Edwin Diaz

Marcus Stroman, Trevor May Phenomenal Start To Mets Offseason

With the state Brodie Van Wagenen left the Mets, this was an organization in desperate need for pitching. On that front, the Mets under Sandy Alderson’s competent leadership, the team is off to a great start.

Of course, the Mets were helped by Marcus Stroman accepting the qualifying offer. When Stroman did that, he gave the Mets a real solid number two behind Jacob deGrom.

Yes, Stroman is that. From 2014-2019, Stroman is in the top 30 in WAR and top 40 in FIP. There’s other ways to quantify, but this firmly establishes him as a clear cut number two.

Stroman is only part of the solution. Beyond him, the Mets still need to build the rest of their pitching staff. On that note, the Mets just signed Trevor May. Simply put, that was a great move.

May has been one of the best relievers in baseball. Over the last three years, he ranks 12th among all relievers in K% and 13th in K/BB%. His 3.24 WPA ranks 22nd among relievers in this time frame.

Over that time frame, May is 10-4 with a 3.19 ERA, 1.080 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9. He also has a 3.56 FIP and 140 ERA+.

This is a process helped along by his working with Jeremy Hefner. The two worked well together in Minnesota, and they promise to do so again in New York.

This is the type of reliever you can plug into the eighth inning in front of Edwin Diaz. With those two innings fully accounted for, Seth Lugo can be better unleashed as the weapon he can be out of the bullpen.

This singular signing moves the Mets bullpen from giant question mark towards solid to reliable. This is exactly how to start building your team.

That’s an important note too. Unlike prior years with the Wilpons, this is the start, not the finish. Typically, May would be the coda to the Mets free agent shopping, not the salvo.

Right now, the Mets have Stroman and May. That significantly improves the 2021 roster. It’s just a start, but it’s a fantastic one at that. Seeing how Alderson has begun, we should be excited for the next move.

Robinson Cano PED Suspension Latest Reason Trade Was Dumb

There are times when teams make trades they appear bad in hindsight. The classic example of this was the Nolan Ryan trade. Ryan was an enigmatic right-hander the Mets just couldn’t quite figure out, and they were going to get a former All-Star in Jim Fregosi to handle third. At the time, it made sense, but as time passed it looked worse and worse.

Then there is the Robinson Cano trade.

This was a trade deemed flat out dumb at its inception. It wasn’t just that Cano had what many perceived to be an untradeable contract. That was partially because he was already in his mid 30s. Mostly, it was because he was coming off of a PED suspension which should have cast serious doubt over not only his career stats, but also his ability to produce as he aged. Of course, Brodie Van Wagenen was the one person who actually bought the bogus explanation.

Despite all the red flags and warnings, Van Wagenen went forward to rescue his former client from Seattle to return him to New York like Cano wanted. In the process, he made what ranks among the worst, if not the worst, trades in all of Mets history. Certainly, it is easily the worst Mets trade this century.

Each and every year which passes, this trade gets worse and worse. To put it in perspective, all we need to do is examine where the pieces of this trade are and will be in 2021:

Mariners Return

Gerson Bautista – after dealing with injury issues has signed a minor league deal to return to the Seattle Mariners.

Jay Bruce – Free agent whose $14 million is off the books available for now the Philadelphia Phillies to invest this offseason.

Justin Dunn – projected to be part of the Mariners Opening Day rotation after posting a 104 ERA+ over the past two seasons. Notably, the Mets are looking to build not only a 2021 pitching rotation, but also pitching depth.

Jarred Kelenic – widely seen as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and he may very well make his MLB debut at some point during the 2021 season.

Anthony Swarzak – did not pitch last year after making $8.5 million in 2019.

Mets Return

Edwin Diaz – after a terrible 2019, he rebounded to have a strong 2020 season albeit one with four blown saves in 10 attempts. The question for him in 2021 is whether his good year, bad year pattern continues.

