After a disappointing loss in the Wild Card Series, the New York Mets remade their rotation and re-shaped their bench. Are they better? Well, we’re about to find out:
1. The Mets are going to miss Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, and Dominic Smith. With Lugo and Smith, they are getting the opportunities they always wanted, and for deGrom, well, let’s hope he can be the AL Cy Young. Best of luck to all of them.
2. The Mets having Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander lead their rotation is a fever dream. Last time the Mets had this much greatness atop their rotation was 2015 when deGrom and Matt Harvey pitched the Mets to a pennant.
3. With the shift ban and other rule changes, Jeff McNeil may hit .400. If he does, you know he will be the NL MVP, so starting right now, we are accepting all passengers on the McNeil MVP Hype Train.
4. Kodai Senga looks like the real deal, and his ghost sinker will likely be a bigger sensation than Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s gyroball or Hideo Nomo‘s wind-up and splitter. Look for him to be an All-Star and have a big year.
5. The best news to come out of spring training was José Quintana‘s tumor being benign. Whenever he comes back, he comes back.
6. It was not the way you wanted to see it happen, but David Peterson got the rotation spot he should have received. He should have a good year, and with the age in the Mets rotation, he may just make more starts than any other Mets pitcher.
7. Obviously, the Mets are going to miss Edwin Díaz immensely. It appears he is gone for the season, but you never know, especially if the Mets go deep into October.
8. One thing the Díaz injury highlighted was the importance of signing David Robertson. With him, the Mets have a closer in their bullpen who has thrived in New York. This was just a good signing.
9. The other thing the Díaz injury highlights is the Mets could have done more to build the bullpen. Obviously, you understood the team not spending or pursuing free agents after the Carlos Correa deal fell through, but when it was clear that money wasn’t going to be spent, Michael Fulmer and Andrew Chafin were still free agents. Not pivoting to them was a mistake Billy Eppler cannot justify.
10. There is absolutely no justification for Brett Baty not being on the Opening Day roster. Put aside the fact he won the job in spring training (if there was a competition). Everyone says he’s better than Eduardo Escobar right now, and more to the point, the Mets gave him the job in August.
11. The Mets were right to designate Darin Ruf for assignment. His wrist was holding him back, and the team needed to find someone else for the job. Now, that job should have gone to Escobar or Mark Canha, but that is a fight for another day.
12. With the shift rules and pitch clock, there will be more emphasis on contact and defense. While we know these rules are perfect for McNeil, it is another reason why Luis Guillorme should be playing everyday.
13. Again, the Mets ideal lineup is with McNeil in left, Guillorme at second, and Baty at third. We may need to see that sooner rather than later because Canha finished the year miserably and was non-competitive in the postseason. It may just be he will be far more effective as a part-time or semi-regular player.
14. The Mets bench is flat out bad. Tommy Pham really is just another version of Ruf, and Tim Locastro may just be a worse version of Travis Jankowski. Hopefully, when the Mets finally call up Baty, it will move Escobar and/or Canha to the bench. At that point, this will be a deep and dangerous roster.
15. Francisco Lindor is a great player in his prime. We are very lucky he is a member of the New York Mets, and we can look forward to the day he wears a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque and sees his 12 retired.
16. Aaron Judge broke the rookie home run record in 2017. Two years later, Pete Alonso broke the record. Last year, Judge hit 62. Lets just say this year will be a stepping stone for Alonso’s epic 2024 season.
17. Omar Narváez and Tomás Nido are going to be such a good tandem behind that plate that it is unfortunately going to keep Francisco Álvarez in Triple-A most of the year. Of course, if there is an injury, and Álvarez goes on a tear, the Mets might just be forced to keep him in the majors.
18. The fans clamoring for Álvarez, Baty, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos is a sign of just how good each of those prospects are and just how bright the Mets future is. As good as 2023 will be, 2024 will be better when they take on bigger roles.
19. Brandon Nimmo is a Met for life poised to break many team records. It’s sad that he couldn’t be joined by Michael Conforto (who the Mets needed), but we should celebrate Nimmo’s path to being one of the true Mets greats.
