Hector Santiago

No Relief In Sight

The Mets picked up last night’s suspended game today. The Mets didn’t score in the ninth, so the game went into extra innings.

Mickey Callaway stuck with Edwin Diaz. Diaz had blown the game in the ninth, but that happened last night. Despite fans consternation, it was the right move because Diaz was the best pitcher available.

Of course, with this being the Mets, it didn’t work out.

Diaz allowed a leadoff single to Yairo Munoz, and he presented no impediment to Munoz stealing second. After a groundout, he was on third outing him in position to score on a Paul DeJong RBI single.

The Cardinals won 5-4, and it would not be the last time DeJong and the Mets bullpen would be heard from tonight.

After a tough three run fifth, Steven Matz appeared to be headed for his fifth loss of the year. His fifth inning homer pulled the Mets to within two. The seventh inning rally got Matz off the hook and gave the Mets the lead.

After loading the bases with no outs, the first run scored when Kolten Wong robbed Pete Alonso of a hit, but he then threw it too low for DeJong. Everyone was safe, and the Mets pulled within one.

After Dominic Smith struck out and Todd Frazier hit a fielder’s choice with Matt Carpenter getting the runner at home, Wilson Ramos delivered a huge two out two RBI hit to give the Mets a 5-4 lead.

It didn’t matter.

Jeurys Familia immediately gave up the game tying homer to DeJong. With another blown save for him and the Mets in the books, the Mets have a Major League worst 16 blown saves.

It got worse for Familia as the Cardinals continued to hit him hard, and eventually, they’d take the lead on a three run Dexter Fowler homer. It was the second time in his career Familia allowed two homers in a game. Both times happened this year.

Not to be outdone, Hector Santiago took over in the ninth, and he allowed s homer to Wong. The final score would be 9-5.

Instead of being at .500 or a game over, the Mets are back to three under. This is a team who can’t get out of their own way, and a large part of it is because Brodie Van Wagenen did a bad job and continues to do a bad job.

Game Notes: As pointed out by Zach Braziller of the N.Y. Post, Mets pitchers have five homers, and Mets center fielders have six.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Escape Bronx With Split

The Mets and Yankees had their first doubleheader since 2008, which was also their first doubleheader in one ballpark since the inception of the Subway Series. The Mets walked out of Yankee Stadium with a split, and they are still one game under .500. How that happened was quite eventful:

1. The Subway Series needs to stop. The Mets get four games against the Yankees while the teams they are fighting against for the division or Wild Card don’t have the same four tough games locked into their schedule all year. I don’t care how much fun it is, it is putting the Mets at a competitive disadvantage.

2. We can and should talk about payroll disparity and ownership commitment when it comes to why the Mets are the Mets and the Yankees are the Yankees. However, it’s more than that. The Yankees got Luke Voit and IFA money for essentially nothing while the Mets traded three prospects for J.D. Davis.

3. Speaking of Davis, it’s inexcusable hes’ one of three players who started both ends of the doubleheader in the field. Really, the team needs to stop trying to make this ill-advise trade work and instead focus on making decisions to help this team win games.

4. The Mets defense was terrible in the first game. Amed Rosario missed first. Todd Frazier threw one away. J.D. Davis couldn’t get to anything because he was sitting in the front row of the bleachers to make up for his lack of range. Overall, this is a terrible defensive club with a National League worst -51 DRS.

5. With respect to the poor defense, Juan Lagares is a -2 DRS in center, which seems unfathomable. However, if you look at the new stat called jump, Lagares is not getting the same read on the ball as he did over the previous two years. Who knows why that is, but until he figures it out, he’s borderline unplayable at this point.

6. Zack Wheeler needs to be better than this. Yes, the defense behind him was atrocious, but he wasn’t much better. It was not the defense who served up the homers to Gio Urshela or Luke Voit. Overall, his peripherals show he’s better than this, and he has shown himself to be a second half pitcher. You just wish he would get to being the second half Wheeler sooner rather than later.

