Daniel Murphy

Cubs And Red Sox Have Recently Won World Series Titles, Mets Haven’t

When I was talking with my Dad about the postseason, we were prattling off how most of the teams in the postseason haven’t won in quite some time:

  • Astros – Never
  • Nationals – Never
  • Rockies – Never
  • Indians – 1948
  • Dodgers – 1988
  • Twins – 1991
  • Diamondbacks – 2001
  • Yankees – 2009
  • Red Sox – 2013
  • Cubs – 2016

Just go back over that list again.

For nearly a century, the dream World Series matchup was Red Sox-Cubs. 1912 versus 1908. The Curse of the Bambino versus the Billy Goat Curse.

Then there was all of the Hall of Famers on both sides who never won a World Series. For the Cubs, you had absolute legends like Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins.  The Red Sox had Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

Throw in Fenway and Wrigley with the Green Monster and the ivy, this was the World Series to end all World Series because these were two teams pathologically incapable of winning World Series.

Until recently.

We know it all changed for the Red Sox with a Dave Roberts stolen base propelling the Red Sox to overcome an 0-3 ALCS deficit.  It would be a Kris Bryant homer to start the game winning rally in Game five of the World Series.  Before each of those moments, these were two franchises who seemed incapable of winning a World Series.  There was also a time the Mets would take full advantage.

In 1969, the Cubs went from Ron Santo clicking his heels to a black cat crossing their path.  We would then see Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman pitch the Mets to their first World Series title.

In 1986, Mookie Wilson hit a little roller up along first that got past Bill BucknerRay Knight scored the winning run en route to a Game 6 win and eventual World Series title.

Even in 2015, the Mets beat up on the Cubs.  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom dominated them from the mound, and Daniel Murphy homered the Mets to the team’s fifth pennant.

Now, the Mets are behind both the Red Sox and the Cubs.  Now, it looks like the Mets who are the team that can’t win a World Series.

In 1988, Mike Scioscia hit a grand slam against Dwight Gooden.  In 1999, Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded.  In 2000, Timo Perez didn’t run out a Todd Zeile fly ball that landed on top of the wall.  In 2006, So Taguchi homered off of Guillermo Mota, and yes, Carlos Beltran struck out looking against Adam Wainwright.  In 2015,  Jeurys Familia blew three saves with the help of Daniel Murphy overrunning a grounder and a way offline Lucas Duda throw.  Last year, it was Conor Gillaspie who hit a three run homer in the Wild Card Game.

In reality, the Mets aren’t cursed even with all that ensued after the Madoff scandal.  However, with each passing year, you can forgive fans for starting to feel this way.  It’s been 31 years since the Mets last won a World Series.  In those 31 years, the Mets have reached the postseason six times, and they were eliminated in excruciating fashion each time.

Again, the Mets are not cursed.  Still, it is depressing to now live in a world where the Red Sox and the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Mets.

Reason For Mets Fans To Root For A Yankees – Nationals World Series

You’d be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who’d even contemplate a Yankees-Nationals World Series. After a horrible season, certainly one of the five most disappointing in Mets history, a Yankees-Nationals World Series is about the last thing Mets fans need.

Or is it?

The Mets entered the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which was ranked twelfth in the majors. That number was a bit deceptive as it included David Wright‘ insured contract. After the 75% reimbursement for Wright’s contract, the Mets Opening Day payroll was $140 million. That would’ve bumped them down to 15th.

Really, a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series had a middle tier payroll. A Mets team located in the largest media market in the world was middle of the pack in spending.

That’s fine if the Mets were well constructed, but as we knew at the time, they weren’t.

Now, with the Mets facing even bigger holes this offseason, the Mets are planning to . . . wait for it . . . cut payroll. Instead of the $155 (or $140) million mark, the Mets plan to cut payroll by $135 million. They’re doing this despite having even more holes to address this offseason.

The Mets need a second baseman, third baseman, and a rebuilt bullpen. They should also consider adding a fifth starter, center fielder, backup catcher, and a capable bench. How the Mets can do all of this with less money is anyone’s guess.

Based on how the Mets have been run during the Sandy Alderson era, it seems as if the bullpen and bench will be the two poorest constructed areas. The Mets have been able to address both in the past by making in-season trades. Those trades have helped deplete the farm system.

Overall, if the Mets are going to return to being World Series contenders, they’ll have to spend. That’s hard to do unless Sandy is given more money this offseason.

