Yesterday, there were two bits of relatively important news. First, we discovered Curtis Granderson intends to play another season. Second, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said the team was not prioritizing the outfield as he believes the team is set there partially because Jeff McNeil is going to move out there.
There are a number of ways to interpret Van Wagenen’s statement with the most likely being the team is not going to sign an everyday outfielder. This means no Bryce Harper or even A.J. Pollock. We can discuss the wisdom of that decision, and we definitely should, but at the moment, the question is whether the Mets are really set in the outfield.
Juan Lagares could be an everyday player for his glove alone, and he showed some promise at the plate. With a new approach, he hit .339/.375/.390 in very limited duty. Certainly, you could argue with this being his contract year and with Chili Davis being the new hitting coach, Lagares is primed for a big season. However, that overlooks the fact he has not played at least 95 games since 2015.
Behind him is Keon Broxton. Over the past two years, Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419. For all of the compliments of his defense, in his only full season in center, Broxton had a -7 DRS and a -2.6 UZR. Even as a part-time player, you really can’t rely on him producing.
Past Lagares and Broxton are Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco. These are two players who are over 35 years old, and they have not been productive Major League players since 2015, and it is hard to imagine 2019 will be the year they turn back the clock.
This places much onus on McNeil. There is every reason to believe McNeil can adapt to the outfield, and even with his questionable peripherals, there is a sufficient basis to believe he can hit at the Major League level. Fact is, he’s a Major League caliber player.
However, the Mets infield has a lot of age. Robinson Cano is 36. Todd Frazier will soon turn 33, and he is coming off his first injury plagued season. Behind both of them is Jed Lowrie, who has been quite good the past two years, but he will be 35 next year. When you factor in the possibility Peter Alonso may not be ready, and you are in a position where McNeil may be needed to return to the infield thereby leaving a thin outfield another outfielder short.
Granderson may be older, but he has always been durable. More importantly, Granderson has remained a productive player, and he effectively transitioned to being a part-time player. Last year, Granderson hit .242/.351/.431 with a 115 OPS+. As a pinch hitter, Granderson hit .375/.483/.500, and that doesn’t include the big pinch hit double he had in Game 5 of the NLCS.
The days of Granderson playing everyday are long gone. Still, Granderson is capable of playing for long stretches in a pinch, and he is someone who you want in your clubhouse mentoring your younger players like Alonso and McNeil. He’s a popular player, and he is someone who has shown the ability to play well in a Mets uniform.
Granderson may not be perfect, but the Mets don’t need perfect. They need a good player and someone who compliments this roster. Right now, that player is Granderson, and he should be back wearing his number three in blue and orange.
One of the narratives which has taken hold of late is how the Mets catching situation is what has been holding them back. To a certain extent, there is a point. Travis d’Arnaud cannot stay on the field, and Kevin Plawecki has yet to fully maximize the chances he has been given to establish himself as even a clear-cut starter at the MLB level.
When looking at this offseason, there are plenty of players available who could be upgrades for the Mets. On the free agent front, there’s Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos. On the trade front, there is J.T. Realmuto and Francisco Cervelli. Even if you argue all of these players are not definitively better than what a healthy d’Arnaud can give you, their ability to stay on the field makes them upgrades. More than that, it provides the Mets with depth at the catching position.
As we saw with the Mets playing Jose Lobaton and Devin Mesoraco, depth is vitally important at the catching position. More than that, the Mets need a real depth of talent on the roster. If you build a roster with talented players, an upgrade at catcher isn’t that desperately needed.
For those who don’t remember, the 2015 Mets were able to make it to the World Series with d’Arnaud behind the plate. There were several reasons why. Daniel Murphy was just beginning to become the feared hitter he would become. Curtis Granderson was a leader on and off the field. David Wright was having that one last great stretch in a terrific career. Yoenis Cespedes was phenomenal. There was real depth with Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Wilmer Flores.
Mostly, it was the pitching, and d’Arnaud played a big part of that with his pitch framing. This path to the World Series isn’t an anomaly either. Just this past season, we saw the Red Sox go to the World Series with Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez behind the plate. Much like the 2015 Mets, the reason the Red Sox were able to do this was because they had great players like Mookie Betts and Chris Sale in addition to terrific situational/platoon players like Steve Pearce and Brock Holt.
The overriding point is there are many ways for the Mets to go back to the World Series, and they don’t have to upgrade at catcher to do it. Instead, they need to look at the best possible players they can add to the roster.
They need to build on a pitching staff which already includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Edwin Diaz, and Seth Lugo. They need to add to a lineup which already features Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Robinson Cano.
If building up the lineup and roster comes at catcher, great. If it doesn’t, that’s good too because we already know d’Arnaud and Plawecki behind the plate can bring you to a World Series. For that matter, Plawecki, d’Arnaud, and Rene Rivera brought the Mets to the Wild Card Game.
