Yesterday, equipped with his Spider-Man hat and Todd Frazier shirsey, my son played in his first ever t-ball game.
I guess technically it was “scrimmage” at the end of his t-ball camp, but to me, it was his first game, especially when the camp was split into two teams.
Well, top of the first, my speedy lead-off hitter began his baseball career hitting a leadoff homer:
Heading into the game, there was much said about how Dave Eiland challenged or disrespected Noah Syndergaard in his saying Thor hasn’t accomplished much at the Major League level. During the broadcast, it was discussed, and Ron Darling said as a player, he would have taken it the wrong way.
Whatever the case, Syndergaard seemed motivated by it in the first inning as he struck out the side while needing just 15 pitches. You got all the more excited seeing Syndergaard knocking home Devin Mesoraco from first after he had drawn a leadoff walk against Jaime Garcia giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. For a moment, it seemed as if things would go rolling on from there, and we would see the Syndergaard we saw prior to the lat injury.
Instead, we saw the Syndergaard we have seen all this season.
In the third, he allowed a one out single to old friend Curtis Granderson, who was playing his first game against the Mets since being traded to the Dodgers for Jacob Rhame last year. After Josh Donaldson popped out, that should have been the end of any prospect of danger.
Instead, we got to see some of Granderson’s knowledge from his playing time with the Mets. He would put himself in scoring position stealing a base, and he would hold at third on a Justin Smoak single. It wound up being a terrible throw from Juan Lagares, but he charged the ball hard, and Granderson, being perhaps well aware of Lagares’ arm, held on third. It didn’t matter because after Syndergaard plunked Teoscar Hernandez with a pitch, Yangervis Solarte hit a two RBI single.
On the single, it is quite arguable any other second baseman but Asdrubal Cabrera gets to that ball, but he didn’t leading the the Blue Jays taking the 2-1 lead.
Seeing how the Mets have played of late, this was a real danger sign. Fortunately, the Mets offense would finally break out.
Beginning with a Jay Bruce double, the Mets would quickly load the bases for Syndergaard, who tied the score with a sacrifice fly. Amed Rosario then nearly hit one out with the ball hitting the top of the fence and bouncing in instead of out. In any event, it was a two RBI double giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.
It should be noted Jose Reyes, who started because with the left-handed pitcher on the mound, Wilmer Flores started at first and Adrian Gonzalez sat, somehow did not score from first. Really, he did not score from first on a ball which was nearly a homer to one of the deeper parts of the park. At best, this was shades of Timo Perez. At worst, this is a player who no longer belongs in the majors.
Lagares would make sure both Reyes and Rosario both scored as he slashed a two RBI single to center, and even with Donaldson cutting it off, he would get to second ahead of the throw.
.@Mets challenge call that Juan Lagares is out at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) May 16, 2018
A Cabrera double after that, and the Mets not only had a five run inning, but they would also have a 6-2 lead. In the fifth, the Mets would add the runs needed to make this the laugher the Mets desperately needed.
Gonzalez, Rosario, and Brandon Nimmo would hit consecutive singles first scoring Mesoraco and later scoring Gonzalez. After that Lagares hit an infield single to third allowing Rosario to score.
When Gonzalez pinch hit for Syndergaard that inning, it was the end of Syndergaard’s night, but really, he was going to be pulled after the fifth anyway.
As noted earlier, Syndergaard labored through the third, and he would do the same in the fifth needing a Hernandez double play to get out of the inning. Overall, Syndergaard needed 103 pitches to get through five. He walked an uncharacteristically high two batters. While he’s been effective, he has not yet been Syndergaard this year.
Finally, in the eighth, the Mets would put a capper on this game. Lagares hit a leadoff triple, and he scored on a Luis Guillorme RBI single, his first RBI. After a force out, Mesoarco hit his second homer as a member of the Mets expanding the Mets lead to 12-2.
All-in-all, a pretty good night for the Mets. Mesoraco could not make an out going 2-2 with three walks, four runs, a homer, and two RBI. Lagares was just as good going 4-5 with two runs, a triple, and three RBI. Really, in a game like this, you are going to see everyone contribute somehow, and that’s what the Mets did. The only hope now is the team left some hits in those bats.
Game Notes: The Blue Jays have never beaten the Mets in Flushing going 0-12.
