When looking at the 2015 Mets, none of it was possible, none of it, without Jeurys Familia.
After an impressive rookie campaign, Familia was pressed into closer duty because Jenrry Mejia got hurt in his first appearance of the season (he’d get suspended later). Familia was great in the role at a time the Mets desperately needed it.
This led to Familia going to the whip more than any other closer. He pitched more innings and finished more games more than any other closer. It proved to be good practice for the postseason.
In that epic five game series, Familia cane up huge.
He once again helped the Mets set the tone in Game One of the NLCS. He took over for Matt Harvey in the eighth, and he would pitch the final 1.1 innings to earn the save.
Familia would not just save three of the four games of the Mets sweep of the Cubs, he would save five of the Mets seven postseason victories leading up to the World Series.
In doing so, Familia had a 0.00 ERA, 0.414 WHIP, and batters were hitting just .065/.121/.065 against him.
Like the regular season, the Mets handed him zero margin of error, and he was dominant carrying the Mets to the precipice of the promised land.
Coupled with Conor Gillaspie in next year’s National League Wild Card Game, a narrative was born. It was a narrative not befitting a closer with a 2.30 ERA with a and a 0.638 WHIP.
Lost in all of that is just how dominant Familia was as a Met.
In 2015-2016, no closer pitched more than Familia. He was the leader in appearances, innings, games finished, and saves. Stretching back to 2014, there was only one other reliever with more innings pitched than him.
Looking at it, it’s flat out bizarre Familia’s name never really was mentioned as among the elite closers in the game. Fact is, Familia not only belonged in that group, but considering his workload and ability to navigate through that margin of error, you could make an argument he was the best closer in the game.
In his time with the Mets, he set the single season saves record. Despite closing for fewer seasons than anyone else in the top 5, Familia is third all-time in Mets history in saves.
Even with Familia being unfairly blamed for the Mets coming up short in 2015 and 2016, the Mets come nowhere near either postseason without Familia. Certainly, 2015, seemingly the one nice thing Mets fans seemed to have since Citi Field opened, isn’t even a figment in anyone’s imagination without Familia.
Over the past couple of years, we saw cracks in Familia from workload and hone issues. His absence was felt in a bullpen that has largely been a disaster in his absence.
Looking back at it, Familia was a great Met who helped deliver some of the best moments in Mets history in nearly three decades. His dominance in the back end of the pen will be missed.
Overall, thank you to Familia for the run and best of luck to you in Oakland.
In some ways, the Mets final game before the All Star Break was a microcosm of the entire first half of the season. It started with a lot of promise, and things would quickly unravel from there.
Really, the biggest thing you want to take away from this game is just how good Corey Oswalt pitched. He only needed 59 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed just one earned on two hits while walking none.
In four of his five innings, he got the Nationals to go down 1-2-3. The only issue was the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams led off the inning with back-to-back singles setting the stage for a Michael Taylor RBI ground out. Even with that rally, Oswalt still impressed inducing Matt Wieters to hit into a rally killing and inning ending double play.
Of course, with how well he was pitching, you knew Mickey Callaway was going to be double guessed for lifting him for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
At the time, the score was tied 1-1, and to be fair, the Mets weren’t really setting the world on fire against Jeremy Hellickson.
After Jose Reyes hit a one out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Amed Rosario had a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI and not just get the lead but keep Oswalt in the game. He struck out. Dominic Smith, who was given a talking to by Callaway, pinch hit for Oswalt, and he was hit by a pitch.
Unfortunately, Brandon Nimmo, who hasn’t been hitting near as well since he was hit on the hand in Atlanta, couldn’t deliver.
Seth Lugo came out of the pen for a shutdown inning, but after that it was the typical Mets comedy of errors coming out of the bullpen.
The Mets would use Anthony Swarzak, Tim Peterson, and Jerry Blevins in the seventh. None of them were effective. Swarzak was the worst with him walking the two batters he faced before getting pulled. Ultimately, to add insult to injury, it was Daniel Murphy who delivered the go-ahead hit in what would become a five run inning.
