Gary Carter

Mets Must Go All-In At Trade Deadline

When making decisions at the trade deadline, it is not just about where your team is in the standings. It is also about where you are at as an organization. Right now, the Mets are 4.0 games up on the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, two teams who are under .500. As for the organization, well, they are in a much more tenuous spot.

After this season, Michael ConfortoJeurys Familia, Rich Hill, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Jonathan Villar will be free agents. After the following season, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Brandon Nimmo, and Kevin Pillar will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can also opt out of his contract, and Taijuan Walker can decline his player option.

Focusing more narrowly, after two years, the Mets could lose 2/3 of their outfield and 4/5 of their starting rotation. They can also lose four key set-up men as well as their closer. Put another way, this team is on the precipice of losing very important pieces of a team which is going to take it to the postseason this year.

Now, this is certainly a much different proposition with Steve Cohen at the helm than it was with the Wilpons. There is an implicit trust Cohen will continue trying to win. However, as we know, you’re not always successful identifying who to keep and who to let go as well as who the right replacements are.

When we look back to the early 90s, the Mets were coming off their best stretch in Mets history. They made the right decision letting Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez go. However, they made some bad calls like thinking Vince Coleman could replace Darryl Strawberry. They over relied on their belief Kevin Elster, Dave Magadan, and Gregg Jefferies could be first division starters. Of course, there was also the Worst Team Money Could Buy.

All told, when the Mets switched from build around a core to replacing and altering the core, things fell apart. We can look at other points in Mets history when that happened. It happened again when the Mets passed on Alex Rodriguez as part of a calamitous offseason after the 2000 pennant. The 2009 Mets made the mistake of keeping Oliver Perez. The 2017 Mets got their money tied up in Neil Walker, and they saw Robert Gsellman and Lugo couldn’t hang as starters for a full season.

In some ways, that leads us to now. The Mets have extremely important decisions to make on who stays and who goes. They need to see who the correct replacements are. From what we’ve see from this front office, we should have faith they are up to the task. That said, we all had very well placed faith in Frank Cashen, and he blew it up.

Seeing where the Mets are, the best decision they can make right now is to absolutely go for it. Yes, that may very well require overpaying for players and rentals. Back in 2015, that didn’t make much sense. It was year one of contending for a young core who was cost controlled. Their decisions, including letting Daniel Murphy walk, turned it into a two year window. That window slammed shut without a World Series.

Right now, the Mets window is definitely open, but it’s being propped open. Without the right options, this window can slam shut after this year. It may well be that after the 2022 season. The Mets definitely need to keep this possibility in mind as they look to add at the trade deadline.

Players like Kris Bryant and Trevor Story dramatically changes the fortunes of this team. The same can be said for a player like Jose Ramirez. It may hurt to overpay for Max Scherzer or another top of the line starter, but imagine a two headed monster of deGrom and Scherzer (and having deGrom insurance) as the Mets look to win a World Series.

Ultimately, the Mets are going to see radical changes to this roster over the next few years. They’re in first place now with a team capable of winning a World Series. They need to make sure they do everything they need to do to get that World Series, or they may be ruing the missed chance for a team in transition over the next few years.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep Braves?

With the weather, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves only played one game of the weekend series. With the Mets winning, they swept all the games they did play:

1. You just can’t beat the Mets at Citi Field. So far, they’re 15-5, and that’s even with a Triple-A roster.

2. The Braves are an incredibly flawed team, and there’s only so much Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña can do.

3. The Mets are starting to get healthy with Taijuan Walker back. They also have Seth Lugo and Pete Alonso ready to be activated any day now.

4. Lugo presents an interesting dilemma for the Mets as they robbed Peter to pay Paul by opening up roster spots. Lugo coming off the 60 day IL means someone has to come off the 40 man roster.

5. In past years, the Mets really didn’t have enough players for an everyday lineup, and now, we’re worrying about the backups to the backups. Things really are different.

6. Walker picked right up where he left off, which is to say, he was very good.

7. Mets were cautious with both Walker and Jacob deGrom in their returns from the IL. Again, it’s nice to see things are different around here.

