Francisco Rodriguez

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Bullpen Saved Someone’s Season

The Mets went to Philadelphia to take on a wounded Phillies team who was aboslutely reeling. You knew after this series one of these two teams would still be standing, and the other will look like their past offseason was all for naught. Well, the Mets bullpen would make sure that would happen:

1. As noted by Michael Mayer, the last time a team blew five games where they led by at least two runs was the 2011 Mets. No, not the last time the Mets did it – the last time anyone did it. The closer that year was Francisco Rodriguez with Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell, and Jason Isringhausen serving as setup men. Prior to this season, no one was saying “Come get us!”

2. We can talk about different parts of this Mets team getting exposed, but no one was more exposed than Brodie Van Wagenen. He mismanaged the “crisis” with Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas. The media reported his involvement in game decisions like removing Jacob deGrom from a game. There were reports it was more than that as well.

4. This debacle is reminiscent of the 1993 Mets with Vince Coleman throwing fireworks at fans and Bret Saberhagen dousing reporters in bleach. What’s the common denominator between those two Mets teams? The Wilpons.

5. It was good for the Wilpons to take nine years to finally do the right thing by honoring Tom Seaver. Of course, they waited so long Seaver is now suffering from dementia so he cannot travel for these honors, and he may also not have the mental faculties to enjoy the honors being bestowed upon him.

6. The article by Wallace Matthews of Yahoo is completely ridiculous. Not only does he call Vargas the team’s most reliable starter, but he gets a chance to speak with Jeff Wilpon. With that access, he talks about the incident with Tim Healey instead of literally anything else. Honestly, if Jeff wants to talk about that, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time.

7. Jeff Wilpon’s silence on the state of this team and the continual inept way it is run from a number of facets should be met by fans with silence. We could call to organize a boycott or something, but in reality, the team being this soul crushingly bad is going to keep the fans away anyway. When that happens, Jeff’s silence will be met with silence.

8. Worse than that, Jay Bruce gets a key pinch hit home run and a walk off double, Robinson Cano has multiple 0-for-5’s, and Edwin Diaz blows a save. Right there, his biggest move completely busted. Actually, that’s not fair, it was a bust long before that.

9. So much for scapegoating Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez because the Mets bullpen imploded in the four game set. Worse yet, these were games the Mets absolutely should have won:

10. What Dominic Smith has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. This team needs to be smart and really look at him in left field for the rest of the year to determine if he can be a long term solution there. If nothing else, the Mets need as many cheap bats as they can get.

11. Amed Rosario has had a number of peaks and valleys, and recently, this has been a bit of a peak. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .342/.366/.500 with four stolen bases in as many attempts. Ultimately, there still remains hope for him.

12. The Mets need to figure out what to do with Cano, and they need to figure it out sooner rather than later. Realistically speaking, he needs to be moved to a less demanding position like third base and get some days off. As each day passes, it’s clear he can’t play second everyday.

13. Moving Cano to third solves the problem there, and it allows the team to move Jeff McNeil back to second base. This should clear that spot for Smith and hopefully Brandon Nimmo if his injury proves to not be career altering.

14. Speaking of Nimmo, only the Mets could take a talented fan favorite player like him, have him get to an All Star level, and then do all they can to completely ruin him. It’s a not so fun pattern with this team.

15. Todd Frazier has done a lot to help this team and build his trade value. The problem is he’s still a rental who is not really getting you something in return. Really, if you want to make a difference at the deadline, you need to trade major pieces, but with the young talent so close, you can’t do that either.

16. Michael Conforto continues to show himself to be both a great and underappreciated player. He should be an All Star this season. If he isn’t, it’s because this team stinks, and the organization can’t be bothered to promote it’s most talented and perhaps best position player.

17. Chris Mazza getting called up at 29 years old is a feel good story. It’s a feel good story just like Tyler Pill and Drew Gagnon was before him. He should enjoy the moment, but we shouldn’t be expecting anything from him.

18. Chris Flexen looks like a real weapon in the bullpen. Brooks Pounders may become that as well. The optimistic Mets fans could look at them joining Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in front of Diaz, who really cannot be this bad next year, to become a formidable bullpen. As Mets fans, we should know better than to hope.

19. Callaway does sound ridiculous when he says the Mets are so close, but he’s not wrong. This team continues to fight and play hard. If they had even a capable bullpen, they’d be in a much better position. If fact, this is the only team in baseball with more blown saves (20) than saves (18). If you just take back half of those blown saves, the Mets are 47-35, which puts them a game out of first place.

20. Short of honoring the 1969 Mets this weekend, and maybe sometime late in the season to see if Pete Alonso breaks some home run records, there is zero reason to go see the Mets at Citi Field other than your love of the Mets and baseball. The latter is why the Wilpons have us and will never sell the team.

