There is a buzz circulating around the Mets due to the moves Brodie Van Wagenen has been making. On paper, the team he is assembling is better than last year’s team, and the narrative is this team will have a better chance at making the postseason than last year’s team. However, that narrative may not exactly hold up.
Remember, last year the Mets were 17-9 entering May. It was right around that point the injuries started piling up, and the Mets depth or lack thereof became a problem.
Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki were injured leading the way for Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido. Todd Frazier would have the first disabled list stint of his career leading to the team rushing Luis Guillorme to the majors before he was arguably ready, and with the team playing far more of Jose Reyes than they ever should have done.
Michael Conforto was rushed back from injury before he was ready. Yoenis Cespedes‘ heels wouldn’t let him play anymore, and Jay Bruce‘s plantar fascitiis increasingly became an issue. Matt Harvey‘s Mets career was finished, and Noah Syndergaard was heading to yet another lengthy trip on the disabled list. Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares would also be making their annual trips to the disabled list.
By the way, this wasn’t the full season’s worth of transactions. That’s just through the end of May.
From there, the Mets would have a 15-39 record over May and June, including a disastrous and soul crushing 5-21 June which all but eliminated the Mets from postseason contention. Remember, this was the same team when healthy that was among the best in all of baseball.
Last year wasn’t an anomaly. The 2017 Mets were a promising team on paper, but they never got off the ground because of injury issues, which would also correlate to under-performance from a number of players. If you go back to 2016, that starting lineup and rotation was built to contend for a World Series, but due to injury issues, that team needed a furious finish and unlikely performances from players like Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and T.J. Rivera to capture a Wild Card spot.
Until the Mets address their bench, they are running the risk of their season not living up to expectations.
We know Wilson Ramos is an injury prone player as is his backup d’Arnaud. We know Lagares is injury prone. Syndergaard and Steven Matz have their own not promising injury histories. While he has generally been healthy, Robinson Cano is still a 36 year old second baseman, and players in their late 30s do not tend to be durable. That’s nothing to say of the unknown injuries like we saw with Frazier last year.
At the moment, the Mets are ill equipped to handle these injuries. In terms of the infield, the Mets have Guillorme, who was not ready last year, and Gavin Cecchini, who struggled in his limited Major League opportunities and missed much of last year with a foot injury. There is also Rivera, who missed all of last year due to Tommy John surgery and ensuing setbacks. The catching depth may actually be worse with Patrick Mazeika being your last line of defense.
The outfield depth is Dominic Smith, who the Mets don’t even seem inclined to let compete for a first base job, and Rajai Davis, who is a 38 year old outfielder that has not had a good year since 2015.
All told, the Mets are in desperate need of some depth. If they don’t acquire it, you are once again asking the same group who faltered last year to succeed. Those players are still young and can improve, but it is difficult to rely upon them. With that in mind, Brodie Van Wagenen needs to make sure he has money available to address the bench. If he doesn’t, then the Mets may very well suffer the same fate they had over the past two seasons.
Fortunately, he still has time.
Any day now, the Seattle Mariners and New York Mets are about to complete a blockbuster deal which will alter the next five to ten years for both franchises.
First and foremost, they will no longer have Jarred Kelenic, who is arguably their best prospect. More than than, Cano’s deal is a complete albatross.
While some are saying the Mets are getting plenty of relief on Cano, it’s not exactly true. Remember, Jay Bruce is only under contract for two more years. Anthony Swarzak‘s deal expires after 2019. After that, there’s no more “offsets.”
Therefore, for the final three years of Cano’s deal, he will be making $20 million per season. Also, we should not forget, even with the Mets trading Bruce and Swarzak, they still owe Cano $100 million over five years. Of course, that assumes the Mariners are providing the $20 million.
With that $20 million figure once being $60 million, we should not be too sure that number won’t change.
