David Wright

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.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Arizona Fall League Dominance Shows Mickey Jannis Is Still A Prospect

Traditionally, the Arizona Fall League is reserved for the top Double-A and Triple-A prospects in each organization.  We’ve previously seen with players like David Wright and Mike Piazza having played in the Arizona Fall League.  We see it again this season with top prospects like Kyle Tucker (Astros), Ronald Acuna (Braves), and Francisco Mejia (Indians).

The list of players in the Arizona Fall League this year also includes 29 year old Mickey Jannis.

Typically speaking, when a prospect passes a certain age, they are no longer considered a prospect.  Depending on which standard you apply, that age is a moving date, but everyone will agree that 29 years old is too old to be considered a prospect.

Jannis is different than your typical prospect because he is a knuckleball pitcher, and for a number of reasons knuckleball pitchers have a tendency to develop later in their careers than most prospects.

There are few pitching coaches out there who are actually adept at teaching the pitch, and it is a difficult pitch to throw.  However, the main reason is probably due to it being seen as gimmick which pitchers do not seek to learn until their careers are almost at a premature end.  Jim Bouton described this process best in Ball Four:

After a couple of year in the minors, however, I started to get bigger and stronger and started to overpower people with my fastball.  So I phased the knuckleball out.

I never really used it again until 1967.  My arm was very sore and I was getting my head beat in.  [Ralph Houk] put me into a game against Baltimore and I didn’t have a thing except pain.  I got two out and then with my arm still hurting like hell, I threw four knuckeballs to Frank Robinson and struck him out.  The next day I get sent to Syracuse.  Even so, it wasn’t until the last part of the next season that I began throwing it again.  The idea that you’ve lost your regular stuff is very slow in coming.

That experience is typical to most knuckleballers.  In R.A. Dickey‘s own book, Wherever I Wind Up, he stated his process of learning the knuckleball began when the Rangers front office suggested it was his best chance of being able to have a Major League career.  That is an experience shared by Jannis:

It’s just a decision I made after I got released by the Rays after my second year in pro ball.  I went into independent baseball and just made the transition. It’s been a long process. I’m still learning to throw it, learning to throw it for strikes. It’s just every day learning something new with the pitch.

(William Boor, MLB.com)

In many ways, Jannis is still learning how to control the pitch, and as a result, he has had middling results.  He would go from a 3.55 ERA and 1.354 WHIP in 2015 to a 5.69 ERA and 1.564 WHIP in 2016.  This made his age 29 season an important one to improve his status as a prospect.  Based upon recent knuckleball pitchers age 29 season, there wasn’t much reason for hope:

  • Tim Wakefield (1996) 14-13, 5.14 ERA, 1.550 WHIP
  • Dickey (2004) 6-7, 5.61 ERA, 1.620 WHIP

Albeit in Double-A, Jannis had a much better age 29 season going 8-7 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.251 WHIP.  During the season, he’s come closer to taming the knuckleball leading to better success, a rejuvenation of his status as a prospect, and his assignment to the Arizona Fall League.

Jannis has taken full advantage of the opportunity by pitching great.  In his six starts, he was 1-3 with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.037 WHIP.  Overall, he’s showing he control his knuckeball, and he can get baseball’s top prospects out.  If he continues learning how to harness his knuckleball, he may very well get the chance to prove he can use it to get Major League batters out.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first published on MMO

Scrubs: My Disasterous 2017 Mets Season

In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season.  It wasn’t quite a comedy.  It wasn’t quite a drama.  Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it.  And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:

J.D. – Michael Conforto

There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers.  Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:

Turk – Noah Syndergaard

Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away).  Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.

Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson

Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted.  They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care.   Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.

Elliott – Jacob deGrom

The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center.  Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge

Carla – Curtis Granderson

For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room.  She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone.  There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.

Kelso – Fred Wilpon

He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone.  As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference.  In reality, they haven’t changed one bit.  Just ask Enid.

Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera

He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone.  Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone.  Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.

The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes

Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves.  However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.

Ted – Travis d’Arnaud

There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization.  At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken.  In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.

Jordan – Terry Collins

As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly.  Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms).  That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.

Murphy – Ray Ramirez

They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path.  Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.

Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda

Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.

Laverne – Jose Reyes

Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back.  For Laverne, she came back under a different name.  For Reyes, it was a different position.

Enid – David Wright

Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.

Sean – Kevin Plawecki

They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response.  “Nobody cares!”

Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford

Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.

Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!

Hooch –Hansel Robles

When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy.  Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.

Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon

He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.

Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen

They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt.  For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve.  For Dr. Wen, it was:

Ben – Neil Walker

He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did.  Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.

Dan – Jay Bruce

When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him.  He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help.  Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.

Leonard – Seth Lugo

It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).

Julie – Wilmer Flores

Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone.  In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.

Jill – Matt Harvey

We all just assumed the worst in their intentions.  However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong.  Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed.  Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.

Gift Shop GirlCarlos Beltran

We had our chance with him, but we blew it.  We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.

Paige – Brandon Nimmo

Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.

Mickhead – Barwis

We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season.  We just don’t have the proof.

Mets Can’t Forget Veteran Leadership

In Marc Carig’s Newsday post-mortem on the 2017 season, he detailed how the trades of Jay Bruce and Neil Walker helped deteriorate the clubhouse.  With the Mets so heavily invested in Amed Rosario to be not just a big part of the 2018 season, but the next decade, the Mets need to make sure they bring in character guys this offseason to not only improve the clubhouse culture, but also provide the leadership that Rosario, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and other Mets young players could benefit.

The hope is that David Wright could help serve that role in some respect, but with his health issues, no one can be sure he can provide anything next year.  Fortunately, for the Mets, there are plenty of other guys available this offseason.  Better yet, they could serve roles beyond providing leadership:

OF Curtis Granderson – Granderon was seen as a leader on the Mets clubhouse, and he helped a young crop of Mets players reach their full potential helping them win the 2015 pennant.  Putting Aprils aside, Granderson is as reliable and clutch a player as the Mets have ever had.

RHP Bartolo Colon – Even with Colon having a poor year last year, there were signs his leadership among the pitching staff was missed.  One area that was pointed at was walks.  From 2015 to 2016, Mets pitchers gave up the fewest walks in the majors.  Last year, the Mets gave up the fourth most.  In terms of leadership, Colon could help, but the Mets need to be cautious to not promise him anything more than a chance to compete for a spot on the team as the soon to be 45 year old is nearing the end of his career.

3B Todd Frazier – In addition to his being a clubhouse presence, Frazier is a plus defender at third base posting the third best DRS among MLB third baseman with over 1,000 innings at the position.  He’s also in the top half of batters per wRC+ and OPS+. Additionally, with his first base experience, he could serve as a platoon partner for Smith, or even take over if Smith should prove not ready to play a full season at the MLB level.

UTIL Howie Kendrick – Kendrick put a tough 2016 season behind him, and he had one of his better offensive seasons, albeit an injury prone one.  With the Mets having a number of holes, Kendrick could slot into any number of them.  That includes RF with the uncertainty as to when Michael Conforto could begin the season.  In addition to that, Kendrick has been long considered a positive presence in the clubhouse.

DH Carlos Beltran – It’s not likely Beltran is going to play next year with him being over 40, coming off his worst season, and with him already having won his World Series ring.  Still, if he’s available, and the Mets have struck out other fronts, the team should consider a reunion with a player who had a profound impact on a young Astros team. He could do the same with the Mets playing the 1984 Rusty Staub or 2006 Julio Franco role.

Overall, the Mets have viable veteran options to help the team.  If not one of these players, the Mets need to find another player who could serve that role.

Congratulations Carlos Beltran

With the Houston Astros winning the World Series yesterday, future Hall of Famer, Carlos Beltran finally won his World Series ring.  It could not have happened to a better player and a better individual.

