Jay Bruce

Alonso/Smith Decision Getting Increasingly Complicated

With the New York Mets sending Dominic Smith down in a series of transactions designed to make room on the Major League roster for both Yoenis Cespedes and Jason Vargas to return from the disabled list, the Mets will have both Smith and Peter Alonso on the same roster.

This could not have happened at a worse time for either player.

When Smith was called up to the majors, he had not exactly earned his way onto the roster hitting just .260/.343/.370 in 56 games.  Unfortunately, things did not improve for him when he was called up to the majors.  He would play sparingly, and when he did play he didn’t hit.  Overall, he has a -1.1 WAR while hitting .183/.216/.324.

With Smith struggling and Alonso dominating in Double-A, it seemed as if Alonso had easily surpassed Smith as the Mets first baseman of the future.  With every homer, it seemed like that future was going to happen at some point this season.

Things changed for Alonso when he was called-up to Triple-A.  In 27 games, he is hitting .178/.306/.426 with a 30.1 percent strikeout rate.  One thing that has been encouraging is Alonso has not regressed in terms of his newfound plate discipline.  Despite his struggles, he has maintained a solid 12.4 percent walk rate.

With both players struggling, Tony DeFrancesco not only has to find a way to get both players back on track, but he also has to find a way to find playing time for both players.

Seemingly, the playing time is the easier of the two issues.  With Smith getting up to speed in left field, and the Mets having no prospect of note in the outfield, it would at least seem he could play there everyday.  Another consideration is Las Vegas will have the DH available to permit the team to shift both prospects between first base and DH.

The dilemma there is Smith is by far the better defensive first baseman of the two.  From that standpoint, Smith should be the everyday first baseman with Alonso at DH.

However, this is the minor leagues where organizations put an emphasis on player development over winning.  To that end, Alonso needs the reps at first base much more than Smith does.

To that end, it should come as no surprise John Ricco says Alonso will get most of the reps at first with Smith mostly playing the outfield.

This is really where DeFrancesco is going to have to earn his money.  Somehow, some way, he has to help both players improve, have them not just retain but improve their value, and he is going to have to make each player feel as if the organization is invested in them.  That’s much easier said than done, especially when the organization is having Smith play out of position to accommodate Alonso.

Further complicating everything is Cespedes interest in possibly making a position change to first base in order to help keep his legs healthy to stay in the lineup.  Given his being owed $58 million over the next two seasons, Jay Bruce being owed $28 million over the next two seasons, and the emergence of Brandon Nimmo was an All Star caliber player, it’s very possible the Mets give Cespedes every opportunity to become the Mets first baseman next year.

With that being the case, Smith and Alonso are not only in a position where they have to distinguish themselves from one another, they are also going to have to distinguish themselves to the point where the club is willing to give these two talented young players a job at first base over more established and far better paid players.

Believe it or not, even with their recent struggles both Smith and Alonso possess the talent to force the issue with the Mets organization.  If we get to the point where Smith and Alonso are forcing the issue, the Mets will be in a very good position.

Mets Offense Finally Scores Runs For deGrom

The hapless Mets offense had gone searching for a place to have an offensive breakout.  Their tour took them to hitter’s parks like Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Arizona.  All hitter’s parks, but form them to be hitter’s parks, you need to have hitters.  The Mets haven’t, at least not until recently.

Finally, the Mets made it to the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field.  After two good performances to close out their series against the Diamondbacks, this Mets team was primed for an offensive explosion.  That would begin with Brandon Nimmo leading off the game:

It was Nimmo who hit the go-ahead homer in Sunday’s big comeback against the Diamondbacks, and it was him homering again to lead-off the game.

With that Nimmo homer, Jacob deGrom was in a rare position.  He had a lead with himself on the mound.  If you had any concern about how deGrom would handle these uncharted waters in a ballpark like Coors Field, you shouldn’t.  One again, deGrom was great.

Through eight innings, deGrom limited the Rockies to two runs (one earned) on five hits while walking one and striking out seven.  This made deGrom the rare pitcher who came to Coors Field and actually lowered his ERA.  It now stands at an MLB best 1.51.

