Right now, the Mets two starters are Jacob deGrom and David Peterson. With Peterson, the Mets have a promising pitcher who is a sinkerball pitcher. In terms of Peterson, the question is what do you do to help him take the next step forward in his career.
Rosario continued to make strong steps forward defensively, and he was a good defender, but he was not on Gimenez’s level. Rosario was a -3 DRS and 2 OAA to Gimenez’s 1 DRS and 5 OAA. At a 5 OAA, Gimenez was actually tied for the second best defensive SS in the game.
At second, Robinson Cano rebounded defensively with a 3 OAA. On that note, Cano was better moving to his left. That’s an important consideration for an aging player who probably needs to move off of second.
It’s not about ability per se, but rather durability. He’s going to be 38 next year, and he’s broken down a bit in each of the last few years while playing second. A switch to a less demanding position like third should help him extend his career.
It also solves a real issue for the Mets as third base is a huge problem. Jeff McNeil was supposed to play third, but he had throwing issues not too dissimilar from what we once saw with Wilmer Flores. That led the Mets to move McNeil off the position and replace him with J.D. Davis.
Davis was a disaster at third. He had a -8 DRS, which is he had enough innings to qualify, would’ve had him as the worst in the position in the majors. His -3 OAA was also the worst in the majors at the position.
By moving Cano to third, you finally take away Davis’ glove (which needs to happen anyway), and second is re-opened for McNeil. At second, McNeil has been a good defender with a career 4 OAA and 1 DRS.
By going with an infield of McNeil, Cano, and Gimenez, they have made it a significantly improved defensive infield. In fact, you can argue it’s a very good one at that.
As an aside, Nolan Arenado is purportedly on the trade bloc, and the Mets have a logjam at first with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Putting Arenado alongside Gimenez would possibly even surpass Robin Ventura and Rey Ordonez.
While Arenado may be considered a pipe dream, that’s the direction the Mets should be angling. That’s not just because of Steve Cohen’s deep pockets. Rather, it’s because the Mets should be maximizing their defense.
Part of that will include moving on from Wilson Ramos. Ramos is a catcher of a different era. That’s not his fault, but rather one of Brodie Van Wagenen’s front office. Moving on from Ramos to another catcher better at framing, whether that be J.T. Realmuto, James McCann, or someone else entirely, the Mets will be much better poised defensively.
They will also be better poised to handle a pitch to contact sinkerball staff. That will help Peterson succeed in his second season.
This will also help Stroman, who for reasons previously detailed, should be the Mets priority right now. The question is who should then round out the Mets rotation with Noah Syndergaard rehabbing from Tommy John.
There is an argument to be made for Rick Porcello to return on another one year deal. Certainly, Porcello will be driven to have a better 2021 after his 2020 was terrible. It’s quite possible he wants that chance to return to the Mets, a team he grew up loving, and prove to them he’s a pitcher who can help them win.
Now, Porcello’s stats were a very mixed bag last year. His ERA+ was a career worst 75. He let up an inordinate amount of barrels last year too.
Behind that was a 3.33 FIP, which is quite good. Porcello was also above average in terms of hard hit percentage, and he posted very good exit velocity rates.
You could argue with a vastly superior infield defense Porcello could very well be a good stopgap for Syndergaard and/or insurance for a Peterson sophomore slump. In the end, if the Mets are moving in the direction of a pitch to contact staff, they should really lean into it and make their team the best suited they can to head into that direction.
As we’ve seen in years like 1999 and 2006 building a superior infield defense can help your team overcome pitching deficiencies. It can help ground ball pitchers be reliable, post strong numbers, and pitch deep into games.
For the Mets, there are many directions they can head towards with a new owner and front office. Given the presence of Peterson and what’s available on the free agent market, this is a direction the Mets should seriously consider pursuing.
As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.
Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.
Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.
In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.
Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.
An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.
By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.
The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.
Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.
Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.
You can’t win games that way.
What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.
Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.
Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.
Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.
On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.
Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.
In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.
However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.
That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.
Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.
The Mets had Jacob deGrom on the mound against the Nationals. That meant they had their best chance to stay alive. It didn’t happen.
Well, the answer is Brodie Van Wagenen. He’s a terrible GM who created a highly flawed team who is going to finish under .500, miss the postseason, and may finish in last place.
With two outs in the fourth, Wilson Ramos couldn’t block a ball a Major League catcher should be able to block. That led to the second run of the game for the Nationals.
If you recall, the Mets entered this season with two everyday outfielders. That has led the Mets to play players out of position. Worse yet, with Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith, the Mets continue to put three first baseman in the lineup.
