Daniel Zamora

20/20 Hindsight: Braves End Mets Season

The Mets went to Atlanta with an opportunity to make a statement, and they did. It was just the wrong one:

1. The Mets needed to address their bullpen, defense, and depth. Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed in his efforts.

2. The bullpen has been the biggest culprit this year. What makes it all the more depressing is Anthony Swarzak has been better this year than Edwin Diaz. It gets better when you realize Swarzak is now a Brave pitching well against his former team.

3. The Mets followed a season with the second worst defense in the National League with the worst this year. There’s being a horrible shifting team, and there is also having players like J.D. Davis way out of position in left field.

4. On the topic of Davis, Gary Disarcina‘s send of him was inexplicably bad. It was the latest in bad decisions he’s made there. When you combine that with how horribly the infield has been shifted and his inability to help Amed Rosario improve defensively, you realize he’s been a bad coach for two years now. Really bad.

5. The defense killed Zack Wheeler‘s and Steven Matz‘s starts, but that was not the only reason. Both pitchers needed to be better in their starts. They needed to pick up their defense. They didn’t, and they unraveled and lost. Their failures are as much on them as the defense.

6. For Wheeler, this follows his career splits. His Junes are always terrible. He then rebounds to have a great second half. The problem for the Mets is his following this pattern is taking them out of contention, and it’s also not letting him build up trade value for when they have to sell him a month from now.

7. As bad as they were, Jacob deGrom is back and once again pitching to a Cy Young level. Sadly, he can only pitch once every five days.

8. You get a sense of how bad things are when Mickey Callaway felt compelled to use Robert Gsellman to handle the ninth after deGrom’s start. Essentially, Callaway said he didn’t want one of his other relievers tacking on runs to his starter and ruining the good feeling that start would’ve had on his ace and the club.

9. It’s funny. That seemed like the perfect opportunity to use Stephen Nogosek to break him in easily. That said, as fans we’re never privy to the internal dynamics of a clubhouse and wanting to build up your players.

10. Nogosek and Daniel Zamora showed they are not answers to what has been ailing the bullpen. Instead, this was the team shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s something to keep in mind when they previously passed on Craig Kimbrel and still have yet to sign Cody Allen.

11. That said, Chris Flexen showed us something. When he entered that game, the Braves had a real chance to put it out of reach. He stepped up and pitched two scoreless innings. In what was a lost series, he emerged as a potential bright spot.

12. Michael Conforto has been great lately with a 10 game hitting streak and a hit in 15 of the 17 games this month. In addition to his good defense in right field, he is easily the most underappreciated player on this roster.

13. After a bad May, Pete Alonso has picked it back up in June. He’s been a monster at the plate. It will be very interesting to see how this continues to play out this season.

14. Why isn’t Jeff McNeil playing in center? Juan Lagares hasn’t been good. Neither has Carlos Gomez. Really, McNeil can’t be worse and making him the everyday center fielder would allow the team to get Dominic Smith into the lineup everyday. Sure, Smith in left won’t help the defense, but he’s a better option than Davis out there.

15. For all the talk about Adeiny Hechavarria needing to play over Rosario, if you look, he’s hitting like Hechavarria again with him hitting .176/.222/.176 over the last two weeks and a .241/.276/.434 batting line overall. If you’re going to go down like this as a team, shouldn’t you be looking at Luis Guillorme in this role?

16. Both Brandon Nimmo and Justin Wilson have been shut down after the team’s repeated efforts to try to get them to play through their injuries. You really have to question how the Mets continue making this mistake with their players. It takes an extra level of a complete lack of self awareness and examination to repeatedly make the same mistake.

17. While this is a very down time for the Mets and being a Mets fan, just remember this team still has a young core, and they have been better than anyone could’ve hoped. While the hope for 2019 is fading fast (if not completely gone), there is real hope for 2020.