Though it’s criminal it took this long, deGrom finally got his fifth win of the season.  That happened because the Mets offense finally exploded.

In the second, Michael Conforto started a rally with a double, and he would come home to score on a Jose Bautista RBI groundout.

One important thing to note about this game is the Mets organization has long shied away from having either Nimmo or Conforto face Major League left-handed pitching.  In a game started by the left-handed Tyler Anderson, both Nimmo and Conforto had great games:

  • Nimmo: 4-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
  • Conforto: 3-4, 2 R, 2B, BB, SB

In addition to the Nimmo and Conforto exploits, Wilmer Flores would contribute with a third inning solo shot, and Devin Mesoraco would hit a two run homer in the eighth.

At that point, the Mets lead 6-2, and the game was pretty much on hand.  That said, with this being Coors Field, it didn’t hurt the Mets added on some insurance runs.

In a six run ninth inning, the Mets batted around, and the Mets would score runs on:

  • Mesoraco bases loaded walk
  • Bautista bases loaded walk
  • Amed Rosario two run double
  • Nimmo two RBI single

After that, it was 12-2.  After a scoreless ninth from Paul Sewald, the Mets have finally have won three games in a row.  That is in no small part due to their bats waking up scoring 22 runs over three games.  To put that in perspective, the Mets offense only scored 21 runs over the 13 games prior to Saturday’s victory over the Diamondbacks.

Game Notes: Bautista replaced Jay Bruce from the starting lineup after he was once again scratched due to injury.

Nimmo Blasts Mets To A Winning Streak

Well, with two outs in the ninth, this once again appeared to be a typical Mets loss.

After Todd Frazier‘s first inning sacrifice fly, the Mets couldn’t muster more than a run.

The offense couldn’t muster more than a run.

While Zack Wheeler pitched well allowing just two earned on three hits in six innings, for the fourth time in five starts, he couldn’t hold onto a narrow margin.

Jay Bruce came up to the plate as the go-ahead run on two different occasions,and he failed to deliver.

In his first game off the disabled list, Jeurys Familia performed like most of the bullpen allowing the Diamondbacks to score an eighth inning insurance run to give them a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead.

After two quick outs in the ninth, the Diamondbacks choked this one away.

First, instead of allowing the Jose Reyes bunt to go foul, Alex Avila played it even though he has no shot to get him at first.

Jose Bautista hit a fly ball to right, and Jon Jay misplayed it into an RBI double.

This set the stage for Brandon Nimmo to hit the go-ahead two run homer.

While Brad Boxberger and the Diamondbacks were still dazed from the events leading to them blowing a two run lead with two outs in the ninth against an inept Mets offense, Asdrubal Cabrera would go back-to-back increasing the now Mets lead to 5-3.

This was enough room for Robert Gsellman to record his third save of the season.

With that, the Mets have won consecutive games for the first time in a month. Coincidentally, that time was also against the Diamondbacks.

This team looks better the last few days, and it will be interesting to see where the Mets go from here.

Game Notes: With his drawing two walks, Michael Conforto has reached safely in four of his last five games.

Sell? Mets Have Nothing To Sell!

With the way things are going with the New York Mets, it is becoming increasingly clear this team will be in position to sell at the trade deadline.  The question is what in the world do the Mets have to sell.

Well, the biggest asset the Mets have right now is Jacob deGrom.  If he was ever truly available, you would have 29 teams lining up to give you their best prospects.  The problem with that is, you could assume the Mets will not deal with either the Yankees or the Nationals.  With the Yankees, you are taking one deep farm system off the table, and that is assuming the Yankees would part with their top prospects in a trade with the Mets.

Overall, based on recent comments from Sandy Alderson, it does not appear the Mets are trading deGrom anytime soon, which is a relief because Sandy really does poor work at the trade deadline.  He’s much better working deals in the offseason.

So when looking at players to trade, you obviously begin with guys on the last year of their deals.  Well, the Mets don’t have much to offer there:

Jerry Blevins – the LOOGY has a 5.28 ERA, 1.761 WHIP, and a 6.5 BB/9.  Worse than that, left-handed batters are hitting .351/.415/.514 off of him.