7. Yankee Stadium is a real joke where pop flies to the infield in other parks go out. That said, Pete Alonso‘s homer in the second game of the doubleheader would have left Yosemite.

8. Alonso is becoming way too much of an all or nothing guy. Since May 1, he’s hitting .224/.300/.560 with 13 of his 30 hits being homers. He has also struck out 26 percent of the time while walking six percent of the time. As the season progresses, he looks more and more like this type of a hitter than he does the guy who set the world ablaze in April.

9. Alonso’s being in the top five in All Star voting is fun. We should celebrate that. However, it’s bizarre Mets fans are only rushing to help him when Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have been so good all year.

10. As noted previously, McNeil is hitting like Ichiro Suzuki. This shouldn’t be sustainable, but yet, it has been. Hat tip to Jerry Beach, a man whose taste in television shows is as excellent as his taste in managers is poor, for saying McNeil is like Wade Boggs after Gare tried to say McNeil wasn’t Boggs.

11. As much as I adore Gary, Keith, and Ron, they need to stop talking about the advanced stats, especially since they clearly don’t fully understand it, and they are mostly doing it to disparage them. Case in point was Gare saying how the shift only affects ground balls.

12. Jeurys Familia has been looking much more like Familia. He now has three consecutive completely dominating innings/appearances. We are getting closer and closer to trusting him in pressure situations again. And the Mets should if everything is ironed out as this looks more like a mechanical issue than a mental one.

13. The Mets bullpen has too many bottom feeders in it. At most, you can have one of Wilmer Font, Drew Gagnon, Tim Peterson, or Hector Santiago. You cannot have four of them. That’s how you start burning out productive arms in the pen and putting games way out of reach.

14. Yesterday, Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, and Justin Wilson played in a rehab game in Syracuse. The team needs all three of them back as soon as possible to help this team go on a run, but the team cannot bring them back until each one of these players is fully healthy and ready to contribute.

15. Somehow, someway, Jason Vargas escaped the third allowing just three runs, and he got out of the fourth unscathed. When all was said and done, he had a quality start and a win. That’s a big credit to him.

16. Right now, Vargas is on one of the better stretches in his career. He pitched well against two good offensive teams, and he flat out dominated a terrible Giants team. The .286 BABIP and 83.3 LOB% would indicate this is not at all sustainable. That said, Vargas is getting results, so you might as well ride this out as far as this takes you.

17. Wilson Ramos seems to be doing with the extra days off here and there. Starting in May, he played less frequently, and he started to become much more productive. When Tomas Nido hits like he did in the first game of the doubleheader, the plan to get the over 30 and injury prone Ramos more rest becomes a more viable solution.

18. Speaking of back-up catchers, good for Travis d’Arnaud for turning things around with the Rays. In addition to catching, he’s also working out at other spots in the diamond. This is what the Mets should have done with him. Instead, they rushed him up way too soon, and they then DFA’d him in a complete overreaction.

19. There was a real fear this team was going to repeat it’s horrendous June of last year. So far, the Mets are 4-4 this month meaning they are just one short of the total win total from June 2018. While things could be better, things could also be a lot worse.

20. Mickey Callaway said about the team how he believes once this team gets back to .500 they are going to take off. With Nimmo, Cano, and Wilson in Syracuse and as Syndergaard puts it, the Mets are a second half team, it’s hard not to believe him.

Apparently This Roster Is Callaway’s Fault

Last night, Mickey Callaway trusted Seth Lugo to finish the seventh inning over Noah Syndergaard. Even with Syndergaard cruising, the numbers were the numbers. As a result, Callaway decided to go with his best reliever to get the team a win rather than let Syndergaard get himself into a jam. It didn’t work out.

Sometimes managers make the right move, and it doesn’t work,. Sometimes, you want the managers to have a feel for the game and stick with their starters. After all, that was the justification for Terry Collins sticking with Matt Harvey, and we know how that ended.

But it’s not just Collins/Harvey, it’s also Callaway/Syndergaard.