That brings us back to the original Yankees-Nationals World Series point.

As much as Mets fans do not want to see it, the Wilpons want to see it even less. Remember Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Mets were “not eager” to trade Jay BruceLucas Duda, or really anyone to the Yankees.  They didn’t want to have those players being the Mets.  More than that, they don’t want to see the Yankees in the spotlight.

Likely, they don’t want to see Daniel Murphy leading the Nationals to the World Series.  With everything Murphy has done since leaving the Mets, he makes the Mets look worse and worse.  Seeing Murphy having a third straight terrific postseason may be too much for this franchise to bear.  That goes double when you consider the Mets have a gaping hole at second base – one that could have been filled by Murphy if the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of him.

If the Yankees and Nationals make the World Series, it would just rub salt in the Mets wounds.  On the American League side, you have a team the Mets cannot bear to see successful.  On the National League side, you have the Mets biggest competition in the division going to the World Series led by a former fan favorite.  That’s a lot for an image conscious ownership group to bear.

Who knows?  If that happens, maybe it will spurn the Mets to action.  We could actually see the Mets open up their pocketbooks to address the needs of this team.  Adding some players to a solid foundation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto could very well propel this team back to where they were in 2015.

Then again, maybe the Mets don’t spend the money they need to fix this team.  If they’re not going to spend the money, then they deserve the indignity of seeing the Nationals and Yankees in the World Series.  They deserve to get their own personal worst case scenario.  The hope for Mets fans is it will be too much for them to bear that they will finally do something about it.

Former Mets In The Postseason

When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals.  With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East – Boston Red Sox

Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)

Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.

RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)

Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.

RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)

Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.

OF Chris Young (2014)

After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.

Central – Cleveland Indians

First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)

Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007.  He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.

RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)

Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.

RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)

Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons.  Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.

West – Houston Astros

DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)

Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform.  Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.

Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)

Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)

Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team.  Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.

Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)

Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark.  While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.

Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)

Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick.  He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.

Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)

Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.

Wild Card – New York Yankees

RHP Luis Cessa

Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

Wild Card – Minnesota Twins

Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)

While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.

RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)

“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse.  There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.

RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)

Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability.  He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East – Washington Nationals

OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)

De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets.  He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.

Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)

Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.

2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)

Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase.  Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant.  Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.

LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)

Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season.  He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract.  Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.

Central – Cubs

Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)

“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.

C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)

Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners.  It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.

West – Dodgers

Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)

Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers.  Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.

OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)

Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform.  He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most.  Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series.  His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.

3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)

Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible.  Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.

Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)

Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.

Wild Card – Diamondbacks

RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)

Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed.  While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.

Wild Card – Rockies

None

Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League.  Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.

 

Thanks For The Memories Terry Collins

Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting.  He will not be returning as Mets manager.  While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring.  The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.

In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started.  The Mets were bad and injured.  It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag.  What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.

Part of being human is being emotional.  We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences.  And yes, we’ve seen him cry.  Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality.  In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory.  In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.

He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title.  He left Santana in for that no-hitter.  He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult.  Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.

Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players.  It would be the source of much consternation among fans.  This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto.  What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.

In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed.  You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop.  Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.

But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers.  It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players.  Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner.  It wasn’t just those players.  Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.

With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets.  Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets.  Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.

Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see.  A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young.  A Mets player won a batting title.  There was actually a Mets no-hitter.  Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.

Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that.  Collins got the best out of his players.  It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.

And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans.  More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect.  He returned their affection.  That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:

It was more than the celebrating.  Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants.  At his core, Collins is a good and decent man.  It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.

Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake.  Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers.  This was just one aspect of his poor managing.  There were many times where he left you scratching your head.  It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.

However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins.  To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season.  We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.

He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history.  When he was hired no one expected him to last that long.  Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure.  In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.

I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him.  My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man.  Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled.  Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.

When There’s No Baseball To Enjoy, Enjoy Citi Field

Since Citi Field opened, I’ve been to a countless number of games. It’s fewer than the games I’ve attended at Shea, but still I’ve attended many games at Citi. Tonight, I made the conscious decision to enjoy the park.

Honestly, I made that decision based for two different reasons. The first was the lineup was Nori AokiJose ReyesAsdrubal Cabrera. Once again, that lineup signals the Mets have completely lost focus on their primary objective, which is to develop and find out about their young players. 

