Ike Davis

Mets First Base Competition Has Been Fun

In Pete Alonso‘s first two at-bats of Spring Training, he hit a home run and a double. It seemed those two hits were the beginning of something special, and regardless of service time, Alonso was going to force his way onto the Opening Day roster. After that double, Alonso cooled off a bit at the plate. He would go three for his next 12. With him not hitting tape measure shots, Dominic Smith would begin to grab some headlines.

Through his first seven games, Smith was actually out-hitting Alonso going 8-for-16 with a big three run homer. Mets Manager Mickey Callaway spoke glowingly about Smith. There were articles written about how Smith has turned the corner, and some were suggesting Smith had a real chance to win the Mets first base job.

Yesterday, Alonso reminded everyone why he’s a top prospect and why people were excited about the possibility of his playing first base for the Mets this season:

In the game, Alonso was 2-for-3 with a double, homer, and an RBI. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, Alonso’s OPS is now 1.356 putting him not too far ahead of Smith’s 1.256. Put another way, there is little separation between the two. The reason is both players spent all offseason preparing to give themselves the best possible chance of winning the Mets first base job.

As a fan, this is fun to watch. Alonso starts off with big power numbers, and Smith responds with great defense and a .500 batting average. Alonso then hits another tape measure shot while Smith maintains his .500 Spring batting average. This is exactly what everyone wants to see. They want this to be a difficult decision, not just for Spring Training but for the future.

This is not too dissimilar from 2014 when the Mets had to choose between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. The Mets decision there may not have been popular, but it proved to be the correct one. That decision would play a role in the Mets going to the World Series. As Mets fans, we can only hope the same thing happens with this team.

Editor’s Note: this was originally published on MMN

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Most Bizarre Mets Injuries

With reports Brandon Nimmo getting sick from cooking his own chicken dinner, it does inspire many to say, “Same old Mets!” Certainly, the Mets have had their fair share of bizarre injuries and illnesses over their 57 year history. There are plenty of stories, and the Mets bloggers share some of the more infamous in Mets history:

Michael Baron

I love Noah Syndergaard, but the hand, foot and mouth disease is easily the standout injury in recent memory for me.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

Valley Fever…and it’s not close. Single-handedly ended Ike Davis‘ career.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I’ll bring up Ryan Church here. Not that a concussion is bizarre, but putting him on an airplane to Denver and then Snoop Manuel surreptitiously chastising him for not being tough enough to handle it will always be the benchmark for bizarre in Flushing.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Gotta go with what happened to reliever Ken Sanders between innings one Sunday afternoon in 1975: “I was taking my warm up pitches and lost the return throw from John Stearns and it hit me directly in my right eye. I never touched it. It actually knocked me out. There was no action on the field at the time of the accident.”

Tim Ryder (MMO)

Do Mackey Sasser‘s yips count? I’d have to go with Matt Harvey‘s bladder infection due to holding in his pee. Only the Mets.

Sasser hit .297/.328/.416 from 1988 thru 1990. Once his head got the best of him, everything came crashing down. The conventional injuries didn’t help either.

Bre S. (That Mets Chick)

Weirdest Mets illness: Ike Davis, valley fever in 2012. Valley Fever is an infection that is released from the dirt in desert regions of the Southwest and is inhaled. It can be stirred up by construction and winds.

Fast forward to 2014 and Davis still complained about having Valley fever! Its mind boggling how that infection stayed with him throughout the years. “You have no energy, no nothing. It was definitely a weird one. It’s supposed to go away on its own, but when I had an X-ray last year, it showed I still had it. I’m hoping that’s over and done with.” – Ike Davis

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

It’s gotta be “Valley Fever,” for me…it’s got all the hallmarks of a Mets injury. It’s a disease that sounds fake, like it’s almost a parody, and also sounds like a cruel act of God.

Strangely enough, Ike’s other injury is high on the list too — the time the training staff had him wear a walking boot nonstop, and it turned out the boot was basically suffocating his ankle, and it turned into him missing the 2011 season and pretty much ended his career. That…that’s the Mets right there.

Mets Daddy

Jerry Blevins slipping over a curb and re-breaking his arm. Sure, you can understand his arm breaking when he was hit with a comebacker, but a professional athlete breaking the arm again slipping on a curb takes the cake.

