Daniel Murphy

Flores Winning 2019 First Base Job

This year, the Mets have been unwilling to give either Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso an opportunity to prove themselves at the Major League level. We’ve also seen recent reports Jay Bruce will get a long look at first base to close the season. Of course, there’s also Yoenis Cespedes who may need to play first when he returns from his double heel surgery, whenever that might be.

While all of this has been occurring, Wilmer Flores has been playing first base, and he’s done a good job there.

Since June 15, the day he ostensively took over the first base job, he’s hit .283/.332/.473 with 14 doubles, seven homers, and 26 RBI. That production equates to a 118 wRC+.

If Flores maintained that level of production, his 118 wRC+ would rate as the eighth best among MLB first basemen. This would leave him tied with Cody Bellinger and ahead of players like Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Carlos Santana, and Justin Bour.

It also happens to be the same level of production which prompted the Mets to give Bruce a three year $39 million contract even with Bruce not having a season anywhere near as productive since 2013.

There are a few reasons why Flores has been this productive.

First and foremost, he’s learned how to hit right-handed pitching. So far this year, he’s hitting .286/.344/.492 against right-handed pitching. This makes this the first year of his career the once thought of platoon bat has hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching.

Flores is also showing improved plate discipline. Flores has a 7.8 percent walk rate and a 9.3 percent strikeout rate. Both numbers are career bests and both follow positive yearly trends Flores has made since 2015.

That’s one of the unheralded aspects of Flores’ 2018 season. He’s shown himself to be an improved player on the field, and he’s shown the ability to withstand playing everyday.

At 27, Flores is now in the prime years of his career, which means we could reasonably expect him to take a positive step forward in each of the next few years.

Looking over the roster and the Mets choices at the position, you’d be hard pressed to argue the Mets could do better than a 118 wRC+ player making improvements in his plate discipline and against right-handed pitching.

Looking at it objectively, Flores deserves that first base job next year over the options the Mets currently have.

Subjectively, it doesn’t hurt to have a fan favorite who has the most walk-off hits in team history. Moreover, you would like to get another look at him in his last year of team control to avoid another Justin Turner/Daniel Murphy situation.

Overall, Flores is a guy who wants to be a Met, and he is a guy who continues to make improvements in his game. Give him the 2019 first base job he’s earned with his play on the field.

Calm Down on the Callaway Criticism

In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made.  Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team.  Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:

Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup

Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press.  Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves).  As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.

Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt

Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing.  At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning.  It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.

Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt.  He should have started that inning.  It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.

Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game

Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo.  If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.

Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game?  Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.

Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced

Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face?  Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt?  If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.

Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game.  By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.

Seriously, how is that a bad thing?

As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false.  Just completely false.

This is the National League.  A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning.  You don’t have that luxury.  Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted.  Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.

And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize.  After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again.  That’s a good thing.

As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:

Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.

Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.

Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game

The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky.  On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate.  Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen.  To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.

Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup.  That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup.  Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:

Summation

During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games.  It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.

When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism.  Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.

As for the other decisions?  Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants.  Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them.  Overall, remember the level of interference he has.

Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play.  In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series.  Give credit where it is due.

More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.

Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game.  Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement.  Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.

Mets Will Have At Least $64 Million To Spend In Free Agency

As a second straight Mets season has completely fallen apart, there has been discussions about whether the Mets should blow the whole thing up. Those discussions have been ramped up with Yoenis Cespedes being out for at least 10 months with his having double heel surgery.

What’s odd about that is the Mets arguably have the best starting rotation in baseball with the top 1-2 combination with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Brandon Nimmo has played like an All Star caliber player, and lately Michael Conforto has returned to his All Star form.

The Mets have two potent weapons with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.

There’s also good talent close to the majors with Peter Alonso, Justin Dunn, and Andres Gimenez. Of course, Jeff McNeil was just called-up.

There’s talent present which could make the Mets winners in 2020 or even 2019. However, for that to happen, the Mets will need to add some pieces.

Fortunately for the Mets, this could go down as one of the most consequential free agent classes in Major League history. Teams will be lining up to throw money to Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, and A.J. Pollock.

Given all that has happened, the Mets will have the money to be competitors on the free agent market.  In fact, they are going to be quite flush with cash.

Expiring Contracts

Even if the Mets do not trade anyone who is due money past this season, the Mets will have money freed up because there are a number of contracts expiring after this season:

With respect to Mesoraco, there was an undisclosed amount of cash provided by the Reds when they obtained Harvey in exchange for Mesoraco.  While Mesoraco is due $13.12 million this year, it was Harvey’s $5.625 million salary that was part of the Opening Day roster.  Therefore, for the sake of calcualting how much money will be available, Harvey’s salary is used as the placeholder.

With the Harvey/Mesoraco caveat, the Mets will have $32.1 million coming off the books just from contracts currently on the books expiring after the season.

Subtotal $32.1 million

Familia Trade

With the Mets trading Jeurys Familia, the team not only was able to acquire two prospects in Bobby Wahl and William Toffey, both of whom will be earning de minimis minor league salaries, but the team was also able to remove Familia’s $7.925 million from the books with the team getting some cash savings this season with the Athletics taking on the remainder of Familia’s 2018 salary.