While many Mets fans may have been tangentially aware of the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, everyone knew who he was went he had an incredible 2004 postseason for the Houston Astros.  During that postseason run for the Astros, Beltran hit .435/.536/1.022 with a record eight homers in a single postseason.

On that postseason stage, we saw not just a five tool player, but a great player who had that rare ability to raise his game on the bigger stage.  Those are the types of players who typically thrive in New York, and Mets fans were thrilled when Omar Minaya made the bold move and made him the Mets first ever $100 million player.

If we’re all honest, things did not go as well for Beltran with the Mets as we all would have hoped.  His first season was marred by struggles and his head-first collision with Mike Cameron in right center field at Petco Park that left Beltran with facial fractures and a concussion.  That collision was so bad he was the one that got lucky.

Still, during that first season with the Mets, he helped create a culture that led to one of the better runs in Mets history.  Early on in the 2005 Spring Training, Beltran took David Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing, and he showed them what it took not just to be Major League players, but great players.

This sparked the incredible 2006 season that ended in heartbreak.  Because baseball is a cruel sport, that season and perhaps Beltran’s entire career with the Mets will forever be remembered for Beltran’s strikeout with the bases loaded at the end of Game 7 of the NLCS.  However, Beltran’s season was much, much more than that.

Beltran would hit .275/.388/.594 with 38 doubles, a triple, 41 homers, 116 RBI, and 18 stolen bases.  By WAR, it was the greatest single season performance ANY Mets position player has ever had.  He was predominantly in the Top 5 to 10 in all single season Mets categories setting the marks for runs scored and tying the record for homers and extra base hits.  In addition to that, Beltran joined Tommie Agee as the only Mets outfielder to win a Gold Glove.  When Beltran would win in the following season, he became the only Mets outfielder to win multiple Gold Gloves.

Essentially, Beltran became the Mets version of Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza.  He was the seminal figure that taught the young players how to play, and he was the player who led the charge by being the superstar.

By the way, for all the talk about the Adam Wainwright moment, Beltran hit .278/.422/.556 with three homers in that postseason.  The Mets don’t even get to that Game 7 without him.  He should have been revered for that season.

If only he was treated as such.  Though not his fault, from that 2006 NLCS on his Mets career became one of what if to hand wringing instead of celebration.  The disappointment of the 2006 NLCS carried forward into collapses in 2007 and 2008.  Although, he did all he could do to try to stop it.

In 2007, he hit eight homer and 27 RBI in September marking his highs for any month that season.  In 2008, he had an impossibly great month hitting .344/.440/.645 with six homers and 19 RBI.  This includes a game tying two run home run at the final game at Shea Stadium.  To that end, Beltran provided the Mets with the team’s final highlight at the beloved Shea.

From there, Beltran would have some injuries and run-ins with the front office.  Rightfully and despite the Mets objections, he had a knee procedure which probably extended his career.  Always, the good teammate and doing what was best for the team, he willingly moved from center to right in 2011 before he was traded away for Zack Wheeler.

Since Beltran has left, Mets fans have seemed to have warmed much more to him remembering him more for the great player he was than the strikeout.  When he was introduced at the 2013 All Star Game, he received the standing ovation he so rightfully deserved.

That’s what you do for a player that is the greatest center fielder in team history, and is arguably the best outfielder in team history.  More than that, that’s what you do for a player who built his Hall of Fame career during his seven year career with the Mets.

All Mets fans should now be congratulating one of the best players in team history for getting that elusive World Series ring which we all know meant so much to him.  He didn’t get it with the Mets.  Ironically, he got it with that Astros team with whom he built his postseason reputation that inspired Minaya to go out and get him.

This won’t be the final day of celebration for Beltran.  One day in the not too distant future, the Hall of Fame will come calling.  The hope is he wears a Mets cap, and he returns to Citi Field to watch his number 15 get retired and hang forever next to his fellow Mets greats.