20. During the regular season, the Mets may be the third best team in the division. The early schedule is tough. The bench is bad. The older roster will have some nicks. However, in the end, when it matters most, this is a postseason team who will be set up well to win the World Series. Repeat, the Mets will win the 2024 World Series.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied the award.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
8. Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
11. Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil Lee.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
Whether or not it was the right call, Showalter won, and it was close to being unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
The writing had been on the wall, and now, it’s official. With the New York Mets non-tendering Dominic Smith, his tenure with the team has now ended.
In many ways, it never really began.
Despite Smith being a first round pick and top 100 prospect, he was only given 49 games in 2017 to claim the first base job. This was at a time when he had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea.
That sleep apnea interfered with his chances of winning the first base job over Adrián González. It should be noted here the Mets brought in competition for Smith’s job but not Amed Rosario’s.
Rosario was never challenged for his job despite his failures. Smith was never given the chance to succeed.
In Smith’s entire six year career with the Mets, he entered Opening Day as the team’s first baseman zero times. Yes, Pete Alonso had a lot to do with that, but the organization’s unwillingness to give him the job played into it more.
Remember, after González was designated for assignment in 2018, Smith was not recalled to play first despite the team being effectively eliminated from postseason competition in May.
Over six years, Smith, a pure first baseman, has logged more innings in left than at first. Notably, left is out of position for Smith, and he suffered injuries each year he was asked to play extended time there.
On that note, the only time he was given a steering job out of Spring Training was 2021. He’d hurt his shoulder and play through it partially because of all of the Mets injuries.
He earned that chance because of a great 2020 pandemic season. That was the only time in his Mets career he was healthy and given a chance to play first. He thrived.
To the apparent shock of the Mets, Smith did not thrive playing out of position or when injured. It’s shocking they didn’t realize this because they only had to go as far back as Lucas Duda to figure that out. This being the Mets, they didn’t.
In 2022, the Mets opted to first go with Robinson Canó then J.D. Davis at DH before trading for Daniel Vogelbach. No, Smith was not given a chance to win that job in-season.
Smith was a DH fewer times than Alonso, who only served that role 27 times all season. Smith was the DH in just eight more games than Mark Vientos. Vientos was a short side platoon DH called up on September 11.
Barely getting more reps at a position than a part time player called up with less than a month remaining in the season is proof positive he wasn’t given a shot to win the job.
There are obvious and fair criticisms of Smith in 2022. He didn’t hit a homer in the majors all year. He didn’t hit much at all. Then again, his playing time was very sporadic.
Still, when you don’t produce, you’re going to be benched. Moreover, when the Mets were in need for pitching, they needed to send Smith down.
What’s truly bizarre is we never saw Smith in September. That was even with him hitting, and the Mets needing offense, offense the rookies were not providing. For Smith’s Mets tenure, it was par for the course.
Now, Smith is going to be free to sign with a team willing to play him at first. He’s going to get to show when playing first he can be that guy he was in 2020. Conversely, he also gets the chance to prove he’s not that guy.
Put another way, Smith is finally going to get his chance. Here’s hoping he takes full advantage and produces like we know he can.
The New York Mets were rained out, and the Atlanta Braves lost the first game of their series to the Miami Marlins. Should the Braves lose two more, and the Mets sweep, the Mets can still win the division. Cueing Lloyd Christmas:
Yes, there is an infinitesimal chance the Mets win the NL East. If that were to occur, the Mets would not have to play in the Wild Card series permitting their best players, especially their starters, extra rest. It cannot be understated just how important winning the division would be.
That said, the Mets need to pretend like they lost the division because they would need an absolute miracle to win the NL East. This is a team who has to actively prepare for the Wild Card Series against either the Philadelphia Phillies or San Diego Padres. Remember, the ultimate goal is to win the World Series, and in all likelihood, the Wild Card Series will be where it all begins.
Let’s say the Braves lose again, and the Mets sweep their doubleheader (should it be played). That would mean if the Mets win their final game, and the Braves lose their final game, the Mets win the NL East. That would get awfully tempting to go for it. After all, it is more than possible for the Braves to lose just one more.
The Mets still need to hold Jacob deGrom back. Sure, they’re be eviscerated in some corners if the Mets lose that final game without using deGrom. Those people should not be given the time of day.You can’t use deGrom on Wednesday leaving him unavailable for the first round of the postseason.
Most people will seem to grasp this with the Mets not having control of their own destiny. The next ask is where we may see fans be a little less inclined to agree.