In the end, there needs to be much less of a fixation on improving just one roster spot for the sake of another. For example, don’t trade Nimmo for Realmuto. Instead, the Mets just need to focus on getting better players on this team much like how they added Cano even though they already had McNeil.
In the end, if the focus is better players and a deeper roster, you will win games. You see it time and again. The Yankees dynasty had a black hole in left field. The Red Sox had nothing at catcher, second, and third. The 1986 Mets had Rafael Santana. The 2018 Mets can have d’Arnaud and Plawecki behind the plate, a tandem we already know can get you to the World Series.
According to recent reports, the Mets are pursuing J.T. Realmuto. Purportedly, the Marlins want a combination of young MLB players under control plus some prospects for Realmuto. The MLB players mentioned were Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and Brandon Nimmo. If that’s the cost, especially Nimmo, the Mets should tell the Marlins there’s no deal.
In fact, if anyone approaches the Mets about Nimmo, they should hang up the phone.
Last year, Nimmo was one of the best players in the National League. In fact, if not for the Mets completely falling apart in the May, it is quite possible Nimmo would have been one of the top five in MVP voting. No, this is not hyperbole.
In 2018, Nimmo was second in the National League in both wRC+, OPS+, and OBP. He had the third highest WAR among National League outfielders. He was fourth in the league in triples. He was ninth in walks and first in HBP. Taking all of this into account, Nimmo profiled as the best lead-off hitter in the National League, and if Mookie Betts wasn’t a lead0ff hitter for the Red Sox, you could probably argue Nimmo was the best leadoff hitter in baseball.
When you take Nimmo’s production and you combine it with his not yet being arbitration eligible, you have one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball. Nimmo is playing at an All Star level, is still just 25 years old, and he is under team control through the 2022 season. This is the type of asset you build upon, not one you trade away when you can simply sign other players to fill other voids.
Speaking of voids, trading Nimmo leaves a huge one. If you are going to look to replace him, you are talking about injury plagued players like Michael Brantley or A.J. Pollock. There’s also veterans on the backside of their careers like Andrew McCutchen or Adam Jones. Past that, and you’re really rolling the dice that Curtis Granderson or Nick Markakis have just one year left in them.
Sure, you can mention Bryce Harper, but if you have the money to sign him, just go ahead and sign him. He is supposedly willing to play first base. If he isn’t, Nimmo can play center. He was a -2 DRS in 350.1 innings there last year, but according to Baseball Savant he has the same spring speed as Juan Lagares, which at least suggests he can make improvements if he were to remain at the position (no, this is not to say he’s going to win any Gold Gloves).
Overall, Nimmo is a cost controlled outfielder who was one of the best hitters in all of baseball last year. He is a driven to get better, and he is versatile in the outfield. With him not yet being arbitration eligible and under team control for four more years, he is as untouchable as any player, pitchers included, on this Mets team.
Last year, Mariners DH Edgar Martinez narrowly missed out on induction to the Hall of Fame. It was a narrow margin with him falling just 20 votes short. With him falling that short, people who support his induction into the Hall of Fame are going to find any argument they can to push him over the hump.
With him now appearing on the same ballot as Mariano Rivera, you will be naturally inclined to look at their head-to-head stats. In fact, it is popping up all over the place already:
You're going to see this stat a lot, but here goes: Edgar Martinez vs. first-time HOF candidate Mariano Rivera: 11-for-19, 3 doubles, 2 HR, .579/.652/1.053
— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) November 19, 2018
#Mariners Edgar Martinez faced Mariano Rivera 23 times in his career. He batted .579/.652/1.053.
"He had more than my number. He had my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He got everything from me." – Mariano Rivera (2003)
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) November 22, 2017
Do you know what Martinez’s stats against Rivera tell us? It tells us he hit Rivera really well. That’s it. Trying to garner any more information from that is just plain wrong. Really, hitting well against Rivera is not a barometer for Hall of Fame induction.
If it was, this means the Hall of Fame is going to have to really open it’s doors to include far more players.
Andruw Jones, who is also on this year’s ballot is 3-for-5 with a homer off Rivera. Since we are now looking at stats against Rivera, shouldn’t he now get enough votes to push him over the 75%? Shouldn’t the Veterans’ Committee also revisit the cases of Sandy Alomar (.462/.462/.846) and Aubrey Huff (.400/.429/.800)?
Looking forward, 2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist is 3-for-4 against Rivera with two doubles and a triple. Curtis Granderson is 2-for-5 with a homer off Rivera. Are these both now automatic inductions when they reach the ballot?
Let’s look at things from a different perspective. Martinez was 2-for-36 against Alex Fernandez. This is the same Fernandez who did not receive one Hall of Fame vote. Considering Fernandez did not garner even one Hall of Fame vote, and Martinez did not perform well against him, does this now mean Martinez should not receive any Hall of Fame votes?