Managerial Profile: Manny Acta

Manny Acta

Current Position: Mariners Third Base Coach
Age: 1/11/1969 (48)

MLB Managerial Experience: 2007 – 2009 Washington Nationals 158 – 252 (.385); 2010 – 2012 Cleveland Indians 214-266 (.480)

One of the most respected coaches on Willie Randolph‘s staff was noticeably missing during the 2007 and 2008 collapses that doomed not just the Mets, but also Randolph.  The person missing was third base coach Manny Acta.

Much like we saw with Alex Cora this season, Acta was a hot commodity back then because he was widely considered the next big manager.  Acta was respected for his intelligence, baseball acumen, and his ability to communicate with players.  That went double for young and Hispanic players.  In fact, the Washington Nationals said of Acta, “Manny is so intelligent, and so articulate. And he’s very good with players. He’s very active. He was out there hitting fungos (while managing the Nationals). He has a lot going for him.”  (Sports Illustrated).  That’s a remarkable thing to say about a manager.  It’s all the more incredible when you consider that was said when they fired him.

Because Acta is well respected and because people believe he’s an intelligent man who continues to educate himself, he keeps getting jobs.  After failing with the Nationals, he was hired by the Indians.  After failing with the Indians, he was hired by Baseball Tonight.  After a well received Baseball Tonight stint, he was hired by the Mariners to serve as their third base coach, a position which he holds today.

Considering how well respected he is, it makes you question why he never worked out as a manager.  For starters, he’s never really had good teams.  When we thing of the current Nationals who are one of the best teams in baseball, you think of Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman.  In his Nationals tenure, Acta only got to manage a young Zimmerman.

In Cleveland, he had a difficult situation with the old players getting old fast, and the young players not being quite ready.  Players like Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe were hanging on while Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber weren’t what they are now.  As many will note, even the best of managers cannot win without talent.

But with Acta, it might have been more than just a lack of talent.  In a MASN article, Acta was described as being unable to relate to players.  As bad as that might be, an AP article was even more damning of Acta as a manager with Indians players feeling as if Acta did not have their back.  There were other reports suggesting Acta was rigid in his ways, and that he was unable to motivate his players.  Put another way, Acta’s greatest weakness as manager might be his ability to handle a clubhouse.

What the Players Say:

Joe Smith: “Our team, for whatever reason, didn’t seem motivated to play. It’s sad when you say that about a bunch of guys that get paid to play a game. You shouldn’t need somebody else to motivate you to play this game. At the end of the day, it’s on us, but when it came that time to motivate us, there wasn’t a whole lot of it there.”  (MLB.com)

Josh Tomlin: “He said that’s how he managed, that’s how he won in the Minor Leagues and that’s how he was going to win in the big leagues — by being himself. You have to respect a man for that, that he wasn’t going to change who he was.”

Recommendation:

It is interesting to see Mike Puma’s recent New York Post article on the subject of Acta’s candidacy.  Ultimately, it highlighted the best points of Acta that leads to teams continuously trying to bring him into their organization.  However, that same piece highlighted his weaknesses, notably his inability to “handle controversy.”

What we don’t know from with Acta is if he’s grown from the issues that held back his career in Washington and Cleveland.  If he hasn’t then hiring him should prove to be a disaster much in the same way hiring Art Howe or Jeff Torborg was.  The Puma article does little to quell those concerns.

However, if Acta has grown and has learned from his mistakes in the clubhouse like we have see from Terry Collins during his Mets managerial career, you will have a smart baseball person who is hard working.  In life, you can never go wrong with smart and hard working.

Ultimately, any decision on Acta should begin with long and honest conversations with David Wright and Asdrubal Cabrera.  Both are veterans who Acta has coached/managed.  If both endorse Acta, it’s possible he’s the right man for the job.  That goes double when you consider most of the praise directed at Acta comes from front offices and not players.  If Acta doesn’t receive glowing endorsements from Wright or Cabrera, it should be an easy decision to look in a different direction.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on MMO

Will Harvey For The Ninth Become The Endy Catch?