The Mets doubleheader is the clinch day lineup. Actually, not really. Better put, it is a Spring Training type of lineup. These are the final three days to determine who can be on the Mets postseason roster. The Mets need to use them wisely.
That means Francisco Álvarez and Mark Vientos need to play all three games. We need to see Álvarez catch at least one, and we need to see Vientos at third or first. We need to see a little more what each can do because the time may come when the Mets need to rely upon them.
The Mets need to call up Dominic Smith. They need to see if he can start hitting. If Álvarez and Vientos aren’t, then the Mets need to see if Smith can. Fans may not believe in him, but it is the time to roll the dice, and see what hits. Keep in mind Tyler Naquin hasn’t been hitting. No, the Mets aren’t and shouldn’t going to leave Naquin off the roster for Smith, but Naquin’s struggles may demand the Mets add another player.
Moreover, key players need rest. That goes double for Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. Ideally, they would skip the doubleheader all together, and we can see them get a couple of at-bats in the season finale just to stay fresh.
We do not need to see Adam Ottavino or Seth Lugo pitch. They’ve pitched enough, and they are better rested. Let them be at maximum strength when the Wild Card round opens Friday. Really, anyone who needs a rest, and anyone who needs to be fresh should be given every opportunity to do so over the next three games.
That means if the Mets lose because a Smith or Vientos fail, it means they lose because they failed. If it means Tylor Megill blows up costing a game, it means it cost the Mets a game. That means if the Mets don’t win the division because David Peterson or Trevor Williams can’t get it done on the final game of the season, then the Mets will have to live with it.
The Mets are in the 2022 postseason. They have the best chance of winning the World Series if they get deGrom and Max Scherzer pitching like the aces they are. Everything the Mets do from here on out must be predicated upon that and nothing else. In the end, if the Mets win the World Series, no one will care about the last series in Atlanta, winning the NL East, or anything else.
The New York Mets made the right decisions calling up Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez. When the Mets went out at the trade deadline and obtained Daniel Vogelbach, they needed to find a right-handed platoon option for him. Darin Ruf didn’t work, and then, he hit the IL with an injury.
You can and should argue the Mets should have called either one of their top prospects up sooner. That would have allowed them to grow and develop to be more ready for this moment. However, that’s not what happened leaving the Mets to hope either player could catch lightning in a bottle.
The thing is neither player caught lightning in a bottle. They were also given a couple of different chances to come through in big spots, and both players failed. In no way should that shape our opinion of their futures of Major League players. However, it should make us question if they are truly ready for this moment.
This is unfair, and it is based on far too small a sample size. However, that’s all the Mets have available. What we have to look at right now is Vientos has a 60 wRC+ and 31.4 K% in 35 plate appearances. That puts him far ahead of Álvarez who has no hits and three strike outs in eight Major League plate appearances where he’s looked completely overmatched.
Fortunately, the Mets still have three games remaining in the season where they can give both players a bit of an extended look. Maybe one catches hot, and the team can carry them on the postseason roster. Chances are, neither one will, and the Mets will be left flipping a coin as to which one should be on the postseason roster.
At this point, we should say it does not have to be up to these two prospects. At some point, the Mets need to put Dominic Smith in the mix, and that moment needs to be now. With neither prospect producing, the Mets are out of excuses for leaving Smith off the Major League roster.
Yes, we know he struggled and did not produce in two years. There was the shoulder injury last year. This season, the Mets opted to ice him to try to allow Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis win the job. By the time it came to Smith again, he was hurt and in the minors. He lost a chance he never really received in the first place.
With Syracuse, Smith had a 122 wRC+. September was his best month of the season. In 21 games, he hit .294/.351/.541 with three doubles, six homers, and 18 RBI.
He looked like Smith does when he’s at his best. No, it hasn’t worked in the majors of late. Then again, it hasn’t for Álvarez or Vientos. Of the trio, Smith is the only one who has had success in the majors.
The Mets have three games remaining. Let Smith go head-to-head-to-head with Álvarez and Vientos. Whoever is hitting makes the roster.
We live in a world where many, many things can be simultaneously true. With his play on the field in 2022, the New York Mets were justified sending Dominic Smith down to Triple-A.
By keeping him in Triple-A, Mets have made it abundantly clear Smith is not part of the future of the franchise. That includes the makings of the postseason roster.
