We haven’t completed the first week of Spring Training games, and suddenly, the Mets are moving towards being put in a position where they will need to find their Opening Day left fielder. Arguably, we are not yet at that day, but from the looks of it, that day of reckoning may soon come.
Yoenis Cespedes has been rehabbing from his double heel surgery, and according to indications, he is doing roughly 85% of what the other Mets players are doing. Cespedes has been pushing hard, but no one quite knows if he is going to be able to be ready for Opening Day, and if he is, no one knows if he can play everyday.
To some, Cespedes was seen as a luxury because the Mets had other options in the outfield. Depending on how things shake out, that may no longer be true.
J.D. Davis dove for a ball at third, and he is being at least temporarily shut down. He has a “pre-existing” labrum tear and inflammation. Davis says he will be ready for Opening Day, but we heard the same refrains from Jed Lowrie last year, and when we look at history, the Mets have a terrible history diagnosing and handling injuries.
Brandon Nimmo, who was supposed to be ready to go for Opening Day, is now dealing with a cardiac issues. He is undergoing cardiac screening, and at this point, we don’t know what the exact issue is, and really, we don’t know how this issue (to the extent there is one) will limit him.
Right there, the Mets are potentially down three outfield options. That leaves Jake Marisnick, who was a below average hitter even when he knew what pitch was coming, and Dominic Smith, who suffered a stress fracture playing the outfield last year. Keep in mind, where the Mets stand right now, they are in a position to play Marisnick and Smith everyday with their backup outfielder being Jeff McNeil, who is also their everyday third baseman.
The question is what then happens when or if either Marisnick or Smith go down? There just isn’t the depth in Triple-A to sustain an injury. When you look at it, the Mets are getting increasingly shallow in the outfield, and that is before the season even begins.
With Puig, the Mets are getting a good fielder, who even at his worst, is a league average bat. No, Puig is not the superstar many thought he’d be when he debuted with the Dodgers. Rather, he is a solid, good, durable, and reliable everyday Major League outfielder. Put another way, he is exactly what the Mets don’t have.
Now, it is possible Cespedes will be ready by Opening Day. Davis’ shoulder and Nimmo’s heart may not keep them out of the Opening Day lineup. Marisnick could have a career year, and after a full offseason, Smith could be ready to play everyday in the outfield. Still, that is a lot of question marks, and it is unwise to hinge your season on all of that breaking in the Mets favor.
Seeing that is the case, the Mets should be acting quickly to sign Puig. If nothing else, they’ll put themselves in a position to have too many player for too few spots. That’s a much better problem to have than not having Major League caliber players to play the outfield because the Mets waited too long to act and some other team signed Puig at the precise moment they needed him most.
Since David Wright has retired, there has been some question over who should be the next captain of the New York Mets, or even if there should ever be another captain. In the event the Mets do ever seek to name a new captain, they have a roster full of homegrown players who could step up and be exactly that leader the next Mets captain needs to be.
The popular choice is Pete Alonso. That choice is inspired, and Alonso has shown himself worthy. In addition to a record setting rookie season, he showed himself to be a great teammate by and through his friendship with Dominic Smith, and he showed true leadership with the 9/11 cleats.
Another very worthy candidate is Michael Conforto.
In his five year career, Conforto has seen it all. He was the phenom how helped the Mets win the 2015 pennant. He was there for the Mets tearing down that roster to build it back up. He has handled his own injury problems, and he has been bounced around the outfield to suit the Mets needs.
He’s been a future superstar, a platoon player, a bust, an All Star, a what could’ve been, and finally, a good baseball player again who is a part of a team who could win the World Series.
More than anyone, Conforto knows what it is like being a Met when times are a good and when times are bad. In some ways, he had a career arc not too different than what we saw with David Wright, albeit on a truncated and less dramatic scale. On that note, Conforto was there when Wright battled back from spinal stenosis, and he was there to learn from him.
Conforto was also there learning from other leaders like Jay Bruce, Michael Cuddyer, and Curtis Granderson. In fact, when Bruce and Granderson were traded away in 2017, it was Conforto who initially had to step up and fill the leadership void, something which became difficult as he dealt with a potentially career ending surgery.
It has become quite clear Conforto learned from people like Bruce, Cuddyer, Granderson, and Wright.