That had Smith in left running hard into a wall. On that play, Andrew Stevenson would circle the bases for an inside the park homer tying the game at 3-3.
Miguel Castro would relieve deGrom to start the sixth. He immediately put two on putting the game in jeopardy. The Mets brought in Edwin Diaz, who is poor with inherited runners, into the game. Diaz allowed the go-ahead sacrifice fly to put the Nationals ahead for good.
In the seventh, Brandon Nimmo gave the Mets a chance by hitting an infield single. That didn’t matter as the -0.2 WAR J.D. Davis, the player who Van Wagenen seems to tout as his proof he’s not completely incompetent, struck out to end the game and the Mets postseason chances.
In the second half of the doubleheader, Rick Porcello struggled, and the Mets lost 5-3.
In the end, it was Van Wagenen’s players who failed this year, and as a result, Van Wagenen is the reason the Mets won’t make the expanded postseason.
It’s important to remember Michael Wacha was not good in 2019. He had an 89 ERA+ and a 5.61 FIP. Despite this and his shoulder problems, Brodie Van Wagenen went out and brought in this CAA client.
With Wacha having a 63 ERA+ and a 5.03 FIP this year, you’d think it would be an easy decision to keep him in the pen. Instead, he got the ball over better pitchers or pitchers more deserving of an opportunity.
Wacha was incapable of keeping the game tied or getting his first quality start of the season. Those hopes went away when he allowed a two run homer to Randy Arozarena.
Things went from bad do worse when Chasen Shreve, another CAA client , entered the game. He allowed three in the eighth putting the game out of reach, and as a result, putting the Mets outside postseason hopes out of reach.
The Mets rallied for three in the ninth, but all it did was make the 8-2 game look much closer and competitive.
In the end, the Mets lost 8-5. They’re against endured a losing record, and they’re moving closer to having absolutely zero chance to making the postseason.
But hey, Van Wagenen used the opportunity to boost up the value of the players who are former clients and pending free agents. Hopefully for him, it was well worth missing the postseason.
Much of the reason why the 2020 Mets are going to miss the postseason is Pete Alonso having a sophomore slump. In fact, it’s been worse than anyone could’ve imagined.
Entering last night’s game, he was teetering at the Mendoza Line, and he was at a -0.7 WAR. During this time, he went from fan proclaimed future captain to people worrying if he could ever return to his 2019 Rookie of the Year record setting form. Last night, we saw a hint he could return to that form.
The key to that was in the fourth when he hit an opposite field home run off of Blake Snell to give the Mets a 2-1 lead:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2020
We haven’t seen much of Alonso driving the ball the other way like he did much of last year. Harkening back to last year, he drove the ball with authority to all fields. That was the essence of his power and production.
Now, the home run numbers have essentially been there with all of Alonso’s struggles. After all, he was 13 homers so far this year which is a near 40 homer pace. With respect to Alonso, the singles and doubles haven’t been.
One did last night when Alonso singled home Dominic Smith to increase the Mets lead to 3-1. Coupled with an RBI groundout in the eighth, he had three RBI on the night. More impressively, he drove in a run in three separate plate appearances.
This was the player Alonso was last year. This is what the Mets need from Alonso the rest of the way this year and in each of the ensuing years. Seeing him do it last night begs the question why he hasn’t previously done it. Alonso has a theory:
Pete Alonso cites his .215 BABIP and 88.5-mph average exit velocity as evidence that he's been more unlucky than anything this season: pic.twitter.com/F1EZ3X6Ijk
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 23, 2020
Alonso definitely has a point. He’s still hitting the ball hard, and his BABIP does indicate an extraordinary amount of bad luck. That’s part of what happens with this 60 game season.
Your failures are magnified. The stats are skewed in polar opposite directions. You didn’t have the normal ebb and flow of a season of sufficient time to ramp up for the reboot.
There’s also the small matter of the 2019 juiced ball which seems to be gone. That could be part of the reason why we see Alonso’s hard hit percentage and barrel rates drop quite a bit with his whiff percentage trending in the wrong direction.
Overall, this has been a rough year for us all, Alonso included. He has five more games to continue to try to remind us why he was great last year and can be in the future. If he goes on the type of tear we know he can, maybe, just maybe, the Mets can win out and shock us all.
Game Notes: Robinson Cano and Guillermo Heredia also homered. Seth Lugo picked up the win after allowed two runs (one earned) off four hits and one walk over 6.1 innings while striking out seven. Edwin Diaz picked up the save and now has more saves than blown saves this year.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
Lloyd Christmas may want to say there’s still a chance here, but there isn’t. Any realistic shot the Mets had faded when they lost this series to the Atlanta Braves:
2. People rightfully focus on the starting pitching and pitching staff as a whole when examining what a terrible job Brodie Van Wagenen has done. Looking at it Wilson Ramos‘ production against d’Arnaud, and his other moves, he might’ve bungled the catching position even worse.
