Dario Alvarez

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

Collins Decision Has Blevins Vulturing Wheeler

Tonight, it was a battle of the aces. For the Rangers, it was Yu Darvish who is having another fine season. For the Mets, it was Zack Wheeler. Yes, Zack Wheeler. 

While we watch Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom struggle, and with Noah Syndergaard gone for most of the year, it has been Wheeler. He’s been the most consistent starter, and he’s getting better as the season progresses. 

Tonight’s start was a microcosm of Wheeler’s season. In the first, the Rangers loaded the bases with no outs, but they only came away with one run on a Nomar Mazara RBI groundout. It was initially ruled a double play, but upon replay, he was ruled safe. It didn’t matter much, as Wheeler got out of the inning by inducing Robinson Chirinos to hit into the inning ending double play. 

From there, Wheeler was brilliant. He mowed down the Rangers, and he pitched into the seventh.  The Rangers put Wheeler on the ropes with runners on first and second with two out, and Delino DeShields coming to the plate. At that point in the game, DeShields was 2-2 with a run and a walk.  Despite this, Wheeler dug deep, and on his 108th pitch of the night, he got DeShields to fly out to right. 

The 108 pitches matched a season high for Wheeler. His final line on the night was seven innings, six hits, one run, one earned, three walks, and five strikeouts. Simply put, he was terrific. 

On the opposite side, Darvish probably had better stuff. He was perfect through three, and the Mets didn’t look like they had much of a chance on the night. Things changed in the fourth. 

Michael Conforto got hit by a pitch in the dirt thereby ending the perfect game. He then scored on what was initially a Jay Bruce triple. Upon replay, it was ruled Bruce hit a two run homer:

Darvish would not make another mistake until Bruce came up again in the sixth. Bruce took a slider off the plate, and he drove it opposite field for a solo home run making it 3-1. 

Overall, Darvish was nearly unhittable over his 7.1 innings pitched. In fact, other than Bruce, Juan Lagares was the only Met to get a hit off Darvish. That hit chased Darvish. Former Met Dario Alvarez would walk Conforto before getting Asdrubal Cabrera to hit into the inning ending double play. 

The Mets would rue failing to tack on runs there. Jerry Blevins got the first two out before allowing a Mazara single. That’s where Terry Collins poor managing reared its ugly head. 

Despite Blevins having a terrific year with a 1.42 ERA, he has struggled against righties. On the season, righties are hitting .364/.481/.591 off of him. The batter, Chirinos, the Rangers version of Wilmer Flores, is hitting .353/.389/.529 off lefties. Chirinos struggles against righties hitting just .210/.310/.460 off them. Looking at the splits, it was an obvious spot for Addison Reed to go with the four out save with the Mets having a day off tomorrow. 

If not Reed, at least Fernando Salas, who was warming in the bullpen. Instead of Salas, Collins stuck with Blevins, who hung one to Chirinos. Tie game. 

For the second straight night, the Mets would make Matt Bush in the ninth. Lucas Duda hit a one out double, and Curtis Granderson worked out a two out walk to put the game in Jose Reyes‘ hands. 

Reyes hit a bouncer to Rougned Odor who spiked the throw to Elvis Andrus. Andrus could not come up with the throw, and on the throw, Matt Reynolds, who came on to pinch run for Duda, never stopped and scored from second on the play. 

With the Rangers failing to make the play, and with Reynolds’ hustle, the Mets reclaimed the lead at 4-3. Reed came on in the ninth, and he pitched a rare 1-2-3 save for him.

If nothing else, this win shows this team has heart. They blew a game yesterday.  They had their stomach punched on the Chirinos homer. And yet, they pulled this one out. Maybe, just maybe, there’s still room for hope. 

Game Notes: Reyes got the start with Neil Walker out of the lineup. While Collins said it was a routine day off, reports indicated Walker may have a knee injury. 