What’s interesting here is we had no mention of Tom Glavine losing his front teeth in a cab ride. What’s interesting to note with him is that while he thought that to be heart breaking, he was not devastated after killing the 2007 Mets season. Speaking of cab rides, we should never forget Duaner Sanchez.

There are many, many more here to list. We all know them, especially those who have participated in these roundtables. They know much more than the injuries, which is yet another reason to visit their sites and read their quality work.

Ike Davis Had A Worthwhile Career

Back in 2010, things were bleak with the Mets, really bleak.  The team closed out Shea Stadium with brutal losses on the final game of each season.  In 2006, Carlos Beltran struck out looking.  In 2007, Tom Glavine allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning.  In 2008, in what was the final game at Shea Stadium, Jerry Manuel brought in arguably his worst reliever in Scott Schoeneweis, who would allow a homer to Wes Helms to complete a second collapse.

In 2009, fans were less than thrilled with Citi Field.  It looked like more of an homage to the Dodgers than the Mets.  As much of a disappointment as Citi Field was, the team was even more of a disappointment.  The Mets went from a World Series contender to an under .500 team.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse the Madoff scandal hit.  It would forever change the impact how the Mets organization would be run.

Fans were looking for hope in any way, shape, or form, and they would find that hope in Ike Davis.

The 2010 Mets would disappoint, but there would be hope because of the play of the 2008 first round draft pick.  As a rookie, Davis hit .264/.341/.440, and he would finish in the Top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting.  While fans loved his bat, it would his play on the field, including his signature catch which would make him a quick fan favorite:

Using DRS as a metric, Davis was already the best fielding first baseman in the National League.  More than that, he seemed to be the only player not intimidated by Citi Field.  With his defense and game winning hits, it seemed like Davis was a star in the making.

As 2011 began, he seemed well on his way recording an RBI in nine of the Mets first 10 games.  In early May, he was hitting .302/.383/.543.  By any measure, he was a budding star, and then he would suffer an injury, which was compounded because the injury itself was originally mischaracterized.

With the injury, his potential breakout to stardom was delayed a year.  Instead, during Spring Training, Davis would contract Valley Fever.  The Valley Fever was most likely a factor in Davis’ drop from his early production.  He would hit a disappointing .227/.308/.462, but he would hit 32 homers.  Whatever hope the 32 homers would present were quickly dashed as Davis would never again be the same player.

As difficult as 2013 would be with Davis, the 2014 season would be worse.  Davis’ injuries and production opened the door for the Mets to look at Lucas Duda, and based upon a number of factors, including play on the field, the Mets would tab Duda as their first baseman.  This meant that Duda was a key bat in a lineup which would win the 2015 pennant while Davis would bounce around between the Pirates, Athletics, Rangers, Yankees, and Dodgers organizations.

Eventually, the slugger would abandon hitting, and he would attempt to become a pitcher.  It would not lead anywhere as Davis would become a minor league free agent after the 2017 season, and he found himself with no suitors.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t have one last big moment as a baseball player.

During the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Davis would play for an Israel team, who would make a surprising run.  He’d have a key pinch hit and he would hit well in the tournament.  In six games, Davis hit .471/.571/.706 with two doubles, a triple, and three RBI.  After that, he was no longer a position player, but a pitcher.  After a year in the Dodgers organization, he was neither.

He did not play at all in 2018, and now, he has decided he will no longer play baseball anywhere.

This may not have been the career Davis wanted or believed he would have when he was a first round draft pick, and yet, he was a player who left a definitive impact.  He was a key figure who gave Mets fans hope.  He is the only human being who can say he played first base when the Mets had a no-hitter.  He was a fan favorite, and he is a player many Mets fans still have a soft spot for all these years later.

And if things take off after the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he could have an impact on baseball in Israel.

All in all, that’s not a bad career.  In the end, Davis should hold his head high fully knowing he left an impact on the Mets, and he may have done even more than that. Really, congratulations to Ike Davis on a fine MLB career.

Explaining Harvey Trade To A 2013 Mets Fan

Back in 2013, the Cincinnati Reds had their second consecutive 90 win season.  Unfortunately for them, they were not able to make the postseason like they were the previous year when they were bounced from the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants.  Due to a number of factors, there was an open question after that season how long the Reds could keep this core group together.

At the same time, the New York Mets finished the season in third place in the National League East with a 74-88 record.  In that season, the team saw a rejuvenated David Wright, and Matt Harveywas the talk of the town, at least until he needed Tommy John surgery.

