Javier Baez

Luis Rojas A Convenient Fall Guy For Mets

It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.

In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.

That season didn’t go as hoped. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John and Marcus Stroman opting out probably ended that season before it began.

Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.

Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.

The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.

Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.

Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.

This was the year where ReplaceMets were a thing. Patrick Mazeika and Brandon Drury were getting plate appearances in big spots (because there was no other options), and they were delivering.

Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.

Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.

The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.

Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.

We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.

There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Báez-Lindor thumbs down drama.

At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.

Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.

What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.

Instead, he’s out as manager.

With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.

Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.

The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.

Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.

Carlos Correa Better Option For Mets Than Kris Bryant

This offseason, the New York Mets have a number of holes to fill in free agency. Chief among them is third base as the Mets have not had a third baseman since 2014 when David Wright was yet to be diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Since then, the Mets have better filling around the edges and singing players like Todd Frazier, who struggled to stay on the field.

Looking at the free agent landscape, it appears the two best options are going to be Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant. While Correa is a shortstop, he has indicated his willingness to change positions like Alex Rodriguez once did. With that being the case, Correa instantly becomes the top third base option available.

Correa just turned 27, and he is on pace to have his best ever season as a Major Leaguer. Currently, he has a 6.9 WAR, and he should meet or surpass the 7.0 he had in 2016. Notably, with Correa having three seasons of 6.7 WAR or  better, we are talking about a future Hall of Famer.

The reason is Correa does not have a real hole in his game. This year, he has a 135 wRC+. This will mark the fourth time in his seven year career he has had a 135 wRC+ or better. Putting aside the 60 game 2020, he has always been above league average at the plate, and only one time has he registered a wRC+ below 123.

In the field, Correa is a great defensive shortstop. After his struggles in his rookie season, Correa has a a 47 OAA and a 62 DRS at shortstop. That puts him at a Gold Glove level at the position.

All told, Correa is a Silver Slugger level hitter at the plate and a Gold Glover in the field. He could be a right-handed balance to the Mets heavy left-handed hitting lineup, solve the eternal third base woes, and add yet another MVP caliber player to the roster.

Despite all of that, many are hand wringing over the likelihood Correa would have a qualifying offer attached thereby putting the Mets in a position to forfeit a first round pick. In the alternative, they suggest Kris Bryant.

Unlike Correa, Bryant has actually won an MVP award, and like Bryant, he has a World Series ring. While the Mets would be better for adding Bryant, he is not the same caliber of player as Correa, and he probably doesn’t solve the Mets third base question.

After being traded to the San Francisco Giants, Bryant has split time between third base and the outfield. That is much akin to what he did in Chicago. Part of the reason is Bryant is a versatile player which is a bonus. However, it is also the result of his not being a very good third baseman.

Since 2017, Bryant has not posted a positive OAA at third accumulating a -9 OAA. Over that time, he also has a -2 DRS. In the outfield, he has posted better numbers in left field with a 2 OAA and a 6 DRS. Looking at the numbers and the trajectory, you could argue Bryant is really a LF at this point in his career.

Now, you could try him at third for a while, especially if your confident in your shifting, but Bryant doesn’t quite have the bat he used to have which allowed him to offset his poor defense. Keep in mind, he is still a terrific hitter, just now the 144 wRC+ he was over the first three years of his career. In fact, since 2018, Bryant has been a 126 wRC+ hitter.

That is largely why we have seen Bryant fall from being an MVP caliber player to being “merely” an All-Star caliber player. After posting an 18.3 WAR over his first three seasons, Bryant has posted a 10.5 WAR over his next four seasons (with the 2020 season caveat). While Bryant has had strong seasons, and he has a 3.3 WAR so far this year, he’s just not the caliber of player Correa has.

We should note that disparity is likely only going to grow. Next year, Correa will be 27, and Bryant will be 30. Bryant is nearing the end of his prime as Correa is just entering it. As a result, you are likely going to get far better production from Correa over the course of their respective contracts. Indeed, Correa is better now and will very likely remain better.

