When it was announced the Mets were going to try Wilmer Flores in the outfield, it was met with a collective groan from Mets fans. That shouldn’t be surprising as Wilmer has established himself to be not exactly fleet of foot, nor has he shown himself to be a great defender anywhere the Mets have dared to put him.
As a result, Mets fans were reminded of the horrors of watching Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, and Todd Hundley in the outfield. With injuries to Juan Lagares and Jay Bruce this Spring, we are a step closer to seeing that happen.
Given this being Spring Training, and with the Mets health perpetually being what it is, this is exactly the time of year you are supposed to be experimenting with these types of moves. Maybe, just maybe, Flores could handle the position.
Let’s start with the obvious – Wilmer is slow. That is something not just proved by the eye test but also by Statcast data.
As published on Baseball Savant, Flores had a sprint speed of 25.7 feet per second. To put that in perspective, Flores ranked 398th out of the 451 MLB players ranked. While this isn’t surprising, it is surprising Flores was ranked ahead of two outfielders – Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp.
Now, no one should consider Bautista or Kemp good fielders anymore. Last year, Bautista posted a -8 DRS in 1,242.2 innings in right, and Kemp posted a -17 DRS in 851.2 innings in left. Using Fangraphs parameters, that puts Bautista and Kemp in the poor to awful range.
Judging from Kemp and Bautista, Flores ceiling in the outfield is probably being a poor outfielder. As Mets fans, we already have that expectation no matter where Flores plays. Last season, he had a -14 DRS. Being a versatile and poor fielder is kind of Flores’ thing.
However, unlike Kemp and Bautista, we shouldn’t expect to see Flores spend the majority of his time in the outfield. Basically, what is instructive is Flores is just fast enough to fake it in the outfield. However, the issues is whether he can field enough out there.
When it comes to fly balls and pop ups, Flores has never had a real issue fielding the ball, so long as he doesn’t have to deal with a bat boy (who aren’t in the outfield):
Really, when it comes to Wilmer his defensive issues have typically been range and arm. That’s a big reason why he didn’t work at shortstop and why he has shown himself to be a poor fit at third. Again, as noted throughout his career, he’s not a real fit anywhere.
Really, it could be he’s as poor a fit in the outfield as he is in the infield, so why not? If he’s hitting, they are going to want to find a spot for him in the lineup. If this team repeats their injury issues from last season, and 2018 has not gotten off to a great start, the team may be forced to put him out there. At a minimum, you’d be hard pressed to argue he could be any worse out there.
After the positive feedback we received after our first Mets Blogger Roundtable, the Mets Bloggers have decided to come back for at least a second week. This week, we tackle the question “Which Mets player are we most excited about watching this Spring Training?”
Dominic Smith is the first player that comes to my mind, although there are several interesting stories to watch this spring. Here’s a guy who has spent a number of years now battling weight issues, and therefore reputation issues, and it’s no secret the organization has concerns with him. And, obviously, signing Adrian González clearly indicates that as well. I am looking for him to step up and look like the player and prospect everyone expects him to be, similar to howMichael Conforto performed last spring. If Dom does that, he’ll make for a tough decision a month from now, which is always a good internal conversation for Mets brass to have.
Do we all remember when Bret Booneabruptly retired a few days into Mets spring training camp in 2006? He admitted Jose Reyes “just kind of stared” at him “with that smile on his face” and realized the joy of playing baseball in himself was long gone. Well, I’m hoping Adrian Gonzalez looks at Dominic Smith, smiling and loving life with his old and new svelte physique, and realizes his future as a full-time top sub sandwich enterprise ambassador should be his present. Smith did not earn the full-time first baseman gig last season, but he’s already earned it before the first ST game. He wasn’t even in this good of shape last spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Dom Smith everybody warned with a smile was about to enter our lives last summer.
The player I am most excited to watch at Spring Training might surprise a few people. It’s Brandon Nimmo. I am by no means trying to say he’s an all-star, but I think he is often overlook for the value he brings to a team. First of all, his defense in center field (while not as good as Juan Lagares) is good. For me, I am more impressed with his approach at the plate. He’s one of the more disciplined hitters on the team, especially when it comes to his knowledge of the strike zone. Sure, his .260 batting average last year is not too impressive, but his on-base percentage was more than 100 points higher at .379. Despite not looking like he’s going to have a starting spot out of the gate, Nimmo is going to be an important piece on this team coming off of the bench. And knowing how hard he works, if there’s an injury, he’ll be ready to go in a pinch. It’s hard not to root for the kid.
