to back seasons of starting strong then fading is not a good sign. He was a pitching coach and has been anything but creative handling the staff.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Should he be? Yes, this team was built to get off to a fast start and should have, despite the injuries. I like Mickey, seems to be a good man who the players seem to like. But that sounds like how people described Terry Collins for the majority of his tenure. Will he be? Hard to tell. Brodie didn’t hire him, and Jeff Wilpon is reactive, so if the team starts creeping toward being 10 games under, a change will be made.
Here’s the rub for me; the heir apparent is Jim Riggleman, who is the living embodiment of a retread. Not much winning in his background, but a get along, go along persona that will fit right in with an organization that thinks scripting the lineup is the way to run the day-to-day. Think a more assertive, more veteran type of skipper is needed in New York, esp a team that has a perception of not being “all in” financially. A guy who can get more out of players, a guy who has the confidence to walk into his office, see a lineup on his desk, and choose to write up his own if he feels it will be a better one.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
He will be, but he shouldn’t be. I think he should get the season and I think that’s probably going to be it for him. But this team started struggling when it stopped hitting. The players that stopped hitting were Brodie’s acquisitions. They may come out of it and when they do, everything will be fine again. Callaway hasn’t been the best, but we’re living in an age where front offices are taking more of a role in how a manager does his job and makes more decisions than ever. More of what makes a manager successful these days is having a good bench coach. So a manager does less and less, right? Then why now, when we look at fall guys, do we still look at the manager? And if Callaway goes, who replaces him long term, assuming Riggleman is the interim for the season? Is it going to be Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter or Wally Backman? Can you picture the Wilpons hiring a strong personality like that? Okay, so Callaway’s long term replacement is probably going to be somebody else just like Callaway. So my quesion is: what’s the point? Fire Callaway if you want. It won’t do much. This is the way we’re going in baseball now. GMs and team presidents are the stars of the show now. The only question is how long are they going to get away with using managers as scapegoats before people pull back the curtain and realize that front offices have most of the responsibility these days anyway?
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The hot seat is a terrible concept, but Mickey Callaway hasn’t been much of a manager.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
To me, it seems like too many fans judge managers mostly based on whether or not they look like Lou Brown from “Major League.” I’ve seen a lot of people saying things like “Mickey has no fire” or “this team isn’t hungry enough,” or things like that, but I think the simple truth is that we hit a bunch of offensive skids (Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, Jeff McNeil to an extent, Todd Frazier, J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo) and not many teams could overcome that. To me, the manager barely matters at all, and in terms of actual managing, I’d say Mickey has been pretty much solid so far. If there was someone else who could make the team better, I’d say sure, go out and get them — but I don’t think the manager is where our problems are coming from right now, and our problem certainly isn’t some ridiculous 1950s-style intangible, like “not wanting it more,” that could be fixed if we just brought in a guy with a beer gut and a mustache who cursed a lot.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Lou Brown was an analytics pioneer. Knew exactly how many wins the Tribe would need to take the division.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Oh, believe me…the moment the Mets call the California Penal League and sign a big arm with no control who doesn’t realize he needs glasses, Lou Brown is the guy you want.
Until then, though…
There are many and varied valid criticisms of Callaway. Personally, I find his willingness to just burn pinch hitters late in game to be a bizarre move, especially when the front office routinely gives him short benches. But when you look at it, this is the team the front office gave him.
There’s no amount of managing Callaway can do to make Cano younger, or to make players who are playing through injuries, like Nimmo, play better. Also, when a team buys into Chili Davis‘ offensive approach like the Mets seemingly have so far, you begin to realize this is more a problem of design than execution.
When looking at Callaway, you do see a team continuing to play hard, and you do see the team pitching well. These are two areas which could be attributable to Callaway. You also see a manager handling the bullpen much better than he did last year. Taking a long term view, the real strength of this team is the pitching, and it has been Callaway and Dave Eiland who has taken them to the next level.