Right now, the biggest issue in baseball has been the sign stealing. That scandal has impacted the Mets as they have already lost a manager in Carlos Beltran before he even managed a game. One of their best pitchers, Marcus Stroman, has been quite vocal in his issues with the Astros sign stealing. While we haven’t seen public statements, there are reports Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz are similarly angry.
With J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick having been part of that 2017 Astros team, that could be very problematic for this Mets clubhouse. That is an even bigger issue with Marisnick doubling off Stroman in a specific game Stroman commented saying the Astros were “Ruining the integrity of the game.”
This is the type of situation which begs for someone to step up and tackle this issue before it is a problem either in the clubhouse or publicly. Right away, Conforto has stepped up and tried to take control of the message:
Michael Conforto said there won’t be any animosity from Mets teammates toward 2017 Astros Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis.
“But I’m sure there will be conversations about it.”
Conforto was clear that the Astros crossed a line, but he won’t hold it against Marisnick/Davis.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 11, 2020
This is exactly what you need from a captain of your team. You need someone to have the savvy to disspell any notion of internal strife and have the status in the clubhouse to make sure that this will in fact be the case. In that statement, we see while he may not be the captain, Conforto remains a leader in that Mets clubhouse.
Conforto has indicated he loves being a Met, and he would be open to a contract extension. If the Mets step up and make him a Met for life, it would be fitting to also named him the next captain in team history as he is showing he is a leader, knows how to handle everything which has come the Mets way, and ultimately, he is the type of player and person who would make a good captain.
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!
The Boston Red Sox traded away Mookie Betts, arguably the second best player in baseball, for what amounted to an underwhelming return because the organization believes it needed to get under the luxury tax. This came on the heels of the team needing to fire Alex Cora because he was implicated in the Astros sign stealing scandal.
To that, Mets fans say, “You’re lucky!”
Since the Wilpons took over control of the Mets in 2002, the Red Sox have won four World Series titles to the Mets none. The reason is the Red Sox have competent ownership who will spend and allow their baseball people to run the organization.
The Red Sox got rid of Pedro Martinez towards the end of his career. The Mets helped accelerate that by forcing Pedro to pitch hurt to generate just one last big gate at the end of the 2005 season.
The Red Sox had a similar sell off moving Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett in a blockbuster where they got little more than salary relief from the Dodgers. The Red Sox took advantage of that payroll relief by investing it in the roster and winning the World Series the following year.
Meanwhile, the Mets cannot even afford to reinvest insurance proceeds from Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright. Meanwhile, the Mets get Gonzalez when his career is done because they won’t sign a big free agent, nor would they give Dominic Smith a chance much in the same vein the Red Sox gave players like Betts a chance.
Part of the reason for this is the Mets are run by Jeff Wilpon, who continues to prove he’s inept at running a franchise. That goes from assembling a roster to being the type of person who fires an unwed pregnant woman. He also opted to hire a former agent in Brodie Van Wagenen.
Van Wagenen’s first move was to trade Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to help get his former client Robinson Cano out of Seattle like he wanted. Later in the offseason, he signed his former client Jed Lowrie for $20 million, and so far, he only has eight pinch hitting attempts to show for it.
Van Wagenen was hired over Chaim Bloom, one of the most respected people in the business. Bloom was the guy who helped keep the Rays competitive while having significant financial constraints. This is exactly why Mets fans have little to no sympathy for Red Sox fans.
The Red Sox are run by owners who will do whatever it takes to win, and they continuously hire accomplished baseball people who win games for them. They find ways to move past their mistakes, and even when they make unpopular decisions, they offset it by trusting smart baseball people and spending.
Meanwhile, the Mets are cursed by the incompetent Wilpons who can’t even manage to allow someone to overpay for the Mets by over a billion dollars.
So, yes, Red Sox fans, trading away Mookie Betts sucks. However, you at least have Alex Verdugo, Brusdar Graterol, Chaim Bloom, and owners who will eventually spend. The Mets fans have a young core they love but won’t win because of incompetent ownership.
So, yes, Red Sox fans, it can be worse – MUCH WORSE.
Major League Baseball is embroiled in the sign stealing scandal, so it was time for baseball to dust off the old universal DH alarm. Many will have you believe there’s an air of inevitability to it, and from a Mets perspective, we hear this is the best case scenario with Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith (as if you can DH three players).