With Michael Conforto coming off the disabled list, there was a question where he should hit in the Mets lineup. Traditionalists wanted to see him in more of a classic RBI spot in the lineup like third or clean-up. Sabermetrically inclined fans who saw Conforto as the best hitter on the team wanted him to hit second in the lineup.
His manager, Mickey Callaway, decided to bat Conforto leadoff. It was the right decision.
Recently, teams have ever so slowly been moving away from the classic leadoff hitter. It’s not longer about speed and stolen bases. Now, it’s about the ability to get on base, and it’s about the ability to drive in runs when the lineup flips over. Teams who have constructed their lineups as such have had success recently.
The 2015 Mets went to the World Series with Curtis Granderson (.259/.364/.457, 26 homers, 70 RBI) as their leadoff hitter. The following year, Callaway’s Indians went to the World Series with husky first baseman Carlos Santana (.259/.366/.498, 34 homers, 87 RBI) as their leadoff hitter. The reigning World Series MVP is George Springer (.283/.367/.522, 34 homers, 85 RBI). Each one of these players were top three on their team in OBP, homers, and RBI.
With few exceptions like Bobby Bonds and Brady Anderson‘s steroid fueled 50 homer 1996 season, these types of hitters typically hit in the middle of the lineup. Now, teams, especially analytically driven teams, have rethought that model, and they want these types of hitters atop the lineup.
Conforto is one of these types of hitters.
Before tearing his posterior casule, Conforto was hitting .279/.384/.555 with 27 homers and 68 RBI. Like Granderson, Santana, and Springer before him, he was top three on his team in OBP, homers, and RBI. Also like that trio, Conforto did his damage from the leadoff spot.
One thing that was lost with Conforo was how much he found a home in the leadoff spot. In the 68 games he had led off for the Mets last year, Conforto hit .279/.386/.555 with 20 homers and 45 RBI. That was good for a 149 wRC+. That’s higher than the 54 wRC+ he has batting second or the 137 wRC+ he has batting third.
Really, Conforto is at his best when he is leading off. That extends to leading off games where he hits .305/.397/.712 or leading off an inning where he hits .282/.373/.554.
In theory, Conforto should bat second. Given his ability and his 2017 stats, he’s the best hitter in the Mets lineup – even better than Yoenis Cespedes. However, part of his being the best hitter in the Mets lineup is his being in a spot in the lineup he is most comfortable and produces. So yes, Conforto should even hit leadoff whenever Brandon Nimmo cracks the lineup.
Given his skill-set, how successful teams have been using similar hitters atop the order, and how he thrives in that spot, Conforto should be the Mets leadoff hitter.
Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets. Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry. However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes. When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.
With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right? Let’s take a look:
Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation. In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.
The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer. Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well. Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.
Things changed at the tail end of 2017. Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become. d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September. As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.
VERDICT: 2018 – if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close
2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez
In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI. He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.
Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.
VERDICT: 2015 – Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw
We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.
For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.
VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one
This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.
Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.
VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy
Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015. After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores. Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half. Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.
Rosario is the future of the Mets. Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate. However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better. He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time. For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.
VERDICT: 2018 – Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high
Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets. Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting. Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup. He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist. Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.
With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets. To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player. This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.
VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.
From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers. They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits. In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well. Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.
The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player. Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder. Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015. Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.
VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important
When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then. Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.
VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then
2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald
Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen. This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year. Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness. One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.
When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins. Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.
VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside
For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015. When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived. Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.
Right now, Callaway looks like a genius. He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth. He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late. His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire. However, the season isn’t even a week old. Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.
Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series
If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation. The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager. Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw. However, in reality, it’s not. That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.
That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager. If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level. If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.
During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen. As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”
The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.
This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching. Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.
That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis. Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare. He had shoulder and hamstring issues. While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.
At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade. The Mets killed that deal over physicals. The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years. That’s really interesting.
In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI. It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.
The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR. The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.
The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce. However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.
With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too. Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons. For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career. For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.
For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again. Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers. If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.
We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy. However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis. In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.
If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.
During the course of the 2018 season, my hope is to feature a new Mets fan each and every week by having them answer five quick questions about their particular fandom. For me, this is part of a natural outgrowth of the site because part of my intention was to discuss my experiences as a father raising my sons to be Mets fans.
As we know being a fan is a unique experience for everyone, and I’m sure my sons will have a much more unique experience than I have had as a fan. The hope is to have a fun mix of fans – celebrity, media, and average fans like you and me.