The second was when I entered Citi Field with my son, and he was interviewed by SNY:


From, there it was the usual pre-game routine with him. First, it was the baseball:


Then, it was a visit with Mr. & Mrs. Met


After that, I made it to the starts because I wasn’t going to miss Noah Syndergaard‘s first “start” off the Disabled List. 

It was a glorious return with him hitting 99 MPH on the gun while facing the minimum. Once Daniel Murphy grounded into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, Syndergaard’s night was over. 

He looked great, and he left the game without issue. It was certainly a highlight.

 From there, the Mets went to Matt Harvey. It was Harvey’s first career relief appearance even if he was really the scheduled starter. 

In Harvey’s first inning of work, he looked like the Harvey of old. The velocity was there. The slider was moving. It was great to watch, but knowing how he’s pitched this year, I knew it was fleeting, so it was time to re-embark and walk around the ballpark starting with the dunk tank 


Going across the Shea Bridge, right above the Home Run Apple’s old location, I spotted something new 

Of course, that made him want a snack, so we continued our tour around the ballpark. 

Before grabbing his snack, we settled on popcorn in a helmet. 


By the way, I’ve found the helmets with the popcorn and nachos to be the best bang for the buck. They’re full of 

After watching a few innings, we ventured back out because he wanted an Amed Rosario shirsey. Even though Yoenis Cespedes is his favorite player, he reminded me he already has a Cespedes shirt. Because I was swept up in the moment, and I had a coupon, I got swept up in the moment 

Rosario shirsey in tow, my son not only wanted to play baseball again, but he was feeling a bit cocky:


By the way, I really appreciate the giant screen in CF that lets parents run around with their kids and still watch the game. By far, this is the most underrated part of Citi Field. 

We were in our seats for the next few innings including the seventh inning stretch. With all the running around and with it being well past my son’s bedtime, he only made it through the ninth. 

He was drifting, and I thought it cruel to have him awoken by fireworks. As I entered the car, I did hear the fireworks start. Unfortunately, it was in the form of a Murphy 10 inning game winning off Jacob Rhame

Overall, I really appreciated going around the park with my son. Citi Field really is a great place to take a kid to a game. It would be even better with a better team or with an organization that cared about developing their young players in times like these. 

Terry Collins Double Switches His Way to Double-Header Split

This was one of those days that makes you question why exactly the Mets are sticking with Terry Collins right now?  

He’s eschewing developing young players like Dominic Smith, but he makes sure to get Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera in the lineup. 

He also continues to make just poor decisions with his pitching. If you didn’t know any better, you’d expect Collins gets paid by the bullpen move, and he gets paid double for each double switch. 

He really pressures his pitching staff. Today, Collins took that to an absurd level. 

Even knowing Seth Lugo would be limited to 75 pitches in the second game of the double header, Collins ripped through his bullpen. 

Part of that was Tommy Milone only lasting 4.1 innings. The bigger part of that was Collins managing the game like it was Game 7 of the World Series to try to protect a five run lead. 

What was really irritating was Collins first ripped through the guys who could give him multiple innings – Hansel RoblesRafael Montero, and Josh Smoker. The trio combined to pitch one inning with 35 pitches. 

With all Collins histrionics, the Mets still blew the 5-0 lead. They got there because Cabrera and Flores hit a pair of homers. 

With the Mets blowing the lead, they needed another homer. Amed Rosario came through with an eighth inning homer off Joe Blanton

The Mets would hold onto the 6-5 lead with AJ Ramos getting the sixth out save to preserve the rare Mets Sunday win. Of course, to get the rare win, you needed a play you rarely if ever see. 

With Adam Lind getting the two out single to extend the game, Edwin Jackson pinch ran for him with Daniel Murphy coming to the plate as the go-ahead run. 

Murphy ripped a liner above a leaping Cabrera. Travis Taijeron, who had some on in one of the multitude of double switches, overran the ball, and Jackson broke towards home. 

Juan Lagares adeptly backup up Taijeron on the play. He then made a strong throw to Cabrera, who in turn, made a strong throw  to Travis d’Arnaud. With the tag, the Mets cut down Jackson, and the Mets won the game on your typical 9-8-4-2 put out. 
After this game, the question was whether the Mets pitching staff had enough bullets left to pull out a win in the nightcap. The answer was a resounding no.

The Mets had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second game.  

Lagares knocked in the first run on an RBI double. He then came home to score on a Brandon Nimmo two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. It was short-lived. 

After Lugo went 3.2 innings allowing two runs, Smoker came on, and he kept the Nationals at bay in his 1.1 innings of work. 