An important consideration to this deal is when the Mets are going to deal with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Michael Conforto hitting free agency, the team will be paying Cano $20 million per season. That puts a tremendous strain on the ability to keep those players.
Perhaps that is why Syndergaard is being shopped now.
If we operate under the assumption the Mets are building their team to win-now, which should be painfully obvious by this trade, you really have to question the wisdom of including Justin Dunn in this trade.
No starting pitching staff is immune to injuries, and since 2015, that has gone double for the Mets. With that being the case, the Mets will really need Triple-A depth to pick up the slack. Here are the career MLB numbers for their current projected Triple-A starters:
This is a group who makes Rafael Montero‘s 5.38 ERA not look so bad. For his part, Montero is not an option as he was released.
The numbers from the aforementioned pitchers are from small sample sizes, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue they would be much better than this next year. You’d be harder pressed to believe they would be able to do much better than this over 10, 15, or even 20 plus starts.
With that being the case, the Mets needed Dunn. He was the one pitcher in their system who was close to MLB ready who you could realistically rely upon for a number of starts. With him gone, the Mets really have zero depth.
With that being the case, you really have to question why a Mets team trying to win-now would completely overlook this. That is more problematic when you consider the Mets have been done in more by lack of depth than any other factor.
In the end, the Mets are going all-in now, and they’re doing it with a need to address the bullpen, catching position, center field, and their bench depth. Now, they are also going to have to add 1-2 quality pitchers who are alright spending extended time in the minors waiting for someone to get hurt.
The pitchers who are willing to do that are rarely good, and ultimately, this is why trading Dunn was a giant mistake.
Austin Voth, a 26 year old rookie pitcher with an 11.81 ERA, yielded only a Michael Conforto fourth inning infield single before departing after five. A pretty bad Nationals bullpen would not surrender a hit over the final four innings giving Voth his first MLB win.
Corey Oswalt got the start for the Mets, and the shame for him was he was pretty good. If not for his allowing a two run bomb to Treat Turner in the third, it’s possible Oswalt walks off with a no decision.
Not that it was going to happen with the Mets bats being completely listless, but any hopes of a comeback were essentially eliminated with the Nationals hitting Jerry Blevins hard in the sixth.
The big blow that inning was a Matt Wieters three run homer.
All told, the Mets lost this game 6-0. On the bright side, no matter the outcome both of these teams are missing the postseason.
The Nationals scoreless streak had reached 32 innings, and with the way Steven Matz was pitching, it seemed like that streak may reach all the way to 36 innings with the Mets completing a sweep where they allowed no runs.
For a second in the sixth inning, Trea Turner looked to snap that streak with a lead off home run, but the umpires on the field ruled it was a double. It was a call upheld on replay:
Crew Chief reviews call that Trea Turner did not hit a home run in the 6th, call stands, no home run.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 26, 2018
While it didn’t go out, it was just a matter of time before the Nationals scored. Anthony Rendon singled Turner to third, and Turner would score on a Juan Soto ground out. Matz would get out of the inning without allowing another run, but the damage was done.
Matz was destined to lose this game as the Mets mustered only three hits in the entire game against Jefry Rodriguez and the Nationals bullpen. Jeff McNeil was one of the three Mets who got a hit, and he would leave the game in the seventh with a strained quad.
Entering the eighth, Paul Sewald took the mound to try to keep the game to one run hoping beyond hope the Mets could run into one and tie the score. Instead, Sewald imploded.
Sewald loaded the bases and walked in a run. Then Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch hitter, and he unloaded the bases with a three RBI double. On that play, Jose Reyes took the relay throw and spiked the throw home. With Tomas Nido unable to field the throw, Soto would score easily.
All told, it was an eight run inning with five runs charged to Sewald and three charged to Bashlor.
In the ninth, Corey Oswalt, a starting pitcher, was asked to come in and pitch an inning. On the bright side, he accomplished that task by recording three outs in the top of the ninth. On the downside, he pitched terribly.
