The New York Mets obtained Javier Baez to be a difference maker as the team tries to hold on and win the division. In the 5-3 win against the Miami Marlins he was just that.
Gonna watch this Javy slide on repeat the rest of the night ✨ pic.twitter.com/fZeq8eFB6w
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 4, 2021
The Mets would eventually blow that 3-0 lead, but they’d get the lead back in the eighth when Baez hit the go-ahead homer in what would become a Mets 5-3 win:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 5, 2021
In that game, Baez was much more Cespedes than Bruce. If that continues, the Mets will win this division. After that, if everyone gets heathy, who knows?
After a terrible start to the season, longtime Major Leaguer Jay Bruce has announced his retirement from baseball. In his 14 years, Bruce was a three time All-Star and a two time Silver Slugger. More than that, he was one of the most respected players in the game.
We saw that during Bruce’s time with the New York Mets. When Bruce first came to the Mets in a 2016 trade, he struggled mightily. Despite the struggles and adapting to New York as the team was desperately trying to fight their way to a Wild Card spot, Bruce would turn it on late in the season.
Over the final eight games of the season, Bruce was unstoppable hitting .480/.536/1.000. That stretch helped the Mets lock up the top Wild Card spot, and it lead to one of the funnier celebrations we have ever seen.
— First Time Long Time (@MetsFTLT) October 1, 2016
Bruce would return to the Mets in 2017, and he was great. His 121 OPS+ with the Mets that season would have been the third best offensive season of his career. The .841 OPS would have been his second best mark. Put another way, the Mets would get to see the best of Bruce, and it was truly a pleasure to watch.
It wasn’t just the offense or play on the field, it was the leadership. Bruce took young players under his wing and helped them. One player he really helped was Michael Conforto. He not only helped Conforto find his voice, but he helped him learn how to lead. The Mets are still reaping dividends from that to this day.
Unfortunately, the Mets didn’t win that 2016 Wild Card Game, and they fell apart in 2017. That would see many beloved players traded, and that eventually included Bruce. He’d go to Cleveland where he would have a good ALDS against the New York Yankees, but the Indians would lose that series.
Unfortunately, Bruce would never win that elusive World Series. He didn’t get it with the Mets in his first or second stint. He also didn’t get it with the Cincinnati Reds where he was part of a quite impressive young core of players. To this day, Bruce said the favorite moment of his career was his walk-off homer to clinch the Reds division title in 2010:
It’s unfortunate Bruce never did get an opportunity to play for a winner again after that 2016 season. He was a good player and better person you would have liked to see win at least one. He was a player who had a positive impact on many clubhouses and people. Each and every franchise was better for having him with their organization.
Right now, the playing chapter of Bruce’s career is over. It was a very good career, one with two top 10 MVP finishes. Based on how everyone has something positive to say about him and the impact he has had on many people, we should hopefully continue his career in baseball in some other capacity. The sport can use people like him staying in the game.
But for now, this is about Bruce the player. Congratulations to him on the end of his career and nothing but the best to him in the future.
Absurd, right? Well beyond absurd. No one in their right mind would ever do that. Right?
Sadly, it’s true. That’s what Gary Disarcina did. Sorry, Mets INFIELD COACH Gary Disarcina.
Disarcina spoke about how Guillorme has limited range and how he should learn first base to become a more versatile utility player. Yes, it was couched as a positive, but saying your second best defensive infielder has limited range is an unnecessary criticism.
Gold Glove play by Guillorme pic.twitter.com/tdazv3cwaa
— MetsFanMania (@MetsFanMania) March 14, 2021
Luis Guillorme can pitch and make great plays in the field. Versatility >>> pic.twitter.com/uzEQkSyYb2
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2020
Guillorme wasn’t the only player Disarcina critiqued. He also spoke about Davis’ defense. Now, given how he was critical of Guillorme, you could only imagine what he had to say about Davis.
As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Disarcina said, “he’s been ‘pleased’ with Davis’ work [at third] this spring.” He also spoke about analytics helping Davis and that Davis has “definitely improved.”
The article also spoke about wanting to make Davis work at third because they want to keep his bat in the lineup and Guillorme on the bench.
That’s right. The Mets are actively ignoring Guillorme continuing to prove himself as an everyday player to make something work that hasn’t. Remember, Davis has been among the worst defenders in Mets history.
Now, they have Disarcina saying Guillorme has poor range and needs to learn first to become more versatile while saying he’s pleased with Davis’ progress. Maybe we should consider the source.
Disarcina was the bench coach who couldn’t properly run QC leading to Jay Bruce batting out of order. He’s also been completely unable to help Mets infielders defensively.
Remember, Disarcina has been coaching Davis for two years now, and Davis has only regressed. Jeff McNeil was a good third baseman, and he struggled under Disarcina’s tutelage last year.
There’s also Amed Rosario. Rosario was an exceptionally gifted prospect who many thought could win a Gold Glove one day. Instead, while working with Disarcina, Rosario was actually the worst defensive shortstop in baseball and fourth worst defender overall.