Then came Robles in his second appearance on the day. After getting a Murphy line out, the Nationals had a runner on first with one out. 

Robles continued by walking the first four batters allowing the Nationals to not only tie the game, but also take a lead. On the bright side, Collins double-switched Smith out of the game meaning he was willing to sacrifice development to win this one game. 

Things could’ve been worse, but Chasen Bradford enduced Howie Kendrick to hit into the inning ending 4-4-3 double play. 

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Erik Goeddel pitched the eighth, and Lind took him deep to give the Nationals a 5-3 lead. The insurance run loomed large with the Mets rallying in the ninth off Sean Doolittle

d’Arnaud led off with a pinch hit single, and Gavin Cecchini singled to move d’Arnaud to second. With a 0-2 count, Reyes dropped a single right in front of Taylor allowing d’Arnaud to score to pull the Mets within one. 

The tomfoolery ended with a Lagares line out to Alejandro De Aza

Collins did everything he could to win both ends of the double header even if it meant eschewing his main responsibility right now- developing players. He didn’t care what he did to the bullpen. For all that effort, he just had a split to show for it. 

Game Notes: Kevin McGowan was activated for the second half double-header as the 26th man. He would not pitch. 

Mets Win What Was Apparently MILB Player’s Appreciation Day

With the Nationals getting in at 6:00 A.M., Dusty Baker put out a lineup that looked like the Nationals Triple-A affiliate with Daniel Murphy. For their part the Mets put out a similar looking lineup because, well, the Mets are bad and injured. 

If you think it couldn’t get worse for the Mets, it did. In the top of that first, Yoenis Cespedes pulled up lame running to third base. Once again, Cespedes left the game with a leg injury. 

The shame of the play was the Dominic Smith single hit the second base umpire. It was a dead ball costing him an RBI, and it helped kill a Mets first inning rally. 

At that point, the Mets already had a 1-0 lead. Once again, Brandon Nimmo lead off a game by getting on base. He would come home to score on an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI single. 

The Mets would then load the bases with one out against Nationals starter A.J. Cole. With Travis d’Arnaud and Amed Rosario striking out, the Mets would come up short. 

Speaking of short, the Mets had an insanely short bench tonight. The team had just a three man bench with one of those players being backup catcher Kevin Plawecki

This was mostly the result of the soul crushing Michael Conforto injury, and the Mets having no viable options on the 40 man roster. With Jeurys Familia being ready to return after his rehab stint, the Mets chose to activate him instead. 

The end result was the Mets having a two man bench when Matt Reynolds came in to pinch run for Cespedes. 

Fortunately, it wouldn’t matter as Jacob deGrom was his deGrominant self. For a while, it seemed like he could get a no-hitter tonight. He certainly had the stuff, and the Nationals had the lineup. 

Still, your heart was in your throat during the game with deGrom. First, he is a Mets pitcher. Second, the Mets luck somehow got worse. Third, he was fouling balls off his leg, and he seemed to pull up lame legging out an infield single in the second. 

By some miracle, deGrom was healthy, and he was able to get the win. His final line was 7.2 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 10 strikeouts. 

In Matt Grace‘s second inning of work, the Mets went to work. It started with a Juan Lagares lead-off double. While many were contemplating the bunt, Terry Collins let Reynolds swing away, and Reynolds rewarded Collins’ faith with an RBI single. 

Cabrera followed with a double setting up second and third with no out. Collins again showed a young player some faith, and he was again rewarded. Collins left Smith in to face the left-handed Grace, and Smith delivered with a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. 

The Nationals chipped into that lead. It surprisingly came from two rookie players with two outs in the eighth. First, it was an Andrew Stevenson double. Then it was an Adrian Sanchez RBI single. 

With Murphy coming to the plate as the tying run, Collins went to Jerry Blevins, who got a huge strikeout to end the inning. 

In the ninth, Nimmo created a run. He reached with a one out single, and he put himself in scoring position with his first career stolen base. He then scored on a Lagares RBI single making it a 4-1 game. 

Even with Familia back from the disabled list, Collins stuck with AJ Ramos as the closer.  Even when Ramos struggled, Collins had Paul Sewald warming instead of Familia. 

He was greeted with an Adam Lind homer to dead center to make it 4-2. 

