Francisco Alvarez

Mets Should Invite R.A. Dickey To Spring Training

There was news recently the New York Mets plan on inviting David Wright to Spring Training to work with Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The Mets interest is obvious because they want the best third baseman in team history to teach two of their best prospects to maximize their potential.

In terms of the Mets, this is something they and every franchise do. They always love bringing back the team greats to work with their young players. Years ago, the Mets had Mike Piazza work with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If not for the World Baseball Classic, maybe Piazza could be there working with Francisco √Ālvarez and Kevin Parada.

For the Mets, we know they won’t stop at Wright. When looking at it, one Mets legend they should invite to Spring Training is R.A. Dickey because he can have an impact like no other former Mets player could.

We’re all very aware of the Dickey story. He was a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers who was discovered to be born without a UCL in his right arm who threw a forkball which was more akin to a knuckleball. This led him on a long and transient path to the majors and eventually the New York Mets.

With the Mets, he would be named the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner, and he would be the last Mets pitcher to win 20 games. He had taken the mantle from Tim Wakefield as the great knuckleball pitcher of his generation, but unfortunately, there has really been no one to take up that mantle since Dickey retired.

When looking at any farm system, the Mets included, there are pitchers who are never going to make it to the majors. There are various reasons including lack of velocity and/or control. For those prospects, and for the organization, the question is how long you play out the string with them until you change something about them or eventually cut them loose. It’s a sad reality of the minor leagues.

For the Mets, having Dickey in camp could permit him to teach those prospects not just the knuckleball but his knuckleballs. Remember, when Dickey was with the Mets he threw multiple ones which is what made him a unique and dominating pitcher.

To some degree, this is what we saw happen with Jacob deGrom and Johan Santana. When Santana taught deGrom his change, deGrom’s trajectory as a prospect went to the next level. Taking another ninth round pick and showing them the knuckleball could have a similar impact. Chances are, it won’t, but certainly, it is worth trying.

In the end, Dickey is just one of four Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He was a great Met for the short time he was here, and for that reason alone, he should be invited back for spring training. The fact he could help Mets prospects take their game to the next level makes inviting Dickey a must.

Maybe Darin Ruf Is Answer to Mets Darin Ruf Problem

While the New York Mets have addressed many of their offseason needs, the one area which remains unaddressed is DH. To a certain extent, it seems odd a team so willing to go well beyond the point where teams would consider spending has seen their offseason stall on this front. Certainly, the Carlos Correa drama was part of that.

However, the Mets did see viable options sign elsewhere. Andrew McCutchen purportedly turned down more money from the Mets to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trey Mancini is a Chicago Cub. Adam Duvall just signed with the Boston Red Sox.

This leaves the Mets trying to talk themselves into the next tier of players. Jurickson Profar is a popular target, but he’s not much of a hitter. He does increase the Mets versatility, but he is also not someone who has not thrived in a reserve or part-time role.

Robbie Grossman is an interesting choice. He has good numbers against left-handed pitching, and he does have a good walk rate. Typically speaking, he makes good contact, and he can hold his own defensively. Moreover, he has thrived in a reserve/part-time role. However, he has zero power.

That brings us back to Darin Ruf. What this Mets team was sorely lacking was power, and the Mets gave up way too much to get Ruf to try to help address their power issues. Obviously, Ruf did not do that last season posting a 13 OPS+. He did get one postseason start drawing a walk and a HBP in his one start.

It should be noted Ruf did land on the IL after he was acquired by the Mets with a neck strain. Certainly, it’s possible that impacted his performance. If it did, the hope is he could be back to being a right-handed DH platoon option against left-handed pitching. In his career, he does have a 143 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.

He’s slightly more than a platoon DH option. He can spell Pete Alonso at first base on occasion. That’s important with Alonso needing a break every now and then. He can’t play the outfield everyday in his career, but he can at least play there for a game or an inning or two. This does have some value to the team.

Mostly, he’s simply replaceable. If he doesn’t get the job done, Eduardo Escobar or Mark Canha can easily take over his role. That would require the Mets to play Luis Guillorme as their primary second baseman, but that is something they should be doing anyway. There is also the question of when the Mets are going to call-up Francisco √Ālvarez or Mark Vientos to at least take over part of this role.