MLB Rule Changes Overly Impacts Relievers

Major League Baseball has announced a series of rule changes to go into effect for the 2020 season. Some of the proposed rule changes include:

  • Injured List increased from 10 to 15 days
  • Assignment to the minor leagues increased from 10 to 15 days
  • Maximum of 13 pitchers on the Major League roster
  • Position players are not permitted to pitch unless very specific circumstances are met
  • Relievers must face at least three batters
  • Roster sizes increased from 25 to 26 players

Perusing all of these rules, you can not help but conclude it will have long lasting ramifications upon relief pitchers. In fact, you can argue the effects on relievers are damaging.

The most controversial of these rule changes is the three batter minimum. What is interesting is this is a rule change Major League Baseball had purportedly wanted to test in the Atlantic League during the 2019 season before trying to implement in the Majors. Instead, the test is going to be throw by the wayside, and it is going to be implemented anyway.

The result is the effective elimination of LOOGYs, and there will be a severe limiting of any pitcher with platoon splits. This means players like Jerry Blevins and Luis Avilan, two relievers who have one year deals, may be pitching the last year of their careers. Maybe.

Think about it, if you are a Major League team, how can you carry a LOOGY and have him pitch in critical innings know the opposing manager can just send up three straight pinch hitters to tee off on your pitcher? You have that extra batter now because of the rule change adding a hitter because, well, you are only allowed eight relievers.

This is the complete absence of strategy which is part of what makes late inning baseball so interesting. You have fans engaged during the game critiquing moves, and they create discussion points for days. Now, well, it’s paint-by-numbers baseball. You just put in relievers instead of planning out the inning to get as much leverage as possible.

That aside, remember a specialization job in baseball is effectively being eliminated.

As if that wasn’t problem enough, there is an issue with respect to the health of relievers. No, we should not expect pitchers facing three batters in an inning to cause them to brake down. That’s the case even if that would be an extra level of exertion the pitcher was not prepared to give.

The bigger issue is the mop-op games. There are times when a managers needs to lose a battle to win the war. They need to realize when his arms need a break, and sometimes, albeit rarely, he will need to use a position player. The problem is a manager’s ability to do that is now restricted.

According to the new rules, a position player can only pitch if he’s a designated two way player (right now, this only applies to Shohei Ohtani), in extra innings, or either team is up five runs. Seems reasonable in theory, but in practice, it could be much different.

Reasonably speaking, you could have had an extra inning game the previous night and had your starter knocked out early. Under the rules, if you are down just five, you have to go to your main bullpen guys, who may be exhausted, especially during those stretches in the summer. you cannot go to a position player. No, you need to stick with your tired relievers, who may have needed a real break.

Remember, this is more than asking a reliever to pitch to three batters. This is requiring him to pitch to three batters in every game. That means if you pitch three straight days, that’s at least nine batters. At a certain point, that puts a real strain on a reliever’s arm.

Of course, a team could respond by sending a pitcher down. Well, not even that is as easy. Instead of losing a tired arm for about three series, you are losing one for five. Maybe in a soft spot in your schedule, the Mets would be willing to send down a Robert Gsellman for a short stretch to call up a more rested arm like Paul Sewald or Jacob Rhame. The Mets are not doing that for five series because the hit is too prolonged.

The option for a quick IL stint also comes off the board because again you are talking five series instead of three. That leaves the option of just calling up another pitcher and use them as the 26th man on the roster. Again, that is problematic because a team is only permitted eight relievers, and in recent years, teams have been carrying that many relievers anyway. If you are carrying eight relievers, and they are tired, you’re back in the earlier predicament on time in the minors or the IL.

There’s one other consideration here. In September, teams have had the opportunity to call up every player on their 40 man roster. Now, teams only get two. Now, according to how the rules are written, that has to be two additional position players IF you are already carrying eight relievers. This further restricts a team’s ability to bring up a fresh arm, and anecdotally, a team does not get a chance to find their version of the 2002 Francisco Rodriguez, who played a huge role in the Angels winning the World Series.

However you break it down, these rules unduly affect relief pitchers. They are losing certain jobs. They are being required to do more than they previously have. Their ability to obtain a rest after a stressful game has been restricted. In total, this looks more like a plan not well thought out and pushed forward because Rob Manfred wanting to put his stamp in the game and Tony Clark not serving enough of a deterrence.

Of course, we would know more if this was tested out in the Atlantic League as was originally planned, but baseball instead opted to plow ahead without knowing the long term effects. When you break it down, it’s inexcusable for baseball to gamble with the integrity of the game and with the careers of pitchers without even having tested it.

What Exactly Is The Mets Type of Player

Jon Heyman of Fancred reported the Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado because, as one Mets official put it, Machado isn’t “our type of player.”

With the Mets saying isn’t their type of player, the question needs to be asked about what exactly is the Mets type of player. Well, here are a few examples.

Jose Reyes – beat wife until the point she needed to be taken to a local hospital

Bartolo Colon cheated not just the game with a PED suspension, but he cheated on his wife. To top it all off, he didn’t pay sufficient child support for his second family.

