Earlier this offseason, MLB Network rated Jacob deGrom as the best pitcher in baseball. It made a lot of sense because the reigning two time Cy Young Award winner is actually the best pitcher in baseball.
Over the past two years, deGrom leads all pitchers in WAR, ERA, FIP, and other categories including Cy Youngs. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, deGrom is clearly the best pitcher in the game, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
So naturally, after ranking deGrom the best pitcher in the game, which he is, MLB rated him as the best pitcher in the game when they ranked the Top 100 players.
Here is your Top 10! Led by…
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) February 14, 2020
Somehow, even with deGrom being the best pitcher over the last two years, and his already having been ranked as the top pitcher, MLB somehow changed course now naming Gerrit Cole a better baseball player.
There’s no rationalizing it either as Cole is an AL pitcher meaning you can’t even use hitting as a tiebreaker. Really, you can’t even stretch to try to rationalize this.
In the end, all you’re left with is Cole is now a New York Yankee, so people will vote for the pinstripes. That’s fine. They can do that and contradict themselves all they want for a pitcher who has yet to prove he can pitch in New York the way someone like deGrom has.
While that’s happening, deGrom will continue to prove his greatness, push for a third consecutive Cy Young, and further cement the fact he’s the best pitcher in baseball.
Since David Wright has retired, there has been some question over who should be the next captain of the New York Mets, or even if there should ever be another captain. In the event the Mets do ever seek to name a new captain, they have a roster full of homegrown players who could step up and be exactly that leader the next Mets captain needs to be.
The popular choice is Pete Alonso. That choice is inspired, and Alonso has shown himself worthy. In addition to a record setting rookie season, he showed himself to be a great teammate by and through his friendship with Dominic Smith, and he showed true leadership with the 9/11 cleats.
Another very worthy candidate is Michael Conforto.
In his five year career, Conforto has seen it all. He was the phenom how helped the Mets win the 2015 pennant. He was there for the Mets tearing down that roster to build it back up. He has handled his own injury problems, and he has been bounced around the outfield to suit the Mets needs.
He’s been a future superstar, a platoon player, a bust, an All Star, a what could’ve been, and finally, a good baseball player again who is a part of a team who could win the World Series.
More than anyone, Conforto knows what it is like being a Met when times are a good and when times are bad. In some ways, he had a career arc not too different than what we saw with David Wright, albeit on a truncated and less dramatic scale. On that note, Conforto was there when Wright battled back from spinal stenosis, and he was there to learn from him.
Conforto was also there learning from other leaders like Jay Bruce, Michael Cuddyer, and Curtis Granderson. In fact, when Bruce and Granderson were traded away in 2017, it was Conforto who initially had to step up and fill the leadership void, something which became difficult as he dealt with a potentially career ending surgery.
It has become quite clear Conforto learned from people like Bruce, Cuddyer, Granderson, and Wright.
Right now, the biggest issue in baseball has been the sign stealing. That scandal has impacted the Mets as they have already lost a manager in Carlos Beltran before he even managed a game. One of their best pitchers, Marcus Stroman, has been quite vocal in his issues with the Astros sign stealing. While we haven’t seen public statements, there are reports Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz are similarly angry.
With J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick having been part of that 2017 Astros team, that could be very problematic for this Mets clubhouse. That is an even bigger issue with Marisnick doubling off Stroman in a specific game Stroman commented saying the Astros were “Ruining the integrity of the game.”
This is the type of situation which begs for someone to step up and tackle this issue before it is a problem either in the clubhouse or publicly. Right away, Conforto has stepped up and tried to take control of the message:
Michael Conforto said there won’t be any animosity from Mets teammates toward 2017 Astros Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis.
“But I’m sure there will be conversations about it.”
Conforto was clear that the Astros crossed a line, but he won’t hold it against Marisnick/Davis.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) February 11, 2020
This is exactly what you need from a captain of your team. You need someone to have the savvy to disspell any notion of internal strife and have the status in the clubhouse to make sure that this will in fact be the case. In that statement, we see while he may not be the captain, Conforto remains a leader in that Mets clubhouse.
Conforto has indicated he loves being a Met, and he would be open to a contract extension. If the Mets step up and make him a Met for life, it would be fitting to also named him the next captain in team history as he is showing he is a leader, knows how to handle everything which has come the Mets way, and ultimately, he is the type of player and person who would make a good captain.
Today, the offseason is officially over, and Spring Training officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting to St. Lucie. Looking at the way the contracts are structured, this could be the last year this rotation reports, and in very short order, this rotation could be almost completely dismantled over the ensuing few years.