Take the April 10th game against the Twins as an example. Syndergaard allowed one earned on two hits. He came out to start the eighth, and he allowed three straight hits starting what was a four run inning which chased him from the game.

There have been a number of instances all year where Syndergaard was cruising and just like that he lost it. There was the game against the Tigers where he struggled in the first two, but seemed to settle down only to allow homers in back-to-back innings. There was also his game against the Padres where he allowed homers, and as he got deeper into the game, he began to allow more base hits.

If we’re being honest, while Syndergaard has been much better starting May 1, he still has his issues while he is struggling with this slider. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. He has a 4.83 ERA, 83 ERA+, and a 3.60 FIP. He’s allowed the most hits in the majors. Most of his numbers, including his strikeout rate, now stand at career worsts.

This isn’t the 2016 Syndergaard who was one of the best pitchers in baseball. This is a very talented pitcher impressively gutting through starts giving his team a chance to win while he’s still trying to rediscover pitches he’s lost due to the new ball.

Point is, we have seen Syndergaard lose it this year at a moment’s notice. It’s one of the reasons why Mets fans and reporters have jumped at the chance to criticize him all year long. But now, all of a sudden, everyone gets amnesia and pretends like they didn’t say the things they said about him about a week ago.

While you can defend keeping Syndergaard in, you can also realize why Callaway would go to Lugo. What you don’t understand is the composition of the roster and why there hasn’t been more attention focused upon it.

Right now, this team has only two reliable bullpen arms – Lugo and Edwin Diaz. That’s it.

In yesterday’s game, the Mets started J.D. Davis in left field and Carlos Gomez in center. They rushed Jeff McNeil off of the IL. Against a Giants bullpen, they mustered just four singles over the final four innings. They played poor defense in the field.

When Lugo blew the lead, eventually Callaway had to go to Robert Gsellman. Now, Callaway does deserve blame for completely overusing Gsellman. It’s led to him being terrible. However, as bad as he is, Callaway’s other options are worse. Honestly, in a pressure spot who do you want him to pick:

Looking at those options and the players who currently comprise the roster, you see that even with Callaway’s faults, this is on Brodie Van Wagenen and the just ridiculously bad offseason he had.

Take into consideration the fact he gave Jed Lowrie a two year $20 million deal. That’s $20 million to a 35 year old with a knee issue. In true J.J. Putz fashion, the Mets didn’t discover anything during the physical before the deal was consummated.

In lieu of that $20 million, the team could have signed Adam Jones ($3 million) and Greg Holland ($3.25 million) and saved some money to add another bench piece or reliever. The point is the Mets needed more depth in the outfield and the bullpen, and Van Wagenen instead opted on another infielder.

Sure, we can criticize Callaway for his faults, but this isn’t on him. This was a poorly constructed roster, and it will remain that way even if he’s fired and the team replaces him with Jim Riggleman, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, or whoever else you could conjure up.

So go ahead, blow up at Callaway for using a terrific reliever while pulling a starter you have likely been killing all year. Get angry with him for putting in one of his not up to the task relievers in a spot. Get upset when the offense full of bench players and Triple-A starters can’t score runs in a close game.

Certainly, he’s the issue here and not Van Wagenen or the Wilpons who haven’t come up with the money for Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel despite the team desperately needing the. Make Callaway the whipping boy here just like Van Wagenen and the Wilpons want. After all, what good is a human shied if he’s not there to block all the the criticism really due to other people?

 

Callaway’s Mistake Was Gsellman, Not Lugo

In the rematch of the 2016 NLDS between Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, the key difference tonight seemed to be the Mets weren’t starting James Loney and Rene Rivera.

It seemed that way in the sixth inning when Pete Alonso homered to lead off the inning, and three batters later Wilson Ramos would hit a go-ahead two run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.

With the lead in hand, Syndergaard went to pitch the seventh. There were two outs with a runner at first and Evan Longoria heading to the plate.