18. We could talk about the division being unofficially being out of reach and the Mets needing to focus on the Wild Card, but that’s only fooling ourselves. It’s time to sell. That said, if the Mets sweep the Cubs, I’ll probably talk myself into this team being a competitor. With Walker Lockett starting things off for the Mets, the chances of that happening are remote.

19. The worst place in baseball to be is inbetween being a competitor and a bad team. The Mets were in that position in 2002, and they made a horrendous trade with the Rockies trading Jason Bay as part of a package for Steve Reed. A few years later, we’d see it happen with the Scott Kazmir/Victor Zambrano trade. With Brodie Van Wagenen’s hubris, another awful deal like this is a real danger.

20. If Brodie Van Wagenen did nothing this offseason but keep what was here, the Mets would still be a fourth place team, but instead they would’ve been one with payroll flexibility and a farm system on the cusp of being the best in the game.

Don’t Blame J.D. Davis, Blame Brodie Van Wagenen

The Mets didn’t lose this game because of J.D. Davis. Even though he was a central figure in the loss, you can’t blame him. Not in the least. And yet, he was a central figure to all that went wrong.

This game was lost on the sixth inning. In the top half, he’d get the rally started with a single off Braves starter Max Fried. He was on second when Wilson Ramos hit a single to right, and he was the one chugging home on an all time bad send by Gary Disarcina.

Davis did what he could do when really there was nothing he could do. Instead of bases loaded one out with Amed Rosario, who had hit a game tying RBI ground rule double in his previous at-bat, there were now two outs. The Mets still had a chance there, but Rosario struck out.

In the bottom of the inning, Davis would strike again. Freddie Freeman led off the inning with a routine fly ball which absolutely should have been caught. The problem is Davis is not a left fielder. He doesn’t belong out there. However, because of the complete lack of depth built by Brodie Van Wagenen, there was Davis playing a position he should not have been playing.

It was a rally started because Davis can’t play the position he was requested to play. However, it wasn’t Davis who melted down on the mound.

Up until that point, Steven Matz was pitching well. He only allowed two earned over the first five, and he had pitched four consecutive scoreless innings since the two run first. He dealt with some adversity, and he got through it.

Unfortunately, when that ball dropped in front of Davis, he was noticeably upset. It harkened back to the times when Matz had been called not mentally tough. He then allowed a two run homer to Josh Donaldson which effectively ended the game.

Matz would not get another out, but he’d allow another run. He’d depart leaving Ozzie Albies in scoring position. Chris Flexen entered the game. To his credit, Albies did not score, and he’d also pitch a scoreless seventh. In that seventh, he made Dansby Swanson look ridiculous on a strikeout.

But, it was too little too late. Stephen Nogosek made his Major League debut in the eighth. He’d get into trouble, and Daniel Zamora couldn’t bail him out allowing a two RBI double to Nick Markakis.

As if things weren’t bad enough, Anthony Swarzak, a reliever traded away by Van Wagenen, pitched 1.1 scoreless allowing just a hit. As bad as that was, with the loss, the Mets dropped to fourth place.

deGrom, Alonso, Conforto Lead Charge Blowing Out Braves

If you’re going to call a team meeting and shake things up, you do it on the day Jacob deGrom pitches. After all, at a minimum, you know you’re getting a very well pitched game.

But it’s more than that. This Mets team had continued to fight despite gut wrench loss after gut wrenching loss. All they needed was some sort of spark to put it all together. Tonight, they got it in the form of deGrom, Pete Alonso, and Michael Conforto.

Even Mets killer Julio Teheran couldn’t stop this team tonight.

Alonso’s first inning double off Teheran went for naught, but you wouldn’t say the same of his third inning double. That one would plate Jeff McNeil. Conforto would follow with a double of his own. These were part of a four run inning and six doubles hit by the Mets on the night.

At 4-0 in the third, the game was effectively over because deGrom was great. Cy Young caliber deGrom great. Through eight, he’d shut out the Braves while allowing three hits and striking out 10.