8. One of the biggest changes we see are rain outs. Steve Cohen is making the calls sooner preventing fans from having to unnecessarily make the trek.

9. A side point here is we’ve seen Mets players get injured and seasons get turned sideways with players playing in poor conditions as the Wilpons push to get another gate.

10. James McCann needs to be commended. He got pushed to first due to his own play, Tomas Nido‘s play, and injuries. He responded to the challenge by playing great.

11. Seeing McCann at first, and seeing his bat come alive again, you do wonder if he can play third. After all, it is a shift Todd Zeile (permanently) and Gary Carter (as a sub) have successfully made.

12. Seeing how McCann has played of late, there’s nothing wrong with the McCann/Nido platoon. In fact, it’s a good plan to get the most out of them and the starters.

13. Its a very small sample size, but Billy McKinney looks really good. He could well be someone who more than adequately fills in that 4th/5th OF role.

14. It’ll be something people overlook when they talk about how disappointing Dominic Smith has been, and he has, but he’s been playing hurt at a time when the Mets needed him.

15. Maybe it’s due to overwork, regression to the mean, or something else, but Miguel Castro is starting to look like the enigma he was with the Baltimore Orioles again.

16. Jason Bay got a much longer leash than Francisco Lindor has when it’s come to the booing.

17. On Lindor, this team is winning with pitching and defense, and he’s on the forefront of that. It’s something to remember when the Mets are healthy and debating putting in the full can’t field lineup.

18. By every objective measure, Jonathan Villar has been a below average player, but man, he finds a way to make an impact on a game.

19. The fact Kevin Pillar is going to be one of the first players back is a minor miracle given the injury he suffered and a testament to how tough he is.

20. The May games are over, and the Mets are in first place. They have the largest division lead while they’re getting healthy. Let’s hope this is enough to stave off the usual June swoon.

Francisco Lindor Era Finally Begins

If not for the Washington Nationals, we would have seen the start of the Francisco Lindor Era with the New York Mets. Instead, that era starts in Philadelphia nearly a half week into the season.

If Mets history is any gauge, the era will start off with a win as the Mets have won on Opening Day at a higher percentage than any team in Major League history. The chances of that increase exponentially with Jacob deGrom on the mound.

Of course, this isn’t really Opening Day, but that is also besides the point. The real point is Lindor is a Met now, and he will Be for the following decade.

In that decade, there is a clear path for Lindor to easily surpass Jose Reyes to become the best shortstop in Mets history. In fact, in what New York Yankees fans may consider sacrilege, he could go on and become the best shortstop in New York baseball history.

Anything is on the table with Lindor. Since his career began, he’s been the best shortstop in baseball, and really he’s been the third best player in the game. Looking at it that way, it certainly fits that Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are the only higher paid players.

Lindor is having a Hall of Fame career, and much like Mike Piazza and Gary Carter, he’s going to get the opportunity to cement that legacy in Flushing. If so, he will join Piazza and Tom Seaver as players who have entered the Hall of Fame as Mets and had their numbers retired by the team.

With Lindor and Steve Cohen’s willingness to invest not just in players, but also the front office and technology, this promises to be one of the greatest stretches in Mets history. In fact, it could surpass what we saw in the 1980s.

Whatever happens from here on out, it’s most likely going to be defined by Lindor. He’s a genuine superstar playing in the best city in the world. Chances are this is going to be a mixture of magic and amazin.

Steve Cohen Added Hall Of Famer Francisco Lindor To His Collection

One of the unspoken parts of the Francisco Lindor extension discussions was Steve Cohen and the New York Mets had the opportunity to add another Hall of Famer to the franchise. With the 10 year/$341 million contract, the Mets did just that.

This is what the Mets were able to do with Mike Piazza. Depending on how future votes go, the same can be said for Keith Hernandez and Carlos Beltran.

Point is, it doesn’t matter where your career began. What matters is where you spent the bulk of your career and had the greatest impact. With a 10 year deal, Lindor will be in line to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Make no mistake, Lindor will be a Hall of Famer.