Jacob deGrom has a player option after the 2022 season.
This is what remains from a homegrown group which led the Mets to the 2015 pennant and brought the Mets back to the 2016 postseason. We have already seen Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler (on neither team) leave for very different reasons. Now, the Mets have to assess who is next.
Ideally, the Mets would be moving quickly to lock some of these starters up. After all, Syndergaard and Matz are coming off down years, and the Mets have a year of control to use as leverage in negotiations. Seeing how Matz finished the season, Syndergaard’s offseason workouts geared towards pitching better, and Jeremy Hefner already working on getting the most out of both, they may get very expensive very soon.
Like Matz, Stroman and Porcello are local kids who grew up Mets fans. We have already seen Porcello leave some money on the table to pitch for the Mets. Could Stroman do the same knowing he gets to pitch for his hometown team and his being born to pitch on this stage?
Sure, you could argue the Mets should be looking to maximize on the value of some of these pitchers on the trade market. At some point, the team also has to look to the future when pitchers like David Peterson, Thomas Szapucki, Matthew Allan, and others are ready to contribute.
The payroll obligations, along with having to pay players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have to be balanced. The Mets also have to balance that against building the type of team which would discourage deGrom from exercising his opt out.
Of course, the question is who exactly is negotiating these contracts. Not too long ago, we thought that would be Steve Cohen, and what many assumed were bottomless pockets. Now, with that deal falling apart, we don’t know.
Sure, the Mets say they are going to sell the team, and they are no longer going to insist on having control over the team, but we have seen this show. It has previously ended with deals falling apart, and the Mets moving to sell off minority shares as as short term fundraising scheme.
Long story, short, here, the Mets need to figure out their ownership, and they need to figure it out fast. There is a lot more riding on the sale of the team than the 2020 season and the ability to add payroll, if necessary, at the trade deadline. As noted, the Mets need to figure out the pitching staff for 2021 and beyond.
The sooner they figure it out, the better. Once they have clarity on that issue, they will know who exactly are trade chips, and how exactly the Mets can build the 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyonds World Series contending teams.
Finally, after an eventful winter, even by Mets standards, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow. While the Mets may have an idea as to what their 26 man roster will be, that doesn’t mean this organization is truly ready for the 2020 season.
Even with Dellin Betances and presumably Michael Wacha, you’d ideally want one more big arm in the bullpen, especially when you can’t be sure what you’re getting with Jeurys Familia or Edwin Diaz. That leaves the Mets hoping either they or likely Robert Gsellman can be that guy.
This speaks to overall depth issues. While there enough bodies, we don’t know if they’re the right or good enough ones. We see that with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera battling for the backup catcher spot.
Part of that money, which, of course, goes back to the ownership issue. We’ve known for over a decade now the Mets needed new owners, but only now do they realize that themselves.
Of course, they won’t go quietly into the night trying to get to run the Mets for five years with someone else’s money. Maybe their best argument to any new owner is they did that effectively in 2006.
Overall, this is a Mets team which could win the World Series. However, it’s going to need some help to get there and a lot to break right. If they get there, no one should bet against Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the postseason.
That’s an odd thing to say considering this time last year we were promised no more ifs.
With Major League Baseball’s new rules, teams can only carry 13 pitchers, and seeing how the Mets have operated the past few seasons, the Mets will very likely carry 13 pitchers in 2020. With the five man rotation, this means the Mets will have an eight man bullpen.
Right now, barring injury, the Mets have Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, and Brad Brach as absolute locks for the Opening Day bullpen. That is going to leave two bullpen spots open with one of them going to the pitcher who loses the bullpen battle. That pitcher is most likely going to be Michael Wacha.
That is where things begin to get a bit interesting.
On the surface, it would seem Robert Gsellman has an inside track for the last bullpen job. After all, he has been a reliever for each of the past two seasons. However, he has not performed well out of the bullpen with an 87 ERA+ and 4.03 FIP over that stretch. When you combine the Mets wanting him to spend the offseason working as a starter, you wonder if a pitcher who still has options remaining will begin the year in Triple-A as a starter.
On the topic of options, Jacob Rhame is out of options, and the Mets will have to expose him to waivers if they are going to keep him in the organization.
Rhame is coming off a season where he had ulnar transposition surgery. That is the same surgery Jacob deGrom underwent in 2016. In his first year after the surgery, deGrom was a good starting pitcher, and in the ensuing two years he emerged as the best pitcher in baseball.
