David Wright

Mets Led by deGrom, Cabrera, and Lobaton (Yes, Lobaton) in Win

With the Mets having lost three straight series, the last thing they needed was a West Coast trip.  They needed to play in Petco Park even less.  It’s not just that it’s a suddenly woeful Mets offense was going to one of, if not the, most extreme pitcher’s park in the league.  No, it was the Mets all-time record at Petco Park entering this game was 18-32.

Fortunately for the Mets, they had their best weapon out there tonight – Jacob deGrom.

Once again, deGrom was brilliant.  His final line on the night was 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, and 8 K.

This is the third straight game he would strike out at least eight, and he now has the longest stretch in the National League of pitching at least 5.1 innings.  Basically, deGrom is pitching about as well as anyone, and really, he’s been better than almost everyone.

Given how he’s pitched of late, the offense, and his luck, the questions were whether he was going to get run support and whether the bullpen could hold things down.

Well, deGrom would get his run support before he even stepped foot on the mound.  After Doug Eddings, who had a wildly inconsistent strike zone all game long, ruled a 3-1 pitch was a strike and not a ball, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a lead-off double off Clayton Richard.  After moving to third on a Yoenis Cespedes fly out to deep right, Cabrera scored on a two out Todd Frazier RBI single.

The score stayed that way until the seventh because the Mets could not get anything going against Richard, Michael Conforto made a couple of nice plays in the field, and the Padres were afraid to challenge Yoenis Cespedes‘ arm.

At that point, it was time for Cabrera to once again leave his mark not just on the game but on the early part of the season.

Juan Lagares led off the inning with an infield single just beating Carlos Asuaje throw.  Jose Lobaton, who easily had his best game as a Met, singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs.  With Richard faltering, it seemed like this is where the Mets would blow the game open.  It almost . . . ALMOST didn’t happen.

First, there was the Lagares base running mistake.  Instead of following Christian Villanueva down the line on the deGrom sacrifice bunt/safety squeeze, he immediately dashed back to third.  If he followed Villanueva down the line, it’s quite possible he scores.  Instead he stayed, and when Amed Rosario hit a sharp grounder to Asuaje, the Mets had runners at second and third with no runs and two outs.

With the Padres going into a strong bullpen, it seemed as if they were going to get out of the jam. That perception was absolutely wrong as Cabrera hit a Craig Stammen mistake for a three run homer to effectively end the game.

In the eighth, the Mets would expand their lead with a two out rally.  After recording two quick outs, Kazuhisa Makita hit Lagares with a 1-2 pitch, and Lagares would score on the ensuing Lobaton RBI double.

Again, Lobaton easily had his best game as a Met.  He caught deGrom, who had a great game.  He threw out Franchy Cordero, who was the only Padre to attempt a stolen base.  On the play, it was a perfect throw and a perfect tag by Cabrera.  Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, Lobaton was 2-4 with a run, a double, and an RBI.

With the 5-0 lead, the only remaining question was whether the bullpen could hold onto the lead or whether there would be another meltdown.

When deGrom parted with one out in the eighth, there was a runner on, and Jerry Blevins came on to face Eric Hosmer.  Conforto needed every bit of that deep right field to corral the long fly Hosmer would send.  Mickey Callaway then went to AJ Ramos who got Villanueva to fly out.

Then, Callaway went with Matt Harvey in the ninth to close the door.  As bad as things have been for Harvey since 2015, no one could have imagined this outing.

No, he didn’t blow the lead, although he did make everyone nervous with Cordero greeting him with a homer, and Harvey walking Jose Pirela.  Given Harvey’s recent history and the recent bullpen meltdowns, this was an ominous sign, and Jeurys Familia was rapidly trying to get loose in the bullpen.

Fortunately for the Mets, Harvey, whose velocity dipped all the way down to 90, yes 90 MPH, got a fly out and a game ending double play.

Yes, there was plenty of reason to be excited for this 5-1 win, but seeing Harvey pitch this way certainly did put a bit of a damper on things.  Hopefully, both Harvey and the Mets can figure something out at this point because this has become sad and painful to watch.

GAME NOTES: Before the game the Mets recalled Jacob Rhame and sent Corey Oswalt back down.  The Mets moved David Wright to the 60 day disabled list to make room for LHP Buddy Baumann, who the team claimed off waivers from the Padres.  Bauman was sent down to Triple-A Vegas.  Despite his good numbers against Richard, Callaway sat Adrian Gonzalez in favor of Wilmer Flores

Meet The Mets Fan: Rep. Peter King

The Mets Fan

Pete King – Congressman from Long Island – Raised in Queens, went to high school and college in Brooklyn and then Law School at Notre Dame.

How You Became A Mets Fan

I was a fanatical Brooklyn Dodgers fan and saw the Mets as the successor to the Dodgers.

