For the first time this season, the New York Mets lost a series. To make matters worse, it was Mets incompetence of the past which came back to haunt them.
1. Paul Sewald is absolutely right. The Mets gave up on him. More to the point, as I’ve pointed out, and as Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen noted on the broadcast, the Mets completely and utterly botched how they handled him. Sewald absolutely deserved this moment.
2. Sewald was all the more of a debacle when you consider the Mets kept Ryan O’Rourke, Tim Peterson, and Jacob Rhame over him. None of those three pitched past the 2019 season. Sewald is now a very good late inning reliever.
3. It’s not just Sewald, but Chris Flexen where the Mets screw up was the Mariners gain. The good news here is the morons in charge who made those decisions are now gone.
4. The people in charge now get us Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt who were again great in their starts. Much of the Mets success this season is directly attributable to bringing those pitchers onboard.
5. That Patrick Mazeika start behind the plate was rough, and it limited Bassitt to 5.1 innings when he had the stuff to go much deeper.
6. That said the legend of Mazeika grew. Not only did he have the game winning homer, but he also had a key hit in that ninth inning rally which fell short.
7. You cannot have worst at-bats than what Starling Marte and Pete Alonso did with the game tying and go-ahead runs on base than what they did. The Alonso one was even worse considering he got one strike in that at-bat, and he didn’t even swing at the pitch over the heart of the plate.
8. Brandon Nimmo came up huge in that inning with an RBI double. In fact, he’s been great all season and has been the Mets best player. He’s clearly an All-Star, and sooner or later, if he keeps this up, he is going to get MVP consideration.
9. Drew Smith went from impenetrable to allowing runs in consecutive appearances. He will be fine.
10. Carlos Carraso looked bad. While he was worse against the St. Louis Cardinals, he arguably looked worse in this start. Again, he’s been very good for all but two starts, so there is no need to dwell too much here.
12. Congratulations to Colin Holderman on his Major League debut. It was rocky, but it was a scoreless inning, and he did flash what could be very good stuff out of the pen.
13. Sewald wasn’t the only pitcher to stick it to his old team. Edwin Diaz struck out all three batters he faced in his only save opportunity in the series. By the way, he’s now played more seasons with the Mets than the Mariners.
14. Joely Rodriguez wasn’t great, and Chasen Shreve allowed homers in consecutive appearances. On that note, Aaron Loup is having another great season. So far, this looks like an unforced error by the Mets, and you do have to wonder how much of that is attributable to the Robinson Cano contract.
15. James McCann being out is going to hurt the Mets. He was great behind the plate, and believe it or not, he was a starting level bat at the position in the majors so far this year.
16. Tomas Nido did step-up in this series actually drawing two walks. To put that in perspective, he drew five all of last season.
17. McCann’s injury is the type which may cost him this year even when he can return. Those hammate bone injuries tend to linger and hamper the ability to hit again. Unfortunately, Francisco Alvarez has been struggling in Double-A putting him even further off the horizon.
18. Francisco Lindor hit a big homer. The Mets need more of that from him.
19. One massive takeaway from this series, even with the series loss, is the Mets beat up on reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. It doesn’t matter if it was an off game or not from Ray, the Mets finally hit left-handed pitching.
20. The Mets were at the Rangers beating the Penguins in Game 7. Perhaps, we will see the Rangers at Citi Field watching the Mets win their own Game 7 this postseason.
With the New York Mets failing to make the postseason, and worse yet, with their collapse, the narrative has become this core hasn’t been good enough to win a World Series. Sandy Alderson seemed to echo that sentiment a bit when he said there were going to be changes to the core this offseason. Of course, with free agency and the like, that was probably going to happen anyway.
Before Steve Cohen purchased the team, the Mets core could probably be defined as Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Noah Syndergaard. At least, that was the homegrown core. In that core, you had two ace level pitchers, two All-Star level first baseman (yes, Smith was that in 2020), two All-Star level outfielders, and a jack-of-all trades All-Star.
When you add Francisco Lindor, who joins deGrom as a future Hall of Famer, you’d be hard pressed to find much better cores in all of baseball. This level of talent should be the envy of the other 29 teams in the league. That begs the question what went wrong in 2021.
On the one hand, this was a team which was 3.5 games in first place at the trade deadline. Their high water mark was 5.5 games up on June 16. As we know, this team had the bottom completely fall out as they finished eight games under .500 and 11.5 games back of a mediocre Atlanta Braves team for the division.