Player I am most excited about? Great question. I know if the Mets had been smart enough to sign Joe Smith, he’d have been my answer. I guess I have to let that one go, though. Steven Matz is the other. There are certain guys I love to watch pitch, and Matz is the latest version of that.
The Mets player I’m most interested in seeing this spring is Yoenis Cespedes. The slugger is coming off a season that saw injuries limit him to only 81 games. He’s trained differently this offseason including doing yoga to make sure he is more agile and not simply bulked up like in 2017. It will be interesting to see if his offseason training can help him regain his decencies prowess that helped him win a gold glove in 2015. Also have to see if he can make it through all spring without a muscle injury which seemed to be a weekly occurrence for him last season.
When healthy, Cespedes has been everything the Mets hoped for when they traded for him and signed him to a four-year deal. The Mets are not going to be contenders in 2018 if Cespedes plays only 81 games and spring will be a good time to see if anything has changed for Yo.
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!
Each and every offseason, I have seen the Mets part with players who are easy to root for. In my life, I have seen the Mets part ways with Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Daniel Murphy, and many more. Having seen my some of my all-time favorite players depart has never made it easy to see the team depart with some of the players I have come to respect and root for during their time in a Mets uniform – no matter how long it lasted.
Recently, the Mets parted with two relievers, each of whom played less than two full seasons in a Mets uniform. Presumably, the moves were necessary as the Mets needed to make room on the 40 man roster for the newly re-signed Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes. Still, seeing those two relievers, you question if the Mets made the right decision.
The first reliever the Mets designated for assignment was Chasen Bradford.
In retrospect, it is interesting the Mets were even in a position to DFA Bradford. For a number of years, he had been Rule 5 eligible with the rest of MLB not giving him much of a look. The Mets didnt’ either, and if not for the series of injuries that beset the Mets this past season, it’s possible Bradford would have departed the team as a minor league free agent without getting so much as a chance.
Well, Bradford got his chance, and he proved he’s a MLB caliber pitcher. In 28 appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.277 WHIP. After a somewhat tough July, he went on a 12 appearance stretch where he allowed just one run in 16.2 innings.
In fact, from August until the end of the season, he had a 2.93 ERA in 27.2 innings over 23 appearances. During that stretch, he had amassed 20 scoreless appearances, and he had nine appearances over an inning in length. In sum, Bradford showed he could go out there and get Major League batters out no matter the situation.
There other reliever designated for assignment was Josh Smoker.
Smoker’s story is one of perseverance. After being the Nationals 2007 first round draft pick, he would suffer a torn rotator cuff and labrum. This would cause the Nationals to release him thereby putting his professional baseball career in jeopardy.
A healthy Smoker proved himself in the Frontier League leading to his getting signed by the Mets. Two years later, Smoker found himself part of a bullpen that helped pitch the Mets to the postseason. Given his talent and perseverance, it was not surprise Smoker would be a part of the 2017 Opening Day bullpen.
What was a surprise was how Terry Collins used him. Really, his manager showed a willful disregard for a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues. It was almost as if Collins learned nothing from his handling of Johan Santana and Jim Henderson. Eventually, Smoker had another shoulder injury. Thankfully, it was not as serious as it would not require seasons ending surgery.
Once again, Smoker would have to re-prove himself, and re-prove himself he did. In the second half, Smoker was 0- 0 with a 2.63 ERA and a 10.5 K/9 in 22 appearances. Perhaps of more importance, Smoker found himself a capable pitcher against left-handed batters making him an even greater weapon in the bullpen.
However, like Bradford, Smoker will be a weapon in someone else’s bullpen.
After being designated for assignment, Bradford signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. To risk not losing him on waivers, Smoker was traded to the Pirates for minor league left-handed reliever Daniel Zamora. With that, the Mets have ridded themselves of two relievers who not only provided themselves capable of getting out Major League batters, but also two relievers who showed perseverance in getting themselves to this point. That’s no small thing to lose.