We can all dicker over whether that’s the prudent move for this team. That’s besides the point. What is clear now is the Mets actually need Smith in the majors right now, and they need him at first.
The reason why is Pete Alonso.
All season long, Alonso has given absolutely everything he has to the Mets. He’s very clearly one of the reasons why this team is still in first place. Saying he’s the reason Smith needs to be recalled is no slight to him.
The truth is Alonso is just exhausted. As a result, he’s slumping, and he’s showing his frustrations out on the field.
Historically, Alonso finishes the season strong. So far this September, he’s batting .249/.314/.457. This will mark the third straight month he’s had a SLG under .500 and and OPS of .800 or lower.
Alonso’s last day off was the All-Star Break. Keep in mind, he participated in the Home Run Derby and game. He also had to fly back-and-forth from Los Angeles.
His last day off was June 8. He’s played in both ends of the doubleheader in all eight of the Mets doubleheaders this season. He last DH’d on September 3. He’s only done it four times in the second half.
At this point, the Mets are getting diminishing returns from Alonso. Yes, it’s better than the alternatives, but it’s still not Alonso being Alons, and this Mets team needs that to win games.
The problem is Daniel Vogelbach is slumping and really can’t play in the field. Right now, Darin Ruf is by far the Mets worst hitter and since joining the Mets he’s among the very worst in the game.
Making matters all the more complicated, with Starling Marte’s injury, Ruf needs to play right field against left-handed pitching. There’s no way the Mets can or should trust Mark Vientos at first.
When you break it down, as this roster is currently constructed. Alonso is the only option to play first base. That’s all well and good up until the point we started to see Alonso slump and increasingly start showing his frustrations.
Alonso needs a mini-break. The Mets need to get him out of the field a bit to rest and clear his head. Looking at the organization, Smith seems to be the only player capable of playing a game or two there defensively.
Let Smith spell Alonso for a game or two. In the event of blow outs, let Smith come in late in games. Just get someone out there who can give Alonso a breather and get some rest.
The Mets have been failing Alonso. They need him to be great, and they’re running him into the ground. It’s time to get Smith up here to find an inning or two or game here and there to get Alonso the rest he needs.
It’s time to recall Dominic Smith.
When you think of the New York Mets offseason, you think Max Scherzer. How can anyone blame you. After all, he’s a future Hall of Famer, and he’s still pitching like he’s in his prime.
The other big move was Starling Marte. He’s possibly been even better than expected. He’s an All-Star and may find himself getting down ballot MVP votes.
These are two great moves which have helped the Mets be in first place. They’re phenomenal moves having the exact impact you’d hope. There were other decisions which have fallen short.
First and foremost is the DH disaster.
The Mets decision to go with Robinson Canó at the start was a mistake. Just ask the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves.
Stubbornly trying Canó shelved J.D Davis and Dominic Smith, neither on whom got going on the season. Davis flopped in his extended chance and was shipped out to replace him. Smith never got his shot, and now he’s injured.
This failed triumvirate has been replaced by Daniel Vogelbach and Darin Ruf. Vogelbach has been great so far with Ruf not yet getting a plate appearance as his platoon partner.
While they’re useless against same side pitching, they’re absolutely lethal against opposite side pitching. That makes this platoon nearly unstoppable, and it seems platoon is the name of the game with the Mets.
One platoon move they made without a trade is at third base. That was forced by Eduardo Escobar’s play. After a strong first month, he’s stopped hitting right-handed pitching, and he has a -4 OAA at third.
There were indications signing him to play out of position was a bad idea, but the Mets proceeded anyway. To a certain extent, they’ve been bailed out by Luis Guillorme (and the organization finally being willing to give him a shot to play everyday).
What’s a surprise is the Mets thought they needed a platoon partner for Mark Canha. By all accounts, Canha was having a good season, and the Mets were finding a way to get the best of him.
Canha has a 121 wRC+ and a -1 OAA. The defense isn’t great, but it’s playable.
That said, we did see continued signs of regression. Canha hit but with no power. He got on base but with a reduced walk rate and high .321 BABIP (.290 career).
That was with Travis Jankowski as his caddy. Jankowski was the late inning replacement in the field and on the base paths. The issue was Jankowski got hurt and then stopped hitting.