In the end, the Mets lost 6-1, and they have not won a series since May. They have the fewest wins in the National League, and they continue to play Reyes everyday while not giving younger players like Jeff McNeil or Smith an opportunity.
Really, this is a bad team whose front office is managing it to the ground.
Game Notes: Blevins escaped the seventh inning jam by picking off a runner. That was his third pick off of the season tying him with Steven Matz for the team lead.
Well, the Mets are terrible, and we are at the point where the Mets are sellers at the trade deadline. Given the composition of their roster, there isn’t much in terms of trade assets unless you start giving away some pretty major pieces. Given the rise of the Braves and Phillies and this awful Mets season, it’s worth asking whether the Mets should burn it all to the ground and start over.
Then again, with Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper being free agents and the Mets starting pitching staff, there is a legitimate question whether the Mets truly need to tear it all down in a rebuild. With that as the pre-text, our Mets Bloggers offered their opinion as to whether any of the Mets players should be absolutely untouchable at the trade deadline:
I don’t think there’s anyone who is untouchable in this scenario. By doing so with sincerity severely handicaps one’s position in the trade market. I think that can be used to posture in an effort to drum up the cost, but in the end, the Mets cannot discount any one single trade scenario they are confronted with. But I also believe if they intend on contending next season, there’s no way they can trade any one starting pitcher. To get this value in free agency would cost 2-4x (if not more) that which they are paying now. That’s not to say Jacob deGrom will repeat his performance, or any one of them will be healthy, but its safe to say that about any starting pitcher. That plus the cost to get equivalent value in years they want to contend would make it foolish to trade from their only strength at this point in time.
No player should be untouchable if there is a team out there willing to give a lot of value in return.
I’m sorry, but I have to flake out and say it’s deGrom AND Noah Syndergaard. I know you said one, but these are two guys that should be built around. And if the Mets spent more money on the fringes of the roster, and on scouting and development, you could rebuild rather quickly. Also, sign players for their baseball ability, not for their clubhouse presence.
Everybody is listenable. That’s the key. The Mets should listen to everybody who asks about anybody — and start conversations as they deem fit. They can decide on who shouldn’t be touched from there.
But, honestly, all things being equal, I don’t want anybody laying a finger on deGrom.
Unless you are a player on an expiring deal, you should be untouchable because this team does not have a front office in place for next season. Seriously, should we trust John Ricco to trade Wilmer Flores or Zack Wheeler let alone deGrom or Syndergaard?
Say good-bye to Jerry Blevins, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jeurys Familia. Maybe Jose Bautista and Devin Mesoraco if anyone will actually give you something in return. After that, unless you are firing Vargas and Jose Reyes into the sun, there’s no other realistic moves to be made . . . at least not by this front office.
As you can see in what has been a depressing season, there is still people putting out quality content about this team. While the Mets really don’t have much to offer at the trade deadline, these writers do. You should take the time to visit their sites.
Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets handed Wilmer Flores the starting shortstop job. The ensuing two-and-a-half years have been mercurial for both Flores and the Mets organization, and somewhat astonishingly, the Mets probably still do not know what they have in Flores.
For a while, that matter seemed resolved. Flores was a platoon bat you could use to platoon at any position across the infield, especially first base. A funny thing has happened. Flores has learned how to hit right-handed pitching. So far this year, Flores is hitting a robust .301/.359/.553 against right-handed pitching.
Considering Flores has improved his OPS against right-handed pitching in each year since 2015, this may not be a fluke either. Flores may actually be a bat to keep in your everyday lineup right now. However, that leads to the eternal question over where exactly Flores should play.
Well, based upon circling trade rumors, it appears that decision may be up to a new team.
Now, if the Mets are going to trade Flores, they need to first consider what type of prospect would Flores even merit?
While not a perfect comparison, let’s look at Eduardo Nunez. Like Flores, Nunez was seen as a guy who didn’t really have a position on the infield, but ultimately, contending teams were willing to take a chance on him due to his versatility and his offense.
