The New York Mets acquired Brooks Raley from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Keyshawn Askew. It’s the type of trade where you really have to wonder what the Mets are doing.
First and foremost, you never trade with the Rays. That goes double when it comes to pitching. They always come up on top.
On that front, the Mets have the GM who grossly overpaid for Tyler Naquin and Darin Ruf at the trade deadline. He also couldn’t build a winner with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
There may be a GM out there who will get the better of the Rays, but Billy Eppler is just about the least likely candidate. On the subject of Eppler, Naquin, and Ruf, Eppler has been far too cavalier trading prospects for moderate gains (if that).
Raley will turn 35 next season. In his career, he’s been a LOOGY, but we’re in the era of the three batter rule which neutralizes LOOGYS. In reality, it should make them an endangered species.
The counter is Raley was good against RHB last season, and that’s true. However, that came with a .281 BABIP. His career mark against RHP entering the season was .296.
That’s not too surprising with Park Factors rating Tropicana Field as an extreme pitchers park. Another factor is how well the Rays shift. On that note, there’s no more shifting next season.
Digging deeper, the 2022 season was an anomaly for Raley in total. It was his only season with an ERA lower than 3.94 and one of only two under 4.78. It was one one of his two seasons with an ERA+ higher than 94 and an FIP lower than 3.94.
Again, to buy this trade as a good idea, you’re buying he finally discovered it at 34 well past the prime of normal players. There is something to be said for his increased slider use, and it is a great slider.
Brooks Raley, Disgusting 83mph Slider. 🤮— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 18, 2022
19 inches of horizontal break. pic.twitter.com/c3cxSg5G49
However, batters and teams catch up over time. His 5.00 ERA over the last month of the season could be evidence of that already happening (or not).
Looked at another way, this is still a gamble. With pitchers like Andrew Chafin still available, Joey Lucchesi appearing ticketed to the bullpen, and Raley’s age, you really have to question the gamble.
There’s also the matter of Raley not wearing the Rays rainbow flag patch during Pride Night. Notably, Raley would not speak to the media personally about his decision.
We can have a whole debate about the stand inclusive of how Raley showed he’s not always going to follow organizational decisions. Beyond that is a very clear message the Mets sent to their fans.
Agree or disagree with Raley’s stance (which he couldn’t himself defend), the Mets made a clear message they don’t care about that portion of their fanbase. This is a far cry from when Steve Cohen removed the Chick-fil-A advertisements from the foul poles.
Again, was a 35 year old LOOGY in an era of the rules made against the use of LOOGYS worth sending that message to part of your fanbase?
There’s also the matter of Askew. He throws 95+ MPH, and he generates a high number of strikeouts (33.7 K%). Askew was an interesting and soon to be fast rising prospect. Instead, he’s gone to an organization who has a GM better equipped to analyze prospects.
In the end, the Mets gave up a lot for Raley. That’s in terms of prospect value and how fans view the team. Doing that for a reliever in his mid 30s with one good season in his career is highly suspect. In fact, it’s senseless. M
With respect to Daniel Vogelbach, some things should be made clear. The trade did help the New York Mets last season.
Vogelbach was a definitive upgrade over J.D. Davis. He was a DH for a team in need of one. He was cheap in every sense of the word.
Colin Holderman was a light price to pay for an established Major League hitter. His $800,00 contract was absurdly low as was his $1.5 million option.
Vogelbach kills right-handed pitching. He had a 150 wRC+ against them in 2022. In three of the last five years, he’s been a 127 or better, and in four of the past five, he’s been 117 or better.
However, as good as he’s been against right-handed pitching, he’s been even worse against left-handed pitching. For his career, he has a 41 wRC+ against them.
That’s unplayable necessitating the Mets platoon him. The issue there was Davis is/was not good necessitating another trade.
While Vogelbach was cheap to obtain, Darin Ruf wasn’t. The Mets gave up too much to obtain him. No one would normally care all that much, but Ruf was bad.
Ruf did not adapt well to being a strict platoon DH. With the Mets, he had a 24 wRC+. Mets fans may actually be surprised to learn it was that high.
With Ruf being 36 years old, it’s difficult to see him turning things around. After all, he was already having a poor year with the San Francisco Giants.
This does leave the Mets in a position where they’re looking to address the DH position this offseason. As noted, that’s complicated by the presence of Vogelbach.
