Gerson Bautista

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Chance Against Nationals

After coming in red-hot after going 5-1 on the road to open the season, the Mets had their first series at home, and while they returned to Citi Field, their momentum did not. While it is waaaaaaay to soon to look at these things, the Mets are now 0.5 games back of the Phillies. Here are some observations from the Mets home opening series:

  1. Noah Syndergaard seems to be a spokesman of sorts for this team airing their grievances publicly. Look it anyone is going to be the bad guy, Syndergaard is well suited for it because: (1) the fans are going to love him regardless; and (2) he seems to have the do not care what you think personality to make it work.
  2. Not only did MLB mishandle this by having the Mets play a night game, but they also had a drug test after the game. Considering there were only 7,486 at that game, I cannot imagine attendance was the reason for the later start time.
  3. If the rumors were true, the Mets are absolutely idiots for starting that game at 1:00 P.M. instead of 4:00 P.M. Those three extra hours matter, especially when a player like Robinson Cano has completely forgotten how to transverse New York after signing with the Mariners after the 2013 season.
  4. The Nationals came into this series under .500 with an already beleaguered Dave Martinez, a more beleaguered bullpen, and arguably their best player, Trea Turner, on the disabled list. This was a very wounded team who was primed to be knocked down a peg or two and possibly sent into turmoil. It may still be just April, but the Mets missed a big opportunity here.
  5. The two home run game from J.D. Davis was great to see as was his reaching base safely five consecutive times. However, we are going to need to see a lot more of that before we believe he has finally figured things out.
  6. As we saw from Davis’ two home run game, April is the time for overreaction, and we are seeing that with Zack Wheeler‘s tough start. One thing to keep in mind here is Wheeler has always gotten better as the season progresses.  For example, his career April ERA is 4.95, and his career August ERA is 2.30. Lets give this a month or two before we decided last year’s second half was a blip.
  7. It seems like Steven Matz figured something out in the bottom of the second against the Nationals. If so, watch out, he’s going to have a breakout season.
  8. The Mets have gone from Jason Vargas not needing any competition during Spring Training to only trusting him for five innings in a hitter’s park against the worst team in the National League to skipping his start. It’s not even the middle of April, and the Mets have completely bungled their fifth starter situation.
  9. Perhaps this is an overreaction, but Robert Gsellman has not proven to be that late inning relief ace the Mets imagined him to be. With the Vargas situation, perhaps the Mets should consider sending him down to Syracuse to lengthen him out to rejoin the rotation while making Vargas the long man in the bullpen.
  10. Even with Jeurys Familia‘s blow-up where he allowed his first homer at Citi Field since Conor Gillaspie, and he allowed two homers in an appearance for the first time in his career, he’s been fine.
  11. While there has been justifiable hand-wringing over just how poorly this bullpen has been performing, we are seeing Justin Wilson-Familia-Edwin Diaz turn into a formidable 7-8-9 combination.
  12. Thankfully, Seth Lugo was back to himself Sunday throwing 96 MPH and striking out the side. Overall, he’s very tempting to use, but Mickey Callaway has to be much more judicious in his usage of him.
  13. With the Mets being a starter short and one to two arms short in the bullpen, just a subtle reminder Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents. And for a GM who traded away Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista, Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, Scott Manea, Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, and Felix Valerio, we do not need to hear about giving up a draft pick.
  14. Michael Conforto looks like a real MVP candidate.
  15. Brandon Nimmo is going to be fine. Whether it was an injury or something else, he will get back to being Nimmo. We saw that with his double yesterday.
  16. For all of his prodigious power, and how he already looks like a veteran out there, the one thing which really stands out with Pete Alonso is how great a teammate he is. It is utterly stunning to believe a player with less than 10 games under his belt may already be the glue guy in the clubhouse. Speaking of Alonso, while everyone was celebrating the opposite field hitting, it was nice to see the Mets start hitting for power again.
  17. The Mets signed Wilson Ramos for his bat. We are seeing that with his lackluster pitch framing and how he couldn’t locate a ball which was right behind him allowing a runner to score from second.
  18. It was great to see Travis d’Arnaud return. He’s been an under-appreciated player because he has not been exactly what he was supposed to be, but he is good behind the plate. Sooner or later, his pitch framing is going to really help this team.
  19. On the one hand, all of Callaway’s double switching is maddening because it is partially the reason why this bullpen is so taxed. On the other hand, it is proving to be an adept way to get everyone into the game and having them getting enough reps to contribute when called upon. Ultimately, Callaway just needs to find a way to better handle this bullpen.
  20. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Mets sell out when they have these bobble head days. For the life of me, I do not understand how it makes sense to send kids home upset and to ruin their experience at the park by not having enough bobble heads for everyone. This a sponsored giveaway, and they are cheap to make. The mid market Brewers have figured this out, and they order enough so they can donate the extras after the game. Seems like it’s better to have everyone walking out with a Jacob deGrom and Todd Frazier bobble head this weekend than having sad little kids, which is never good for business.