Using that all as a backdrop, imagine explaining to a person from 2013 how the Harvey deal went down . . .

2013: So, wait, you’re telling me, Harvey and Dilson Herrera are both members of the Reds organization? What did we get for them?  Joey Votto?

2018: Well, no . . .

2013: So wait, tell me which Reds are members of the Mets now.

2018: The Mets have Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Devin Mesoraco, but . . .

2013: Wait, the Mets have Frazier, Wright, Ike Davis, and Lucas Duda?

2018: Well, no, not exactly.

2013: I’m guessing Davis never got over the Valley Fever.

2018: While I’m not sure if it was Valley Fever, Davis is no longer in the majors.  In fact, he’s trying to pitch now.

2013: PITCH?!?!?!

2018: Yup.

2013: And I’m guessing despite the team shoving him down our throats, I’m assuming Duda never panned out.

2018: Actually, he became a 30 home run hitter.

2013: Really, so if that’s the case, why are the Mets looking to move him off first?  Do they really think he can play the outfield?  He was dreadful out there.

2018: No, no, no, no.  Duda signed as a free agent with the Royals.

2013: Ok, so the Mets got Frazier to play first.

2018: No, they signed him to play third.

2013: So, Wright is playing first.

2018: About that . . .

2013: Francesca always yammered on and on about how he belongs at third because of his arm.  Honestly, I can’t believe the Mets listened to that blowhard.  Speaking of which, I’m sure he gloated about that for at least a week.

2018: Believe it or not, Francesca was retired when the Mets got Frazier.

2013: SERIOUSLY!

2018: Yup.

2013: With Francesca retired, who is now on during the drive home?

2018: It’s a long story, but it’s Francesa.  He unretired.

2013: Of course he did.  And he’s probably telling us all the time how Wright shouldn’t be compared to Derek Jeter because Wright hasn’t won, and Jeter does everything perfect.

2018: Believe it or not, Jeter owns the Marlins.

2013: Like, he’s still playing, and he won the World Series MVP?

2018: No, he’s actually a part owner of the Marlins.

2013: The media must love him and the Marlins now.

2018: People think Jeter is a prick now.  He fired a cancer patient while he was in the hospital.

2013:  SERIOUSLY!

2018: Oh yeah, he’s alienated everyone, including their biggest fan, Marlins Man.

2013: What’s a Marlins Man?

2018: It’s this guy who goes across the country sitting behind home plate of every nationally televised game while wearing an orange Marlins jersey.

2013:  That’s a thing?

2018: For a while now.

2013: So let me get this straight.  In the future, Jeter owns the Marlins.  Francesca pretends to be Brett Favre.  There is some guy who is a celebrity because he’s rich and wears an orange Marlins jersey, and the Mets displaced Wright in favor of Frazier.

2018: I hate to tell you this, but Wright’s career is done.

2013: With the Mets?  I knew the Wilpons wouldn’t pay him.  Where did he go?  Please don’t tell me he’s a Yankee.

2018: No, Wright’s baseball career.  It’s over.

2013:  Shut up.  He would be just, what, 34?

2018: He’s 35.

2013: So, what?  He’s the Mets Don Mattingly?

2018: Yes.

2013: No.

2018:   He is.  Back in 2015, when the Mets went to the World Series

2013: THE METS WENT TO THE WORLD SERIES?!?!?!?!?

2018: They did.

2013: Wow, Terry Collins must’ve really turned things around with better players.

2018: Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.

2013: Sorry, you were saying about Wright.

2018: Anyway, Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.  He was actually able to play in the World Series, but after that point his career was essentially over.

2013: That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

2018: Well, it gets worse.

2013: How could it get worse?

2018: Well aside from the Mets losing the 2015 World Series –

2013: Oh, they lost?  To who?

2018: The Royals.

2013:  HOW!  THEY ALWAYS SUCK!

2018: Well, for two years they didn’t, and they were helped along by some really bad decisions by Collins in that World Series, including leaving Harvey out too long.

2013: Let me guess.  Hurt again.

2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but not because of that.  At least, I don’t think.

2013: Thor – what?

2018: No, not Noah Syndergaard.  Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

2013: Wait, Syndergaard calls himself Thor.

2018: Yeah, and he picks fights with Mr. Met on Twitter.