The narratives emerged. Luis Rojas was in over his head. The ReplaceMets got them the division lead, but the regulars couldn’t seal the deal. This team had no heart, no will to win, no killer instinct, etc. Basically, chose your narrative and apply it to this team.
In many ways, that’s what people said about the 2007-2008 Mets. As we all learned, firing Willie Randolph wasn’t a solution. Switching out leaders like Cliff Floyd was a mistake. Really, making change for its own sake proved to be a complete and utter disaster. Certainly, so was the Wilpons involvement in a Ponzi Scheme. That said, the level of dissatisfaction with “the core” rather than a real analysis of what was the problem led to the demise of that team.
The real issue with that Mets team was injuries and pitching. During the back-to-back collapses, the pitching completely fell apart at the end. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon playing doctor played a massive role in that happening. In some ways, we’re seeing the same thing happen but with a completely new regime.
Let’s take a look at the 2021 Mets. The first thing which should jump off the page is the team went into the season without a real third baseman or a left fielder. We all knew by Opening Day J.D. Davis could not handle the position, but there he was. Behind him was Luis Guillorme, who was as good a glove in the middle infield as they come, but he was a poor third baseman. After that was Jonathan Villar, but he has never been a good fielder.
As for left field, it’s the Mets mistake as old as time. You cannot just throw anyone in left field and expect it to work. Todd Hundley wasn’t a left fielder. Lucas Duda wasn’t a left fielder. Sticking a good bat in the outfield just never works, and oft times, we see diminishing returns for that player at the plate. While Smith did an admirable job, he again proved he couldn’t play left field.
Of course, the Mets could have gone with McNeil at either position as he’s played both positions well. Instead, the Mets were obstinate he was a second baseman because that was the belief Sandy Alderson stubbornly held during his first stint with the Mets.
This speaks to a real problem with the Mets and how it colored how the core was viewed. Players were asked to do things they shouldn’t have been asked to do. For example, remember Conforto in center field? It’s been an organizational approach to just plug bats everywhere. The end result was the team suffering as players failed to reach their ceilings as they struggled out of position, and we also saw the defense lag.
Now, the defense wasn’t really the problem in 2021. With the analytics and Rojas at the helm, the defense was much improved. However, to a certain extent, the damage had already been done. Steven Matz, who struggled in large part due to the absence of defense and analytics, was cast off for relievers who pitched poorly. We had already seen pitchers like Chris Flexen and Paul Sewald cast off. There’s more.
Really, the issue isn’t the core, but what the Mets did with it and how they built around it. For years, we knew Alonso and Smith were both first baseman, but they Mets absolutely refused to make the tough decision and pick just one of them and try to move the other to address a need. It’s a decision which has held this team back for three years now. As for the justification of the anticipation of the universal DH, that’s no reason to throw away three seasons, especially with Alonso and Smith is going to a free agency after the 2024 season.
Looking deeper, this was a team really harmed by injuries. Really, you can make the argument if deGrom was healthy, they don’t collapse. If Carlos Carrasco isn’t hurt in Spring Training, they don’t collapse. If Syndergaard returns when anticipated, they don’t collapse. However, that happened. That’s more of a sign of a snake bit team than it is a problem with the core.
Really, despite the flaws in roster building, this team was good enough. We actually saw it with this team being in first place despite the injuries and the odds. If you’re being honest in your assessment, you should be saying the Mets need to get a real third baseman and left fielder, and this team will be primed to win a World Series. After all, this team with a relatively shallow pitching staff and being plagued by injuries was on the precipice.
That brings us to the next issue. The front office didn’t try to go for it. There was the opportunity, and they chose not to get the pitching this team needed. There’s no good explanation why they didn’t.
As a result, the people who failed at supplementing a very good core is now going to call it an eroding one. They’re going to allow people to falsely accuse this core of not being good enough to win. It’s complete and utter nonsense, and it completely obfuscates what the real problem is – how this organization has approached building rosters.
Overall, if the Mets bring back this same exact roster replacing Davis at third with a real third baseman and putting McNeil in left field, they will be the best team in baseball. There should be absolutely no doubts about that.
In what might’ve been his last start of the season, Chris Flexen picked up his 14th win of the year. Now, there are better ways to adjudge pitchers, but those 14 wins is good for fifth best in all of baseball.