Van Wagenen Has No Room For Harper, Machado, And Maybe Postseason

During his interview with Mike Franceca on WFAN, he would speak about the team, and he would be challenged by Mike on a number of issues. As the General Manager, you can understand Van Wagenen trying to sell the fan base about the team. It is part and parcel of his job.

In some ways, he did effectively did that. He touted the combination of Peter Alonso and J.D. Davis as capably hitting 30 home runs combined from the first base position. He also reminded fans of this being a versatile team with Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano being able to play first base if necessary. This would also allow the team to play Jed Lowrie and have him bat second in the lineup every day.

Behind some of the bravado, some of Van Wagenen’s early bravado began to erode away, and you saw someone who is trying to sell an incomplete roster. We saw this through two telling exchanges. The first notable one regards Bryce Harper and Manny Machado:

Essentially, Brodie is going to have us believe the team has no room for Machado on the infield. Now, you could argue even with Amed Rosario being disappointing thus far, he is primed to break out next season. He can also point to there already being solid to very good veteran infielders. That’s fair. However, he loses us completely at Harper.

This is a team with just two starting outfielders in Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. For all of their defensive prowess, neither Keon Broxton or Juan Lagares can’t hit. As for Jeff McNeil, the Mets apparently believed in him so much they aggressively pursued two other All-Star second baseman to play over him.

The Mets will tell you he’s now going to be an outfielder. That’s all well and good, and we all hope he can make the transition. However, no matter how good he is, he is no Bryce Harper.

That’s important due to the second pertinent exchange. When Mike asked if the Mets were better than the Vegas line of 84 wins, Van Wagenen was sure of himself saying, “I think 84 wins is light.”  When pressed on whether this was a 90 win team, Van Wagenen was less assured, and he would not commit to the 90 win figure.

That’s very problematic.

Looking at the history of the Wild Card, the lowest win total for a National League Wild Card was 87 wins. That honor belongs to the 2016 Mets and Giants and the 2017 Rockies. No Mets fan wants to see a repeat of Madison Bumgarner and Conor Gillaspie in a winner-take-all game.

Really, if you are in the 84-89 wins range, you are in the postseason race, but you are towards the bottom of that race. That’s not where you want to be with the Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Rockies boasting good rosters of their own. And don’t forget the Phillies who are still in a position to pounce on a player or two in what is still a bizarrely loaded free agent class.

When you boil it down, Van Wagenen can be boastful all he wants, but he’s essentially admitted this is an incomplete team. Worse yet, he’s admitting after trading away Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, Gerson Bautista, Bobby Wahl, Felix Valerio, Adam Hill, and Scott Manea, his work is not nearly done.

Instead of saying, “Come get us!” to the National League, he should be telling ownership to “Please help us!” because this team is far from complete.

 

Brodie Van Wagenen Creating A Queens Dustbowl

As most are aware, the Dustbowl refers to a period of severe drought which destroyed farms across six different states. To boil it down to an overly simplistic point, the situation was created because farmers did not understand how to farm and maintain the land. They sought immediate profit without an understanding of how their actions would have a long term impact.

It’s like what Brodie Van Wagenen is doing with the Mets.

Van Wagenen’s first major move as the General Manager was to trade Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn two former first round picks who are also two top 100 prospects, for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano along with $100 million of the $120 million remaining in his contract.

Also included in the deal was Gerson Bautista who was the prize from the Addison Reed trade. It also so happens Bautista throws near triple digits, and he started to put some of his control issues behind him in the Arizona Fall League.

In terms of the farm system, it was a big hit. Agree or disagree with the trade, the Mets opted for the short term goal of improving the 2019 roster, and the expense was two of your best prospects. While you could disagree with the move, you could understand the rationale.