Some things to consider here. Longoria entered the game 3-for-10 off Syndergaard. Syndergaard was over 100 pitches. In his career, batters are hitting .320/.358/.400 off of him. Really, when you break it down, even if you wanted to see Syndergaard finish that inning, Mickey Callaway pulling Syndergaard for Seth Lugo.

After all, Lugo is the team’s best reliever, and although the bullpen had been taxed, Mets starters had a streak of six straight games with 6.0+ innings pitched, and the Mets were off yesterday. You may not agree, but Callaway made a defensible and arguably the right decision.

Being the Mets, it didn’t work out. Longoria singled, and Brandon Belt doubled to tie the game. The Giants didn’t take the lead there because Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil executed a perfect relay to cut down Longoria at the plate.

After Lugo pitched a scoreless eighth, and Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth, Callaway would make an indefensible decision. He brought in Robert Gsellman for the tenth.

Even with the off day and the starters giving length, Gsellman is completely gassed. He’s allowed at least one earned run in five of his last six appearances and has a 9.95 ERA over the stretch. Believe it or not, things got worse.

Stephen Vogt hit a two RBI double off Gsellman to give the Giants a 5-3 lead. As if that wasn’t enough, after a Kevin Pillar groundout and an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford, Steven Duggar hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play. Instead, it deflected off Gsellman’s back and became an RBI double giving the Giants a 6-3 lead.

Well, if you’re a fan who questions why exactly Callaway has gone to the whip so often with his top three guys, Hector Santiago would provide the answer.

He’d allow an RBI double to Pablo Sandoval and an RBI single to Mike Yastrzemski making it a 9-3 game. The inning would mercifully end when Santiago retired Tyler Austin, who became the zombie batter (PH making a second plate appearance in the inning).

The Mets lost this game 9-3. They lost it to the second worst team in the NL. With the Mets now four games under .500, they’re looking more and more like one of the worst teams in the game.

Game Notes: Despite saying Robinson Cano was much closer to return than McNeil, McNeil was activated while Cano wasn’t. Tyler Bashlor was sent down to make room for McNeil on the roster.

Mets Catchers Beat The Tigers

With the Tigers having a bottom five offense, you knew Jason Vargas was good for five. Seriously, the only teams Vargas has gone five innings has been against the five worst offenses in baseball (Reds, Marlins, Tigers). As with the typical Vargas start, the question is how would the Mets get enough innings from their relievers to get through the game. The reason that was an issue today was this game went 13.

One reason it went 13 was Wilson Ramos carried the Mets offense today.

His second inning homer tied the score at 1-1. His fourth inning RBI single gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. After Tyler Bashlor surrendered a two run homer to Brandon Dixon, Ramos responded with his second homer of the game:

After having just two homers entering this series, Ramos has three homers over his last two games. He now looks like the catcher the Mets believe they were signing, and with the injuries the team had sustained, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

It also seemed like today was the perfect time to use Edwin Diaz for four outs.

Robert Gsellman was in his second inning of work, and he was in trouble. After hitting a double earlier in the inning, Josh Harrison was on third with two outs. Mickey Callaway went to Diaz.

Because the Mets are making JaCoby Jones look like Al Kaline (recycled joke), he got the game tying RBI single.

Not only did this mean, Diaz would blow his first save as a Met, but with him throwing 13 pitches, it meant the Mets would need relievers to step up big starting in the ninth.

Those relievers did step up big, and it looked all the bigger considering they got themselves into trouble.

Wilmer Font pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth and tenth. In the tenth, the Tigers had two on and one out. Font struck out Grayson Greiner and Jones to end the jam.

Daniel Zamora took the ball in the eleventh. He’d allow two hits in the inning, but no real threat would mount as Ramos picked Gordon Beckham off first on what was supposed to be a bunt play:

For a moment, it looked like the Mets would take that momentum into the bottom of the inning and win the game.

After Tomas Nido flew out to begin the inning, Ramos walked. With his backup catcher already in the game and the Mets looking to pull out the win, Callaway pinch ran Steven Matz.