In the end, the Mets have Ruf and are paying him. He has a role which can be easily supplanted by the talent on this team. The upgrades on the free agent market are gone. At this point, the Mets might as well role with him and see if he can rebound.

Mets Effectively Announce Francisco √Ālvarez Not Ready

The New York Mets shocked everyone when they signed catcher Omar Narv√°ez to a one year $7 million deal with an option for 2024. At the time of this signing, it did seem the Mets were trying to remove catchers from the equation rather than add to it.

On that front, MMN‘s own Michael Mayer reported the Mets have been aggressively shopping James McCann. With that in mind, this would seem all the more likely McCann will not be a Met in 2023. However, most Mets fans had just naturally assumed trading McCann would mean the organization was ready to hand the job over to Francisco √Ālvarez.

Signing Narv√°ez puts an end to the Mets fans hopes of seeing √Ālvarez on the Opening Day roster. Between Narv√°ez and Tom√°s Nido, the Mets are now set at the catcher position with two elite pitch framers. Barring injuries, that would mean √Ālvarez’s lone path to the Opening Day roster is as a part-time catcher and platoon DH partner to Daniel Vogelbach.

Right off the bat, we can dismiss that path. √Ālvarez is still just 20 years old and is regarded as the top prospect in the game. Yes, he was a late September call-up and made the postseason roster, but that was for a short time to address a need for a team with World Series aspirations. Come Spring Training, the emphasis is back on player development for √Ālvarez.

In terms of √Ālvarez’s development, it is important to note he only played 45 games in Triple-A last season. He would only catch in 33 of those games due to an ankle injury which nearly cost him the final month of the season.

Looking deeper, √Ālvarez has never caught more than 79 games in a season. For the sake of comparison J.T. Realmuto, the type of catcher the Mets hope √Ālvarez will one day be, routinely catches over 125 games a season, and he has twice caught over 130 games. Simply put, √Ālvarez needs to build endurance to be able to withstand that type of a workload at the Major League level.

√Ālvarez also still needs work behind the plate. In an all too small a sample size, Baseball Savant noted he had a very poor 42.9% called strike rate. That would rank him amongst the worst in the majors last season. Again, keep in mind the sample size. That said, √Ālvarez still has to develop his skills behind the plate for the Mets to trust him over a full 162 game season.

That’s exactly the point with the Narv√°ez signing. The Mets know √Ālvarez still needs to develop, but with every swing he is closer and closer to the majors. That is why the Mets signed Narv√°ez to a short-term deal. It allows √Ālvarez to develop like he needs to develop, and it creates a clear path for √Ālvarez to be the Mets starting catcher as soon as he is ready.

EDITORS NOTE: This post first appeared on MMN

Mets Signing Omar Narv√°ez Bizarre Yet Understandable

When it comes to Steve Cohen spending this offseason, anything was on the table. To that extent, there really wasn’t anything that could shock you.

And then, the New York Mets signed Omar Narv√°ez to a one year $8 million deal with a $7 million option for 2024.

It‚Äôs the type of deal that makes you go, ‚ÄúHuh?‚ÄĚ You start to rationalize the signing with the full expectation James McCann or even Tom√°s Nido were going to be traded posthaste.

However, McCann and Nido are still Mets. Keep in mind, the Mets ad constituted have to carry all three on the active roster. The caveat there is it’s still December.

Having the three catchers further blocks Francisco √Ālvarez‚Äôs path to the majors. √Ālvarez likely would‚Äôve been called up the majors earlier last season if not for the ankle injury. In any event, he received a (very) late September call-up and made the postseason roster.

Now, you can argue √Ālvarez should start the season in the minors. Seeing how the New York Yankees mishandled Gary S√°nchez, you don‚Äôt want to see the Mets repeat many of the same mistakes.

This is a long winded way of saying the Mets have four catchers on the 40 man roster with √Ālvarez being forced to Triple-A to start 2023. Again, that is unless another move is made, which you have to imagine will happen sooner rather than later.

Just looking things at surface value without contemplating anything further, Narváez is a clear upgrade for the Mets. In many ways, he’s what the Mets were hoping to get from McCann when he was signed years ago.

Per Baseball Savant, Narv√°ez is an elite pitch framer. He ranked just ahead of Nido in catcher framing runs last season even if Nido had the superior called strike rate.

Narv√°ez was also the far better hitter. McCann had a 59 wRC+, and Nido had a 74. Narv√°ez, in a down year, had a 71 but is a 101 wRC+ hitter for his career.