What the Mets need to do before even considering putting Callaway on the hot seat for the inherent flaws in this roster, is they need to figure out who they can hire to keep Eiland around even if they fire Callaway. Short of Girardi, is there really anyone? Of course, the next step is to figure out why Girardi would make this team his last stop or how exactly the Mets plan to pay him.
No matter what the Mets decide with Callaway, this great group of fans and bloggers aren’t going anywhere. You should do yourself a favor and follow the links to their sites to read their great analysis of Callaway and all things Mets.
So far this season, the New York Mets have disappointed. When a team disappoints to this level, people begin to look for scapegoats, and almost always that is the manager. With the Mets, Mickey Callaway is a ripe target as he had a disappointing 2018 season with some real issues like having Jay Bruce bat out of order. The Mets start this season has done little to instill confidence he’s progressing.
The question is whether he is the biggest issue. Arguably, he isn’t. It’s the offense.
So far this season, the Mets rank 21st in the Majors in runs scored putting them squarely in the bottom third of the league. This is a component in their having been outscored by 27 runs so far this year. For comparison’s sake the Mets pitching staff have allowed the fifth fewest runs allowed.
With the offense, there are a number of problems. Wilson Ramos hasn’t hit at all, and he has a career and Major League worst ground ball rate. Todd Frazier hasn’t hit either, and it should come as no surprise he also has a career worst ground ball rate. Robinson Cano is struggling, and he currently has a career worst strike out rate. The list goes on and on including Brandon Nimmo and Keon Broxton.
When you break it all down, the peripheral numbers are terrible. The Mets have third worst ground ball and GB/FB rates in the majors. As a team, they’ve accumulated the fourth most strikeouts in the Majors. The team is in the bottom third in the Majors in HR/FB, hard hit percentage, and homers. For all the preaching about situational hitting, their five sacrifice flies are the third fewest in the Majors.
In total, the team’s 98 wRC+ puts them in the bottom half of the league. Put another way, this is exactly what a Chili Davis‘ offense looks like, and it is why the Mets are Davis’ third job in as many years. Overall, while his uniform has changed, he hasn’t:
|2015-2017 Red Sox||45.6%||1.34||11.7%||18.7%||101|
At the end of last season, Cubs President of Baseball Operations said, “Something happened to our offense in the second half,. We stopped walking, we stopped hitting home runs, we stopped hitting the ball in the air, and we stopped being productive. Not being able to get to two runs that many times in the second half is really unacceptable.” (MLB.com).
After the 2017 season, Red Sox Owner John Henry said, “I think we would’ve had significant power last year if we had a different approach.” (Mass Live). He would add, “I didn’t think we were nearly aggressive enough and I think our approach was lacking for a good part of the season.”
Ultimately, when you look at the numbers and what the Cubs and Red Sox had to say, the Mets should not be surprised with their offensive output this season. Looking at the numbers, the Mets are getting exactly what they should have expected when they hired Chili Davis.
The Mets went out to San Diego already under .500 and incapable of scoring runs. At least for one day, they figured things out, and suddenly things don’t look so bad:
- The Mets schedule so far this year has been idiotic including the team having a two city road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego. Someone should get the person in charge of making the schedules a map of the United States.
- If Chris Paddack was a Met, the fans would love this. In fact, they did when it was Matt Harvey before he had the audacity of getting injured.
- If Pete Alonso is going to hit homers and celebrate on the field, he is going to make himself a target for other teams. This was a good test for him. While he failed the first part striking out twice, popping out, and whining, he responded the perfect way by hitting the go-ahead homer and having a great bat flip.
- Aside from needing to respond to the challenge, he needed a good game because he went into that game hitting .184/.241/.347 over his previous 13 games.
- It wasn’t just Alonso who got off the snide, Brandon Nimmo snapped an 0-for-28 streak which was one off Eric Campbell‘s Mets hitless record. Instead of struggling, he’s Nimmo again with him going 2-for-6 with two doubles and three walks over his last two games.
- At least Robinson Cano was good for a day, but the Mets needs more than just the sporadic outburst from him.