Favorite Mets Player

David Wright; Ed Kranepool

Favorite Moment in Mets History

1969 World Series Victory

Message to Mets Fans

We never give up. The Mets represent tough, hard-working, blue collar New York.

2015 Feel With deGrom, Cespedes, Bruce Beating Nationals

This might have been the Nationals home opener, but this game certainly had the feel of an Opening Day to the season.  You had a great pitching matchup with Jacob deGrom and Stephen Strasburg.  More than that, as a fan, there was a great sense of anticipation for the matchup.  Not just because of the pitching matchup.  Not just because of the eagerness to see how the Mets matchup against the Nationals.

No, the biggest headline of this day was Michael Conforto making his 2018 debut.

Given the poor run of luck with significant injuries and the ensuing recoveries, you would expect Mets fans to have trepidation.  David Wright and Matt Harvey are Exhibit A and Exhibit B for that.  And yet, for some reason, the Mets fans seemed to have nothing but excitement to see their future superstar return to the Mets ahead of schedule.

Mickey Callaway put him in the lineup as the leadoff hitter and as the center fielder.

It wasn’t the greatest of starts for Conforto, who said he wanted to start today because he wanted Strasburg.  He struck out in his first at-bat against Strasburg on three pitches.  In the bottom of the first, Adam Eaton hit the first pitch over his head for a lead off double.  With Anthony Rendon following with a single on a ball Jay Bruce would bobble, it was quickly 1-o Nationals.

Things would get better for Conforto and deGrom.

Bruce would atone for his error by nearly hitting one out against Strasburg.  Two quick outs later followed by a Kevin Plawecki walk, the Mets had runners at the corners with surprise starter Jose Reyes at the plate.  The Mets didn’t need Reyes to deliver here because Strasburg would balk trying to pick off Plawecki leading to Bruce scoring.

Eaton and Rendon would strike back in the third to give the Nationals the lead again.  Eaton walked, and he would score on a Rendon double.  From that point forward, it was all Mets.

Yoenis Cespedes lead off the fourth with a game tying home run.  As if it wasn’t exciting enough to see Cespedes tying up the game, the Mets would rally in the fifth.

Plawecki led things off with a leadoff single, and he moved to second on a Reyes ground out.  After a deGrom strikeout, that meant it was up to Conforto to try to break the tie.  Up until this point in the game, he struck out on three pitches, and he hit into a double play.  Things did not look great in this at-bat as Strasburg quickly went up 1-2 on him.  Then, Conforto showed us just how healthy he is:

His opposite field home run showed us not just the return of his all field power, but also his great approach at the plate.  In our “Yes, Virginia” moment, we now knew Conforto was alright.

Now, with a 4-2 lead, this put the game in deGrom’s hands.  With his entering the game with an all-time best 1.98 ERA in day games and his being 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 0.983 WHIP in Nationals Park, it looked like it would be smooth sailing for the Mets.

However, this is the Mets and nothing is ever easy.  The Nationals quickly loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth.  This wasn’t helped by deGrom uncharacteristically issuing back-to-back walks to Rendon and Bryce Harper.  With deGrom being the ace that he is, he bore down.

First, he got Ryan Zimmerman to hit a shallow fly to right.  Howie Kendrick hit a laser right at Reyes.  Finally, deGrom struck out Trea Turner on three straight pitches, the last one looking.

It’s still early in the season, and there are 155 games left to be played, but this may prove to be a seminal moment of the 2018 season because after that we didn’t see the Nationals who tortured the Mets in 2014 and 2016.  No, this started to feel like the 2015 season with the Nationals falling apart when pushed by the Mets.

The ungluing happened in the seventh inning.

Turner was ejected for arguing with the home plate umpire, and Brandon Kintzler just didn’t have it.

After the Reyes pop out, Brandon Nimmo pinch hit for deGrom, and he nearly hit one out.  Conforto walked.  After a borderline strike was called to strike out Asdrubal Cabrera, Cespedes and Bruce would get the benefit of the doubt on close pitches.  Both batters would have 3-2 counts.  Cespedes walked, and Bruce hit a grand slam giving the Mets an 8-2 lead.

Jerry Blevins and Robert Gsellman would combine to pitch a perfect seventh.  Hansel Robles navigated through a one out Rendon double while striking out the side.  One his strikeout victims was Harper who is now 1-4 with three strikeouts off Robles.  Seth Lugo would bring it home to preserve the 8-2 win.

Overall, the Mets got a big home run from Cespedes.  They had an injured player come back and provide a huge home run.  One of the Mets aces outpitched one of the Nationals aces.  The Nationals had a key player suffer an injury and another one lose their cool.  The Nationals bullpen melted down while the Mets bullpen was much better than expected.

If I didn’t know any better, I would swear this was August 2015.

