Hansel Robles

Swarzak Good But Not Final Piece For 2018 Mets Bullpen

After the purported hand-wringing Sandy Alderson was doing over the free agent reliever market, the Mets finally pulled the trigger, and they signed Anthony Swarzak to a two year $14 million deal.

There is a lot to like about Swarzak.  Last year, the 32 year old had his best ever season going 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 10.6 K/9.  As noted by D.J. Short of Rotoworld, Swarzak had a higher swinging strike percentage than old friend Addison Reed.  Part of that could be attributed to the fact he added about two MPH on his fastball.

He’s also been a platoon neutral pitcher his entire career with his best season being in 2017.  While limiting right-handed batters to a .218/.259/.346 batting line, left-handed batters were worse against him hitting .198/.294/.281.

These stats are all the more incredible and important when you consider he predominantly worked in the 7th and 8th innings. The Mets needed another set-up man to work with AJ Ramos to hand the ball to Jeurys Familia in the 9th.

Overall, this is all important, and the signing helps the Mets.  However it isn’t enough, especially because this is all but a shapshot of Swarzak’s career.

It was just in 2015 Swarzak had a 5.26 ERA and 1.516 WHIP in the Korean Leagues.  In 2016, his first season back from Korea, he was 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA for the Yankees.

While he was obviously improved since then, it was mostly on the strength of some outliers.  Prior to last season, he yielded a .304 BABIP.  In 2017, that number was .272.

Prior to 2017, Swarzak left 69.8% of runners on base, which is right around league average.  Last season, his LOB% was a career best 82.9%.

Maybe these numbers were all the result of improved stuff.  Maybe it was him becoming more comfortable in the bullpen.  It’s just as possible the increased velocity and some of the BABIP and LOB% will regress to league and career norms.

Overall, the Mets did acquire a quality reliever who should prove to better than internal options like Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, and Josh Smoker.  Moreover, Swarzak is getting the opportunity to work with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland.  If there’s a tandem you trust to help Swarzak make 2017 the new norm instead of an outlier, it’s them.

Still, with the stark contrast between the 2017 and career numbers, the Mets need to hedge their bets that Swarzak may very well regress.  In the end, this means that while Swarzak may very well prove to be a nice addition, he’s far from being the final piece of the puzzle.

Making Mets Austerity Work

On MMO some of the writers did their own postseason plans.  The guidelines are that we must stick to a budget in the $30-35 million range given what we’ve heard the Mets could spend. 

For signings, MLB Trade Rumors and Jon Heyman’s free agent predictions to come up the contracts for each player.
The Mets have several holes to fill and not a ton of money to work with which had me searching for deals on the free agent market and here is what I think should be done with the limited resources.

Fixing the Bullpen

As the Mets head into the 2018 season, their main goal for the team will be to rebuild a bullpen. Despite handwrining among fans, there is some talent present. Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Jerry Blevins address three key roles. Around them, the Mets need to find four cost effective options.

The first two parts of this bullpen need to be internal. In lieu of looking for a second left-handed reliever in free agency, the Mets need to utilize Hansel Robles in that role. For his career he has reverse splits, and he needs to be used accordingly. He also provides the benefit of giving the team multiple innings when needed.

Additionally, the Mets need to move Seth Lugo to the bullpen. In short bursts, Lugo is able to ramp up his fastball and use his curveball with more frequency. With that combination, Lugo can be a true late inning option and/or a long man. For those concerned about the loss of him as rotation depth, consider his struggles a third time through the order.

For the final two spots, the Mets should attack free agency. The first option the Mets should pursue is Seung-hwan Oh. Oh has been a dominant closer in the Korean Leagues, and he was dominant in his rookie season with the Cardinals. He had an off-year last year partially driven by an increased BABIP and HR rate as well as a drop in his strikeout rate. With a new pitching coach and a new situation, he could very well recover with the Mets giving the team an additional option at the closer spot.

When it comes to the final spot, the Mets should look to add a power arm like Juan Nicasio. After struggling in the rotation, Nicasio was transitioned to a full time reliever, and he grew into a dominant arm. With his being armed with an upper 90s fastball and good control, he’s probably just tapping the surface, and the Mets would be wise with their new pitching guru contingent to see the next wave.

Veteran Depth & Insurance Policies

Heading into the 2018 season, the Mets aren’t sure Dominic Smith is ready to be the Opening Day first baseman. Even with the best projections, they do not believe Michael Conforto will be ready by Opening Day, and after that, they don’t know what he can contribute. In addition to that, the Mets don’t have a second baseman.