Jose Bautista – When he was released, the Mets were seemingly the only team who called him, and it’s hard to imagine teams giving up much for a second division bench player with a .366 SLG.

Asdrubal Cabrera – A year after the Mets found no takers for him, they may be in the same position after having him play through injuries.  Since April 24th, he’s hitting .233/.269/.423 while playing the worst defensive second base in the majors (-10 DRS).

Jeurys Familia – If he returns from the DL healthy, Familia has real value because he has once again shown himself to be a good reliever and closer.  The issue with him is Sandy Alderson flipped Addison Reed, who was healthier and having a better year, for an uninspiring group of Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, and Stephen Nogosek.

Devin Mesoraco – Briefly, Mesoraco was a revelation showing power and helping buttress a struggling Mets lineup.  The hot streak has worn off, and he’s hitting .107 with no extra base hits over his last nine games.

AJ Ramos – Ramos is contemplating season ending shoulder surgery.  That would take him off the table.  The same can be said for his 6.41 ERA.

Jose Reyes – He’s the worst player in all of baseball this year; one the Mets are reportedly asking to retire.

Alright, so the Mets don’t have much in terms of players on expiring deals.  Maybe, the team can look at players whose deals are expiring after the 2019 season:

Todd Frazier – The normally durable Frazier landed on the DL, and he has not been the power hitter he has been in his career.  The positives are he’s kept a solid walk rate while playing a solid third base.  Overall, he’s the type of player who is of more value to you than to what you would get back in a deal.

Jason Vargas – He’s now a five inning pitcher with a 7.39 ERA.

Zack Wheeler – Wheeler is an interesting case because he has shown promise, but he is still prone to the occasional hiccups.  He’s probably not due for a large arbitration increase from his $1.8 million, which should be enticing for a Mets team who probably doesn’t want to spend $8 million to replace him with next year’s Vargas.

So, right now, looking at the expiring deals by the end of the 2019 season, the Mets assets basically amount to Familia and maybe Frazier and Wheeler.  Arguably, Frazier and Wheeler are not bringing back the type of players who would be key pieces of a rebuild.  To that extent, you at least have to question why you would move them on a Mets team with a fairly solid core which includes Brandon Nimmo, Michael ConfortoSeth LugoRobert Gsellman, Noah Syndergaard, and deGrom.

And really, past that group, there isn’t much else available for the Mets to trade to justify blowing it up.

Jay Bruce is injured, and he already looks like he’s in a group with Jason Bay and Vince Coleman for the worst free agent mistake in Mets history.  Yoenis Cespedes is both injury prone and has a no trade deal, which will likely limit their ability to move him.

Really, what the Mets need to be doing is some soul searching.

Much like they did when they extended David Wright, the team needs to assess whether players like deGrom and Syndergaard will be here when promising young players like Andres Gimenez, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic are here to open the Mets next World Series window.

If they’re not, you’re doing the franchise a complete disservice by hanging in this if everything breaks right structure.  Really, things only broke right in 2015, and the team has been ill designed every since.

Blow it up now, or start spending money on players like Manny Machado this offseaosn.  If you’re not doing that, this Mets team isn’t going anywhere for at least the next decade.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Is The Season Over?

Right now, the Mets are 28-36.  That puts them eight games under .500, 9.5 games back of the Braves for the National League East, and 8.5 games back of the Nationals for the second Wild Card.  With the trade deadline about a month and a half away, it’s time to consider whether the Mets season is over.  Our Mets bloggers provide their opinion in the latest roundtable:

Michael Baron (nym.news)

To get to 85 wins, the Mets now have to go 57-41. That’s a .582 clip just to make it interesting. I’m guessing that won’t be enough with Atlanta, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Arizona and for fun, San Francisco and Philly in the realistic hunt for a wild card. I do agree and have said if there’s any hope, it’s in the starting rotation, but 85 wins right now is asking a lot for this bullpen and roster which lacks any sort of competitive edge in the heat, not to mention what they probably need which is another 60-62 wins, or a 62-36 record the rest of the way.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)

