Finally, after an eventful winter, even by Mets standards, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. While the Mets may have an idea as to what their 26 man roster will be, that doesn’t mean this organization is truly ready for the 2020 season.
Even with Dellin Betances and presumably Michael Wacha, you’d ideally want one more big arm in the bullpen, especially when you can’t be sure what you’re getting with Jeurys Familia or Edwin Diaz. That leaves the Mets hoping either they or likely Robert Gsellman can be that guy.
This speaks to overall depth issues. While there enough bodies, we don’t know if they’re the right or good enough ones. We see that with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera battling for the backup catcher spot.
Part of that money, which, of course, goes back to the ownership issue. We’ve known for over a decade now the Mets needed new owners, but only now do they realize that themselves.
Of course, they won’t go quietly into the night trying to get to run the Mets for five years with someone else’s money. Maybe their best argument to any new owner is they did that effectively in 2006.
Overall, this is a Mets team which could win the World Series. However, it’s going to need some help to get there and a lot to break right. If they get there, no one should bet against Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the postseason.
That’s an odd thing to say considering this time last year we were promised no more ifs.
The Wilpons are the worst owners in professional sports, and based on their turning down over a billion in profit, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With them and their equally incompetent General Manager, there is a sense of despair and/or anger which comes with being a Mets fan. Still, even with the Wilpons being horrible and their not going anywhere, there are reasons to still root for this team:
Pete Alonso – Rookie Home Run King who got the entire team cleats to honor the first responders of 9/11
Dellin Betances – he waited for the opportunity and came back to sign with the Mets because he wanted to stay in New York
Brad Brach – like you and me, he was wearing a Mets jersey rooting for them to win the 2015 World Series (even if he was an Oriole)
Robinson Cano – a truly charitable person who is working to stop domestic violence
Michael Conforto – willing to play any position to help the team, and when he’s hitting there’s few better
Jacob deGrom – the best pitcher in baseball
Edwin Diaz – it takes a big man to admit he had problems with the city making it easy to root for him to be dominant again.
Jeurys Familia – he came back here because he loves being a Met
Luis Guillorme – when finally given a real chance, he proved he can do much more than catch an errant bat.
Robert Gsellman – despite injury did all he could do to come back to try to pitch the Mets into the postseason like he did in 2016
Jed Lowrie – did everything he could give last year and earned those eight PH attempts
Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball
Steven Matz – a true blue Mets fan like us all who works to thank and help first responders
Jeff McNeil – a true throwback player who adopts puppies
Tomas Nido – strong defensive catcher who underwent elective surgery to improve his game.
Brandon Nimmo – his joy in baseball and life is only surpassed by his ability to get on base
Rick Porcello – took less to fulfill his boyhood dream of pitching for the Mets
Wilson Ramos – his learning his wife was pregnant with their next child was one of the most heartwarming parts of the 2019 season
Rene Rivera – keeps coming back to work with this pitching staff
Amed Rosario – as hardworking and exciting a player as there is, and he’s about to breakout.
Paul Sewald – a 10th round draft pick who proves himself in his scattered and limited chances
Dominic Smith – got healthy and proved himself to be a good baseball player and terrific teammate
Marcus Stroman – wants baseball to be fun, and he’s a role model to everyone showing it takes heart to be a great player (HDMH)
Noah Syndergaard – he’s standing 60′ 6″ away, and he’s the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game.
Justin Wilson – pitched through injury to be a very reliable bullpen arm
Ultimately, even with the cheaters on the roster, this remains a very likeable team, and it is guided by a manager in Luis Rojas who Mets fans should soon love. It is hard to stay away from players like this even with their playing for absolutely despicable ownership.
When you account for Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling, the Mets broadcasts are unparalleled in their greatness. If nothing else, it is worth watching them do what they do best. It is even better when the Mets have players on the field like they will in 2020.
Combine that with wanting to share baseball with your parents, siblings, and children, and you are going to watch a team you have loved all your life. Ultimately, this is an easy team to root for, which unfortunately, is why boycotts never work, and why the Wilpons will always win.