Back in 2017, Nunez was acquired by the San Francisco Giants from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Adalberto Mejia.
As noted by John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Mejia was a C+ prospect who projected to be a fourth starter in the majors. Of note with Mejia, he had already served a PED suspension and didn’t look the same since returning from the suspension.
Since the trade, Mejia has made 22 starts and one relief appearance for the Twins. Overall, he is 4-7 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.620 WHIP.
Assuming the Mets could even acquire a player the level of a Mejia, the question is whether a C+ prospect would be worth foregoing Flores’ prime years. Put another way, are the Mets really willing to risk Flores becoming the next Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy for what may ultimately become a forgettable prospect?
To that end, Flores may actually be the type of player who is more valuable to his own team than to another team.
Flores is a fan favorite, and he is a player who is steadily improving. We have never heard him complain about his playing time or about what position he plays. More than that, from his crying on the field to his recent comments, this is a guy who genuinely enjoys and wants to continue being a New York Met.
All told, it would behoove the Mets to find out if this is another step in Flores’ progression. They can easily give him the second base job for the end of the year into next year to see if he further grows as a player. If he does, it’s very possible Flores will want to sign a deal to be around for the next Mets team to go to the World Series.
And who knows? Maybe this time, instead of making the last out, he’s delivering the series winning hit as both he and all of New York have tears streaming from their eyes.
Well, maybe hate isn’t the right word, but it could be fair to say that Irish Mets fans do not get the same amount of respect that other Mets fans of different nationalities receive. Certainly, there is enough evidence to suggest this is the case. For example, there is the Mets Irish Heritage Night at Citi Field on Friday, August 3rd, which comes complete with this t-shirt:
Well, there is a lot wrong with this. First and foremost, that’s a four leaf clover, not a shamrock. Really, it takes a simple Google search to realize the four leaf clover is not an Irish symbol. The shamrock, which has deeper religious meanings to Irish Catholics is an official symbol of Ireland.
But don’t worry, you won’t see a lot of these t-shirts strewn about Citi Field that day because this is a special giveaway you can only obtain if you purchase a ticket through the website and get a special voucher. Otherwise, you and everyone else parading through the ballpark will be donning your 70s style New York Mets t-shirt.
This goes much further than just their refusal to get a basic symbol of Ireland correct.
Are you one of the many Irish Mets fans who have an apostrophe in your name? Do you want to get a personalized jersey for you or your kids? Not happening as the Mets and MLB will not personalize jerseys with an apostrophe, which is really bizarre when you consider the Mets have a Travis d’Arnaud, who is a player with an apostrophe in his name.
If you want to dig deeper, you will remember the Mets outright refusal to bring back 2015 NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy, and their choosing to DFA Irish born P.J. Conlon instead of Jose Reyes, who has been the worst player in baseball this year, or Marcos Molina, who has regressed in every areas of his game this year and has just one option remaining after this season.
Overall, you can be sure the Mets will say they don’t hate the Irish. That may be true, but on the same hand, they treat them with such little regard that they get their symbols wrong, and they don’t produce fan gear with apostrophes. For some reason, because this is against the Irish, it will be okay and overlooked.
Look, it is only April, and Bryce Harper has been an absolute monster this season, but with the Washington Nationals losing 5-1 to the Colorado Rockies today, they are now a game under .500 at 6-7, which is something they last did in 2015.
They also ran into a buzz-saw with the Mets pulling out all the stops to sweep them at home, and their loss today was against a Rockies team who was in the postseason last year.
Bring up all the caveats you want, they still have had six games against the Braves and three against the Reds. With those teams, they had enough to build a real cushion because that’s what good teams do – they beat up on the lesser teams. Instead, they split the two series they have played against the Braves.
That right there is why the Nationals are under .500. Depending on how this series goes against the Rockies, their set in Flushing, and then a West Coast trip facing off against the Dodgers and Giants before coming home to face the Diamondbacks, this Nationals team MAY be in a little trouble. They COULD be in a lot of trouble.