- No one should fault the Mets for rejiggering the lineup to try to get things going, and with the way Amed Rosario has been hitting, it was smart putting him in the second spot in the lineup. However, this is a patch and not a fix, and when Jed Lowrie is finally activated, it is time to move him back down the lineup.
- Once Lowrie is activated, Todd Frazier has to go to the bench. While his defense has been great, his bat has been that bad.
- There is way too much hand-wringing over Keon Broxton, J.D. Davis, and Adeiny Hechavarria. They’re not that good, and no one should be that worried with them being designated for assignment or headed to Triple-A. Instead, they should be worried about what makes up the best composition of the bench and how it complements the roster.
- Indications are if Davis goes to Triple-A, he will work on the outfield. It’s bizarre the Mets would do that with him while simultaneously not even allowing Dominic Smith to work out there.
- Speaking of Smith, the Mets really could have used a left-handed bat off the bench during this road trip.
- It’s not just Frazier who has been bad. It’s the majority of the lineup. While you may expect this to be a blip, this may be Chili Davis‘ influence as his other teams have done the same exact thing.
- Wilson Ramos has a career worst ground ball rate, and there aren’t really signs of him turning things around right now.
- Tomas Nido had offseason LASIK surgery. If his hitting is that much improved, given how well he plays defensively, the Mets are going to need to find him more playing time, especially given Ramos’ struggles.
- The heart says Jeff McNeil looks like an MVP candidate, but the mind sees a staggering .400 BABIP with a low walk rate and wonders when exactly the regression is going to come.
- Brodie Van Wagenen built a team with zero starting pitching depth, and he was forced to trade for Wilmer Font to start a game despite Font not actually being a starting pitcher. It is beyond amusing the Mets had to go to Chaim Bloom to bail them out for the actions of the General Manager who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.
- After a rough start, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have been terrific, and they are giving the Mets every opportunity to win these games.
- Michael Conforto going in an 0-for-12 streak where he is still drawing walks and getting on base is a testament to how great a player he is becoming.
- More than anyone Conforto gets screwed on balls outside of the strike zone. That’s not just guessing or fan overreaction either, it’s fact.
- Mets fans need to stop over-criticizing Mickey Callaway. Who cares if he didn’t throw a tantrum after that bogus third strike call? The team still rallied after it, so it’s quite possible he has the pulse of this team. After all, Callaway did have the team playing hard last year.
With the way the Mets built their team, someone was going to be squeezed out of playing time. This meant players were going to have to take their opportunity and prove why they should play everyday. That is exactly what Jeff McNeil did. So far, he has been the Mets most consistent player, and he has firmly established himself as the everyday left fielder.
Todd Frazier had the same chance. With J.D. Davis utterly incapable of fielding his position, and Jed Lowrie‘s injury, Frazier had a clear path to show the Mets why he should be the team’s everyday third baseman.
There was every reason to believe he could do it. He’s easily the best defensive infielder on the team. In fact, you may be surprised to find out his 18 DRS since 2015 is the best out of any infielder on the roster, and it is seventh best among all Major League third basemen.
At the plate, Frazier would frustrate people with his low batting average and high strike out numbers. However, in the seven years prior to this year, his only year as a below league average hitter was last year. Overall, he had entered this season with a career 109 OPS+, and that includes his being a 107 OPS+ from 2016 – 2017.
One positive trend is his career was his improving his walk rate. He had gone from a 6.5 percent in 2015 to 9.6 percent in 2016 and 14.4 percent in 2017. His HR/FB rate is characterized by Fangraphs as great.
In total, Frazier had his flaws, but he was a good player. In fact, he was a player who averaged a 3.3 WAR over 2016-2017. The reason is because this was a good defender who provided a decent bat in the lineup. No, Frazier wasn’t the guy you wanted in the middle of the lineup, but you could do much worse than him in that sixth or seventh spot in the lineup.