Mets Don’t Need To Sign Left-Handed Reliever

In 2015, the Mets not only won the National League East, but they went all the way to the World Series.  During that wonderfully unexpected run, the team left a bevvy of left-handed relievers in their wake.  Time and again, the team tried to solve their presumed issues with not having a left-handed reliever to no avail.  Here is a look at all the left-handed relievers they went through that season:

  • Josh Edgin – needed Tommy John surgery before the season began
  • Jerry Blevins – appeared in seven games before suffering a broken arm
  • Alex Torres – pitched to a 1.515 WHIP and was released on August 4th
  • Sean Gilmartin – used as a long man in the bullpen due in part to his reverse splits
  • Jack Leathersich – shuttled back and forth between New York and Las Vegas before his season ended due to him needing Tommy John surgery
  • Dario Alvarez – appeared in six games before suffering a groin injury that cost him the rest of the season
  • Eric O’Flaherty – 13.50 ERA and left off the postseason roster

The lack of the left-handed pitcher did not prevent this team from making it to the postseason or to going to the World Series.  The main reason is that team’s right-handed relievers could pitch to left-handed batters.  In fact, the batting lines suggests the right-handed relievers performed just as well as a LOOGY would:

The moral of the story is that you do not need a left-handed pitcher to get out left-handed batters.  Rather, you need pitchers who are effective at pitching against left-handed batters to get them out.

There are some caveats.  First, the Mets did go with Jon Niese as the left-hander in the bullpen during the 2015 postseason, and he did get some big outs including a key strike out of Anthony Rizzo in the NLCS.  Second, Blevins was an extremely important part of the 2016 bullpen.  Without Blevins in the bullpen, it is quite possible the Mets do not get one of the two Wild Card spots.  This creates a problem as Blevins is now a free agent – a free agent that is about to cash in on a terrific year.

So far, we have seen arguably less talented left-handed relievers get big contracts.  Brett Cecil received a four year $30.5 million contract from the Cardinals.  Marc Rzepczynski received a two year $11 million contract from the Mariners.  Mike Dunn received a three year $19 million from the Colorado Rockies.   According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Blevins was already seeking a three year deal worth $5-$6 million per season.  Based upon the contracts already handed out, it is easy to assume Blevins will get the deal he is seeking.

However, it should be noted that deal is likely not coming from the Mets.  As already noted, Sandy Alderson does not want to give out multi-year deals to relievers.  Furthermore, it does not not appear the Mets are interested in investing $6 million a year on a left-handed reliever.  With that being the case, the Mets best chance might be to revert to the 2015 model thrust upon them.

From that team, Familia, Reed, and Robles still remain, and they are still effective as ever in getting left-handed batters out.  Here were their stats from the 2016 season:

  • Familia .239/.315/.313
  • Reed .210/.264/.269
  • Robles .179/.287/.299

There is also some promise with Edgin.  Despite him not fully regaining his velocity after his Tommy John surgery, he still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out in a very small sample size.  In 2016, he faced 20 left-handed batters, and he limited them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.

Between, Familia, Reed, Robles, and Edgin, the 2017 Mets may already have sufficient bullpen depth to get left-handed batters out.  Moreover, with the Mets resportedly wanting to cut payroll from where it currently stands, the team may be forced to stick in-house and instead seek a seventh inning reliever.

That is certainly a justifiable route because the bullpen as constructed already has enough depth to get left-handed batters out.  As such, the team does not need to add a left-hander for the sake of adding a left-hander.

Rafael Montero Is a Non-Starter for the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets have more 40 man roster decisions looming.  Here are some notable Mets minor leaguers who will be needed to be added to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft:

  1. Amed Rosario
  2. Wuilmer Becerra
  3. Gavin Cecchini
  4. Marcos Molina
  5. Paul Sewald
  6. Travis Taijeron
  7. Paul Paez
  8. Phillip Evans
  9. Champ Stuart
  10. Chase Bradford

There are many other roster choices the Mets will have to make aside from the aforementioned players.  With that the Mets are going to have to make some tough 40 man decisions.  With the Mets refusal to call-up Rafael Montero, he certainly stands to be one of the first people cut from the roster.  With that in mind, isn’t it in the Mets best interests to find out what they have in him?

At this point in his career, Montero was supposed to be a fixture in the Mets rotation, or at the very least, a part of the Mets bullpen.  Instead, he is stuck in AA, and he appears on his way out of the Mets organization.