The Nationals don’t have Dusty Baker as the manager anymore. Yes, Dusty had his faults. However, he knew how to navigate his team through this. Remember, the Nationals fell apart in 2015 under the weak leadership of Matt Williams, and Dusty came in the following year and rescued that team. We don’t know if Dave Martinez has that in him to get the Nationals to turn things around against what is going to be a tough early season schedule.
If the Nationals cannot figure things out, they are going to dig themselves an early season hole, which may be too deep to climb, at least as the NL East is concerned.
Overall, the Nationals are vulnerable right now. Perhaps, they are more vulnerable than anyone could have predicted heading into this season.
Ultimately, this means the Mets have a chance right now to put some real distance between themselves and the Nationals. If they put up enough distance, the Nationals may be fighting for one of the two Wild Cards and not for the division.
As the old adage goes, you cannot win the division in April, but you sure can lose it. If the Mets do their job, they can help ensure the Nationals will lose the division in April.
In the Mets first two games against the Washington Nationals, they have let them know this isn’t going to be a repeat of the 2017 season. The Mets are back, and they are once again a force to be reckoned with.
Really, this series has been a time warp back to August 2015. There is Yoenis Cespedes hitting a big home run. Jacob deGrom out-pitched Stephen Strasburg. Every time the Nationals seem to get ahead, it seems like their bullpen lets them down while Jeurys Familia and the Mets bullpen steps up.
We’ve seen the Mets catchers in Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki do a masterful job pitch framing. Their pitch framing has led to called third strikes directly leading to Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon getting ejected in consecutive games. Yes, the Rendon one was suspect, but when you’re so frustrated, you’re flipping the bat at home plate, you create an opportunity for an over-eager umpire to eject you.
Sure, you can say the Mets are not beating the Nationals at their best. Daniel Murphy is on the disabled list. Arguably their best player to start the season, Adam Eaton, went on the disabled list. They’re going to miss Max Scherzer in this three game set.
Name all the caveats you want, the Mets went to Washington, and so far, they have taken the first two games of this and the season series. As a result, the Mets are off to their best start since 2006. That season, the Mets were the best team in baseball, and they ran away with the division.
With Mickey Callaway at the helm, that and much more is possible. That much has been proven with the Mets taking the first two games from the Nationals.
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.
As Mets fans, we obsess over the Mets, and we magnify each and every flaw in our favorite team’s roster. We see a team overelying on an aging player with a bad back in Adrian Gonzalez instead of going with their optimal lineup and defensive alignment. We see a pitching staff unable to stay healthy. We see the same thing with many of the position players. As a result, we may not be as excited about the 2018 season as we would normally be.
What is interesting, at the same rate, we do not look as in-depth into other team’s rosters to see their very same flaws. Specifically, we do not look at the Washington Nationals roster are really identify how that is a very flawed team at the moment, and just like in 2015, they may very well be a team ripe to be knocked out of their perch. Here’s why:
Over the past few years, Max Scherzer has emerged as quite possibly the best pitcher in all of baseball. He’s a virtual lock for a Top 3 spot in the 2018 Cy Young voting. After him ensues a group of question marks similar to what we see in Flushing.
Stephen Strasburg is great, but that is only when he stays on the field. He has only thrown 200 innings in a season once, and that was four years ago. While not quite as catastrophic as the injuries we have seen with the Mets pitchers, he continues to get nicked up, and he is usually good for at least one stint on the disabled list.
Gio Gonzalez may have had a bounce-back year last year with his finishing in the Top 10 of Cy Young voting, but the advanced numbers suggest he’s due for a messy regression. Last year, Gonzalez led the league in walks, and his strikeout rate continued its four year downward trend. Really, he was a large beneficiary of an unsustainable .258 BABIP and 81.6% stranded rate. That’s why his FIP was 3.93 and xFIP was 4.24.