So to that end, I will start off the new feature answering the same five questions butchers, bakers, and the people on the streets will be answering.
The Mets Fan:
For my readers, I am the self dubbed Mets Daddy. To my sons, I am just daddy. To my detractors, I am someone that just needs to go away.
Alongside my work here, you can also find my work on Metsmerized Online, Mets Minors, and Gotham Baseball. With a newborn in the house and a four year old, there’s not much opportunity for me to sleep, so it’s more entertaining to write about the Mets than to watch the same terrible late night TV night in and night out.
How You Became a Mets Fan:
My father grew up in a household where my grandfather was a New York Giants fan, his younger brother was a New York Yankees fan, and he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Given that environment, you could understand why he would look to ensure his children grew up Mets fans.
As a little kid, my dad saw an opportunity with my love of strawberries. He told me about how the Mets had this great player coming to the team named Darryl Strawberry. When Strawberry was called up to the Mets, he took me to my first ever Mets game to see him play. Seeing my first ever baseball game at Shea Stadium helped make me the diehard fan I am today.
Favorite Mets Player:
When I think of my favorite Mets player, there are a few names I consider. As noted above, Strawberry is on the list. Gary Carter was always a favorite of mine, and growing up, I wanted to become a catcher because of him. In more recent vintage, Daniel Murphy was a person favorite, and how could he not with the 2015 postseason he had. Like any other Mets fan, I love David Wright.
However, my guy will always be Mike Piazza. When he came to the Mets, this went from a nice little team to a World Series contender. I still remember all of the homers including the one after 9/11, which for my money is the biggest home run ever hit. More than that, Piazza is a guy who wanted to big stage, and when Cooperstown came calling, he chose to be a Met partially due to us fans.
Favorite Moment In Mets History:
I’ve been exceedingly lucky as a fan. I was there for the Todd Pratt homer clinching the 1999 NLDS. I was in the park the night of Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single. There was also the Bobby Jones one-hitter. My first real memory as a fan was watching Mookie Wilson‘s little roller up the first base line go through Bill Buckner‘s legs.
However, despite all those classic moments, the one I will always treasure most was going to Game 3 of the 2015 World Series with my dad and brother. It also helped that Noah Syndergaardstood 60’6″ away, Wright hit the first World Series homer in Citi Field history, and Curtis Granderson hit a homer to give the Mets the lead for good that game. The fans even got a chance to sing along to Piano Man with Billy Joel.
Going to a Mets World Series game with my dad and brother had long been a dream of mine. Seeing them win a World Series game and feeling that euphoria leaving Citi Field that night will be next to impossible to top.
Message to Mets Fans:
Some of the best Mets seasons are never the ones you expect. The 1969 team was never supposed to win. The 1999 Mets were put together on a wing and a prayer. Back in 2006, it was hard to believe anyone would ever unseat the Braves as the NL East Champions in the Wild Card Era. Heading into the 2015 season, Bryce Harper was asking where his World Series ring was after the Nationals signed Max Scherzer. As Mets fans, we had Michael Cuddyer.
Point is, even if you are extremely frustrated by the Wilpons and how they choose to operate this team, just remember, when you least expect it, that old Mets Magic is right around the corner. After all, Ya Gotta Believe!
About a week ago, I wrote an article detailing the efforts Jeff Wilpon undertook to avoid the media. Seeing his quotes from the luncheon with Mets beat writers, we better understand why Jeff Wilpon undertakes such efforts.
In that press conference, he conveyed conflicting messages, threw his captain under the bus, and generally speaking left Mets fans angrier at the team than they originally had been.
The sad part is it didn’t have to be that way. Jeff Wilpon must’ve known he was going to speak at this luncheon, and therefore had sufficient time to better choose his words. Here’s what he should have said:
On Mets Fans
I understand the frustration because I’m frustrated too. I can tell you no one in this organization saw a 92 loss season coming. Because of that, we made changes. We brought in Mickey Callawayto be the manager and Dave Eiland to be the pitching coach.
More importantly, with all the injuries we had, we have gone out and brought in a new training staff. And remember, when healthy, this is a postseason team.
I think when Mets fans see the team we bring to Spring Training, they’ll be as excited for the 2018 season as I am.
On the Budget
There has been much written and said about the payroll. I understand where people are coming from, but there are things everyone needs to take into account.