Whenever we hear about this, proponents of the universal DH rush to make arguments which don’t hold up to scrutiny. Let’s look at them:
No One Wants To See Pitcher’s Hit
Looking at attendance figures, the last time an AL team had the highest attendance was 2010. This year, three of the top five and six of the top 10 teams in attendance were NL teams. By the same token, nine of the worst 11 teams in attendance were AL teams.
This is something which holds true year-in and year-out. If the DH is really a drawing point for fans, it’s not showing up in attendance figures.
Pitchers Kill Rallies
The scenario always painted is based loaded, two outs, your team down one, and you lose because the pitcher comes up to the plate. Frankly, this doesn’t happen.
In 2019, Stephen Strasburg led all pitchers in plate appearances. He averaged 2.3 plate appearances per game. Frankly, he and all pitchers are out of the game for a pinch hitter when the game is on the line.
On that front, from the seventh inning on, NL punch hitters have a 78 wRC+. That’s slightly higher than AL ninth place hitters with their 77 wRC+. Fact is, when the game is on the line, NL and AL teams are sending the same caliber of hitter to the plate.
As for the pitchers being rally killers, it’s hard to argue they’re not even if the case is grossly overstated. In 2019, there were 2,079 PA by batters with two outs and runners in scoring position. Only 97 of those PA (4.7%) were from pitchers.
Really, when you break it down, pitchers aren’t getting the plate appearances in high leverage situations proponents of the DH want you to believe.
DH Means More Offense
Now, there’s no doubting a DH is a better hitter than a pitcher. After all, in 2019, DHs had a 104 wRC+ as compared to the pitchers -18 wRC+. That’s an astronomical difference.
Even with the difference between the two, it’s not making the difference in run scoring and offense as people will have you believe.
In 2019, NL teams hit .251/323/.431, and AL teams hit .253/.323/.439. On average, NL teams scored 4.8 runs per game, and AL teams scored 4.9 runs per game. That is not remotely close to being a significant difference. In fact, on a game-to-game basis, it’s not remotely discernible.
This may come as a surprise when you look at the difference between a pitcher and DH hitting. However, as noted above, most pitchers get two PA per game. As the game moves towards increased bullpen use, that number will drop. Between that and pitchers not batting in high leverage situations, there shouldn’t be much of a surprise there’s no real difference in run scoring between the leagues.
The DH Adds Jobs
One argument for the DH is it adds jobs. It doesn’t. If you look, both AL and NL teams have 26 man rosters. The DH isn’t adding a roster spot, but rather, another spot in the lineup. As shown above, that spot alone isn’t driving attendance or run scoring.
DH Keeps Veterans Around Longer
This has always been a curious argument. At its core, this argument is saying fans would want to see older players with severely diminished skills over exciting young players.
Putting that aside, that’s not how teams utilize the DH. Last year, the 10 batters who had the most PA as a DH were:
- Nelson Cruz (39)
- Khris Davis (32)
- J.D. Martinez (32)
- Renato Nunez (25)
- Jorge Soler (27)
- Miguel Cabrera (36)
- Shohei Ohtani (25)
- Daniel Vogelbach (27)
- Yordan Alvarez (22)
- Shin-Soo Choo (37)
If you’re looking to discern a pattern here, it is these are players teams have decided they don’t want in the field. That applies to the 22 year old reigning AL Rookie of the Year to the 2013 AL MVP.
Looking at Cabrera, he is a DH not because teams want to see him finish up his Hall of Fame career and give him a chance to put more numbers. Rather, it is because he has a long-term deal, and the Tigers have to play him somewhere.
Cabrera and players like Cruz are a dying breed in the AL. Teams are increasingly using the DH for poor fielders or as a way to keep players fresh. We’re not seeing it as a place where Vladimir Guerrero or other Hall of Famers try to hang on for a few more years.
Pitcher Injury Concerns
Whenever this issue comes up, we undoubtedly hear about Chien-Ming Wang‘s season ending injury. It was unfortunate, but let’s revisit it.
Wang injured himself running. No, not sliding into a base. Not a collision with a fielder. He injured himself running. Want to throw in it was from his stepping on a base, fine, go ahead.
Realistically speaking, this is no different, than pitchers running to cover first. They run full speed and step on the base. In the end, Wang injured himself on a non-contact baseball play.