What you can’t understand is the Mets trade with the Astros.

In J.D. Davis, the Mets obtained an infielder who hit .194/.260/.321 in 181 plate appearances. While he’s put up much better power numbers in the minors, talent evaluators believe he swings and misses often and struggles hitting good fastballs. (Mike Puma, New York Post).

While you may believe he just needs more playing time to succeed, you also have to understand it’s not coming with the Mets. Davis, should he even make the Opening Day roster, will have to fight Peter Alonso, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, and whoever else the Mets have on their bench for at-bats. Put simply, he’s not getting the at-bats he needs to succeed.

As for Sam Haggerty, no one truly believes he’s much of a prospect.

In exchange for that, the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, which is almost universally believed to be an overpay. Santana was the real prize obtained by the Astros as he’s a player many scouts are high on:

Santana is a two-time Sterling Award winner and was considered to be among the top 10 prospects in a much improved Mets farm system.

With respect to Adolph, he was the steal of the draft. The 12th round pick proved the skills which made him the MAC player of the year translated to professional baseball. He hit .276/.348/.509 for Brooklyn, was the MVP of the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, and he was considered by Baseball America to be the best defensive outfielder in the Mets farm system.

With respect to Manea, even with T.J. Rivera making it to the majors, it is difficult to buy in on undrafted players. However, Manea did hit .261/.368/.432, and the old Mets regime noticed with J.P. Riccardi saying, “He has got a chance to be something. He has opened up some eyes this year. He has got power and a pretty good idea of what he is doing behind the plate.” (Mike Puma, Baseball America). The Astros also noticed and are apparently very high on Manea:

The Astros are one of, if not the, best scouting organization in baseball. For their part, the Mets have a General Manager with zero front office or player development experience. There was an overhaul of the Mets minor league coaching staff before Van Wagenen was even hired.

Recently, Fangraphs reported, “Several league sources have told us that the Mets don’t scout beneath full-season ball.” As a result, the Mets “simply lack reports on a lot of players,” which will include two of the players they just traded.

Point is, Van Wagenen is flying blind here. He’s making decisions on players with insufficient information, and he’s making important decisions about their and the Mets future. Teams like the Astros are more than happy to take advantage.

This may be a problem created by a team too cheap to keep Wilmer Flores or sign any one of the cheaper free agents available like Mark Reynolds, but it’s also a problem of making bad decisions predicated on little, no, or bad information.

The Mets are destroying the farm, and they’re doing it on bad information. If this team doesn’t start spending, there’s going to be a lot of fallow years ahead for the Mets. It’s going to be a Dust Bowl driving people away from Citi Field.

Win Now Trades Only Work If You Win Now

Do you know what is interesting about the infamous John Smoltz trade?  If the Detroit Tigers do not win the American League East in 1987 if they don’t obtain Doyle Alexander.  History may forget or overlook this, but Alexander was dominant when he put on a Tigers uniform.

Alexander was 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts for the Tigers. The Tigers won all 11 games he started. He was a 4.4 WAR pitcher. The Tigers won the East by just two games. Long story short, Alexander was a difference maker for the Tigers, and had that trade not happened, it’s very possible the Tigers miss the postseason.

The very same thing can be said about Larry Anderson. For those who forgot, Anderson was the closer the Boston Red Sox obtained when they traded Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros.

Like the Tigers, the Red Sox won the division by two games. Like Alexander, Anderson was lights out. In his 15 games, he had a 1.23 ERA. He didn’t have the WAR of Alexander, nor did his team have the same success in the games he pitched, but he did not lose one game he appeared. That matters for a team who finished just ahead of the Blue Jays.

But we don’t hear that at all. For starters, we don’t hear that because Smoltz and Bagwell became Hall of Famers. The other reason is because neither the Tigers nor Red Sox actually won. Both teams would lose the ALCS in swift fashion. The Tigers lost to Twins in five games, and the Red Sox lost to the Athletics in a sweep.

That’s the thing. Just making the postseason isn’t enough. In a win-now trade, you actually have to win, and winning here means the World Series. It is ultimately why the Cubs will get a pass one day if Gleyber Torres is a Hall of Famer. The Cubs actually won the World Series with Aroldis Chapman.