Of course not because that is a vapid argument.
The success or failures against any particular pitcher does not define a career. What defines a career is what was done on the field for at least 10 years, or in Martinez’s case 18 years.
Personally, I do not see him as a Hall of Famer. He did not hit any of the proverbial magic marks like fellow DHs Frank Thomas (500 homers) or Paul Molitor (3,000 hits) reached. If you look at it, Frank Thomas is the standard bearer for inducting DHs into the Hall of Fame.
If you look at Thomas as the standard, Martinez falls short. Others feel differently, and they raise some valid arguments. That is what makes Edgar Martinez’s candidacy such an interesting debate. That debate gets less interesting when you raise his stats against one pitcher or another. That’s just raising interesting factoids which does not move the needle at all.
Because if it did, you wouldn’t give him one vote due to his numbers against Fernandez.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.” While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise. There are several reasons why:
- Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
- With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players. You don’t need three.
- Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
- The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
- With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
- Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series. After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets. If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
- The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus. You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
- For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
- Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
- It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.
So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?
It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players. It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year. If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:
Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.
Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game. There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.
Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn. If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.
Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player. The debate is over. He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.
Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse. There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.
Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.
Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year. If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.
Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense. The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.
Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank. They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank. That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.
Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.
Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder. Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse. It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.
Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.
Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return. If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.
Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.
Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East. Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.
Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York. If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.
AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured. He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again. The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.
Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017. He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year. The Mets have plenty of those already.
Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets. If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.
Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.
Mets fan favorite Curtis Granderson is just one game away from his team going to the World Series. If it happens, this will be the second straight year and third out of the last four years his team went to the World Series.
Note, that’s team because Granderson was left off last year’s World Series roster.
After going 1-for-15 in the NLDS and NLCS combined with eight strikeouts, the Dodgers would leave him off the World Series roster in favor of Brandon McCarthy, who was added to the roster despite not having pitched in nearly a month.
As luck would have it, McCarthy would appear in just one game that series. He was the pitcher who took the loss in the back-and-forth 12 inning game two after surrendering a two run homer to George Springer.
Instead of the commanding 2-0 series lead heading to Houston, the series was tied 1-1. The Dodgers would lost two of three in Houston before losing the series in seven games.
Tonight, even though he is nothing more than a pinch hitter, Granderson has the opportunity to exact some measure of revenge for the Dodgers leaving him off the World Series roster last year. Judging from how the Brewers have utilized him, he will then have a chance to have an impact on the 2018 World Series.
Here’s hoping he gets that chance, and here’s hoping one of the best human beings to ever don an MLB uniform finally wins that elusive World Series ring.
In many ways, Game 2 of the NLCS was decided by a couple of former and well liked Mets.
The Brewers would have their chance to respond in the bottom of the eighth.
With one on and two out, Dave Roberts pulled his left-handed reliever for Kenta Maeda, and Craig Counsell countered by sending Curtis Granderson to the plate. Granderson put a charge in one, but the ball would land harmlessly in Yasiel Puig‘s glove.
While there were many, many other factors which influenced the final score, when you boil down this game, the difference was Turner’s ball left the yard, and Granderson’s didn’t.
In some ways, it’s great to see some popular former Mets in the postseason, especially Granderson. In other ways, it is a reminder how the Mets once had the talent to be a World Series contender. That talent is still contributing in some fashion to teams on the cusp of going to the World Series.
It’s now incumbent on the Mets to find their next Turner and Granderson to get the franchise to the point where Turner and Granderson currently are.
Similar to the Roberto Clemente Award, the MLBPA has the Marvin Miller Award. The Marvin Miller Award is given to the player their peers “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”
Each team gets to nominate a player, and we have seen upstanding players win this award including Curtis Granderson, who has won it twice. Unsurprisingly, he was nominated again for the award this year.
There will be some stiff competition for this award, but it will not include Steven Matz, who not only donates time a money to the FDNY Foundation, but he also takes an active role with the Special Olympics.
Now, the Mets candidate for the award will be Jose Reyes.
That’s not a joke.
The Mets really chose Reyes to be their candidate for this award. For those who forgot, which clearly includes the Mets players, Reyes is alleged to have grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into the sliding glass doors. After hotel security contacted police, Reyes’ wife was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries to her neck, thighs, and wrists.
This is who Major League players “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community.”
Congrats to the players for taking their time to admit to us all they have no issue with domestic violence, and better yet, they believe players who commit violent acts against their wives need to be recognized as role models.
With the Dodgers and Brewers beginning the NLCS, there is a chance, and in the case of Curtis Granderson, a remote one, that a former Mets player could take home the MVP award. If Granderson does do this, he will be one of eight former Mets who have been the NLCS MVP. Can you name them? Good luck!