David Wright

Mets 2021 Uniforms: Back in Black

After the years of waiting, the New York Mets are finally bringing back the black jerseys on July 30, and they’ll be worn for all the ensuing Friday games.

These are the jerseys Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo wore the last time the Mets captured the pennant at home. They’re the jerseys David Wright and Carlos Beltran wore the last time the Mets clinched a division at home, and they wore them again to open Citi Field.

Now, we’re going to see current Mets greats carry on the tradition. Certainly, we should expect to see Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, and Pete Alonso accomplish similar feats to those Mets teams.

Friday nights are the perfect time for these jerseys. By limiting it, it prevents the issue fans previously had where the regular jerseys were almost entirely phased out for the black.

Of course, there’s also hope the Mets still embrace the blue alternates. It would be great to see Mr. Met return to the sleeve and have them worn on Family Sundays at Citi Field.

Overall, it’s great to see the Mets bringing back a fan favorite jerseys and treating them like a special event. Hopefully, it is something which stays well past this season.

Mets Should Celebrate Bobby Bonilla Day

Well, it’s July 1, meaning this is yet another year the New York Mets make their installment payment to Bobby Bonilla on the 25 year buy out. It’s also the day people try to rush to be funny.

Truth be told, Bonilla Day and everything associated with it should be celebrated by Mets fans:

1. The deal got rid of Mel Rojas, who needed to go because he was terrible and cost the Mets the 1998 Wild Card.

2. His injuries opened the door for playing time for Roger Cedeño, who would set the then Mets single season stolen base record.

3. Cedeño’s breakout helped the Mets use him as a key piece to obtain Derek Bell and Mike Hampton. Of course, the other key was buying out Bonilla freed up the money to permit the Mets to make the trade.

4. Hampton was the NLCS MVP as the Mets won their first pennant in 14 years.

5. When Hampton departed in free agency for the Colorado Rockies money and Denver school system, the Mets used their compensation pick on David Wright.

As we know, Wright would go on to become the Mets best third baseman and arguably their best ever position player. Certainly, any organization would do all they could do buy out a player for a pennant and to obtain a player like Wright.

There’s also the fact the joke is on everyone else now. The Bonilla money is a rounding error for the Mets now. Unlike the Wilpons who were ashamed, Steve Cohen uses Bonilla to promote special experiences at Citi Field.

Overall, the Bonilla buy out was one of the best things the Mets ever did, and it will continue to be. So everyone can repeat the same lame forced jokes while Mets fans bask in the glory of it.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Can Beat Good Teams

After the Chicago Cubs swept the New York Mets at Wrigley, the Mets nearly returned the favor at Citi Field:

1. It all begins and ends with Jacob deGrom. If he’s healthy, he and the Mets are unbeatable. Right now, he’s not healthy.

2. Another important thing is no one knows what’s wrong. We just lived the era of Jeff Wilpon, MD. Let’s let the professionals actually call the shots.

3. Marcus Stroman picked up the slack with seven great innings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the win, but with the bullpen innings saved, it may mean one down the road.

4. That David Peterson start was huge, but he’s had those moments. The real key for him is consistency.

5. The Mets are usually known for the worst free agent signing. With Taijuan Walker, it’s nice seeing the Mets make the best one for once.

6. On that note, Kevin Pillar has been much better than advertised. It’s not just the offense and defense. It’s the grit.

7. Pete Alonso is great, but he has his moments where he tries to do way too much. Sometimes,he needs to take instead of jumping out of his heels. It’s why that AN was a sacrifice fly.

8. Its a tough spot for Drew Smith, but if you’re brought in to mop it up, don’t make a game of it. That’s how you eventually lose a roster spot.

9. The Dellin Betances rehab assignment has the feel of the old David Wright ones.

10. Luis Guillorme‘s ability to transfer is at another level, and as we saw with the play at the plate, it’s game changing.

11. Billy McKinney continues to play well. It appears he may need to hold the fort down just a little longer.

12. The new rules, or better put, efforts to enforce the rules, is merely a deflection from the change in the ball. It also has the added benefit for MLB to have a bargaining chip for the impending CBA talks.

13. Knock on wood, but so far, we’re not seeing any change in performance for Mets pitchers. We’ll see if that continues when enforcement officially begins.

14. With all these games bunched up, Sean Reid-Foley suddenly becomes massively important. His stepping in for deGrom is a sign of the value he can provide to this team

15. For all that narrative about the Mets not beating over .500 teams, they just took five of seven from the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs.

16. Again, you win with pitching a defense. The Mets have the best FIP and second best DRS. If that continues, they’ll continue to win.