Game Notes:  deGrom became the first Met this season to have a quality start.  His final line was 6.0 inning, four hits, two runs, one earned, three walks, and five strikeouts.  After the sixth inning, Eaton left the game with an injury.  He was off to a hot start after tearing his ACL.

 

Who’s Better: 2015 or 2018 Mets?

Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets.  Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry.  However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes.  When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.

With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right?  Let’s take a look:

CATCHER

2015: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki
2018: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki

Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation.  In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.

The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer.  Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well.  Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.

Things changed at the tail end of 2017.  Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become.  d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September.  As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.

VERDICT: 2018if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close

FIRST BASE

2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez

In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI.  He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.

Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.

VERDICT: 2015 Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw

SECOND BASE

2015: Daniel Murphy
2018: Asdrubal Cabrera

We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.

For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.

VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one

THIRD BASE

2015: David Wright
2018: Todd Frazier

This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.

Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.

VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy

SHORTSTOP

2015: Ruben Tejada
2018: Amed Rosario

Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015.  After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores.  Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half.  Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.

Rosario is the future of the Mets.  Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate.  However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better.  He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time.  For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.

VERDICT: 2018 Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high

OUTFIELD

2015: Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson
2018: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce

Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets.  Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting.  Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup.  He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist.  Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.

With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets.  To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player.  This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.

VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.

BENCH

2015: Michael Cuddyer, Wilmer Flores, Kelly Johnson, Juan Lagares
2018: Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, Jose Reyes

From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers.  They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits.  In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well.  Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.

The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player.  Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder.  Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015.  Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.

VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important

ROTATION

2015: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon
2018: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Jason Vargas

When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then.  Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.

VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then

BULLPEN

2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald

Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen.  This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year.  Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness.  One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.

When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins.  Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.

VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside

MANAGER

2015: Terry Collins
2018: Mickey Callaway

For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015.  When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived.  Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.

Right now, Callaway looks like a genius.  He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth.  He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late.  His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire.  However, the season isn’t even a week old.  Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.

Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series

VERDICT

If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation.  The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager.  Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw.  However, in reality, it’s not.  That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.

That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager.  If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level.  If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Opening Day Memories

With the Mets 2018 season beginning today, we are all hopeful that this will be the first Mets team since 1986 to win a World Series.  If history is any judge, fans will depart Citi Field with that feeling as the New York Mets do have the best winning percentage on Opening Day.  Whether the good feelings and warm memories continue from there is anyone’s guess.

As you look to turn on the television or head to the ballpark, we thought we would share some of our Opening Day memories with you in the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Two words: Collin Cowgill (That’s not my actual answer)

I think I’m going to cheat here. The first game that came to mind for favorite Opening Day memory was the Mets’ home opener in 2000. It was their first game played in North America, if that helps? The Mets split a two-game set in Japan the week before and then faced off against the Padres at Shea, and I was there. It was my first time attending a home opener, and I had to bend the rules that day too, seeing as I was, technically speaking, scheduled to continue my high school education that afternoon. A couple of friends and I cut class, took the 2/3, transferred to the 7, sauntered up to the ticket window, bought four tickets, and enjoyed a 2-1 victory. I brazenly put the schedule magnet giveaway on the refrigerator, and as far as I know was never caught. Please do not tell my mother.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

My favorite Opening Day memory was Tom Seaver‘s 1983 Opening Day start.  It was tremendous.

The details of Seaver’s homecoming were detailed in this Sports Illustrated piece.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

This one has me stumped since I have not been to a Mets opening day since the Shea days. One that stands out is the chilly home opener for Tom Glavine. A 15-2 Mets loss I believe. Good times.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I cut school to go to Opening Day in 1980. My mother wrote a note to the teacher saying “sorry my son was absent. He went to Opening Day. P.S. the Mets won 5-2.” The teacher let me off the hook but only because the Mets won. I cut school in 1983 to see Seaver’s return as a Met. I cut school in 1988 to see Darryl Strawberry hit a HR on Opening Day, then left early to get back to theater rehearsal, and I had to platoon style elbow crawl my way under the director so she wouldn’t know I was gone. Luckily they never got to my scene yet so I was out of trouble. Until we left for the day and the director said “How was the game?” As many times as I cut school for Opening Day, it’s a wonder I can put a sentence together.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend 17 Opening Days/Home Openers (18, counting the first home game after the 1981 strike, which was functionally a second Home Opener), my favorite among them the 2001 Home Opener, when the 2000 NL pennant was raised, we were handed replica championship flags on our way in, Tsuyoshi Shinjo introduced himself to us with a homer, Mike Piazza socked two, the Mets obliterated the Braves and, not incidentally, the weather was perfect.

But with all due respect to the thrill of being on hand to, as Howie Rose says, welcome the National League season to New York, my core Opening Day memory is from 1975, when I convinced a friend to skip Hebrew School and watch the rest of the first game of that season.