Even with last year’s down year, there were positive signs for Frazier. In every way, it was a career worst year for him as he landed on the Disabled List twice, and by his own admission, he would rush back from the injuries. Still, Frazier had a 1.9 WAR because he was still good in the field. While it was a career worst year for him, there were some positive signs like his hard hit rate and his hitting well in April, which was just about the only time he was healthy all last year.
Unfortunately, Frazier was injured in Spring Training, and it would be a lengthy rehab assignment before he would return. So far this year, Frazier has been excellent defensively. Among players who have played 100 innings, Frazier’s 2 DRS is fourth best in the National League. His 1.8 UZR is second best in the National League.
Without him, the Mets pitching staff had a 5.66 ERA and a .325BABIP. Since his return, Mets pitchers have a 3.50 ERA and a 2.83 BABIP. This wasn’t all Frazier, but his playing well at third stopped the bleeding with all the base hits going through the left side of the infield unchallenged.
However, as good as Frazier has been defensively, he has been that bad at the plate. So far this year, he has not drawn a walk, and he has struck out 32.7 percent of the time. He has a career worst ground ball rate (a pattern developing among Mets hitters under Chili Davis‘ tutelage) with a career worst hard hit rate. This is all a long winded way of saying what everyone can see. Frazier is lost at the plate.
Depending upon your perspective, there are reasons to believe Frazier will or will not rebound. Normally, a team could give him time to figure things out and get back to being the hitter the Mets know he is. However, the Mets also have Lowrie coming off the Injured List on Friday.
While Lowrie may not be the fielder Frazier he, he is far from the butcher Davis is. Lowrie has also been a much better hitter than Frazier. When Lowrie comes off the Injured List, there is no doubt he should take over as the every day third baseman.
As for Frazier, who knows where he goes from here. Perhaps, going to the bench will light a fire under him, and he will rebound. Certainly, his glove and late inning defense will be a positive. With the way Mickey Callaway double switches, Frazier will get his opportunities. In the end, you never know how things shake out on the injury front, and perhaps Frazier will get another opportunity to prove himself.
Unfortunately for him, he didn’t do it now, and now he is going to find himself on the bench fighting for playing time.
Chris Paddack came into this start upset he lost out on Rookie of the Month honors to Pete Alonso. He was not just vocal about his displeasure, but he also threw down the gauntlet without being disrespectful of Alonso. That said, Paddack felt he had something to prove, and he set out to do it.
Just based on tonight, he made his case. He overpowered Alonso in Alonso’s first at-bat. Overall, Alonso was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a pop out against Paddack. To be fair to Alonso, he wasn’t the only Met to struggle against Paddack.
Paddack struck out 11 Mets and allowed just four hits over 7.2 innings. He was as dominant as you get, and he wasn’t really challenged all night. Seeing how feckless the Mets offense was, you could tell this was a Jacob deGrom start.
With there being no rain delay (although there was the rare threat of rain in San Diego), deGrom was great. Really, the only Padres batter who could touch him was Hunter Renfroe, who followed hitting a walk off grand slam against Kenley Jansen last night by going 2-for-3 with a double and homer off deGrom.
With the way the Mets offense has been of late, Renfroe’s fifth inning homer was effectively the game clinching run. His seventh inning double set up a Ty France sacrifice fly giving the Padres a 2-0 lead.
From there, Justin Wilson made his first appearance since being activated off the IL, and he would allow two runs in the eighth, all with two outs. At 4-0, there was zero chance of a Mets comeback win.
In total, the Mets were challenged today by Paddack, and they shrunk from the challenge. Maybe it was the travel. More likely, this is now a bad hitting club whose approach under Chili Davis is really not working right now. After all, that’s seven runs over six games.
This past offseason in an effort to build outfield depth, Brodie Van Wagenen traded prospects Adam Hill and Felix Valerio along with Bobby Wahl to the Brewers for Keon Broxton. With Wahl suffering a torn ACL in his knee, it does not appear like the players given up by the Mets will haunt them this year. It will be quite a while before Hill or Valerio have a chance to establish themselves, and by that point, this trade will largely be a distant memory.
When looking at this trade, the issues aren’t so much the prospects traded. It is about Broxton as a player.