3. Yes, we saw d’Arnaud be this player in a Mets uniform previously. Yes, it was fair to believe he’d return to his 2015 form post Tommy John. Yes, he has always been a very good catcher. Anyone saying otherwise is lying to you, pushing an agenda, or just doesn’t know that much about catching.
4. You’ll notice with the Wilpons selling Gary Cohen and Brandon Nimmo were quite vocal in their support for d’Arnaud and wishing he didn’t leave the Mets.
5. Nimmo has every right to talk as he’s come back from injury and proven himself to be a terrific ballplayer. He’s just not a center fielder.
6. On the note of people who have performed well, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Jeff McNeil are part of the still young core who have had good seasons and are very much a part of the Mets future.
7. Seeing that young core, we should all celebrate Steve Cohen bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets organization. Hopefully, Cohen will right some other wrongs in due time.
8. David Peterson stepped up big time in what was the biggest start of his career. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his figuring things out and raising his ceiling.
9. Rick Porcello stepped up and was phenomenal yesterday. If the Mets truly invest in infield defense this offseason, he can be a part of the 2021 equation.
11. Sending down Luis Guillorme was stupidity. He did everything to earn not just the role he had but a much bigger one at that.
12. Amed Rosario lost his starting job, and he needed a recent hot streak to improve to a .266./283/.379 hitter. He should’ve been sent down.
13. J.D. Davis is hitting .248/.376/.383 since August 1, and he’s incapable of playing a defensive position. He should’ve been sent down.
14. Instead, it was Guillorme so Franklyn Kilome could allow six earned over 1.1 innings giving the Mets zero chance to win a game at a time when they can ill afford to punt games. Another great decision by Brodie Van Wagenen.
16. The Mets are in a precarious spot with Steven Matz. After last year and in Spring Training, he appeared poised for a breakout. Since the return, he looks like a non-tender candidate. These are critical franchise and season altering decisions.
17. Alex Rodriguez confirming he’d have Jeff Wilpon in the front office in a prominent role shows just how much the Mets dodged a bullet when A-Rod failed to beat out Cohen in the bidding.
18. Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon thinking they’re smarter than everyone and watching their team failing to make an expanded postseason is the perfect way for them to leave this organization.
19. Normally, we’d be saying it was time to tear it down and rebuild. Thanks to Cohen and competent baseball people in charge, we know the Mets can build off this strong core.
20. This season has been a massive disappointment, but on the bright side, we got 60 games of Mets baseball. That’s a real positive.
If the Mets want a chance at the postseason, they may not be able to lose even one game. For that to happen, they’re going to need some unexpected great pitching performances.
They got that last night out of the rookie David Peterson.
Peterson would join Jerry Koosman, Pete Schourek, and Hisanori Takahashi as the only left-handed Mets rookies to strike out 10 in a game. Overall, he allowed just one run over six on three hits and four walks.
To put into perspective how well he pitched, Freddie Freeman was 0-for-5 with the golden sombrero and a GIDP. This is the same Freeman who routinely kills the Mets and is a front runner for the NL MVP.
He’d pick up the win because the Mets offense scored just enough early and blew it out late.
Offensively speaking, Robinson Cano drove the Mets to victory.
In the first, Braves starter Ian Anderson was wild walking the bases loaded. Cano delivered the rare Mets big hit with RISP with a two RBI single.
It was 3-2 entering the bottom of the eighth after a Travis d’Arnaud homer in the top of the inning. Any flashbacks to the 1998 and 1999 Mets subsided when Dominic Smith and Cano went back-to-back to expand the Mets lead to 5-2.
That rally would continue with Brandon Nimmo, who is getting insanely hot of late, hitting a two RBI single. That pushed the score to 7-2.
In the end, the Mets chances of pulling this off aren’t very good. Not in the least. However, the bright side is on a night like this, we might’ve found out something about Peterson. There’s a lot more to his career, but this big start in a huge spot is the type of game which can springboard a career.
Game Notes: Robinson Chirinos hit an RBI double in the fourth
For a second straight game, a Mets starter didn’t see the third inning, and for the second straight game, the Mets made an improbable comeback.
At least for tonight, Harper owned Lugo homering off of him again in the second inning. Gregorius then knocked out Lugo with an RBI single.