Behind them Tanner Roark is coming off a disappointing year that saw him have a career worst 4.67 ERA, 1.335 WHIP, and 3.2 BB/9. For the fifth starter, the Nationals will start with the unproven A.J. Cole, who had a 5.20 FIP in 11 games for the Nationals last year.
Key Regression Candidates
One of the reasons why the Nationals had a great year last year was they had a numbers of unexpected career years. Heading into the 2018 season, the Nationals will be reliant on those players duplicating those dubious numbers.
First, there was Michael Taylor who shocked everyone by hitting .271/.320/.486. For Taylor to replicate that season, he is also going to have to go out there and repeat his insanely high .363 BABIP. For Taylor, it was not just at the plate, but in the field. Heading into last year, Taylor had a -7 DRS in 1287.0 innings played. Last year, he had an 8 DRS in 940.1. Even with him approaching his prime, it’s hard to believe Taylor is a truly transformed player.
Ryan Zimmerman seemed to bounce-back from two poor offensive seasons, and the injury plagued Nationals star put up a Zimmerman season of old. Like with Taylor, we did see those stats were BABIP fueled. For his career, Zimmerman has a .307 BABIP, but he had a .335 BABIP last year.
And while they were only brought in to be bench players, the Nationals are relying Howie Kendrick and Matt Adams, two players who had tough 2016 seasons, to repeat their strong 2017 offensive seasons.
After having microfracture surgery in the offseason, Daniel Murphy is going to start the season on the disabled list. It is expected he is going to be available mid-April, but that is only if he suffers no setbacks. And even if he does return and hits the way we all know he is capable of hitting, Murphy, who has never been a strong defender, may find himself even more limited in the field.
There is also a legitimate question what type of player Adam Eaton will be a year after having surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus. This isn’t comparing apples to apples because they are much different players, but in his first year back from his own torn ACL, Kyle Schwarber struggled mightily last year.
Also, Anthony Rendon is a bit injury prone. He has only played 150+ games in just two of his five Major League seasons. If he should suffer an injury, the Nationals may be in trouble because this offense is not on the same solid footing it was last year.
The Nationals have one of the worst catching situations in all of baseball. Matt Wieters is not only bad at the plate (81 OPS+ since 2015), but he continuously ranks as one of the absolute worst pitch framers in all of baseball.
Behind him is Miguel Montero, a player the Cubs released after he complained about how his pitching staff holds on runners. For his part, Montero has just a 90 OPS+ since 2013, and his pitch framing abilities had a noticeable drop last year.
There were many reasons why people do not believe in Dusty Baker as a manager. Really, you need not look any further than his decision to bat a completely washed up Jayson Werth second in a do or die game. That’s an indefensible decision from your manager.
However, while his strategy may have left much to be desired, Dusty was always able to control a clubhouse. Remember, this was the guy who inherited the mess Matt Williams left behind. Dusty had to manage a team who had both Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. Dusty made it work because that’s what he does.
Now, despite the Nationals winning the division in consecutive years in franchise history, Dusty has been replaced by Dave Martinez. For many, Martinez was an inspired hire, and he very well might be. However, he is also largely unproven, and as such he remains a question mark.
Ultimately, many will point to just how much better and deeper the Nationals are on paper. The team also has top prospect Victor Robles waiting in the wings, and he could be a complete game changer next season. Another major consideration is the Nationals bullpen looks poised to be their best in years. With everything put together, you see why many are picking the Nationals to be the National League representative in the World Series even despite the team having never won a postseason series.
Now, it’s entirely possible the prognosticators are right, and the Nationals are that good. That would surprise no one. However, at the same token, let’s not pretend the Nationals winning the National League East is a fait accompli. It isn’t because the Nationals are dealing with a much narrower margin of error most believe they are as the season begins. Ultimately, while they are the favorites on paper, this is a team who is vulnerable.
Even if they are vulnerable, it’s going to take the Mets to give them everything they got. This Spring, the Mets looked and felt like a different team under Mickey Callaway. Maybe, just maybe, that is enough to help push this Mets team over the top. It will be fun watching the next 162 games to find out.