Things got interesting when Wilmer Difo followed the Lind homer with a double. Ramos then gave us all a heart attack hanging one to Anthony Rendon, who just hit one foul. Instead, he walked Rendon setting up first and second with one out. 

Things got really troubling when Ramos walked Matt Wieters to load the bases. For some reason while this was all happening, Collins sat Sewald and had none of his other fifty relievers in his bullpen warming up. 

Nimmo came in and would catch a Difo rope, and he made the perfunctory throw home.   While that was happening, Rendon strayed too far from second, but Witt the throw home, Rendon had time to get back. 

It ultimately didn’t matter as Ramos struck out the final batter of the game to preserve the 4-2 win and deGrom’s 14th win of the year. 

Normally, with a game like this, you would leave the game feeling good about the Mets. deGrom was great, and he recorded his 200th strikeout of the season. Nimmo looks like a lead-off hitter reaching base three times, and his stealing his first career base. Lagares’ bat got going. The young Mets beat the Nationals. 

However, there is still a hangover with Conforto’s injury and uncertain future. On top of that, Cespedes is once again on the shelf. 

Really, this team continues to finds ways to make things more depressing. 

Game Notes: For Player’s Weekend, the players were allowed to put nicknames on their jerseys. For the newer call-ups, there apparently wasn’t enough time to get them a nickname jersey. With respect to Nimmo, his choice, “You Found Nimmo” wasn’t permitted due to potential Disney copyright violations. 

Good Luck Neil Walker

The Neil Walker legacy with the Mets is a complicated one.  For many, he’s only to be judged as his not being Daniel Murphy.  For others, they rejoice over the fact Walker coming to the Mets meant Jon Niese was no longer a Met (he would return).  Putting aside who he was not, Walker had an interesting legacy as a Met.

The one thing that was obvious was when Walker was actually able to play, he played extraordinarily well.

Walker impressed everyone right away with a tremendous April last year.  During his torrid month, he hit .307/.337/.625 with a double, nine homers, and 19 RBI.  While the nine homers really stood out, what was the most impressive was his hitting from the right side of the plate.  Although he was a switch hitter throughout his career, Walker never did much of anything as a right-handed hitter.  That changed with him putting in the work with Kevin Long.  Seemingly overnight, he became a power threat from both sides of the plate.

More than that, he was a very good defensive second baseman.  While he may not have had the range he once did, he was a smart and smooth player out there.  More than anything, he didn’t make mistakes or unforced errors.  In sum, Walker was a pro’s pro at the plate and in the field.

After April, Walker’s play fell off a cliff.  We’d soon find out the reason was Walker needed season ending back surgery.  Many a game, Walker took to the field with numbness in his feet.  Baseball is an extraordinarily difficult game to play.  It’s even more difficult when you can’t even feel your toes.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Mets made Walker a qualifying offer.  In a much less surprising move, Walker accepted it.  The Mets tried to work out a long term deal with the player to try to stretch out some of the $17.2 million Walker was due, but for good reason, Walker didn’t want to reduce that salary even if he was sincere in his wanting to remain a New York Met.

Again, when Walker was healthy, he was productive with the Mets.  In 73 games this season with the Mets, Walker hit .264/.339/.442 with 13 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, and 36 RBI.  Over the course of a 162 game season, those numbers prorated would have been 28 doubles, four triples, 23 homers, and 81 RBI.  That’s tremendous production from the second base position, especially with the solid defense Walker gives you.

However, that was the issue with Walker’s tenure with the Mets.  He was just couldn’t stay on the field.  Last year, it was back surgery.  This, year it was a torn hamstring.

Still, when we did get to see Walker play, we saw a good ballplayer.  More than that, we saw a player who was great in the clubhouse.  After Amed Rosario got caught up in a tough play that led to a Mets loss, Walker met up with Rosario before the players left the field to talk to him about it.

When he reported to Spring Training this year, Walker brought with him a first, second, and third baseman’s mitt to prepare for the season.  Walker didn’t just want to just be a second baseman, he wanted to be someone who did whatever he needed to do to help the Mets win.  We learned how rare a trait that could be in a player.  Ultimately, Walker would see time at first and third.  Eventually, this did lead to his being traded to the Brewers.

As a Mets fan, I want to see him go out there and do all he can do to take down the hated Cubs and Cardinals.  As someone who has grown to really appreciate Walker, I want to see him succeed.  In fact, with the Mets having holes to address this offseason at second and third, I’d like to see him return to the team.  Until that point, here’s hoping he has a long postseason run.