As we learned during Player’s Weekend, Bradford’s nickname is Black Bear, and Smoker’s nickname is Brown Bear. While it may seem a bit much, considering their nicknames, it’s fair to say it’s difficult to bear knowing neither pitcher will be a part of the Mets next season.
Fortunately for both of them, they are now with new organizations who likely value them all the more. They deserve that, and all Mets fans should wish them the best of luck.
Despite Daniel Murphy winning the 2015 NLCS MVP, the Mets seemed all too happy to let him depart via free agency. Instead of Murphy, the Mets first sought after Ben Zobrist, who spurned them for the Cubs, before trading Jon Niese for Neil Walker.
Walker was supposed to stabilize the position, and there was hopes he would be a Met for the long haul with the team offering him the qualifying offer. Instead, Walker had two injury riddled years before he was traded to the Brewers for minor league right-hand relief prospect Eric Hanhold.
Now, the Mets are once again in the position of finding out who their next second baseman will be. That task becomes all the more difficult when Ian Kinsler rejected a trade to the Mets, upper management rejected a trade for Jason Kipnis, and the Mets are reportedly not entertaining trading Brandon Nimmo for Josh Harrison.
The end result likely is the second base quagmire will continue. That quagmire has seen the Mets play 12 different players at second base over the past two seasons. Can you name them all? Good luck!
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.
On a cold and blustery Christmas Eve night at Citi Field, new manager Mickey Callaway enters Fred Wilpon’s office.
Mickey: I just wanted to stop on my way out to wish you and your family a happy holiday, and I just wanted to let you know I look forward to working with you and Sandy to help build a Mets team that can go to the World Series again.
Fred: What do you mean build?
Mickey: Well, there are a few areas I was hoping to address. We need a second baseman, some additional depth, and some bullpen –
Fred: Relievers? I just gave you Anthony Swarzak just last week!
Mickey: And I’m thankful for that. But while I was in Cleveland, I learned you need more in your bullpen. You need a couple of guys with interchangeable roles to help you get to where you want to go. We need at least one more guy.
Fred: I don’t get it. After Madoff, I’ve done all I could do to get my money back, and now everyone wants me to just give it away.
Mickey: Well, I’d love to build a winner for the players and the fans.
Mickey: Well, I guess not. Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to next season.
Not long after Callaway leaves, Fred Wilpon leaves Citi Field, and he begins his drive to Greenwich. He pulls up to a stately manor that hasn’t been renovated since 2008. He makes his way into the bedroom, and before he can turn on the lights, he hears a ghostly whisper coming from behind him. It sounds like his name, but he initially can’t quite make it out. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere a figure emerges.
Fred: No, it can’t be. Is that really you?
M. Donald Grant: It is.
Fred: But, you’re dead. How? How?
M. Donald Grant: I’ve come here to deliver a message.
M. Donald Grant: Remember when I was alive, I won a World Series, and then I refused pay raises to everyone. Remember when I shipped Tom Seaver and everyone of value out of town?
Fred: All while keeping the team profitable!
M. Donald Grant: Yup, I mean no. No! I was wrong, and now I have to watch the 1962 Mets over and over again. But worse, I have to give the players raises after each and every game despite no one coming to the ballpark!
Fred: The horror.
M. Donald Grant: And if you don’t change, your fate will be worse than mine.
Fred: No . . . NO! . . . You’ve got to save me.
M. Donald Grant: Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits. Listen to them! Do what they say! Or you will be cursed for eternity.
And with that the apparition of Grant faded away leaving Fred frightened in his room. A few times he splashed cold water on his face and pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Still shaken, Fred made his way to bed. After a while, his fatigue got the better of his anxiety, and he faded to sleep. Then there was a loud noise like the roar of the crowd. It jostled Fred from his sleep. Still groggy, he looked out and couldn’t believe the figure before him.
Fred: No, it can’t be. Is it really you Gary?
Standing before Fred was Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. Back in 1985, when Fred had just a small interest in the team, the Mets traded for Carter in the hopes that he would put the Mets over the top. Eventually, Carter did with the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. Notably, Carter started the game winning two out rally in the bottom of the 10th to allow the Mets to force a Game 7.
Gary: It’s really me Fred. I’m now the Ghost of Baseball Past.
Fred: Am I dead?
Gary: No, you’re not. I’m here to show you what things used to be like before you changed the way you did business with the Mets.