That’s the way it works with win-now deals. You are sacrificing the future to win-now. Not winning now means the goal you set to achieve by making the trade failed. It’s a very small margin of error, but that’s what you sign up for when you make such a deal.

And that’s what Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets did by trading Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, and Gerson Bautista for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. The Mets parted with one excellent, one very good, and one wild card for two players who they believe will help them win-now. At least from the Mets perspective, win-now probably means 2019 or 2020 because after that the Mets current core will begin hitting free agency, and Cano will be making $20 million per year.

In the end, if the Mets win the World Series with Cano and Diaz, no one will care if Kelenic, Dunn, and Bautista became perennial All-Stars. However, if the Mets don’t win anything more than a division title, they will be reminded of it each and every time the aforementioned prospects do anything of note.

 

Jeurys Familia Trade Was Predictably Awful

Last year, the Mets traded Addison Reed, statistically the best reliever on the market for a trio of right-handed relief prospects in Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.

Bautista has a 12.46 ERA in five Major League appearances, and he has a 5.08 ERA in the minors.

Callahan had a 9.72 ERA in seven appearances for Las Vegas before going down with season ending shoulder surgery.

Nogosek has a 5.49 ERA with a 6.8 BB/9.

It is just one year, but the pieces received in exchange for Reed last year are actually worse than you could have imagined.  What makes that all the worse is the return for Reed was deemed underwhelming at the time of the trade.

This is important to note because as noted by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the New York Mets had the audacity to liken the return they received from the Oakland Athletics for Jeurys Familia to what they received from the Boston Red Sox for Reed.

With that, you don’t need to go searching out for an analysis from a scouting outlet, reporter, or talking head.  The Mets themselves are telling you they got a terrible return for not just their biggest trade piece, but also for the top reliever remaining on the trade market.

But don’t take it from the Mets, take it from Keith Law’s scathing review in his ESPN Insider piece on the topic:

If the New York Mets are just going to trade their most valuable major league trade assets for salary relief, rather than try to improve the club, then it’s time for MLB to step in and force the Wilpons to sell the team, just as the league did with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers.  Trading Jeurys Familia for two fringe-at-best prospects is not how any team, regardless of payroll level, should operate in this environment.  For a franchise that operates in the largest market in the league to do this — and do so ten days before the trade deadline rather than waiting for someone to offer a legitimate return — is embarrassing for the Mets and Major League Baseball as a whole.

What makes this all the more maddening is the Mets have recently been quite public about how they are now in “excellent financial health” and that this time, they would be willing to eat salary to improve their return in a trade.

The very first chance they go to do it, they proved they were lying.  Sure, they can go and spin it any way they want, but plain and simple, the Mets were lying.

Remember, reports on Friday were the Mets were on the verge of completing a trade with the Athletics, and then there was a stall.  As reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the money, not the return, was the issue.  In fact, the reports were the holdup was there was another team more willing to take on more of Familia’s salary.

NOT another team jumping in with a better prospect haul.  No, another team willing to pay more of Familia’s salary.  The end result was the small market Athletics taking on all of Familia’s salary.

You have to look long and hard for a person who like the trade it prompted former General Manager and writer for The Athletic, Jim Bowden to write, “The return they got from Oakland was so light, I had to make calls and texts around both leagues to see if I was missing anything. I couldn’t get a single unbiased team to support the return the Mets got.”

That return was Bobby Wahl, William Toffey, and $1 million in international bonus pool money.

Wahl is yet another one of the Mets newfound hard throwing right-handed relief prospects.  He’s putting up really good numbers in Triple-A (albeit with scary peripherals), and like Matt Harvey, he’s a pitcher with TOS.

Toffey, well, he’s been described anywhere from a fringe prospect to a future bench player.  Oh, and as Law noted, “I know [Toffey’s] father and J.P. Riccardi, one part of the Mets’ interm GM structure, are friends, but I don’t know if that was a factor in the deal.”

Naturally, John Ricco would come out and say it was Riccardi who ran point on the deal with the Athletics.  Of course, this happened a day later because apparently one of the three GMs the Mets have had a previously scheduled engagement.

Think about that for a second.  The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and one of your GMs, the guy who is front and center with the media, has a previously scheduled engagement.  Seriously?

So, basically, if you take the Mets at face value, he wasn’t around when the deal went down.  But that’s fine because it was Riccardi who “ran point” on the trade because of his relationship with the Athletics.