If you’re a Mets team with not much help on the way from the minors and the impending free agency of players like Carlos Carrasco, Jacob deGrom (player option), Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Taijuan Walker coupled with Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith being arbitration eligible, you are a franchise very much set on expanding this window. That goes double with Javier Baez, Michael Conforto, Aaron Loup, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard as free agents this offseason.

This is a Mets team which needs to focus on winning in 2022 or tearing it down to rebuild. If you are really focused on winning now, Correa is the far better option than Bryant regardless of the qualifying offer being attached. The Mets should not be overthinking it. Go get the far better player and make this Mets roster the best it can possibly be.

Steve Cohen’s Twitter Should Help With Front Office Hires

The attack du jour of New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is his Twitter account will harm his ability to hire a quality president of baseball operations. It’s what the unnamed source told Mike Puma in his New York Post article, and it’s been a continued talking point.

The problem with the premise is it runs contrary to facts. While Cohen has occasionally scrutinized his players, his tweets have actually been supportive of the front office. A recent example is his tweet about the Javier Báez acquisition:

There was also his defense of the failure to sign Kumar Rocker. He’s also put the blame squarely on the players for the disappointing results. Essentially, he said the right players are here, but their results aren’t.

You’ll see tweaking of the fans and questioning of the players. What you won’t see is attacks of Sandy Alderson and the members of his front office. That was when the case with the firings after the organization or Zack Scott’s recent DUI.

With the way you see how Cohen operates his Twitter account, you may see a limiting of the unnamed source taking shots at the team. As we saw with the recent drama, these individuals with an axe to grind may think twice before attempting to anonymously attack Cohen and his front office.

If you’re a big time target like a Billy Beane or a David Stearns, why would Cohen’s Twitter account scare you? At least publicly, he’s not going to make your life any more difficult.

Cohen doesn’t criticize his front office on Twitter. Certainly, people have noticed this. Manager and players? Different story, but at least on the player front, as we saw with Francisco Lindor, Cohen is going to make a personal connection with the player and open the checkbook.

Therein lies the heart of the matter. Under Cohen, the Mets promise to present deeper pockets and more opportunities to create a team of your own vision than anywhere else.

Taking a look specifically at Beane, he was a subject of a critically acclaimed book and movie. He was lambasted for sharing secrets. He shrug that all off and moved on with his life. Do we really think a potential tweet is going to stop him from taking the job?

Of course not. The whole notion is preposterous. And that’s before you consider there’s no negative tweets from Cohen scoot the front office all year.

Overall, Cohen is going to get the man he wants for the job. Then, he’s going to tweet about it to the joy of everyone.

Cardinals Show Mets Just Aren’t Good Enough

In theory, this 11-4 loss was much closer than it seemed. For many parts of the game, the New York Mets were this close to getting back in the game and catching the St. Louis Cardinals.

Case-in-point, in the seventh inning, it’s 8-4 with runners on first and second with no outs and the heart of the order due up. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt makes a double switch.

T.J. McFarland replaced Andrew Miller, and Lars Nootbar enters as a defensive replacement in right field. McFarland retired Francisco Lindor and Javier Báez before Nootbar took care of Pete Alonso.

Instead of 8-7, it was still 8-4. After that home run robbing catch, the Cardinals then roughed up Heath Hembree to the tune of three runs in the eighth.

At that point, it was 11-4 meaning the game was effectively over. In turn, that meant the season was effectively over. Now, the question is whether the Mets will finish over .500 and what they’re going to do in the offseason.

Honestly, they need to do a lot. This Cardinals sweep showed that. The same is true with the Mets going a combined 2-11 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.

Many of those games were close, but so what? In the end, the Mets because they’re not as good as those teams. They’re simply not. Hembree pitching in that spot further proved that.