Remember, Vogelbach is a platoon DH and really nothing else. That hamstrings your roster flexibility. It also restricts who the Mets can use to address the other half of the platoon DH spot.
As we’ve seen, Ruf struggled, and there’s not much hope for a rebound. They won’t want to restrict Mark Vientos as just a platoon DH. Short of a reclamation project like Yoenis Cespedes, it’s difficult to imagine who will want to sign to be a short side platoon DH.
Perhaps, you could force Mark Canha or Eduardo Escobar into the role, but that forces you to make other moves. In some ways, that may make Brett Baty’s readiness to be an Opening Day third baseman the lynchpin to eventually making the Vogelbach trade work.
However you analyze it, it becomes clear Vogelbach has restricted the Mets ability to address the DH spot, and really, improve the roster overall. Yes, in the short term, it was the right move especially given all the costs involved, but in the long term, the trade isn’t working out well for the Mets.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied the award.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
8. Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
11. Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil Lee.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
Whether or not it was the right call, Showalter won, and it was close to being unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
Billy Eppler joined Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman on a New York Post podcast to discuss the New York Mets offseason plans. In reviewing the podcast, Eppler didn’t say anything really all the surprising, which we should expect from a seasoned front office executive.
The Mets want Edwin Diaz to return. They also want Brandon Nimmo, but if they can’t keep him they will consider Starling Marte in center. They want and can keep Jacob deGrom. Basically, everything you expect is in there inclusive of Eppler saying he is in charge of the baseball operations.
That’s where things get a little dicey based on past performance.
In 2014, Jerry Dipoto built a Los Angeles Angels team which finished atop the American League West division before they were swept in the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately for him, he clashed with Mike Scioscia, and he lost leading to him resigning the following season. That led to Billy Eppler’s hiring.
When Eppler took over, he had Mike Trout, but he already had that albatross Albert Pujols contract. It was a roster that was somewhat flawed, but it had a good, young, and emerging starting staff with Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Andrew Heaney. They also had a very good bullpen with Huston Street, Joe Smith, and Fernando Salas.
In many ways, this was a great job to have. There were pieces in place to make the Angels a winner and a deep pocketed owner. There is the caveat the farm system was not great, but overall, this was a good job to have. Well, while it looked like it was a good job to have, things would completely unravel.
The Andrelton Simmons trade did not pan out as he had hoped. That would become a habit for him with the same happening in future years with Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa, and Ian Kinsler. His signings never really panned out with Justin Upton never working out for the team. He began dabbling on the fringes of the pitching markets getting players like Matt Harvey for far too much while eschewing the higher priced and more established starters.
Making matters worse was the Angels farm system never really improved under Eppler. They were bad when he took over, and when he left, they were still bad. During his tenure, he never really had a player he drafted come up to the majors and be an impact player for him.
All told, Eppler only had three real accomplishments. First, he signed Trout to an extension. Second, he landed Shohei Ohtani. Finally, he did what Dipoto wasn’t able to do by outlasting Scioscia. Despite all that, his tenure was largely a disappointment and failure.
With the Mets, the good news is he built a very strong roster in his first season. He added Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer. His peripheral moves to address the bullpen like Adam Ottavino worked. All told, it was a 101 win team that tied atop the NL East (still losing the division due to Rob Manfred’s gimmick rules and postseason).
In year one, we saw Eppler have a stronger offseason than he ever had in any year with the Angels. Part of that was Cohen having the checkbook to add players like Marte and Scherzer. With Joely Rodriguez, Tyler Naquin, and Darin Ruf, you saw he still has a lot of work left to do in terms of trades, we should give him a lot of credit for Bassitt.
Overall, it is still difficult to ascertain if Eppler has learned from his previous mistakes and errors as the Angels GM. What we do know is Cohen is a better owner with more money than Arte Moreno. We also know the Mets have a far better farm system with Francisco Álvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos nearly ready to be Major League contributors.
Put another way, we are going to learn a lot about Eppler this offseason. We will see how he handles players like deGrom, Diaz, and Nimmo. We will see how he address the Mets need for power while having contracts like Canha and Daniel Vogelbach seemingly standing in the way of doing that.
This is a critical offseason for the Mets and Eppler. This offseason will go a long way to determining if the Mets can contend in 2023 and beyond until the farm is fully up to speed to provide depth to the Major League roster. It will also go a long way in determining just how good of a GM Eppler truly can be.