After impressing as a 26 year old rookie in 2016, Broxton has not been a good baseball player. In his only full season as a starter, he had an 85 wRC+ and a – DRS meaning he was subpar at the plate and in the field. Certainly, this was one of the reasons which drove the Brewers to sign Lorenzo Cain as a free agent.
As a bench piece last year, Broxton did show some value as a defensive replacement. In 134.1 innings, he had an 11 DRS and a 6.5 UZR. Now, the UZR was a complete outlier for him, but it should be noted Broxton did have a 9 DRS two seasons prior. In essence, there was every reason to believe Broxton was a good defensive outfielder. He may not have been great, but you could make the case he was good.
When you look at the Mets team, they didn’t have a need for that type of player. In fact, the Mets already had that in Juan Lagares, who the team was already scheduled to pay $9 million. Considering Lagares’ contract was going to be next to impossible to move, the team was really adding a duplicative player who played worse defense.
There could be an argument here that even at 28 Broxton had some untapped offensive potential. After all, this was a guy who had good power, and he had a very good 24.1 percent HR/FB ratio. If you could get him to stop striking out at an insanely high clip (36.9 percent) and get him to lift the ball more (1.45 GB/FB), maybe you had something there. Reasonably, the Mets could have believed Chili Davis was the hitting coach to bring that out of him.
Herein lies the issue with Broxton. The Mets needed a contingency for what if Davis couldn’t get through to him right away. Typically speaking, you’d like to send a player like that down to the minors, especially since you have a player like Lagares on the roster. However, the Mets can’t do that because Broxton is out of options.
To make matters worse, the Mets are bereft of outfield depth. That’s one of the reasons why Jeff McNeil became an everyday outfielder on this team (the other is the team has far too many duplicative infielders). Partially due to Broxton’s presence, the Mets sat idly by while quality outfielders like Curtis Granderson (who also could have served as a left-handed bat off the bench) signed cheap free agent deals with other teams.
So far, the Mets have made a mistake bringing Broxton aboard. He is someone who is duplicative, and he is someone without options. Unless Van Wagenen is willing to do to Broxton what he did to Travis d’Arnaud, Broxton is going to continue taking up space on this roster while contributing very little. There is time for that to change, but it’s hard to see it changing without Broxton getting the at-bats he needs to improve as a player.
For the second time this year, the Mets faced an NL Central team who could be a Wild Card contender, and the Mets lost 2/3. Certainly, in this series, the Mets roster moves and decisions didn’t help matters:
1. It was raining, Corey Oswalt was fully rested and called up for the game. Jacob deGrom was coming off the Injured List. Naturally, the Mets opted to have deGrom wait around for nearly three hours in the rain.
2. While deGrom has had his struggles this year, it should be noted they all coincide with rain delays.
3. It’s getting harder to defend Oswalt even if he’s rarely given situations conducive to proving his ability.
4. Noah Syndergaard has peripherals in line with his best years. That, when you have three consecutive five inning starts where you allow five plus runs, it’s hard to notice.
5. Syndergaard’s comments about the baseballs being like ice confirm everyone’s suspicions about a juiced ball. With the ball, Thor has said he’s losing confidence in his secondary offerings.
6. Certainly, a different ball could explain the Mets starters struggles. If these is indeed a new ball, we should still have confidence this very good staff figures it out eventually.
8. Seeing d’Arnaud out there was more evidence the Mets needlessly rushed him back.
9. Based on his struggles, you can certainly understand the Mets designating him for assignment, especially with Tomas Nido playing well in Syracuse.
10. Make no mistake, this was a clear double standard. In the end, d’Arnaud, a backup catcher, was held to a higher standard than Jason Vargas, the fifth starter.
11. Vargas can’t go five innings, and yet the Mets won’t so much as have him lose his rotation spot, so they can sign Gio Gonzalez, who showed on Sunday, he was a clear upgrade. Guess there are different rules for Brodie Van Wagenen’s former clients.