Things were so good for deGrom and the Mets, deGrom had five plate appearances, and he’d have one of the six Mets doubles.

Alonso had hit first career four hit game, and he’d walk twice putting him on base safely SIX times. Three of his hits went for extra bases including another mammoth homer:

He wasn’t the other one to hit a big homer on the night. We’d also see Conforto and McNeil collect homers.

In addition to those three All Star caliber Mets, Todd Frazier knocked in a couple of runs including a bases loaded walk. Robinson Cano had an RBI double. Every starter had a hit, and the Mets returned the favor from yesterday with their own blowout.

The only downside was deGrom couldn’t finish off the shutout. Of course, it was Freddie Freeman who ruined it with a homer. A Josh Donaldson homer pulled the Braves to within 10-2, and it chased deGrom after 8.1 innings.

For some reason, Robert Gsellman was the guy picked to mop this up. He did the job, and suddenly, even if for a night, the Mets season was still alive.

Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was placed on the IL, and Drew Gagnon was designated for assignment. In their place, Stephen Nogosek and Daniel Zamora were called up to help fix the beleaguered bullpen.

Mets Treat Diamondbacks Like Dodgers Treated Them

With the way Zack Wheeler was pitching, you figured the Mets had this game in the bag, and it was time to start looking ahead to see if the team could put together a winning streak.

Entering bottom of the sixth, the Mets had a 3-1 lead on the strength of a second inning rally. In that inning, Michael Conforto had a leadoff single, and he would move to second on a Wilson Ramos single. Conforto scored on a Todd Frazier RBI single, and everyone scored on an Adeiny Hechavarria double which landed just below the yellow line in center.

Wheeler had allowed one earned, but he had allowed just four singles. He had also struck out six. With his having thrown just 73 pitchers, his going deep or completing the game wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. It was after the sixth.

Ketel Marte led off the inning with a homer. After an Adam Jones one out single, Christian Walker hit a go-ahead homer making it 4-3.

Walker was the guy who really did Wheeler in. He was 3-for-3 off Wheeler with two runs, the homer, and two RBI. The other Diamondbacks combined to go 4-for-24 off Wheeler.

For a while, this looked like it was going to be another brutal Mets loss. After the Hechavarria double, the Mets offense had an 0-for-10 stretch with RISP.

This meant the team blew a fifth inning leadoff double by Wheeler, who is now hitting .321 this year.

In the seventh, Juan Lagares snapped an 0-for-13 streak with a leadoff single. Wheeler bunted him over and later that inning Dominic Smith drew a walk after an eight pitch at-bat. Neither Lagares nor Smith would score as Pete Alonso grounded out to end the jam.

Fortunately, the Mets not only got Wheeler off the hook, but they also got him a lead with a big two out rally started by a Frazier bloop hit off Matt Andriese. Hechavarria singled to put that dreaded runner in scoring position for J.D. Davis, who was pinch hitting for Lagares.

Davis hit a soft tapper deflected by Andriese which could not be fielded cleanly by Nick Ahmed. This allowed Frazier to score.

Carlos Gomez pinch hit for Wheeler, and he hit a ball down the line. With it picked up by the ball boy (or man), it was ruled a ground ball double allowing Hechavarria to score giving the Mets a 5-4 lead.

Fresh off the IL, Seth Lugo relieved Wheeler in the bottom of the eighth. He would allow a one out “triple” to Eduardo Escobar. In reality, Gomez completely misplayed that routine fly into a triple.

We then saw just how much the Mets bullpen missed Lugo. Lugo responded by getting Jones to pop out. After an intentional walk to Walker, he got Tim Locastro to pop out to end the jam.

With this being Lugo’s first game back since coming off the IL and Edwin Diaz still unavailable, Mickey Callaway went with Robert Gsellman for the save opportunity. Gsellman pitched a clean ninth to record his 14th career save (first this year).

Now, you feel a lot better about this Mets team. They pulled back to within a game of .500 after a hard fought win. We will see if this is the start of something or just a blip.