We still do or do not know if Shohei Ohtani will be traded this offseason. The Los Angeles Angels are up for sale, and with a sale process ongoing, we may not see the superstar traded.
As a franchise, now may be the time to trade him. He’s a year away from free agency. He’s voicing his discontent. Even with Ohtani and Mike Trout, this is a team nowhere close to contention. That goes double when you consider what the Houston Astros are doing and the Seattle Mariners young core.
If Ohtani were available for trade, it would behoove the Mets to do everything they can do to get him right now. No, they should not wait around and hope to flex Steve Cohen’s financial muscle in the ensuing offseason.
The biggest reason why is you don’t know if he will even be a free agent. Years ago, Mets fans were awaiting Cohen to purchase the team, and the prevailing “wisdom” was not to go out and get Mookie Betts. because the Mets could just sign him after the offseason. Well, Betts signed a massive extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We did see Cohen act similarly. The Mets went out and traded for Francisco Lindor. Cohen then gave him the biggest contract for a shortstop in Major League history to ensure Lindor would not hit the open market. We can go back over 20 years ago when the Mets obtained Mike Piazza from the Florida Marlins and then gave him a record contract during their exclusive negotiating window before the start of free agency.
When a team trades for and obtains a superstar, they get a chance to put on the full court press to sign that player to an extension with zero competition. Cohen has already once used that tactic for his benefit, and given the right player, he can do that again. Make no mistake, Ohtani is that player.
Heading into the offseason, the Mets likely want a course correction on their DH situation. While Daniel Vogelbach performed, their right-handed platoon options faltered. That leaves the Mets looking to upgrade from Darin Ruf or looking to start anew. Ideally, they would look to start anew.
Certainly, the Mets could look to blow that situation up for the right player. Ohtani is the right player. Since his rookie season in 2018, Ohtani has a 137 wRC+. That is second only to Yordan Alvarez among designated hitters. Really, Ohtani has become the second best DH in all of baseball.
We also see the Mets need to address their starting pitching. Jacob deGrom is going to opt out. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have player options. The Mets need to make a decision on how to rebuild their rotation.
Since undergoing Tommy John, the 2022 season was Ohtani’s first real full season as a starter. For a bad Angels team, he was 15-7 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.027 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and an 11.9 K/9. That K/9 figure lead the American League and was second in all of baseball. He also averaged nearly six innings per start.
Revisit the Mets situation for a second. They need to address their DH spot. Ohtani is the second best in the sport. They need to rebuild their rotation. Ohtani has pitched like a number two starter. Ohtani has a good relationship with Mets GM Billy Eppler, and Cohen has the financial might and will to sign Ohtani to an extension. Certainly, the marketing locally, nationally, and abroad makes him all the more enticing to the Mets.
The only thing standing in the Mets way will be the Angels asking price. If there is the opportunity to sign Ohtani to an extension, the Mets should meet whatever price the Angels are asking. Really, there are no untouchables in the Mets organization when it comes to Ohtani.
Francisco Álvarez? Without a doubt. They want Pete Alonso? Well, they can have him. Again, there are no untouchables.
Sure, there may be a limit as to the package you may be willing to offer, but the Mets must keep in mind they are getting TWO players with Ohtani. They’re getting a star DH. They’re getting a top of the rotation caliber pitcher. They’re getting a superstar with immense likeability and marketability. He is going to make the Mets significantly better, and he is going to make them a ton of money.
Ohtani in a Mets uniform would be a dream come true for the Mets. He is everything they want and need. If he’s out there on the trade market, the Mets absolutely must do everything in their power to make him a Met for the rest of his career. That starts in 2022.
Things with Yoenis Cespedes did not end well with the New York Mets. After signing his second extension, he had the double heel surgery against Mets wishes, which was something of a Jeff Wilpon specialty with him trying the same with Carlos Beltran‘s career saving knee surgery.
During his rehab, he had the incident with the wild boar. His return was kaput as he now had to contend with a broken ankle. He would return in 2020 for eight games actually hitting two homers before leaving the team.
He opted out like many others did during COVID. While Cespedes told his teammates and the organization, an account backed up by players like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto, Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets lied to the public saying they had no idea. After that, there was a significant amount of backlash against the player.