2013: I thought Mr. Met doesn’t talk.

2018: Yeah, it’s this whole thing.  You know what.  Nevermind, it’s even dumber when you explain it.

2013: Fine, what’s the deal with Harvey again?

2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  At best it’s a shoulder condition that changes your career.  For some, it ends it.  Remember Josh Beckett?

2013: Yeah, he was bad last year.

2018: That’s why.

2013: So wait, the Mets went to a World Series with an injured Harvey and Wright?

2018: Well, Harvey wasn’t injured yet.

2013: But now he is.  Well, I got to give it to Sandy.  He was able to turn Harvey and Herrera into Bruce, Frazier, and Mesoraco, who was a promising catcher.

2018: Well, the Mets did use Herrera to get Bruce.  Frazier was a free agent, and the Mets used Harvey to get Mesoraco.

2013: Wow, that was one first round draft pick which really must’ve worked out for the Reds.  You’d hope for more for Harvey, but still, you have to give Sandy credit for getting a young impressive catcher for Harvey before Harvey broke down.

2018: Oh, Mesoraco is broken down himself.  He’s had shoulder and hip issues.  He can’t play everyday, and he’s been hovering around the Mendoza line for years.

2013: So, let me get this straight.

2018: Go ahead.

2013:  Wright is broken.  Harvey is broken.  They also got Mesoraco, who is also broken. Ike is both broken and a  pitcher.

2018: Pretty much.

2013: Well, I guess with the Mets still making the World Series in 2015, Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero must’ve panned out, so I guess there is at least some positives.

2018: You know what?  I think that’s enough for right now.

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

Former Mets In The Postseason

When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals.  With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East – Boston Red Sox

Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)

Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.

RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)

Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.

RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)

Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.

OF Chris Young (2014)

After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.

Central – Cleveland Indians

First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)

Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007.  He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.

RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)

Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.

RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)

Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons.  Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.

West – Houston Astros

DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)

Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform.  Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.

Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)

Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)

Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team.  Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.

Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)

Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark.  While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.

Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)

Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick.  He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.

Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)

Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.

Wild Card – New York Yankees

RHP Luis Cessa

Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.

Wild Card – Minnesota Twins

Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)

While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.

RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)

“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse.  There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.

RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)

Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability.  He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East – Washington Nationals

OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)

De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets.  He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.

Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)

Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.

2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)

Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase.  Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant.  Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.

LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)

Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season.  He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract.  Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.

Central – Cubs

Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)

“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.

C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)

Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners.  It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.

West – Dodgers

Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)

Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers.  Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.

OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)

Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform.  He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most.  Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series.  His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.

3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)

Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible.  Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.

Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)

Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.

Wild Card – Diamondbacks

RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)

Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed.  While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.

Wild Card – Rockies

None

Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League.  Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.

 

Thanks For The Memories Terry Collins

Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting.  He will not be returning as Mets manager.  While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring.  The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.

In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started.  The Mets were bad and injured.  It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag.  What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.

Part of being human is being emotional.  We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences.  And yes, we’ve seen him cry.  Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality.  In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory.  In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.

He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title.  He left Santana in for that no-hitter.  He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult.  Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.

Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players.  It would be the source of much consternation among fans.  This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto.  What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.

In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed.  You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop.  Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.

But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers.  It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players.  Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner.  It wasn’t just those players.  Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.

With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets.  Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets.  Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.

Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see.  A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young.  A Mets player won a batting title.  There was actually a Mets no-hitter.  Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.

Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that.  Collins got the best out of his players.  It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.

And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans.  More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect.  He returned their affection.  That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:

It was more than the celebrating.  Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants.  At his core, Collins is a good and decent man.  It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.

Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake.  Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers.  This was just one aspect of his poor managing.  There were many times where he left you scratching your head.  It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.

However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins.  To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season.  We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.

He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history.  When he was hired no one expected him to last that long.  Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure.  In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.

I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him.  My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man.  Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled.  Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Good Luck Lucas Duda

With the Mets trading Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, we bring an end to the Mets career of one of the better Mets in their history, and we also see the beginning of the end of an era of Mets baseball.

Duda was a player with a promising bat the Mets that first Omar then Sandy tried to get into the lineup.  With players blocking his path to his natural first base position, Duda would be moved to the outfield.  Duda would be standing there ins what was then a fairly cavernous right field when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history.  Lost in that game was Duda homering in the sixth to put the game away.