Really, Diaz is it for the Mets return because Cano is not going to play in 2021. There is now a question about whether he actually plays another game again. Certainly, you could argue the Mets would look to buy him out at some point or just flat out release him. Who knows?

The only thing we do know is Cano is out of baseball in 2021. Perhaps, that is a large reason why Van Wagenen and the person who hired him, Jeff Wilpon, will also be out of baseball. In fact, this trio may very well be and probably should be out for good. That will give them all a front row seat to seeing Kelenic and Dunn lead the Mariners organization back to postseason contention.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Rays of Hope Gone

No, the Mets have not been eliminated from the postseason . . . yet. Sadly, even with some things breaking their way, they couldn’t take advantage:

1. People can anoint Trevor Bauer the Cy Young all they want, but Jacob deGrom still has a start remaining to establish once again he’s the best pitcher in baseball.

2. Again, putting deGrom up against pitchers not pitching in the NL or AL East is absurd as NL Central and West pitchers face completely different competition.

3. On that note, the level of competition the two pitchers have faced is completely different with Bauer dominating some of the absolute worst offensive teams in the game.

4. You do have to wonder how different things would be with deGrom’s campaign and really this entire Mets season of Wilson Ramos was capable of tagging a guy at home plate.

5. Edwin Diaz finally has more saves than blown saves this year.

6. Mets continue to be the Mets first announcing Michael Conforto was getting a day off for a must win game and then finally admitting he had a hamstring issue.

7. Conforto’s chances of signing an extension increased not just with Steve Cohen buying the Mets, but also with Sandy Alderson returning to the organization.

8. Should Conforto sign an extension, he’s going to knock David Wright off the top of the Mets all-time leaderboards.

9. It’s a shame Conforto broke down and Dominic Smith went in a slump for the final last ditch push. It’s a downright shame no one was really able to pick them up like they picked up the team this season.

10. Between J.D. Davis batting second or third despite his not hitting and Michael Wacha making starts despite his having no business pitching another inning for this team, it’s clear Brodie Van Wagenen decided to make this season about showcasing his acquisitions in the hopes of getting a new job.

11. Steven Matz went from breaking out in the second half last year to a great Spring Training to maybe pitching his way to a non-tender.

12. Matz is a clear example of a guy Jeff Wilpon would instruct dropped from his team with him being shocked the player succeeded away from the team. For some reason, despite this having happened continuously, there is still a contingent of Mets fans who still defend the team on this type of dumb decisions.

13. Ultimately, the juiced ball last year and the abbreviated 60 game season have made it near impossible to have a real evaluation and analysis of players.

14. Speaking of which, it was great to see Pete Alonso remind us how great he can be. The question is if he can be that over a 162 game season without the juiced ball. There are many indicators which suggest he can, but we still don’t know.

15. The Rays showed the Mets all the things this organization has flat out ignored with defense and good base running actually matter, and the end game isn’t to collect a bunch of bats to plug and play regardless of fit.

16. Again, we see in this series Seth Lugo can be a starter. However, the bullpen is a flat out mess without him.

17. Fortunately, the Mets have the deep pockets of Steve Cohen, and the beginnings of the right front office to address not only the bullpen, but also catcher, third, center, and the rotation.

18. It looks like Alderson is going to get his chance to do what he wanted to do when he took over the Mets. Essentially, that’s exactly what the Dodgers did.

19. After these last four games, it’s good riddance to the Wilpons. That’s both with the Mets and the horrendous SNY they created.

20. There’s no more fitting end to the Wilpon era than the team finishing below .500 despite having a top offense, the best pitcher in baseball, and an expanded postseason.

Game Recaps

No Rays of Hope after this Mets Loss

Pete Alonso Returns

Mets Ensure Under .500 Finish With Brodie’s Pitching Staff

Pete Alonso Returns

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:

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:

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.

Mets Second Straight Big Comeback

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.

After being staked to a 3-0 first inning lead thanks to Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano, Seth Lugo had a terrible first inning. Flat out terrible.