Overall, he had a good year. In 30 starts, he was 14-6 with a 3.67 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, and a 6.4 K/9. He averaged 5.2 innings per start with a 114 ERA+ and a 3.82 FIP.
Overall, Flexen had a very good year, and he appears poised to build on this. With his being under team control through 2026, the Seattle Mariners have a solid rotation arm as they emerge from this rebuild.
The Mariners also have a closer. Paul Sewald has been a great closer for the Mariners. In 58 appearances, he is 9-3 with 11 saves, a 2.83 ERA, 1.011 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, and a 14.6 K/9.
Flexen and Sewald are a big reason why the Mariners are in the postseason picture. Frankly, they are two pitchers who would help any of the 30 Major League teams make the postseason.
The Mariners were smart to pounce on the opportunity to sign them. They look like geniuses for taking former low round picks and got the most out of their talent.
The Mets? Well, again, they look bad here.
The Mets had Flexen and Sewald, and they just gave them away for nothing. They sent Flexen to Korea. Sewald was a straight DFA making him a free agent.
Flexen was unnecessarily rushed to the majors after just seven Double-A starts. He was bounced between the minors and majors and starting and relieving. He’d make an emergency relief appearance not long after a start and then not pitch for nearly two weeks.
Unlike Flexen, Sewald had occasional flashes of brilliance. That was his downfall in the Terry Collins ride the hot hand guide to managing.
One day, he’d be in a pressure spot. In another, he’d pitch three innings in long relief. He’d pitch multiple days in a row and then struggle. Then, he’d be punished and benched.
Mostly due to their usage and how their development wasn’t prioritized, Flexen and Sewald never had a chance with the Mets. No one could really succeed with how they were treated, and as a result, they failed.
Notably, this season especially, Mets pitchers are thriving elsewhere. Steven Matz is also having a good year. While his struggles were different in nature, they were similarly something which could’ve been rectified with the Mets.
You see, far too often, people want to brush players succeeding elsewhere as they couldn’t handle New York. Certainly, this is something which does occur, but it happens far less frequently than people believe.
This isn’t can succeed in New York. It’s can’t succeed with the Mets. That’s a Mets problem and not a player problem.
Some of the culprits are gone from the organization. Jeremy Hefner appears well poised to put the Mets in position to not allow these mistakes to happen again.
As the Mets organization continues to overturn and build, they need an eye towards how to build the best possible organization for players to thrive. Part of that is adapting new practices learned from other places.
Seeing Flexen and Sewald, it’s also taking a look at the Mets previous regime. They need to learn how the Mets were so successful locating these overlooked talents and getting them to the majors. They also need to see how they can make sure they have this success in Flushing.
The New York Mets kept getting injured, but they keep winning games, especially at home. They just won three out of four from the Colorado Rockies, and they remain in first place:
1. The Mets are so injured right now their injured players are getting injured.
2. Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco each having difficulty with their rehab assignments and with their probably not being back until August if at all, it’s a reminder you should never part with pitching. Pitching is fragile, and you never have enough of it during the course of a season.
3. The more fans inanely boo Francisco Lindor the more great plays he makes in the field.
5. McCann is taking a bad situation, and he is making the most of it by stepping up and playing a pretty good first base. We are also hopefully seeing some signs of life at the plate with his having a a double and homer in this series. At least that’s the hope.
6. Cameron Maybin setting a Mets record for hitless plate appearances to start his Mets career shows you just can’t but a hit for $1.
7. Billy McKinney had quite the Mets debut with some very good defense in the field and doing well at the plate. It was just one game, but it at least appears like McKinney could be part of the equation even with everyone is healthy.
8. While you hope moves like McKinney work, we are getting increasingly to the point where the Mets may have to do something drastic. In the short-term, taking a look at Carlos Cortes makes a lot of sense. If the injuries to J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil are that bad, it may be time to consider calling up Mark Vientos who is scorching hot in Binghamton.
9. We are not talking enough about the job Jose Peraza is doing for the Mets. Yes, he’s below average at the plate and at second, but he is at least a credible presence on what is moving towards a Double-A roster. It also helps that when he gets his hits it seems to be big like his game winning homer in the first end of the doubleheader.