Game Notes: Home Plate Umpire Randy Wolf was forced to leave the game after getting hit in the mask by a foul tip. Details are emerging with respect to Nelson Figueroa‘s firing from SNY. Daniel Zamora was sent down to make room for Lugo on the roster.

Bellinger And Bashlor Beat Mets.

Well, the re-match of Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS between Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw was nowhere near what it was a little over three years ago. Part of the reason why was a horrible home plate umpire:

Aside from the home plate umpire, one thing which hurt the Mets was Gary Disarcina with two questionable sends.

In the first, after Pete Alonso singled home Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto was nailed at home by Cody Bellinger. It happened again in the fifth when a Joc Pederson to Corey Seager relay on an Amed Rosario double cut down Tomas Nido, who was trying to score. The Mets definitely could have used those runs and all those they left on the base paths.

Still, the Mets were up 3-2 on the Dodgers after five.

For their part, the Dodgers scored on a fielder’s choice in the first, which initially appeared to be an inning ending double play to the incompetent first base umpire. The Dodgers second run came off a Bellinger third inning homer.

The miracle of sorts was there was no more damage against deGrom. That includes the Dodgers have runners at first and second and no outs in the fifth. While it was impressive deGrom got out of that jam, he was done after 105 pitches.

After deGrom, the bullpen completely imploded in the sixth. Chris Taylor hit a one out homer off Tyler Bashlor, and the wheels fell off. It certainly looked like that when Daniel Zamora allowed a homer of his own to Kike Hernandez. Later that inning, Zamora hit Seager with a pitch to force home a run.

All told, the Dodgers sent 12 men to the plate, and they scored scored six runs to go up 8-3. With the Mets compromised lineup, it seemed like that was it.

Surprisingly, the Mets had another run in them, and it was sparked by yet another Adeiny Hechavarria homer. After that two run homer, the Mete loaded the bases with one out:

On what should’ve been Nido scoring bon a J.D. Davis sacrifice fly, Carlos Gomez was nailed at third by Bellinger before Nido scored home. This shows you shy this team is back hol

Game Notes: Robinson Cano is traveling with the team, and he may be the first Mets player activated off the IL.

Mets Catchers Beat The Tigers

With the Tigers having a bottom five offense, you knew Jason Vargas was good for five. Seriously, the only teams Vargas has gone five innings has been against the five worst offenses in baseball (Reds, Marlins, Tigers). As with the typical Vargas start, the question is how would the Mets get enough innings from their relievers to get through the game. The reason that was an issue today was this game went 13.

One reason it went 13 was Wilson Ramos carried the Mets offense today.

His second inning homer tied the score at 1-1. His fourth inning RBI single gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. After Tyler Bashlor surrendered a two run homer to Brandon Dixon, Ramos responded with his second homer of the game:

After having just two homers entering this series, Ramos has three homers over his last two games. He now looks like the catcher the Mets believe they were signing, and with the injuries the team had sustained, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

It also seemed like today was the perfect time to use Edwin Diaz for four outs.

Robert Gsellman was in his second inning of work, and he was in trouble. After hitting a double earlier in the inning, Josh Harrison was on third with two outs. Mickey Callaway went to Diaz.

Because the Mets are making JaCoby Jones look like Al Kaline (recycled joke), he got the game tying RBI single.

Not only did this mean, Diaz would blow his first save as a Met, but with him throwing 13 pitches, it meant the Mets would need relievers to step up big starting in the ninth.

Those relievers did step up big, and it looked all the bigger considering they got themselves into trouble.

Wilmer Font pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth and tenth. In the tenth, the Tigers had two on and one out. Font struck out Grayson Greiner and Jones to end the jam.

Daniel Zamora took the ball in the eleventh. He’d allow two hits in the inning, but no real threat would mount as Ramos picked Gordon Beckham off first on what was supposed to be a bunt play:

For a moment, it looked like the Mets would take that momentum into the bottom of the inning and win the game.