The first part of that solution should be adding Howie Kendrick. The 33 year old had a bounce-back, albeit injury prone, season. Over the past season, Kendrick had a 121 wRC+, which ranks second best in his career. He also played first, second, and the corner outfield positions last year. While he was not outstanding at any of those positions, he was clearly capable of handling those positions. He’s your best bet to have a Jose Valentin type season for the team.

Another player worth taking a flyer on is Jose Bautista. In 2017, he fell apart offensively going from a .234/.366/.452 slash line to .203/.308/.366 leading the Blue Jays to utilize the buy out provision on his contract. At 37 years old, he’s not far removed from a productive season. He’s also just looking for an opportunity.

Fortunately, the Blue Jays helped him in that respect by moving him around the field last year. He played on game at first, eight at third, and 143 in RF. Based on the numbers, he’s no longer an everyday right fielder, but he is still talented enough to be a stopgap for Conforto. If he dedicated himself to getting better at first, he could serve as both competition and a platoon option for Smith.

The Trade

There is no secret some of the Mets biggest issues have been depth, versatility, and second base. While Ian Kinsler would address second base, and he is arguably the best defensive second baseman available, the Mets trade target for the position should be Jason Kipnis.

The Indians second baseman has been pushed out of a job due to injury and the emergence of younger players in his stead. Despite that, he is still a good hitter who hit .276/.349/.429 from 2013 – 2016 while averaging 36 doubles and 14 homers a season. He’s also a gamer willing to do anything to help his team win as evidenced by his playing center field at the end of the season and the postseason because that was what was best for the team. This is the type of attitude the Mets should be looking to instill in their current roster.

The center and outfield possibilities should also be intriguing to the Mets in the event of another Juan Lagares injury or the questions surrounding Conforto.

Kipnis is not going to come cheap, nor should he considering he’s an All Star player with a good contract. Earlier this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggested Robert Gsellman and Luis Guillorme as the package to get Kipnis. That may be a little light, and perhaps the inclusion of Wilmer Flores would be enticing to an Indians team heavy with left-handed hitters and could use a corner infield option, could potentially allow the Mets to complete this deal.

Filling In The Rest

In addition to the aforementioned players, the Mets would be well advised to bring in some veteran depth this Spring Training. On the starting pitching front Ubaldo Jimenez previously worked exceptionally well with current Mets manager Mickey Callaway, and Bartolo Colon left an impression with this current Mets staff. Both would make sense on a minor league deal with an invitation to

Hope

From reports, Manny Machado could well be available. However, with the state of the Mets farm system, the Mets are going to have to trade Major League players like Jacob deGrom and Amed Rosario to get him. 

Machado is well worth that return, and knowing the Orioles, they’ll want more – much more.  Again, Machado is worth it, but he’s also an impending free agent. Furthermore, the Mets don’t have the means to replace deGrom with a Yu Darvish or sign Machado to a contract extension. 

The other long shot is Marcell Ozuna.  The Marlins are dangling him, and he’s exactly the type of player that fits the Mets mold – underpaid and under team control for two years. Presuming you take back Starlin Castro and his contract in a deal, you’d probably be able to swing a more palatable deal. 

However, there does not seem to be any traction between the Mets and the Marlins on anything. Even if they were, teams like the Cardinals, Cubs, and Giants are interested. They seem more willing to go that extra mile than the Mets. Considering the Stanton deals that fell apart, there is less leg work for the Cardinals and Giants to do. 

Key Acquisitions: Seung-hwan Oh (1 year, $4 million), Howie Kendrick (2 years, $16 million), Jose Bautista (1 year $5 million), Jason Kipnis (2 years, $28.3 million), Juan Nicasio (2 years, $14M), Ubaldo Jimenez (minor league deal), Bartolo Colon (minor league deal)

Key Departures: Robert Gsellman, Luis Guillorme, Wilmer Flores

Total Cost: $33.9 million

Mets Souring On Dominic Smith Begs For A Review of Sandy Alderson’s First Round DraftPicks

One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets General Manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system.  Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.

That went double when you consider he used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley HoltEven if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.

With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent Minaya acquired including Jacob deGrom, Lucas DudaJeurys FamiliaWilmer Flores, Matt HarveyJuan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.

Alderson deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders, and now the organization is at the point where it needs Alderson’s farm system to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team.  Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review Alderson’s first round draft history with the Mets:

2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder.  There was a p0int where this was expected to happen.  However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.

Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity.  However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.

2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)

2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher.  With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  Unfortunately, the Mets are not reaping the benefits of his ascension because he was moved to the Tigers as the centerpiece of the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS

Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season.  Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.

2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB

In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career.  After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively.  Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster.  Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.

2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI

After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A.  However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.

Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal.  If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.

2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)

2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB

After Terry Collins made him a strict platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be.  He made his first All Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster.  Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.

2015 – No Pick

It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer.  This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason.  In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391.  Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.

2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9

When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation.  Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher.  In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.

Ultimately, the talent is there.  The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.

2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)

The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals.  After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed an underslot deal.  He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.

2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)

2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20.  Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon.  Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down.  Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.

Synposis

Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.

If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors.  Of those six players, two are All Stars.  Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players he drafted.

On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential.  For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination.  However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility.  In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.

Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.

Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted.  For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki.  If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Scrubs: My Disasterous 2017 Mets Season

In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season.  It wasn’t quite a comedy.  It wasn’t quite a drama.  Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it.  And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:

J.D. – Michael Conforto

There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers.  Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:

Turk – Noah Syndergaard

Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away).  Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.

Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson

Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted.  They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care.   Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.

Elliott – Jacob deGrom

The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center.  Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge

Carla – Curtis Granderson

For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room.  She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone.  There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.

Kelso – Fred Wilpon

He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone.  As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference.  In reality, they haven’t changed one bit.  Just ask Enid.

Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera

He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone.  Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone.  Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.

The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes

Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves.  However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.

Ted – Travis d’Arnaud

There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization.  At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken.  In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.

Jordan – Terry Collins

As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly.  Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms).  That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.

Murphy – Ray Ramirez

They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path.  Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.

Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda

Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.

Laverne – Jose Reyes

Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back.  For Laverne, she came back under a different name.  For Reyes, it was a different position.

Enid – David Wright

Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.

Sean – Kevin Plawecki

They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response.  “Nobody cares!”

Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford

Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.

Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!

Hooch –Hansel Robles

When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy.  Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.

Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon

He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.

Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen

They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt.  For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve.  For Dr. Wen, it was:

Ben – Neil Walker

He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did.  Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.

Dan – Jay Bruce

When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him.  He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help.  Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.

Leonard – Seth Lugo

It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).

Julie – Wilmer Flores

Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone.  In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.

Jill – Matt Harvey

We all just assumed the worst in their intentions.  However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong.  Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed.  Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.

Gift Shop GirlCarlos Beltran

We had our chance with him, but we blew it.  We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.

Paige – Brandon Nimmo

Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.

Mickhead – Barwis

We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season.  We just don’t have the proof.

Free Agency Won’t Be The Easy Way To Build The 2018 Mets

With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency.  In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher.  In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.

During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades.  That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster.  To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.

One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited.   That’s not limited by recent standards.  Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down.  According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.

Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million.  That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:

C: Travis d’Arnaud
1B: Dominic Smith
2B: Wilmer Flores
3B: Asdrubal Cabrera
SS: Amed Rosario
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
CF: Brandon Nimmo
RF: Michael Conforto

Bench: Kevin Plawecki, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Juan Lagares

SP: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
RP: Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Josh Smoker, Jerry Blevins

Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe.  Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.

For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe.  It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster.  From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs.  It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:

There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.

Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player.  This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second.  Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.

Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.

In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons.  Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.

 

Callaway’s Biggest Challenge May Be Hansel Robles

Since he was first called up to the majors in 2015, Hansel Robles has been an enigma for the Mets.  For stretches of time, he’s just unhittable.  For others, he’s pointing at the sky while another homer clears the wall.  For the three years Robles has been performing this Jekyll and Hyde routine, the Mets have been looking for a reliable arm in the bullpen to handle critical innings.

Things got so bad for Robles this year the Mets demoted him to Triple-A in an attempt to straighten himself out.  The move didn’t seem to do much good.  After being recalled on July 17th, Robles would make 25 appearances going 3-4 with a blown save, a 4.11 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, and a 4.1 BB/9.  What’s scary is he is probably due for a regression off of those numbers as he yielded just a .244 BABIP.

Still, there are many who believe in Robles.  The reason is Robles has the type of stuff you want in a reliever.  He throws a fastball in the mid to high 90s.  His throws a hard slider and change-up (even if that’s a big of a misnomer) that has movement.  All three of his pitches can generate swings and misses.