That’s fine. We can still enjoy life and Mets baseball despite them. We can also make every effort we can to get rid of them and to let them know how much we want them gone. Sooner or later, they will be gone, and we will still be here.
Lets Go Mets!
With Major League Baseball’s new rules, teams can only carry 13 pitchers, and seeing how the Mets have operated the past few seasons, the Mets will very likely carry 13 pitchers in 2020. With the five man rotation, this means the Mets will have an eight man bullpen.
Right now, barring injury, the Mets have Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, and Brad Brach as absolute locks for the Opening Day bullpen. That is going to leave two bullpen spots open with one of them going to the pitcher who loses the bullpen battle. That pitcher is most likely going to be Michael Wacha.
That is where things begin to get a bit interesting.
On the surface, it would seem Robert Gsellman has an inside track for the last bullpen job. After all, he has been a reliever for each of the past two seasons. However, he has not performed well out of the bullpen with an 87 ERA+ and 4.03 FIP over that stretch. When you combine the Mets wanting him to spend the offseason working as a starter, you wonder if a pitcher who still has options remaining will begin the year in Triple-A as a starter.
On the topic of options, Jacob Rhame is out of options, and the Mets will have to expose him to waivers if they are going to keep him in the organization.
Rhame is coming off a season where he had ulnar transposition surgery. That is the same surgery Jacob deGrom underwent in 2016. In his first year after the surgery, deGrom was a good starting pitcher, and in the ensuing two years he emerged as the best pitcher in baseball.
Now, that is obviously not Rhame’s ceiling. However, we do see after undergoing that surgery a pitcher can reach their full potential. While many may debate what exactly that is for Rhame, the Mets clearly have some interest in finding out as they have kept him throughout this offseason despite fully knowing he is out of options.
With Rhame having a career 6.23 MLB ERA and a Triple-A 4.05 ERA, you have to wonder what exactly the Mets are seeing in him.
Looking at Baseball Savant, Rhame throws in the mid-90s, and back in 2018, before he needed the transposition surgery, he had above average movement on that fastball. While he did not get much vertical movement on his splitter, it had very good horizontal movement, which is part of the reason why it was a swing-and-miss pitch for him.
Ultimately, that is what the Mets see in Rhame – his potential. Since the day they obtained him from Curtis Granderson, they knew they were getting a big arm with relatively untapped potential. He still has the ability to generate strikeouts, and as we saw with Rhys Hoskins, he has a bit of a nasty streak where he won’t back down or take anything from the opponent.
Based on what we have seen this offseason, the Mets are going to allow Rhame to work with new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner to show his potential can yield results. Presumably, he is going to get an opportunity to show the Mets he is a better option in the bullpen than Gsellman, who may belong in the rotation, or Walker Lockett, who is also out of options.
In the end, the Mets have kept Rhame around for a reason. Perhaps, that reason is to have him be a part of the 2020 Opening Day roster. With pitchers and catchers reporting soon, he is going to get the opportunity to prove he belongs.
The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.
While Major League Baseball underwent an investigation, it was a Houston Astros fan who really did the research into the extent of the Astros sign stealing.
Tony Adams set up a website named Sign Stealing Scandal. On his website and on Twitter, he released the results of his investigation into the extent of the Astros sign stealing. It also detailed how often there was the now infamous banging sound during an Astros’ batter’s plate appearance:
Astros players trashcan bangs.
— Tony Adams (@adams_at) January 29, 2020
However, in 2017, they were Houston Astros, and they squared off against pitchers who are currently on the Mets pitching staff.
On September 2, 2017, Davis played in both ends of a doubleheader going 2-for-8 with a double, homer, and two RBI. Both of those hits came against Tommy Milone and Jamie Callahan, neither of whom are with the Mets.
On that day, the only pitcher he faced who is still with the Mets is Seth Lugo. While he went 0-for-2, he was in a lineup which handed Lugo the loss.
Lugo, who wants to be a starter, has only started five games after that losing effort.