Today is the 11th year anniversary when Endy Chavez raced back to the fence, leaped to catch a sure fire Scott Rolen homer, and make perhaps the greatest catch in Major League history:

If you’re going to say Willie Mays, that’s acceptable.  Let’s just split the difference and say this was the greatest double play in Major League history.

Watching that play and remembering that game time and again, there are some things that stick out in your mind.  The stands were rocking.  Carlos Delgado was fired up like never before.  The Mets seemed unbeatable that day.  Everything built to a fever pitch in the bottom of the sixth.  Degaldo walked.  Rolen made a throwing error not only allowing David Wright to reach, but to set up runners at second and third with no outs.  Shawn Green was intentionally walked loading the bases.

Then, Jose Valentin struck out, and everyone’s hero, Endy Chavez, flew out to center to end the rally.  From there, we saw the Yadier Molina homer, the Carlos Beltran strikeout, collapses in 2007 and 2008, the Madoff scandal, and really the Mets failing to play competitive baseball in the first six years in Citi Field.

In many ways, Chavez’s catch became a highlight in the truest sense of the word because that was the apex.  Everything came crashing down after that.

It’s not too dissimilar from when we saw Terry Collins send out Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

During that game, the Mets looked unbeatable.  Harvey had shut down the Royals pitching eight scoreless allowing just four hits and striking out nine.  When he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, the fans were rocking, and everyone believed the Mets were not only going to win that game, but they were going to complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.  How could you not?  The Royals had just lost Game 7 at home the previous season, and the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard for Games 6 and 7.

Like the aftermath of the Chavez catch, it didn’t work out that way.  Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain and allowed an RBI double to Eric Hosmer.  After a Mike Moustakas ground out, Hosmer was on third and the infield was drawn in.  Then to the surprise of everyone, Hosmer broke for the plate while Wright was throwing to first to get Salvador Perez.

Lucas Duda threw it nowhere near homeplate.  The Royals tied the game up there, and they beat up on a tired Addison Reed and Bartolo Colon in the 12th to win the World Series.

From there, we saw the Mets have to fight tooth and nail just to get to a Wild Card Game last year.  Madison Bumgarner outdueled Syndergaard, and Conor Gillaspie homered off Jeurys Familia.  This past season, seemingly everyone but Ray Ramirez was injured as the Mets dropped from World Series contender to fourth place in the NL East.  The roster now has a number of holes and a number of question marks with the team announcing it’s going to cut payroll.

Depending on what the team does this offseason, and depending on the health of players like Michael Conforto, the Mets could once again be looking at an extended period of irrelevance.  When Harvey took the mound for the ninth inning roughly two years ago, no one could have possibly believed that to be true.

Then again, when Chavez made that catch, no one could believe what would be in store for the Mets over the next decade.

Mets Managerial Position Is A Dead End Job

Recent reports indicate Robin Ventura and Brad Ausmus are not interested in the Mets managerial job.  For Ventura’s part, it seems he’s just not interested in managing again.   With respect to Ausmus, he’s interested in managing again, but he doesn’t want the Mets job.  Ausmus is interested in the Red Sox job.

There are also reports other managers with managerial experience were out of the running as well.  Specifically, Bob Geren and Chip Hale will not be reuniting with the Mets.  Both were assumed to be well respected by the organization, but for unspecified reasons, neither is a candidate for the Mets managerial opening.  With respect to these two, it should be noted, it was not known if they took themselves out of the running, or the Mets decided to go in another direction.

Really, the only manager with prior experience who is a candidate for the job is Manny Acta, who due to poor stints in Washington and Cleveland, probably won’t be a candidate for many managerial positions.  Unless Acta gets the job, the Mets are going to hire a first time manager, and the top managerial candidate on the market, Alex Cora, appears destined to go to the Red Sox.