What is interesting is Cespedes was supposed to be one of the players who was to return for Old Timers’ Day. However, he didn’t. This was not a snub, but it had more to do with Cespedes looking to make a return to the Major Leagues. So far, Cespedes is off to a great start in the Winter Leagues:
Yoenis Céspedes had a monster night in the Dominican Winter League:
4-for-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
— Michael Mayer (@michaelmayer22) October 20, 2022
Does this mean Cespedes can return and be an impact player in the majors? No, we absolutely cannot ascertain anything from one game against lesser competition. Still, with Cespedes, we see he can still have some of that magic in his bat.
This is the type of player for whom a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training exists. In terms of Cespedes, he actually could fill a need for the Mets.
At the trade deadline last year, the team acquired Daniel Vogelbach. That necessitates a right-handed platoon partner. That was supposed to be Darin Ruf, and that did not end well with his 20 OPS+. With Ruf under contract next year, there needs to be competition for him next year.
Internal solutions could be Francisco Álvarez or Mark Vientos. However, they are prospects, and the Mets do not want to have them be a short-sided platoon partner getting very limited plate appearances. That’s not good for them or the organization.
This is where Cespedes could help. He could be competition for Ruf. He is that rare player who raises his game on the New York stage. If there is anything left, the Mets could use it. There is still plenty of time in the Winter Leagues to look at Cespedes more, but the Mets should be tracking him intently while looking to bring him back to the organization.
Last offseason, the New York Mets sought to hire a President of Baseball Operations. Unfortunately, they struck out for a consecutive year.
This had them shift their focus to GM. Eventually, they landed on Billy Eppler, who seemed more consolation prize than getting who they wanted.
The who, what, where, when, and why doesn’t matter. Eppler had the job. With that job came opportunity.
Eppler did the job building a team which won 101 games. The owner wanted the big fish in Buck Showalter and Max Scherzer, and Eppler reeled them in.
However, when you don’t win the division, and you’re out in the first round of the postseason, you didn’t do enough. For Eppler, there are a few areas where this definitely applies.
One criticism down the stretch was the Mets waited too long before calling up Francisco Álvarez and Mark Vientos. That may or may not be fair. On that point, it didn’t seem fair to declare them not ready all season only to throw them into a pennant race and demand/need performance.
After the organization tried Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis at DH, they pursued the platoon option at the position by obtaining Daniel Vogelbach. Vogelbach did his part well.
The issue is that trade and not giving the prospects a look earlier forced his hand on Darin Ruf. With Ruf and Tyler Naquin, it was certainly a forgettable trade deadline for the Mets. For his part, Eppler has no remorse:
Billy Eppler does not feel that the Mets' decision to prioritize long-term thinking at the trade deadline impacted their chances to win this season:— SNY (@SNYtv) October 14, 2022
"It's hard to pinpoint what would've been better" pic.twitter.com/vN8DK082Mv
To a certain extent, only he knows whether he could’ve or should’ve done more. What we know is the Naquin and Ruf trades were maligned at the time (the packages, not the players), and the Mets didn’t win.
When a team wins, there is forgiveness on overpaying in trades or missing out on players. That’s the way it is and should be because at the end of the day, it’s about winning in both the short and long term.
Fact is, the Mets didn’t win. With that, Eppler blew his opportunity.
Yes, the Mets announced he was returning as the GM. As Eppler indicated, Steve Cohen wants him to immediately get to work. The Mets need that because there is a lot of work to do on the roster.
That all said, the Mets have said they’re looking to hire a President of Baseball Operations. It’s something they’ve been trying to do since Cohen purchased the team.
With that comes someone working over Eppler. Eppler’s autonomy and control goes away. He now reports to someone who also can recommend firing, retaining, or reassigning him.
At least in theory, if the Mets win the division and World Series, he becomes the POBO. Perhaps, the Mets don’t pursue one. After all, why hire a decision maker over the guy who just built a World Series winning roster?
However, the Mets didn’t win. Both Ruf and Naquin didn’t perform with Naquin being left off the postseason roster. The Mets are pursuing a POBO to whom Eppler will report.
In the end, Eppler blew his opportunity. He will now be second in command, and his power will be at the whim of the POBO and Cohen.
Hopefully, this is the best case for the Mets organization. For Eppler, it’s not the worst case, but it is also not ideal. After all, this is a job he certainly wanted.
When seasons don’t end the way you want or expect, people look for a reason or a scapegoat. To wit, the New York Mets announced both Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter were returning next season. On the one hand, it would seem obvious that was the case, but there was a collapse, so it was best to state it outright.