17. The Mets have an opportunity to absolutely bury the Washington Nationals and force them to be sellers. They may be tired, but they can’t miss this chance.

18. Last time deGrom was the Mets only All-Star was 2015. That’s a good omen, but odds are the Mets will get a few pitchers.

19. Dominic Smith seems more comfortable in the OF, and he’s working counts, but he needs to pick it up.

20. The Mets have the largest lead in baseball, and they’re not really playing well yet. This team is scary good.

Keith Hernandez Reminder Mets Need Better Attention To Own Hall Of Fame

During this series between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, it was announced Keith Hernandez will FINALLY be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. It didn’t exactly go great:

The Edward Jones advertisement being larger than Hernandez’s name is embarrassing. Then again, at least the Cardinals are attending to their Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals have an official committee, and they have fan votes to determine who belongs in their Hall of Fame. More than that, they actually have a Hall of Fame.

When Citi Field first opened, there was some lip service to the Mets Hall of Fame. As time progressed, and the impact of Madoff continued, we saw the Team Store push into and completely overwhelm the Mets Hall of Fame.

Aside from that, there’s been a serious lack of attention to inducting new members. The last member inducted was Mike Piazza in 2013. That’s unacceptable.

Right now, 13 of the top 24 Mets by WAR have not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Put another way, most of the best players in team history have not been recognized.

That includes Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter. That’s shocking with Alonzo being the best second baseman in team history, and with Leiter being the only Mets pitcher to win a play-in game.

It’s more than that. Bobby Valentine led the Mets to consecutive postseasons. Johan Santana had many great moments including the first and only no-hitter in Mets history. There’s also Nelson Doubleday who purchased the Mets and brought in the right people leading to the best run in Mets history.

Point is, the Mets Hall of Fame is severely lacking. Case-in-point. David Wright has not yet been inducted. We can argue over retiring his number, but his not being in the Mets Hall of Fame is absurd.

The Mets need to have Wright and others in the team Hall of Fame. For that matter, there needs to be a real Mets Hall of Fame.

This is a franchise with real history and great moments. It’s well past time it’s celebrated and properly honored. The Mets need a real and proper Hall of Fame. Hopefully, it will happen soon.

Mets Lost Faith In Jeff McNeil Again

If we hearken back to the 2018 season, the New York Mets were languishing, and Todd Frazier landed on the IL for the first time in his career. Jose Reyes was just flat out terrible, Wilmer Flores was at first, and David Wright, well, he wasn’t an option. Down in Double-A Binghamton, Jeff McNeil was flat out raking. He just kept hitting and hitting and hitting.

The answer seemed obvious to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets. When pressed on calling up McNeil to play third base, the answer was McNeil was a second baseman only. Of course, the irony there was McNeil was the Binghamton Rumble Ponies Opening Day third baseman.

Back then, it was difficult to ascertain how much of personnel decisions were driven by Jeff Wilpon, whomever Wilpon decided to listen on any given day, or Alderson. Whatever the case, McNeil would eventually get the call-up, prove himself, and he would go on to have an All-Star season in 2019.

Since 2019, things have gone quite uneven for McNeil as it has for the rest of us. In the end, what we do know with McNeil is he is an exceptionally gifted contact hitter, and he is a fiery player who you could trust defensively at four different positions.

According to Baseball Savant, McNeil has a career 3 OAA at second, 3 OAA at third, and -1 OAA in left field. DRS has a much better picture with McNeil having a 5 DRS at second, 6 DRS at third, and a 3 DRS in left field. All told, McNeil is not a Gold Glove, but he is a very solid defender at multiple positions.

As noted, McNeil could hit. Entering this season, McNeil had a 139 wRC+. Since his debut, he has been the 13th best hitter in the majors, and he trailed only Brandon Nimmo among Mets players. All told, McNeil has established himself as a very good, versatile, and valuable Major League player. Despite that, we are seemingly back at square one with McNeil.

With the acquisition of Francisco Lindor, and his preference to hit near the top of the lineup, McNeil was dropped from the top two spots, where he thrived, to sixth and seventh in the lineup. Perhaps it was the drop in the lineup, the new baseball, the delay to the season, the typical influence Chili Davis has on his teams, the pandemic, or just the normal ebbs and flows of the season, but McNeil has struggled.

The thing is, he didn’t quite struggle right away. In fact, to start the season, McNeil was tattooing the ball. Unfortunately, he was not getting any luck. Balls he normally hit for singles and doubles weren’t falling in anymore. The Mets reaction to that was to sit him after the Mets first two games of the season.