Like any other rebuilding team, we had a lower payroll. As we knew were getting closer to contention, we went out and began getting players like Curtis Granderson, who helped us become contenders.
As our window opened, we began to increase payroll. Every year since 2014, we have increased payroll. In 2015 and 2016, when we had a chance of going to the postseason, we expanded payroll by making in-season trades for players like Cespedes and Bruce.
Also, we have gone the extra mile when necessary. On two separate occasions, we made Cespedes the highest salaried outfielder in baseball. We brought back Jerry Blevinslast year, and we brought back Bruce this year. We always have been willing to go the extra mile when the opportunity presents itself. If it presents itself again, we’re going to do it.
At the end of the day, I can assure fans that we will have a payroll that will help us to compete for a World Series title next year.
On the Correlation between Spending and Winning
I think we have all learned the lesson that spending does not automatically correlate to wins. There have been many years where we have had a top payroll, and we didn’t even finish over .500.
Personally, I believe winning is more about having the right decision makers in place. The Mets have that with Sandy Alderson. Under his direction, we went to a World Series in 2015, and we returned to the postseason the following year.
In 2017, which was the highest payroll in team history, we didn’t make the postseason. I believe we were snake bit with all the injuries. It happens. We just have to learn and grow from it; not throw money at the problem.
On the Offseason
So far, we have strengthened the bullpen with Swarzak. We have improved the outfield with Bruce, who was great for us last year. Overall, we have spent more money on free agents than any other team this offseason.
And I can unequivocally say we are not done looking for ways to improve this team.
On David Wright
People may not want to hear this, but so long as David Wrightwants to play baseball, we are going to keep the door open for him.
Now, there are certain allowances that need to be made. If Wright can play, that’s $20 million in our payroll. And yes, that means we have to consider his salary both when setting the budget and constructing our roster.
Wright is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Mets uniform. He has earned the right to say when he’s done. I’m never going to stand in his way because one of my greatest joys as an owner has been watching his career.
More than that I believe in him, and I’m rooting for him as all Mets fans should. He’s an important part of our history, and God willing, an important part of our future.
Now, I’m not saying all Mets fans should like these answers. Personally speaking, I wouldn’t.
With that said, they would at least convey a sense of purpose, direction, and more than anything hope. Instead, we got from Jeff Wilpon a moving target on the budget with him putting partial blame on a hurt David Wright who is fighting for his career. Overall, Jeff Wilpon really confirmed every Mets fans worst assumptions.
Ownership won’t invest what it needs to invest this team in order to win. More than that they confirmed for many this is a team that is rudderless so long as the Wilpons are in charge. Worse than that, they have no issue throwing an injured player in front of a bus.
Well, they won’t anymore as Granderson has signed a one year $5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
As we learned from his four years in Queens, any team that adds Granderson has done well for themselves. He’s a tremendous person and mentor in the clubhouse. More than that, he’s a good and durable baseball player.
Considering these qualities, it really is surprising the Mets showed no interest in a Granderson reunion. Last year, Granderson was a 1.5 WAR player, who played all three outfield positions. That’s important because the team doesn’t know when Michael Conforto will be able to return. On top of that, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares cannot stay healthy.
Instead of looking for a versatile outfielder, the Mets opted to focus on 1B/OF due to the rookie season of Dominic Smith. In looking to sure that up, the Mets signed both Bruce and eventually Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is the more interesting signing of the two because he is the anti-Granderson.
For his part, Gonzalez is not a healthy player, has not played well on the East Coast, and he has not been seen as a good clubhouse presence. Considering the purported issues in the clubhouse late last year, Mickey Callaway managing for the first time in his career, and no one on the coaching staff having any MLB managerial experience this situation seems less than ideal. Actually, it seems like it could be an impending disaster.
The reason no one is really questioning the Mets thought process here is because we all know why the Mets made the decisions they made. Mostly, the team would rather have Gonzalez making the minimum than having Granderson for $5 million. They would also rather bet on a 31 year outfielder for three years instead of a 37 year old one for one year.
On the converse, the Mets opted to try to resurrect the career of an injured soon to be 36 year old first baseman rather than have Bruce at first and Granderson in right.
Whether this proves to be the correct decision remains to be seen. However, we do know one thing – you are always better off having a player and person like Granderson in your clubhouse. For that, the Blue Jays are better today, and the Mets aren’t.