As is the Mets luck, Dominic Smith and Todd Frazier followed with bloop hits, but Matz couldn’t score. Matz’s inability to score looked fatal because Aaron Altherr struck out, Adeiny Hechavarria popped out to end the inning, and the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out against Hector Santiago in the 12th.

Santiago stepped up striking out Jones on three pitches (after walking two of his last three batters) and getting John Hicks to fly out to end the jam. Santiago then breezed through the top of the 13th, and with him due up second in the bottom of the inning, you wondered if Callaway was going to stick with him.

On Buck Farmer‘s third pitch to Nido, it would become a moot point:

The homer gave the Mets a 5-4 victory and once again pulled the Mets to within a game of .500. With Nido hitting the homer, it was once again an unsung hero. With Nido homering, it was the Mets catchers with all the offense.

Consider this, Ramos and Nido combined to go 4-for-6 with three homers and all five RBI. The rest of the lineup was 3-for-38. When you take out Todd Frazier, who made a nice play in the field to save a run earlier in the game, going 2-for-5, this means the Mets lineup was 1-for-33 with that hit coming from Dominic Smith, who entered the game in the ninth.

Looking at it, Callaway might have had his best game as a manager. He made the right calls (even if they didn’t work out), and he put all of his players in a position to succeed. His bullpen did, and eventually so did Nido.

Game Notes: In typical Mets fashion, Brandon Nimmo‘s injury was worse than the Mets led us to believe. He has a bulged disc in his neck with whiplash.

Five Homers Not Enough For Thor Or Gagnon

The Mets offense got home runs from Amed Rosario, Adeiny Hechavarria, Pete Alonso, Aaron Altherr, and Wilson Ramos resulting in eight runs scored. In essence, even though the lineup has been decimated by injuries, they did their job against Gregory Soto and the Tigers pitching staff.

This should have been the Tigers tenth straight loss. It wasn’t because Noah Syndergaard and Drew Gagnon were bad.

The Tigers went up 2-0 in the first before Syndergaard recorded an out. Actually, that’s not technically correct as the second run scored on a Miguel Cabrera sacrifice fly.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the second when JaCoby Jones, a career .195/.297/.335 career hitter who looked like Al Kaline tonight, hit a two run homer.

For a second, it looked like Syndergaard calmed down, and the Mets would rally to give him a 5-4 lead. He’d lose that lead surrendering a solo homer to Cabrera in the fifth.

The Mets handed him back the lead after the inning, and he’d hand it right back in the sixth leading to his having to be bailed out by Tyler Bashlor.

On the one hand, with Syndergaard due up in the bottom of the inning, you understand Mickey Callaway sticking with him, especially on a night where Edwin Diaz was unavailable. However, this is the same Callaway who loves double switching.

Despite it all, the Mets went to the top of the seventh with a 7-6 lead. Unfortunately, Gagnon just didn’t have it tonight.

There was a brief instant when you thought he’d get out of it. After a John Hick‘s double, the Tigers had runners at second and third with one out. Todd Frazier made a nice play on a Josh Harrison grounder keeping the runner at third and getting the out at first.

There was no bailing out Gagnon when Jones hit an RBI double after that giving the Tigers an 8-7 lead. After a Brandon Dixon RBI single, it was 9-7 Tigers.

In the bottom of that inning, it looked like the Mets were primed to come back again, but a Frazier double play killed that rally.

Ramos homered in the eighth, and later in the inning, Dominic Smith came up with Hechavarria at second with two outs. He’d strike out against Joe Jimenez to end the inning.

With that, the Mets would lose this game 9-8. They lost the game to a team who lost nine straight and were 11 games under .500. They lost the opportunity to get back to .500.

Game Notes: In addition to Altherr, Hector Santiago made his Mets debut. He pitched scoreless ninth. Like Altherr did tonight, former Met Keon Broxton hit a homer in his first at-bat with his new team.