For now, the Mets can play what if all they want. Certainly, there were positives. That said, the NL teams making the postseason showed the Mets just how far away from contention they really are.

It’s frustrating and sad. That goes double with how the first four months of the season went. It’s now time to build on the right core and figure out the next step.

Mets Brutal Loss To Cardinals On Front Office

There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.

Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.

Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.

This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.

However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.

As a result, the Mets had Heath Hembree and Jake Reed pitching in extra innings. They had Albert Almora batting with two outs in the 11th with the game on the line. That’s how you lose 7-6.

The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.

Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.

Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.

Francisco Lindor TKOs Yankees

In a series where the New York Mets and Yankees were fighting not just for bragging rights but to stay afloat in their postseason races, this was an important rubber game. Short of Roger Clemens committing assault against Mike Piazza, this turned into the most emotionally charged Subway Series game.

In the season and series finale, it was Francisco Lindor who would knock out the Yankees. First, he hit a three run homer in the second inning to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Entering the sixth, that 4-2 lead was a narrower 5-4 lead. Lindor would hit a solo shot to increase the Mets lead to 6-4. As he rounded the bases, he made a whistling motion to let the Yankees know he was angry with their whistling during not just Taijuan Walker‘s previous start to let the batters know what was coming, but we would also hear it during the game.

That Mets lead would evaporate when Giancarlo Stanton hit a two run homer off of Brad Hand in the seventh to tie the game at 6-6. Notably, when Stanton would pass short, he would make it a point to trash talk Stanton leading to the benches clearing. Also noteworthy is while the benches were clearing, Stanton went to the dugout to take off his batting helmet and gloves before coming back out of the dugout to stand in the back.

While Stanton would shrink from the trash talk, Lindor would stand tall. The Mets superstar shortstop came up in the bottom of the eighth, and he would join Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda as the only Mets hitters to have a three home run game at home. Lindor would be the only switch hitter.

As if this wasn’t sweet enough, Stanton would come up in the top of the ninth with runners on second and third and two outs. He was facing Edwin Diaz who has struggled mightily in September, and he appeared on the verge of another blown save. Instead, Stanton popped out to none other than Lindor to end the game. As he and the Yankees left the field, both Lindor and Javier Baez waved them off of the field.

People are calling this Lindor’s signature game with the Mets. That’s probably too soon to call. There are going to be 10 more years of Lindor after this season. With that is going to come All-Star appearances and hopefully multiple World Series titles. Chances are we haven’t yet seen Lindor’s signature game. Instead, we have probably seen Lindor’s first real great game in a Mets uniform.

That is more than good enough for now, and those three homers were more than enough to TKO the Yankees. As for the Mets, it’s kept them alive for at least another day. Maybe, just maybe, with Lindor playing at this incredible level, there may just be a miracle run.

 

Luis Rojas Far From Reason Mets Blew Game

After Taijuan Walker struggled allowing five runs in the second, he’d actually settle in and give the Mets six innings giving them a chance to win the game. You won’t hear Luis Rojas get credit for sticking by Walker because he’s just become a punching bag.

Keeping in Walker, who’d actually have an RBI single, helped the Mets get into a position to win the game. After a surprise James McCann two run homer, the Mets would take a lead heading into the seventh.

Seth Lugo shut the New York Yankees down in the seventh with just seven pitches. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning carrying a 7-5 lead into the eighth.

The Mets would blow it, and for some reason, fans want to say it’s all Rojas’ fault.

It didn’t matter to them Lugo has not been good in a second inning of work this year. The hard hit balls off of him also didn’t matter. He needed to stay in the game.

Or was it that Aaron Loup should’ve come in to face Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton who ate better against left-handed pitching?

It didn’t matter Trevor May has been great lately allowing just one run in his last 10 appearances. Apparently, Judge, one of the best players in all of baseball, only could’ve hit a homer off May in that spot to tie the game. (Never mind the second inning homer).

