Jason Vargas

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.

 

20/20 Hindsight: National Lampoon’s Mets

The Mets went to Washington to face a bad Nationals team, and they cam out of the series looking like the bad team. They’re now not just bad, but also injured. Things are going south real fast:

1. The Mets absolutely did the right thing pulling Michael Conforto from that game. The team should be commended not just for pulling him but also for sending him to New York by train. It’s good to see they’ve learned something from how they mismanaged the Ryan Church and Jason Bay concussions.

2. It’s not his fault per se, but Robinson Cano cannot both be bad at the plate and in the field while also taking out the team’s best player.

3. With Conforto and Jeff McNeil having injuries, Cano needs to step up now. Same goes to Todd Frazier, who should begin to see some regular playing time, which should allow him to get into a groove. Not only do these two players need it to happen, Brodie Van Wagenen does as well.

4. Other than Edwin Diaz not one move Van Wagenen made this offseason has panned out,and it looks all the worse considering how much the team gave up in terms of prospects in an attempt to improve the team.

5. Drew Gagnon made Van Wagenen look bad when he out-pitched Wilmer Font who looked like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.81 ERA trying to be a starting pitcher. Looking at Gagnon, you realize, not only was the trade unnecessary, but also giving up a prospect for a when you had a better version of him was plain dumb.

6. Gio Gonzalez continues to make the Mets look worse. In four starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.078 WHIP. In all four of his starts, he has gone at least five innings, which is something the Mets have only gotten twice from their fifth starts in their 10 starts. That includes Jason Vargas, who is averaging 3.2 innings per start.

7. As if Gonzalez performing well isn’t enough, and knowing the team passed on him thinking Vargas was better and Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, we now find out the team never actually made him an offer.

8. Van Wagenen did the same exact thing with his outfield. The Mets entered the year with just two starting caliber starting outfielders, and the team brought in Keon Broxton, who was a worse version of Juan Lagares. As a result, Broxton has seen almost no playing time.

9. It may not be a good look for Broxton to complain after his noncompetitive at-bat to end the game, but he does have a point. The team traded real assets to obtain him only to superglue him to the bench and not give him a real chance to establish himself.

10. Because of the Mets stubbornness not letting Dominic Smith play left field, the team is forced to play J.D. Davis in left field despite his not having the speed to play left field and his hitting .219/.219/.250 during the month.

11. It is going to be fun seeing Carlos Gomez wear a Mets uniform again. He was the big time prospect who was supposed to take us to the next level, except he didn’t because he was traded for Johan Santana. Then, he didn’t come back because he failed his medicals, which was fine by Mets fans as Wilmer Flores became a folk hero. Through all that has happened, it would be great to see Gomez be the key piece to a Mets winner like we thought he would be in 2007 and 2015.

12. The league has caught up to Pete Alonso. In May, Alonso is hitting just .191/.255/.383 while striking out 29.4 percent of the time. You wonder how long this goes on for before either Alonso adjusts or the Mets are forced to make a decision.

13. Even with Robert Gsellman struggles yesterday, the Mets bullpen has been great in May with the best ERA in the National League.

14. Too much is being made of Gsellman not pitching over eight days. This is a guy the Mets intend on leaning on heavily to pitch multiple innings, and anywhere you can get him a bit of extended rest you do it. It should also be noted between off days and the rain outs, the Mets haven’t played much over the past eight days.

15. So far, Tyler Bashlor has really stepped up and taken advantage of the opportunity given to him. With the way he is pitching, he may be an important piece to this bullpen.

16. Noah Syndergaard is finally looking like Syndergaard again with two of his last three outings being completely dominant.

17. Zack Wheeler‘s own run was broken up with a very disappointing effort against the Nationals. In that spot against that team, Wheeler needed to be better.

18. While we should expect more from Wheeler in that spot, it’s hard to get on Mets pitchers as a whole, as they are the reason the Mets are even close to .500. It’s also important to remember Wheeler is a second half pitcher, and as Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team. The trick there is being close enough in the standings to take advantage of that.

19. Mickey Callaway‘s statement on catcher winning percentage was laughable, but then again what does he have to sell you to say Wilson Ramos has been good this year?

20. There are valid criticisms of Callaway like his dry humping Diaz and using Seth Lugo the day before Font was set to start. However, make no mistake, he’s only on the hot seat because none of Van Wagenen’s moves have worked. Ultimately, that makes Callaway the fall guy for a novice General Manager who has looked to be in over his head.