Francisco Rodriguez – assaulted the grandfather of his children in three Mets family room at Citi Field

Jenrry Mejia – first ever player to be banned from baseball due to failing three PED tests

Bret Saberhahen set off firecrackers around reporters and shot bleach at them with a water gun

Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at fans which would injure a child

Wally Backman brought back to organization as a minor league manager after he had been fired by the Diamondbacks after domestic “disputes” came to light

This is just a small list which doesn’t include everything Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry did, or Keith Hernandez’s participation in the drug trials.

The overriding point here is the Mets type of person wants is a hot head who beats people weaker than them. To that extent, the Mets could not have given Machado a bigger compliment.

Jose Reyes Isn’t Good Enough For This Nonsense

It’s a fact of life that if you are supremely talented, you get away with more than other people.  It’s an unfortunate fact of life.  However, what is baffling is when people who aren’t even that good get away with stuff.

Take Jose Reyes.

Last year, Reyes was a .267/.326/.443 hitter in 60 games for the Mets.  If you’re being honest, that is much worse than you would have thought considering the fanfare that surrounded him last year.  Over the past three seasons, Reyes has been a .279/.321/.400 hitter who averages 21 stolen bases a year.  While people are arguing that he’s the Mets best leadoff hitter, he’s not even good enough to play everyday.  Certainly, his 96 OPS+ and his 96 wRC+ will tell you he is a below average hitter.  Basically speaking, the argument should be whether he should be batting eighth or if he should be playing at all.

However, he is playing because David Wright can’t right now.  He’s playing because Wilmer Flores is a platoon bat, and the Mets refuse to admit a guy who hit .239/.293/.371 against right-handed pitcher last year is every bit the platoon bat Flores is.  The Mets are also not willing to give T.J. Rivera a shot at the third base job due in part to his OBP fully ignoring Reyes’ .321 OBP the last three years.  Gavin Cecchini won’t get a chance to play third because he’s never played there before.  Of course, that didn’t stop the Mets from playing Reyes there last year.

Simply put, there is a wide chasm between the Jose Reyes that was a superstar with the Mets from 2003 – 2011 and the player Reyes is now.  Consider in Reyes’ first stint with the Mets, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 25 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers, and 41 stolen bases a year while playing a good defensive shortstop.  Now?  Reyes doesn’t have the same ability to hit, the same speed, or is that good defensively.  Also, consider the distraction Reyes is.

Last year, Reyes was arrested for allegedly beating his wife.  The only reason the case did not go to trial was because Reyes’s wife did not cooperate with prosecutors.  After serving a suspension and being released, Reyes found himself back on the Mets.  It was that rare second chance.  Still, Reyes could not be on his best behavior.

Now, we find out, much like Bartolo Colon, Reyes has another family.  Apparently, in addition to allegedly beating his wife, Reyes also has an alleged history of cheating on his wife.  He also has a child with his paramour, who claims that not only does Reyes not see his child, but he also does not pay sufficient child support.  Reyes’ attorneys state he has met his obligations.  Reading between the lines, this may reference child support, which is still to be determined, but not in terms of being an actual father to his other daughter.

Look, it could be a case of someone trying to maximize upon Reyes being back with the Mets.  The child support claims could be patently false.  However, it does not change the fact that it gets harder and harder to root for Reyes.  It does not change the fact that Reyes is no longer a good baseball player . . . that is unless you expect him to be that rare middle infielder whose game is predicated upon speed to get better during a season in which he turns 34 years old.

At this point, you have to ask yourself, what’s next with Reyes?  How much longer can the Mets put up with this nonsense?  Turns out, it will be quite a while because the team is only paying him $507,500 this year.

The funny thing is the Mets once took a stand against stuff like this like they did when Francisco Rodriguez attacked his girlfriend’s father.  For that, the Mets put him on the restricted list.  Then again, the Mets found their courage there because K-Rod was making a little over $12 million back in 2010.  Perhaps if K-Rod was making the league minimum, the Mets would have ignored that situation as well.

So, despite the Mets having legitimately better options, and Reyes possibly serving as a distraction, the team will keep the cheap player because in reality the Mets only really have the courage to do the right thing when they owe a player actual money.  It’ll be interesting to see the Mets no comments or diversion tactics if something else happens with Reyes.  Based on recent history with him, you can’t discount that from happening.

Michael Conforto Should Play For Team Italy

Team Italy is recruiting Michael Conforto to play for them in the World Baseball Classic.  They have gone so far as to name Conforto to their preliminary roster, along with fellow Met Brandon Nimmo, despite not having heard back from Conforto regarding his willingness to play in the tournament.

By many accounts, it seems doubtful Conforto will play in the tournament.  Earlier, Conforto had listened to his advisers in rebuffing Terry Collins‘ request that Conforto play Winter Ball.  The decision was grounded in many factors included risk of injury and level of competition.  Arguably, the same concerns would present itself with the WBC leading to Conforto ultimately deciding not to play for Italy.

That would be a mistake.