13. After starting the year hitting .424, McNeil is hitting .235 over his last nine games. Hopefully, teams aren’t figuring him out.
14. Pete Alonso rebounded nicely from an 0-for-11 stretch going 3-for-5 in Saturday with a homer.
15. One benefit of bunching the lefties a bit with Alonso in the middle is a manager being almost forced to have a LOOGY pitch to Alonso. We saw Alonso crush a homer off Alex Claudio as a result.
16. Steven Matz was once again very good, and for a pitcher whose mental makeup is always maligned, it’s interesting to see how he follows bad starts with a string of very good ones (when healthy).
17. With Mike Moustakas homering off Matz, I’m well beyond being done with the 2015 Royals.
18. With Robinson Cano being hit on the hand again, and really all the Mets batters being hit on the hand, maybe it’s time Chili Davis figures out a way to get it to stop. Either that or Mets pitchers find non-bush league ways to retaliate.
19. With Amed Rosario struggling offensively and defensively, it’s very interesting to see Jed Lowrie get a rehab start at SS. Who knows? Maybe if Todd Frazier continues playing well defensively and delivering in RBI spots, Rosario’s roster spot could become tenuous.
20. There are reasons to criticize the Mets bullpen, but they do know how to hold a lead. The Mets hand won every game they had a lead in the sixth. One reason why is Edwin Diaz being phenomenal. He’s a perfect 8-for-8 in save chances with a 0.84 ERA and a 16.9 K/9.
With the way J.D. Davis has hit in the minors, there has been a feeling among some that if he were to get a chance, he would prove himself at the Major League level. With the depth in the Astros organization, it was fairly clear Davis was not going to get his chance there. When he was traded to the Mets, it wasn’t entirely clear he was going to get his chance in New York either.
Heading into Spring Training, Davis was third on the third base depth chart behind Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. As a utility player who could play the corners, he was behind both Lowrie and Jeff McNeil. As such, his most likely role with the Mets would to be to resume Wilmer Flores‘ role as a weapon against left-handed pitching.
Since Spring Training has begun, Lowrie and Frazier have suffered injuries. Lowrie has a strained knee, and Frazier has a strained oblique. Neither player has a timetable as to when they can return to working out let alone playing games. This creates a void at the third base position thereby giving a player an opportunity.
While Davis has spent time at first, left, and even pitcher, he is a natural third baseman. While his range is limited, he has good hands and a strong arm. When he gets to a ball, no matter how tricky the hop, he is going to field it, and he is going to make a strong throw across the diamond.
Certainly, you can live with his defense at the position over the course of the season. That goes double if you organization is doing their job on the scouting and analytical fronts shifting Davis into the right spot on the field to maximize his skill-set.
Really, the question for him is going to be his bat. Lost in the .342/.406/.583 batting line he put up in Triple-A last year were some concerning peripherals. Cbief among them was his 40.6 percent ground ball rate. In the majors, that rate has been worse with him having a 60.5 percent ground ball rate in 2017 and a 50.0 percent ground ball rate in 2018.
Behind that ground ball rate is power. With his posting a very good 19.3 percent HR/FB in Triple-A last year, you see a batter who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. The challenge currently before him and hitting coach Chili Davis is getting him to lift the ball. If that should happen, many, including Baseball America, believe Davis could hit 30+ homers a year.
It should be noted Davis does have a good eye at the plate and has the ability to draw a walk. This should help him as part of the process in not just learning how to lift the ball but also identifying which pitches he can lift to knock the ball out of the park.
Much like we saw with Miguel Andujar last year, sometimes all a promising player needs is that chance. Should the injuries to Frazier and Lowrie linger, Davis is going to get his chance. It’s up to him to see if he can make good on that chance like Andujuar did last year. If he doesn’t take advantage of this opportunity, he’s likely going to watch on as McNeil, T.J. Rivera, or even David Thompson gets that chance.
Now, if Davis does do the job and plays to his full potential, he’s going to make it very difficult for the Mets to take him out of the lineup even when Frazier and Lowrie return from their injuries.