Certainly, both Eppler and Showalter have their fair share of the blame for what happened. However, it is much deeper and much more layered than that.
The seminal moment most Mets fans point to is Starling Marte‘s hand injury in the September 6 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ask a Mets fans, and they staunchly believe the Mets win the division if Marte doesn’t get hurt. To a certain extent, there is truth to that.
After all, it meant more Tyler Naquin, who was terrible in September batting .185/.232/.308. He was so poor he was left off the postseason roster despite his terrific numbers against Yu Darvish, a pitcher the Mets never hit.
Looking at Naquin, that should have us revisit the Eppler point. There was a post hoc analysis of the Mets trade deadline moves (which were debated in real time). Prior to the Daniel Vogelbach trade, Mets DHs had a 79 wRC+. From Vogelbach’s firsts game with the Mets to the end of the season, that mark improved to a 102 wRC+.
However, that was mostly Vogelbach. Against left-handed pitching. Darin Ruf had a 20 OPS+ with the Mets. Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez were throw into pennant races and struggled. Notably, Gary Cohen was highly critical of the Mets decision making process noting how the Mets didn’t call them up when there was a chance during the season and put too much on them.
To that point, the Atlanta Braves called up Michael Harris and Vaughn Grissom well in advance of September games, and they got much better production. As an aside, the Braves are again extending their young core while the Mets aren’t, but that’s a separate discussion for another day.
All of the above is a worthwhile discussion, however, it is still not getting to the root cause. The Mets collapse began at Citi Field against the Washington Nationals. The Mets would lose two out of three games. It was part of the Mets worst stretch of the season.
From September 3 to September 14, the Mets were 5-6 against the Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins, and Chicago Cubs. During that stretch, the Mets three game lead shrunk to a half game. Over a stretch where the Mets could put the division away, they put the division back in play allowing the Braves to sweep the Mets forcing the Mets to the Wild Card.
Fast-forward for a second to the Atlanta Braves series. There were a number of problems in that series. Chief among them was the starting pitching failed. Figuring out how to prevent this from happening again requires diagnosing how that happened. The answer may be unsatisfying to some, but it is as simple as fatigue.
Carlos Carrasco pitched a combined 121 2/3 innings over the previous two seasons. He would pitch 152 this season. At the 64 inning mark this season, Carrasco had a 3.52 ERA and was averaging 5 2/3 innings per start. After that, he had a 4.30 ERA averaging under five innings per start.
He had one of the Mets bad losses in September. On September 27, he allowed four runs to the Marlins over three innings. That was one of many games the Mets wanted back.
Taijuan Walker again had a poor second half, but he did salvage it a bit in September. Still, he faltered against the Pirates, and he took the loss against the Milwaukee Brewers. Both were big spots, and he and the Mets wish they had those games back.
Of course, neither Carrasco nor Walker were the biggest culprits, the ultimate blame seems to be directed at Chris Bassitt. Last year, Bassitt pitched 157 1/3 innings, and he had only thrown over 100 innings one other time in his career.
After his September 7 start, he hit the 161 1/3 inning mark. At that point, he had a 3.24 ERA while averaging a little over six innings per start. After that, Bassitt fell apart against the Cubs and Braves. He was very good against bad teams in the Pirates and Oakland Athletics.
Max Scherzer dealt with oblique issues. Jacob deGrom had a blister issue. Neither would ever admit it impacted their performances, but essentially, they were compromised pitchers. When you build a team on starting pitching, you can’t have all five starters limping to the finish line. That is exactly what the Mets had.
Unfortunately, they did not have the hitting to overcome this. That was apparent in Atlanta when they scored all of seven runs. Over the final month of the season, in their losses, they averaged 2.5 runs per game. Part of this was the Mets approach at the plate.
The Mets hit 171 homers this season ranked 15th in the majors. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor accounted for 38.6% of the Mets home run production. The next highest was Eduardo Escobar with 20, and he hit almost half of them in September. Essentially, for most of the season, if Alonso and Lindor weren’t hitting it out of the park, no one was.
Combine that with very questionable managing from Buck Showalter in Atlanta and the postseason, and you have a 101 Mets team who fails to win the division. You have a Mets team who gets one hit in an elimination game.
With the Mets, it was no one thing. It was exhausted starting pitching who faltered. It was an offense overly reliant on two players. It was a manager who struggled in bad games making poor decisions in big games. And yes, it was a front office who failed to fully address the teams deeper issues at the trade deadline.