That has become an emerging pattern for McNeil. So far, the Mets have played 17 games, and McNeil has only started in 14 of them. The only projected starter who has started in fewer games is J.D. Davis, but that was only because Davis landed on the IL after getting hit by a pitch early in the season.

Davis is somewhat illustrative of the problem here. Davis has again been a nightmare defensively. He’s already a -2 DRS and a -1 OAA at third. He made errors directly impacting his team and leading Taijuan Walker and David Peterson to have shorter starts. The end result was just one game off, where he still appeared as a pinch hitter, and he was put right back in the lineup.

For some reason, Davis is able to work through his problems despite them not being fixable. For McNeil, this is very clearly a blip, but he keeps getting relegated to the bench. Instead of getting to see more pitches and get into a rhythms, the Mets are doing to the opposite. In fact, they’re just setting him up to continue to struggle.

Perhaps, this is just Alderson resting back on previous biases towards players from his first stint with the Mets. Taking a broader look, Dominic Smith has had some similar struggles getting into the lineup. In fact, the Mets have begun using him as a platoon bat. That’s despite him being one of the Mets best hitters against left-handed pitching.

To some extent, McNeil is also being used as a platoon player. For example, he was also not in the lineup against Patrick Corbin. More likely, McNeil is just being punished for struggling. For some reason, he is not going to be permitted to struggle and figure things out at the plate while others can go out there being butchers in the field costing the Mets games.

Make no mistake, how the Mets are handling McNeil is a very big problem. They are taking one of their best players, and they are crossing him up further. They are not putting him in a position to succeed in terms of where he hits in the lineup and in terms of getting to play enough to get into a rhythm and figure things out. Whatever the reason for the McNeil benchings, they have to stop, and they have to stop now.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Finally Take Series From Nationals

Well, after the first series of the season was canceled due to COVID19, the Washington Nationals and New York Mets finally got to play in a series. The Mets would win yet another home series and stay above .500:

1. Jacob deGrom is already the second best pitcher in Mets history, and in short order, we will consider him the second best Mets player to ever wear a Mets uniform. In fact, he may already be there.

2. To put in context just how great deGrom is, he’s set the record for most strikeouts to start a season, and he has passed Tom Seaver in Mets ERA and ERA+. Yes, he has been so great he has put himself in Seaver territory.

3. Seeing deGrom hit, you are reminded pitchers can actually hit and help themselves at the plate. The fact other pitchers don’t do it is their own failing, and it is not a good argument for the universal DH.

4. deGrom has driven in and scored more earned runs than he has allowed.

5. Marcus Stroman had one bad day. There is nothing more that should be read into it.

6. We saw Robert Gsellman step up, and he has looks ready to be a solid contributor to the bullpen. Overall, the bullpen has picked it up across the board, and they seem to be outperforming the early season expectations. In some ways, this could be attributable to Jeremy Hefner who had a similar effect in Minnesota as an assistant pitching coach.

7. Once again, Taijuan Walker was really good, and he appears to be the steal of the offseason for the Mets. Notably, when starters are going deep into games, that also helps the bullpen.

8. Michael Conforto‘s defense is still worrisome, especially his arm, but he appears to be getting going at the plate. We saw him hit his first homer of the season, and we saw him get extra base hits on back-to-back days for the first time all season.

9. For reasons that defy expectation, this Mets front office seem to believe more in J.D. Davis than Jeff McNeil. Davis can cost Mets consecutive games with his glove, and they give him on brief rest, but McNeil has some struggles at the plate, and they refuse to try to put him where he thrives in the lineup or let him work through it.

10. Albert Almora doesn’t play much, but when he does, he makes an impact. He scored from first in a pinch running opportunity earlier in the season, and he robbed Kyle Schawarber of an extra base hit as we have only seen Juan Lagares do previously.

11. Jonathan Villar has contributed quite well in the games he has played, and he has earned his playing time. It is really curious why the Mets won’t sit Davis for him, but they will sit McNeil. It’s also curious what Luis Guillorme has to do to get into the lineup.

12. The Mets sat Dominic Smith against a left-handed pitcher again despite his being one of their best hitters against left-handed pitching. Again, better players sit so Davis can be force fed into the lineup.

13. While Sunday was a really good game defensively, the Mets defense continues to be atrocious, second worst in the National League by DRS, and the Mets show little to no interest in playing their best defensive players.

14. It needs to be mentioned again. Jacob deGrom is doing things we haven’t seen since Seaver, and we may never get to see greatness of this level in a Mets uniform again for quite some time, if ever. He is that good, and he is going to be the player we tell our children and grandchildren about for years to come.

15. The Mets better not fail deGrom the way they did Mike Piazza and David Wright. They need to make sure he wins a World Series in a Mets uniform.