Now, that is obviously not Rhame’s ceiling. However, we do see after undergoing that surgery a pitcher can reach their full potential. While many may debate what exactly that is for Rhame, the Mets clearly have some interest in finding out as they have kept him throughout this offseason despite fully knowing he is out of options.
With Rhame having a career 6.23 MLB ERA and a Triple-A 4.05 ERA, you have to wonder what exactly the Mets are seeing in him.
Looking at Baseball Savant, Rhame throws in the mid-90s, and back in 2018, before he needed the transposition surgery, he had above average movement on that fastball. While he did not get much vertical movement on his splitter, it had very good horizontal movement, which is part of the reason why it was a swing-and-miss pitch for him.
Ultimately, that is what the Mets see in Rhame – his potential. Since the day they obtained him from Curtis Granderson, they knew they were getting a big arm with relatively untapped potential. He still has the ability to generate strikeouts, and as we saw with Rhys Hoskins, he has a bit of a nasty streak where he won’t back down or take anything from the opponent.
Based on what we have seen this offseason, the Mets are going to allow Rhame to work with new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner to show his potential can yield results. Presumably, he is going to get an opportunity to show the Mets he is a better option in the bullpen than Gsellman, who may belong in the rotation, or Walker Lockett, who is also out of options.
In the end, the Mets have kept Rhame around for a reason. Perhaps, that reason is to have him be a part of the 2020 Opening Day roster. With pitchers and catchers reporting soon, he is going to get the opportunity to prove he belongs.
Instead, Frank Clark got Jimmy Garopollo into a grasp only Eli Manning could’ve wrestled out of leading to the drive ending on downs.
A Damien Williams touchdown and Kendall Fuller pick later, and the Chiefs somewhat improbable comeback was accomplished, and they were Super Bowl Champions.
Twenty years later, Mets fans got to finally see Pat Mahomes win a title.
No, it wasn’t with the same team or even the same sport, but Mahomes is a champion. Still, with him wearing his father’s Mets jersey on occasion, as a Mets fan, you couldn’t help from feeling happy for the family.
With the Chiefs winning their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, you also couldn’t help but feel optimism the Mets own drought will soon end.
Like the Chiefs for so many years, the Mets seemed snake bitten facing many brutal losses and horrific moments since their last title.
Of course, we have Beltran looking at an Adam Wainwright curveball and his teams teams collapse in the ensuing two years leaving everyone but Tom Glavine devastated. That’s nowhere near as bad as the embarrassment leading up to Beltran’s firing.
That cast a shadow over his World Series. Mets fans should be so lucky.
Terry Collins can completely blew the series with bad decisions which backfired all series long. Jeurys Familia‘s quick pitch didn’t fool Alex Gordon, and a year later, he was flat out beat by Conor Gillaspie.
This all meant David Wright, forced to retire too soon from spinal stenosis which robbed him of the Hall of Fame, never won a ring. To a lesser extent, there’s the career Matt Harvey never got to have due to his TOS.
Throw in the Madoff scandal and the Wilpons being the Wilpons, and this franchise seems as snakebitten as they come. That’s how the Chiefs fans once felt.
They don’t feel that way anymore. That changed with Mahomes, who is now a champion.
Maybe, just maybe, 2020 will be the year for the Mets.
It may sound ridiculous, but so is Andy Reid managing the clock well and having terrific game management in the fourth quarter to help the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.
The following people were mentioned: Curtis Granderson, J.D. Davis, Seth Lugo, Jake Marisnick, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Jeremy Hefner, Luis Rojas, Carlos Beltran, Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, Jeremy Accardo, Steven Matz, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Justin Wilson, Jeurys Familia, Mo Vaughn, Jared Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, Rick Porcello, Jason Vargas, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, Asdrubal Cabrera, Devin Mesoraco, and others.
While Major League Baseball underwent an investigation, it was a Houston Astros fan who really did the research into the extent of the Astros sign stealing.
Tony Adams set up a website named Sign Stealing Scandal. On his website and on Twitter, he released the results of his investigation into the extent of the Astros sign stealing. It also detailed how often there was the now infamous banging sound during an Astros’ batter’s plate appearance:
Astros players trashcan bangs.
— Tony Adams (@adams_at) January 29, 2020
However, in 2017, they were Houston Astros, and they squared off against pitchers who are currently on the Mets pitching staff.
On September 2, 2017, Davis played in both ends of a doubleheader going 2-for-8 with a double, homer, and two RBI. Both of those hits came against Tommy Milone and Jamie Callahan, neither of whom are with the Mets.