Rather than be victims to regression, the Mets were proactive acquiring Tyler Naquin. In a sense it was necessary with the Canha risk, but in another, it was odd considering Canha has always hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching.
For that matter, he’s a better hitter overall than Naquin regardless of the split. However, Naquin has power, and Canha doesn’t. Looking at all the moves, this is an area the Mets specifically targeted.
The offseason approach was players who put the ball in play. That worked over the first two months of the season as the Mets had the best offense in baseball.
However, as the Mets hitting with runners on regressed to the mean, so did the offense. Over the past two months, this was an average to below average offense.
The Mets pitching, more specifically the starting pitching is too special to waste. Rather than wait for players to start hitting while hoping others didn’t stop, the Mets made a course correction.
Rather than be stubborn, the Mets acknowledged the limitations of their offseason plan. They made the necessary pivot. The end result is a far more dangerous team.
Whether this results in a World Series remains to be seen. What we can see is the Mets better positioned themselves to win because they acknowledged what wasn’t working and worked to fix it.
With the New York Mets potentially pursuing Juan Soto, the question becomes what the team does with their outfield alignment. Despite Soto being a poor outfielder, the Mets really aren’t going to get the 23 year old superstar to put him at DH.
If Soto was moved to left, where he belongs, this would force Mark Canha to DH. Really, when you look at it, the Mets should probably move Canha to DH as soon as the second half starts.
The predicate for such a decision is the Mets current options at DH have been a complete failure. J.D. Davis is a strikeout and ground ball machine. Dominic Smith has already been demoted once and is easily having the worst season of his career. Neither belong in the everyday lineup right now.
On that front, Luis Guillorme does belong in the everyday lineup. You can argue it’s for his defense alone, but he’s also been hitting this season. Of course, it’s hard to play him everyday.
Remember, Jeff McNeil was an All-Star second baseman. His defense has been good too with a 0 OAA. It’s not Guillorme good (2 OAA), but with his bat, you can more than justify playing him there.
That said, McNeil is versatile. In addition to being a good second baseman, he is a good left fielder (1 OAA). Actually, he is better in left than second.
On that front, Canha has not been good in left. In fact, he has a 0 OAA. Yes, it’s the same as McNeil at second, but across Major League Baseball, McNeil’s zero ranks higher than Canha’s.
At least from a defensive standpoint, it makes sense to put McNeil in left with Guillorme at second. The move makes further sense with McNeil battling a hamstring issue.
So, it makes sense defensively, and it makes sense offensively.
Guillorme (119 wRC+) has hit much better than Davis or Smith. However. However, he hasn’t hit better than Canha (124). The good news is this never needs to be an either/or calculation. It’s a both/and.
Defensively, Guillorme at second, McNeil in left, and Canha at DH. As it so happens, all three of these bats in the everyday lineup with Davis and Smith sitting is also the optimal batting order.
To a certain extent, this is and should be obvious. However, the Mets have not operated this way. Rather, they’ve flipped a coin and picked one of Davis or Smith to diminishing returns.
It’s one thing if the Mets were still invested in Davis or Smith, but they’re not. They’ve gone out of their way to say they’re upgrading the DH position to replace them.
The thing is the Mets may not actually need a DH. In the end, what they may need is to just optimize their lineup with the players already on the roster.
For some reason, the New York Mets just don’t want to give Dominic Smith a full time job. Worse yet, they don’t want him to earn it either.
Consider this, of all the players on the Opening Day roster, Smith is the only player who has not started at least four games in a row. Yes, that does mean Travis Jankowski has.
As previously noted, the Mets first went with Robinson Canó and then J.D. Davis at DH. During Davis’ “winning” the DH job, an admittedly underperforming Smith was sent to Triple-A.
At the time, Smith was hitting .186/.287/.256. Again, when that’s your line, you put yourself in that position, especially when you have options.
However, Davis has similarly faltered. Since June 19, he’s hitting .162/.279/.297 striking out 16 times in 43 plate appearances (37.2%). That’s with a three hit game!
Nowhere will you find the Mets even contemplating sending down Davis. Again, he’s not hitting at all, and he can’t field any position. He’s literally useless to this Major League roster.
Despite that, he continues to get at-bats at the expense of Smith. Even with Smith historically faring better against left-handed pitching, they’ll sit Smith for Davis.