Marisnick was not in the lineup for either game. It should also be noted Sign Stealing Scandal denotes there was no video from those games. As such, we are not 100% sure the Astros used the banging those days, but it’s reasonable to assume it happened.
It should be noted this wasn’t the only time Davis and Marisnick squared off against current Mets pitchers.
On June 3, 2018, Davis was 0-for-3 against Rick Porcello in a game Porcello picked up the win.
Essentially, Davis’ full extent of facing current Mets pitchers as a member of the Astros was those five at-bats against Lugo and Porcello.
Given his going hitless in those at-bats and how popular he appears among those players from last year’s Mets roster, it appears he may not have to do much, if anything, to smooth things over with his teammates.
Marisnick might be a different story.
If we expand the time period to include 2018 and 2019, Marisnick has faced six of the pitchers currently on the Mets pitching staff. In addition to doubling off Stroman, he has also doubled against Porcello and Brad Brach. He didn’t record a hit against Diaz, Wilson, or Dellin Betances.
With respect to Stroman, he’s been very outspoken about what the Astros did, and like many, he isn’t happy about it.
Shit makes sense now. I remember wondering how these guys were laying off some of my nasty pitches. Relaying all my signs in live speed to the batter. Ruining the integrity of the game. These dudes were all about the camera and social media. Now, they’re all quiet! Lol 😂 https://t.co/DuknUCQaRb
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 20, 2020
In that tweet, he specifically addresses the game Marisnick doubled off of him. Clearly, Stroman was baffled by this game, and he’s justifiably upset about the whole sign stealing scandal.
The Mets were actually one of the more vocal teams about this last year. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post wrote about how much the Dodgers were on top of Diaz’s pitches. While cautioning they didn’t believe it to be illegal, Mickey Callaway and the Mets spoke about how they believed the Dodgers were stealing signs.
Right now, we know Davis and Marisnick cheated, and we’re starting to learn the extent to which they cheated. We also know their cheating has affected Mets new and old. Finally, we know at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about the Astros sign stealing.
What we don’t know is what, if any, impact Davis’ and Marisnick’s part in the sign stealing will have on the 2020 Mets.
One of the reasons Carlos Beltran was fired was the difficulty in carrying on his managerial duties after discovering his involvement in the scandal. That may or may not have included his ability to handle pitchers like Stroman who he cheated against.
Now, the conversation shifts to those same pitchers reactions to their teammates, how Davis and Marisnick respond, and ultimately how Luis Rojas can manage the situation.
Of course, that presupposes there is going to be an issue. Maybe there won’t be one at all.
In the end, all we know is Davis and Marisnick cheated against former and current Mets pitchers, and at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about what happened in Houston. Where the Mets go from here could very well be a factor in how the Mets clubhouse holds together and the team performs in 2020.
While Brodie Van Wagenen was touting Dellin Betances‘ ability to “blow the cover off their ceiling,” the fact of the matter is the Mets offseason has been tremendously underwhelming thus far. Really, when you break it down, it’s difficult to ascertain how this team can make up 11 games on the Atlanta Braves.
With Zack Wheeler departing for the Philadelphia Phillies, that’s 4.1 WAR going to a division rival. While they haven’t yet signed with another team, it is expected Todd Frazier (2.2 WAR) and Juan Lagares (-0.7) will sign with other teams.
Combined, that’s a 5.6 WAR.
As a result, the Mets have yet to replace the production they’ve lost. What makes this problematic is their offseason appears fairly set.
Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are taking up two roster spots, and with their salaries, the Mets are not going to just cut bait. Instead, the Mets are going to hope Cespedes can do what Troy Tulowitzki couldn’t do – return from double heel surgery.
When they finally discover what was wrong with Lowrie that limited him to eight pinch hitting attempts last year, we can then have a conversation about what, if anything, he can contribute.
Remember, this a Mets team which finished 11 games behind the Braves. They also finished behind the World Series Champion Washington Nationals too. The Mets needed to gain ground, not lose it.