Fangraphs currently has the Mets’ playoff odds at 4.6%. It was 9.8% just two days ago; 22% at the start of June. The Mets’ offense has been historically bad. This is not an exaggeration: No team since 1900 has scored fewer runs and recorded fewer hits in an 11 game span than the Mets. So, what I’m trying to say is no the season isn’t over. Almost! But sadly no, we are not yet free. The starting pitching has finally been really, really good lately, and all without Noah Syndergaard. The offense cannot possibly continue to break records in futility, thanks to our new best friends the law of averages. In conclusion: it is definitely probably not over.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

It’s hard to be as positive as I was prior to the season, but I still think it’s too early to call it “over.” I wish I had a better feel for the organizational plan here, but I don’t know if Callaway is setting his lineups and managing his bullpen or if he is following a front office script. Until I can determine that, I’m going to wait and see.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

The season is far from over, but if the Mets can’t figure out how to score in more than one inning per game, they will be selling off pieces once again and we’ll all be counting down the days to the start of the football season.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

The season is definitely not over. The Mets will find a way to pull us all back in again. Just as everything seems to be ok again, BAM! Back to DL and losing some more.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I allowed myself a modicum of optimism after the Mets won the final game of their otherwise winless homestand. Get on the road, get a little momentum going…but the two games in Atlanta disabused me of the notion. Except for playing 98 more games as mandated, the season is 98% done (I of course will hang on the 2% chance it’s not).

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

No, I don’t think it is. That could simply be the eternal optimist in me coming out, but it’s a very long season. There are 98 games left. The ’99 Mets were 28-28 when they fired their hitting and pitching coach and finished the season with 90+ wins. Our pitching staff is only getting better and the bats are sure to come around at some point. This can’t go on forever, right? Maybe Roessler needs to go. Who knows? But there’s more than enough time to make up for this awful stretch. There’s too much talent here to ’02 this thing.

Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)

Not necessarily.  The Mets could always get on some hot streak and get back to .500 given that their starting pitching has been pretty solid. That said, I really want them to realize how unlikely that would be and fully commit to playing the kids. For example, give  Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starts in the rotation. Give Dominic Smith a good long look at first. See what you have in Wilmer Flores. Also call up Tyler Bashlor, Drew Smith, and Eric Handold to see the bullpen. If we get a large sample of these guys, then we can assess the off-season better and not get stuck with making poor insurance investments. This would require the Mets to move Asdrubal Cabrera soon and let Flores play but it should be a nice couple months to see the team get younger and see what might be in fold for 2019.

Mets Daddy

The Mets can’t score, and even when their starting pitching has turned things around, the bullpen has blown either the narrow lead it was given, or they have let a one run game turn into a 10 run game.  It would be worse, but really, a one run lead against this Mets team is like a 10 run lead.

Right now, we’re all pinning our hopes on Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes returning from the DL, but no one knows when or if that is going to happen.

Meanwhile, the Mets are continuing to keep Jose Reyes on the roster and go so far as to defend the decision.  That means no young players like Jeff McNeil are going to get a change.  Just when you think things couldn’t get more absurd, this team picked up Chris Beck and his career 5.94 ERA off waivers to try to help fix this bullpen.

Meanwhile, Jay Bruce can add a back back to his plantar fascitiis issues.  In that way, he’s much like Cabrera in that he’s adding more injuries than base hits.  Neither one of these players are even being considered for the disabled list.

Bartolo Colon is singing.  It’s over.

What isn’t over is the excellent work these Mets bloggers put out over the course of a season.  Much like GKR, these people give you reason to at least follow the Mets with their excellent work.  I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do.

Mets As Bad As deGrom Is Great

You know what the Mets do to win a game? Score a run.

You know what they need to score those runs? Get some hits, at least more than two.

Through the first six innings, Braves rookie Mike Soroka faced the minimum while no-hitting the Mets.

Finally, Michael Conforto broke through with a leadoff single to start the seventh. After that, it was strikeout-strikeout-Jay Bruce pop out.

While the Mets were once again setting baseball back to the days of the New York Nine, Jacob deGrom was once again pitching like the best player in baseball.