The beginning of the end was last year when he complained of a shoulder injury after being demoted.  The Mets insisted he should be able to pitch through it while Montero stated he couldn’t.  It led to Terry Collins giving him a pep talk during a Mets road trip to Miami last August.  Collins then lectured Montero in Spring Training about how he needed to step it up; how it was supposed to be him instead of Bartolo Colon for the fifth spot.  Montero wouldn’t make it out of the first inning in his first Spring Training start, and he would be part of the first group of players demoted to Minor League Spring Training.

Due to a short Steven Matz start and a taxed bullpen, Montero would get called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  Even in obvious situations to use him, Collins refused.  Montero would go over a week without pitching a game, and when he did pitch, Montero would show his rust.  In his two appearances, he pitched 2.1 innings with an alarming 11.57 ERA.  Montero would be demoted.  It wouldn’t be his last demotion.

After going 4-6 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.888 WHIP in 16 AAA starts, he was sent down to AA where he has thrived.  In eight starts, Montero has gone 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP.  It is the best Montero has pitched in his professional career.  Arguably, Montero has become the Mets best minor league pitcher.  Still, the Mets have routinely passed him over.

When Matt Harvey went down for the season, the Mets turned to Logan Verrett.  When Verrett proved he couldn’t be a starting pitcher at the major league level, the Mets went to Jon Niese and his 5.20 ERA to take the fifth spot.  The Mets chose a struggling Gabriel Ynoa as insurance for Niese.  When Steven Matz first had his start skipped, the Mets went with Seth Lugo in the rotation.  Now that Matz is on the disabled list, Lugo is firmly in the rotation.  With Niese going on the disabled list and Robert Gsellman performing admirably in relief last night, Gsellman is going to take Niese’s sport in the rotation, which used to be Verrett’s spot, which used to be Harvey’s spot.  Point is the Mets are going through a lot of pitchers before even considering Montero.

The Mets didn’t even so much as call-up Montero to take Ynoa’s or Gsellman’s spot in the AAA rotation.  They didn’t go to Montero for a spot start or to go back to the bullpen.  The Mets went with Ynoa and Gsellman despite them not being relievers and with Montero having experience as a reliever.  It’s likely the Mets won’t turn to Montero unless there is another rash of injuries to the pitching staff, and perhaps not even then.  It is possible the Mets will call him up September 1st, but given Collins apparent unwillingness to use him, it’s extremely doubtful he will even appear in a game.

Fact is Montero is done with the Mets, and he is merely occupying a very valuable 40 man roster spot.  A roster spot the Mets could have used to protect Dario Alvarez, a very valuable reliever the Mets lost for  nothing.  A roster spot the Mets will need to protect a prospect who still has a future with the team.  Montero has no future with the Mets, and the Mets aren’t even going to see what they have in him before he leaves the team.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Minors

Is the Mets Window Closing?

Right now, the Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot, and they are desperately hoping with Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera coming off the disabled list this week that the team goes on a run that will bring them back into the postseason.  Whether or not that works, it is fair to ask if this is the Mets last chance to win the World Series.

The foundation of this team is its starting pitching.  Matt Harvey has gone from Opening Day starter to question mark with his season ending surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome.  There is no telling how effective he will be if he is able to come back.

Zack Wheeler was supposed to be back by the All Star Break.  Now, it appears that he will miss his second consecutive season.  While rehabbing from the surgery, Wheeler has had to have a second surgery to deal with forearm irritation caused by stitches, sensory nerve irritation, and now a flexor strain.  He had been treated by Dr. Dave Altchek, and he sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.  We are continuously assured there are no structural issues, and yet, time and again there is a new excuse why he can’t pitch.  At the end of the day, it does not matter if he is unable to pitch due to his elbow or for other reasons.  Who knows when he can return or how effective he will be when returning.

There are more question marks in the rotation.  Steven Matz has yet to have a healthy season in the majors.  Bartolo Colon will be 44 years old next year meaning there is no guarantee that he pitches beyond this year.  Even if he does, there is no guarantee he will be this effective.  Logan Verrett has shown he is not capable of being a member of the starting rotation.  Sean Gilmartin‘s season ended early with shoulder problems.  The Mets aren’t going to pick up Jon Niese‘s option, and even if they did bring him back, you should probably expect more of the same from him.