You don’t do this if you’re invested in Smith. That goes double when Smith had a hot bat. The reason is the Mets, at least the Sandy Alderson directed Mets, have never been truly invested in Smith.
This goes back to 2017 and 2018.
Smith and Amed Rosario struggled when they were first called-up. The reaction to each of them could not have been more different.
Smith was given competition to Adrian Gonzalez, who was really signed to play. The Mets preference was made all the easier when Smith was late to pregame, and Mickey Callaway felt the need to display his authority.
This was before Smith’s sleep apnea was diagnosed and treated.
When Gonzalez played poorly and was released, the Mets turned to Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores. This for a team who was out of it in May and dead in the water in June.
To make matters worse, Smith was used as a left fielder for a good portion of the time. This was a first round pick and top 100 prospect. A Mets team completely out of it thought the best course of action was to see what he had . . . in the outfield.
Keep in mind, Rosario struggled, and the Mets went out of their way to ensure he’s have no competition for the job. Better yet, the team sent down Luis Guillorme for a stretch leaving Rosario as the ONLY shortstop on the roster.
Between 2018 and the present, there’s a pattern, and the person at the helm has been Sandy Alderson. People can say he’s out of the loop, but he’s out there making statements the Mets need to address the DH position.
That was yet another shot at Smith, a player he didn’t want.
Remember, the Mets nearly traded Smith for Eric Hosmer (horrendous contract), Chris Paddack (injured pitcher with a 96 ERA+), and Emilio Pagan (81 ERA+ over last three seasons). That’s just how much they wanted rid of Smith.
They wanted to take on a ton of money to get worse. It’s no wonder Steve Cohen was reportedly forced to nix the deal.
That’s all well and good, but the front office response was just to not let Smith earn a job. On some level, that’s personal. There’s certainly a history backing it up.
Overall, the Mets didn’t want Smith. Alderson has a long track record of not giving him a fair shot. Now, the Mets are ready to move on without even so much as giving him a week of starts to try to earn a job.
The New York Mets just could not help themselves. Dominic Smith has been hitting, and he was looking more and more comfortable at the plate. It looked like he could be an answer for the DH position while splitting time at first with Pete Alonso.
But no, the Cincinnati Reds were starting a left-handed pitcher. They started Nick Lodolo. Yes, right-handed batters beat him up. However, not right-handed batters like J.D. Davis.
In a play out of Terry Collins‘ book with Michael Conforto, Buck Showalter (or whichever analytical member of the Mets making the decision) shoe horned Davis into the lineup. After all, if a batter is left-handed, they can’t possibly hit left-handed pitching.
It doesn’t matter that since 2019 Smith has a 127 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and Davis has a 117. Since 2020, Smith has a 126 wRC+ against left-handed pitching to Davis’ 102. Anyway you look at it, Smith hits left-handed pitching better than Davis.
If we’re being honest, as far as left-handed pitching goes, Davis only seems to hit Patrick Corbin well, and that seemed to be only before this season. This season, Davis has been bad, very bad.
Davis has a 97 wRC+. That is despite his being shielded from better pitching. He was given every opportunity to grab the DH job, and he has a 31.6% strikeout rate, 1.74 GB/FB, and he is among the worst players in all of the majors in whiff% and K%.
Looking deeper, since 2000, Smith has a 100 wRC+ to Davis’ 84. That’s against all pitching. Smith can actually play first base well, and with Alonso completely regressing defensively with a -5 OAA, you can argue the Mets need Smith at first. Alonso could also be the answer for the Mets DH woes. Those woes were created by Davis being terrible.
Despite everything, Davis was given the start. He rewarded the Mets faith in him by going 0-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts. His one lone non-strikeout plate appearance was pop out to first baseman Mike Moustakas in foul territory. Simply put, when you put a player like Davis into the game for his offense, you deserve to be shutout, which the Mets were.
Simply put, Davis cannot hit. He cannot field. For some reason, he keeps getting at-bats from the DH spot. Smith struggled and was sent down to Triple-A. Davis is flat out bad, and the Mets go out of their way to find him more plate appearances.
Davis needs to be sent down now. If not that, he should be designated for assignment. That’s if you can’t foist him on a team who still thinks he can be good. Good luck with that. Whatever the case, Davis should be much closer to gone than ever being in the lineup again.