With that Gary, took a swing of the bat creating a cloud of dust and smoke all over the room. As the dust settled, the Mets found themselves back in a sold out Shea Stadium.
Fred: What a dump!
Gary: You didn’t always think so. In fact, you used to love coming here. Back in the 80s, Shea Stadium was the place to be. Those Mets teams were stacked with players like me, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, and tonight’s starter Dwight Gooden.
Fred: Those Gooden starts were something special. No one could beat us then, and we knew it. We never could quite capture the magic from those teams again, but that was something special.
Gary: This is how things used to be. It was always this way. You did it again when you signed Mike Piazza, except you didn’t just sign him. You surrounded him with good players like Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo. That team came close. You did it again with Carlos Beltran. You spent the extra dollar to get a truly great player. You then added players like Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana to try to get it done. It didn’t work, but the fans came. More importantly, everyone respected you for it.
Fred: But they don’t understand.
Gary: Let’s see what happened next.
With a blink of Fred’s eye, Shea Stadium is just a memory. As he reopens his eyes, he is back in Citi Field as it was before it was fully renovated. The fans were angry with the team. It was one thing that the ballpark didn’t fully honor Mets history; it was another that the Mets let Jose Reyes walk in the offseason without so much as an offer. It was an uninspiring 88 loss win team that was seemingly going nowhere.
Fred: When did we put the Great Wall of Flushing back in? Where are all the fans?
Gary: You didn’t. It’s 2012.
Fred: That was an ugly time. Fans constantly complaining and booing. The team and I were personally cash strapped. I had no idea what our future was or could be. Worse yet, no one seemed to understand. The fans, the players, the press. No one. The whole thought of this time is just too much to bear. I can’t . . .
Before Fred could finish the sentence, he was hit in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy. Next thing Fred knew, he was awake, with a headache back in his bed in Greenwich.
Fred: Man, I really have to lay off the Shake Shack late at night. It gives me the strangest dreams. And man, just remembering those days just gives me a headache. I never want to get back to that point . . .
As the words left Fred’s lips, there was a strange noise. Fred looked over, and he sees beloved former announcer and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner in what appears to be old set of Kiner’s Korner.
Ralph: Well hi everybody it’s Ralph Kiner, the Ghost of Christmas Present, on Kiner’s Korner. Well the Mets are in the middle of the offseason after the team lost over 90 games, missed the postseason for the first time in three years, and is now talking about cutting payroll. We have Mets owner Fred Wilpon on to talk about it next.
Ralph: Welcome back to Kiner’s Korners. As you know Kiner’s Koners is sponsored by Rheingold – the Dry Beer!
Ralph: Hi Mr. Wilpon, welcome to Kiner’s Korners.
Fred: I’m not sure what exactly is happening here.
Ralph: Well, Mr. Wilpon, we’re here to talk about your team and what the 2018 roster will look like.
Fred: We’ve given Sandy free reign to do whatever he needs to do to put the best team on the field. We trust in his decision making, and we always demure to him on personnel decisions.
Ralph: Well Mr. Wilpon, there are not many that believe you. In fact, the fans will say that the team isn’t going to spend the money on the players like the Mets should. It reminds me back when I had won another home run title for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I went to Branch Rickey to ask for a raise. During the meeting, Rickey denied me a raise saying, “We finished eighth with you, we can finish eighth without you.” From there of course, I was then traded to the Chicago Cubs. This is the same Chicago Cubs franchise that won their first World Series title since 1908. The Cubs were once defeated –
Fred: Okay, okay. No, we’re no expanding payroll. The fans didn’t come last year, and I don’t have the money. That’s just the way things work now. This isn’t the old days where Omar gets free reign.
Ralph: Well, the fans are angry the team isn’t spending money, especially since you have the BAM money, bought an Overlook League team, and are part of the new Islanders Belmont Arena. And I remember as a player how much the team wanted to know the owner supported them. When the team had the support of ownership it had an effect in the clubhouse and the play on the field.
Fred: Let’s be honest. With the team we have now, we’re going to fill the seats because we have Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom. We have free t-shirts, garden gnomes, and bobbleheads. We’re going to turn a profit all while giving the players what they want – money.
Ralph: That’s not true. Here is a videotape of your captain David Wright.