Consider for a moment, the average Hall of Fame shortstop has a 43.1 WAR7 and a 55.3 JAWS. So far, through five-and-a-half seasons, Lindor is at a 27.9. If he continues his 5.3 WAR/year production over his first five years, he’ll hit a 37.4.

That’s right behind the 43.1 mark. However, it should be noted Lindor is entering his prime. He’s entering his prime after already establishing himself as a 30 home run, 100 RBI shortstop.

That’s Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken Jr. territory. In fact, with each passing year, he continues to put himself on Ripken’s level.

Now, Lindor is with a New York franchise where his profile will be even higher. He’s also at a place more invested in analytics and getting the right data to players to help them perform at their peak. In some ways, Lindor finds himself in the position Gary Carter once did.

New York will be the place Lindor shows just how much of a leader he is. He’ll show his enthusiasm and love for the game on a bigger stage. God willing, this will be the place he leads the Mets to the World Series.

When all this happens, there will be no doubt Lindor should have his number retired, and he will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He will wear a Mets cap on his plaque.

All that will be made possible because Steve Cohen stepped up to give Lindor the extra million more than Fernando Tatis Jr. received. It was possible because Cohen understands value. It was made possible because Cohen purchased the Mets.

Opening Day starts a new era in Mets history. It’s no longer just the start of the Steve Cohen Era. It’s now the start of the Francisco Lindor Hall of Fame Era in Mets history.

Mets Shouldn’t Be Retiring Any More Player Numbers

Mike Piazza perhaps let the cat out of the bag when he intimated the New York Mets may start retiring more numbers. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock when the organization announced Jerry Koosman‘s 36 was going to be retired.

Looking at the Mets franchise history, this is quite the Steinbrenner type of move.

After the simply bizarre act of retiring Casey Stengel‘s number, the Mets put the highest of standards for retiring player numbers. In fact, prior to the Koosman announcement, it was an honor solely reserved for Hall of Famers.

It’s a standard which frankly makes sense. Number retirement should be an honor presented to the true legends of your franchise. By definition, that’s what the Hall of Famers are.

If we sort through team history, if not for a completely and arbitrary application of an theretofore unenforced rule Gary Carter would be in the Hall of Fame as a Met. That would’ve led to the retirement of his 8.

It’s also quite possible we may one day see Keith Hernandez and Carlos Beltran inducted. With that should come their numbers being retired. At least with respect to Hernandez, that would be an extremely popular decision.

Past that duo, the only player who you can conceive of hitting that level is Jacob deGrom. That’s something that needs consideration.

When a number is retired, the franchise is putting a player at the level of Tom Seaver, Piazza, and quite possibly deGrom. Looking at the team history, they don’t have players at that level. They really don’t.

That includes David Wright who is an extremely popular choice amongst the fans. If not for injuries, he very well might’ve. By the same token, if not for addiction, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry not only would’ve been at that level, but quite possibly, would’ve been a step above Wright.

Fact is Wright is a Mets great, but he’s not a baseball great. Yes, he deserves honoring by the Mets, but a number retirement is just too high of an honor. That should be reserved for the true legends to wear a Mets uniform.

Keep in mind, as discussed on the Simply Amazin Podcast, much of the case for Wright can dwindle over time. For example, if Michael Conforto re-signs, he should take over a good chunk of Wright’s records.

After that, we could see someone else surpass both players. Part of the reason is the records on the books isn’t particularly impressive for a franchise. Keep in mind, that’s not saying Wright’s career numbers aren’t impressive. They are. However, as a franchise leader, it’s not.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The issue just is where you start drawing lines.

For example, for all the push for Wright, John Franco remains the franchise all-time saves leader, has the most saves of any left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and he was a captain. Despite that, there seems little to no push to retire his number even with his being a Met longer just as long as Wright.

Really, when you look at both, yes, they should be honored, but in reality, it should be short of number retirement. In reality, that’s why there’s a Mets Hall of Fame.