Mets Savior Hector Santiago Is Here

Every so often, you hear a quote in a press conference which causes you to snap to attention so quickly you risk paralysis. You have to go back on multiple occasions just to make sure you heard it correctly because you cannot possibly believe it was said. Yesterday, Brodie Van Wagenen had one of those gems:

On a day where the Mets were starting Wilmer Font, announced Seth Lugo was heading to the IL, and Yoenis Cespedes broke his ankle ending his already tenuous ability to return this season, Brodie Van Wagenen stood up there and said he improved the roster by adding Hector Santiago to the roster.

Hector Santiago.

We shouldn’t be too sure to dismiss this as a mistake. After all, in February, Van Wagenen said, “Hector Santiago is an All-Star at the major-league level.” (Matt Ehalt, Yahoo).

You can spin this however you want. You can say this is part of his sales job as the General Manager. After all, he did say the Mets were the team to beat despite not having a fifth starter or starting center fielder. You could say this was meant to say Santiago is an upgrade over what was already there. However, his comments do jive with what he said during Spring Training.

No matter how you look at it, Van Wagenen is once again over-selling us on a below replacement level player. He is doing it while the Mets are paying Santiago a pro rated $3 million instead of say using that money on Gio Gonzalez as the fifth starter. Of course, the Mets couldn’t do that because they’d have to guarantee him a spot in the rotation over Jason Vargas, and we know he can’t do that to a former client even if it meant improving the club.

In any event, maybe Van Wagenen was right. After all, the Mets are now 1-0 in the Hector Santiago era.

 

Winning Mets Team Now Just An Off-The-Field Disaster

As if things weren’t bad enough with the Mets after losing five straight to two of the worst teams in baseball, the Mets were a full blown disaster before the game.

Yoenis Cespedes fell into a hole and broke his right ankle. This ensures he’s done for the year, and the team can no longer sell him as a “trade deadline acquisition.”

Seth Lugo was put on the IL with shoulder tendinitis, and he was replaced on the roster by Hector Santiago. To make matters worse, Brodie Van Wagenen tried to sell this as improving the roster.

Robinson Cano was benched for a few reasons with one of them purportedly being disciplinary. The only problem there is Cano said Mickey Callaway never informed him of that.

Speaking of the lineup, for about a week now, the Mets has pinpointed Drew Gagnon as today’s starter only to switch it to Wilmer Font with no explanation.

There’s probably a multitude of things overlooked here but it’s hard to keep track of the Mets drama and incompetence. The one thing we do know is for seemingly the first time in a week, the Mets were better off getting on the field and playing a game.

For the first time in nearly a week, the Mets played well.

In the first inning, Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the third on a rally started with a Rosario lead-off walk. After a Wilson Ramos two out walk, Todd Frazier hit an RBI single. Carlos Gomez doubled scoring Ramos. It was Gomez’s first hit as a Mets in 12 years.

In the fourth, Font’s luck started running out. He was getting hit hard most of the night, and it would be Anthony Rendon who got the Nationals on the board with a homer. The Nationals rally continued, but Font was able to keep things at 4-2. He’d be done after the four.

Gagnon, who was supposed to start, was very good in two scoreless innings walking one and striking out two. With Font not lasting five and how well he pitched, he was in line for the win. That would become dicey.

After a scoreless seventh, Callaway pushed to see if Jeurys Familia could give him six outs. The answer was four.

Rendon hit a one out double chasing Familia from the game. Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get the left-handed hitting Juan Soto. Soto would punch a single to center. With Rendon getting an excellent read on the ball, he scored easily.

With Lugo on the IL, this meant Robert Gsellman had to step up and fill Lugo’s role. For a split second, it looked like he failed miserably when Howie Kendrick hit a rocket. Fortunately, it was hit right at Brandon Nimmo in left. Gerardo Parra grounded out weakly to end the jam leaving Edwin Diaz a one run lead to protect in the ninth.

Actually, it was two. Carlos Gomez earned a one out 10 pitch walk against Nationals reliever Joe Ross. Ross would then throw over what seemed to be at least three times that amount. Karma stepped in, and Ross threw it away putting Gomez in scoring position.