Keep in mind, Narv√°ez had a .248 BABIP indicating bad luck. While you may want to point to the elimination of the shift benefiting him, Narv√°ez had a .304 wOBA against the shift as opposed to .228 with no shift.

There is also caution with Narv√°ez having three year decline in barrels, exit velocities, hard hit rate, and his walk rate. Still, even with all these warning signs, Narv√°ez has more offensive ability and potential than McCann and Nido.

Looking at the situation, a few things are readily apparent. The Mets do not believe √Ālvarez is ready. The Mets are intent on moving another catcher, but they were not going to miss out on Narv√°ez while that process was playing out.

Again, we need to remember it’s still December. The Mets are likely to make other moves, and in the end, the hope is this signing makes a little more sense than it does today.

Mets Need To Avoid JD Martinez

Reports are Steve Cohen and the New York Mets believe they still need to add a bat to this roster. In reality, they are quite right in that assessment. They may not be entirely correct in their pursuit.

According to those reports, the Mets are pursuing Michael Conforto and JD Martinez. As previously explained, Conforto would be a very good fit for the Mets roster, and really, it would be a good spot for Conforto to return to familiar surroundings to rebuild his value.

When it comes to Martinez, the Mets should avoid him. He is a very poor fit for this team, and in reality, he may not have anything left.

Martinez will be 35 next season. His sprint speed is 26.1 ft/sec. He didn’t play a single inning in the outfield last season. He has never played first base. The long story short is he’s only a DH at this point in his career. As a result, his ability to provide any value to his team will solely be wrapped up in his ability to hit.

That can be problematic.

Martinez was productive in 2022 with a 117 OPS+ and 119 wRC+. That mark ranked him as the seventh best DH in all of baseball. For a Mets team had the worst DH production for most of the 2022 season that would be an upgrade. However, it is probably not an upgrade from what is here already.

Last season, Daniel Vogelbach had a 150 wRC+ against right-handed pitching and has a 127 mark for his career. Looking towards 2023, he could share that role with one of Francisco √Ālvarez, Mark Canha, and/or Eduardo Escobar (133 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 2022). All three of those players provide the ability to play in the field as needed.

Last season, Martinez had a 175 wRC+ against left-handed pitching and a 103 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Therein lies part of the problem.

If you sign Martinez, you are signing him to DH everyday. However, we see while he kills left-handed pitching, he is not hitting right-handed pitching anymore. Considering the vast majority of Major League pitchers are right-handed, that is a problem. That is also the tip of the iceberg.

Looking over at Baseball Savant, Martinez is in decline like you would expect for a 35 year old baseball player. His exit velocities and launch angles were down. He struck out slightly more and his walks have dipped (both not to the point of any real concern). As a result, his hard hit rates are down as well. Digging deeper, he’s starting to struggle hitting the fastball with his xBA in a steep decline from 2017.

Again, this is what you get from a 35 year old player. That is even if you want to point out much of the regression in his production was related to back issues. Certainly, people will point to Martinez having a bad second half as evidence that the bat will be there now that Martinez has had an offseason to recuperate

If you recall, this is a game the Mets played in 2008 with Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez was 36 with back issues, and he played like a 36 year old with back issues. Maybe Martinez is different, but when you’re a win-now team spending upwards of $400 million, this is not the risk you want to take.

For the Mets, their options should be sign Conforto, stand pat, or do something else. The answer is not J.D. Martinez, and really, they should avoid him at all costs. .

Michael Conforto Should Be Next

Go back to 2015. Michael Conforto was a superstar in the making, and Brandon Nimmo seemed like the disappointing prospect. Seven years later everything is different.

Nimmo received the largest contract the Mets ever handed out to a homegrown player, and Conforto is looking for work. As soon as three seasons ago, that seemed completely implausible.

In the 2020 COVID impacted season, Conforto played at an MVP level. It was a level we knew he was capable of playing, and it seemed like his career was just going to take off. It didn’t as he would suffer an injury plagued 2021 season greatly impacting his production.

After rejecting the qualifying offer, he became a free agent. However, he would go unsigned as Conforto would injure his shoulder in the offseason. While rumors surfaced he may sign somewhere, he would sit out the season waiting for this offseason where he could attempt to cash in on a weaker free agent outfield market.