May left the inning with the game tied with two on and two out. Loup did come in to face Luke Voit. Voit hit a fielder’s choice, but that wasn’t good enough for Javier Báez.

It’s odd Rojas would order Báez to throw the ball away allowing the go-ahead run to score. That’s doubly irresponsible after Rojas apparently told May to surrender a homer to Judge.

The Mets would have their chances to reclaim the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, there were two on and two out. Pete Alonso gave one a ride which fell near the warning track for the final out of the inning.

The final backbreaker was in the ninth. With a runner on second and one out, Kevin Pillar struck out. That’s where Rojas struck again.

The pitch went to the backstop. Instead of breaking immediately Pillar hesitated. That hesitation, clearly ordered by Rojas, cost Pillar the chance to reach first safety.

You can’t help but wonder if McCann’s fly ball to end the game could’ve scored by tying run. We’ll ever know.

What we do know is one of the Mets better relievers, who has pitched extraordinarily well lately, chose a bad time to have a bad outing. Baez threw a ball away. Pillar didn’t immediately break for first.

Like it or not, this one was simply on the players for not executing. It happens. Unfortunately, it just means the Mets are a day closer to the end of the season and possibly a day closer to Rojas being the fall guy.

Game Notes: The Mets wore special alternates with no pinstripes and New York in the Tiffany font. They once again wore the First Responder caps.

Tylor Megill And Offense Completely Derail Yankees

Things did not start well for Tylor Megill. He allowed a run in each of the first two innings including a Joey Gallo homer.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t more of the same of what we’ve seen from the New York Mets. Rather, it was the start of the Mets completely derailing of the New York Yankees in the start of the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series.

Megill had his best start as a Major Leaguer pitching a career high seven innings while recording a career high 10 strikeouts. He’d pick up his third career win as the Mets dominated.

The first indication of what we were about to see happened in the first inning. Gary Disarcina had an all-time bad send (his speciality), and yet Jonathan Villar was safe due to what can only be classified as the worst tag attempt in Major League history.

Right there, Gary Sanchez set the tone. The rest of the Yankees team would take it home.

The Mets blew it open in the third when Jordan Montgomery loaded the bases with no outs. The first run plated when Pete Alonso drew a walk.

Javier Báez hit a ball to Gio Urshela. Urshela made a poor throw home thereby keeping the bases loaded and allowing the run to score. Jeff McNeil followed with a perfect drag bunt to increase the score to 4-2.

A Kevin Pillar sacrifice fly and James McCann RBI double later, and the Mets had a five run inning. They were far from done. The lead was expanded to 7-2 when Francisco Lindor hit an opposite field one out homer.

Later in the inning, Báez doubled home Michael Conforto from first. The rally ended there with Báez being nailed at third. It was just about the only thing the Yankees did right all night.

As Keith Hernandez put it, the Yankees were “Pepe Le Peu.” They had two errors and a number of misplays. They looked every bit the team who has now lost seven straight.

As for the Mets, this 10-3 win was a glimpse at what could’ve been. With the exception of Alonso, their top six hitters reached safely at least twice.

Overall, this looked like a real postseason team. The shame of it is they likely won’t get there. Instead, we see them in the black jerseys and dream.

Game Notes: McCann hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play in the seventh. Instead, Gleyber Torres threw it away allowing two runs to score. Yennsy Diaz surrendered a solo homer to Anthony Rizzo in the ninth.

Bad Mets Team Loses To Marlins

The New York Mets were up 2-0 due to the genius of Javier Báez and Marcus Stroman. It was really just the two of them.

Báez created a run with his hustle and base running in the first, and then he homered in the third. He really accounted for all of the Mets runs.

Through the first five, Stroman allowed just one hit. In the sixth, he got himself into trouble putting the first two on base, but he limited the damage to one run.