A large screen appears on the set of Kiner’s Korner with an image of Wright at his home talking to Callaway about the upcoming season.
Mickey: I know it may be a little late, but I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. And I wanted to let you know that we’re all pulling for you to get back out on that field.
David: It’s hard skip. I wake up in pain everyday. It was bad enough when it was just the stenosis, but now it is my neck too. I just spend all of my day rehabbing and working out. I do all these special exercises for my back and my neck. It’s almost 24 hours of pure hell. It’s made all the harder by the fact that every minute I spend working out is time away from my wife and daughter. Baseball has always been a sacrifice, and I love it. But it just gets harder and harder.
Mickey: Look, I love you, and I know the team does too. If there is anything you ever need, you just have to ask. And if you feel as if you can’t go on, you’ll always have a place on my staff.
David: I can’t hang ’em up. Not yet. I’ve come so close to the World Series a few times in my career, and I’ve fallen short. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel right hanging it up without winning one.
Fred: This is costing me $20 million a year.
David: And it’s not just about me. I owe a World Series to Mets fans who have supported me my whole career. They’ve gone out and bought my jerseys. They’ve cheered for me. They’ve always been there for me. And more importantly, I owe it to the Wilpon family. I saw what happened with Reyes and the other players who left. They decided to keep me. They made me the face of the franchise and the team captain. I’ve loved being a Met, and the Wilpons made that possible.
Fred: I just never knew how much he cared and how appreciative he was.
Ralph: Time for another commercial break and word from our sponsor the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Everything turns to black like a television screen being turned off. At first, Fred sits there quietly unsure of what is happening. He then finds himself in a strange room with Darryl Hamilton wearing his black Mets jersey. The same jerseys the Wilpons wanted to help drum up fan interest and help increase revenues. At first, Hamilton says nothing. He just looks at Fred before gesturing for Fred to follow him.
Fred follows Darryl down a hallway. Eventually, an image of a badly beaten down Wright emerges. On the walls are different jerseys he wore in his career. A shelf displays all of his awards and his 2015 National League Pennant ring. Wright moves around the room but with great difficulty. Although still relatively young, he moves like an old man. He’s there with another person.
Woman: Look, this is not going to happen overnight. With the beating your body has taken you’re luck you’re even in position to walk.
David: I don’t care. I need you to get me to the point where I can dance again. There is nothing that is going to stop me from dancing at my daughter’s wedding.
Woman: Ok, but we need to take it slowly. You’ve had a number of injuries in your career, especially those last few. Doing things like dancing is going to come with some difficulty for you. The trick is to build everything up so you can do it again.
Fred: What, what happened to him?
Darryl only nods his head in the direction of the trophy case.
Fred: He never won? But we had Matt Harvey and Syndergaard. We had deGrom and Steven Matz. Even Zack Wheeler returned. We had five aces! Of course we won at least one. There is no way we let that core go without winning a World Series. Surely, we made a move to get that final piece at least one of those years.
David: On cold days like this, it really makes me wonder how wise it was sticking to the end of my contract rather than just medically retiring the way Albert Belle and Prince Fielder did. I really wonder if Prince has the same problems I have. Still, I would do it all over again because trying to win that ring was important not just for my career, the fans, and Fred.
Woman: What happened?
David: We were so close, but we shot ourselves in the foot in 2015. After that, we always just seemed one or two players short. We gave it the best we could, but it just wasn’t meant to be . . . .
As David drifts off, Darryl gestures for Fred to re-enter the dark hallway. The two make their way down before standing outside the Rotunda entrance to Citi Field. Nearby is a group of men putting up a few statues. In the parking lot adjacent to 126th Street, there are a number of moving vans.
Worker 1: Honestly, it is about time there was a Tom Seaver statue erected at Citi Field. I think adding the Piazza one as well was a nice touch.
Worker 2: Things have been a lot better around here with the new guys came in.
Worker 1: And ain’t no one going to miss the old group.
Worker 2: How can you? They let the whole thing fall apart.
Worker 1: Good riddance!
Fred: What is happening here? What old group? Who authorized these statues?
With that Fred began a dead sprint towards the entrance to the executive offices, but he was distracted by a commotion happening at McFadden’s. Despite wanting to get back to his office, Fred found himself drawn to the bar where he found a group of people in celebration.
Man: Shhh! It’s about to be on the television.