The Nationals were were clearly not running up the score going station-to-station instead of taking the extra base. This led to them loading the bases. Difo first singled home a run, and Spencer Kieboom walked to force home a run. Mark Reynolds would then unload the bases with a grand slam.
That would make the score 15-0. To put in perspective how poorly this Mets season has gone, this wasn’t even the Mets worst loss to the Nationals. On July 31st, the Mets would lose 25-4 against the Nationals, which was the worst loss in franchise history. So to that extent, today’s game wasn’t so bad.
Game Notes: Jay Bruce played all nine innings at first base.
Perhaps, the Mets did not give McNeil his chance because they were not sure his incredible season in the minors would translate to MLB success. So far, it has.
In tonight’s game, McNeil was at the center of both Mets rallies with him going a perfect 4-for-4 with two runs, a double, and an RBI.
Jackson would move to second on Hunter Pence‘s their home, but the Mets could not bring him home.
Still, with the two runs scored, the Mets tied the score and got Steven Matz off the hook.
Initially, things did not look good for Matz. Three batters into the game, he and the Mets were down 2-0 with Evan Longoria hitting a bomb off of him:
103 mph 🚀
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 21, 2018
Fortunately, Matz would settle in, and he would not allow another hit in his five innings pitched. With this being his second start since coming off the disabled list, Matz was done after five innings and 87 pitches.
Corey Oswalt, who was recently demoted to the bullpen, relieved Matz, and he would pitch three terrific scoreless innings allowing just one hit. Not only would he pitch well, but he would also pick up his third win of the season.
Oswalt got the win because the Mets offense jumped all over Tony Watson starting with a Reyes triple off a ball Pence just could not field.
McNeil jumped on the first pitch, and much like Flores did in the previous inning, he hit an opposite field double. The double easily scored Reyes giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.
With the open base, and his historical numbers against left-handed batters, Watson intentionally walked Flores to face Conforto. That was a mistake:
Oppo. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/UIUR89EpfX
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2018
The opposite field three run homer gave the Mets a 6-2 lead.
In the end, this was a game won because McNeil is a professional hitter who delivered in two big spots. It makes you wonder how different things would have been had the Mets given him a chance when they first needed him.
Game Recap: 2015 NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy was traded by the Nationals to the Cubs as the Nationals have begun selling what they can.
Amed Rosario hit the very pitch of the game from Ranger Suarez for a home run, and the Mets were off and running to set a new franchise record with 24 runs on 25 hits in their 25-4 victory. These records were previously set 30 years to the date in a Mets game at the Cubs.
What is interesting is this game was back-and-forth for the first four innings with the Phillies getting to Corey Oswalt with solo homers from Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro.
Entering the fateful fifth inning, it was just 5-4 Mets. Then in that fifth inning, Alfaro threw away the ball on an Oswalt bunt, and then Hoskins would later just completely miss a fly ball in left. The big hit in what would be a 10 run fifth inning was a Jose Bautista grand slam. From there, the game was over, and eventually Phillies manager Gabe Kapler actually turned to position players to get the final nine outs of the game so to save his bullpen for the second half of the doubleheader.
To put in perspective how well that went, the Mets scored seven runs off the position players, and that was highlighted by Jerry Blevins hitting an RBI single off of Scott Kingery. Yes, that’s how absurd things got. A reliever got a hit off of a position player. All told, the Mets had an absolute field day at plate:
- Amed Rosario 4-7, 4 R, HR, 3 RBI, SB
- Austin Jackson 3-7, 3 R, 2B
- Wilmer Flores 3-7, 2 R, 2 RBI
- Michael Conforto 3-7, HR, 3 R, RBI
- Todd Frazier 1-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB
- Brandon Nimmo 1-2
- Jose Bautista 3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 7 RBI, BB
- DFA Candidate 2-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB
- Kevin Plawecki 4-4, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB
As you can see from the 1-2 for Nimmo, the one downside was he had to come out of the game due to him hitting his hand when he swung at a pitch he put in play. Nimmo would come out the game, and his x-rays would be negative, but with the Mets being the Mets, you never know what will happen next.