The answer should be to make the Mets Hall of Fame into a destination at Citi Field. Really showcase the Mets greats honoring them the way they should be honored. That’s far more fitting than trying to elevate players like Wright to the levels of Seaver.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with not having many numbers retired. In many ways, that makes that honor all the more meaningful. It’s better to keep it that way while also finding an appropriate way to honor the Mets greats who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.

Mets Make Themselves Real World Series Contenders With Francisco Lindor And Carlos Carrasco

In case you were skeptical this was indeed a new era of New York Mets baseball, the Mets just acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, the Mets added a top five player in the game at short, and they added a top of the rotation caliber pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.

When you add these players to a core with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, James McCann, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. Whether or not the Mets add another starter, bullpen arm, third baseman, or center fielder, the Mets already have the pieces in place to be a true World Series contender.

Just think about it for a moment. Assuming Noah Syndergaard returns this season, this is currently the Mets rotation:

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. Carlos Carrasco
  5. Steven Matz/David Peterson

Even if the Mets don’t go out there and sign a George Springer or add a third baseman, this is what the Mets lineup could look like during the course of the 2021 season:

  1. Brandon Nimmo, CF
  2. Michael Conforto, RF
  3. Pete Alonso, 1B
  4. Dominic Smith, LF
  5. Francisco Lindor, SS
  6. Jeff McNeil, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Luis Guillorme 2B

Sure, this Mets team could definitively stand to get better defensively in the outfield. That said, that infield defensive alignment is quite good, especially up the middle, and that lineup is as strong and deep as they come. This is a team who can go toe-to-toe with the defending division champion Atlanta Braves and the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Right now, this is a great baseball team.

What’s even better is the Mets are not done with their offseason. They are still going to add more pieces. That could include Springer, and it could be a reliever like Brad Hand. There are are likely going to be depth pieces added beyond this group. When all is said and done, the Mets with Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Jared Porter have already done and will continue to do what Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen could never even dream of doing.

Today is a great day in Mets history. Today is just like the day the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza. The Mets got a future Hall of Famer in his prime, and they completely changed the trajectory of the franchise both this year and in the years to come.

Lets Go Mets!

Extend Michael Conforto And Name Him Captain

When new Mets catcher James McCann signed, it was Michael Conforto who reached out to him to welcome him to the team.

When manager Luis Rojas was asked to name team leaders, Conforto was the first name he mentioned saying Conforto “stands out.”

When Dominic Smith grappled with decisions like kneeling or even playing this summer, Conforto told him he wish he knew Smith was going to kneel so he could be by him. He was then right by Smith’s side when he spoke out about racial injustice.

When it became clear Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis were not only part of the Houston Astros sign stealing controversy, but also cheated against pitchers on this Mets team, Conforto said three important things: (1) Astros crossed the line; (2) it was going to be addressed; and (3) there was not going to be any animosity.

He was a young player taught how to play and how to be a leader by people like David Wright, Curtis Granderson, and Jay Bruce. He’s been a leader in the clubhouse, and he’s stood by his teammates.

In the history of the Mets, there has been no more obvious choice for Captain since Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. This is a homegrown Met who is perfect to lead this team as they embark on a new era.

He’s also still a very good player who has had great moments. After he moved past his shoulder injury, he’s had a 135 OPS+. We know he’s capable of more too.

He’s an All-Star caliber player who can hit anywhere in the lineup, and he’s been a good defender. He’s also a team player willing to move to any position to help the team.

Conforto is the Captain in every possible way. Once the Mets give him the contract extension he’s earned, it’s time to formally announce him as the fifth Captain in team history.

Mets Need Francisco Lindor

The Mets need to learn their lesson from last offseason. The attitude was let Mookie Betts play out his contract, and then have the Mets sign him as a free agent once Steve Cohen takes over.

The problem with that line of thinking is you risk a player signing an extension, which is exactly what Betts did. We went to a team in the Dodgers who were happy to hand him a blank check.

If you’re a team who does not go out and get Francisco Lindor, you’re assuming the very same risk. The Mets should not be assuming that risk.