Despite Duda being in the outfield during one of the biggest moments in Mets history, it became increasingly clear he wasn’t an outfielder.  He belonged at first base.  The fact he even forced a competition for the spot with Ike Davis was impressive.  Duda did all he could to wrestle that spot from Davis, and he finally showed the Mets what he could do hitting 30 home runs in 2014.  He had more in store in 2015.

When people have typically written about the 2015 season, they usually credit with Yoenis Cespedes for winning the National League East.  This overlooks how Duda almost single-handedly pulled the Mets into first place in 2015:

In that pivotal series that saw the Mets go from second to first place, Duda was 8-9 with a double, three homers, and five RBI.  With Mets fans debate over whether Duda was clutch or not, this series should answer the question in the affirmative.

As we know that season would eventually end in heartbreak.  Duda played his part throwing away the ball in Game 5 allowing Eric Hosmer to score the tying run.  It was hard to watch, and unfortunately, it masked all the good he had done that season including his grand slam in the division clincher and his homer effectively sealing the pennant:

These are many of the many great things Duda has done in a Mets uniform.  He was the second Mets player in history to hit three home runs in a game at home.  Shockingly, he was second to Kirk Nieuwenhuis.  Speaking of homering at Citi Field, Duda leaves the Mets as the all-time leader in home runs at Citi Field.

Hitting homers was one of the things Duda did well.  This year, he passed notable Mets like Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin McReynolds, and Todd Hundley to finish his Mets career with the seventh most in Mets history.  Depending on whether you view Dave Kingman as an outfielder or first baseman, Duda’s 125 Mets homers are either the most or second most for a Mets first baseman.

There were many great moments with Duda, but none of the aforementioned moments were my favorite.  My favorite Duda moment was a seemingly meaningless Spring Training Game in 2015.

One night, I was sitting up watching the game with my then one year old half watching a Spring Training game when Duda ripped a double leading to an enthusiastic Gary Cohen call to the effect of “LUCAS DUDA rips an RBI double . . . .”  My son immediately latched on and began screaming Duda, and he wanted to see Duda play more and hit more.  As that season wore on, he became more and more interested in baseball, and he would learn the Mets players.  First one he’d learn:

That was a magical year as both a father and a Mets fan.  I’d get to see the Mets go to the World Series for the third time in my life, but it would be the first time I’d get to experience it with my son.  I still remember him trying to stay up to watch the games with me.  I remember him getting me a Duda jersey for Father’s Day and getting the Duda growth chart at one of the Mets games.  Even with Duda gone, we will still use it.  I also remember him going crazy during that World Series cheering for the Mets:

Duda leaving does not only mean we are saying good bye to a good player who began his career with the Mets.  We are also saying good-bye to a part of a Mets era.  It was an era that saw the Mets go from a frustrating team a team that came so close to winning a World Series.

On a personal note, I see Duda leaving as part of the ever changing realization that my son is no longer a baby – he’s now a little boy.  He doesn’t just snuggle up with me at bedtime trying to watch Mets games, he now goes outside and plays baseball with me.

It was time to move on, especially with Dominic Smith waiting in the wings.  Still, as Curtis Granderson would point out, you just want to hold onto all of these moments just a little longer:


Like Granderson, I still want to hold on to not just Duda, but all of these memories.  In reality, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.  With that said, I enjoyed each and every minute Duda was a Met (except for that throw), and I appreciate all he has done in a Mets uniform.  He was a class act, who was always there to answer questions in even the hardest of times.  On a personal note, he helped make another great fan.  He deserves another opportunity to win a World Series, and I hope he does get that ring.

Good luck Lucas Duda.

Last Home Game For Some Mets

As the Mets take the field today against the Oakland Athletics, they will play their last home game before the trade deadline.  With the Mets looking to sell, this will likely be the final home game for many of the Mets players.  If so, it has been a fun ride.

Lucas Duda – Duda has had an interesting Mets career.  He was the right fielder for the Johan Santana no-hitter.  He won the first base job from Ike Davis.  He become a power bat in the middle of a Mets lineup that went to the World Series.  He is a grand slam in the NL East clincher.  He hit a three run homer in the NLCS clincher.  He made a bad throw allowing Eric Hosmer to score.  Overall, he has been an underrated Met, who became one of the team’s rare power threats at the position.