In the second game of the doubleheader, it seemed like the Mets were going to once again be off and running. Against Phillies starter, Zach Eflin, Rosario, Jeff McNeil, and Conforto would hit three consecutive doubles to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
The disappointment of Conforto not scoring from second would soon be magnified by Steven Matz giving up the lead by surrendering a three run homer to Hoskins in the bottom of the first. Matz would not settle in during the second inning either with him giving up a homer to Kingery in what would be a consecutive three run inning for the Phillies.
All told in his first start since returning form the disabled list, Matz pitched just those two innings allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
As bad as Matz looked, Devin Mesoraco looked worse. After Roman Quinn reached on a throwing error by Matz, Mesoraco would push him to second with a passed ball. Later that inning, Mesoraco threw through on what would be a double steal, and on the return throw, the out of position Mesoraco whiffed on the tag.
César out here giving Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez a run for his money. pic.twitter.com/0K0WV7qERa
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 17, 2018
Things would lie dormant until the bottom of the sixth when Bobby Wahl entered the game. Wahl would appear to have tweaked something in his leg or bat on the Quinn bunt single. Wahl would stay in the game, and he would surrender an RBI double to Cesar Hernandez. On the double, Conforto got to the ball, and made a strong throw to second. Hernandez was dead to rights, but McNeil just dropped the ball.
Later that inning, Williams hit a sinking liner Williams just missed getting to in time. At that point, it was 8-2 Phillies.
The Mets, who have been playing much better of late would show some fight.
Tyler Bashlor would give one of those runs back by allowing back-to-back doubles to Santana and Franco in the seventh before settling in and retiring the Phillies.
Even with the five run deficit, the Mets would go on the attack in the ninth starting with Plawecki reaching with Phillies reliever Yacksel Rios throughing a screwball between Santana’s legs. As the inning continued Conforto and Flores would hit RBI singles to pull the Mets to within 9-6, which then led to Kapler brining in his closer Seranthony Dominguez.
The Mets would bring the tying runs to the plate with Jackson and Bautista, but both would strike out to end the rally and the game.
Overall, it was quite a day for a Mets offense who is suddenly alive and robust. It will be interesting to see how this continues as this series progresses with the Mets always hitting well at Citizens Bank Park.
Game Notes: With the Mets scoring 25 runs, they became the first team in a decade to score 15 runs in consecutive games. Jacob Rhame was available as the 26th man, and he would pitch two scoreless to close out the first end of the doubleheader.
As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons. The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person. The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”
Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.
For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera. Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.
In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second. That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014). Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.
Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS. That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.
Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third. This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap. That deal was nixed over money.
With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began. In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP. Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.
As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363. It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243. Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better. Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.
At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder. The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right. Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.
In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418. In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence. With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.
Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited. More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year. Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch. In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.
Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason. That honor goes to Jason Vargas.
The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth. At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.
Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter. Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen. Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.
The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP. He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.
What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department. From reports, Vargas was not the only one. Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven. Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?
In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been. It’s the Wilpons.
They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over. They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wright‘s insurance policy into the team. They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window. They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.
Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.
What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone. That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.
In the Mets weekend series, they faced off against the Miami Marlins to determine who exactly was the worst team in the National League East. With some guts and guile, the Mets showed it was in fact the Marlins.
In the series, we did see a lot of good from the Mets. Corey Oswalt had another quality start even if he once again sputtered as he navigated the sixth and the third time through the lineup. Noah Syndergaard racked up his eighth win of the year, and Zack Wheeler continued his great pitching winning his fifth straight start.
We also saw Michael Conforto continue this second half resurgence. With his home run yesterday, he’s now hitting .307/.398/.533 with five doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI. If we were to exrapolate those 21 games over a full 162 game season, he would hit 39 doubles and 31 homers. That’s right around the pace he was last year when he suffered that brutal shoulder injury.