After Juan Lagares grounded out moving Gomez to third, the Nationals went to Tony Sipp to get the pinch hitting Dominic Smith. Smith jumped on Sipp’s first pitch for an RBI single giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.

For a moment, it seemed like a crucial insurance run. Diaz hit Victor Robles with his first pitch, and two pitches later Yan Gomes blooped a single. Diaz stepped up, and he made sure Gomes was the last National to reach. Diaz recoded his 11th save, and the Mets live to fight another day.

This was a much needed win for the Mets. They had an inexcusable five game losing streak, and just hours before the game, it seemed like the walls were closing in. Instead, the Mets win, so at least for a day, things are good in Flushing.

Game Notes: Cano made a pinch hitting appearance in the sixth. He hit a double beating out a throw from Adam Eaton. Cano was booed.

Mets Need To Promote Anthony Kay To Syracuse Now

When Jason Vargas on the Injured List and Steven Matz unable to make his start due to injury, the Mets needed to find a starter. Instead of recalling Corey Oswalt or Chris Flexen or making a 40 man move to call-up Hector Santiago or Casey Coleman, the Mets opted to make a trade for Wilmer Font, a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.39 ERA.

When the Mets are making trades to acquire relievers for emergency starts, you get the sense of just how poor this Mets Major League ready pitching depth is. You also see how desperately the Mets need one of their pitching prospects to step up and force their way to the Majors.

Fortunately for the Mets, Anthony Kay has not just been the organization’s best starting pitcher this year, he has arguably been the best pitcher in Double-A this year. In eight starts this year, Kay is second in the Eastern League in ERA while leading the league in complete games and shutouts. He’s second in the league in wins, fifth in the league in strikeouts, and third in WHIP. More than the numbers, he has been dominant.

We saw that again last night. In a complete game seven inning shutout (second game of a doubleheader), Kay allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out eight. In the game, only one batter would reach as far as second base, and Kay would retire 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.

When you have a complete game shutout, there are a number of areas where you can draw your attention. When it comes to Kay and his development, the main focus from yesterday should be his issuing just one free pass. In his brief professional career, Kay has had control issues walking 3.5 per nine and 4.2 over his first six starts of the season.

Recently, Kay has had better command. In his last two starts, he has pitched seven innings and issued just one walk. He has gone from throwing strikes 60 percent of the time to throwing strikes 70 percent of the time. His pounding the strike zone has permitted him to befuddle hitters and go deeper into games. When he is pounding the strike zone like this, you really take note of his stuff.

The first thing which stands out is his curveball. According to Baseball America, it has an average spin rate of 3,000 RPM. That’s Seth Lugo territory. In addition to a high spin rate on his curveball, Kay has an excellent spin rate on his fastball. His fastball typically sits in the lower 90s, but he is able to ramp it up around 96 MPH. Combine that with a change-up with a 10 MPH difference than his fastball, and you have the makings of what could be a very good starting pitcher at the Major League level.

Before even discussing him at the Major League level, the Mets first need to see Kay in Syracuse. He needs to work with Mickey Abbott to further hone his delivery and control. The Mets need to see him against a higher level of competition to make a better evaluation of whether he is ready to pitch at the Major League level. Considering how Kay has been dominating in the Eastern League and the Mets not having a Triple-A pitcher they want to slot into their rotation, it would seem the time is now to send Kay to Syracuse.

Once Kay is in Syracuse, the Mets can get a much better read of how he performs against better competition, and they can better determine if he is going to be a part of the 2019 Mets pitching staff in some capacity. Considering the depth, the Mets should find this out sooner rather than later, which is why Kay’s next start should be in Syracuse.

Trading Catalina For Font Is A Symptom Of A Much Larger Problem

When analyzing the Mets acquisition of Wilmer Font, it is important to start with who Font is before turning to what exactly the Mets parted with to obtain him. When it comes to Font, the Mets really obtained a duplicative asset who wasn’t of much, if any, value.