Curtis Granderson – Granderson has been the consummate professional, and he was the first major free agent to come to the Mets in the Sandy Alderson Era.  He kept the Mets afloat in the 2015 season as the team dropped like flies around him.  All three homers in the World Series gave the Mets a lead.  He had a great September last year leading the Mets charge to the Wild Card. He accepted a bench role this season.  He has been a great Met and an even better man doing more for the community than perhaps any Mets player we have ever seen.

Asdrubal Cabrera – It was his hot hitting bat that helped the Mets get the top Wild Card.  After years of poor shortstop play, he was a steadying force.  Things have not gone as well this year, but he is now doing all he can do to help the team.

Addison Reed – Reed was a shot in the dark when the Mets grabbed him before the waiver trade deadline in 2015.  From there, Reed became the Mets best reliever, and perhaps the best reliever in baseball over that timeframe.  He went from 7th inning reliever to a pennant winner to a dominant 8th inning guy last year to a lights out closer this year.  He is the biggest trade chip, and he’s most likely going to be the first player gone.  When he goes, he will leave behind a spot in the bullpen that will be near impossible to fill.

Jay Bruce – It is a testament to Bruce that he is having a career year this year after playing some of his worst baseball when he first put on a Mets uniform last year.  He’s on pace for his first ever 40 home run season, and he has given the Mets a reason to consider trying to bring him back.

Jerry Blevins – The lanky Blevins is perhaps the least likely player to be traded of all that are on trading block due to his team option.  If he goes, out the door goes the player who has made more appearances out of the bullpen than anyone this year.  With him would go a terrific LOOGY out of the pen who pitched his best baseball in a Mets uniform.

There are other players we do not reasonably anticipate to go, which makes watching today all the more important.  For any of the aforementioned players as well as some other players like Wilmer Flores, this will be the last time they will wear the home jerseys at Citi Field.  Each one of these players have given us reason to cheer.  Hopefully, they get an extra big cheer today.

Don’t Just Give Away Lucas Duda

With the Yankees pulling off that blockbuster last night, which included Todd Frazier, one of the few logical landing spots for Lucas Duda might have been eliminated.  Considering the Tigers got a less than impressive haul for J.D. Martinez, who was widely considered the best bat on the trade market, it makes you wonder if the Mets are going to be able to get anything of value in exchange for their trade pieces – namely Duda.  Certainly, that is troubling considering the Mets don’t want to lose the impending free agent without getting anything in return for him.

The soon to be 32 year old Duda is having another good year at the plate for the Mets.  Through 67 games, the slugger is hitting .244/.351/.542 with 16 homers and 34 RBI.  His 132 wRC+ is in the top 10 in the major leagues among first baseman with at least 250 plate appearances.  Essentially, Duda is in the top third of first baseman.  It is a position he has been since he took over the first base job from Ike Davis in 2014.

Arguably, a player like that is a second round draft pick or similar talent as the new free agent compensation system in place awards teams a second round pick for players the reject a qualifying offer and sign elsewhere.

Generally, one WAR is worth approximately $8 million.  (Business Insider).  In 2014 and 2015, Duda averaged a 3.3 WAR.  After a lost year last year, Duda is seemingly back to being that player, which would make him worth about $26 million per year.  With last year’s qualifying offer being $17.2 million, Duda is arguably worth whatever the qualifying offer number will be for the 2018 season.

But there is a difference between being worth the money and whether giving Duda roughly $20 million is a good allocation of resources.  The Mets have significant holes that need to be addressed this offseason.  The team needs to overhauled their bullpen.  They also need a second baseman, third baseman, center fielder, and possibly a catcher.  With the 22 year old former first round pick Dominic Smith waiting in the wings, the real question is whether another year of Duda is worth it?

There’s just no clear cut answer to that question.  As easily as you can point to Duda’s production and the value in giving Smith more time to develop in the minors, you can also argue Duda hinders the Mets ability to build the best possible team in 2018.  Moreover, there is the risk Duda could re-injure his back.

Of course, Duda can also reject the qualifying offer.  Coming off his 2014 season, he rejected a three year $30 million contract extension.  He could similarly reject a qualifying offer to get the contract he believes he is worth.

No matter which direction the Mets go there is a risk.  Considering the likely worst case scenario is the Mets are stuck with a first baseman with a good OBP capable of hitting 30 homers a year, keeping him instead of moving him for something less than what he is worth is a risk well worth taking.