In seven innings, deGrom allowed just one run, and while that run was charged as an earned run, it wasn’t entirely on him.

After a Dansby Swanson one out double, Freddie Freeman hit a single Brandon Nimmo booted in left costing him of any opportunity to get Swanson out at the plate.

That was it. Once that run scored, the Mets chances of winning went with it. In fact, as noted by Elias, the Mets are the first team ever to score fewer than 15 runs and compile less than 50 hits over an 11 game span (h/t Good Fundies).

Because Freeman owns both the Mets and Jerry Blevins, he hit a solo shot in the eighth to expand the Braves lead to 2-0.

The Mets did have a rally in them in the ninth. Conforto drew a one out walk, and Nimmo hit a two out double. That put the game in Bruce’s hands.

With the tying runs on base, Bruce hit the first pitch Aroyds Vizcaino offered him. It was a game ending pop out to short. It was a fitting end to another miserable loss.

Game Notes: After pinch hitting for Luis Guillorme in the top of the eighth, Jose Bautista stayed in the game and played his first game at second base in a decade.

Reasons Why Peter Alonso Isn’t Here

Well , once again Adrian Gonzalezis playing poorly. Including last night’s 0-for–3 with two strikeouts, he’s hitting .239/.304/.374 on the season.

Those numbers are unacceptable from a defensive catcher let alone a team’s everyday first baseman.

It’s not like he’s mired in a slump, or those numbers are the result of a poor start. Basically speaking, this is who Gonzalez has been all year. It’s time to make a switch.

That switch should start with Dominic Smith getting called-up to play in Gonzalez’s place, but with him hitting .267/.350/.379 in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, he hasn’t earned the Mets first base job.

This is the point where most Mets fans cry out for Peter Alonso, who has been tearing up Double-A hitting .313/.448/.582 with nine doubles, 15 homers, and 49 RBI.

Despite the enthusiasm those stats garner, there are some concerns about making such a move.

For starters, Alonso pulls the ball 44.1% of the time making it easy for MLB teams to shift against him. This will likely lead to his .343 BABIP cratering.

Another consideration is his 23.4 percent HR/FB ration. It’s just a terrific number. The question is just how sustainable that is. As a point of reference, Alonso had a 16.8 percent home run to fly ball ratio last year. That’s a big jump, which puts him into Giancarlo Stanton territory.

Alonso has real power, but being at Stanton’s level is perhaps a higher stratosphere many believed he would be.

There’s also the fact he’s in a slump going just seven for his last 38 (.184) with only one homer. The one positive there is he continues to draw walks.

His continuing to draw walks speaks to a much better approach at the plate, which has helped fuel his power numbers.

There’s also his defensive issues. While Alonso is much improved with his more slender physique, he’s made six errors this year, which is a .985 fielding percentage.

There may be other things the Mets could cite for their decision to not being him up, including but not limited to how big a jump it is to go from Double-A to the majors.

Whatever the case. whoever is playing first base now is likely just a stopgap for when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list.

At that point, with Brandon Nimmo playing like an All Star, and with the Mets likely not wanting to sit Jay Bruceor Michael Conforto, that likely means Bruce shifts to first base.

And if Bruce is at first, there’s no room for Gonzalez or Alonso on this roster any longer. With no real playing time available, mostly due to the presence of Bruce on this roster, the Mets likely don’t want to call up Alonso. Rather, the better decision is to let him continue to improve in Double or Triple-A.

Ultimately, it is the Mets decision to give Bruce a three year $39 million deal, even with the Mets already being set at the corner outfield position, that is going to be the major impediment to the Mets properly addressing their first base situation.

Mets Find New Way To Ruin deGrom’s Greatness

In the bottom of the first, Brandon Nimmohit the second pitch of the game from Masahiro Tanaka. From there, the Mets offense did nothing.

It was as if the Mets said to Jacob deGrom, “Here’s your run. Now go win this game.”

For five innings deGrom was brilliant, and he was keeping his pitch count down. It was as if he was going to make sure he wasn’t going to let the bullpen blow this one.