After Tomas Nido flew out to begin the inning, Ramos walked. With his backup catcher already in the game and the Mets looking to pull out the win, Callaway pinch ran Steven Matz.

As is the Mets luck, Dominic Smith and Todd Frazier followed with bloop hits, but Matz couldn’t score. Matz’s inability to score looked fatal because Aaron Altherr struck out, Adeiny Hechavarria popped out to end the inning, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out against Hector Santiago in the 12th.

Santiago stepped up striking out Jones on three pitches (after walking two of his last three batters) and getting John Hicks to fly out to end the jam. Santiago then breezed through the top of the 13th, and with him due up second in the bottom of the inning, you wondered if Callaway was going to stick with him.

On Buck Farmer‘s third pitch to Nido, it would become a moot point:

The homer gave the Mets a 5-4 victory and once again pulled the Mets to within a game of .500. With Nido hitting the homer, it was once again an unsung hero. With Nido homering, it was the Mets catchers with all the offense.

Consider this, Ramos and Nido combined to go 4-for-6 with three homers and all five RBI. The rest of the lineup was 3-for-38. When you take out Todd Frazier, who made a nice play in the field to save a run earlier in the game, going 2-for-5, this means the Mets lineup was 1-for-33 with that hit coming from Dominic Smith, who entered the game in the ninth.

Looking at it, Callaway might have had his best game as a manager. He made the right calls (even if they didn’t work out), and he put all of his players in a position to succeed. His bullpen did, and eventually so did Nido.

Game Notes: In typical Mets fashion, Brandon Nimmo‘s injury was worse than the Mets led us to believe. He has a bulged disc in his neck with whiplash.

Despite Or Because Of Mickey, Mets Win

In tonight’s game, you got to see reasons why the Mets should and should not fire Mickey Callaway.

For starters, there’s Zack Wheeler, who has been a different pitcher working with Callaway and Dave Eiland. While he’s had his struggles against the Nationals this year, he came to pitch tonight.

Over his first six innings, he allowed just two hits with one of those being a second inning Juan Soto solo homer. Entering the seventh, the score was tied 1-1 partially thanks to a Jeff McNeil fifth inning RBI single. With Wheeler at 99 pitches, you expected Callaway to pull Wheeler.

However, with Wheeler dominating and the Mets in a stretch of 14 straight games without an off day, Callaway pushed him. When Wheeler struck out Soto, you got a sense it was the right move. It probably still was even with Gerardo Parra hitting a single and Brian Dozier getting his first hit off a Mets pitcher this year. Unfortunately, that was a two run home run giving the Nationals a 3-1 lead.

While you may question sending Wheeler out for the top of the seventh, you have to give Callaway credit for utilizing his bench to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Wilson Ramos led off the inning with a single off Wander Suero, who was in his second inning of work. After Carlos Gomez struck out, Callaway sent up a pair of pinch hitters for Juan Lagares and Wheeler.

Dominic Smith walked putting the tying run on base. Then, J.D. Davis came up for Wheeler. Apparently, the Nationals are the only team who doesn’t have a scouting report on him because with two strikes against him, Suero didn’t throw a fastball to him. Nope, he hung a curveball, and Davis hit it off the top of the right field wall and out for a go-ahead three run homer:

The Mets had a lead with an opportunity to win their first game when trailing in the seventh. For some reason, Callaway went to Jeurys Familia despite his pitching 1.1 innings yesterday and struggling in that second inning, and that’s nothing to say of his coming off the IL recently.

Familia didn’t have it. Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff single, and he scored on a Trea Turner RBI double. Kendrick was able to score there partially because Davis, who is not a left fielder, couldn’t handle a ball hit to the corner.

Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get Soto and Parra out. Soto jumped all over the first pitch hitting a go-ahead RBI double. After Zamora retired Parra, Tyler Bashlor came in and got Victor Robles out. Certainly, with how good Bashlor has been of late and with Familia going more than an inning yesterday, Callaway looked bad when Bashlor got that huge out.