If the issue is we don’t want to see pitchers running and stepping on bases, we’re going to have to find out a new way to handle plays were first basemen have to stray too far off first to field the ball.
Another point on Wang’s unfortunate injury was this occurred over a decade ago, and we haven’t seen another pitcher suffer a similar injury since that time. We also don’t see pitchers suffer injuries batting.
In essence, this is an overreaction to an isolated event, which as we have seen, happens maybe once a decade.
MLB Is Only League Where Pitchers Hit
This is just flat out false. In fact, the NPL Central League also has pitchers batting. When you look at it that way, the two very best professional baseball leagues have pitchers batting.
In the minors, we also will see pitchers batting when NL affiliates square off against one another.
Looking at it this way, why should baseball lower its standards to what semi-professional and amateur leagues do? Aren’t these supposed to be the absolute best players playing at the highest level?
Really, it doesn’t make sense to lower baseball’s standards to comply with what far lesser professional leagues do.
Overall, this is much like the argument for the universal DH. It’s mostly largely unsubstantiated rhetoric which comports to what people think the DH should do, but doesn’t.
In the end, there are a substantial number of baseball fans who love the National League style of baseball. They should be permitted to enjoy that baseball, which as we have seen, generates higher attendance and larger revenues while having a game with more strategy and substantially speaking, the same amount of offense.
If you still can’t handle those roughly two PA per game from pitchers, there’s a whole league you can enjoy while you leave the traditional and better baseball for the rest of us, who based on the numbers, outnumber the DH or bust fans.
In 2017, in a somewhat surprising move, the New York Rangers made Lias Andersson the seventh overall selection in the draft. He was supposed to be the first big move in a Rangers rebuild, and to some he was touted as a future Captain of the Rangers who could led the team to their first Stanley Cup since 1995.
So far, it hasn’t panned out that way, and worse yet, things only seem to get worse and worse.
Andersson struggled in his first year, but he seemed to learn some lessons from it. During training camp, he seemed to prove himself and earned a spot on the roster to open the 2019-2020 season. The optimism quickly soured with him not producing and the ensuing debate/drama over his being on the fourth line.
This entire situation led to Andersson being demoted to the AHL, where he again struggled. Eventually, Andersson demanded a trade and all together up and left the Rangers. Since that time, there was an active debate over handling of him and other prospects as well as Andersson on how he handled the situation.
Recently, Andersson opened up about what has transpired. In an interview translated by Blueshirt Banter, Andersson talked about how he is struggling:
There has been many incidents, but I can’t divulge everything, I will do that at a later stage. There has been many incidents that has hurt me on a personal level, things that has made me struggle mentally. In regards to hockey this might be an idiotic decision but I have to think about my private life too.”, Lias falls silent, “I feel like I have lost the hunger and drive for [hockey] at the moment – and all these incidents has affected me. I feel like I have to get this under control first and foremost.
Since the interview, we have learned more about the situation. Andersson was apparently skating on two injured feet, and there have been unspoken incidents which have troubled him. Another important note here is Andersson’s father has been clear this is not some temper tantrum about his demotion to the AHL.
Andersson is struggling with something, is dealing with injuries, and he is not yet ready to talk about it.
With hockey uncovering some bullying issues, especially from coaches, there has been some speculation as to what happened with Andersson with some of it being irresponsible. Still without quite knowing what happened with Andersson, there is a lesson to be learned here about how teams handle prospects.
Before going further, there is an interesting baseball parallel here with Dominic Smith of the Mets.
Smith was drafted by the Mets with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 draft. Since that time, we saw Smith show the tools to be a good Major League player, but there was a narrative emerging about his being overweight and lazy. In terms of his being overweight, you could see it despite his spending much of his offseasons dedicated to getting into shape.
As for the lazy part, aside from it being a byproduct of how some view overweight people, Smith would oversleep and report late to the first Spring Training game of the 2018 season. That seemed to be the final nail in his coffin as the Mets first baseman of the future.
After that point, the Mets went forward with Adrian Gonzalez to start the 2018 season. After they moved on from Gonzalez, the Mets looked to Wilmer Flores, a player they would non-tender after the season, at first base. All-in-all, they never gave Smith a chance to succeed, and eventually without a real direct competition, Smith was passed on the depth chart by Pete Alonso.