The bullpen wasn’t going to get that chance because the defense did.

A Tanaka grounder somehow ate up Adrian Gonzalez who booted it leading to Tanaka teaching with one out.

Tanaka went to third after a Gleyber Torres single and Brett Gardner walk. deGrom then got Aaron Judge to fly out to medium depth right field.

Naturally, Jay Bruce labored to get to the ball, and he made an absolutely dreadful season throw home that was already rolling by the first base bag.

The throw, which rolled past Gonzalez, was not in time to catch a hobbled Tanaka, who had to exit the game with a leg injury.

Because he’s Jake, and he’s great, he got out of that jam allowing just the one earned run.

That said, we knew the Mets were going to lose this one. It really was an inevitability from a team who has not scored more than one run in a game since the first of this month. That stretch is made all the worse when you consider it includes a 14 inning game.

Mets had a golden chance in the sixth withJonathan Holder needing to warm up on the fly to get ready to pitch that inning. They went down 1-2-3.

They seemed to be getting to Chad Green in the seventh. Two on, two out, and Devin Mesoraco struck out swinging.

That was a real shame because it set the stage for deGrom to lose his first game of the season.

After a Torres two out single, Gardner got a hold of one which bounced off the top of the right field wall for a two run homer.

After Giancarlo Stanton homered off Paul Sewald, the Yankees lead was 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

If you woke up from a coma, you might’ve gotten excited in the bottom of the ninth.

Nimmo was hit by Aroldis Chapman‘s first pitch. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an infield single (no, seriously).

After Michael Conforto flew out to center, Todd Frazier hit a ball hard that Miguel Andujar made a nice play on. That said, it was a somewhat slow moving play, and it was a play that only Cabrera would be out at second.

To put a nice capper on everything, Bruce popped out to end the game because he apparently had not done enough to help cost the Mets this game.

Game Notes: Noah Syndergaard suffered a setback and won’t be activated for Sunday. Seth Lugo will start in his place. Jeurys Familia was placed on the DL before the game, and Jacob Rhame was called up to take his place.

Bad Pitcher, Worse Team, Mets Loss.

Well, Todd Frazier and Anthony Swarzak were back today. The MLB worst Orioles were sending Alex Cobb and his AL worst seven losses and a 6.80 ERA to the mound.

This was supposed to be the day everything got better.

It didn’t.

In the first, the Orioles played two against Jason Vargas with a Manny Machado RBI single and a Danny Valencia sac fly. Believe it or not (you should believe it), the Mets could not overcome that deficit.

It wasn’t until the fifth that the Mets would get anything going with a Jay Bruce single and a Kevin Plawecki double.

Ultimately, with runners on second and third with no out, the Mets would only plate one run on a Jose Bautista sacrifice fly. Bautista just missed it, but he missed it all the same.

With Seth Lugo pitching three scoreless and Swarzak returning with a scoreless inning, the Mets would have a chance to tie the game with a big hit, an error, really, anything.

And the Mets has a golden chance in the eighth.

After an Amed Rosario one out walk, Brandon Nimmo laid down a bunt. Valencia got to the ball, but he pulled the first baseman off the bag with his throw. With the heart of the order approaching, Asdrubal Cabrera hit into an inning ending and effectively speaking a game ending double play.

Now, the Mets are four games under .500, and you’re left wondering where the low point is going to be because the Mets certainly haven’t found it yet.

Game Notes: Cabrera is now one for his last 25.

Blame Sandy Alderson, Not Mickey Callaway

In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”

Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:

So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.

A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?

This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame.  What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.

Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch.  For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers.  Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner.  It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.

Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS.  Amed Rosario has been making continued strides.  After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate.  It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.

We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco.  Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.

The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?

Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.

Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries.  What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”

He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.

Consider this.  After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland.  After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery

Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.

The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.

For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster.  This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.

This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason.  No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder.  Three year $39 million deals are not that.  Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.

Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.

That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions.  Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.

Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing.  No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.

The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications.  With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy.  Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base?  Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway.  His bullpen management has been suspect at times.  Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win.  Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.

It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager.  Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?

Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.