We’d soon forget that as Callaway’s team played hard for him. That started with Pete Alonso, a player vocal in his support of Callaway, hit a mammoth homer in the eighth, tying the game:

Seriously, no one could quite tell if that was fair or foul. What we do know was that was Tommie Agee-esque, and it’s a new Mets rookie record for most first half homers.

With that homer and Edwin Diaz pitching a scoreless ninth, the Mets had a chance at a walk-off win.

Even with Tanner Rainey allowing that blast to Alonso, the Nationals stuck with him for the ninth. After striking out Gomez, he walked Adeiny Hechavarria and Davis back-to-back.

Kyle Barraclough came in and got deep into McNeil’s kitchen. McNeil hit a bloop toward second. Dozier got cut waiting on it. This led to getting Davis out at second easily, but Hechavarria and McNeil were easily safe. This put the game in Amed Rosario‘s hands . . . and feet.

Rosario hit a high chopper to short. Turner had to back up on it, and just as he was about to throw, McNeil jumped in his line. Maybe it made a difference, and maybe it didn’t. Whatever the case, the throw was a tad high, and with Rosario absolutely busting it down the line, he was safe by a half step, and the Mets won the game 6-5.

A week ago, the Mets lose this game. However, a team playing for a manager they apparently seem to like and respect, they pulled this one out. Even with a couple of questionable moves, maybe Callaway is the right guy for the job. He was at least for tonight.

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo was a late scratch from the lineup with a neck injury.

Winning Mets Team Now Just An Off-The-Field Disaster

As if things weren’t bad enough with the Mets after losing five straight to two of the worst teams in baseball, the Mets were a full blown disaster before the game.

Yoenis Cespedes fell into a hole and broke his right ankle. This ensures he’s done for the year, and the team can no longer sell him as a “trade deadline acquisition.”

Seth Lugo was put on the IL with shoulder tendinitis, and he was replaced on the roster by Hector Santiago. To make matters worse, Brodie Van Wagenen tried to sell this as improving the roster.

Robinson Cano was benched for a few reasons with one of them purportedly being disciplinary. The only problem there is Cano said Mickey Callaway never informed him of that.

Speaking of the lineup, for about a week now, the Mets has pinpointed Drew Gagnon as today’s starter only to switch it to Wilmer Font with no explanation.

There’s probably a multitude of things overlooked here but it’s hard to keep track of the Mets drama and incompetence. The one thing we do know is for seemingly the first time in a week, the Mets were better off getting on the field and playing a game.

For the first time in nearly a week, the Mets played well.

In the first inning, Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the third on a rally started with a Rosario lead-off walk. After a Wilson Ramos two out walk, Todd Frazier hit an RBI single. Carlos Gomez doubled scoring Ramos. It was Gomez’s first hit as a Mets in 12 years.

In the fourth, Font’s luck started running out. He was getting hit hard most of the night, and it would be Anthony Rendon who got the Nationals on the board with a homer. The Nationals rally continued, but Font was able to keep things at 4-2. He’d be done after the four.

Gagnon, who was supposed to start, was very good in two scoreless innings walking one and striking out two. With Font not lasting five and how well he pitched, he was in line for the win. That would become dicey.

After a scoreless seventh, Callaway pushed to see if Jeurys Familia could give him six outs. The answer was four.

Rendon hit a one out double chasing Familia from the game. Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get the left-handed hitting Juan Soto. Soto would punch a single to center. With Rendon getting an excellent read on the ball, he scored easily.

With Lugo on the IL, this meant Robert Gsellman had to step up and fill Lugo’s role. For a split second, it looked like he failed miserably when Howie Kendrick hit a rocket. Fortunately, it was hit right at Brandon Nimmo in left. Gerardo Parra grounded out weakly to end the jam leaving Edwin Diaz a one run lead to protect in the ninth.