You can also trust him against left-handed batters.  For his career, Robles limits left-handed batters to a .178/.281/.335 batting line.  As a point of comparison, Jerry Blevins, a terrific LOOGY in his own right has yielded a .211/.264/.304 batting line.  If Robles was a lefty, teams would be falling over themselves to give him a multi-year deal.

Another overlooked fact is Robles pitches much better at Citi Field.  At home, Robles has a 3.35 ERA and 1.148 WHIP allowing batters to hit .209/.294/.385 off of him.  On the road, he has a 4.65 ERA, 1.371 WHIP, and batters hit .234/.325/.408 off of him.

Finally, he’s been successful in a myriad of roles.  We’ve seen him pitch four innings out of the pen and come into a bases loaded no out situation and get out of the jam without allowing a run.  We’ve also seen him implode.

The task now for Callaway is to harness Robles in a way where he looks like the best part of Robles and not the part of Robles that has Mets fans doing their own point to the sky.  Essentially, Callaway has to rehabiliate Robles much in the way he once rehabilitated and resurrected Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Having watched Robles for three years, we know that is no easy task.  However, it is Callaway’s ability to handle these projects that helped get him this job.  If he can unlock Robles like he has done with other pitchers in the past, the Mets bullpen will move from liability to question mark to strength.

Really, pitchers like Robles is part of the reason why Callaway is here in the first place.  Hopefully, pitchers like Robles will be why Callaway succeeds as a manger with the Mets.

A Scary Mets Halloween Tale

It was a dark night with a faint glow surrounding the crowd.  Then, from out of a dark cave emerged an old man.  On first glance, this old man seemed like a cheery old fellow, but once you looked deep into his eyes, you would discover he would have the most sinister of intentions.

With one scribble across his spell book and one gesture with his hand, he would take the young hero and cast him into a pit never to return.  With next, he would summon a bespectacled robot with the most dastardly of intentions.  The robot would open up his right arm and he would spread pestilence across the field spreading despair amongst the masses. 

By the time our new hero arrived it was too late.  He and his friends would be unable to curb the tide set forth by the sinister old man and his evil robot.  It was as if a spell was cast preventing them from doing the simplest of activities.  Soon, the heroes would be too outnumbered, and they would fall to defeat.  Soon, the dim glow that surrounded everyone would go out as the dejected masses fled hoping one day to return to this place and claim victory . . . victory that would never come.

Of course, this is an attempt at portraying Game 4 of the 2015 World Series in an eerie way.  In some ways, this fails because what happened was far more horrifying.

After a game with some puzzling decisions, including going too far with Steven Matz, Terry Collins would finally make the decision that would really alter the fate of the entire World Series.

Entering the top of the eighth, the Royals were down just one run, and they had the top of their lineup due up.  Considering how frequently Collins used Jeurys Familia for six out saves during the regular season, and considering how up to that point, Familia had allowed just three hits and one run that entire postseason, this was the spot for him.  The Mets needed six outs from Familia to ensure they would tie the series up 2-2.  With the Mets having Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard lined up after that, and with the Royals having lost Game 7 at home the prior year, it seemed like the Mets were in a good position to claim the World Series.

Instead, Collins would go to Tyler Clippard.  Up until that point, Clippard had a 5.06 ERA and a 1.411 WHIP in six postseason appearances.  This was the same Clippard who dealt with a back issue late in the season and would have a 6.14 ERA and 1.295 WHIP in the month of September.  More than that, batters were hitting him hard to the tune of a .268/.323/.536 batting line.

This was decidedly not the pitcher you wanted in this spot.  However, this was the direction Collins went.  The reason was two fold.  The first was this was the formula since the Mets obtained Clippard prior to the trade deadline.  Worse than that was the stated reason.  Collins said he didn’t want to use Familia for six outs because he appeared the night before in Game 3.

Instead of Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin, or really anyone else, Collins tabbed his closer to close out a six run lead.  As we watched in horror in Game 4, the ripple effect of that decision was too much to bear.

With that decision, Collins altered the outcome of the World Series, and quite possibly cost the Mets a chance at winning the 2015 World Series.  After that we have seen injury after injury after injury.  Quite possibly, this makes Game 4 of the World Series the scariest of all Halloween tales.

If you don’t believe me, try this.  Instead of putting on the scariest Halloween movie you can think of tonight, try re-watching Game 4 of the World Series.