The game began while we were still in shall we say regular school (sixth grade). Our teacher put the Mets and Phillies on the classroom TV. One wise guy tried to switch to the Yankees. Out of pique, the teacher switched it off.

Fast forward a bit, and my aforementioned friend and I went to my house to catch a little more of the game before we had to get to Hebrew School. This was Seaver versus Steve Carlton, and it was such an occasion that I said to him, “I’m not going to Hebrew School today.” He was convinced to not go, either.

We watched to the end and were rewarded for our truancy. Seaver pitched a complete game. Dave Kingman homered in his first game as a Met, and Joe Torre (also a new Met) drove in the winning run in the ninth, or what we would today call walkoff fashion. The whole winter was about reconstructing a dismal 1974 squad and hoping Seaver would be healthy. For one day, everything clicked as we dreamed.

The other thing I remember distinctly was Bob Murphy hosting the TV postgame show, first time we ever saw anybody but Ralph Kiner in that role. I learned decades later that Ralph was holding out for an increase in his Kiner’s Korner deal, which he eventually got.

There’ve been more dramatic Opening Days since, but that one will always be Opening Day Like It Oughta Be to me.

There’ve been some unfortunate Opening Day/Night results over the years, but there’s nothing about beginning a baseball season that doesn’t have at least one inherent saving grace to it. At last, we are in baseball season.

Mets Daddy

There are two that readily stick out in my mind.  The first was 1995, the first year after the strike.  It was also my first Opening Day.  I remember the tickets were cheap, and the crowd was rowdier than usual with many people running onto the field.  It first seemed like protest, and then it just seemed to morph into a drunken stupor.  John Franco blowing a 9th inning save chance, and the Mets blowing leads in the 13th and 14th innings were really just afterthoughts to all the mayhem and the fact baseball was finally back in our lives.

My favorite Opening Day was the 2006 Opening Day.  With the Mets obtaining Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca in the offseason, there was an anticipation the 2006 team could be a special one.

That day certainly was.  Xavier Nady, the guy Omar gambled on when he traded Mike Cameron to the Padres, immediately made himself welcome to fans with an RBI double.  David Wright was showered with MVP chants which only reverberated louder when he homered.  Anderson Hernandez made an incredible defensive play at second.  Then Billy Wagner entered the game to “Enter Sandman” to close out the game.

I remember feeling this was a team capable of winning a World Series.  I also remember my Dad taking the longer way home so we can get our free Bobbleheads from P.C. Richard and because we could hear Mike and the Mad Dog, who were in rare form, going bezerk over the audacity for Wagner to use Mariano Rivera‘s entrance song.

One fun thing about doing this Roundtable is I discovered Joe, Roger, and I were all at the 2003 homer opener.  This is part of my fun in doing these Roundtables, and I hope some of the fun you have is getting a snippet of the fine work from some fellow Mets fans.  I hope this encourages you to visit their sites.

2018 Mets Player by Player Projections

As I do from time to time, we need a “completely serious” analysis and projection of each and every Mets player who is expected to contribute during the 2018 season.  While there are many prjoection systems which claim to be fool-proof, there are none that will be this accurate about the Mets:

Sandy Alderson – The other 29 GMs in baseball will be left in complete hysterics when Alderson is calling around for a right-handed reliever to help boost the team’s chances to making the postseason.

Mickey Callaway – The writers will overwhelmingly vote him as the National League Manager of the Year.  The most cited reason for giving him the award will be the fact he didn’t insist on playing his worst players or forcing his players to play through crippling injuries.

Dave Eiland– Multiple Mets pitchers will hug him for actually fixing their mechanics and for listening to them when they say they’re hurting.

Tyler Bashlor – When someone notices how similar his name is to the ABC reality show hit The Bachelor, they’ll say how “The Bashlor” is handing out strikeouts like they’re roses. We should all hate that person.

Jerry Blevins– Until he eats a sandwich, the socks given away in his honor will hang around his ankles

Bryce Brentz– He’s going to be the guy who has one or two at-bats this season, and someone is going to invoke his name as a former Met to try to sound like he knows more about the Mets than you know anything.

Jay Bruce– After a four home run game, all Mets fans will want to talk about is when he is going to move to first base.

Asdrubal Cabrera – After a slump, Callaway will move Cabrera down in the lineup causing Cabrera to bring his kids to the clubhouse and have them ask why Callaway doesn’t want them to eat.

Jamie Callahan– His wearing #43 will serve as a constant reminder that not only was he part of the return for Addison Reed, but also how the Mets turned quality MLB players into six right-handed relief prospects. That will be the worst possible sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Yoenis Cespedes – After an MVP caliber first half, he will feel like he has earned just one game of golf as a reward during the All Star Break.  He will immediately be vilified.

Michael Conforto – After a huge cut and a swing and miss, Conforto will wince for a moment thereby causing a passionate Mets fans behind home plate to have a heart attack.  This will led to a call for the netting to be filled in and for fans to have to watch the game on a tape delay.