There was a report from Mike Puma of the New York Post Conforto was not looking to return to the Mets because ” the outfielder might want an escape from the narrative that he erred last offseason in rejecting the qualifying offer from the club.” That would be stupid on his part, and as we see with the Mets spending, they may be able to entice him to return.

Better put, the Mets need to entice him to return.

In September and the Wild Card Series, one thing which was readily clear was the Mets had a power outage, and it was impacting their ability to score runs. When you face better pitching, mounting those rallies becomes increasingly difficult, and at some point, you just need a guy who is going to put it in the seats.

Looking at the roster last season, Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor were the only two who could consistently do that all season. Eduardo Escobar did hit 20 homers, but he hit eight of those in September, and it became increasingly clear he was really just a platoon option.

With Escobar, the Mets do seem to have Brett Baty ready or near ready to take over for him at third. We should eventually see Francisco √Ālvarez become the primary catcher. And yet, it does seem the Mets are one power bat short. That goes double with the DH situation and the inability to truly rely on rookies who are questionable to make the Major League roster.

Surveying the Mets roster, it would seem the biggest upgrade possibility would be in left field. Mark Canha did a good job there in 2022, but there remain question marks for him in 2023.

Canha’s defense was bad but not unplayable -1 OAA. His launch angle took a nose dive as did his barrel rates. With his value mostly wrapped in his OBP, it was at least concerning that his walk rate took a considerable step backwards. Again, this is a player in decline. He has value to the roster, but the more you look at him, it does not seem as if he is well suited to be the Mets everyday left fielder.

That’s not necessarily to say it’s Conforto. That said, he was a good fielder the last time he played, and assuming he’s stayed in shape, he promises to be one next season. He also has much more power than Canha, and really, if we want to look towards DH, Daniel Vogelbach. Another point there is Conforto has been able to hit left-handed pitching whereas Vogelbach is worse than a pitcher against lefties.

There’s the other point Conforto can handle New York, and we have seen him deliver in big moments here. When you consider the rules eliminating the shift, he should be even more potent at the plate than he was when he last played. Overall, Conforto should have some big hits in his bat, and the Mets need those big hits. The more you think about it, the more you realize Conforto needs to return to the Mets.

Revisiting 2022 Bold Mets Predictions

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.

See above.

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, √Ālvarez 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.

Billy Eppler Can’t Repeat Angels Mistakes With Mets

Billy Eppler joined Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman on a New York Post podcast to discuss the New York Mets offseason plans. In reviewing the podcast, Eppler didn’t say anything really all the surprising, which we should expect from a seasoned front office executive.

The Mets want Edwin Diaz to return. They also want Brandon Nimmo, but if they can’t keep him they will consider Starling Marte in center. They want and can keep Jacob deGrom. Basically, everything you expect is in there inclusive of Eppler saying he is in charge of the baseball operations.

That’s where things get a little dicey based on past performance.

In 2014, Jerry Dipoto built a Los Angeles Angels team which finished atop the American League West division before they were swept in the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately for him, he clashed with Mike Scioscia, and he lost leading to him resigning the following season. That led to Billy Eppler’s hiring.

When Eppler took over, he had Mike Trout, but he already had that albatross Albert Pujols contract. It was a roster that was somewhat flawed, but it had a good, young, and emerging starting staff with Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, and Andrew Heaney. They also had a very good bullpen with Huston Street, Joe Smith, and Fernando Salas.

In many ways, this was a great job to have. There were pieces in place to make the Angels a winner and a deep pocketed owner. There is the caveat the farm system was not great, but overall, this was a good job to have. Well, while it looked like it was a good job to have, things would completely unravel.

The Andrelton Simmons trade did not pan out as he had hoped. That would become a habit for him with the same happening in future years with Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa, and Ian Kinsler. His signings never really panned out with Justin Upton never working out for the team. He began dabbling on the fringes of the pitching markets getting players like Matt Harvey for far too much while eschewing the higher priced and more established starters.

Making matters worse was the Angels farm system never really improved under Eppler. They were bad when he took over, and when he left, they were still bad. During his tenure, he never really had a player he drafted come up to the majors and be an impact player for him.

All told, Eppler only had three real accomplishments. First, he signed Trout to an extension. Second, he landed Shohei Ohtani. Finally, he did what Dipoto wasn’t able to do by outlasting Scioscia. Despite all that, his tenure was largely a disappointment and failure.