Taking the Mets at face value, Riccardi made this deal, and yet, the former GM could not speak with the media because they needed the guy who has never been a GM and who has ducked the media in the past to be the point man with the media to speak on a deal he had no part (or very little part) in making.

And just when you didn’t think it could get any better, the Mets are hyping the international bonus pool money and what Omar Minaya can do with it.  Being fair, seeing how he signed Familia for $100,000, that’s a reason to like the deal.

So, in the end, we have the Mets coaxing the Athletics to eat more of Familia’s salary rather than get a better return, one of the GMs obtaining his friend’s son in a lackluster return, one of the selling points being how one of the GMs could use the international bonus money, and the one guy who has nothing to do with the deal or how it will be utilized being the guy who answers questions about the trade and the return.  Furthermore, the same front office is comparing the deal to a trade which has so far blown up in their faces.

Under normal circumstances, you would say this is display of complete and utter incompetence, and no organization would want to be embarrassed publicly in this fashion.

However, this is the Mets team run by the Wilpons.  As a result, this is just business as usual for what has become a complete and utter mess of an organization.

Ultimately, if you want a succinct analysis of the Mets trading Familia, it’s shame on the Mets and the Wilpons for continuing to operate their team in this fashion.

 

 

Sell? Mets Have Nothing To Sell!

With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline.  The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.

Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom.  If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects.  The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals.  With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.

Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline.  He’s much better working deals in the offseason.

So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals.  Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:

Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9.  Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.

Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.

Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries.  Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).

Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer.  The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.

Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup.  The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.

AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery.  That would take him off the table.  The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.

Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.

Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals.  Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:

Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career.  The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base.  Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.

Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.

Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups.  He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.

So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler.  Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild.  To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael ConfortoSeth LugoRobert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.

And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.

Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history.  Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.

Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.

Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.

If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure.  Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.

Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn.  If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.

Mets Lose Sad Home Run Derby To Diamondbacks

While any game where the Mets are trying to snap out of this horrendous June skid has its own level of interest, this game had some extra intrigue because the Mets were facing one of the two pitchers they traded in 2015 to obtain Addison Reed.

Well, on this night, it seemed as if the Diamondbacks got a much better return for Reed than the Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek triumvirate the Mets received from the Red Sox at last year’s trade deadline.

Things look good real early for the Mets as Brandon Nimmo hit a first inning homer off of Matt Koch.  After that, Koch allowed just a fifth inning single to Dominic Smith that went nowhere before he allowed a Michael Conforto solo shot in the sixth inning.

All told, Koch pitched six innings allowing the two homers while walking one and striking out five.  To be fair, with the way the Mets offense is going, we can’t tell if Koch is the one who got away or if a pitcher with a 4.20 ERA entering the game looked good because any semi-competent pitcher can shut down the Mets right now.

Now, the aforementioned Conforto homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2.  They were behind because Jason Vargas wasn’t great . . . again.

After getting a lead, he surrendered it almost immediately in the second on a rally started by his first issuing a leadoff walk to John Ryan Murphy and then hitting David Peralta.  Now, Peralta made no effort to get out of the way of the ball, a point Mickey Callaway seemed to be chirping about from the dugout, but there’s not point being bitter, right?

Anyway, Murphy came around and scored on an ensuing Ketel Marte single.

Vargas got out of that jam, but he allowed solo shots to Paul Goldschmidt and Peralta in consecutive innings to put the Mets down 3-1.

After his five innings, you could honestly say Vargas kept the Mets in the game.  That’s a real accomplishment from where he was to start the season.

By the seventh, the Mets were down a run, and they were still in this game.  After 1.2 fine innings from Hansel Robles, Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face a stretch of left-handed Diamondback batters starting with Daniel Descalso

With two outs and an inherited runner from Robles, Blevins first allowed Descalso to single, and then he hit the left-handed hitting Jon Jay to load the bases.This led to Callaway bringing in Sewald, who is struggling every bit as much as Vargas and Blevins.  He proceeded to walk Nick Ahmed to force home a run.

Think about that.  Robles was the Mets best reliever of the night, and he is the one charged with a run after Blevins’ and Sewald’s inept performances.