Well, Opening Day is a week away, and Mets fans are getting excited for Mets baseball. Whether this will turn out to be 2015 or 2017 again remains to be seen. Depending on your point of view, you could argue the Mets winning the World Series just as competently as you could argue them having to once again sell at the trade deadline. With this season really up in the air, we turned to our Roundtable, and we asked them what they expect the Mets to do in 2018:
What do I expect? I expect hope. Pain. Happiness. Sadness. Great tweets. Bad tweets. Excitement. Anger. A reminder of the second half of 2015. A reminder of
#thatssomets moments. “Payroll flexibility”. Health. Injuries. Complicated high fives. Announcers giggling. Anxiety. Feats of power. Feats of nonsense. And I dunno, 83 regular season wins?
I know I am being optimistic, but I actually think Mets will be in contention for a wildcard all year, and if the rotation is healthy, could push the Nats for the NL East. I don’t say this as a Mets fanboy (and I think my record is very clear on how critical I can be), but as someone who believes the new on-field regime can take this club to whole new level. A competent manager who understands pitching, a bench coach who clearly knows what he’s doing, and a pitching coach who’s proven he can do more with less, for the first time since Bobby V and Bob Apodaca changed the culture in 1997, this team has the right guys in place. 90 wins.
It may be my lack of sleep from having a 1 year old, but I believe the Mets will win the East. Before the past few seasons started if the Mets were predicted to win, they lose. This year looks good for us, especially if at least 3 out of the 5 starting pitchers stay healthy.
Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)
I expect the Mets to contend for Wild Card, though if the rotation returns to health and productivity we could see them at least hang around late in the season for the division.
I believe the Mets left side of the infield defensively is going to give the pitching staff a little boost as well.
If that rings true, the key to the season could come down to what Sandy Alderson does at the deadline to fill needs.
For your latest, my expectation is 84 wins, factoring in reasonable injury expectation. This bullpen has the ability to make a lot of starters unhappy and that will keep the win total down. Come back to me if they sign Greg Holland.
The Mets’ general creakiness at several positions concerns me, as does their tendency toward fragility, but what fun is pessimism? The Mets will compete better and longer than they did last year, and let the wins pile up from there.
I can’t answer these questions, because I’m a Mets fan, and I’ve always – literally, always – been convinced that we’re a few pieces, at most, away from being a pennant-winner. Look at this team – we’ve got what could be a very solid rotation, a lineup that could rake if the dice fall the right way, and a guy who has the potential to be a top closer in baseball when he’s healthy. Are things going to go that well? You tell me (the answer is no). But what fun is it to go through all the nightmare scenarios and predict which one will happen? For now, I’m sticking with the optimistic scenario: we come out of nowhere and shock the world. Doesn’t it sound both desperately far-fetched and surprisingly realistic?
Like most Mets fans, I’m an optimist on Opening Day. Right now, I expect Todd Frazier to be the 1999 Robin Ventura. I foresee Matt Harvey putting his career back together. I am all the more excited watching Michael Conforto healthy and already hitting homers. If you ask me right now, I’m going to say World Series contender.
Putting my enthusiasm aside, I’ll say this – The NL East is a little more open than we originally believed it to be. Daniel Murphy wont’ be ready for Opening Day, and who knows when he’ll come back. For that matter, who knows what he’ll be when he returns. No one can reasonably expect Ryan Zimmerman to produce like he did last year. It was an outlier. The Nationals are relying way too much on Michael Taylor having figured it out, and Matt Wieters isn’t good behind or at the plate. Also, they lost Dusty Baker, who was a manager who seemed to resonate with that clubhouse.
We take for granted the Nationals will win the division because the Mets have so many question marks and because we have seen the Nationals have great year after great year. They may very well have another one, but it’s far from a certainty. Immaculately, I think this is a closer race than we may have originally thought it to be.
So overall, the Mets Bloggers seem to be a little more bullish on the Mets than many other places. If you are curious why they feel this way, please click on the links next to their names to see their superb work which expounds upon their opinions about the Mets further.