After the 2018 season, we discovered Smith had been battling sleep apnea. With it finally being properly diagnosed and treated, we not only saw Smith stay in shape for the entirety of the 2019 season, but we would also see him become an impactful player with a 133 wRC+.
With Smith, you are really left wondering how things would have been different had the team handled his development differently. It is the same exact situation with Andersson.
In recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear teams are not devoting enough time and resources to the actual development of players. While we see teams increasingly looking towards analytics and conditioning to help develop and improve their players, we are not hearing enough about teams looking to help players develop mentally, and/or learn to better handle themselves as professionals.
Many times, we hear about how this manager, coach, or veteran is going to take a certain player under their wing and help them fulfill their full potential. Looking at the Mets, we actually heard Edwin Diaz speak about his problems handling New York, and he was looking forward to new manager Carlos Beltran helping him better handle the city in 2020.
While a manager is supposed to be there to help, players need more, especially when a manager has to handle a roster of 25 players, a full coaching staff, speak with the media, and deal with the front office. It’s too much for any manager to handle players like a Smith or Andersson who are clearly struggling and need the help the team is ill equipped to provide.
The help can come in the form of a mental skills or life coach for the team. Perhaps every team should have a form of a stipend to help players seek the personal help they need but really cannot afford as prospects. Perhaps leagues need to have an ombudsman of sorts to visit minor leaguers to investigate how teams are being run and why they aren’t meeting their goals.
Point is, the Rangers have effectively lost a very talented hockey player in Andersson to something which might have been avoidable. The Mets almost missed out on Smith having a productive career for trying to turn what was a physical ailment into a mental problem. Clearly, these organizations and others are very ill-equipped to handle the mental and life skills issues of players, and as a result, we are seeing players not even be allowed to be put in a good position to reach their full potential.
That is a very real and significant problem. What makes it worse is it is avoidable, and it is time someone starts focusing on how to help these players instead of trying to tell them and everyone else what is wrong with them because clearly, they have no idea.
Due to injuries last year, Jed Lowrie was limited to just eight pinch hitting appearances. In those eight pinch hitting appearances, he would strike out half the time and draw just one walk. Obviously, this was a far cry from the player the Mets thought they were getting when they signed him to a two year $20 million deal.
When the Mets did sign Lowrie last year, it looked like a coup. It was a very reasonable deal for the 2018 All-Star. As a leader for the surprise Oakland Athletics, he would hit .267/.353/.448 with 37 doubles, one triple, 23 homers, and 99 RBI.
His 123 wRC+ and 4.8 WAR was the fourth best among Major League second basemen. As a switch hitter who has experience playing three of the four infield positions, he was a versatile, experienced, and mostly good baseball player. His presence was supposed to allow the Mets to rest Robinson Cano and allow the Mets to use Todd Frazier more as a platoon type player and defensive replacement.
Of course, that would never happen.
It started with what was diagnosed as a capsule strain in his left knee during Spring Training. When it was first diagnosed, it was anticipated he would be ready for Opening Day, but the timeline for his return would be pushed back time and again.
There would also be a rehab stint which led to him being shut down before he resumed a late August one. During that second rehab assignment, he was not able to play more than seven innings in the field, and he did not play more than two consecutive days in the field. As we know, he would not play in the field during his very short stint on the active Major League roster.
Jed Lowrie log since promotion to Syracuse
8/28 – 2B (5 innings)
8/29 – 2B (5 innings)
8/30 – off
8/31 – 2B (7 innings)
9/1 – DH
9/2 – 2B (5 innings)
9/3 – DH
9/4 – off https://t.co/Rn5pUQNMo3
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 4, 2019
Now, you could chalk this up to one lost year, and if that was the case, you could expect Lowrie to be able to contribute in 2020. After all, if healthy, you have a switch-hitter who can play anywhere in the infield even though ideally he would be limited to second and third at this point in his career. The problem with that line of thinking is the Mets don’t have the best track record dealing with injuries, and worse yet, they don’t know what is actually wrong with Lowrie.
Brodie Van Wagenen on Jed Lowrie: "We've continued to try to diagnose what Jed's issues were that kept them out this season. We'll continue to do that with the plan for him being 100 percent ready to go for spring training."
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) November 12, 2019
Being well aware of the situation, the Mets are reportedly looking for ways to unload Lowrie. The problem with those efforts is Lowrie will be 36 next year, expensive, and mostly, questionable about his ability to play. Ultimately, this is the biggest reason why Lowrie is still a Met.