Speaking of poor performances, after Amed Rosario hit a solo shot in the eighth inning to pull the Mets within 4-3, Jacob Rhame came in and allowed solo homers to Peralta and Jake Lamb.  At that point, the Mets were down 6-3, and they were well past their quota for runs in a game.

Ultimately, this game amounted to the pitchers Sandy Alderson brought in to help this team completely failing, but sure, let’s all blame Callaway for this team’s performance.

Game Notes: Tim Peterson was sent down to make room for new Met Chris Beck on the roster.  Beck did not make an appearance.

Baumann Not Our Buddy In Mets 14 Inning Loss

Look, there’s just not much to say about a game the Mets lost 7-1 in 14 innings pushing them back to two games under .500.

Once again, Jacob deGrom was great. He twice got out of bases loaded jams unscathed. However, he didn’t get through the sixth unscathed as Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI single to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

With the Cubs starting LHP Mike Montgomery, it appeared that would be enough as the Mets are literally the worst offensive team against LHP.

That made Michael Conforto‘s sixth inning solo shot all the more miraculous. Really, more than anything, it took deGrom off the hook. With the Mets blowing games for him left and right, it was the least the team could do.

And the Mets offense would deliver the absolute least compiling seven hits and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.

Speaking of strikeouts, the Mets set a new franchise record by striking out 24 Cubs in this game.

Of those 24, 13 came from deGrom in his seven innings of work.

After deGrom departed, Robert Gsellman, Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, and Tim Peterson (2.0) combined to pitch six scoreless.

The problem is while that quintet put up zeroes, the Cubs bullpen was doing the same highlighted by Luke Farrell, who entered the game with a 6.75 ERA, pitched five scoreless.

After running through the available and more competent arms, Mickey Callaway finally had to turn to Buddy Baumann. He was predictably terrible.

The big hit off Baumann was a one out two RBI Albert Almora, Jr. double. At that point, Baumann was lifted for Gerson Bautista.

Bautista was equally as bad. First, it was a Ben Zobrist two RBI double. Then, it was a Javier Baez two run homer.

It was an ugly inning in a game full of ugly Mets offense. They’re now two games under .500, and you’re left wondering where rick bottom is going to be because the Mets apparently have not yet found it.

Game Notes: P.J. Conlon is now an ex-Met as the Dodgers claimed him off waivers.

Mets Bullpen Predictably Implodes In Bullpen Game

With the Mets not really stretching out Seth Lugo, he was limited to just four innings in today’s start.

Well, the four innings he was able to give the Mets were terrific. He allowed just three hits while striking out three. However, as he hasn’t truly been stretched out, he was done after 60 pitches.

Enter Hansel Robles.

Robles is as maddening a pitcher as they get. Like in his last appearance, you get three great innings. The next, well, he’s pointing to the sky.

That’s actually something he’s done more than any Mets reliever despite his DL stint and his shuttling between Queens and Las Vegas.

Well, he issued a leadoff walk to Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber should’ve popped out in the at-bat, but with the shirt, no one was near the ball at first. Mesoraco made his way over, but he couldn’t corral it.

even after retiring the next two, he allowed a two run homer to Ben Zobrist giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Heading into tonight’s game Cubs starter Jose Quintana might’ve had a 4.78 ERA, but in half of his starts he allowed one run or fewer. Basically, he’s been either really good or really bad.

Considering how the Mets can’t score at home or hit left-handed pitching, you knew he’d have a really good night.

He did just that allowing no runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six in six innings.

With Jerry Blevins allowing the left-handed Schwarber plate Javier Baez, who hit a two out double, the Cubs extended their lead to 3-0.

That became a 4-0 lead in the seventh as once again Buddy Baumann has difficulty getting anyone out. With a run already home, he left the bases loaded with two outs for Scott Copeland, who struck out Baez to get out of the jam.

Despite Copeland getting out of the jam, and finally giving the Mets a chance to get back into the game.

Brandon Nimmo responded by hitting a solo homer in the eighth off Brian Duensing to close the gap to 4-1. Who else would deliver on National Smile Day?

That hit was the Mets first since the third inning.

The Mets bullpen would be at it again with Gerson Bautista giving that Nimmo run right back.

Of note with the Bautista appearance, Bautista there was a wild pitch and a “passed ball.” Both occurred with Devin Mesoraco behind the plate. It could’ve been due to Bautista having a wild and live arm Mesoraco being hit in the head with a long follow through earlier in the game, both, or neither. In any event, it’s something worth monitoring.