The counter-argument is the Mets don’t need Lindor. After all, Andres Gimenez had an impressive rookie season. Amed Rosario, while being lost at the plate this year, was significantly improved defensively. This is all true while also missing the point.

In 2020, the Mets finished in last place with a 26-34 record. During the course of the year, one thing which should have been made abundantly clear was this Mets team isn’t good enough to win right now. In fact, if the last two years are any gauge, they’re not all that close.

What they Mets need is better players across the diamond. It’s not just a catcher, center field, and pitching issue. Really, aside from the first base glut with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith and the two corner outfield spots, the Mets seem desperate for upgrades and shifting of players to new positions.

Yes, the Mets could use an upgrade at shortstop when Lindor is the player available.

Since his MLB debut in 2015, Lindor has been a top three player in the sport. He’s been the best infielder, and he’s the best middle infielder by a healthy margin. He is literally everything you want in a baseball player.

By DRS, he’s been the fourth best defensive SS in the game since 2015. By wRC+, he’s the seventh best hitter. Overall, there’s no one better at short than him.

That includes Gimenez and Rosario, and it’s a wide margin between him and those two. By obtaining Lindor, you’re making a significant push towards closing the talent gap in the NL East.

Let’s look at it another way. Since his breakout season in 2017, Lindor has been a .276/.341/.503 hitter. In the three previous seasons, he’s averaged 42 doubles, three triples, and 34 homers.

No shortstop in the history of the New York Mets have ever put up these kinds of numbers. They’ve never done it on a one year career year, and they’ve certainly never come close putting up these numbers on an annual basis. When you think about it, over the 58 year history of the Mets, it’s takes their shortstops 2-3 years to put up the extra base hits Lindor can do in one year.

Here’s another way to examine it. Lindor has a 118 wRC+ since 2017. Over that time frame, only Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo (Alonso didn’t qualify) have a better offensive production.

Over that time frame, Mets shortstops Gabe a 90 wRC+. Getting Lindor would make the Mets lineup deeper and more dangerous. They’ll also be doing that while having a Gold Glove caliber player at the position.

There is no doubt Lindor makes the Mets a significantly improved team. There also should be no doubt he’ll come at a high price. If he’s willing to sign an extension, nearly any price would be worth it. He’s that good.

Anytime you can get a future Hall of Famer in his prime, you have to do it. It is a game changer for the organization, and it can bring your team to another level.

The Mets are certainly familiar with that concept. Gary Carter helped them win a World Series. Mike Piazza took them to back-to-back postseasons. Carlos Beltran helped lead the Mets to one at-bat from a World Series. Hall of Fame talent significantly improves your team and your postseason chances.

The Piazza and Beltran examples are especially illustrative. With Piazza, the Mets already had Todd Hundley. With Beltran, the Mets already had Mike Cameron. Rather than be happy with the status quo for a team not good enough to win, the Mets improved on a strength, and it led to a better future.

That’s Lindor right now. Yes, the Mets may very well be served to go forward with either Gimenez or Rosario. However, with all due respect to both, neither of them are Lindor, nor are they close.

If the Mets want to truly win now, they should be making every reasonable effort to get Lindor in a New York Mets uniform.

How Long Can Mets Stick With Wilson Ramos

It’s easy to overreact to what Tomas Nido did yesterday. After all, his two homers and six RBI put him in the company of Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza, and Paul Lo Duca. When you’re capable of doing that, you’re a star in the making.

The thing is Nido isn’t that type of player. He entered this season as a career 39 OPS+ hitter. Before he was called up to the majors, he had just one minor league season with an OPS higher than .660.

No, Nido has never been an offensive force. When you look at the Mets catchers, the offensive thread behind the plate is Wilson Ramos. Well, at least he’s supposed to be

So far this year, Ramos is hitting .196/.274/.286 (60 OPS+). While Ramos has typically been a slow starter (April has historically been his the second worst month), this is a new floor for him.