The Mets other options are Gabriel Ynoa and Robert Gsellman, both of whom are probably not ready to start in the majors.  Even if they are, both realistically project to be middle to back of the rotation starters.  That certainly helps, but that also a huge drop off from someone like Harvey.

As if the starting pitching wasn’t a big enough issue, there is the issue of the Mets offense.

As we saw this year, you cannot rely upon David Wright at all.  The Mets have no internal options to replace his bat in the lineup.  Worse yet, there is a lack of very good options on the free agent market choices available even if the Mets were so inclined to add a bat.  Keep in mind, they may also have to replace Lucas Duda at first base.  In 2015, Duda had a disc issue.  This year, Duda will miss almost the entire season with a stress fracture in his back.  There is a very real chance that he is a non-tender candidate.  The Mets do not have a first base option in the minors who is on track to play in the majors next year, and again, the free agent market is less than promising.  That means James Loney can once again be the Mets best option, and as we have seen, he is not a terribly good everyday option.

This isn’t even the Mets biggest problem, not by a long shot.

Cespedes can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and he will easily become the best free agent available.  The narrative coming out of last offseason was how much Cespedes wanted to be a Met, and that is why he returned.  That’s the hope why he will stay.  However, it’s more narrative than fact.

The fact is Cespedes didn’t get a fair market value offer on the free agent market.  Judging from the free agent contracts handed out, teams placed a higher value on Jason Heyward and Justin Upton.  The teams you would think would be interested in Cespedes gave the money to somebody else.  The Nationals were interested, but due to budgetary constraints, they only offered Cespedes a largely backloaded deal. It is possible that after another postseason berth, and Jonathan Papelbon‘s salary off the books, the Nationals could make another run at Cespedes in the offseason.  It is also possible that the Giants, Dodgers, Rangers and/or the Angels could emerge as suitors for Cespedes.  There’s always the phantom mystery team that could join the bidding.

It is certainly plausible the Mets get outbid from Cespedes, or they simply move on from him.  Keep in mind, there were rumblings all over that the Jay Bruce trade was made, in part, as insurance for Cespedes leaving in the offseason.  If that is the case, the Mets outfield will yet again be left without a true center fielder.

The main task may first fall to Curtis Granderson, who has struggled mightily this year and should not be counted on to rebound in 2017.  The Mets could go with a Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo platoon in center, but that would leave no room for Michael Conforto to play everyday.

Speaking of Conforto, there is another major issue with this Mets team.  Both Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud have regressed this year.  Certainly, Conforto’s wrist and d’Arnaud’s shoulder are factors, but the fact remains, they have regressed.  Couple that with Kevin Plawecki not progressing at all, there is a major issue.  Either the Mets young talent is not as good as anticipated, or there are impediments at the major league level that is preventing them from reaching their full potential.  In order for the Mets to remain contenders, they will need their young players to step up.

Between the aforementioned free agent market and lack of major league ready prospects, the Mets only real hopes of improving the roster is on the trade front.  The problem there is the cupboard is getting bare.  The Mets have already moved big pieces in Michael Fulmer and Dilson Herrera.  They’re not willing to move Amed Rosario, and they are really unlikely to move Dominic Smith.  The Mets could move Nimmo, but that depletes from their depth for next season, and as we have seen, the Mets need all the depth they can get.

Keep in mind that over the past two seasons, the Mets have also moved Robert Whalen, Luis Cessa, John Gant, Akeel Morris, and Casey Meisner.  They lost Matthew Bowman and Dario Alvarez without getting anything in return.  Their departures leaves a gap of mid-tier prospects the Mets could move for upgrades.

Yes, the Mets can field a very competitive baseball team next year.  As long as you have pitchers like Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, you are going to have a chance to compete.  With another year of Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, it is a seven inning game for the Mets.  It’ll become a six inning game if Hansel Robles takes the next step.  But after that?