Travis d’Arnaud– During a remarkably healthy season, he will finally be forced to catch Syndergaard, who had spent most of the seaosn with Plawecki as his personal catcher.  On the first pitch of the game, Syndergaard throws a 101 MPH fastball which immediately shatters d’Arnaud’s hand.

Jacob deGrom– After a slump, he’s going to look to grow his hair out.  Once he realizes his hair cannot possibly reach it’s old length during the 2018, he’s going to grow a really long beard and change his entrance music to “Legs” by ZZ Top.

Phillip Evans– When he cashes in his check for his postseason share, Evans will fondly remember that April pinch hitting appearance.

Jeurys Familia – After he gives up a seventh inning homer to Conor Gillaspie costing the Mets a game, fans will scream for him to pitch in the ninth inning again.

Wilmer Flores – He will be in such hysterics during his struggles in his first game in the outfield his crying on the field in 2015 will look like a case of the sniffles.

Todd Frazier– It will take many Mets fans a long time to come to grips that Jersey Boy Todd Frazier does not use a Bruce Springsteen song as his walk-up music.  That point will finally come when they realize Frank Sinatra is from Hoboken and not NYC.

Adrian Gonzalez – He will become James Loney2.0.  He will hit well enough for the Mets to stick with him, and the front office will continue to stick with him long after he has since been useful.

Robert Gsellman – As he continues to wait in Las Vegas for his opportunity to get back to the Majors, he will eventually care what Sandy Alderson thinks of him.

Matt HarveyHe’s going to pull a reverse Ben Affleck by going from The Dark Knight moniker to Daredevil.  He will earn that name by following Eiland’s instructions to throw inside with such reckless abandon to the point where people start to question if he’s gone blind.

Juan Lagares – After once again injuring his thumb on a diving attempt, the Mets will finally realize Lagares’ injures were the result of him literally using a gold glove to try to play center.  While they found the answer and solution for the thumb injuries, they will still be perplexed on how to fix his hitting.

Seth Lugo– We won’t know if people keep referring to the hook with him because of his incredible curveball or because of how Callaway won’t let him face a lineup for a third time.

Steven Matz– In addition to the sandwich he has named after him at the Se-port Deli, he will have one named after him at the cafeteria at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Brandon Nimmo– Despite putting up great numbers, the Mets will inform Nimmo they unfortunately have to send him down to Triple-A due to a temporary roster squeeze.  When he’s still smiling through the ordeal, they will force him to seek psychological counseling.

Kevin Plawecki– On a day when the Mets are getting blown out, the frustrated Plawecki will use the last of his six mound visits to derisively tell his pitcher he can pitch better than this. The pitcher will remind him he has a better batting average than Plawecki.

AJ Ramos – After striking out Giancarlo Stanton in a Subway Series game, he’s going to go home and find his friend has moved out of their shared apartment.  Odd Couple style hilarity ensues.

Jose Reyes– One day, he will hit a triple and score on a mad dash to home plate.  He will have that old Reyes smile, and it will electrify the crowd.  It will also cause everyone to forget that he is one of the worst position players in all of baseball.

T.J. Rivera – After he comes off the disabled list, he’ll deliver in the clutch for the Mets and his teammates will honor him as the player of the game.  The Mets will make sure he’s not standing in front of Plawecki’s locker when they take a photo to tweet out.

Hansel Robles– Many will credit him with the discovery of extra terrestrials by his discovery of a UFO in the Vegas night.  Years later, Robles will sheepishly admit all he was doing was pointing up at another homer he allowed.

Amed Rosario– To the surprise of us all, Rosario will strike out looking when the pitcher throws him a pitch which he was surprised at and was not ready to swing at. Entire belief systems will be shattered.

Jacob Rhame– Like Jason Phillips, he will soon realize fans may first like you for the googles and smile in your photo, but really, they’re only going to love you if you produce.

Paul Sewald– After having spent a year with Terry Collins, he’s going to be the player most comfortable with having no defined role in the bullpen.  However, it will be an adjustment for him not having to warm up multiple times per game.

Dominic Smith – When he gets called up to the Majors as part of September call-ups, he will be late on a pitch causing his manager to believe he learned nothing from Spring Training.

Anthony Swarzak – The jokes about not knowing how to spell his name will get old by mid-April.  The jokes will be rediscovered in August when more fans tune it to a Mets team that is a surprising contender.  The jokes will continue to not be funny.

Noah Syndergaard– He will continue his “Twitter Feud” with Mr. Met.  It will be discussed ad nausesum during nationally televised games.  America will think it’s amusing only fueling the spat even further and giving no hope to Mets fans who have long since found this to be unfunny.

Jason Vargas – When Reyes introduces himself, Vargas will remind him they were teammates in 2007.  Both recall that season and will agree it never happened.