Throughout the offseason, we have heard the Mets have been looking to trade Juan Lagares and his bad contract in the hopes of freeing up money to make another move this offseason. However, after the Mets signed Jay Bruce to a backloaded three year $39 million deal, there was this report:
I had mentioned it last night, but am told with regards to Lagares: Mets could move him, but would prefer not to. Mets need good defensive players, and there's uncertainty with Conforto.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) January 11, 2018
Just think about that for a second. Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets gave the starting shortstop job to Wilmer Flores despite everyone knowing he was not defensively capable of handling shortstop for a full season.
Now, with the Mets adding Bruce, the likely outfield alignment would place Michael Conforto in center field.
Last season, Conforto posted a -4 DRS in 328.2 innings. That’s dreadful, and it’s not likely to improve with Conforto spending an offseason rehabilitating a major shoulder injury.
If the outfield is Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce, how can the Mets possibly put up the front they need good defensive players as a justification why they’re keeping Lagares?
If that was the case, the Mets give Lagares another shot to prove he can play everyday, don’t hand an infield position to Cabrera, and they’d focus on adding good defenders like Todd Frazier this offseason.
The Mets aren’t. Instead, they’re going with the better hitters at all positions while ignoring the defensive ramifications. It’s what Sandy’s always done, and judging from the Bruce signing, it’s what he will always do.
So no, they’re not keeping Lagares to keep good defensive players. They’re keeping him because they can’t move him.
If you look around the free agent landscape, you will see that most Major League teams have yet to make any significant moves. Even those who have, like the Cardinals, who have obtained Marcell Ozuna, or the Yankees, who obtained Giancarlo Stanton, are still looking to make additional moves to complete their 2018 rosters.
And there are still plenty of real difference makers on the free agent market. That goes for all positions. Really, you could build an All Star roster over the players still available:
- P Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta
- C Jonathan Lucroy
- 1B Eric Hosmer
- 2B Neil Walker
- 3B Todd Frazier
- SS J.J. Hardy
- LF J.D. Martinez
- CF Lorenzo Cain
- RF Jay Bruce
- Closer Greg Holland
With all of these players still available, we have begun to hear from different sources how Sandy Alderson has made yet another master stroke. He is successfully waiting out the market, and as a result, the Mets are bound to get a bargain in free agency. For proof, we need not look any further than how Alderson signed Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason after the 2015 pennant.
For those that remember, early in that offseason, the Mets had moved on from Cespedes instead signing Alejandro De Aza to take part in a center field platoon with Juan Lagares. The plan was to go with Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, and Michael Conforto in the outfield. From there, things changed rather dramatically.
First, Cuddyer unexpectedly retired. Perhaps more unexpected than that was no one wanting to give Cespedes a big contract after his terrific run after his getting traded to the Mets. Part of that was some questions marks that began with his time in Boston. Another issue was Cespedes being just one huge free agent in a loaded free agent class that included Chris Davis, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and many more. The other Major League teams chose the other players.
This had left Cespedes as the last major free agent on the board. While many credited the Mets with sticking it out and getting Cespedes on what was effectively a one year deal, the truth of the matter the team was lucky. If the Nationals had not deferred much of the money in the 5 year roughly $100 million contract offer they made to Cespedes, it is likely Cespedes would have joined Daniel Murphy on the Nationals.
However, credit is due to the Alderson taking advantage of the situation and getting his man.
If we are being honest with ourselves, that was a bit of a miracle. It was not a plan that can be emulated. That goes double for this offseason with so many teams left looking to make moves this offseason. There are many teams with more money who are looking to fill the same exact holes the Mets are. The difference between those teams and the Mets is money.
By many accounts, the Mets only have roughly $10 million to spend this offseason. That is unless they are able to move a contract like Lagares’. For what it’s worth, if you are a Major League team looking for a center fielder, Cain, Jarrod Dyson, Austin Jackson, Carlos Gomez, and Jon Jay are still available. Why would you take on Lagares, when you can just sign one of these free agents?
So no, the Mets are not going to free up payroll. Ultimately, this does not mean the Mets have been patient this offseason. Instead, the team is being idle. The key difference between the two is that when you’re patient you’re waiting for something to happen whereas an idle team moves along the offseason hoping for something to happen.
When you have $10 million to spend, are desperately attempting to attach yourselves to a number of rumors to keep the fans happy, and need to add at least five more key players this offseason to be relevant in 2018, you are idle.