Reporter: After years of seeing homegrown players sign elsewhere, and the Mets having been inactive on the free agent market, Citi Field has become eerily reminiscent of Grant’s Tomb in the 1970s. With fan interest at a nadir and record low revenues for the team, it became time for a change.
Fred: Darryl! What are they talking about?
Man: This is a dream come true for me. As a little boy sitting int he Upper Deck at Shea Stadium, I never imagined I would be in the position I am here today. And yet, here I am.
Cheers spread through McFaddens making the sound from the televisions inaudible.
Man: Back in 1980, the late Nelson Doubleday purchased the New York Mets from the Payson family. From that day, a new era of Mets prosperity began with ownership investing not just in good baseball people, but also its players and its fans. My pledge to the Mets fans is to operate this club much in the same fashion as Mr. Doubleday, and with that, a new era of Mets prominence will begin.
As cheers fill the room and the bartenders try to keep up with the customers needing drinks, a bewildered Fred turns back to Darryl.
Fred: Darryl, what is happening with my team? Was it . . .
As Fred trails off, he can see a sullen Jeff Wilpon standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a driver to take him home. Before Jeff could get into the car, he is ambushed by a group of reporters. Instinctively, Jeff runs out to assist his son.
Reporter: How do you feel today?
Jeff: How do you expect me to feel? The thing that mattered most to my father is now gone.
Reporter: What message do you have for Mets fans?
Jeff: We just want them to continue supporting the New York Exelsior. I still believe that sooner or later this investment will pay off.
Fred: Jeff, don’t tell me you did it! Don’t tell me you sold my team!
Reporter: How do you think your father would feel about this moment?
Jeff: Well, the Dodgers just won another World Series with a payroll triple ours, so –
Fred: Jeff! Jeff! I’m over here! Jeff!
With Jeff being worn down by the questioning, and his being unable to hear his father scream, he enters the car. Initially, Fred heads toward Jeff while repeatedly asking him what happened with the Mets. With Jeff being unresponsive, and with Fred knowing he’s not going to be able to get to the door in time, he runs in front of the car in an attempt to stop it. The car pulls from the curb, makes contact with Fred, and everything goes black.
The sun begins to rise, and it begins to light Fred’s room in Greenwich. The sun shines in Fred’s eyes causing him to initially squint. When he realizes that a new day has begun, Fred eagerly jumps from his bed, and he checks his iPhone.
Fred: It’s December 25, 2017! I still own the team! The spirits have given me another chance!
Fred grabs his phone, and he calls his secretary to immediately set up a conference call with Callaway, Alderson, and Wright.
Fred: I’m sorry to bother you on Christmas morning, but I felt like this couldn’t wait any longer. We have a window here, and we have to take advantage of it. Sandy, the shackles are off. You have everything you need at your disposal. We owe Mickey the best team possible for him to lead the Mets back to the World Series. And we owe it to you David because you stuck by us when times were at their lowest. We can’t let you finish your career without winning a World Series. It wouldn’t be fair, and it wouldn’t be right.
Mickey: Thank you, and God bless you Mr. Wilpon!
David: God bless us everyone!
No matter what you thought of the signing then, on a personal level or otherwise, Reyes did perform on the field in 2016. On a pure player analysis decision, the Mets were right about bringing Reyes back in 2017, especially when Reyes was slated to return to the Mets for the Major League minimum.
Now, the Mets are in a position to decide whether they want Reyes to be a part of the 2018 plans. There have been rumors the Mets are still interested in bringing Reyes back, and depending on what happens this offseason, they are inclined to bring him back as the team’s second baseman.
On a pure analysis of his 2017 season, the Mets should not be interested in bringing back Reyes as an everyday player. In fact, there’s legitimate reason to believe the team shouldn’t even bring him back as a utility player.
There is no doubt Reyes had the worst season of his career last year. It is difficult to expect him to turn things around when he is going to turn 35 next season.
Even if you are likely to buy into some short sample split from last season, it needs to be noted Reyes has been gradually declining since he left the Mets. In his two last full seasons, 2015 and 2017, Reyes has had a wRC+ and OPS+ below 100. He hasn’t been particularly good in the field either with his not having posted a positive DRS season at any position since 2007. That was a decade ago.