It’s gotten to the point with the franchise where we have seen multiple reports indicating the Mets are so desperate to unload Lowrie, they are willing to attach a real asset to entice another team to do that. The name which is mostly connected with Lowrie is Dominic Smith.
It is important to note Smith was the second youngest position player on the Mets last year. In 89 games, he had a 0.7 WAR and a 133 wRC+. For all the talk about his being “blocked,” he was a late inning defensive replacement at first, was able to play capably as a stop gap left fielder, and was a good pinch hitter.
With respect to that last point, Smith hit .286/.459/.571 in 37 pinch hitting attempts. As a reserve, he hit .318/.434/.568. He had a number of big hits in games he came off the bench including his walk-off homer to end the 2019 season. Even if you want to argue he is blocked or would be better served as a starter elsewhere, he has shown himself to be a very effective bench player for the Mets.
More than that, as it stands now, he is the only left-handed bat on the Mets bench. In an era where there are no more LOOGYs, his value in that role is of increased importance. The Mets can ill afford to just part with that for the sake of just getting rid of Lowrie’s salary.
Ideally, the Mets would just eat some or all of the contract to trade him while getting some lottery chip in exchange from a team like the Oakland Athletics or Texas Rangers. Unfortunately, the Mets don’t operate that way. They would rather part with a good player for short term savings.
At the end of the day, if Lowrie can play, you play him and see what happens. However, if he can’t play, the Mets just gave give away players like Smith who are under team control until 2025. That makes zero to little sense, and if that is the direction the Mets are going, they should just designate Lowrie for assignment because the team would be better off in 2020 and in each of the ensuing years.
Unless you are the Los Angeles Angels with Mike Trout or maybe the Boston Red Sox with Mookie Betts, no baseball team can definitively say they have a better player on their team than Nolan Arenado. Since 2015, he has been a top eight player in the league in terms of fWAR, and he has been a top six player in terms of DRS.
Arenado has won seven straight Gold Gloves, been an All-Star for five straight seasons, and he has won a Silver Slugger in four of the last five seasons. It should come as no surprise he has been a top five finisher in the MVP voting over that five year stretch.
Arenado has proven himself to be the rare player who has the ability to impact the game in the field and at the plate. He is one of the best in the sport, a future Hall of Famer, and at 28 years old, he is in his prime. When players like this are available, you do everything you can do to acquire them.
That should include the Mets.
If Arenado was on the Mets in 2020, his 5.7 WAR would have been the best on the team. To that end, the Mets have not had a position player have a WAR over 5.0 since Juan Lagares in 2014, and they have not had a position player with a WAR better than Arenado’s 5.7 since David Wright had a 5.9 WAR in 2013.
If you think about it, that’s what Arenado is. Both are Gold Glove caliber and Silver Slugger players who are top 10 players in the sport. The key difference is Arenado is healthy and playing now. When players like Wright come along, and Arenado is that level of player, you do what you can to get him.
When you look at the Mets roster as a whole, the only player they have better than Arenado right now is Jacob deGrom. When you consider deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball right now, and he is signed to a very reasonable contract extension, you cannot trade him for Arenado.
Any other pitcher on the Mets roster, Noah Syndergaard included, can and should be considered in a potential Arenado trade.
As for the rest of the Mets team, you can and should consider trading all of them if the price is right.
Yes, that means you should consider trading players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. It would hurt to lose either player, but you will have one entrenched in one of the corner outfield spots, and you can move Jeff McNeil to LF on a permanent basis to accommodate that loss.
For what it is worth, the Mets should be willing to trade McNeil for Arenado as well. After all, Arenado is a better baseball player than McNeil, and if you’re going to choose between the two as who you want to be your third baseman for the next five years, you are going to chose Arenado.
Finally, yes, you can also consider trading Pete Alonso. If the Mets traded Alonso for Arenado, they still have Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis (who is really only just a first baseman) to play first. At the end of the day, you hate losing Alonso who has proven to be not just a very good player, but also one who has captured the hearts and minds as Mets fans.
That said, Arenado is a better baseball player than Alonso. More to the point, the Mets are a better team with Smith/Davis at first, Arenado at third, and an outfield of McNeil-Nimmo-Conforto than have a team where they either play Jake Marisnick everyday or have a platoon of first basemen in left field.