You’re counting on Neil Walker returning, which is not a guarantee.  You’re counting on Asdrubal Cabrera developing more range at shortstop while hitting better than .255/.308/.410.  He was a .249/.307/.405 hitter from 2013 – 2015.  You’re counting on Jose Reyes to hit better than his .250/.302/.466 and be healthy all of next year.  Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 while hitting in two of the best hitter’s parks last year.  You’re counting on Wilmer Flores being able to learn to hit righties.  You’re counting on the Mets not having to rely on the Eric Campbells and Ty Kellys on the world for prolonged stretches of time over the next season.  It’s all possible, but it’s not likely.

As things look right now, the Mets better start winning some ballgames and make a run because there is no guarantee that the Mets window to contend will remain open past this season.

The Fall of Rafael Montero

Over the course of a full 162 schedule, it is extremely rare that a team is able to get through a season with just five starting pitchers.  With that in mind, a team will need more than just five major league caliber starting pitchers in order to get through the season.  We were all reminded of that again with the news that Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard are both dealing with bone spurs in their pitching elbows.  Apparently, the situation is worse for Matz who is debating if he should have surgery.

If Matz, Syndergaard, or really any Mets pitcher cannot make a start, the Mets have options.  There is Logan Verrett who has already made four spot starts this season and will start in place of Matz today.  There is Sean Gilmartin who began the year in Las Vegas, in part, so the Mets could allow him to further develop as a starting pitcher.  The Mets also have well regarded prospect Gabriel Ynoa who becomes more and more major league ready with each and every start.  Whenever the Mets need an arm, these are the three names that are usually in the discussion for a start.  You know who’s name doesn’t get brought up anymore?  Rafael Montero.

This is a precipitous fall from grace for Montero.  As soon as 2014, the Mets had considered Montero a major league caliber starting pitcher.  He ranked ahead of Jacob deGrom on the organizational depth chart.  The Mets were proven wrong when deGrom got a chance to go out there and perform while Montero was injured.  As a result, when the 2015 season began, the Mets had deGrom in the rotation and Montero in the bullpen.  Still, Montero would get his shot to start as the Mets wanted to implement a six man rotation to limit the innings for deGrom and Matt Harvey.  Montero would make one start, and he would be sent down to AAA.  However, that demotion would be rescinded as Montero was found to have rotator cuff inflammation.

Eventually, the Mets would question his willingness to pitch.  Subsequent tests would show there was no significant injuries.  The team would suggest that while there was inflammation, Montero should’ve been able to pitch through it.  During a late season road trip to Florida, Terry Collins traveled to Port St. Lucie to meet with Montero to try to get him going.  Eventually, Montero would pitch in a few minor league games at the end of the year, but it was too little too late in terms of making the postseason roster.

As the team reported to Spring Training this season, Collins pulled him aside and tried to motivate him.  He told Montero the Mets had to re-sign Bartolo Colon because Montero hasn’t fulfilled his promise.  If he had, he would have been slated at the Mets’ fifth starter.  Montero responded to the pep talk by getting shellacked by the Nationals.  When the Mets had to trim down their roster, Montero was one of the first people selected to go to Minor League Spring Training.  It seemed like it was his last chance.  He would get one more.

After Matz’s first start of the season exhausted the Mets bullpen and Jacob deGrom’s baby being sick, the Mets needed an extra arm.  The team would call-up Montero.  Collins seemingly went out of his way to not use him going so far as to pitch Jim Henderson in a game he had no business pitching.  When Montero finally got into a game, he didn’t perform.  In his two appearances, Montero had an 11.57 ERA and a 2.571 WHIP.  The Mets had no problem sending him down.

In the minors, Montero has continued to be underwhelming.  In 14 starts this year, he is 4-4 with a 6.62 ERA and a 1.736 WHIP.  To be blunt, Montero is doing nothing more right now than occupying a spot on the 40 man roster.  We saw the effect of that when the Mets had subjected and lost Dario Alvarez on waivers when the Mets needed to make room for Ty Kelly on the 40 man roster.  With the Braves, Alvarez has gone 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP.  So far, Alvarez has accomplished more than Montero has and perhaps ever will.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Montero.  He was supposed to be the guy in the top half of the rotation.  It hasn’t panned out that way.  He’s not even a consideration anymore for when the Mets need a pitcher.  Now, he’s a player taking up a spot on the 40 man roster that could be going to players with more promise.  This has been a sad fall from grace for Rafael Montero.