Hopefully, this isn’t the end of Walker’s Mets career.  If it is, I’ll appreciate him doing all his body would let him do, and I appreciate him trying to do everything he could do to not only improve as a player, but also to help the Mets win.

What Do We Make Of Wilmer Flores?

Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets made the somewhat controversial move to make Wilmer Flores the everyday shortstop for a team that believed they could compete for a spot in the postseason.  As the season progressed, Flores would lose his job to Ruben Tejada.  From that point forward, Flores has had opportunities to prove he is a starting player in the majors.

Starting with Lucas Duda‘s back injury on May 20th last year, the entire Mets starting infield would go on the Disabled List for an extended period of time.  With David Wright going out for the year on May 27th, there was a permanent spot open in the starting lineup for Flores.

For the most part, Flores earned that spot.  From May 29th until his ill-fated slide into home plate on September 10th, Flores had good overall numbers that masked his extreme platoon splits. Flores hit .373/.409/.807 with three doubles, 11 homers, and 28 RBI in 88 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.  Comparatively, Flores hit a meager .241/.297/.362 with nine doubles, four homers, and 19 RBI in 192 plate appearances.  Put simply, with splits like that, Flores proved he was nothing more than a platoon bat.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t even been that in 2017.

So far this season, Flores is hitting .281/.311/.448 with 12 doubles, a triple, seven homers, and 25 RBI.  Against, left-handed pitching, he is only hitting .292/.304/.462 with five doubles, two homers, and six RBI in 69 plate appearances.  Against right-handed pitching, he is hitting better than his career numbers, but he’s still only at .276/.314/.441 with seven doubles, one triple, five homers, and 19 RBI.

The end result is a player with just a 97 wRC+.  That’s not a bat the Mets can keep in the lineup, especially when Flores has a glove that shouldn’t be in the field:

Innings DRS UZR
1B 244.2 2 1.9
2B 633.0 -6 -0.2
3B 893.0 -15 -4.4
SS 1313.2 -15 -0.2

At this point, Flores has been in the majors for five years, and he has yet to truly make a case for the Mets to keep him around.  All we get out of him is glimpses.  We do not see any sustained success.  That’s problematic considering the Mets are in a strange place as an organization.

The team needs to start making some decisions on some players.  They need to decipher who can be a part of the next World Series Championship team.  With the emergence of T.J. Rivera coupled with Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith awaiting their own opportunity to prove they belong in the majors, it becomes harder and harder to keep Flores on this roster.

Still, Flores is still just 25 years old.  It is quite possible he may still figure things out and become a good major league ball player.  The unfortunate reality is he’s running out of time to prove it.  He is already in his arbitration years, and he is due to be a free agent after the 2019 season.

Sooner or later, the Mets will have to make a decision on Flores.  Is he a piece of the Mets next World Series title?  Is he a guy who can become the next Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy?  At this point, we don’t know, and we are running out of time to find out.

Pretty Good Day For All Star Michael Conforto

Things got off to a pretty good start in the All Star Game when Michael Conforto actually had his name announced during player introductions. 

Things got better for him. He’d enter the game in the sixth. In his only chance in the game, he would make a nice leaping grab on an Avisail Garcia liner. He finally got to bat in the bottom of the seventh, and he singled against Roberto Osuna:

Conforto’s big moment came in the bottom of the ninth. With the game tied and runners at the corners, he faced off against Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, he struck out to end the inning. 

It was a good day for the Mets star, but unfortunately, it won’t be the moment we will be talking about for years to come. That moment will be Nelson Cruz taking his phone to the plate and having Yadier Molina take a picture of him with Home Plate Manager Joe West:

Molina then followed this moment by hitting an opposite field homer against Ervin Santana

Your MVP would be Robinson Cano. Cano’s 10th inning homer off Wade Davis was the difference in the game. On the bright side, the Mets weren’t the only New York team to lose an All Star second baseman. 

Former Mets: In addition to Conforto, there were more than a few ex-Mets on the field. 

Jason Vargas pitched one scoreless inning. 

Justin Turner was 0-1 in his lone at bat.  
Daniel Murphy, who was the National League’s starting 2B, was 1-2. The ball Murphy couldn’t quite get to led to the first run of the game. 

The American League’s sole run came when Miguel Sano blooped a single into a Bermuda Triangle of Nationals – Murphy, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman
Having pitched Sunday, Michael Fulmer did not appear in the game.