Through six-and-a-half innings, the Mets led 2-1. Luis Rojas stuck with his big game pitcher in the seventh. Sadly, the team failed the pitcher and manager (again).

After a Sandy Leon one out infield single, Rojas went to Brad Hand. You could argue it should’ve been someone else, but this bullpen is getting increasingly spent.

Hand looked like the pitcher the Toronto Blue Jays released as he struggled to find the zone. Still, he limited the Marlins to just infield singles.

The bigger problem was Hand threw a ball he had no business throwing. He tried to get the speedy Lewis Brinson. Instead of eating it and leaving the bases loaded, his throwing error allowed Isan Diaz to score.

Of course, the Mets would find a way to compound that frustrating inning. After Pete Alonso tripled to lead-off the eighth, he would be left stranded there.

Báez and J.D. Davis grounded out to the drawn-in infield. After Michael Conforto was intentionally walked, Jeff McNeil grounded out to end the inning.

Parenthetically, there was criticisms of Rojas not allowing Davis to face Anthony Bender in last night’s loss. Rojas’ assessment that Bender”s velocity and slider was a bad match-up for Davis proved correct.

In the bottom of the inning, Jazz Chisholm went upper deck against Jeurys Familia to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead. After the Mets went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, that was the final score.

Long story short, this was just the latest in inexcusable losses, and if not for the other competition faltering, it would’ve proved to be a death knell for the Mets. Whatever the case, this is a highly flawed team who is going nowhere.

Luis Rojas Facing Increased Scrutiny Because Edwin Diaz Choked Again

There are many reasons the New York Mets blew this game to the Miami Marlins and lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Sandy Alcantara was brilliant, and the offense came up short again.

The Mets blew it in the 10th inning. There was probably a botched call from the umpires and replay. That meant instead of Jesus Sanchez‘s error leading to runners at the corners, it was just prolonging the at-bat.

Javier Báez would strike out. Jeff McNeil had some bad luck hitting one off the pitcher for what turned out to be a ground out. Luis Rojas then went running to his bench.

First, it was Luis Guillorme for Kevin Pillar. Guillorme walked. Then, in a somewhat incredulous decision, he pinch hit Patrick Mazeika for James McCann. Mazeika meekly grounded out to end the inning.

With the Mets other high end relievers having been used, Rojas was essentially forced to bring in Edwin Diaz. What was over concern should now be alarm.

After blowing consecutive saves to the Washington Nationals, Diaz was entrusted with getting this tied game to the 11th inning. He’d fail miserably.

The first batter, Magneuris Sierra, laid down a good bunt. Diaz got there and nearly threw it away. Really, it took a great play from Báez to not only get the out, but to also stop Diaz from throwing it away to end the game.

Diaz did rebound to strike out an overmatched Sanchez. Then, Bryan De La Cruz came to the plate. Make no mistake, there’s just no way Diaz should’ve been pitching to De La Cruz.

After the game, Rojas cited a number of reasons why. Those included the R/R matchup as well as Diaz’s control issues. No matter what, the real issue was Diaz.

Despite ordering the intentional walk being the right call, Diaz would pitch to De La Cruz. Instead of being careful, Diaz would throw a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate which De La Cruz launched to dead center to end the game leading to Diaz with the Hansel Robles signature finger point:

Again, blame the offense all you want for the 2-1 loss. Blame Rojas for some weird pinch hitting decisions and for pitching to De La Cruz. Those are all valid critiques.

However, at the end of the day, the Mets have a closer who can’t seem to pitch in September in a pennant race. He had a 7.36 ERA in September 2019. He’s allowed five runs in 3.0 innings taking a loss and going 1/3 in save chances.

Closers like Diaz, or at least what many pretend Diaz to be, are supposed to hide some of the deficiencies by ensuring the close games go in your favor. That just doesn’t happen with Diaz in the huge spots.

For the third straight outing, that was the case. You just wonder how many more outings like this he has before the Mets are completely out of contention.