Subtotal $40.025

Insurance Money

David Wright has not played a Major League game since May 27, 2016.  With each passing day and each additional set-back, it becomes increasingly unlikely we will ever see Wright play in another game for the Mets.  Now when it comes to Wright, there are two factors at play which would give the team an avenue to spend more money this offseason.

First and foremost, Wright’s salary goes from $20 million in 2018 to $15 million in 2019.  Right off the bat, that gives the Mets an additional $5 million to spend this offseason.

Additionally, Wright’s contract is fully insured with insurance paying 75% of Wright’s salary.  As a result, the Mets will have an additional $11.25 million available to spend due to Wright’s inability to play.

But Wright is not the only injured player insured.  In addition to Wright, Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract is also insured.  That’s important in light of the announcement Cespedes will have double heel surgery and will be out at least 10 months.  For what it’s worth, the Mets suggested he may be out longer than that.

Remember, Cespedes is out from 10 months from whenever he has the surgery.  Not from the date of the press conference.  With that in mind and for the sake of being conservative in the estimates, lets assume Cespedes is out for half the season.

With the Mets saying there is insurance that picks up over 50% of the salary owed to Cespedes, that means, the Mets will be able to recoup roughly 50% of a  half’s seasons salary.  With Cespedes due $29 million next year, insurance will pay at least $7.25 million.  With each passing day that number will grow.

When combining the monies covered by insurance for Wright and Cespedes, the team will have an additional $18.5 million available to spend.  When you include the $5 million drop in Wright’s salary, that number is $23.5 million.

Subtotal $63.525

Other Factors

As noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, ownership says it considers Wright’s contract part of the payroll, and the team does not reinvest the money saved into baseball operations.  Putting aside what that means in terms of money available for a second, what this does mean is the team has saved and socked away $15 million of the $20 million due and owing to Wright this season.

The same likely applies to whatever the team can and will recover from insurance from Cespedes’ $29 million contract this season.

Additionally, the team saw savings of roughly $3 million for trading Familia, and they will likely see the same savings when other players are traded for the roster.  Presumably, since that money is not being invested into baseball operations this season that would make that money available for 2019 and beyond.

For a moment, we can presume for a moment the $3 million saved on Familia can offset the $3 million pay increase due to Jay Bruce next season. Of course, the pay raises due in arbitration and the like will very easily be offset by the money saved on the Wright and Cespedes insurance policies.  Really, there should be money to spare.

What This All Means

Looking at the Mets as currently constituted, they have tw0-third of their outfield set with Conforto and Nimmo.  On the infield, they have Todd Frazier and Amed Rosario.  They will also have Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera, and Jeff McNeil, who could become part of a time sharing at either first or second.  If he can get healthy, the team could have Bruce at first or right depending on the development of Alonso, or yes, even Dominic Smith.

All told, this means the Mets have the payroll room and the spots on the roster to add at least one player of significance.  Perhaps even two.

With that in mind, with the Mets having $63.525 million to spend this offseason, there is no excuse why this team shouldn’t aggressively pursue Machado and Harper.  They should come away with one of them plus an additional piece to help take them over the top like a Kimbrel, Pollock, or yes, even a Daniel Murphy (first base only).

If the Mets do that, this is a potential World Series contender, especially with this starting pitching.  If the team goes out and does this, the fans will pack Citi Field to the gills.

The time for excuses is over.  It’s time to act like a big market club with a chance to win a World Series.

 

 

 

Thank You Jeurys Familia

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.

With injuries to players like David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Cuddyer injured or on the DL, the Mets offense was horrendous. Complicating matters was the lack of a bridge to Familia.

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 went 1.1 innings to preserve the Jacob deGrom Game One gem. He would join deGrom and Daniel Murphy as a Game 5 hero by sending the Mets to the NLCS with a six out save.

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.

Unfortunately, Alex Gordon guessed right, Daniel Murphy had one go under his glove, and Lucas Duda threw one away.

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.

Mets End First Half Only Way They Can

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.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Who Should The Mets Make Untouchable?

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:

Michael Baron (nym.news)

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.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

David Wright

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

My one untouchable is Jason Vargas, because no other team would dare touch him. Just kidding, I’d keep Brandon Nimmo and have him cloned eight times. That solves all of our problems.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Only pending free agents should be dealt.  I don’t trust this front office in the slightest, and while I like Omar immensely, he let Eddie Rosario walk and gave the reins to Tony Bernazard . . .

Joe Marcic (Loud Egg)

No player should be untouchable if there is a team out there willing to give a lot of value in return.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

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.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

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.

Mets Daddy

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.

 

Mets Should Not Trade Wilmer Flores

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.

The Mets Hate The Irish

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.

Nationals Losing Presents Mets With Opportunity

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.

We can pinpoint various excuses why this has happened.  Daniel Murphy has started the year on the disabled list, and Adam Eaton, who had a great start to the season, also landed on the disabled list.

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.

Mets Making a Statement

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.