Last season, Reyes had a negative DRS at four different positions. Specifically, at second base, the position the Mets are considering playing him next season, Reyes had a -5 DRS in just 207.0 innings there. For those who complained about Daniel Murphy‘s defense at second base, Reyes had a statistically worse DRS per innings played than Murphy did last year. By the way, last year was Murphy’s worst year defensively.
Taking everything into account, it should be no surprise that Reyes had a -0.6 WAR. It was the first time in his entire career he had a negative WAR.
Realistically speaking, even if you believe Reyes can’t be as bad as he was last year, can you really argue he’s going to be a good baseball player? Based upon the decline, and the team not surrounding him with strong players on the field or in the lineup, it’s even more difficult to make a case for Reyes.
In the end, you’re left with emotional reasons for keeping Reyes. This includes his place in Mets history, and his relationship with Amed Rosario. To that end, it should be noted that relationship did not produce on-the-field results for the über prospect.
Overall, it’s time to admit Reyes can no longer be counted on to be an everyday player. There is a real question about his viability as a bench player for a team with at least purported designs on being competitive next year. At most, Reyes deserves a minor league deal, with an invitation to Spring Training and real competition to make the team.
In what was a surprising and completely unexpected move, the New York Mets announced that Omar Minaya is returning as a Special Assistant to Sandy Alderson. In Omar’s new role, he will have a varying role including but not limited to scouting and player development. While this offseason has been a complete disappointment thus far, this decision is a great move for the Mets:
1. Omar Left The Mets In Better Shape Than Advertised
One of the issues for Omar when he departed for the Mets was the purported poor state of the Mets minor league system. There were many reasons for the caricature as he didn’t have many first round picks as the General Manager, and when he did have one, he struck by drafting players like Eddie Kunz.
However, that does not mean the talent wasn’t there. As we well know, Omar built the core that helped win the 2015 pennant. It was Omar’s regime that brought in Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Daniel Murphy.
Omar also had originally brought R.A. Dickey to the Mets on a minor league deal. That led to Dickey winning a Cy Young Award, and Sandy Alderson flipping him in a deal that netted the Mets Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. If Sandy and Omar can work in harmony, the Mets may very well turn things around sooner than we believed.
2. Omar Has Been Able To Get The Wilpons To Spend
When Omar first took the reigns as the Mets General Manager, he went out, and he spent. He immediately brought in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. He had to wait a year, but he was eventually able to get Carlos Delgado. He was also shrewd by getting Jose Reyes and David Wright to sign extensions that proved to be team friendly deals.
Yes, this is true this was all prior to the Madoff Scandal. However, consider that a month after Madoff was arrested and the Mets standing a real chance of facing financial ruin, Omar was somehow able to get the Mets to agree to sign Jason Bay to a four year $66 million deal. It’s true that this ultimately proved to be a bad deal, but the overriding point was Omar got the Mets to spend like none other. If you are able to combine Omar’s influence with Sandy’s prudence, you again get a terrific combination.
3. Mets Need A Fresh Look At Their Minor League System
The drafted and minor league free agent talent acquired by the Mets since Sandy Alderson became the General Manager has been largely disappointing. So far, their efforts on the International front has really only produced Amed Rosario. Rosario is a great prospect, but he’s it.
Also, while the Mets have drafted All Stars in Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, they have also do not view high draft picks like Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as starters at the Major League level. Moreoever, the team has been harsh in their criticism of Dominic Smith. It also doesn’t help the team drafted Anthony Kay in the first round, and he has yet to throw a professional pitch due to injury.
In reality, the talent level isn’t where the Mets want it, and it is a large reason why the Mets farm system is largely maligned. When the farm system is where it is right now, it is time to bring in someone to give a fresh look and help build the system back up. There are few better at it than Omar Minaya.
Overall, the Mets brought in a well respected voice in baseball and a voice well respected by the Wilpons. He is being brought in to do what he does best – evaluate and scout talent. Previously, Alderson was able to take the talent Omar acquired, and the Mets won a pennant. With Omar and Sandy working together, the sky is the limit right now.
If you are a Mets fan, you’re angry. Really, there is a myriad of purely justifiable reasons why.
The Mets let Daniel Murphy walk. They haven’t sufficiently spent to put a team that finished just short in 2015 over the top. The handling of medical issues is a mess leading to the team constantly playing with a short roster. They sold part of their future to build a bench and bullpen, something they refuse to do in the offseason. This is why you have to acquire Kelly Johnson in the midseason not once but twice.