The first reason why it would be a mistake is Conforto would miss out on an opportunity to work closely with Mike Piazza.  In 1998, Piazza struggled with the Mets, and he was booed by the fans.  Piazza was able to overcome the booing, and he helped bring the Mets to the precipice of the Wild Card.  In subsequent years, Piazza was the superstar who led the Mets to consecutive postseason appearances.  He is also the first Mets position player to have his number retired and be inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Considering Conforto’s struggles in 2016, there are few people on this planet who can better help him than Piazza.  Piazza understands what is means to struggle with the Mets, and how to overcome those struggles to become one of the best and most beloved players in Mets history.  Essentially, Piazza understands what Conforto has gone through, and better yet, he understands what it takes to get to that next level.  That next level is where Conforto wants to be as a player.

However, it is more than mental.  Piazza has widely credited for Team Italy’s unexpected run in the 2013 WBC.  Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo said of Piazza, “In my opinion, he’s a Hall of Famer. When he opens his mouth, you listen. He just makes you so relaxed.  He’d be a great hitting coach.” (USA Today).

While Piazza is not the hitting coach for Team Italy anymore, the effect Piazza has on players is well noted.

Speaking of Rizzo, another important factor is Conforto will get to experience being the focal point of an offense as he is bound to be one of the better players on Team Italy.  Conforto is likely going to be pitched tough by some of the best pitchers in the world.  As it stands, Italy is in Pool D with Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.  It’s already been confirmed that Oliver Perez, Roberto Osuna, Felix Hernandez, and Francisco Rodriguez, and Seth Lugo will pitch.  As we have seen in year’s past, there will be many more quality pitchers Conforto will have to contend with in real pressure packed situations.  That is a good thing for a player still developing into a middle of the order bat.  It’s also better thatn getting on a bus to face another team’s AA, AAA, and AAAA pitchers.

Another factor for Conforto is the WBC gives him an opportunity to get out from the pressure of New York for a while and try to improve as a player.  It could be helpful to get out from under the constant, and at times difficult, New York media, and go play for Team Italy.  With Team Italy, it may be easier to focus on improving as a ballplayer. Furthermore, with coaches like Piazza, it may be helpful to hear another voice that can help him either mechanically or mentally.

Overall, there are many benefits for Conforto playing in the WBC.  It is an opportunity that is in front of him, and it is one he should probably take, especially when you consider how much someone like Piazza can help him.

Mets Have Payroll Concerns Already

On October 29, 2010, in the wake of the Madoff scandal, Sandy Alderson took over as the Mets General Manager. Alderson inherited a team with some big stars like Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, and David Wright. With that he also inherited a team who finished the 2010 season with a hefty $126 million payroll, which ranked sixth in the major leagues. Due to some backloaded contracts reaching their expiration, the 2011 Opening Day payroll was actually inflated to $143 million.

Alderson went to work dismantling a team that was disappointing on the field in what was the beginning of a real rebuilding process. Luis Castillo was released before the season started. Oliver Perez was not too far behind him. Getting rid of the underperforming players the fans hated was the easy part. The hard part was what ensued.

The Mets first traded Francisco Rodriguez, who was getting dangerously close to having an expensive $17.5 million option vest. Then he traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler. Surprisingly, Alderson didn’t trade Jose Reyes, who was the National League leader in batting average. Instead, he would let Reyes become a free agent, and he would recoup a draft pick when Reyes signed a $106 million contract with the Marlins.

And just like that what was once a $143 million payroll became a $95 million payroll in a little more than a year. In subsequent years, the Mets would let Johan Santana‘s contract expire and not reinvest the money. They would release Jason Bay, and again re-invest the money. Then the Mets would shop R.A. Dickey after he won the Cy Young Award.  They obtained Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud in exchange for him which was a sure sign the Mets were more invested in rebuilding than contending.

It was also a sign that the Mets were cash strapped due to the Madoff scandal. The payroll would reach its nadir in 2o14 when it was actually $85 million, which ranked 21st in the major leagues. A bewildered and frankly angry fan base was left wondering when, if ever, the Wilpons were going to permit the Mets to have a payroll commensurate with their standing as a big market major league franchise.

Now, over the past two seasons, the Mets payroll has gone from $85 million in 2014 to $101 million to start the 2015 season. In that offseason, the Mets actually went out and signed Michael Cuddyer to help them become a more complete team. When Cuddyer faltered and David Wright would suffer from spinal stenosis, the Mets made moves and added payroll. The team first traded for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe (even if the Braves paid part of their salary). The Mets then acquired Yoenis Cespedes and what was a left of his $10.5 million contract. In 2015, the Mets spent a little more, but more importantly they spent what they needed to spend to compete.

In 2016, the Mets initially put out signs they were not moving off their roughly $100 million payroll when they signed Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center. It was perceived as a sign the Mets were not going to spend; it was a sign they were not willing to go the extra mile to get Cespedes. But then something happened. Cespedes didn’t find that massive deal on the free agent market. Instead, he re-signed with the Mets for $27.5 million in 2016. After 2016, Cespedes had the option to opt out of the remaining two years $47.5 million left on his contract.