11. This is just a different team with deGrom. Yes, we know the frustration with the lack of run support. That said, he gives this team a swagger, and he eats up a lot of innings allowing the bullpen to rest and be great when needed.
12 People can complain all they want about replay, but when deGrom and Jonathan Villar were called out the primary objective of replay was achieved – it got the call right. Now, there is an easy fix where fielders should not be rewarded for pushing runners off the base. Hopefully, that is something which will be taken up this offseason.
13. It seems the adjustments Joey Lucchesi has made are working. That said, this is a pitcher who should not be relied upon for more than three innings. If utilized properly, that means Lucchesi could have an immense amount of value to this team.
14. At some point, you have to wonder if this is doing more harm than good to David Peterson‘s development. In all honesty, it’s difficult to see in which area of his game he is progressing.
15. The Mets are messing with Thomas Szapucki like they once did with Chris Flexen and Corey Oswalt. They need to let him pitch, especially when they are just going to wind up going with bullpen games anyway. His not stepping on the mound harms his development and may set him up for injury. Next thing you know, you hear the he can’t be good nonsense.
16. The Mets scored a total of 10 runs in a four game series and still managed to win three out of four. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, the Rockies are bad. The second and perhaps more important reason is teams win games with good pitching and defense. Despite the injuries, the Mets still have that.
17. Even with all the injuries and people wondering why things aren’t as good as we thought they might be, the Mets are still on an 88 win pace. Just imagine where they will be when everyone is heatlhy and performing.
18. Brodie Van Wagenen has a lot of gall showing up at Citi Field for a game even with Edwin Diaz having a great year and finally fulfilling his promise.
19. It is good Luis Rojas is finally being recognized for the job he is doing. It should be noted he is essentially doing all the same things he was doing when he wasn’t popular. It’s just that people now recognize how the other things he does so well are so important when you have no one to play.
20. The Mets are getting back Taijuan Walker just in time. This is yet another big early series against the Braves, and the Mets really need to create more separation between the two teams as the Mets continue to navigate their injuries and head towards June, which is always a nightmare.
So much for the universal DH.
Wheeler also has more strikeouts than anyone on the Mets pitching staff including Jacob deGrom. For that matter, so has Matt Harvey. In fact, Harvey has struck out more batters than the entire Mets staff combined.
If you think that’s scary, consider Chris Flexen does as well. In fact, Flexen has more wins that the Mets do this year. Of course, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering Brodie Van Wagenen was horrible as the GM.
Of course, we all know the reasons why Wheeler is out-hitting the Mets, and Flexen has been stats than anyone on the Mets is because the Mets haven’t been able to play their opening series.
Until that point, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Carlos Carrasco are atop all the Mets pitching categories despite their not being able to begin their season for at least a month. Of course, no one is pitching for the Mets now.
The stats are so skewed J.D. Davis is the Mets top fielder . . . and hitter. Right now, Davis can be considered the Mets player because he’s tied atop every statistic. That’s how you know things aren’t great.
Fortunately, the Mets hiatus will be over soon when they take the field in Philadelphia on Monday. When that happens, we should soon see deGrom correct a number of these bizarre discrepancies caused by the Nationals COVID infections.
South Korea is where we soon hope to be as a country. They have widespread testing, and as a result, they’ve been able to return to normalcy much quicker. They’re even at the point where baseball is soon to return.
Yesterday, the KBO, the Korean Baseball Organization, returned to play with practice games. With these intrasquad games, we can finally see some real baseball being played. Fortunately, some of these games are being streamed on YouTube:
If that pitcher for the Doosan Bears looks familiar, it should. That’s former Mets pitcher Chris Flexen. He would have a scoreless appearance.
Seeing actual baseball and seeing a familiar face pitch is a needed reminder there’s still hope we can all get back to normal. We may not know when, but it can happen, and hopefully, that day will come soon.
Until then, we get to see Flexen. For parts of three seasons, that’s something which would’ve made many Mets fans cringe. Now, seeing Flexen on the mound is hope, and it is something to be enjoyed at least until we get to see Jacob deGrom back on the mound to begin the 2020 season.
In 2013, the Louisville Cardinals beat the Michigan Wolverines to win the NCAA Championship. It was on CBS, and the game is still on YouTube. It was televised, and if you did not see it, you can still take time to watch the game if you still want.
What’s weird about that is supposedly that game never happened.