When all was said and done, this was a team built to sustain the rigors of the regular season. However, it was not prepared and built to last deep into the season and go deep into October. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it is difficult to overlook now.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published on MMO
It is well documented the New York Mets have never beaten Yu Darvish. Not once. Now, he is taking the mound in Game 1 of the best-of-three Wild Card Series against the New York Mets. Fortunately, the Mets have Max Scherzer, but as we saw in July, that is not always enough.
While the Mets have not beaten Darvish, there are Mets players on this team who have had success against Darvish. Of course, there are some who have not had much. Here is a look at the overall stats in descending OPS order:
- James McCann (11 PA) 4-for-10, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB 5 K
- Daniel Vogelbach (3 PA) 2-for-3, 2 RBI
- Tyler Naquin (6 PA) 3-for-6, 2B
- Starling Marte (18 PA) 7-for-17, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB 3 K
- Pete Alonso (11 PA) 2-for-10, HR, RBI, 3 K
- Francisco Lindor (19 PA) 5-for-16, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
- Tomas Nido (3 PA) 1-for-3, K
- Eduardo Escobar (17 PA) 3-for-17, 2 2B, HR, RBI, 7 K
- Darin Ruf (5 PA) 0-for-2, 2 BB, K
- Jeff McNeil (13 PA) 1-for-11, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
- Luis Guillorme (6 PA) 1-for-6, 2B, RBI, 2 K
- Mark Canha (4 PA) 1-for-4, K
- Brandon Nimmo (7 PA) 0-for-6, 2 K
At the moment, we do not know Marte’s status, but you can see just how much the Mets need him in this lineup. Marte not only is a big part of this team, but he also hits Darvish. This team needs that against a pitcher this franchise has never beaten.
On the bright side, if he can’t go, Naquin has hit Darvish. In fact, both he and Vogelbach were brought in at the trade deadline to hit right-handed pitching. This is a right-handed pitcher they have both hit. In many ways, this is the exact moment the thought process behind these trade deadline moves comes to fruition.
The obvious caveat with those two, or really anyone in this lineup, is these are small sample sizes. However, behind these small sample sizes are illustrative of something.
The first thing which really stands out at you is the strikeouts. That should not come as a surprise. This is not only a team which racks up strikeouts, but Darvish is a pitcher who records a lot of strikeouts. However, there is something beyond those strikeouts.
Like any pitcher, Darvish will make mistakes, and as we see with this lineup, when he makes them, they have capitalized on them. When you have Scherzer on the mound, the Mets may only need for one batter to capitalize on a mistake and drive it out of the ballpark.
So yes, the Mets have never lost to Darvish. However, Darvish has never pitched against the lineup the Mets are going put out there in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series. Seeing this team’s ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark against him, and with Scherzer on the mound, you have to like the Mets chances.
There was an in initial and second version of the potential New York Mets postseason roster. With the Wild Card Series upon us, it’s time for a final projection.
With respect to this projection, it’s focusing on just the Wild Card Series where the Mets will need a maximum of three starters. With that caveat in mind, here’s the final projection:
Álvarez’s final two games should be enough to make the roster. The only question is with McCann hitting again, does he supplant Nido as the guaranteed starter.
No changes or surprises here. Of course, with injuries, McNeil might just be an outfielder for the postseason.
Starling Marte is the only wild card here. If he’s good enough to go, he’s going to take someone’s spot. That’ll either be Gore or Vientos.
Marte’s and Darin Ruf‘s injuries basically guarantees Vientos’ spot. He won’t start with Álvarez likely to go against Blake Snell, but we may see him in a big pinch hitting spot.
We know the Game 2 starter debate (start deGrom), and we know Bassitt starts the other game. Chances are, they want both Carrasco and Walker available for long relief even if it would make sense to leave at least one off for this very short series.
- Edwin Diaz
- Mychal Givens
- Seth Lugo
- Trevor May
- Adam Ottavino
- David Peterson
- Joely Rodriguez
- Drew Smith
This picture became a lot more clearer. Trevor Williams threw too many innings in the season finale to be considered. We may see him in the next round.
Givens is healthy, and Rodriguez has pitched well of late. Smith is back in the late inning mix.
Really, choosing the bullpen went from difficult to easy over the past week, The important arms are healthy and ready to go.
In the end, we can only hope Buck Showalter deploys his arms well. If so, the Mets win this series.