In the game, the Mets used five relievers and four of them allowed runs. That’s how you lose 5-1 and drop to .500 . . . again.

Game Notes: David Wright began baseball activities playing catch in the outfield before that game.

Rosario’s Signature Game Leads To Mets Win

More than any game this season, you expected the Mets to lose yesterday.  Jason Vargas and his 10.62 ERA were pitching on three days rest.  The team made a flurry of moves to add Tim Peterson, Buddy Baumann, and Scott Copeland, a trio many joked were really names spit out by the Madden name generator, to the roster.   Once again, they had an extremely short bench.

And to make matters worse, the Braves were pitching Julio Teheran, who has owned the Mets in his career.

But something very interesting happened.  Vargas was actually good.  The veteran lefty would pitch five shutout innings against the Braves.  Better yet because of a pair of fourth inning doubles from Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets actually had a 1-0 lead through five.

Interestingly enough, many were actually second guessing Mickey Callaway‘s decision to pull Vargas after five.  The main arguments were he was pitching well, and he had only thrown 65 pitches.

Those arguments neglect the obvious counterpoint that Vargas was on short rest, and he’s been bad all year.  Those five innings were a gift, and rather than look in the horse’s mouth to see if anything was left, he thanked the baseball gods and gave the ball to Peterson.

Peterson is an interesting story because as the Mets 2012 20th round draft pick, he was going to have to do more than the average prospect to prove himself.  He has done just that coming off a 1.14ERA in Binghamton last year, a terrific stretch in the Arizona Fall League, and a 3.45 ERA and 12.6 K/9 for Las Vegas this year.  With the rash of injuries, at 27 years old, Peterson was finally going to get his shot.

He would immediately prove he belonged pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning, an inning where he faced Ozzie AlbiesFreddie FreemanNick Markakis.  That is no small feat indeed.  In fact, in his two innings of work, he would allow just one hit.  Unfortunately, that one hit was a Johan Camargo homer to the same exact spot he hit his walk-off against Gerson Bautista the previous night.

Fortunately, that homer would cut the lead to 2-1 because the Mets came up with two huge two out hits against Teheran.  First, Amed Rosario hit a rope to center past Ender Inciarte that turned into a two out triple.  Then, Brandon Nimmo would jump on a 3-2 pitch and rip a single to right to give the Mets a then 2-0 led.  That triple set up an important insurance run, but it would not be the last impact Rosario would have on this game.

In the top of the eighth, Shane Carle relieved Teheran, and the Mets immediately went on the attack.  After a Jose Bautista double, Bruce was intentionally walked, and Kevin Plawecki worked out a six pitch walk.  Gonzalez, who the Braves are paying $21.8 million not to play for them, hit an RBI single giving the Mets a 3-1 lead.  The rally would end there as Luis Guillorme hit into an inning ending double play.

Callaway then made a decision he promised to make heading into the season, but he has not followed through.  He brought Jeurys Familia into the eighth inning because the Braves had the top of the lineup coming up.  No, this was not going to be a six out save chance.  Rather, Callaway was using his best reliever to get out the best hitters in the Braves lineup.

The move almost blew up with Albies and Freeman hitting a pair of one out singles followed by Markakis smoking a grounder up the middle.  That’s when Rosario made a truly great defensive play to save the inning and perhaps the game:

That 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, and it might’ve saved the game.

In the top of the ninth, Rosario and Nimmo added an insurance run off Miguel Socolovich with a pair of one out doubles to increase the Mets lead t0 4-1.  That three run margin was more than enough for Robert Gsellman to record his first one inning save.

Ulitmately, in a series of many twists and turns, the Mets battled through injury and fatigue and somehow walked away with a split. Perhaps more importantly, we now have a signature game from Rosario, who suddenly seems like he is figuring it out in each and every aspect of his game.  He’s been exciting, and as he continues to develop, you have more and more reason to get excited about this Mets team.

It speaks to the resiliency this team has, and it will be interesting to see what it means for this team as it begins to get healthy with Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak on the horizon.

Game Notes: To make room for the aforementioned three relievers, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame were sent down to Triple-A.  To make room for Copeland and Peterson on the 40 man roster, Juan Lagares was transferred to the 60 day disabled list, and P.J. Conlon was designated for assignment.