Keep in mind, they’re not just losing grounds to the teams ahead of them, they are also losing it to the Philadelphia Phillies. That 4.1 WAR the Mets lost in Wheeler went to the Phillies. Joining him there is Didi Gregorius, who had a 0.6 WAR in limited duty. When you add a healthy Andrew McCutchen, they have not only offset the 1.7 WAR they lost with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, but they have improved upon it.
Now, this is where someone may want to point out how the Braves and Nationals are both searching for a new third baseman, and that the third basemen they had last year were their best players. That is true. The Braves losing Josh Donaldson (6.1), and the Nationals losing Anthony Rendon (6.3) were significant losses.
With respect to Donaldson, it should be noted both teams are still in on him and trying to do all they can to sign him. If either team signs him, that narrative is no longer in place as it comes to that team.
Going beyond that, both the Braves and Nationals have made moves to bolster their teams in the event they cannot land Donaldson.
The Nationals have been aggressive this offseason re-signing mid-season acquisitions Asdrubal Cabrera and Daniel Hudson. They have also added Starlin Castro (0.8), Eric Thames (1.6), and Will Harris (2.1). Combine that with the anticipation Carter Kieboom may be ready next year, and the Nationals have at least braced themselves for losing Rendon and missing out on Donaldson.
The Braves have also left third base open while addressing other areas. On the bullpen front, they have brought in Will Smith (2.2) while bringing back Chris Martin and Darren O’Day. They have also added Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. They also potentially upgraded their rotation signing Cole Hamels to replace Dallas Keuchel.
When talking about the Braves, they also have a wealth of young talent in Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Mike Soroka, and others to close the gap on the potential loss of Donaldson. The same can be said with the Nationals with Juan Soto and Victor Robles.
As for the Mets, they could also seek to get some help internally with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario taking the next step. However, the issue with that is whether it is enough to overcome not just the diminution in the talent the team had last year, but also whether it is enough to overcome the significant gap which already existed between them and the rest of the teams in the division.
While it is certainly possible the Mets can win the division in 2020, it is also fair to say they certainly have not done nearly enough this offseason to do that. Really, when you boil it down, the Mets are relying more on luck than anything else. Considering what is ahead and behind them in the division, that is not the best plan, and when you boil it down, they really needed more than just Marisnick.
Just look at the names: Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, and now Dellin Betances. That is a list of names which is the envy of each and every Major League team, and when you break it down, it has the makings of being an all-time great bullpen.
In 2018, Diaz was as dominant as we have seen any closer be. In 73 appearances, he recorded a Major League leading 57 saves with a 1.96 ERA, 0.791 WHIP, and a 15.2 K/9.
Familia is the best right-handed closer in Mets history. From 2015 – 2016, he was second in the Majors in saves while having the third most innings pitched and ninth best ERA.
Lugo has been as dominant a reliever as the Mets have ever had, and really he has emerged to be as dominant as any reliever in the game. To put it in perspective of just how dominant and overlooked he has been, over the past two years, he has a better FIP while throwing more innings than two time All-Star Josh Hader.
As great as this group is, you can argue none of them are anywhere near as good as Betances has been. From 2014-2018, he was quite possibly the best reliever in all of baseball. In fact, his 11.2 fWAR was second best. He was best in innings pitched, third in K/9, fourth in fWAR, and fifth in appearances.
When you can line-up this level of relievers in a row, you’re making every game a 5-6 inning game for a starting staff which includes Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman. That is not only a recipe for success, it is a recipe for pure dominance.
However, it is important to note next year is 2020, and based on the last few years, only Lugo has been pitching at this high a level.
Last year, Diaz had a career worst year. After the offseason, he talked about how he struggled handling New York, and as reported by Laura Albanese of Newsday, the Mets finally admitted he had been dealing with some health issues.
Familia also had a career worst year. With his having an arterial clot removed in 2017 and his dealing with shoulder issues again last year, you wonder if he can ever get back to the pitcher he was in 2018 (3.13 ERA) let alone his dominant form of 2014 – 2016.