As an example, last year, Ramos hit .320/.393/.340 over the first 16 games. The average and OBP were there, but the power wasn’t. The power wouldn’t come until May. His power would improve in June.

What’s interesting with Ramos was while he had 14 homers last season, he only had one homer through the Mets first 16 games. That’s where he stands now.

If he follows on that power pace, Ramos’ second homer won’t come until the 40th game of the season. Not only would it take him 40 games to catch Nido, but the season would also be 2/3 over.

No one realistically believes Nido will outhit or out-homer over the course of the season. That’s the case even with Nido doing just that 1/3 of the way through the season, and as Justin Toscano of nj.com explains is a retooled swing and refined approach.

What’s odd is it is not even close. Nido has a 225 OPS+ to Ramos’ 59. Yes, Nido’s will drop precipitously, but how soon before Ramos starts hitting like Ramos again?

We don’t know, and the question for the Mets is how long can they wait for it to happen. That issue gets magnified by Nido being VASTLY superior defensively.

Per Baseball Savant, Ramos ranks 44th of all qualified catchers in pitch framing. Of catchers with over 400 chances, he’s the third worst in the league. Put another and simpler way, he’s bad behind the plate.

While Nido hasn’t qualified, his numbers were better than Ramos’ last year, and he has a better reputation as a defensive catcher. Of course, that’s partially because Ramos has never been known for his defensive prowess.

Overall, Nido is giving the Mets a much better chance to win 1/3 of the way through the season. In fact, Nido’s fWAR (which incorporates framing) has him at 0.4 to Ramos’ -0.1.

If you’re the Mets, how much longer do you wait around for Ramos to turn it around? The team is two games under .500, and they’re barely in the playoff picture.

When Nido is the catcher hitting homers and framing the low pitches better for a staff of sinkerball pitchers, you really wonder if Ramos even has a role on this team right now. He and the Mets are running out of time to find out.

Mets With A Nido Win

Bases loaded, no outs, Juan Soto at the plate. Rookie pitcher David Peterson on the mound for the Mets, and the Nationals starting Austin Voth with his 1.80 ERA.

That’s how the Mets day game against the Nationals began. That’s how the game began. Seeing that, you probably didn’t expect the Mets to not just win, but win big.

The reason? Tomas Nido.

Peterson got ahead of Soto 0-2 before getting a REALLY low pitch for a called strike three. Part of that was another day of poor umpiring. To put how bad it was, Stephen Strasburg was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. He was seated in the stands.

The other reason is Nido is a terrific pitch framer adept at getting the low strike called. That call changed the complexity of that inning and the game. After that strikeout, the only run the Nationals would score that inning was off a Howie Kendrick RBI groundout.

One of the reasons the scoring ended there was Jeff McNeil absolutely robbed Asdrubal Cabrera of an extra base hit. McNeil would hurt himself on the play and would have to be taken off the field via stretcher.

That Nationals lead was very short lived because Dominic Smith hit his fourth homer of the season:

After that it was the Nido show. In successive innings, Nido would homer. In the fourth, it was a two run shot off Voth. In the fifth, it was his first career grand slam off Seth Romero:

That second homer put him in some very exclusive Mets territory with the two homers and six RBI:

When you’re in a group with Mike Piazza and Gary Carter, you know you had an absolutely phenomenal day.

Lost in this insane day was the fact Peterson carried a no hitter into the fifth. His final line was 5.0 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He’d leave after 74 pitches due to some shoulder soreness. According to Peterson, it’s not serious.

From there, the teams would score one more run apiece in the Mets 8-2 victory. It was a complete team victory.

With the exception of J.D. Davis, every starter who received a PA had at least one hit. That includes Luis Guillorme who had another strong day at the plate going 2-for-4.

Overall, the Mets split the series with the Nationals. In doing so, they learned how this defense first lineup is their path to victory.

Game Notes: Billy Hamilton replaced McNeil and batted third. He finally got his first hit after going hitless in his first 15 Mets at-bats. Davis is hitless in his last 10 at-bats with six strikeouts. Andres Gimenez is tied for the MLB lead with five stolen bases.