Actually, it was two. Carlos Gomez earned a one out 10 pitch walk against Nationals reliever Joe Ross. Ross would then throw over what seemed to be at least three times that amount. Karma stepped in, and Ross threw it away putting Gomez in scoring position.

After Juan Lagares grounded out moving Gomez to third, the Nationals went to Tony Sipp to get the pinch hitting Dominic Smith. Smith jumped on Sipp’s first pitch for an RBI single giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.

For a moment, it seemed like a crucial insurance run. Diaz hit Victor Robles with his first pitch, and two pitches later Yan Gomes blooped a single. Diaz stepped up, and he made sure Gomes was the last National to reach. Diaz recoded his 11th save, and the Mets live to fight another day.

This was a much needed win for the Mets. They had an inexcusable five game losing streak, and just hours before the game, it seemed like the walls were closing in. Instead, the Mets win, so at least for a day, things are good in Flushing.

Game Notes: Cano made a pinch hitting appearance in the sixth. He hit a double beating out a throw from Adam Eaton. Cano was booed.

If Mets Fire Mickey Callaway, Luis Rojas Should Be His Replacement

When Jim Riggleman was hired as the bench coach this past offseason, the running joke was the Mets hired their interim manager. With the Mets faltering, Mickey Callaway‘s seat grows hotter by the day, and it would appear this is less of a joke than it is becoming a reality. Or is it?

According to Mike Puma of the NY Post, in the event Callaway was fired, the organization would consider hiring Luis Rojas as they view him “as a rising star.”

Not only is Rojas a rising star, baseball runs through his veins. From the moment he was born, baseball encapsulated his entire life. This is the way things are when you grow up in country like the Dominican Republic. It’s also that way when your father is famed player and manager Felipe Alou, and your brother is Moises Alou. Taking a look at the bloodlines, you could almost see being a Major League manager as Rojas’ destiny.

For his part, Rojas believed this upbringing has influenced not just his career choice but also his views. Rojas would tell Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth. Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”

Obviously, Rojas was never the baseball player he brother was. From 1999 – 2005, he was a part of the Orioles, Marlins, and eventually Expos farm systems. He’d play 37 games for the Expos Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 hitting .240/.315/.352. Two years later, Rojas would begin his managerial career for the Expos Dominican Summer League team.

After that one season, the Mets jumped on Rojas, and they made him their DSL Manager for one season. The team then brought him stateside to serve as a coach for two years in the Gulf Coast League. Finally, in 2011, at the age of 29, Rojas would be named the manager of that same affiliate. From that point until this year, Rojas has been a manager in the Mets farm system.

During his time as a manager in the Mets system, he has managed a number of Mets prospects including current Mets Pete Alonso, Tyler Bashlor, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Drew Gagnon, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, and Daniel Zamora. Put another way, Rojas has helped develop the current Mets core become not just Major League players, but in some instances, All-Star caliber players.

He’s certainly left an impression on each of these players. When hired, Alonso shared a story about Rojas’ enthusiasm for his players saying, “He was jumping up and down, arms waving in the air. I honestly think Luis was happier than [Nick Sergakis].”

But it’s more than enthusiasm and relationships, Rojas can coach. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets see him as a rising star and why they were so enthusiastic to name him the team’s first ever quality control coach. In addition to those duties, he is also the team’s outfield coach.

We are seeing his impact as an outfield coach right now. Entering this season, McNeil had played all of 26.1 innings in left field over a six year span. It was up to Rojas to get McNeil up to speed. As he explained, Rojas’ plan was to begin “with the basics: pre-pitch, stance, route, reads off the bat and we progress into other things that we are taking here into camp and then some of the drills that we bring in with some of the outfielders.” (NY Post).

With Rojas coaching McNeil, McNeil has quickly become good in the outfield with a 2 DRS, which is sixth best in the league. It’s also important to note when Conforto was drafted, the knock on him was his defense. He worked with Rojas on his defense, and he has been really good out there. Now that he’s reunited with Rojas, Conforto has a 3 DRS which is good for sixth best in the majors.Credit is due to the players, but they got to that point because they are working with an excellent coach.