With the Mets paying Cespedes a hefty salary to start the season, the Mets Opening Day payroll rose all the way to $135 million. Before Cespedes was re-signed, there was some doubt about whether it was really the insurance on Wright’s contract that allowed them to make those in-season moves, the re-signing of Cespedes calmed down a fan base that worried when or if the Mets would be willing to spend. Better yet, when the Mets had some issues scoring runs, they went out and traded for Jay Bruce.

Surprisingly now, we are back at the point of wondering if the Mets are willing to spend. The $135 million payroll was a positive step, but it is still less than the first payroll Alderson had with the Mets, and it was only ranked 15th in the majors. Cespedes is a free agent, and no one is quite sure if the Mets will re-sign him, look to acquire a big name free agent like Jose Bautista, or if they are going to stick with the Michael ConfortoCurtis Granderson-Bruce outfield. The Mets also have a number of other areas to address this offseason.

The first step was Neil Walker accepting the $17.2 million qualifying offer. With that, according to ESPN‘s Adam Rubin, the Mets current payroll obligations are $124 million. That is just $10 million under what the 2015 Opening Day Payroll was. If the Mets were to re-sign Cespedes, or another big name free agent, the payroll is going to go well past the $135 million mark.

The problem is the Mets need to go even further than that. Not only do they need Cespedes, or a reasonable facsimile, they also need to re-sign Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas, or again, a reasonable facsimile thereof. The Mets may also want to add another backup catcher given Travis d’Arnaud‘s injury concerns, Rene Rivera‘s lack of offense, and Kevin Plawecki having two disappointing seasons. The Mets may also want to sign a veteran starter considering the health issues of their rotation and Bartolo Colon having signed with the Braves this past week. There’s a lot the Mets need to address here, and it isn’t likely that $10 million is going to cover all of it.

So again, we are back at the point of wondering how far the Mets are willing to go to compete. Will they have a payroll in the upper half of all of baseball? Do they have the funds to spend like a big market club? At this point, no one knows the answers to these questions. While Mets fans may be apprehensive, it is too soon to to pass judgment. That time will come when we see how the Mets handle the Cespedes situation.

Walker’s Home Run Saves the Day

With everything happening with the Mets right now, you knew they had a chance as they were throwing Jacob deGrom in a day game

deGrom didn’t disappoint allowing just seven hits, one run, one earned, and three walks with three strikeouts in 6.2 innings. He would only get a no decision as Collins lifted him in a 1-1 game with him having thrown 103 pitches. 

It should be noted that run deGrom allowed was after he departed the game. Apparently, Terry Collins believed Jerry Blevins was a better option to get out of a bases loaded two out jam with Ian Kinsler looming as a pinch hitter. That was the option Collins picked over deGrom against Tyler Collins, who is a career .260/.314/.423 hitter and was 1-3 with a strikeout. This was apparently Collins decision because:

  
Blevins came in and Brad Ausmus turned to Kinsler just as everyone else thought would happen. Kinsler hit a soft grounder neither Matt Reynolds nor Neil Walker could handle. Tie game. 

It spoiled not just a win for deGrom, but also a big moment for Michael Conforto. It’s been mostly a lost season for him, but he came through huge in the top of the seventh hitting an opposite field home run off Anibal Sanchez giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. 

Naturally, the Mets couldn’t touch Sanchez who entered the game with a 6.26 ERA and a 1.629 WHIP. 

The game was tied heading into the ninth because, well, this happened:

Give Curtis Granderson credit for making a heady veteran play running that ball back into the infield catching J.D. Martinez off guard and too far off the base creating that inning ending run down. 

This set the stage for Walker in the ninth:

Walker has been even better than his April form over the past two weeks. With the way things have been going for the Mets lately and Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list, the Mets need him to keep this hot streak going. 

They also need Alejandro De Aza and his hot bat, but that may be in jeopardy. He scored on the Walker home run after leading off the inning by getting hit by a Francisco Rodriguez pitch on the hand. Fortunately, x-rays were negative. 

Jeurys Familia came on and recorded his 39th save of the season. It wasn’t easy, but then again, what is lately for him or the Mets?  
With the win, the Mets set themselves up to win two in a row for the first time in a month. They’re set up perfectly to win not just two in a row but many more in a row as their next nine games are against the  Diamondbacks and the Padres. 

At the end of that stretch, the Mets should be firmly in Wild Card position. As of right now, they trail the Cardinals by one game for the second Wild Card spot. 

Terry Collins Hurt This Team Again

The Mets batted Ty Kelly second and put him in left field leaving Brandon NimmoMichael Conforto, and the Mets hottest hitting outfielder, Alejandro De Aza, on the bench. 

Terry Collins decided to make Rene Rivera his DH. I can’t tell you how many times I checked the lineup and this sentence to see if it was correct. 