Editor’s Note: this was also published on metsmerizedonline.com

Ex-Brave Beats the Ex-Met

This was a bizarre day even for the Mets. The Mets sent down Michael Conforto and calling-up Brandon NimmoJose Reyes was brought back despite the domestic violence incident.  With all of that going on, the Mets still had a game to play. 

Jacob deGrom was shaky early on needing a few double plays to get out of a couple of innings unscathed. Overall, he pitched well against a bad Braves team. His final like was eight innings, seven hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. However, he did not get the win as the Mets offense failed him. 
There was a threat in the third when Yoenis Cespedes tried to stretch a single into a double.  He was easily out at second when he refused to slide. Instead of second and third with one it, Curtis Granderson stood alone on the basepaths with two outs. A Neil Walker pop out would put an end to the Mets only real threat against Braves’ starter Julio Teheran

Teheran matched deGrom zero for zero. He too lasted eight innings. He only allowed five hits, no runs, and no walks with seven strikeouts. You could call it a pitcher’s duel between two talented pitchers. You could also call it an contest in ineptitude between two dreadful offenses. 

The Braves chance for a walk-off win was stymied in the ninth when Granderson made a sliding catch in foul territory to end the inning and send the game into extras. 

The Mets finally broke through in the eleventh when ex-Brave Kelly Johnson hit a homer off ex-Met Dario Alvarez to put the Mets up 1-0. All that was needed was for Jeurys Familia to shut the door and recorded his 26th straight save to open the season. Given the Mets luck and Familia pitching more than one inning thd night before, it didn’t promise to be easy. It wasn’t. 

The Braves had a runner on second with one out and Freddie Freeman coming to the plate. At that point, Terry Collins made something readily apparent. He watches Mets games as closely as Mets fans do. He knows Freeman kills the Mets like other Braves’ Mets killers in the past like Chipper Jones (sorry Larry), Brian Jordan, etc. With that in mind, Collins ordered Famila to intentionally walk Freeman. 

It was a smart play as it prevented Freemam from killing the Mets again. It was a smart play as it set up the double play. When Nick Markakis hit the comebacker, the Mets got end the game by turning the double play. The 1-6-3 double play was the Mets third of the night. 

With all the emotion from today and drama that followed the Mets around most of this year, it is easy to forget the Mets are only two games back in the division and one in the loss column. The Mets will try to get closer tomorrow. 

Game Notes: In honor of the Negro Leagues, the Mets wore Brooklyn Royal Giants gear. As Nimmo didn’t get to Atlanta in time, the Mets started Alejandro De Aza, who was 0-4 with a strikeout. Travis d’Arnaud threw out another would be base stealer. 

Not Sure if Flores Has Reached Home Yet

I was having an absolutely terrific day. It was gorgeous out. My family got together today instead of tomorrow to celebrate Father’s Day because my parents know we can stay longer on a Saturday than a Sunday. It was so perfect that we even had a Fudgie the Whale:

  
Speaking of moving slow like a whale full of ice cream, somehow, someway Tim Teufel sent Wilmer Flores with no outs in the bottom of the ninth with the Mets down a run. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say Flores was rounding third when Tyler Flores caught the ball waiting to tag out Flores. 

If you’re a Mets fan, you know how the rest of the inning was going to go. Ty Kelly hit the ball “deep” to center for a flyball out. Deep is in quotes because it didn’t reach the warning track, but Ender Inciarte did have to go back a bit on the ball. Of course, Curtis Granderson, who had a brain cramp in the eighth leading to the go-ahead run scoring, struck out looking. Game over. Mets lose two in a row to a horrendous team.  The Mets didn’t play any better than yesterday’s poor showing

Simply put, the Mets beat themselves by playing bad baseball. They made mistakes and miscues. It was embarrassing.  By the way, I’m not sure if this is referring to tonight’s game or any other loss since the calendar flipped from April to May. 