Rojas is not just a coach who is able to connect with this players, he is also comfortable not just with analyzing advanced data, but also putting it in terms which are useful to the players. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, it is Rojas’ responsibility to streamline the data to the players.

While comparisons of this nature tend to be unfairly lofty, in some ways Rojas does remind you of Alex Cora. Rojas has shown the ability to understand not just the fundamental aspects of the game, but he is also well versed and comfortable handling analytical data. He is an excellent communicator and coach. He loves the game, and he loves his players.

Whenever the time comes, Rojas should prove to be a good manager for the Mets. He is everything an organization and its players want in a manager. Being the communicator he is, he should also be able to handle the press well. Hopefully, another team doesn’t realize what the Mets have in Rojas and grab him before the time the Mets have a chance to elevate him into the manager’s role he was destined to be seemingly since the day he was born.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Feast on Marlins

Nothing like the league worst Marlins to come into town to help the Mets offense get rolling:

1. Michael Conforto, not Derek Jeter, owns the Marlins. He proved that by going 5-for-6 with four runs, two walks, a HBP, two homers, and three RBI in the two game set.

2. For all the (deserved) talk of Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, Conforto has been their best player. His 2.0 WAR is sixth in the league.

3. Batting Conforto fifth is plain stupid and reactionary, especially when he’s their best hitter. Same goes to batting Brandon Nimmo sixth.

4. Alonso’s numbers look good due to his first 12 games. Since that time, he’s batting .222/.316/.444. He’s increasingly becoming an all or nothing hitter, albeit one with the propensity for the big hit.

5. Nice to see the Mets wait too long before putting Steven Matz on the IL. It’s like for all of Brodie Van Wagenen’s boasting about things being different, nothing has changed with him in charge.

6. So, Jed Lowrie has gone from being activated on Friday to sitting out two out of the last four games, and the Mets having no timetable for his return.

7. Say what you want about Jason Bay, but at least he played for the Mets.

8. The Mets giving Mickey Callaway no information on Lowrie and then having him be the one answer questions about his status once again shows nothing has changed under Van Wagenen.

9. Mets determined Justin Wilson didn’t need a rehab stint, and now, after one appearance after coming off the IL, he’s going back on with the same injury.

10. Seeing how well things worked with Wilson, the Mets are using the same plan of action with Jeurys Familia.

11. You have to admire Van Wagenen’s refusal to learn and adapt on the job.

12. Injuries create opportunities, and we have seen Tyler Bashlor, Drew Gagnon, and Daniel Zamora take advantage of their opportunity thus far.

13. With Jacob deGrom having three straight good starts after coming off the IL, can we forever have fans stop clamoring for Devin Mesoraco?

14. If Tomas Nido starts hitting that’s a game changer. Over his last three, Nido 4-for-11 with a homer.

15. While it was overlooked, Nido had LASIK surgery in the offseason. It may take time to adjust, but if he’s seeing the ball better, he may begin to hit better.

16. One underrated thing Callaway did Saturday was running out Dominic Smith, Todd Frazier, and Juan Lagares for late inning defense. With Conforto in RF, that’s a great defensive lineup.

17. Amed Rosario went from a below average hitter over the first month to a 111 wRC+ so far in May. Seeing his offense progress this way, maybe there’s still hope for his glove to catch up.

18. Keon Broxton has been worse than terrible, and Carlos Gomez has been hot in Syracuse. That doesn’t erase the past few years, and Broxton should get a longer rope considering he’s out of options, has actually been a successful bench player, and has arguably been a better player over the past few years.

19. Mets going a perfect 5-for-5 for the Marlins is no small feat. It’s exactly what they need to do, and destroying bad teams is exactly how the 2015 Mets won the division.

20. Whoever came up with the new backpack policy is an idiot, and the Mets deserve to have decreased attendance for having implemented it.