You had to do it because there is no way the left-handed hitters on the Mets could hit Tigers starter Matt Boyd who entered the game with a 4.71 ERA. 

The Mets started Logan Verrett

Seriously, how do you think things went?

Verrett only lasted 3.2 innings allowing seven hits, six runs, six earned, and two walks with two strikeouts. He spotted the Tigers a 6-1 lead with his only run supporting coming off a Jay Bruce solo fourth inning home run. 

The Tigers then proceeded to try to give the game away to a Mets team not fully equipped to take full advantage. 

Curtis Granderson started the charge with a fifth inning solo home run. Birthday boy Wilmer Flores would hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to with three runs. 
It was a terrific game for Flores at the plate going 2-4 with two RBI. With the lefty on the mound, he got the start at first base in place of James Loney

Flores’ RBI single actually scored Kelly, who actually played well going 2-4 with two runs and a walk. He’d score his second run in the seventh off a Miguel Cabrera throwing error. 

On the very next play Mike Aviles would misplay a ball off the bat of Flores allowing Neil Walker to score. Walker continued his hot play of late going 2-4 with a run and a walk. 

It set up runners on first and second with no out, and the Mets down a run. Naturally, the Mets wouldn’t score on a night they went 2-12 with runners in scoring position leaving 10 men on base. Travis d’Arnaud would hit into the second of three Mets double plays on the night, and Kelly Johnson popped out to end the threat. 

The Mets would have one rally left in them starting with a Bruce two out single off Francisco Rodriguez. De Aza would pinch hit for Flores, and move Bruce to second setting the stage for the final play of the game:

It took a great throw from J.D. Martinez, and a terrific job by Jarrod Saltalamacchia to legally block the plate under the new rules while getting the tag down. 

While Tim Teufel has made some curious decisions as the third base coach, this wasn’t one of them. He should’ve sent Bruce there. Like most of the night (season?), the real issue was with Collins. 

First, he could’ve pinch ran an arguably faster Brandon Nimmo which might’ve been the difference between scoring and making the final out at the plate. Second, Collins could’ve at least tried to challenge the play especially after what happened last night. 

Sure, it turns out Bruce didn’t touch home, but who cares?  There are enough quirks in these replay rules that it might not have mattered. Furthermore, what do you have to lose by challenging?  If you don’t, you lose the game. There should be nothing holding you back from challenging that play. 

Then again, there is no reason to believe the Mets were best off with Kelly and Rivera in the starting lineup. Collins found a way to do both. 

At least the Marlins and Cardinals lost tonight as well. 

Game Notes: Bruce had his best day as a Met going 2-5 with a run, an RBI, and the homer. Rivera only lasted two at bats going 0-1 with a walk at DH before getting lifted for Conforto. 

Mets Put Up No Challenge

This matchup was supposed to be Justin Verlander versus his heir apparent Noah Syndergaard. Instead, we got to see more of the struggling Syndergaard. 

In the first, Ian Kinsler would steal second and third off the battery of Syndergaard and Rene Rivera. He would then score on a Miguel Cabrera RBI ground out. 

Kelly Johnson gave Syndergaard and the Mets a 2-1 lead with a two run home run off Verlander in the fourth. That 2-1 lead would have been good enough for Syndergaard a couple of months ago. However, this diminished bone-chipped version of Syndergaard would give the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth. 
First, he allowed a long two run home run to Victor Martinez. The Tigers would continue the rally scoring another run on a James McCann RBI single. It should be noted that it was J.D. Martinez who scored on the play after doubling to right field. 

Jay Bruce made a strong throw to second, but Matt Reynolds laid down an awkward tag. Still, Reynolds held the tag on Martinez. Replays would show Martinez came off the bad, but Terry Collins would not challenge. Martinez would score later making it 4-2. It would prove to be the deciding run in the game. 

Syndergaard would make it through six innings throwing 112 pitches. His pitch count rose in part because he has issued a 10 pitch walk to Nick Castellanos and a nine pitch walk to Victor Martinez. It is indicative of Syndergaard’s location being off. Syndergaard’s final line was six innings, seven hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts. 

In contrast to Syndergaard, Verlander wouldn’t struggle. He dominanted the Mets over six innings allowing four hits, two runs, two earned, and one walk with nine strikeouts. Those nine gives him an American League leading 164 on the season. 

The Mets offense only mustered four hits until the ninth. The team had gone 0-3 with runners in scoring position. Even if you were to claim Verlander was that dominant, it does not explain why the Mets couldn’t do anything against a Tigers bullpen that entered the game with a 4.18 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, and a .266 batting average against. 

Former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez would come on and survive a Mets rally in the ninth. Neil Walker had a leadoff single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a Bruce ground out. He scored on a James Loney ground out ending the rally. The final score was 4-3 with the deciding run being scored Martinez, who would have been out if Collins challenged the play. 