After Lugo allowed three straight homers to Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, and Didi Gregorius, he allowed another run in the inning turning a 3-0 lead into a 4-3 deficit.

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:

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.

Things would get really dicey in the eighth. With two outs, Familia walked Andrew McCutcheon. Luis Rojas brought in Justin Wilson to face the left-handed Harper to get the Mets out of the inning.

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:

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.

Mets Complete Comeback

This wasn’t your typical Mets script. This is a team who finds a way to get close enough to just rip your heart out. Tonight, they were doing that to the Orioles instead of their fans.

For a while, it seemed there was no shot for the Mets to win this one as the Orioles were teeing off on Rick Porcello. At one point, they were 9-for-15 off Porcello, and seemingly the only way for the Mets to record an out was to throw out a runner looking to stretch a single into a double as Michael Conforto did to Chance Sisco to lead off the second.

Through three, the Orioles were up 5-1. That one run came in the second when Jeff McNeil singled home Dominic Smith, who led off the inning with his MLB leading 17th double.

The score would be 6-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth after McNeil and DJ Stewart traded a pair of homers. In the bottom of the fifth, Conforto would ignite the Mets with a solo homer.

The rally didn’t end with the homer. Later in the inning, Cano snapped out of his slump to hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 6-5. That’s when the Mets defense would shine and keep the Mets in the game.

The first came from McNeil who robbed Jose Iglesias of an extra base hit:

Even though that was the second out and there was no one on, Jared Hughes had trouble getting out of that inning. He’d load the bases, and Luis Rojas would bring in the struggling Justin Wilson to face Rio Ruiz. For a moment, it looked like Ruiz hit a bases clearing double:

After those pair of great defensive plays, the Mets would get the big hits they needed. First, it was Andres Gimenez tying the game in the bottom of the sixth with his second career homer:

Then, it was Pete Alonso hitting his 11th homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth to give the Mets a 7-6 lead.

Being the Mets, they weren’t quite out of the woods yet. Edwin Diaz allowed a lead-off single, and for a moment, it looked like the first two would reach. That was until Luis Guillorme, who was brought in for defense, made another great defensive play.

Diaz retired the last two to earn his third save of the year. It was a dramatic and needed win to help keep the Mets postseason hopes alive.

Game Notes: McNeil has homered in four straight. Diaz, Seth Lugo, and bullpen coach Ricky Bones wore 21 today in honor of Roberto Clemente.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Earn Disappointing Split With Phillies

The New York Mets had an opportunity to make some headway in the postseason race with a four game series against the Phillies. They had their chance, but instead, they could only muster a split.

1. Jacob deGrom AGAIN established he’s the best pitcher in baseball by striking out 12 Phillies over seven.

2. deGrom and Zack Wheeler would’ve been the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but unfortunately, Brodie Van Wagenen is a terrible GM.

3. If the Mets had the starting pitching, they’d easily be the top team in the division. It’s weird saying that knowing where the Mets have been, and downright hilarious considering Van Wagenen’s preseason declarations.

4. As we continue to see, Seth Lugo can start. That wasn’t really the issue. The issue always was who takes over his role. The answer so far is nobody.

5. Miguel Castro looks like a modern day Mel Rojas or Guillermo Mota.

6. It was past time for Andres Gimenez to take the starting job from Amed Rosario. Now, it’s time to make Rosario the 2021 center fielder.

7. Obtaining Todd Frazier made sense because he gave the Mets the third baseman they didn’t have, and apparently, he was a great presence for this Mets team.

8. The Mets didn’t obtain Frazier for his bat, but maybe they should’ve because Pete Alonso started hitting again using Frazier’s bats.

9. Speaking of hitting again, it’s nice to see Jeff McNeil raking again.

10. Game-in, game-out, Michael Conforto proves the Mets need to extend him.

11. Somehow, someway, Dominic Smith has emerged as the Mets best hitter so far this year, and he’s leading the league in doubles. He wasn’t given an opportunity. He forced it.