Due to a recruitment scandal, Louisville needed to vacate their wins, and Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino was fired by the university thereby ending a storied career in disgrace. There is article after article about it, and there are many references to the scandal and the game.
And yet, the game supposedly never happened. It never happened despite it being well documented. That extensive documentation proves the old axiom you cannot rewrite history to be true. You can’t post hoc say Louisville didn’t win a game when you can still watch it and read about it.
Therein lies the problem with stripping championships. They happened, and no matter what you do, those games still happened. The Louisville Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA Championship much like the 2017 Houston Astros won the World Series.
As we know, the Astros cheated to do it. They cheated in a similar fashion to how the New York Giants did in 1951 when they won the pennant when Bobby Thompson hit the “Shot Heard Round the World.” That game, much like the seven game 2017 World Series, happened.
To date, that game and the 1951 pennant has not been vacated. No, not even with the reports of the New York Giants extensive sign stealing scheme. Like with the Astros, there were rumors it was happening, but there would be no Mike Fiers whistle blowing until 51 years later when first base coach Herman Franks came forward.
Unlike the Astros players initial response, the other Giants players, Thompson included, admitted to it. However, akin to Jose Altuve and the buzzer rumors surrounding his own famous pennant clinching homer, Thompson denied getting the sign in the famed homer off of Ralph Branca.
The fact is the Shot Heard Round the World remains a part of history. The same can be said about the Astros 2017 World Series. Really, it is more than just that series, it was an entire season.
Where do you stop. Does Altuve gets stripped of his MVP award? How about Justin Verlander‘s ALCS MVP and George Springer‘s World Series MVP awards? With Cody Bellinger‘s statements and Aaron Judge deleting his congratulatory tweet, that seems like it might be palatable. What next?
Do you take away the Astros offensive stats? Is that really going to unring the bell? Look at it from a Mets perspective. Matt Harvey is still a free agent struggling to return from TOS, Seth Lugo is still in the bullpen, and Chris Flexen is still pitching in Korea.
Again, no matter how much you want to pretend the Astros 2017 World Series title never happened, it did, and there are long standing ramifications. That includes players like Clayton Kershaw never winning a World Series ring. Much like the Michigan Wolverines, the Dodgers aren’t going to be named the World Series champions post hoc.
No matter how much we want it to not have happened, the Astros won that World Series, and really you can’t change history. Even if you strip it away, it still exists. If you attach an asterisk to it, it still exists. There is nothing you can do to make it not happen because it did.
So no, don’t strip it away.
However, there are reasonable things Major League Baseball could do. They could tell the Astros they need to remove the pennants and similar denotations of their World Series. After all, while you can’t make it unhappen, you can put barriers in place to stop the Astros from celebrating that World Series.
It’s not great, but it’s something, but that is what you are left with because you can’t say nothing happened because it did.
While Major League Baseball underwent an investigation, it was a Houston Astros fan who really did the research into the extent of the Astros sign stealing.
Tony Adams set up a website named Sign Stealing Scandal. On his website and on Twitter, he released the results of his investigation into the extent of the Astros sign stealing. It also detailed how often there was the now infamous banging sound during an Astros’ batter’s plate appearance:
Astros players trashcan bangs.
— Tony Adams (@adams_at) January 29, 2020
However, in 2017, they were Houston Astros, and they squared off against pitchers who are currently on the Mets pitching staff.
On September 2, 2017, Davis played in both ends of a doubleheader going 2-for-8 with a double, homer, and two RBI. Both of those hits came against Tommy Milone and Jamie Callahan, neither of whom are with the Mets.
On that day, the only pitcher he faced who is still with the Mets is Seth Lugo. While he went 0-for-2, he was in a lineup which handed Lugo the loss.
Lugo, who wants to be a starter, has only started five games after that losing effort.
Marisnick was not in the lineup for either game. It should also be noted Sign Stealing Scandal denotes there was no video from those games. As such, we are not 100% sure the Astros used the banging those days, but it’s reasonable to assume it happened.
It should be noted this wasn’t the only time Davis and Marisnick squared off against current Mets pitchers.
On June 3, 2018, Davis was 0-for-3 against Rick Porcello in a game Porcello picked up the win.
Essentially, Davis’ full extent of facing current Mets pitchers as a member of the Astros was those five at-bats against Lugo and Porcello.