Zack Wheeler– He will be converted to a reliever, and in a surprise to us all, he will lead the league in saves. In a surprise to him that league will be the Pacific Coast League.

David Wright– He will apologize and sheepishly admit the Mets crown was an embarrassingly bad idea.  He will try to come up with a way to rectify it, but no one will listen to his ideas on the topic anymore.

Five Aces Will Finally Pitch In The Same Rotation

With Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz starting the year in Triple-A, and the Mets discovering Zack Wheeler tore his UCL on the eve of Spring Training, we knew the Five Aces weren’t going to pitch in the same rotation in 2015.  After winning the pennant that year, the Mets set their sights on 2016 to be the year the team not only won the World Series, but also as the year their plan would all come to fruition.

That was until Wheeler had a number of set-backs costing him the entire 2016 season.  But it was more than just Wheeler.  Matt Harvey would have a lost season culminating with a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome diagnosis.  Jacob deGrom needed ulnar nerve transplantation surgery.  Matz had one of his typically injury plagued seasons with him needing season ending surgery to remove what was described as a massive bone spur from his pitching elbow.

That made 2017 the year . . . until it wasn’t.  Despite many believing neither Harvey nor Wheeler were ready to begin the season in the rotation, they ultimately did due to injuries.  However, that did not mean the Five Aces would not begin the year in the same rotation as Matz once again had elbow issues.

After Matz, it was Syndergaard with a torn lat.  Then Harvey and Wheeler would each go down with stress reactions to their pitching arms.  While not confirmed, this may have been the result of them team pushing them too hard to start the season.  Ultimately, after 13 starts, the Mets discovered what was wrong with Matz; he had the same nerve injury deGrom had the previous season.

This offseason was the offseason the Mets front office became more realistic.  The team signed Todd Frazier to play third base all but admitted David Wright would not be able to play this season, and the team signed Jason Vargas.  With Vargas lined up to the the third or fourth starter, the Mets were effectively announcing the Five Aces dream was finally dead.

Except, ironically, it isn’t.  And I say ironically because it is an injury that has allowed the dream to be revived.

With Vargas needing surgery to remove a fractured hamate bone, the Mets need to replace him for at least two turns through the rotation.  This means that Wheeler, who was a candidate to move to the bullpen, or Matz, who was considered to start the year in Extended Spring Training, will likely both find themselves in the same rotation with Syndergaard, deGrom, and Harvey.

Finally, it is all coming to plan even if those plans are two to three years late.

After seeing how each pitchers pitches in their starts, and with Vargas’ timetable not being completely set in stone, who knows what will happen.  Maybe this will last for two turns, the first half, or the full season.  With the Mets and their handling of injuries, you never know.  The only thing we do know is against all odds, the Five Aces will pitch in the same rotation.

That’s no small feat given all of their respective obstacles.  This is a great thing for Mets fans to see as well because we have been waiting years to see this.  And for slightly older Mets fans, this is cathartic because we never did get to see Generation K (Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher) ever pitch in the same rotation.

We’ll now see it with the Five Aces.  Let the fun begin.

Citi Field May Have Cost David Wright A Chance At Cooperstown

With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, and the recent announcement he cannot do any baseball activities for the next eight weeks, we are one step closer to everyone admitting David Wright is never going to ever play for the New York Mets again.  Certainly, the Mets have operated this offseason like it will never happen.  Indeed, if Wright were to be healthy enough to return at any point next season, the team will be forced to cut someone like Jose Reyes, or they will be forced to send someone like Brandon Nimmo, who may very well be the team’s center fielder, to the minors.

As Wright inches towards what seems to be in the inevitable, we get closer and closer to taking stock of his career.  For his career, Wright has 49.9 WAR, 40.0 WAR7, and a 45.0 JAWS.  These numbers fall short of the 67.5 WAR, 42.8 WAR7, and 55.2 JAWS an average Hall of Fame third baseman puts up in their career.

Looking over those numbers again, Wright is tantalizingly close, but falls short.  Right now, there seems to be an overwhelming consensus Wright falls into the Don Mattinglyterritory in that he was a great player when healthy, but ultimately, his health cost him a shot at Cooperstown.

However, upon reviewing Wright’s career, it does not appear his health issues will be the only reason Wright will fall short of Hall of Fame induction.

In the final two seasons at Shea Stadium, Wright emerged as a true superstar.  In successive seasons, he posted an 8.3 and 6.8 WAR season.  With him entering the prime years of his career, it looked like Wright was well on his way to the Hall of Fame.  What ensued was two ugly years at Citi Field.

Over 2009 and 2010, Wright’s offensive numbers would see a precipitous drop across the board.  As a result, in the prime of his career, by WAR, Wright had the two worst healthy seasons of his career.  A player who went from averaging a 7.6 WAR in the final two years at Shea struggled to accumulate a 5.9 WAR over two year.