It was 6-3 Phillies, and it was in the hands of the Mets bullpen. Starting with Erasmo Ramirez, they were brilliant. He and Chasen Shreve would each pitch 2.1 scoreless before handing the ball to Jeurys Familia who pitched 1.1 scoreless.
Their pitching kept the Mets in the game, and it gave them a chance to comeback against what has been a terrible Phillies bullpen.
While the Mets weren’t able to put up more runs off Aaron Nola from the second through fifth, they made him work. He ran out of gas in the sixth, and that Mets took advantage starting with a Pete Alonso one out homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
Jeff McNeil walked leading to the Phillies going to their bullpen. Andres Gimenez walked, and after Luis Guillorme lined out, it was up to Brandon Nimmo. He tied the score on what is arguably the biggest hit of his career . . . up until that point.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
Instead, Wilson walked the bases loaded. Due to the three batter rule, the Mets couldn’t even contemplate lifting him. Fortunately for the Mets, Wilson retired Gregorius to end the inning.
After escalating the jam, it was time for Nimmo to come up huge again. This time, it was a go-ahead homer with a rare pimping of the homer from Nimmo:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2020
That ninth inning leadoff homer off Brandon Workman sparked the Mets offense like Alonso’s did in the sixth. It was a four run ninth with Smith tripling in Michael Conforto, and Cano hitting a two run homer.
While not a save situation, the Mets went to Edwin Diaz. Diaz would make it interesting by loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate. Diaz, who was pitching three days in a row, got McCutheon to ground out to end the game.
With that, the Mets have won a series against a team other than the Marlins this year. They’re alive and ready to fight another day as the schedule gets insanely difficult now.
Game Notes: Wilson earned the win.
Looking back at 2019, Pete Alonso was the Mets best player. He was setting franchise and rookie home run records while quickly becoming one of the most popular players in team history.
With Alonso at the forefront, the Mets seemed to have a superstar in the making. He was a foundation for the Mets next big run. Looking at 2020, it hasn’t happened that way.
Through 46 games, he’s hitting .216/.318/.433 with a pedestrian 105 OPS+. Heading into the season, he talked about wanting to win a Gold Glove in his career, but with a -3 DRS and a -3 OAA, he’s showing no improvement from when he was the worst defensive first baseman in baseball last year.
Now, there are many reasons to explain why he’s struggling. First and foremost, this pandemic and shutdown hit everyone hard. There’s no telling the emotional toll it took on Alonso and his ability to prepare for the season.
Other factors include the fact the league might’ve caught up to him, and he hasn’t had time to adjust what they’re now doing to him. As a possible correlation, Alonso’s whiff rate has increased while his exit velocity, launch angles, and barrels have dropped.
Teams seem to be shifting more against him, which explains a drop in BABIP. To that point, his BABIP being at .245 does indicate some bad luck is involved.
The elephant in the room is the ball has changed from last year. Yes, we continue to see Alonso has tremendous power, but part of his success (and everyone else’s) was due to the juiced ball. Without that juiced ball, we are seeing some hitters struggle.
All told, Alonso is at a -0.4 WAR. Right now, that stands as the worst mark amongst Mets regulars. That just shows how much he has struggled all season long.
As we saw last night, he came up in multiple spots where we saw him deliver in all of 2019. Much like most of this year, he didn’t get the job done.
While this has been happening, Dominic Smith, who is younger than Alonso, has emerged as a star. In fact, Smith is the fifth best hitter in all of baseball this year with a 174 wRC+. He’s also been a superior defensive first baseman than Alonso even if his numbers are pedestrian (-1 DRS, 0 OAA).
Smith is also entering arbitration. To a certain extent, that means the Mets are closer to having make a decision on him. By natural extension, making a decision on him means making a decision on Alonso as both play the same position.
While this is occurring, the Mets will be entering an offseason looking to add up to four starters to their rotation, adding a center fielder, and completely rebuilding their bullpen . . . again.
Making Alonso available in a trade puts the Mets in the conversation for the top players on the trade market. That includes Francisco Lindor and any other Indians who may hit the trade block.
By the same token, how can you trade as popular a player as Alonso is? More importantly, how can you trade a player knowing what Alonso did last year? Still, with all that, we have his 2020 performance, which can’t be ignored.
Therein lies the problem. The Mets have a lot of needs, and they have two young first basemen who appear to be stars. Realistically speaking, the Mets can only go forward with one of them, and they have to choose right both in terms of the player and the deal.
Fortunately, the Mets will soon have Steve Cohen in charge and what should be a revamped front office without Brodie Van Wagenen at the helm. That should give us some confidence the Mets can and will make the right decision.