Mets Chances Behind Font Go To Helvetica

Tonight, Gio Gonzalez had his fourth consecutive good start. He’s now 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Of course, because Brodie Van Wagenen felt the need to keep his former client Jason Vargas and his 5.92 ERA and his 3.2 innings per start in the rotation, despite knowing Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, Gonzalez is pitching well for the Milwaukee Brewers and not the New York Mets.

Instead, Van Wagenen made a panic trade for Wilmer Font, a 29 year old reliever with a 6.39 career ERA, to slot into the rotation. Perhaps, Van Wagenen is the only man alive who is surprised Font pitched like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.39 ERA thrust into a starting role.

It was 1-0 off an Anthony Rendon ground rule double before Font recorded an out. The lead grew to 3-0 on a Juan Soto RBI groundout and Howie Kendrick RBI single. If Brian Dozier could still hit and Kendrick didn’t get caught stealing, things could have been much worse.

Actually, things did get worse. After a scoreless second, the Nationals tacked on two more in third off a Victor Robles solo shot and another Rendon RBI double.

With Patrick Corbin dealing, it was game over. The hanging slider J.D. Davis hit for a two out RBI double in the third was about his only mistake on the night. He’d last eight innings allowing just the one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 11.

The real shame for the Mets is Drew Gagnon pitched well in relief of Font. He’d allow no runs on three hits over 2.2 innings. Certainly, seeing Gagnon pitch, you have to question why the Mets traded for Font (or if Van Wagenen knows what he’s doing). Add in two scoreless from Tyler Bashlor, and the Mets bullpen did what Font couldn’t – pitch well.

About the only real positive from the night was Jeurys Familia pitching a 1-2-3 inning in his first game since coming off the IL. It may seem like a stretch, but when the Mets lose to a bad Nationals team because of an inept set of decisions by a novice GM, you take what you can get from this once again under .500 team.

Game Notes: Davis made his LF debut with the Mets in the eighth. He did not have a ball hit to him. The Mets remain disinterested in trying Dominic Smith in left field.

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.

Paddack Dominates Alonso And Rest Of Mets Lineup

Chris Paddack came into this start upset he lost out on Rookie of the Month honors to Pete Alonso. He was not just vocal about his displeasure, but he also threw down the gauntlet without being disrespectful of Alonso. That said, Paddack felt he had something to prove, and he set out to do it.

Just based on tonight, he made his case. He overpowered Alonso in Alonso’s first at-bat. Overall, Alonso was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a pop out against Paddack. To be fair to Alonso, he wasn’t the only Met to struggle against Paddack.

Paddack struck out 11 Mets and allowed just four hits over 7.2 innings. He was as dominant as you get, and he wasn’t really challenged all night. Seeing how feckless the Mets offense was, you could tell this was a Jacob deGrom start.

With there being no rain delay (although there was the rare threat of rain in San Diego), deGrom was great. Really, the only Padres batter who could touch him was Hunter Renfroe, who followed hitting a walk off grand slam against Kenley Jansen last night by going 2-for-3 with a double and homer off deGrom.

With the way the Mets offense has been of late, Renfroe’s fifth inning homer was effectively the game clinching run. His seventh inning double set up a Ty France sacrifice fly giving the Padres a 2-0 lead.

From there, Justin Wilson made his first appearance since being activated off the IL, and he would allow two runs in the eighth, all with two outs. At 4-0, there was zero chance of a Mets comeback win.

In total, the Mets were challenged today by Paddack, and they shrunk from the challenge. Maybe it was the travel. More likely, this is now a bad hitting club whose approach under Chili Davis is really not working right now. After all, that’s seven runs over six games.

Game Notes: Before the game, the Mets obtained Wilmer Font for a PTBNL/cash from the Rays. Jason Vargas was sent to the IL, and Tim Peterson was sent to Syracuse.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Split Series With Reds

The New York Mets finished a 10 game home-stand going 5-5. Part of the reason was because while their pitching started to pick up, their offense has cratered. Still, as they depart for a very difficult road trip which will take them to Milwaukee and San Diego, they are a team over .500:

  1. Noah Syndergaard did what you are supposed to do against bad offenses. You are supposed to completely dominant them, and he did with a magnificent performance striking out 10 in a complete game shut out.
  2. Syndergaard became just the third Mets starter (Pete FalconeJohan Santana) to homer in a complete game shut out. He is the only Mets pitcher to provide the only run of support in a shutout.
  3. We can debate whether the right retaliation is to throw at a batter or not. However, there is nothing better than seeing Syndergaard strike out Jesse Winker three times in a game and having Winker lose his cool to the point where he is thrown out of the game.
  4. With the fans waiving to Winker and their booing Pete O’Brien, it’s clear the Mets fans are desperately searching for and need a real villian now that Chase Utley has retired.
  5. This was certainly the series for Mets pitchers to get healthy. Jacob deGrom looked like Jacob deGrom again, and even Jason Vargas would finally pitch more than five innings in a start.
  6. While a pitcher’s success isn’t really tied to any one catcher, it may behoove the Mets to let deGrom get into some sort of a rhythm with Tomas Nido. So far this year, deGrom has had six starts, and he has had the same catcher catch him in back-to-back starts just once this year.
  7. Mickey Callaway is oft criticized for his decision making, but he was unfairly in this series. He had little choice but to trust Jeurys Familia for six outs, and he went with Edwin Diaz over Seth Lugo in the ninth because Diaz is supposedly the best reliever in baseball. When you put guys in position, and they fail, sometimes it is on the players and not the manager.
  8. For a moment, it really looked like Familia was back, and then all of a sudden he falls apart and heads to the Injured List.
  9. You can read too much into it, or not, but it is surprising in his career opposing batters hit .333/.403/.608 off Diaz in tie games. It’s too soon to overreact to it, but it is noteworthy.
  10. Speaking of too soon to overreact, Pete Alonso is struggling. Alonso has homered once in his last 39 at-bats, and he has had one homer against a RHP over his last 11 games. While he snapped an 0-11 with a 3-5 game, he is been 3-18 since.
  11. Speaking of cooling off, Dominic Smith is now 0 for his last 7, and 2 for his last 12.
  12. While we’re on the topic of Smith and Alonso, it is great to see Smith lifted for Alonso and his cheering on and applauding Alonso as he walked. It’s a shame they play the same position because these are two likeable guys who are good ballplayers.
  13. Amed Rosario is heating up at just the right time. He just had a five game hitting streak and is in the middle of a seven game errorless streak. This comes right as Jed Lowrie is playing shortstop in rehab games.
  14. It is going to be interesting to see what the Mets do when Lowrie returns. We’ve seen Brodie Van Wagenen have selective memory when it comes to his best 25 man mantra, and as noted Keon Broxton has been really bad. It will be interesting to see if he’s saved because Van Wagenen obtained him or if he befalls the Travis d’Arnaud treatment.
  15. Wilson Ramos has been bad. He has no power, which is partially the result of his having MLB and career worst ground ball rates. He has also been a poor pitch framer and has yielded the most passed balls in the majors.
  16. Drew Gagnon is showing the Mets something out of the bullpen. He saved them when Steven Matz couldn’t get an out, and his 1.1 scoreless allowed the Mets to walk it off. He has earned his shot in the bullpen.
  17. With Daniel Zamora coming into a game to face Joey Votto, and the Mets calling up Ryan O’Rourke, it’s getting fairly clear Luis Avilan‘s time as a Met is going to end fairly soon.
  18. It’s fair to say Avilan hasn’t been used properly, but when your manager has no faith in you, and you haven’t pitched in seven games, you really have no place in the bullpen.
  19. Every time there is a blow up with a Mets starter or with the bullpen, we hear how the Mets are keeping tabs on Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. It’s nothing more than a ruse, and I wish reporters would stop giving it the time of day.
  20. This upcoming road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego is tough travel, and it is the kind of road trip which has the potential to make or break a season.

Not How You Draw It Up, But Mets Win

This was quite a night for the Mets who have frustrated the fan base with poor play and not meeting expectations. That started with the night’s starter Jason Vargas.

Against a Reds team with the fifth worst team wRC+, Vargas had his best and longest outing of the year. With the help of some good defense, balls dying on the track, and some rope-a-dope, he would allow just one earned on three hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

Mickey Callaway trusted Vargas to go out for the sixth. After getting one out, Eugenio Suarez finally got to Vargas with a home run. With Vargas at 86 pitches, he was lifted for Robert Gsellman. The shame was Vargas did pitch well enough to win, but he wouldn’t get it because he left the game with the score tied 1-1.

On the other side, the Reds had Luis Castillo on the mound. No, not the Luis Castillo of dropped ball infamy. No, this Castillo has been great all year for the Reds entering the game with a league leading 1.23 ERA.

Even with him having a dominant outing tonight, the Mets would get to him partially because Amed Rosario proved to be his kryptonite. The struggling Rosario had a great game going 2-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.