Given his going hitless in those at-bats and how popular he appears among those players from last year’s Mets roster, it appears he may not have to do much, if anything, to smooth things over with his teammates.
Marisnick might be a different story.
If we expand the time period to include 2018 and 2019, Marisnick has faced six of the pitchers currently on the Mets pitching staff. In addition to doubling off Stroman, he has also doubled against Porcello and Brad Brach. He didn’t record a hit against Diaz, Wilson, or Dellin Betances.
With respect to Stroman, he’s been very outspoken about what the Astros did, and like many, he isn’t happy about it.
Shit makes sense now. I remember wondering how these guys were laying off some of my nasty pitches. Relaying all my signs in live speed to the batter. Ruining the integrity of the game. These dudes were all about the camera and social media. Now, they’re all quiet! Lol ? https://t.co/DuknUCQaRb
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 20, 2020
In that tweet, he specifically addresses the game Marisnick doubled off of him. Clearly, Stroman was baffled by this game, and he’s justifiably upset about the whole sign stealing scandal.
The Mets were actually one of the more vocal teams about this last year. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post wrote about how much the Dodgers were on top of Diaz’s pitches. While cautioning they didn’t believe it to be illegal, Mickey Callaway and the Mets spoke about how they believed the Dodgers were stealing signs.
Right now, we know Davis and Marisnick cheated, and we’re starting to learn the extent to which they cheated. We also know their cheating has affected Mets new and old. Finally, we know at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about the Astros sign stealing.
What we don’t know is what, if any, impact Davis’ and Marisnick’s part in the sign stealing will have on the 2020 Mets.
One of the reasons Carlos Beltran was fired was the difficulty in carrying on his managerial duties after discovering his involvement in the scandal. That may or may not have included his ability to handle pitchers like Stroman who he cheated against.
Now, the conversation shifts to those same pitchers reactions to their teammates, how Davis and Marisnick respond, and ultimately how Luis Rojas can manage the situation.
Of course, that presupposes there is going to be an issue. Maybe there won’t be one at all.
In the end, all we know is Davis and Marisnick cheated against former and current Mets pitchers, and at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about what happened in Houston. Where the Mets go from here could very well be a factor in how the Mets clubhouse holds together and the team performs in 2020.
This past weekend, the Mets made a very shrewd move re-signing Brad Brach to help rebuild the Mets bullpen. The Mets got lucky Brach was released last year, and Brach made the best of the situation by pitching more like he did with the Baltimore Orioles. When you consider he only signed for $850,000 with an extremely reasonable $1.35 million option for 2021, this could be one of the best moves made by Brodie Van Wagenen.
Of course, Van Wagenen would follow it up with a flat out bad decision by designating Chris Flexen for assignment to make room for Brach on the roster.
With respect to Flexen, there have been many arguments which completely miss the point. First and foremost, there’s the argument others will be eventually designated for assignment, so the order doesn’t matter all that much. Of course, that is not true because more talented players like Flexen may have had some value to teams prior to his accepting a deal with the KBO. Also, it’s just plain bizarre supporting a team keeping worse players at the expense of better players.
The other argument was Flexen wasn’t good anyway, so why does it matter? This reasoning is one of the most problematic thought processes of them all.
It is without question Flexen struggled. While pitching with the Mets in parts of three seasons, he was 3-11 with a 8.07 ERA, 2.132 WHIP, 7.1 BB/9, and a 6.5 K/9. When you focus on the control issues, that is in no way a recipe for success at the Major League level or any level for that matter. However, there needs to be some context to those stats.
In 2017, Flexen was rushed to the Majors from Binghamton despite having thrown just 48.2 innings above the Single-A level. In the ensuing years, Flexen would deal with knee issues, and he would also be shipped back-and-forth between the minors and majors. There would be long periods of non-use, and there would be his being overused. Really, when you break it down, the Mets did not in any way set him up for any sort of success, and the numbers proved that out.
Going to Baseball Savant, we see Flexen has above-average fastball velocity and elite curve spin on his breaking pitches. In terms of just pure stuff, this makes him a poor man’s version of Seth Lugo. Put another way, Flexen absolutely has the arsenal to succeed as a reliever at the Major League level, but unlike Lugo, he has not found a way to quite harness his stuff and translate it to results.