Font is a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.39 ERA, 1.493 WHIP, 4.0 BB/9, and a 7.7 K/9. He has a career -0.3 WAR He has never made more than 19 appearances or pitched more than 44.0 innings. Last year, he pitched for three teams. That’s the way it usually goes for players with tantalizing talent who cannot translate their success to the Major League level.

He certainly tantalized the Rays last year with a 1.67 ERA (with peripherals which screamed regression) in nine appearances for them last year. Of course, the real Font returned this year. In 10 appearances for the Rays, he had a 5.79 ERA with a 3.2 BB/9. With him being out of options, it would appear it was only a matter of time before Font was designated for assignment than being a trade asset.

As we know, the Mets would step in and make a trade for Font. Despite having Corey Oswalt and Chris Flexen, two pitchers with comparable stats to Font, the Mets made the trade for Font. Instead of signing Hector Santiago, and touting him as a former All Star, the Mets made a trade for Font. Instead of calling up Casey Coleman, a pitcher with better results at the Major League level in his career, and who was showing he was capable of being that three inning reliever Font truly is, the Mets swung a trade.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. The Mets were well within their rights to prefer Font over the pitchers they already had. Certainly, F0nt’s ability to be plugged in right away helped his case. While that may be the case, the point to remember here is Font is a bad Major League pitcher with no value whatsoever.

The Mets then traded an asset for Font. The asset was an 18 year old pitcher named Neraldo Catalina.

Now, not much is known about Catalina other than his age and the fact he signed for $150,000 out of the Dominican Republic. Yesterday, Mets Minors had a write up on him. Basically, Catalina is a power arm with a strong build who was going to debut stateside this year.

There are any number of potential outcomes with Catalina. He could be like any number of teenage pitchers who sign out of the Dominican Republic who don’t pan out to be anything. It’s certainly possible he could be nothing more than a footnote listed in the transaction portion of Font’s Baseball Reference page. He could also pan out to be like Jeurys Familia, who had signed for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic back in 2007.

But that’s the thing, Catalina has the potential to be anything. He’s an asset, and it’s why the Mets used their bonus pool money to obtain him. After all, if the team didn’t think he was worth anything, they wouldn’t have given him anything.

It’s the same exact situation with Felix Valerio. Does anyone really know what the Mets had in Valerio? Probably not, but the problem is the Mets are included in that group of people. As reported by Fangraphs, the Mets don’t scout beneath full-season ball. This means players like Valerio, who played in the Dominican Summer League, aren’t scouted by the Mets. Considering short season affiliates have not yet started their seasons, the Mets supposedly revamped front office has not had the opportunity to self scout players like Valerio or Catalina.

To make matters worse, the Mets are trading players of whom they have little to no knowledge for players who are out of options and are on the brink of getting cut. It was Catalina for Font, and it was Valerio for Keon Broxton, who has been terrible. Yes, the Mets also gave up Bobby Wahl and Adam Hill in the Broxton deal, but that’s also the point. They included Valerio in a deal where Wahl and Hill should have been sufficient.

Should fans be up in arms over losing Catalina? Maybe. We honestly don’t know. He could be great,and he could be terrible. With him not pitching one inning in the Mets organization, no one can know anything for certain. But that’s also the point here. The Mets don’t know what they have in these players, and they are trading them anyway.

They’re doing it because they’ve become very short-sighted in their win-now mentality. That’s odd considering that mentality which does not extend to signing Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel or to guaranteeing a rotation spot to Gio Gonzalez over a terrible Jason Vargas. The Mets are also doing it because they’re playing the odds that even if Catalina does eventually succeed it will be so remote in time that no one is going to immediately link Catalina to Font or the Mets.

In the end, Catalina is a symptom of a problem. This trade is an example of the poor depth the Mets built this past offseason. It’s a further indication the team not only is unaware of the value of their assets, they also don’t understand the value of bottom of the roster players on the trade front. Mostly, it’s another sign of how the team is more than willing to do away with organizational depth and talent instead of actually spending the money which was required to build the team into the “Come get us!” team the Mets advertised themselves to be.