On that day, the only pitcher he faced who is still with the Mets is Seth Lugo. While he went 0-for-2, he was in a lineup which handed Lugo the loss.
Lugo, who wants to be a starter, has only started five games after that losing effort.
Marisnick was not in the lineup for either game. It should also be noted Sign Stealing Scandal denotes there was no video from those games. As such, we are not 100% sure the Astros used the banging those days, but it’s reasonable to assume it happened.
It should be noted this wasn’t the only time Davis and Marisnick squared off against current Mets pitchers.
On June 3, 2018, Davis was 0-for-3 against Rick Porcello in a game Porcello picked up the win.
Essentially, Davis’ full extent of facing current Mets pitchers as a member of the Astros was those five at-bats against Lugo and Porcello.
Given his going hitless in those at-bats and how popular he appears among those players from last year’s Mets roster, it appears he may not have to do much, if anything, to smooth things over with his teammates.
Marisnick might be a different story.
If we expand the time period to include 2018 and 2019, Marisnick has faced six of the pitchers currently on the Mets pitching staff. In addition to doubling off Stroman, he has also doubled against Porcello and Brad Brach. He didn’t record a hit against Diaz, Wilson, or Dellin Betances.
With respect to Stroman, he’s been very outspoken about what the Astros did, and like many, he isn’t happy about it.
Shit makes sense now. I remember wondering how these guys were laying off some of my nasty pitches. Relaying all my signs in live speed to the batter. Ruining the integrity of the game. These dudes were all about the camera and social media. Now, they’re all quiet! Lol 😂 https://t.co/DuknUCQaRb
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 20, 2020
In that tweet, he specifically addresses the game Marisnick doubled off of him. Clearly, Stroman was baffled by this game, and he’s justifiably upset about the whole sign stealing scandal.
The Mets were actually one of the more vocal teams about this last year. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post wrote about how much the Dodgers were on top of Diaz’s pitches. While cautioning they didn’t believe it to be illegal, Mickey Callaway and the Mets spoke about how they believed the Dodgers were stealing signs.
Right now, we know Davis and Marisnick cheated, and we’re starting to learn the extent to which they cheated. We also know their cheating has affected Mets new and old. Finally, we know at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about the Astros sign stealing.
What we don’t know is what, if any, impact Davis’ and Marisnick’s part in the sign stealing will have on the 2020 Mets.
One of the reasons Carlos Beltran was fired was the difficulty in carrying on his managerial duties after discovering his involvement in the scandal. That may or may not have included his ability to handle pitchers like Stroman who he cheated against.
Now, the conversation shifts to those same pitchers reactions to their teammates, how Davis and Marisnick respond, and ultimately how Luis Rojas can manage the situation.
Of course, that presupposes there is going to be an issue. Maybe there won’t be one at all.
In the end, all we know is Davis and Marisnick cheated against former and current Mets pitchers, and at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about what happened in Houston. Where the Mets go from here could very well be a factor in how the Mets clubhouse holds together and the team performs in 2020.
The Mets have continued their recent push to honor their past by announcing they will induct Edgardo Alfonzo, Ron Darling, Al Jackson, and Jon Matlack into the Mets Ha of Fame. This is a very good group, and the Mets should be commended for taking this positive step.
That said, the Mets Hall of Fame is not as representative of the best players in team history, and the Mets still have work to do. On that front, here are five people the Mets should look to induct in the ensuing years.
Believe it or not, the Mets have yet to induct Wright into their Hall of Fame despite his being their all-time leader in many offensive categories, leading all Mets position players in WAR, and being the fourth Captain in team history.
Obviously, it’s only a matter of time before the Mets induct him, and very likely, it’s also a matter of time before the Mets retire his number five.
Leiter is arguably the third best left-handed starter in Mets history, and with his 124 ERA+, he’s definitively a top ten starting pitcher in Mets history. Expounding upon his ERA+, it’s third best in team history behind only Tom Seaver and Jacob deGrom among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings.
More than the numbers, Leiter was instrumental in those late 90s teams. His 1998 season was one of the best seasons a Mets starter ever had. The following year, he had one of the best starts a Mets pitcher ever had.
In the do-or-die Wild Card play-in game, Leiter pitched a two hit shut out against the Reds. Not only did the set the stage for the magical 1999 postseason run, it was very likely the best regular season start a Mets pitcher ever had in a must win game.