If that wasn’t enough, here are some fun anecdotes from the night:

  1. Dario Alvarez, who the Mets dropped from the 40 to add Kelly to the roster, earned the win;
  2. Jim Henderson left the game with a shoulder impingement; and
  3. Steven Matz is experiencing elbow tightness

It’d be funny if it wasn’t so depressing. 

By hey, it was a beautiful day, and my son had fun at his grandparents.  

 

When my son has a good day, nothing, not even the Mets, can ruin my day. My evening on the other hand was completely ruined. Thanks for that Tim Teufel. 

Good Luck Dario Alvarez

Dario Alvarez we hardly knew ye. Due to necessary roster machinations due a number of Mets injuries, including but not limited to Lucas Duda‘s stress fracture, Alvarez was put on waivers to make room for Ty Kelly. On Wednesday, Alvarez was claimed by the Braves

Alvarez’s line highlight was in his first game last year. On September 7th, the Mets were four games up in the division with a three game set in Washington. The Mets and Nationals were tied 5-5 in the sixth inning, and soon to be named MVP Bryce Harper stepped to the plate. Terry Collins summoned Alvarez. Alvarez battled back from a 3-0 count to strike out Harper. When the Mets scored three in the top of the seventh, Alvarez would earn his first career win. 

After the Mets had gone through Jerry Blevins (injury), Josh Edgin (injury), Jack Leathersich (Wally Backmaned), Alex Torres (terrible), and Eric O’Flaherty (words cannot describe how bad he was), it seemed like the Mets finally found their LOOGY. It turns out they didn’t. Alvarez hurt his groin soon thereafter. He tried to come back, but he wasn’t effective. The Mets went to Jon Niese for the postseason. 

Coming into this season, Alvarez wasn’t given much of a chance to make the team. Blevins was brought back on a one year, and Antonio Bastardo was signed to a two year deal. With Edgin’s impending return from Tommy John surgery, Alvarez was once again buried on the depth chart. Unfortunately, exposing him to waivers made sense. That still doesn’t mean the Mets won’t miss him. He was further buried last year, and he still made an impact. 

It’s impressive Alvarez even got that far. He was a failed Phillies prospect who was released in 2009. Four years later, the Mets signed him to a minor league deal, and he reported to Brooklyn. Alvarez quickly worked his way through the the Mets minor league system. He was mostly powered by a very good slider. However, he could never quite break through and make the Mets roster. 

Now, he’s the Braves property, and he’s reported to AAA. Hopefully, he will get his chance soon. He’s earned it. 

Bastardo Signing Fits a Theme

I can make a case that Antonio Bastardo was a bad or unnecessary free agent signing. He walks to many guys. Following his ERA+, he’s an every other year player, and next year is his bad year. The Mets were well represented from the left-hand side with Jerry BlevinsDario Alvarez, and Josh Edgin. Last year, Bastardo had less innings pitched than appearances. 

However, I’m not going to make that case. Bastardo appears to be that rare cross-over non-closer lefty reliever. For his career, Bastardo allowed lefties to hit .178/.277/.319 and righties to hit .211/.308/.332. He had a 1.198 WHIP and a 11.0 K/9. He limits the long ball. He has been durable. 

No, I’m again going to question this front offices’ obsession with steroids players. Bastardo is the third steroids player the Mets have signed this offseason. Bartolo Colon and Asdrubal Cabrera are the others. On top of that, the Mets offered Jenrry Mejia arbitration. This is the same Mejia who was suspended twice last year. The same Mejia the Mets were reportedly angry and disappointed with for the suspensions

How can the Mets say one cross word about Mejia when they keep bringing other steroid users into the organization?  It’s hypocritical. It’s apparent the Mets don’t care about steroids. They care about players getting caught. 

If you think I’m going too far with this, or you don’t care, please consider this tweet:

That’s right.  A roided up Bastardo beat a presumably clean pitcher for a job.  Meyer never pitched in the big leagues again, and Bastardo has a two year $12 million contract. Of course it came from the Mets. 

They love players who use steroids upo until the time they get caught. Then they’ll tell you how much they hate it. Hypocrites.