This same coach is now going to say Guillorme has limited range while working on his versatility to be a better bench player? He’s going to say he’s finally getting through to Davis?
It’s an embarrassing series of statements devoid of any credibility. It really only highlights how poor of a coach Disarcina has been and just which direction the Mets want to go.
At this point, they’d rather try to go with someone who is among the worst fielders in Mets history over the better player who has earned the job. For some reason, the Mets and Disarcina thought they should prop up one player while taking subtle shots at the better player.
It’s ridiculous and hopefully dishonest.
When manager Luis Rojas was asked to name team leaders, Conforto was the first name he mentioned saying Conforto “stands out.”
When Dominic Smith grappled with decisions like kneeling or even playing this summer, Conforto told him he wish he knew Smith was going to kneel so he could be by him. He was then right by Smith’s side when he spoke out about racial injustice.
When it became clear Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis were not only part of the Houston Astros sign stealing controversy, but also cheated against pitchers on this Mets team, Conforto said three important things: (1) Astros crossed the line; (2) it was going to be addressed; and (3) there was not going to be any animosity.
In the history of the Mets, there has been no more obvious choice for Captain since Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. This is a homegrown Met who is perfect to lead this team as they embark on a new era.
He’s also still a very good player who has had great moments. After he moved past his shoulder injury, he’s had a 135 OPS+. We know he’s capable of more too.
He’s an All-Star caliber player who can hit anywhere in the lineup, and he’s been a good defender. He’s also a team player willing to move to any position to help the team.
Conforto is the Captain in every possible way. Once the Mets give him the contract extension he’s earned, it’s time to formally announce him as the fifth Captain in team history.
There are times when teams make trades they appear bad in hindsight. The classic example of this was the Nolan Ryan trade. Ryan was an enigmatic right-hander the Mets just couldn’t quite figure out, and they were going to get a former All-Star in Jim Fregosi to handle third. At the time, it made sense, but as time passed it looked worse and worse.
Then there is the Robinson Cano trade.
This was a trade deemed flat out dumb at its inception. It wasn’t just that Cano had what many perceived to be an untradeable contract. That was partially because he was already in his mid 30s. Mostly, it was because he was coming off of a PED suspension which should have cast serious doubt over not only his career stats, but also his ability to produce as he aged. Of course, Brodie Van Wagenen was the one person who actually bought the bogus explanation.
Brodie says he's comfortable with Cano and the violation. Said it was a suspension for a diaretic not steroids.
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) December 4, 2018
Despite all the red flags and warnings, Van Wagenen went forward to rescue his former client from Seattle to return him to New York like Cano wanted. In the process, he made what ranks among the worst, if not the worst, trades in all of Mets history. Certainly, it is easily the worst Mets trade this century.
Each and every year which passes, this trade gets worse and worse. To put it in perspective, all we need to do is examine where the pieces of this trade are and will be in 2021:
Gerson Bautista – after dealing with injury issues has signed a minor league deal to return to the Seattle Mariners.
Jay Bruce – Free agent whose $14 million is off the books available for now the Philadelphia Phillies to invest this offseason.
Justin Dunn – projected to be part of the Mariners Opening Day rotation after posting a 104 ERA+ over the past two seasons. Notably, the Mets are looking to build not only a 2021 pitching rotation, but also pitching depth.
Jarred Kelenic – widely seen as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and he may very well make his MLB debut at some point during the 2021 season.
Anthony Swarzak – did not pitch last year after making $8.5 million in 2019.
Edwin Diaz – after a terrible 2019, he rebounded to have a strong 2020 season albeit one with four blown saves in 10 attempts. The question for him in 2021 is whether his good year, bad year pattern continues.
Really, Diaz is it for the Mets return because Cano is not going to play in 2021. There is now a question about whether he actually plays another game again. Certainly, you could argue the Mets would look to buy him out at some point or just flat out release him. Who knows?
The only thing we do know is Cano is out of baseball in 2021. Perhaps, that is a large reason why Van Wagenen and the person who hired him, Jeff Wilpon, will also be out of baseball. In fact, this trio may very well be and probably should be out for good. That will give them all a front row seat to seeing Kelenic and Dunn lead the Mariners organization back to postseason contention.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.
Back in the day, we have talked about how Keith Hernandez was the player the Mets acquired who provided leadership to a young Mets team to help them fulfill their full potential and become World Series champions. To a certain extent, Curtis Granderson did the same thing for the 2015 Mets team.
Granderson made himself a friend to Mets fans everywhere by saying, “I’ve heard true New Yorkers are Mets fans.” He would do far more than that in his career to forever endear himself to Mets fans.
It wasn’t that way immediately as Granderson would struggle much in the same way many Mets players did in their first year with the Mets. There could be a number of reasons why that happened, including but not limited to the original cavernous configuration of Citi Field.
They fixed the ballpark in the offseason, and Granderson was more comfortable as a member of the Mets. That would show in his play on the field and in how much of a leadership role he would take. That leadership was needed in a season where David Wright left a void with his career altering injury.