With the Mets, the good news is he built a very strong roster in his first season. He added¬†Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer. His peripheral moves to address the bullpen like Adam Ottavino worked. All told, it was a 101 win team that tied atop the NL East (still losing the division due to Rob Manfred’s gimmick rules and postseason).

In year one, we saw Eppler have a stronger offseason than he ever had in any year with the Angels. Part of that was Cohen having the checkbook to add players like Marte and Scherzer. With Joely Rodriguez, Tyler Naquin, and Darin Ruf, you saw he still has a lot of work left to do in terms of trades, we should give him a lot of credit for Bassitt.

Overall, it is still difficult to ascertain if Eppler has learned from his previous mistakes and errors as the Angels GM. What we do know is Cohen is a better owner with more money than Arte Moreno. We also know the Mets have a far better farm system with Francisco √Ālvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos nearly ready to be Major League contributors.

Put another way, we are going to learn a lot about Eppler this offseason. We will see how he handles players like deGrom, Diaz, and Nimmo. We will see how he address the Mets need for power while having contracts like Canha and Daniel Vogelbach seemingly standing in the way of doing that.

This is a critical offseason for the Mets and Eppler. This offseason will go a long way to determining if the Mets can contend in 2023 and beyond until the farm is fully up to speed to provide depth to the Major League roster. It will also go a long way in determining just how good of a GM Eppler truly can be.

Mets Should Hold Onto James McCann

The popular sentiments is for the New York Mets to part ways with James McCann. Seeing the way he has completely underperformed his contract, you can certainly understand the sentiments. However, looking solely at the contract is misguided.

When looking at McCann, the discussion should be over what exactly he can provide to this franchise. Moreover, this should be an analysis over what exactly is out there as a replacement. On that point, lets look at what McCann is at the moment.

In 2022, McCann was limited to 61 games partially because of injury and partially because he was surpassed by Tomas Nido as the Mets primary catcher. While one of the reasons the Mets obtained him was the bat, he had a career worst 59 wRC+. For a second straight season, his hard hit rate was too low to provide any sort of power.

Realistically speaking, McCann is just not going to hit. He is a ninth place hitter. He is not providing anything with the bat. However, he is going to provide something behind the plate.

While not as good as Nido, he was top 20 in the majors in pitch framing. We saw during the season, he was able to get on the same page as his pitchers. That was especially true with Chris Bassitt who struggled at first when McCann went down. In fact, looking at the starting staff Max Scherzer was the only pitcher who pitched better with Nido.

In fact, looking at pitchers for next season, Tylor Megill and David Peterson were considerably better with McCann. Aside from Scherzer, those are probably the one two pitchers as close to guaranteed to be returning to the Mets next season.

The major caveat here is we are dealing with small sample sizes. However, behind that small sample size is something worth analyzing. Looking at Bassitt in particular, McCann seemed better than Nido when it came to getting on the same page as his pitching staff and calling games. This is an intangible skill for a catcher which should not be overlooked.

Of course, the big elephant in the room is Francisco √Ālvarez. He was called up at the end of last season, and it would seem to everyone he should be the Mets starting catcher in 2023. However, that could be more fan than organizational reaction.

At the moment, we really do not know what the Mets plans are for √Ālvarez next season. Perhaps, he will be the starting catcher. Maybe, they wanted his bat in September but still think he needs more time to work on his defense. The Mets may even want to try to manipulate his service time for a bit. At this moment, it is still a bit of a mystery.

What we do know is by its nature the catching position is one with a number of injuries. We saw the Mets have to make an emergency trade for Michael Perez and play him last season. Much like with starting pitching, the name of the game is depth. You really cannot have enough Major League caliber catchers.

Like it or not, that is McCann. You can argue it would behoove the Mets to carry both McCann and Nido and wait for one of them to get injured before calling up √Ālvarez. At that point, if √Ālvarez claims the job outright, you can look to trade one of McCann or Nido or just outright designate them for assignment.

The Mets could also have all three catchers on the roster. With Daniel Vogelbach, √Ālvarez could be the answer for the right-handed platoon option. We can see McCann and Nido link up with starters to become their personal catchers. The Mets could rotate them as needed to ensure all of them are fresh throughout the season. That goes double for √Ālvarez who has never caught 80 games in a season.

