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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Francisco Lindor $22.3 million
- Marcus Stroman $18.9 million
- Carlos Carrasco $12 million
- Taijuan Walker $10 million
- James McCann $8.15 million
- Trevor May $7.75 million
- Kevin Pillar $3.6 million
- Jonathan Villar $3.55 million
- Aaron Loup $3 million
- Albert Almora $1.25 million
- Jose Martinez $1.0 million
- Joey Lucchesi ~ $600k
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.
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.
Mike Piazza perhaps let the cat out of the bag when he intimated the New York Mets may start retiring more numbers. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock when the organization announced Jerry Koosman‘s 36 was going to be retired.
Looking at the Mets franchise history, this is quite the Steinbrenner type of move.
After the simply bizarre act of retiring Casey Stengel‘s number, the Mets put the highest of standards for retiring player numbers. In fact, prior to the Koosman announcement, it was an honor solely reserved for Hall of Famers.
It’s a standard which frankly makes sense. Number retirement should be an honor presented to the true legends of your franchise. By definition, that’s what the Hall of Famers are.
If we sort through team history, if not for a completely and arbitrary application of an theretofore unenforced rule Gary Carter would be in the Hall of Fame as a Met. That would’ve led to the retirement of his 8.
It’s also quite possible we may one day see Keith Hernandez and Carlos Beltran inducted. With that should come their numbers being retired. At least with respect to Hernandez, that would be an extremely popular decision.
Past that duo, the only player who you can conceive of hitting that level is Jacob deGrom. That’s something that needs consideration.
When a number is retired, the franchise is putting a player at the level of Tom Seaver, Piazza, and quite possibly deGrom. Looking at the team history, they don’t have players at that level. They really don’t.
That includes David Wright who is an extremely popular choice amongst the fans. If not for injuries, he very well might’ve. By the same token, if not for addiction, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry not only would’ve been at that level, but quite possibly, would’ve been a step above Wright.
Fact is Wright is a Mets great, but he’s not a baseball great. Yes, he deserves honoring by the Mets, but a number retirement is just too high of an honor. That should be reserved for the true legends to wear a Mets uniform.
Keep in mind, as discussed on the Simply Amazin Podcast, much of the case for Wright can dwindle over time. For example, if Michael Conforto re-signs, he should take over a good chunk of Wright’s records.
After that, we could see someone else surpass both players. Part of the reason is the records on the books isn’t particularly impressive for a franchise. Keep in mind, that’s not saying Wright’s career numbers aren’t impressive. They are. However, as a franchise leader, it’s not.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The issue just is where you start drawing lines.
For example, for all the push for Wright, John Franco remains the franchise all-time saves leader, has the most saves of any left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and he was a captain. Despite that, there seems little to no push to retire his number even with his being a Met longer just as long as Wright.
Really, when you look at both, yes, they should be honored, but in reality, it should be short of number retirement. In reality, that’s why there’s a Mets Hall of Fame.
The answer should be to make the Mets Hall of Fame into a destination at Citi Field. Really showcase the Mets greats honoring them the way they should be honored. That’s far more fitting than trying to elevate players like Wright to the levels of Seaver.
In the end, there’s nothing wrong with not having many numbers retired. In many ways, that makes that honor all the more meaningful. It’s better to keep it that way while also finding an appropriate way to honor the Mets greats who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
New York Mets fans really love their players. That goes double for those players who implicitly get it on some level. Those players become fan favorites.
It’s not necessarily limited to the David Wrights and Mike Piazzas of the world. We’ve seen it with Wilmer Flores with his crying on the field and walk-off hits. Curtis Granderson was as good and decent a man who ever donned a Mets uniform.
The key with most of these fan favorites is they let the fans know they’re loved and appreciated. On some level, the player just gets in. With respect to that, we’re seeing some of that already with Taijuan Walker.
Already, we have seen Walker give a nod to the late, great Tom Seaver, a pitcher who will forever be in Mets fans hearts, by apparently celebrating his new contract with GTS wine:
— Taijuan Walker (@tai_walker) February 20, 2021
Walker has also already engaged the fans. In his career, Walker has worn both 00 and 99. Apparently, he’s heavily considering both, and on that front, he’s invited Mets fans feedback:
— Taijuan Walker (@tai_walker) February 20, 2021
All told, Walker is already doing all the right things to show fans he gets it. He doesn’t just want to wear a Mets uniform. He wants to be a part of the fabric of the organization. Fans will notice and love him for it.
Don’t be surprised if Mets fans suddenly adore Walker. That will go double if he builds off a strong 2020 season to be a key cog in a rotation which carries the Mets to the World Series.
With pitchers and catchers reporting today for the New York Mets, it is officially the beginning of Spring Training. This is an important time not just because it is the unofficial start of the 2021 baseball season, but also because the clock is officially ticking on the Mets trying to extend Michael Conforto.
This is Conforto’s last season before entering free agency. While Conforto has publicly stated he is open to signing an extension with the Mets, he has also indicated he wants this matter resolved one way or another by Opening Day. Put another way, Conforto doesn’t want negotiations to be a distraction during the season, and as such, if he is not extended by the start of the season, he will test free agency.
The question for Conforto is what exactly that extension would look like. For a point of reference, George Springer just signed a six year $150 million deal ($25 million AAV) with the Toronto Blue Jays. That was a deal the Mets were apparently unwilling to match, and it was a deal with exceeded Sandy Alderson’s preference for deals five years or shorter.
Now, there are differences between Springer and Conforto. Springer is arguably the better player, but he is also four years older. There’s also the matter of Conforto taking the mantle from David Wright in his being a beloved homegrown player and a leader in the clubhouse. Overall, when it comes to Conforto, he checks all the boxes from a team perspective.