In the third, Rosario started a rally with a leadoff single. Juan Lagares hit into a fielder’s choice, and Lagares would be sacrificed to second by Vargas. He was then on third when Castillo unleashed a wild pitch. This put him in a position to score when McNeil laid down a great bunt:

What was interesting is McNeil seemed intent on bunting his way on there. In fact, two pitches prior to the hit, he fouled off a bunt attempt. McNeil pulled a Roberto Alomar and dove to first JUST beating Castillo to the bag.

The score would stay tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the seventh. That’s when Todd Frazier jumped all over the first pitch of the inning:

With Edwin Diaz having pitched three days in a row, this meant it was Jeurys Familia for six outs to get the save. Fortunately, he’d get some help.

In the eighth, Joey Votto would have a TOOBLAN leading to Lagares turning an easy double play. That kept Familia to just seven pitches putting him in a good spot to go two innings.

In the bottom of the inning, the Mets would also get him an insurance run. McNeil, who was great tonight (4-for-5, R, 2B, RBI) got the rally started with a double against Robert Stephenson.

After a couple of strikeouts, McNeil was in a position to be stranded at second. With Michael Confortos struggled against Castillo all night (3 K), even the LOOGY Amir Garrett must’ve been a welcome site. It sure seemed that way when he delivered an RBI single to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.

Familia then started the ninth with two strikeouts giving the Mets some hope this would end without a hitch.

Of course, Familia would walk Jesse Winker and allow a hit to Jose Iglesias to make things too close to comfort. Callaway stuck by Familia in the spot. It seemed like the wrong move when Kyle Farmer hit a soft RBI single over Pete Alonso‘s head to pull the Reds to within 3-2. Worse yet, the tying run was at third.

Callaway would go too far with Familia. Jose Peraza hit the game tying single. Then again, it seemed like his only other choice was Drew Gagnon, and that’s not exactly a safe choice. Gagnon would find himself in the inning anyway.

With Votto due up, Daniel Zamora came in, and he made matters worse by walking Votto to load the bases. Gagnon would get the job done striking out Suarez to keep the game tied. He’d get into trouble in the 10th, but he’d get out of that jam too.

J.D. Davis had a very good at-bat to start the 10th, and he’d double off a hanging slider from Raisel Iglesias. After a McNeil single, Alonso got his first walk-off RBI with a sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 4-3 win.

This was never how you would draw it up, but you gladly take this one. Certainly, this game was a testament that it takes everyone contributing to win. Hopefully, this won’t be the last time this year we say that.

Game Notes: With Vargas’ ERA now down to 5.75, his ERA is now lower than Noah Syndergaard‘s.

Van Wagenen’s Handling Of d’Aranud, Vargas Is Wrong

There is no escaping the fact Jason Vargas is not a Major League caliber staring pitcher anymore. Since the 2017 All Star Break, he has a 6.14 ERA, and opposing batters are hitting .286/.356/.511. This year, he is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA, 1.933 WHIP, and a 5.4 BB/9 while averaging 3.1 innings per start.

The only time Vargas was able to go five innings was against the Marlins in pitcher friendly Marlins Park. It should be noted as a team the Marlins have a 69 wRC+ making them one of the worst offenses in all of baseball. Even with a start against the Marlins, opposing batters are hitting .313/.405/.563 off of Vargas.

Vargas is hurting the Mets chances of winning the games he starts, and he is hurting the team’s chances of winning subsequent games because his starts are taxing the bullpen. Fortunately for the Mets, there was a rare April solution.

Gio Gonzalez, who has pitched well in his career at Citi Field, was available. At this point in his career, Gonzalez is not much more than a five inning pitcher. However, when he is used properly, we have seen he can still be a solid piece of a starting rotation. Gonzalez being available was nothing short of a godsend.

However, the Mets didn’t see it as such. For some reason, the Mets remain resolute keeping Vargas in the rotation. It should be noted here Vargas’ former agent is current Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. It is certainly fair to ask why that matters. We see why it matters with the Mets handling of Travis d’Arnaud.

On Saturday, d’Arnaud had just about the worst game we have ever seen from a Mets catcher. That game put him in the Mackey Sasser/Choo-Choo Coleman category. It was that painful to watch. Even when he did something right like finally getting a hit, he blew it by getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double.