Yet again, the Mets have failed to win back-to-back games. They haven’t done so since July 6th – July 7th. The Nationals won moving the Mets back to nine games out in the division. The Cardinals and Marlins are leading in their games. And, oh yeah, Gary Apple is terrible. 

Game Notes: Today’s game of center field musical chairs had Brandon Nimmo in center, Alejandro De Aza in left, and Curtis Granderson at DH. Michael Conforto sat even though it was a right-handed pitcher on the mound. 

An Examination of the Jose Reyes Signing

A woman is on the hotel bed before her husband pulls her off the bed. He proceeds to push her. When that isn’t enough, he grabs her around the throat and throws her into a sliding glass door leading out to a balcony. There’s an ensuing crash that stirs security.

The husband and wife are separated by security. The wife requests a medic to come to the hotel to treat injuries to her left leg and scratches to her throat – the same throat her attacker grabbed before throwing her into a glass door. When medics arrive to treat, it’s agreed she should get further treatment at the hospital.  During the time period she is separated from her husband, the wife cooperates with the police and gives them sufficient information to file a police report and have the District Attorney’s Office proceed with pressing charges against the husband.

The prosecution is ready to go to trial. However, the trial never happens. The victim wife refuses to cooperate.  The husband now is a free man. If you didn’t know it by know, that’s what we know happened with Jose Reyes and his wife.

Yes, there are various people saying there could have been any number of things that could have happened in the room that have gone unreported.  That is undeniably true.  You could say there was alcohol or that she was antagonizing him verbally or that she had the audacity to fight back causing Reyes to escalate the violence.  There are a number of scenarios you could conjure up to make the October 31, 2015 incident between Reyes and his wife seem better or worse depending on your point of view.  No matter what you think might have or could have transpired, we don’t know anything different from Reyes’ wife’s account as no one has presented anything contradicting her statements to the police.  Even if you have a doubt in your mind as to everything that transpired, Reyes still hit his wife, and that is inexcusable.

To say the Rockies thought so as well when they released him is not being completely honest.  The Rockies’ shortstop of the future, Trevor Story, has played well enough that they don’t need Reyes.  There is no way you’re considering Reyes at third when you have Nolan Arenado.  Same goes for second with DJ LeMahieu.  It was easy for them to take a principled stand when they had no room for a greatly diminished Reyes on the roster.  It’s a whole other matter when you actually have a need for Reyes as the Mets apparently think they do know when they signed him to presumably play third base.

WHY THE REUNION MAKES SENSE

As a pure baseball decision, a Mets-Reyes reunion makes sense.  He Reyes is flat out a better ballplayer than Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly.  Even with how well he’s played since his recent call-up, it’s hard to fathom that Matt Reynolds is a better baseball player than Reyes.  Maybe, just maybe, you could argue that he’s a better everyday option than Wilmer Flores despite having never played third base in the majors.  In that sense you can understand the signing.

Another reason for the reunion is because everyone remembers what Reyes used to be.  As a Met, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 11 triples and 41 stolen bases a year.  He was electric in the field and on the base paths.  He’s the Mets all-time leader in stolen bases and triples.  He’s the best shortstop in Mets history.  He was a beloved player, and many wish he never left the Mets in the first place.

However, as is apparent with that October 31, 2015 incident, Reyes is not who Mets fans think he is.

WHY REYES ISN’T A FIT FOR THE ROSTER

Since he left the Mets, Reyes has gotten progressively worse. Last year when the Blue Jays were chasing their first playoff berth since 1993, they moved Reyes, who had become a liability, for Troy Tulowitzki.  At that time, Reyes was only hitting .285/.322/.385 with no triples and only 16 stolen bases.  When he went to the Rockies, he complained about the trade and openly stated he wanted out.  He finished the year hitting .259/.291/.368 in Coors Field of all places.  He played a poor shortstop in both places.

Both Coors Field and the Rogers Centre are known as hitter’s parks, and last year Reyes didn’t hit much in either park.  Clearly, the Mets hope is that Reyes will be rejuvenated by becoming a Met again.  It’ll be interesting to see if it comes to be especially since Citi Field is decidedly less hitter friendly than either ballpark Reyes called home last year.  In the event Reyes doesn’t produce, the Mets will be left in a difficult situation as they may need to bench Reyes.  Seeing how he reacted in Colorado, it is fair to question how he would accept a benching.

Ultimately, you could understand the Mets rolling the dice on Reyes if the other options didn’t work.  However, the Mets haven’t tried everything.

Earlier in the year, the Mets passed on Ruben Tejada even though he was better than Reyes last year, has actually played third base, and did a good job as a utility player for the Mets last year.  The Mets still haven’t tried Dilson Herrera at second base this year like they had done in years past.  The Mets made this move before finding out if Yusilesky Gourriel could be a viable option for the team this year.  There are other options on the trade market as well.