The team has not extended one pitcher, but during Sandy Alderson’s tenure, he has found a way to extend Juan Lagares, Jon Niese, and David Wright. Speaking of Wright, they have continuously played Russian Roulette with his ability to play leaving the Mets having the worst possible third base situation for two years running.
Even better, the Mets don’t have sufficient funds to add the type of players it needs to get the team back to the 2015 level – you know a middling and injured team who sold the farm to make one run and let it fizzle out. Even better, the team doesn’t have the farm system to supplement the roster to keep the competitive.
Sad part is this is just the tip of the iceberg. We all have reasons to be angry with the Mets. It makes you want to do something.
In year’s past, we had the billboard. While derided in some circles, it did have some effect. Arguably, if not for the billboards and the display of fan anger, the Mets may not make the moves they made, including but not limited to trading for Yoenis Cespedes and re-signing him multiple times.
With that in mind, there is another movement afoot. This one is being led by the Good Fundies guys:
The response to #MetsBoycott has been overwhelming and humbling. People have DMed me stories about how the Mets are important to them — fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, lifetimes of fandom — and I promise that I will do my best to try and help connect everybody.
— The Mets Payroll Is Lower Than Atlanta & Cleveland (@MetsBrian) December 17, 2017
(EDITOR’S NOTE: with baby number two expected any minute, this was written in advance of a podcast where details were released)
Boycotts are dicey things because they tend to either get trivialized, don’t have the physical support to match the vocal support, and/or don’t go to the extent they need to go.
On a personal front, I have greatly reduced the amount of money I have spent on Mets tickets. I used to have multiple plans. The reason for that is I had different factions of Mets fans, and I enjoyed going to games with those people. It was an amazing way to experience a season.
Between Madoff, changes to ticket plans, and just the utter horseshit we get from the Mets organization, I’m down to none. Guess what the Mets response has been to that? They call me to ask me to buy a ticket plan numerous times each offseason. That’s it. If you’re like me, it’s probably the same.
Still, I can’t stay away. I love baseball, and my son does as well. I want to bring him to games, which he enjoys. This season, I tried bringing him to road games instead, but it wasn’t good enough for him. He wanted to go to Citi Field to see Mr. Met, play the Home Run Derby, and watch the game. He’s a little boy. I’m not going to punish him because the Wilpons suck.
There’s the other matter about my Dad and brother. I have been going to games with my Dad since 1983 and my brother a couple of years after that. No matter what, we have found at least one game to go to each season. If the Mets didn’t operate the way they do, we’d probably still have a Sunday Plan – you know the plan they greedily eliminated/altered when they moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field.
Point is, I can’t stay away, but I do want something to happen.
Getting something organized is problematic. You have to encourage people to do something, but what? Purchase tickets and not enter the stadium? Organize in front of Citi Field and be ushered away before you can gain any traction? A social media campaign that may hit the newspapers once?
The end result of these might be a giant “Meh!’ from the Met organization.
Still, you have to do something like a billboard. Something the Mets both get embarrassed by and yet can’t ignore.
No matter what it is, all I know is I’m onboard if only because I want things to get better. To that end, here are my unsolicited suggestions:
- Have fans see the Mets on the road in group outings carrying signs such as #MetsBoycott or clever signs delineating fan outrage
- If not road trips, organized fan outings at different locations such as Foley’s, which is a well known sports and baseball bar in the area
- Another billboard or other visible sign outside Citi Field
- Advertising spot on WFAN
- A good old fashioned letter writing campaign. While you can ignore emails by setting up spam folders, the Mets aren’t going to stop the mail just because they are getting waves of fan letters. For an example of this effectiveness, look at John Mara responding to fan letters and his firing of Reese and McAdoo in-season.
If you do one, some combination of these things, or something all together different, it should gain some traction. Whether it’s enough to get what all Mets fans what they want, it remains to be seen.
In the end, the goal needs to just be not being marginalized, which is something the Mets are great at under Sandy Alderson’s regime (“Panic Citi”). It’s a difficult line to tread, and I’m not particularly sure it can be successful.
However, given the state of affairs, it’s certainly worth a try.