In 10 games, d’Arnaud was hitting just .087/.160/.087. Through it all, d’Arnaud’s main calling card has been his pitch framing. Not this year. So far, he has a -0.2 FRAA. When d’Arnaud can’t frame, and he can’t hit, you could understand the Mets wanting to designate him for assignment even if he was needlessly rushed back from injury, and he wasn’t given nearly sufficient time to establish himself.

Overall, the Mets decision to promote Tomas Nido and designate d’Arnaud was a sound decision. The Mets have gone into the season preaching they were going to carry their 25 best players, and they were going to do what it takes to win now.

It’s just odd to see how this philosophy applies to a backup catcher and not a fifth starter. It’s odd how this applies to a player who plays just once a week as opposed to a pitcher who is supposed to pitch every fifth day. It’s odd when you consider Vargas’ starts have much more of a negative and lasting impact on the pitching staff than d’Arnaud has.

When you look at everything, you realize d’Arnaud was a scapegoat for a team which has fallen to .500. More than that, you see a General Manager imposing different standards as to what is acceptable for his former clients than for players who have had different representation.

In the end, you can more than justify designating d’Arnaud for assignment. However, there is no way you can possibly justify how Vargas is getting preferential treatment.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Can’t Handle Milwaukee’s Brew

For the second time this year, the Mets faced an NL Central team who could be a Wild Card contender, and the Mets lost 2/3. Certainly, in this series, the Mets roster moves and decisions didn’t help matters:

1. It was raining, Corey Oswalt was fully rested and called up for the game. Jacob deGrom was coming off the Injured List. Naturally, the Mets opted to have deGrom wait around for nearly three hours in the rain.

2. While deGrom has had his struggles this year, it should be noted they all coincide with rain delays.

3. It’s getting harder to defend Oswalt even if he’s rarely given situations conducive to proving his ability.

4. Noah Syndergaard has peripherals in line with his best years. That, when you have three consecutive five inning starts where you allow five plus runs, it’s hard to notice.

5. Syndergaard’s comments about the baseballs being like ice confirm everyone’s suspicions about a juiced ball. With the ball, Thor has said he’s losing confidence in his secondary offerings.

6. Certainly, a different ball could explain the Mets starters struggles. If these is indeed a new ball, we should still have confidence this very good staff figures it out eventually.

7. Travis d’Arnaud had about as bad a game as you’ve ever seen from a Mets catcher. A Mackey Sasser or Choo-Choo Coleman comp was certainly warranted.

8. Seeing d’Arnaud out there was more evidence the Mets needlessly rushed him back.

9. Based on his struggles, you can certainly understand the Mets designating him for assignment, especially with Tomas Nido playing well in Syracuse.

10. Make no mistake, this was a clear double standard. In the end, d’Arnaud, a backup catcher, was held to a higher standard than Jason Vargas, the fifth starter.

11. Vargas can’t go five innings, and yet the Mets won’t so much as have him lose his rotation spot, so they can sign Gio Gonzalez, who showed on Sunday, he was a clear upgrade. Guess there are different rules for Brodie Van Wagenen’s former clients.

12. Brandon Nimmo once again showed why he and not Jeff McNeil needs to be leading off.

13. After starting the year hitting .424, McNeil is hitting .235 over his last nine games. Hopefully, teams aren’t figuring him out.

14. Pete Alonso rebounded nicely from an 0-for-11 stretch going 3-for-5 in Saturday with a homer.

15. One benefit of bunching the lefties a bit with Alonso in the middle is a manager being almost forced to have a LOOGY pitch to Alonso. We saw Alonso crush a homer off Alex Claudio as a result.

16. Steven Matz was once again very good, and for a pitcher whose mental makeup is always maligned, it’s interesting to see how he follows bad starts with a string of very good ones (when healthy).

17. With Mike Moustakas homering off Matz, I’m well beyond being done with the 2015 Royals.

18. With Robinson Cano being hit on the hand again, and really all the Mets batters being hit on the hand, maybe it’s time Chili Davis figures out a way to get it to stop. Either that or Mets pitchers find non-bush league ways to retaliate.

19. With Amed Rosario struggling offensively and defensively, it’s very interesting to see Jed Lowrie get a rehab start at SS. Who knows? Maybe if Todd Frazier continues playing well defensively and delivering in RBI spots, Rosario’s roster spot could become tenuous.

20. There are reasons to criticize the Mets bullpen, but they do know how to hold a lead. The Mets hand won every game they had a lead in the sixth. One reason why is Edwin Diaz being phenomenal. He’s a perfect 8-for-8 in save chances with a 0.84 ERA and a 16.9 K/9.