However, the Mets decided to sign Reyes despite the fact that he may be a distraction (aside from any perceived clubhouse issues that arose in Colorado).  The Mets will have to address the domestic violence issues upon officially signing Reyes.  They may have to do it more frequently than that.  There may be various advocacy groups who seek to have protests or other efforts to denounce the Mets and Reyes.  It’s the type of situation the Mets tried to separate themselves from back in 2010.

THE K-ROD INCIDENT

In 2010, it was alleged Francisco Rodriguez unleashed a verbal tirade against his girlfriend.  When her father sought to intervene, K-Rod proceeded to punch him.  He continued to punch him and bang the man’s head against a wall.  The Mets initially put K-Rod on the restricted list for two days.  When it was discovered K-Rod injured his thumb in the altercation, the Mets put K-Rod on the disqualified list and withheld the remaining $3.1 million from his 2010 salary.  They further sought to make his contract non-guaranteed, but ultimately backed off that stance once K-Rod filed a grievance.

Unlike Reyes, the charges were not dropped against K-Rod.  In the offseason, he would plead guilty to the misdemeanor.  Part of his sentence was to undergo therapy.  Presumably, this therapy is similar in nature to the therapy Reyes is currently undergoing as part of his MLB suspension.

It is worth mentioning that in 2012 K-Rod was arrested again for domestic violence.  In this incident, it was alleged that he struck his girlfriend in their home (different girlfriend than the one he had in 2010).  K-Rod would not stand trial for this incident as the alleged victim recanted her story that K-Rod caused her injuries, and the two key witnesses were flown back to Venezuela.

In that offseason, K-Rod would re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers who cheered him after each and every strikeout and each and every scoreless appearance.  It was not too dissimilar to how the Mets fans cheered K-Rod in 2011 when he recorded 23 saves before being traded to the Brewers.

FAN RECEPTION

When Reyes ultimately steps back on the field, he is going to be cheered again by Mets fans.  He will be greeted with JOSE! chants.  This really shouldn’t come as any surprise.

Ultimately, fans want to cheer for players no matter how despicable they are.  Anyone who read the book, The Year the Bad Guys Won, knows about the various and sundry issues with the 1986 Mets.  There was Darryl Strawberry and his having fist fights with his wife.  There was Dwight Gooden‘s problem with drugs that go so bad he missed the championship parade because he was high at his dealer’s apartment in the projects.  Ron Darling, Tim Teufel, Bob Ojeda, and Rick Aguilera got into a bar fight in Houston where they assaulted bouncers who turned out to be off-duty police officers.  This is just a snippet of the problems with this team.  Still, these players are forever revered and will be cheered wherever they go now matter what happens.

They are cheered because they produce.  It’s the same way with this team.  Terry Collins is beloved by many.  However, many overlook his past drunk driving conviction.  Bartolo Colon can seemingly do no wrong except when it comes to using steroids and failing to pay child support.  There are Mets who have done far worse than either of these guys.  Some of these acts are know.  Others aren’t.  Still, fans cheer them for their performance on the field.  In that way, Mets fans are no different than other fans.  We have to look no further than the Yankee fans cheering Aroldis Chapman in his first game back from his own suspension.

WHAT FANS ARE ACTUALLY CHEERING

Still, when Mets fans are cheeering Reyes, they are cheering for a player that beat his wife to the point where she needed to go to the hospital.

Furthermore, most Mets fans, even those who didn’t want Reyes in the first place, still want the team to succeed.  Most will cheer him if he makes a big defensive play or gets a big base hit.  Mets fans cheered Bobby Bonilla when he got hits, and there may be no more reviled Met than him (NOTE: only comparing fan reception as Bonilla has never been charged with a crime).  You may not want Reyes on the team, but you want the Mets to succeed.  No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Reyes, that means you too want Reyes to succeed.

If all goes according to plan, Reyes will be an important part of the Mets, and he will help the Mets win the World Series.  If that is the case then in some sick, twisted way, you could say the best thing that happened to the 2016 Mets was the October 31, 2015 incident.

WHERE I STAND

Being completely honest, I’m going to root for the Mets whether or not Reyes actually plays for them this year.  Even if I won’t purchase any tickets directly from the Mets, I will still use the tickets in my possession.  When Reyes comes up to bat or makes an error, I’ll boo.  I’m not going to participate in any JOSE! chants.  When he gets a hit or makes a good defensive play, I’ll cheer.  It’s the same way I reacted to Bobby Bonilla, even if that is an unfair comparison.

For Reyes, I want him to be worth it.  I want him to do more than show he’s atoned. I want him to speak out on the matter (even if it’s complicated as the statute of limitations has not expired). I want him to show he’s a better person for having gone through this incident. Whether or not October 31, 2015 was an isolated incident, I want the physical altercations between him and his wife to cease. I want his family to be safe. 

On the field, I want the Mets to win the World Series this year no matter who is on the roster.  With that said, it will be a bit unsettling having Reyes be an important part of the equation.  I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the Mets might be able to win a World Series because Reyes beat his wife.  Having Reyes contribute will take some of the joy out of winning – whether it be a game or a World Series.