Of course, this is the exact reason why the Mets hired Jeremy Hefner as their pitching coach. During his time with the Twins, Hefner become conversant in analytics, and he showed a real ability to translate them to players. We saw Twins pitchers attack the zone differently and improve their pitch sequencing in addition to buttoning up some of their mechanical issues. When you hire a pitching coach like Hefner, or really any pitching coach, you are looking for someone who is able to finally reach talented pitchers like Flexen and get them to pitch to the best of their ability.
With the Mets designating Flexen for assignment over far less talented pitchers like Chris Mazza, the team is not going to see a return on their investment on both Flexen and Hefner. To that end, this is more of the same from the Mets organization.
At different points in years past with the Mets, we have seen the team part with talented players who needed coaching like Flexen with the common refrain being they never did anything at the Major League level, so who cares? This was the refrain when the Mets parted ways with players like Heath Bell, Justin Turner, Hansel Robles, and many others.
In some instances, this did come back to haunt the Mets, and admittedly, in others, it did not. However, that is all besides the point. The real point here is the Mets had a very talented player, and they hired a pitching coach to help improve and develop pitchers like Flexen. Rather than proceed with that plan, the team decided they wanted to keep far less talented pitchers and not even bother getting the most out of someone with stuff which could have worked extremely well in the bullpen. When looking at it from that prism, designating Flexen for assignment made little to no sense.
With today being Thanksgiving, it is time to go around the Mets roster and say things we are thankful for:
Pete Alonso – he’s been better than even the highest and most absurd expectations anyone could have of him both in terms of his on the field play as well as the type of teammate and person he is
Carlos Beltran – for coming home
Robinson Cano – showed some late positive exit velocities showing there is some hope for a 2020 rebound
Yoenis Cespedes – for everyone questioning the drive of a man severely injured and needing career saving surgery, he is out there in the cold taking batting practice
Michael Conforto – re-established himself as one of the best young corner outfielders in the game, and with his talent, he’s on the verge of an MVP caliber season
J.D. Davis – quickly became a fan favorite and like few others seemed to really enjoy being a New York Met.
Jacob deGrom – best pitcher in baseball and starting to etch his likeness on the Mets Mt. Rushmore
Edwin Diaz – he survived the season, made no excuses, and he is doing what he needs to do to be the pitcher he was in 2018.
Jeurys Familia – he stopped using “Danza Kudro” meaning we no longer go to very bad places when that music begins blaring
Luis Guillorme – proved if given a chance he is a Major League caliber player giving the Mets some real needed middle infield depth
Chris Flexen – his move to the bullpen gives the Mets an interesting upside option in the bullpen
Robert Gsellman – he is one of those throwback type reliever who is always willing to take the ball no matter what
Sam Haggerty – it’s not often a player comes out of nowhere to provide real value to an organization the way Haggerty did with this speed
Jed Lowrie – to his credit, he did everything he could just to get those pinch hitting appearances late in the season
Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball who now gives Beltran a reliever who can break knees with his curve
Steven Matz – took that step forward and put to bed the unfair and wrong mentally weak narrative
Jeff McNeil – the man just does it all. He hits, plays everywhere, and he saves puppies.
Tomas Nido – became the defensive minded back-up catcher many believed him to be, and he played a part getting Mets pitchers head in the right place during different parts of the year.
Corey Oswalt – he put behind some injuries and gross mishandling by the organization to show he is a viable depth starting option for the organization
Wilson Ramos – drove in a number of big runs last year, and he has promised to be better behind the plate in 2020.
Amed Rosario – just a tireless worker who seems to be on the cusp of fulfilling the immense potential we all saw he had in the minors
Paul Sewald – he keeps proving himself to be better than the narrative, and he finally got his first Major League win to put an exclamation point on what is one of the better stories of the Mets farm system
Dominic Smith – that walk-off homer was a beautiful exclamation point on a season where he proved everyone who ever doubted him to be very wrong
Marcus Stroman – few have fully embraced being a Met like he has and fewer have been ready to thrive on the New York stage
Noah Syndergaard – not just a great pitcher, but also a guy who wants to be a New York Met.
Justin Wilson – was terrific in 2019, and with the LOOGY rules, he becomes an even more valuable bullpen piece in 2020
In terms of the talent still here, there is a lot to be thankful for. Hopefully, we will see the return of Zack Wheeler giving us all the more to be thankful for in 2020 and beyond.