If you are looking for reasons why this happened, look not further than Citi Field.  In its original form, Citi Field would see no doubt homers died on the edge of the warning track because the park was beyond cavernous:

  • Left Field 335 ft
  • Left Center 384
  • Center 408
  • Right Center 415
  • Right Field 330

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a 16 foot left field wall Harry Rose dubbed “The Great Wall of Flushing.”

Considering Wright was a batter who hit it to all fields and who had natural power to right center field, his new ballpark was completely ill suited to his particular skill set.  It should come as no surprise Wright’s oWAR and overall WAR nosedived.

In 2012, when the outfield walls at Citi Field were brought in and lowered, Wright started putting up Wright-like numbers again.  That year, Wright had a 7.0 WAR, the second highest of his career.  This would also prove to be his last healthy season.

The end of Wright’s peak was 2013.  Astonishingly, Wright had a 5.9 WAR in just 112 games.  Considering the stats he put up, it does make you question what his stats would have looked like in 2009 and 2010 under “normal” conditions.

Taking the last two years at Shea and the first two with the newly constructed Citi Field outfield walls, Wright averaged a 7.0 WAR.  If he were to averaged a 7.0 WAR in 2009 and 2010, his numbers would have been:

WAR 59.1
WAR7 46.8
JAWS 53.0

Yes, Wright would still fall short of the 67.5 WAR an average Hall of Fame third baseman produced over the length of their career, but Wright would have eclipsed the 42.8 WAR7 and been just short of the 55.2 JAWS.  Essentially, with Wright you would have had a real argument to induct him on the strength of his peak years.

Even if you want to be a little more conservative and say he would have averaged 5.9 (his low in 2013) instead of the 7.0 average, he would be at a 55.8 WAR, 44.6 WAR7, and a 50.2 JAWS.

Again, Wright would have had the peak years argument, and with his spinal stenosis, he would have had a tangible Hall of Fame argument.  Certainly, if Kirby Puckett got the benefit of the doubt with him suffering a career ending injury at 35, Wright would have had a case with his injury happening at 32, if not sooner.

In the end, Wright’s career and spinal stenosis has left us with many what ifs.  Looking at the numbers, we should also question what if Citi Field was not so ill designed when it first opened?  Would David Wright have made it to the Hall of Fame.

Based upon a look at the numbers, I would argue he would have been enshrined and deservedly so.  However, because of the original Citi Field dimensions and many other factors, it appears Wright will not make the Hall of Fame, which is a damned shame because Wright certainly deserved better than all of this.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Next Mets Hall of Famer

In what is a yearly tradition, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a fan vote over which player should be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of FameFor a number of reasons, the Mets do not hold such a vote for their fanbase, but in vein of what the Cardinals are doing, the Mets Bloggers tackle the issue of who should be the next Mets great inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame:

Joe Maracic(Loud Egg)

What about owners? Nelson Doubleday Jr.

The next player would have to be David Wright, I’m guessing.

Maybe Beltran

Michael Baron (MLB)

I do agree on the Nelson Doubleday nomination. He was a transformative owner for this franchise and single-handedly changed the direction, brand, and reputation of the club by forcing the Piazza trade. But it’s hard to see it happening while the Wilpons own the team.

Having said that, the next logical candidate to me is David Wright. He is among a true handful of players who have served as the identity for the on-field product. Up until age 30, he was among the top third baseman in baseball history (which some would be shocked to learn), and he has served through thick and thin as the voice of this franchise, earning the respect of both current and former teammates in the process.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Reflexively I thought “Edgardo Alfonzo.” Then I checked to see if Ed Kranepool and Rusty Staub were already in the Mets Hall of Fame. They are. So I’ll stick with Edgardo Alfonzo. More hits and RBIs than any other Met in a postseason, and that doesn’t technically include his “Game 163” heroics. Excellent everyday third baseman in 1997 and 1998. Moved to second base in 1999 to accommodate Robin Ventura, forming The Best Infield Ever. Mentioned *by name* in Mike Piazza‘s Hall of Fame speech. Didn’t appear to ruin any Mets prospects managing the Brooklyn Cyclones last season. Forever underrated by everyone unlucky enough to not be in a knowledgeable Mets fan’s orbit.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Nelson Doubleday belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame, but I seriously doubt the Wilpons would ever be s selfless to do the right thing here.

The real tragedy isn’t that Nelson Doubleday isn’t the majority owner of the Mets anymore. He might have sold the team anyway, as his children did not wish to be involved with the franchise. Instead, it is the misconception that the 1980-1986 period of Mets history wasn’t his legacy. Whether its internal revisionist history mandated by current ownership or a myth enabled by certain go-along, get-along journalists, that section of Mets history should be known as “The Doubleday Era.” It was Nelson Doubleday who came to the rescue when Shea Stadium became a ghost town. He was the man who saved the Mets.