16. Brandon Nimmo is very quietly emerging as one of the best players in baseball. He is an on-base machine, and we see his defense steadily improving. This is someone using all the information at his disposal to be better. He should be an All-Star, and at some point, we may need to have serious MVP discussions about him. Then again, that award should go to deGrom.

17. The state of umpiring in the majors may be at its worst. We see calls routinely blown, especially by the home plate umpire. Needless to say, if Nimmo takes a pitch, it’s a ball.

18. Pete Alonso is really heating up at the plate, and we have seen him just demolish homers.

19. Put aside the offense, the work James McCann and Tomas Nido have done behind the plate has been nothing short of phenomenal. They are getting their pitcher the calls they need, and they are playing all around great defense. If McCann can start hitting like we know he can, watch out. Hopefully, that RBI single on Sunday for McCann was a start.

20. Listening to the game on the radio really makes you miss Josh Lewin. No one really wants to hear Francisco Lindor needs to run out foul balls or Nimmo is swinging at pitches because he’s finally confident at the plate. The Mets can and should do better than that, but in some ways, that’s an allegory for their season so far.

Mets Fans Embarrassed Themselves Booing Michael Conforto

All offseason, New York Mets fans were pushing to extend Michael Conforto. Honestly, how could you blame them?

Conforto is a homegrown player who is true captain material. He has an opportunity to rewrite the Mets record books. From his World Series homers to his walk-offs, he’s become adored by many Mets fans.

In some ways, Conforto seems like the logical person to take up the mantle from David Wright. Of course for that to happen, he will have to stay with the Mets.

For some players, the extension talks in-season is time consuming. The walk year is too much pressure and/or a distraction. Some thrive; others don’t.

There’s also the COVID factor. Conforto had it right before Spring Training. It prevented him from working out right before reporting.

As an aside, we saw it with Mika Zibanejad with the New York Rangers. He had COVID before training camp. It took him months before returning to form.

Whether it’s the contract situation or the COVID, Conforto is struggling to start the season. Through five games, he’s only hitting .143/.250/.190. It seems like the only way he can get hit is by throwing his elbow into the strike zone.

After struggling for five games, Mets fans in Citi Field began booing Conforto.

Think about that. People who were unable to ever a ballpark for well over a year due to the pandemic were so grateful to be back they booed a homegrown star who had the audacity to struggle for four games.

If we wanted to, we could look at Mets fans cheering Jose Reyes after he returned to the Mets after his domestic violence arrest. Bartolo Colon not paying child support and joking about it was just part of his “charm.”

J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick were caught up in one of the biggest MLB cheating scandals, and it was met with a collective yawn.

And yet, Conforto has a poor stretch, and he’s vilified. He’s booed by fans who really should be happy just to be there. Moreover, he’s booed by a fan base who is supposed urging him to be a Met for life.

Conforto doesn’t deserve that garbage. He’s been too good of a Met for that. In the end, he’ll make those fans who booed him look all the more ridiculous.

Mets fans, at least those who booed, embarrassed themselves. They’ll look worse when Conforto is Conforto again.

20/20 Offseason Hindsight: Let The Steve Cohen Era Begin

Steve Cohen purchased the New York Mets, and suddenly, everything got better. After Cohen purchased the Mets, things were different, very different:

1. It’s still unbelievable to think the Mets added $92.1 million to the 2021 payroll alone. If nothing else, that announced everything was different.

2. The Francisco Lindor trade was a franchise defining trade. He’s a superstar as future Hall of Famer.

3. It’s still hard to believe a contract extension won’t get done. After him, Noah Syndergaard may get one next.

4. It’s hard to see Scott Boras letting Michael Conforto sign an extension now. However, if he does, he will be poised to be the next captain and break a lot of David Wright’s records.

5. Speaking of breaking records, Jacob deGrom looks primed to have a great year. He cane out in midseason form, and it’ll be a shock if he’s not the Cy Young.

6. When Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco return, this will be an all-time Mets rotation.

7. It’s still curious the plan to start the year is to put David Peterson in a position where he bounces back and forth all year.

8. Speaking of curious decisions, how do the Mets make all of these moves and build a ground ball staff only to trust J.D. Davis at third.

9. They’re also putting a lot of stock in Edwin Diaz being great, and Miguel Castro figuring it out. Although to be fair, it’s not the same with Davis as this was the result of Seth Lugo‘s injury.

10. Dellin Betances looks done. With him, we may find out just how much Cohen can tolerate and whether the Mets know how to handle a sunk cost.