It really makes you question why there isn’t greater interest in the Mets managerial position?  There may be a number of viable reasons why, but let’s not overlook the fact the Mets managerial position is somewhat of a dead-end job.

Since the Wilpons assumed team control in 2003, the team has gone through four managers.  That’s five if you include Bobby Valentine who was fired after the 2002 season.  Of those five managers, Valentine was the only one who would ever get another managerial job, and that was only after he first went to Japan, worked as an analyst on Baseball Tonight, and got the opportunity from a Red Sox ownership group eager to hire him.  Otherwise, Valentine likely never gets another job.

There are several reasons why these managers never got another job.  With respect to Terry Collins, he will turn 69 early in the 2018 season, and there were rumors before the announcement the Mets were reassigning him in the organization, Collins was going to retire anyway.  Still, that didn’t prevent the Mets from trashing him on the way out.

It’s quite possible the scathing analysis of Collins as detailed in Marc Carig’s Newsday article was the Mets masterpiece.  It may well be the result of all the practice they’ve had.

In a New York Daily News feature after it was announced Art Howe would finish out the season before being fired, Howe was characterized as soft, uninspiring, weak, and lacking credibility with players.

His replacement, Willie Randolph, was treated just as poorly on the way out.  In addition to being fired after winning the first game of a West Coast trip, the Mets would again go to assassinate their manager’s character.  As detailed by Bill Maddon of the New York Daily News, the Mets let it be known they had their reservations about even hiring Randolph and insisted the team won in spite of him.  As if that wasn’t enough, the report stated the team believed Randolph, “lacked fire; the players, especially the Latino players, had tuned him out; he was too sensitive to criticism; he was overly defensive; he didn’t communicate with his coaches.”

Is there any wonder why a manager with a 302-253 (.544) record never got another job?  The same manager who deftly handled the development of David Wright and Jose Reyes never got another opportunity.

Yes, there were other reasons why Randolph never got another job, but in the end, the character assassination levied upon him was a great disservice, and it played an important role in his never getting another job.  Same went for Valentine and Howe.

Knowing how the Mets handle the firings of their managers, and knowing how their managers never get another job, why would a top candidate ever consider taking this job?

REMINDER: Mets Didn’t Want Justin Turner

After the 2013 season, the Mets made the decision to non-tender Justin Turner.  That is something important to remember with all the issues with David Wright, the failure that was the 2017 season, and with Turner joining Kirk Gibson as the only Dodger to hit a walk0ff postseason homer:

It’s incredible to think it’s 29 years to the day of Gibson’s dramatic Game 1 home run off Dennis Eckersley.  It’s also incredible to think the Mets had no use for Turner.

This is the point where everyone enters into some needless arguing.  The defenders of Sandy Alderson will say Turner hit .280/.319/.385 with a 0.8 WAR in 2013 right before the Mets decided to non-tender him.  The people upset with the move will point out how Turner worked with Marlon Byrd to help increase his launch angle.  It should be noted that in September 2013, Turner hit .357/.357/.571.

It also should be noted Turner was first time arbitration eligible and due approximately $1 million.  The Mets passed, and the Dodgers eventually gave it to him.  Turner emerged as the everyday third baseman, and the Dodgers have won four straight division titles.

Overall, the argument boils down to this:

  • Defenders point to past performance as justification
  • Critics point to Turner’s production

Put that all aside and really ask what is the job of the General Manager.  Is it for a General Manager to analyze past production to determine the future outlook of a player?  Or is it to analyze a player and pay him based upon what is a reasonable expectation of future production?

Before answering the question, here’s just one more to ponder – Was it worth $1 million to find out if Turner’s September production was indicative of future success?

Keep in mind the Mets decided to pay Omar Quintanilla $800k, Jose Valverde $1 million, and Ruben Tejada $1.1 million in 2014.