That’s not to say the Mets should extend Conforto. For starters, the organization also has to have extension talks with Francisco Lindor. They also need to do the same with Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. After this year, they will have to do the same with Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and at some point, Jacob deGrom. It is fair to question where extending Conforto lies in the pecking order.
There are some questions with Conforto. While he exploded at the plate last year returning to his pre-shoulder injury levels, he declined significantly in the field. While he was a 1 DRS in right, he was a -5 OAA which was a steep drop-off from previous seasons. Part of that was Conforto’s sprint speed taking a significant hit from 27.5 ft/sec to 26.8.
What is incumbent on the Mets now is determining how much of that is due to the disjointed nature of the 2020 season, and how much of that is the first step in decline. It’s not an easy answer, but it is one the Mets need to reasonably be able to decipher during Spring Training, which just began today.
Overall, extending Conforto would be extremely popular with the fans, and it will likely be very popular in the Mets clubhouse. There seems to be the appetite for all involved to get it done. The question now is whether they can. With Opening Day on April 1, Conforto and the Mets have 43 days to get it done.
I had the privilege of appearing on the Simply Amazin’ podcast with the great Tim Ryder. During the podcast, names discussed include but are not limited to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, Rick Porcello, Francisco Lindor, J.D. Davis, Carlos Beltran, Bobby Valentine, David Wright, Bobby Thompson, Ralph Branca, Alex Cora, Luis Guillorme, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, James McCann, J.T. Realmuto, James Paxton, Trevor Rosenthal, Aaron Loup, Mike Piazza, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Jose Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, James Loney, Moises Alou, John Olerud, Davey Johnson, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Corey Oswalt, Luis Rojas, Jeremy Hefner, Jim Eisenreich, Alex Fernandez, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Darryl Strawberry, Albert Almora, and more
Please take a listen.
— Simply Amazin' (@SimplyAmazinPod) February 15, 2021
Brach grew up a Mets fan. In fact, he loved the Mets so much he went to Game 3 of the World Series as a fan despite being a member of the Baltimore Orioles at the time. Brach would say seeing David Wright homering in that game was one of his favorite moments.
"When David Wright hit that home run…it was probably one of the best baseball moments I've had"
Brad Brach is a huge Mets fan and was at Game 3 of the 2015 World Series pic.twitter.com/utq57MBFfS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 9, 2019
Speaking of Wright, he was also a huge Mets fan growing up. Like Brach, he’s also not a part of the organization. While Wright was a part of the front office with the Wilpons, he’s not right now as his contract with the team expired.
As if that’s not bad enough, it appears his number 5 was given to Albert Almora. You’d have to assume this was a mistake, and yet, there it is. Not only is his role gone but apparently so is his number. On the former, the door could be open for Wright to have a role with the team in 2021.
The same can not be said for Wright’s former teammate Steven Matz. The Long Island native grew up a Mets fan. What was once a fairy tale with his grandfather literally jumping for joy ended with him being traded for the Toronto Blue Jays.
It could be worse. Rick Porcello grew up a Mets fan, and when he hit free agency for the first time, he actually took less money to fulfill his childhood dream to pitch for the Mets. What ensued was a career worst season.
Now, he’s a free agent, and at the moment, it seems like no one has any interest in him. That puts him in the same situation as Brach.
Two lifelong Mets fans who dreamed of pitching for the Mets only for it to all go wrong. Now, they’re looking for a new place to play because the place they wanted to play more than anywhere doesn’t want them.
All told, that just sums up just how bad of an offseason for a player to be a Mets fan. If you grew up a Mets fan, there just doesn’t seem to be a spot for you with the Mets in 2021 or beyond.
When it comes time for Michael Conforto to make the decision about whether or not he wants to sign a contract extension, there is one interesting consideration for him – his legacy.
Right now, Conforto has his name scattered across the Mets record books, but at the moment he’s not in a position to overtake the lead in any major statistical category. Part of the reason is he only has one year remaining on his contract.
However, if he were to sign an extension, he’d have a real chance to own the Mets record books.
On that note, here is where he currently stands.
Here is where Conforto is and how far behind the leaders he is:
- HR 118 (134 behind)
- R 348 (601)
- H 556 (1,221)
- RBI 341 (629)
- 2B 121 (269)
Now, when you look at some of those totals, he is really far behind Wright and Strawberry. However, Conforto is in the early part of his prime. That puts him in an excellent spot to make his climb.
Over the past three seasons, Conforto has 162 game averages of 154 hits, 95 runs, 30 doubles, 32 homers, and 93 RBI.Assuming he keeps that pace, here’s how many seasons he’d need to play to become the all-time leader in each category:
- HR – 5
- R – 7
- H – 8
- RBI – 7
- 2B – 9
One thing of note is that three year period includes time from when he was coming back from a devastating shoulder injury. With his clearly rushed back, he struggled until late in the 2017 season.
If we look just at the 162 game averages of the past two seasons, we see Conforto has averaged 163 hits, 105 runs, 33 doubles, 34 homers, and 98 RBI. With that pace, he would not need as much time to grab the lead:
- HR – 4
- R – 6
- H – 8
- RBI – 7
- 2B – 8
Looking at this, if he were to receive a five year extension, he will likely be the Mets all-time home run leader, and he’ll be knocking on the door for the runs lead.
He’d still need a few seasons hitting at a high level to catch Wright in hits, doubles, and RBI. While difficult, it could be done. What matters there is Conforto’s ability to play at a high level for a sustained time period, and just as important, how long his extension (if any) would be.
If Conforto’s extension is indeed long enough, and he is blessed with good health, he’s going to make a serious dent in the record books assuming he isn’t atop all of them. If he can get a World Series ring and close that 34.6 WAR gap between him and Wright, we may very well one day talk about how Conforto is the best position player in Mets history.