11. With Jordan Yamamoto not making the Opening Day roster and Luis Guillorme not getting a starting job, we see Spring Training competitions are a complete fraud.

12. For all the lip service Sandy Alderson gave to making the Mats a better defensive team, he did what he always did in putting multiple first basemen in the field.

13. They may be deadening the ball, but Pete Alonso looks ready to murder them. He’s completely locked in and looks poised to have a monster year.

14. Marcus Stroman also looks set to have a great year. He may be a surprise Cy Young contender, and it may behoove the Mets to lock him up before his price tag soars.

15. Stroman is a reminder the Mets never needed Trevor Bauer. Bauer may have another great year, but he’d be a fifth starter on this team, and he would’ve prevented the Mets from extending their stars.

16. All told, this is a team who has a deep lineup and a very good starting rotation. There are holes, but the team seems confident they can win.

17. The black jerseys returning does give this team big 1999 vibes.

18. Luis Rojas may emerge as a surprise manager of the year candidate. This team is that good and so is he. The key will Be how well he utilizes his defensive replacements in Guillorme (who should be starting), Albert Almora, and Kevin Pillar.

19. James McCann seems like the perfect addition to this team. The pitchers seem to be raving about his leadership and work behind the plate. If he hits a little (and he can hit a lot), he’s going to be great.

20. Everything about this organization is different. The team is vastly improved. They’re looking to keep their best players. They’re beefing up their analytics and player development. Overall, it’s a great time to be a Mets fan.

Francisco Lindor Extension Negotiations Isn’t Same Old Mets

In case you were wondering just how much the Wilpons have scarred New York Mets fans, we see the reactions to the Francisco Lindor contract discussions. Seeing it, you’d think the Wilpons were again outbid for a borderline MLB reliever.

It should be noted the Mets have offered Lindor a 10 year/$325 million contract. That’s an AAV of $32.5 million which would pay Lindor until he’s 37 years old.

It would make it the largest contract in Mets history given to David Wright by more than double. It would fall only short of Mookie Betts and Mike Trout for the largest extensions in MLB history. It’s on par with the extension given to Fernando Tatis, Jr., and it would put him only behind Bryce Harper in the division.

Yes, Lindor has every right to negotiate for every last penny, and he’s in his right to reject that offer. After a big year, he could get a better offer, and perhaps he won’t. That said, you have to respect him betting on himself.

That’s what this is. It’s a mixture of Lindor thinking he’s worth more and betting on himself. You can say that because the Mets made an extremely fair and reasonable offer.

It’s part of a completely different offseason for the Mets where they added a lot of payroll. Seriously, you wouldn’t see the Wilpons make these moves in one offseason let alone two or three:

Adding those salaries up, the Mets added $92.1 million. Read that again. The Mets added $92.1 million to the 2021 payroll.

What exactly about that is the same old Mets? If it’s missing out on Trevor Bauer, George Springer, or not extending Lindor yet, it’s over focusing on the negative. Likely, it’s schtick, scarring from the Wilpon era, or just a want to be miserable.

Whatever happens with Lindor will happen. We can judge that on Opening Day as well as the 2021 season and beyond. Whatever the case, this is a very different Mets organization than we’ve seen from the Wilpons, and it should be viewed and treated as such.

Mets Black Jerseys Are Back

There has been a real push from players like Marcus Stroman and Pete Alonso for the New York Mets to bring back the black jerseys. For a limited time basis, it will happen in 2021.

This seems to be the right time to do this as the current Mets team does have strong 1999 vibes to it. After all, they did bring Mike Piazza back to the fold (at least in a more meaningful fashion), and they’re looking to take down the Atlanta Braves.

It’s also important to remember when Steve Cohen bought the franchise he said the Mets were going to honor the team’s history. That’s more than just Old Timer’s Day. It is also the black jerseys.

It’s the jersey the Mets wore for so many big moments in team history. Robin Ventura wore it when he hit the Grand Slam Single. Mike Hampton wore it when he pitched the Mets to their last pennant at Shea Stadium.

It was the jersey Piazza wore for most of his Mets highlights. That includes the homer against the Braves capping the improbable comeback and his passing Johnny Bench for most homers by a catcher.

It’s also the jersey the 2006 Mets wore when they clinched the NL East. David Wright would wear it again when he hit the first Mets homer at Citi Field.

There are a number of highlights and important moments with the Mets wearing those jerseys. In fact, the Mets wore them for the best stretches in team history after their last World Series.

The black jerseys always have a place in Mets history, and they should be around for a limited basis (as should the racing stripes). It’s a good thing they’re back, and we should be all eager to see the next great Mets moment that comes in these uniforms.