Mickey Callaway Chose This Mets Pitching Staff

For the most part, Mets fans were ecstatic about the team hiring Mickey Callaway.  That went double after that upbeat press conference where Callaway both promised he would love his players, and they would be the most durable and well-prepared players in the Major Leagues.

There are plenty of reasons to like the move.  The Mets hired someone who worked with Terry Francona, who is a future Hall of Famer.  The team found someone who has shown the ability not just to comprehend analytics, but also to translate them to pitchers in a way that helps them improve.  He’s a new and fresh voice that the team has not had in quite some time.  People around baseball seemed to just love the decision of the Mets hiring the second most coveted managerial candidate behind Alex Cora.

These are all well and good reasons to get excited about the hire.  There are presumably many more.  However, the biggest reason to get excited about the hire is a pitching coach like Callaway chose to manage this Mets team.

That is of no small significance.  After the 2015 season, many believed the Mets were going to be a perennial postseason team.  Certainly, if things broke the Mets way, they could very well have become a dynastic team, at the very least in the mold of the 1980s Mets teams that were in contention each and every season.  However, instead of things breaking the Mets way, the team mostly broke down.

Matt Harvey had to have surgery to alleviate the effects of his TOS, and he followed that up with trying to pitch with an atrophied muscle in his pitching shoulder.  Zack Wheeler missed two seasons due to a torn UCL and complications from his Tommy John surgery, and he found himself missing the final two and a half months of the season with a stress reaction.  Noah Syndergaard had a torn lat.  Jeurys Familia had blod clots removed from his pitching shoulder.  Steven Matz had another injury riddled season with him having to have season ending surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve.  That was the surgery Jacob deGrom had last season.  Speaking of deGrom, he really was the only healthy Mets pitcher during the entire 2017 season.

The pitching behind the injured starters wasn’t pretty.  Rafael Montero continued to be an enigma.  Chris Flexen showed he wasn’t ready to pitch at the Major League level.  Robert Gsellman had his own injury, and he regressed quite severly after a really promising September in 2016.  Seth Lugo had come back from his own injury issues, and upon his return, he struggled to get through the lineup three times.

Add to that Hansel Robles being Hansel Robles, and Josh Smoker failing to emerge as that late inning reliever his stuff promised he could be, and the Mets lack of Major League ready starting pitching talent in the minors, and you wonder why anyone would want to become the Mets pitching coach, let alone a manager whose strength is his work with a pitching staff.

Make no mistake, Callaway had to have liked what he saw with this team.  Maybe it’s an arrogance any manager or coach has thinking they will be the one to turn things around.  Maybe, it was his work with injury prone pitchers like Carlos Carrasco that made him believe he could definitely make things work.  Whatever it is, the pitching guru that Callaway is purported to be liked what he sees with the Mets enough to potentially put his reputations and maybe his managerial future on a staff that some believed had fallen apart beyond repair.

Certainly, Callaway would have had other opportunities to accept a managerial position whether it was this year with an up and coming team like the Phillies, or next year when there would be more openings available.  Instead, he chose to resurrect what was once a great Mets pitching staff.  In part, he chose to do this because he believes in this talent, and he believes he is the man to do it.

That more than anything else is the biggest reason to be excited about this hire, and it is a reason to get excited about the 2018 season.

Harvey’s Nightmate Season Is Over 

Matt Harvey put it best tonight in his post-game presser when he said: 

It really has been a nightmare season where you didn’t know what was going to happen next for Harvey. Just when you thought nothing worse could happen, Harvey balked:

That third inning balk would force in the Phillies fourth run of the game giving them a 4-1 lead. 

Harvey would last one more inning. His final line was 4.0 IP, seven hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and three strikeouts. 

We can talk about a number of improvements Harvey made, but he struggled again. At the end of the day, he finished the season with a 6.70 ERA, which is the highest ERA ever for a Mets pitcher with at least 15 starts. 

Harvey would also suffer his seventh loss of the season because the Mets offense could only muster two runs off a pair of solo shots. The first was a Jose Reyes first inning home run. The next was a Dominic Smith fifth inning homer. 

The Smith homer brought the Mets within two. After Hansel Robles struggled in his second inning of work, the score was 6-2, and the game was well out of reach. 

Watching this game, there seemed to be a malaise over this team. That should come as no surprise in the aftermath of the article wherein unnamed players are front office people trashed Terry Collins

In the end, it took David Wright, someone who has not played a game all year to say what needed to be said:

Game Notes: Jacob deGrom will not make his last start as he is suffering from gastroenteritis.