Speaking of injuries, at times, Granderson seemed like the lone professional bat in the Mets lineup. The team had squandered an early season lead. It was basically Granderson and the starting pitching staff keeping the Mets afloat until the regulars got healthy, and Sandy Alderson brought in reinforcements.
In that 2015 season, Granderson led the Mets position players in WAR, and he was second in wRC+. He was also a finalist for the Gold Glove in right field. Looking at it, he was really doing everything the team needed from him. Not only did his contributions during the time the Mets were struggling to keep their head above water, so were his contributions in the stretch run.
While Yoenis Cespedes did receive much of the credit, Granderson had the second highest WAR and wRC+ on the team during that stretch where the Mets went from a pivotal series against the Nationals to winning the division by seven games.
Granderson was great in the NLDS against the Dodgers when they needed everything this team had to beat them. That included him having a five RBI game in Game 3. In Game 5, he led off the game with an infield single, and he scored from first on a Daniel Murphy double giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead in a game they’d eventually win 3-2.
Granderson had his best performance in the World Series, and in an alternate universe, he likely would’ve been the World Series MVP. That began with Game 1 where, if not for Alex Gordon hitting a two out homer against Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the ninth, he would’ve had a key home run which tied the game propelling the Mets to victory.
In that series, he would hit three homers, each of which would tie the game or give the Mets the lead. That includes his electrifying homer in Game 3, the only game the Mets won in that series:
Granderson helped lead the Mets that game like he did all season. He homered again in Game 5, and for a moment, it appeared like that was going to force a Game 6, but we know how it all ended.
In 2016, Granderson did not have the same impact, but he was once again an important player. By WAR, he was the team’s third best player. However, it was more than that. When the team needed him to move down the lineup to bat clean-up, he did. With Cespedes and Michael Conforto dealing with injuries, and the team adding Jay Bruce at the trade deadline, Granderson shifted to center field because that’s what the team needed him to do, and he did whatever the team needed. For a moment, he made a dazzling play in the Wild Card Game which, now, is very Endy Chavez-esque:
As we know, Granderson is much more than just a ballplayer. He won the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable work during his time in New York. Actually, it was for all he had done in his career. He’s also won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award four times, which is two more than anyone else in Major League history. Overall, he was such a good ballplayer and even better person that they should build a wing in the Hall of Fame for people like him.
When you look at players in Mets history who have worn the number 3, none have had a bigger impact on and off the field. If not for Babe Ruth, you might’ve been able to say that for all of baseball history.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Granderson was the third best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 3.
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.
Seemingly since the day he was the Mets first round pick in the 2011 draft, Brandon Nimmo has been on the trade block. If not for suspect medicals for another prospect in the trade, Nimmo would have been traded to the Cincinnati Reds in the Jay Bruce trade.
In the ensuing two years, Nimmo would show the Mets just how lucky they were that the original iteration of the Bruce trade failed.
In 2018, Nimmo hit .263/.404/.483 with 28 doubles, eight triples, 17 homers, and 49 RBI. His OBP was second in the National League to only Joey Votto. Only the National League MVP Christian Yelich would top Nimmo’s 148 wRC+.
Despite his pedigree in being a first round pick, former top 100 prospect, and being named to the Future’s Game roster twice, there were still those who doubted Nimmo calling him a fourth outfielder. They’d jump on his early season struggles to prove their point.
The problem with drawing those conclusions was Nimmo was hurt. Very hurt. A bulging disc had a negative impact on his stats and cost him 89 games. With that injury, and the setbacks he had during his rehab, there were some concerns about Nimmo’s ability to return to his 2018 form.
Nimmo would quiet those concerns when he returned in September. Nimmo would play in 26 of the Mets 27 games that month, and he would hit .261/.430/.565 with four doubles, a triple, five homers, and 15 RBI. Aside from just his ability to stay on the field, he showed the ability to replicate the success he had the previous season.
Now, Nimmo is entering his first year of arbitration, and according to MLB Trade Rumors, Nimmo is projected to receive just $1.7 million for 2020. Between his neck injury and the low salary arbitration figure, this is likely the cheapest Nimmo is going to be.
That $1.7 million figure is going to increase significantly until he hits free agency after the 2022 season. At that time, he will be just 29 years old set to get a large free agent deal. Notably, Michael Conforto will have already hit free agency, and the Mets simply do not have the farm system to sustain losing both Nimmo and Conforto.
When you combine Nimmo’s speed, as well as his ability to play all three outfield positions, he has the ability to help the Mets withstand the loss of Conforto, or better yet, allow the team to make the hard decisions it may need to one day make. He also played better defensively than most believe. As noted by Baseball Savant, last year, he had a 2 OAA, and that is a year after his 5 OAA.
Nimmo is the type of young, cheap player who the Mets should be looking to keep as the core of their team, and that is before you take into account intangibles like his hustle and his being a fan favorite. Axiomatically, locking up Nimmo now also helps the Mets keep salaries down at a time when the Mets are trying to create room in the budget.
When you break it down, the Mets should be finding common ground towards an extension buying up a year or two of Nimmo’s free agent years instead of shopping him around for players who may very well not prove to be anywhere near as good as he will be.