Overall, Leiter was a big game pitcher who was one of the best Mets starters ever. Given his impact on those Mets teams, you really cannot adequately tell the story of that era or the Mets as a franchise without mentioning him.
At the moment, Valentine has the third highest winning percentage, the third most wins, and the third most games managed in Mets history. He was the first manager to ever guide the Mets to consecutive postseasons.
Valentine was the perfect manager at the perfect time for the Mets. He always seemed to know the right button to push, including but not limited to his showing up in the dugout with just about the worst disguise you’ve ever seen after he was ejected.
More than the numbers, Valentine played an important role post 9/11. He was visiting firehouses and was at Shea Stadium when it was being used as a staging ground for the relief efforts. He also stood alongside his players in a NYPD cap as his players took the field for the rest of that season wearing the first responder caps.
The Mets are nearing a somewhat awkward situation with Cohen. The man who is very likely the best play-by-play announcer in the game has been a Ford C. Frick finalist, and he’s likely going to win the award at some point with his being eligible again in three years.
Effectively speaking, this would mean Cohen is in the Hall of Fame (albeit not formally inducted) but not the Mets Hall of Fame. Keep in mind, Cohen is already in the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mets fans love Cohen not just for his being part of GKR, but also for his having some of the greatest calls in Mets history. The lifelong Mets fan always seems to be able to take a great moment and elevate it.
With his fellow broadcast partners, Keith Hernandez and now Darling being inducted, he should join them in short order. When he’s being inducted, he should be joined by Howie Rose, who is similarly great and also has some of the best calls in Mets history.
Seeing how Alfonzo was awkwardly fired from the Brooklyn Cyclones and just a few months later is going to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, there is actually precedent for Beltran being inducted after what has recently transpired.
Looking at his Mets career, Beltran is the best center fielder in team history, and you could argue he’s the best outfielder. Certainly, he’s the best free agent signing in team history.
Beltran ranks among the top 5 – 10 in many offensive categories, and he’s the only Mets outfielder with multiple Gold Gloves. In fact, Beltran joins Hernandez and Rey Ordonez as the only Mets to win at least three Gold Gloves.
Beltran was a leader of those Mets teams, and his 2006 season was one of, if not, the best season a Mets positional player ever has. On merit alone, he deserves induction into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Given recent events, it’s likely we won’t see that happen anytime soon. Beltran isn’t the only worthy individual who may not be inducted soon.
In fact, the same could be said about Nelson Doubleday, who is the only Mets owner with a winning record. With his acrimony with the Wilpons, it’s unlikely they move to induct their former business partner.
There are other individuals who could be considered. Johan Santana has thrown the only no-hitter in Mets history, Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single, Howard Johnson is the only player with multiple 30/30 seasons, and Curtis Granderson was a leader on the field and just about the best human being to ever don a Mets uniform.
All of this highlights how the Mets have a rich and full history, and it’s great to see them finally dedicated to recognizing and celebrating it.
Rojas has been a minor league manager in the Mets system for seven years, and he was the quality control manager this past season. He has the respect of everyone in the organization, the deepest of roots in the game, and he has had a hand in the success of the core of this Mets roster.
He’s also managed prospects like Andres Gimenez who could debut this upcoming season. Overall, this speaks not just to Rojas’ knowledge of the personnel, but also his ability to get the most out of these players.
This is why it’s being widely reported this is a very popular hire in the Mets clubhouse. It should be a popular hire with everyone.
This is a manager from the Alou family tree. That’s important with his father Felipe Alou being a longtime manager, and his brother, Moises Alou, having played for the Mets. With them, he not only had someone to lean on in terms of managing a team, but also, on the unique challenges of New York. Of course, Rojas can lean on his own experiences for that as well.
As the Quality Control Coach, he’s well versed in analytics, and he’s had communication with the front office about using them, and also, what the front office expectations are. He’s also spent the past year further developing and strengthening relations with everyone in the clubhouse, and really, the entire organization.
Lost in the shuffle last year was Rojas working with McNeil to become an everyday outfielder. In 2019, McNeil was an All-Star, and he had a 2 DRS in the outfield.
When you break it down, this is a hard working individual who is able to get the most out of the players on this team. With his being bilingual, he can talk baseball in any language. No matter what angle you look at this from, Rojas was the perfect hire for this team. That goes double when you consider he’s one of the few holdovers from Callaway’s staff at a time the Mets desperately need some continuity.
Overall, the Mets took a terrible situation, and they made the most of it hiring the person who very likely should have been hired in November. Rojas is the best man for this job, and the 2020 Mets will be better for having him at the helm.