While Jacob Rhame took another step back, we saw Drew Smith, Tyler Bashlor, and Bobby Wahl pitch well out of the bullpen. As the season winds to a close, we will have to see that trio get increased chances with the Mets limiting both the appearances and innings of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, both of whom have been pitching better of late.
Moreover, we are watching Wilmer Flores earn a starting job with the Mets next year. Since taking over the first base job in mid-June, he’s hitting .290/.337/.489 with 14 doubles, seven homers, and 26 RBI. In a real surprise, he is getting stronger as the season progresses.
Still despite all that good, there are so many issues, including but not limited to the Mets having three tight games against a bad Marlins team just to win this series.
We have seen Devin Mesoraco continue to regress with him now having a 64 wRC+ since June 1st. Moreover, he has been one of the worst defensive catchers in baseball with him being in the bottom 15 in the majors in pitch framing. Really, there’s a reason why the Mets are just one game under .500 when he doesn’t catch and 16 games under .500 when he does.
Overall, like we saw on that botched double play on Saturday, the Mets defense continues to be horrendous. Per DRS, at every position but third base and left field, they are in the bottom three defensively in the National League. Up the middle, the Mets are the worst in the majors. That also speaks to just how disappointing Amed Rosario‘s development has been.
That also goes towards the Mets continued employment of Jose Reyes, who is one of the worst players in baseball this year. While his selling point this year was he was going to mentor Rosario, it has been a failure. In almost every areas of Rosario’s game, he is worse.
Really, with the exception of isolated instances like the starting rotation, Flores, and Brandon Nimmo, this team is just worse across the board.
So yes, the Mets beat the Marlins, but in the end, who cares? This continues to be a rudderless bad baseball team.
Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.
For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues. When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.” With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”
Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released. However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:
Tyler Bashlor – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch
Jose Bautista – Trade Value Going, Going, Gone!
Jerry Blevins – One Magic LOOGY
Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load
Travis d’Arnaud – d’L
Phillip Evans – DFA TBA
Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Robert Gsellman – Don’t Care What You Think
Austin Jackson – 2019 Opening Day CF
Juan Lagares – Out For The Season
Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)
Steven Matz – Not So Strong Island
Jeff McNeil – 2B/3B/OF
Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better
Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Corey Oswalt – Vargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)
Kevin Plawecki – Plawful
Jose Reyes – Melaza Virus
Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted
Paul Sewald – AAAAll Star
Dominic Smith – Waist And Future Gone
Drew Smith – Mickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor. They’re trying to prove a point.)
Anthony Swarzak – Still Just One Good Season
Noah Syndergaard – 60’6″ Away
Jason Vargas – $16 Million Dollar Man
Zack Wheeler – Finally Good
David Wright – Hurts Here Doc
In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made. Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team. Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:
Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup
Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press. Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves). As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.
Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt
Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing. At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning. It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.
Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt. He should have started that inning. It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.
Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game
Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo. If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.
Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game? Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.
Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced
Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face? Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt? If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.
Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game. By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.
Seriously, how is that a bad thing?
As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false. Just completely false.
This is the National League. A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning. You don’t have that luxury. Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted. Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.
And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize. After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again. That’s a good thing.
As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:
- Gary Cohen – called Daniel Murphy a net negative
- Keith Hernandez – wanted the Mets to get Eric Hosmer, a .254/.322/.389 hitter with a 94 OPS+ and a 0.3 WAR this season.
- Jim Duquette – traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.
Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.
Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game
The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky. On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate. Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen. To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.
Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup. That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup. Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:
#Mets challenge call that Jose Reyes is out at 3B in the 2nd; call confirmed, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 5, 2018
During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games. It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.
When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism. Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.
As for the other decisions? Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants. Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them. Overall, remember the level of interference he has.
Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play. In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series. Give credit where it is due.
More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.
Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game. Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement. Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.