Finally, there is Betances. Before partially tearing his Achilles last year, Betances had been shut down at the beginning of the 2019 season due to a bone spur issue in his shoulder, inflammation in the joint, and a strain to his his right latissimus dorsi muscle. When he finally came back, he had lost velocity on his pitches.
That was also before partially tearing his Achillies. The good news on that front is it did not require surgery, and he is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The downside is no one can quite be sure what type of pitcher he will be in 2020.
Long story, short, this all means Jeremy Hefner has his work cut out for him. He has been handed an incredibly gifted bullpen which needs a lot of help getting back to their respective levels of dominance. If he is able to get this group at or near their apex, this Mets bullpen will be the best in the game, and when you factor in the talent and potential of relievers like Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, you could have an all-time great bullpen.
On the other hand, it is difficult to coach away injuries and diminution in stuff. To that end, no one can be quite sure how this bullpen will perform. As such, this “boom or bust” bullpen will be one of the key reasons why the Mets succeed or fail in 2020.
With the Mets officially signing and introducing Dellin Betances, the team has not only acquired one of the best relievers in the game (when healthy), but with Betances standing at 6’8″, they have also obtained one of the tallest players in Major League history.
Of the 10 tallest, four of them have played with the Mets. That includes the tallest Major League player in history. Can you name all 10 players? Good luck!
If you look at the Mets bullpen, the theme appears to be “If.” If this bullpen is healthy, and if this bullpen performs to its full potential, it is going to be one of the best in the game.
The flip side of that is if it isn’t, we’re going to see more of the same.
That’s the way it is with bullpens. You just try to acquire as many quality guys as you can, and you hope it works. Perhaps with Jeremy Hefner, this is more primed to work.
One thing we do know is starting pitching can help a bullpen. The deeper starters can go, the less you need to go to the well. This keeps your relievers healthier and fresher which hopefully leads to better productivity.
That brings us back to what the Mets have opted to do with their pitching this offseason.
In signing Betances, Wacha, and Rick Porcello, the Mets have spent $23.5 million guaranteed. That number rises to $30.5 million if Wacha hits all of his incentives.
That $23.5 million figure is important because that’s just a hair off of what the Phillies are paying Zack Wheeler per year.
Essentially, the Mets believed Porcello plus a reclamation project in Wacha and Betances. With Betances, remember prior to the Achillies, he had dealt with a shoulder impingement and lat issue all through the 2019 season.
Even when Betances did return, he admitted to his stuff and velocity not being there. That was before he partially tore his Achilles.
Yes, Betances is an arm well worth the gamble. Not only has he shown the ability to flat out dominate, but he’s also shown the ability to do it in New York. That’s important.
Still, you really have to wonder about the wisdom of rolling the dice on three relievers when you’re already rolling the dice on two relievers who were supposed to be your top two relievers. Add to that the significant downgrade from Porcello, who you’re also rolling the dice on, from Wheeler, and you’re left wondering if this was the best allocation of resources.
That does double when you consider Wheeler stays in the division making the Phillies significantly better.
Ultimately, the 2020 bullpen and pitching staff as a whole may be better. Then again, the bullpen could be more of the same with the pitching staff as a whole far worse.
Of course, the Mets bullpen could’ve remained the same and been far better as a result of Diaz adapting better to New York, and the elimination of the super ball helping him, Familia, and the rest of the bullpen.
That’s the gamble the Mets took. They decided on adding a group of lesser pitchers being better than the known quantity in Wheeler.
It’s not a smart bet, but it’s still possible the Mets bet pays off. No matter what, the Mets better be right here.
In a surprise to us all, the Mets took some of the money they saved from Yoenis Cespedes, and they invested it back into the team.
We can be frustrated this was a necessary step, and we can question why the money wasn’t spent on the 2019 team. We can also really take issue with the fact his agents had to come back to the Mets. That’s all for another today.
Today, there is reason to celebrate because Dellin Betances is a New York Met. Much like Ralphie and the Red Rider BB gun, it was the Christmas gift we all desperately wanted but never expected to get.
So, in the words Betances himself, Merry ChristMets!