12. Luis Guillorme is batting .395, and he plays good to great defense at three different positions. His not being able to crack this starting lineup is another example of why Van Wagenen has to go.

13. J.D. Davis has proven he can’t play in the field. Without the juiced ball, his GB rate is climbing back up to career norms, and his BABIP is dropping. In total, he’s regressing to the mean. Insisting on playing him everyday is holding this team back.

14. The rally yesterday was great, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot when you see the Mets lose in extras.

15. Right now, the only Mets reliever you might be able to trust is Brad Brach, who has been having a very good year. You’d like to see him more, but that may not be possible when his dealing with the after effects of COVID19.

16. To be fair, Edwin Diaz appears to be returning to form. The Mets just need to find a way to prevent those Armando Benitez like blown saves and to have him have fewer of those incidents.

17. The Tom Seaver patch is nice, but it’s perfunctory. It seems Mets fans want more with renaming Citi Field in his honor as a popular one. Personally, I’d like to see the dirt patch be permanent, and/or a 41 permanently on the pitching rubber at Citi Field.

18. It’s funny to think the Toronto Blue Jays are currently the best team in New York. One of the reasons why is Anthony Kay who has a 176 ERA+. The Mets sure could’ve used him this year.

19. We’re counting down the days until the Wilpons are gone. Hopefully, Van Wagenen, who turned a great core and minor league depth into a team four games under .500 f outside looking in on an expanded postseason, follows them out the door.

20. Despite everything, the Mets are just two games out of a postseason spot (five in the loss column). They’re better than the Marlins, Giants, Rockies, and Brewers (or should be). There’s still a chance.

Mets Win Reminder Why We Love This Team

Tom Seaver‘s 41 hung in the dugout, and the Mets players honored Seaver by rubbing dirt on their right knee. Considering the marks Seaver would have on his own knee from his drop and drive style, there really was no better tribute.

As for the game, it wasn’t pretty by any means. There was poor pitching, base running gaffes, and just sloppy play.

Still, the Mets fought in this game. They battled back from deficits of 4-0 and 7-4. They forced extra innings, and it was Pete Alonso up with a runner on second to lead off the inning. He would hit the first Mets walk-off lead-off two run homer.

With that homer, Edwin Diaz picked up a win. The Mets won a needed game. The fans got a much needed win.

It’s been an emotional day in an emotionally draining year. We all needed this one. We needed a reason to cheer. It also helped to have a reminder why we love this team.

As fans, we love these players. They’re resilient. They battle. They don’t give up. They didn’t tonight, and they earned a victory, and in doing so, they won one for Seaver.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Big Chance Against Yankees

The Yankees were banged up, and they struggled against the Mets. However, when push came to shove, they came out on top because this Mets team couldn’t get that big hit or big out.

1. The Mets were sellers at the deadline obtaining Steve Cohen for Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and a Wilpon to be named later.

2. You’d have to assume if any deadline deals go forward now they have Cohen’s blessing. Of course, with the Wilpons, it may not be safe to assume.

3. This season is more evidence Brodie Van Wagenen should be fired. Hopefully, that’ll be one of the things Cohen does first.

4. No, Van Wagenen’s hot mike saying Rob Manfred doesn’t get it doesn’t make him likable or competent.

5. Hopefully, that wasn’t Van Wagenen’s Terry Collins ejection video.

6. Mets should insist on wearing Jackie Robinson‘s 42 for the rest of the year as art of their protests.

7. Luis Rojas‘ bullpen management has not been great.

8. Not using Drew Smith to protect a five run lead but then using him in a tied extra inning game is bizarre. That’s still not as bizarre as bringing in Edwin Diaz with runners on base.

9. These games just further cement how much the Mets need Seth Lugo in the bullpen. Aside from him, there’s no one you can truly trust in that pen.