They’re also a better team with Alonso and Arenado at the corners. To that end, if you can swing a deal without giving up Alonso, or any of their other core players which include Conforto, McNeil, Nimmo, and Syndergaard, you do it. The problem is the Mets don’t necessarily have that farm system after all the damage Brodie Van Wagenen did last offseason.
To that end, if the Rockies want a player the ilk of Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Andres Gimenez, Matthew Allan, Brett Baty, or whomever else the Rockies inquire, the Mets should be willing to listen. Of course, if the Rockies want to go this route, the caliber of Major League player the Mets should be willing to part in such a trade comes down a significant peg from the aforementioned core.
Now, it should be noted Arenado has an opt out after the 2021 season. If you are the Mets, you don’t disrupt your core without getting him to waive that or renegotiate the contract. That is where Steve Cohen and his money should hopefully come into play.
If the Mets can get Arenado to waive his no trade clause and opt in to his contract, short of Jacob deGrom, there is no one the Mets should not discuss in a trade because at the end of the day, the Mets do not have a player as good as the one Nolan Arenado is.
The emergence of Pete Alonso could have created a Dominic Smith problem for the Mets. After all, Smith and Alonso play the same position. With Alonso hitting 53 homers and winning the Rookie of the Year award, it’s clear the Mets view Alonso as not just part, but really, the core of this team.
While Smith is no longer going to get a chance to be the Mets first baseman of the current and future, he proved himself to be a very useful Major League player. In 89 games, he hit .282/.355/.525 with 10 doubles, 11 homers, and 25 RBI. He proved himself to be a good defensive baseman, and he showed he is quite capable of playing left field for some stretches.
He would also prove his mettle as a bench player. In 37 pinch hitting appearances, he hit .286/.459/.571 with two doubles, two homers, and six RBI. In the 34 games he entered as a substitute, he hit .318/.434/.568 with two doubles, three homers, and 12 RBI.
All told, Smith proved capable of doing something very difficult. He proved he could be a productive Major League bench player. Through the years, we have seen that’s easier said than done. More than that, he proved he is a Major League caliber player, and at 24 years of age, he’s showing he is still a very promising player.
There are plenty of Major League teams who could use a young first baseman. To that end, a Mets team who needs a fifth starter, bullpen help, a center fielder, and depth should really consider moving Smith to fill one or more of those needs. What the Mets should not be looking to do is just dumping Smith to do that.
However, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic the Mets are doing just that. Specifically, Rosenthal says the Mets are looking to use a player like Smith to entice teams to take on a bad contract like Jed Lowrie or Jeurys Familia.
This is because the Mets are going to refuse to exceed the luxury tax threshold despite receiving insurance proceeds from the David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes contracts. They are going to do that despite $12 million of Jacob deGrom‘s $25 million salary. That’s literally tens of millions of dollars the Mets are pocketing, and yet they are not going to be willing to take that next step.
This once again emphasizes the Wilpons mismanagement of team resources, and it highlights just how bad the Robinson Cano trade was for the Mets.
The 37 year old Cano is due $24 million in 2020 and in each of the ensuing three years. When you take out the $3.75 million covered by the Seattle Mariners, the Mets are paying Cano $20.25 million. That is essentially the money the Mets are paying to Familia and Lowrie combined.
Really, when you take the trio combined, that is $41.92 million in money the Mets are begging to get out from under. The Mets got almost literally nothing out of Lowrie. In terms of WAR, they got less than that from Familia. That leaves Cano and his injury prone season as the best of the group. That’s good because he and his 0.3 WAR is making more money than Lowrie and Familia combined.
The Cano trade has so far meant the Mets do not get to see Jarred Kelenic play in Queens. It has meant the Mets will not be able to just replace Zack Wheeler in the rotation with Justin Dunn while using their money to fill other needs. One of those needs is now the fifth starter spot, and right now, Wheeler is not going to be a part of that equation.
As if that all wasn’t bad enough, it could also mean the Mets are just going to give Smith away.
The short term ramifications of the Cano trade were quite bad with Cano having a subpar injury plagued year and Edwin Diaz having one of the worst seasons a Mets closer has ever had. The fact that this won’t be the nadir of the trade speaks to just how disastrous that trade actually was and will continue to be.