Doubleday should have been inducted a long time ago…

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

I’m in full agreement here with Doubleday.

David Wright is the obvious choice, and there aren’t a lot of dark horses. But the one I’ll give you is Edgardo Alfonzo. Universally loved, one of the best players on a World Series participant, and also worked for the Mets post retirement.

On FAFIF, I recently wrote about Edgardo Alfonzo’s induction being overdue, also mentioning Howard Johnson and Bobby Valentine as worthy, so let’s get them each in.

Amazing to me that the Mets have never so honored a second baseman. In addition to Fonzie, Ron Hunt, Felix Millan and Wally Backman all merit serious consideration. If we’re defense-minded, Doug Flynn, too.

In general, the Mets HOF is an underutilized asset. There’s no good reason not to make annual selections. I understand being somewhat stingy with retired numbers. This can and should be bigger, a way to warmly embrace those who made the Mets the Mets in the best sense.

At the risk of inciting Jerry Blevins‘s ire, I’ll close with what Terrence Mann had to say to Ray Kinsella: The Mets Hall of Fame reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Doubleday is a good one but I’m going – perhaps unsurprisingly – with David Wright.

It’s not all that often that fans of any team, let alone this one, get to see the best position player in franchise history. Mets fans, in fact, until recently didn’t really have a best position player in franchise history. We had lots of guys — Piazza, Beltran, Mookie, Keith, Carter, HoJo, Buddy, Millan, Kranepool, etc — who were franchise icons, but either not good enough to fit the description, or not here for long enough. But we never had our Ted Williams, our George Brett, our Craig Biggio — whichever comparison you use, up until very recently, we didn’t have one. When David Wright came up, it was evident pretty early on that he was going to be an all-time Mets great, provided he stayed long enough. Sure enough, as high as expectations were, I’d say he was better, for most of his career through 2013, than anyone could reasonably have hoped. People may not remember just how good David Wright was: in the ten years from 2004 to 2013, he batted .301/.382/.506, and averaged 22 home runs a year. The comparison doesn’t hold up, because George Brett had an absurdly productive second half of his career, but through his first ten years, Brett only hit .316/.370/.503, with far fewer home runs. Now, I KNOW that Wright’s career was completely derailed, while Brett went on to play ten more productive seasons — but George Brett is a top-5 all time third baseman, and matching up with him for ten years of a career is no easy task. And that’s not even getting into the intangibles, which to me, make it a no-brainer. David Wright is our captain, a leader in the locker room, and by all accounts, just about the nicest guy in baseball. He’s continued to work to come back from a series of injuries that almost certainly would have led a lesser player to hang ‘em up by now. Some people say it’s enough, that he should retire — but to a kid growing up with epilepsy, who too often got tired of working day after day for an uncertain reward sometime in the future, watching David Wright come back from injury, each time he did, was just incredible. David Wright is the greatest position player in Mets history, and maybe the greatest guy as well. The day he retires, his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame should go up, and — this isn’t the question, but I can’t resist — his number should join 31 and 41. I sometimes run into people opposed to this, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. Gods do not answer letters, and David Wright’s number should never again be issued. Sometimes, in baseball, there are things you don’t even have to think about — you just know.

Mets Daddy

Previously, I have written pieces advocating for Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, Bobby Valentine, and Gary Cohen to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Going back through them, one of the things that stood out to me about calling for Cohen’s induction was his being up for the Ford C. Frick Award.  Essentially, the Mets were going to have the situation where Cohen was in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but not the Mets Hall of Fame.  That would certainly have been awkward.

To that end, I believe Carlos Beltran is the most pressing person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  With his Hall of Fame career coming to an end, the question is not whether he will go into the Hall of Fame, but what cap he will be wearing when he is inducted.  Looking over his career, that is between the Royals, Mets, and a blank cap.

Given the few Hall of Famers in this team’s history, it would behoove the Mets to attempt to convince Beltran to go into the Hall of Fame wearing the interlocking NY.  To do that, the team would have to heal some old wounds and rebuild some bridges.  A Carlos Beltran Day at Citi Field with his Hall of Fame induction would go a long way to accomplish that.

On a personal note, I never would have contemplated Nelson Doubleday, and that is why I am happy we are doing this Roundtable.  As you can tell, there is great Mets content out there and some original thought.  With that in mind, I encourage you to visit their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

Mets Fans Should Monitor Jason Kipnis’ Production

During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen.  As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”

The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.

This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching.  Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.

That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis.  Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare.  He had shoulder and hamstring issues.  While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.

At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade.  The Mets killed that deal over physicals.  The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years.  That’s really interesting.

In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI.  It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.

The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR.  The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.

The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce.  However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.

With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too.  Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons.  For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career.  For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.

For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again.  Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers.  If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.

We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy.  However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis.  In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.

If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.