10. The Mets are looking for a catcher at the trade deadline because Wilson Ramos has been terrible, and all indications are Tomas Nido has COVID19.

11. The COVID19 anonymity doesn’t work when you put players on the IL. At that point, we all know who had it.

12. Aside from that huge three run homer, Pete Alonso has been lost at the plate all season.

13. The same is true for Amed Rosario. He hit that walk-off homer off Aroldis Chapman, and then he once again did nothing at the plate. Also, he still hasn’t drawn a walk all year.

14. Chapman plunked J.D. Davis leading some to point out Davis was on the 2017 Astros.

15. Speaking of Davis, he’s been flat out terrible. Without the juiced ball, he’s back up to a 50% ground ball rate. That’s where he was before the juiced ball.

16. While others struggling mightily stay in the starting lineup, Luis Guillorme continues to sit despite his stellar defense and his continuing to get on base. If he’s not playing, it’s clear these Mets only want to win with Brodie’s guys.

17. Dominic Smith continues to play great, and he continues to show the Mets organization failed when they didn’t give him a real chance to win the first base job.

18. Andres Gimenez had just about as bad an inning at third as you can have. It’s a reminder he’s a rookie who never played above Double-A before this season.

19. If you like these seven inning games, you don’t like baseball. You might’ve at one point. You might’ve even loved it. But if you’re pushing for seven inning games now, you no longer like the sport.

20. Hopefully, Cohen tells Van Wagenen he’s not allowed to ruin the Mets future for short term personal glory before being shown the door for a real GM.

Game Recaps

Mets At Homer In Yankee Stadium

Dellin Betances Throws It Away

A Doubleheader of Depressing Losses

A Doubleheader Of Depressing Losses

The Mets were up 7-2 after a good Rick Porcello start and some late clutch hitting blowing the game open. It was the bottom of the seventh of the top end of the doubleheader, which meant this game should have been over.

But this is the Mets.

Andres Gimenez, ironically in for defense, threw a ball away to allow the lead-off hitter to reach. Later on in the inning, he had a chance to tag out Thairo Estrada to end the game on an insanely bad base running mistake, but Estrada would kick it out of Gimenez’s glove.

Still, that doesn’t explain why Justin Wilson pitched so poorly. Even with those two gaffes, Wilson still allowed two runs leaving runners at the corners with two outs.

For some reason, Luis Rojas thought it would be a good idea to bring Edwin Diaz into this spot despite Diaz being horrendous with inherited runners.

Well, Diaz threw a wild pitch scoring a run before allowing Aaron Hicks to hit a game tying homer. From 7-2 to tied 7-7.

Since this is a doubleheader in 2020 and Manfred hates baseball, this meant the eight inning was considered extra innings, and there was a runner at second to start the innning.

As usual, the Mets can’t get a hit with RISP. In the bottom of the inning, Michael Conforto had Michael Tauchman nailed at the plate, but Wilson Ramos missed the tag.

That meant Diaz got a blown save and a loss in one of the most frustrating losses you will see.

Being this is the Mets, more misery was in order.

Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia made his Major League debut and was great allowing just an unearned run over six.

In that sixth, Jeff McNeil reached and went to second on a Luke Voit error. He’d score on a Dominic Smith RBI single. The rally ended there was J.D. Davis, who has been absolutely terrible of late, hit into an inning ending double play.

That play got Seth Lugo off the hook after he had allowed one run over 3.2 innings. It also meant another maddening loss was on the horizon.

Drew Smith, who was not trusted to protect a five run lead in the first game, came on to pitch the eighth. He’d take the loss because Gary Sanchez would hit a grand slam off of him, and in the bottom of the inning, Ramos would strike out in his bases loaded situation.

Overall, the Mets should’ve won four of these games. Instead, they lost three, and they did so in excruciating fashion.

Game Notes: Luis Guillorme made a pinch hitting appearance and drew a walk. Despite hitting .419, it was just his sixth plate appearance over the past week.