Another benefit of the three catchers is permitting McCann to mentor √Ālvarez. He can help him work on game plans and building a rapport with pitchers. McCann could be that veteran leader to help √Ālvarez. Certainly, seeing √Ālvarez’s future and McCann’s contract at its inception, you had to imagine on some level that would be the Mets plan.

Whatever the case, it would seem McCann serves some purpose to the Mets in 2023. He works well with the pitching staff. He frames very well. He provides depth at a position where teams need it. He can serve as a mentor for √Ālvarez. Overall, it would seem McCann has value to the Mets next season, and unless the right move is there, they should strongly consider bringing him back for at least one more season.

Mets Should Go All-Out For Shohei Ohtani Right Now

We still do or do not know if Shohei Ohtani will be traded this offseason. The Los Angeles Angels are up for sale, and with a sale process ongoing, we may not see the superstar traded.

As a franchise, now may be the time to trade him. He’s a year away from free agency. He’s voicing his discontent. Even with Ohtani and Mike Trout, this is a team nowhere close to contention. That goes double when you consider what the Houston Astros are doing and the Seattle Mariners young core.

If Ohtani were available for trade, it would behoove the Mets to do everything they can do to get him right now. No, they should not wait around and hope to flex Steve Cohen’s financial muscle in the ensuing offseason.

The biggest reason why is you don’t know if he will even be a free agent. Years ago, Mets fans were awaiting Cohen to purchase the team, and the prevailing “wisdom” was not to go out and get Mookie Betts. because the Mets could just sign him after the offseason. Well, Betts signed a massive extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We did see Cohen act similarly. The Mets went out and traded for Francisco Lindor. Cohen then gave him the biggest contract for a shortstop in Major League history to ensure Lindor would not hit the open market. We can go back over 20 years ago when the Mets obtained Mike Piazza from the Florida Marlins and then gave him a record contract during their exclusive negotiating window before the start of free agency.

When a team trades for and obtains a superstar, they get a chance to put on the full court press to sign that player to an extension with zero competition. Cohen has already once used that tactic for his benefit, and given the right player, he can do that again. Make no mistake, Ohtani is that player.

Heading into the offseason, the Mets likely want a course correction on their DH situation. While Daniel Vogelbach performed, their right-handed platoon options faltered. That leaves the Mets looking to upgrade from Darin Ruf or looking to start anew. Ideally, they would look to start anew.

Certainly, the Mets could look to blow that situation up for the right player. Ohtani is the right player. Since his rookie season in 2018, Ohtani has a 137 wRC+. That is second only to Yordan Alvarez among designated hitters. Really, Ohtani has become the second best DH in all of baseball.

We also see the Mets need to address their starting pitching. Jacob deGrom is going to opt out. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have player options. The Mets need to make a decision on how to rebuild their rotation.

Since undergoing Tommy John, the 2022 season was Ohtani’s first real full season as a starter. For a bad Angels team, he was 15-7 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.027 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and an 11.9 K/9. That K/9 figure lead the American League and was second in all of baseball. He also averaged nearly six innings per start.

Revisit the Mets situation for a second. They need to address their DH spot. Ohtani is the second best in the sport. They need to rebuild their rotation. Ohtani has pitched like a number two starter. Ohtani has a good relationship with Mets GM Billy Eppler, and Cohen has the financial might  and will to sign Ohtani to an extension. Certainly, the marketing locally, nationally, and abroad makes him all the more enticing to the Mets.

The only thing standing in the Mets way will be the Angels asking price. If there is the opportunity to sign Ohtani to an extension, the Mets should meet whatever price the Angels are asking. Really, there are no untouchables in the Mets organization when it comes to Ohtani.

Francisco √Ālvarez? Without a doubt.¬†They want Pete Alonso? Well, they can have him. Again, there are no untouchables.

Sure, there may be a limit as to the package you may be willing to offer, but the Mets must keep in mind they are getting TWO players with Ohtani. They’re getting a star DH. They’re getting a top of the rotation caliber pitcher. They’re getting a superstar with immense likeability and marketability. He is going to make the Mets significantly better, and he is going to make them a ton of money.

Ohtani in a Mets uniform would be a dream come true for the Mets. He is everything they want and need. If he’s out there on the trade market, the Mets absolutely must do everything in their power to make him a Met for the rest of his career. That starts in 2022.