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.
The New York Mets did the obvious and added Andres Gimenez and Thomas Szapucki to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. With the team potentially losing Tomas Nido as they investigate backup catching options, they secured their catching depth by adding Ali Sanchez. Finally, they arguably protected their best exposed starter in Jordan Humphreys.
Even with the Mets protecting these players, the organization is in real risk of losing some players in the Rule 5 Draft. In fact, you can see the Mets losing at least one player and possibly more. Here is a look the players the Mets may well lose in the order of likelihood of it happening:
Ryder Ryan, RP
Stats: 3-1, 3.05 ERA, 25 G, 2 GS, 44.1 IP, 1.263 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
Ryan was the Mets return from the Jay Bruce trade with the Indians. He has a mid 90s fastball which can hit as high as 97 MPH, and he has a good slider. The two pitches can produce swings and misses, and when batters make contact, they hit the ball into the ground.
Ryan’s big issue has been control. That is partially due to his being a converted pitcher and also partially to his movement being difficult to him to harness. He made significant progress on that front in 2018 only to completely regress last year. If a team believes they can harness that, they will assuredly draft him.
Matt Blackham, RP
Level: Binghamton & Syracuse
Stats: 8-2, 2.60 ERA, 40 G, 55.1 IP, 1.066 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9, 11.4 K/9
In some ways, Blackham is very much like Ryan in that he is a reliever who can post high strikeout numbers, but he really struggles with control. However, whereas Ryan profiles as a future Major League reliever with his being 6’2″ and his ability to throw it in the high 90s, Blackham is only 5’11” and throws it in the low 90s.
Even with his throwing it in the low 90s, he generates a lot of strikeouts. In fact, he struck out 13.4 batters per nine in Binghamton. However, it should be noted that number dropped to 6.3 in 12 appearances for Syracuse. Still, with the movement he has on his fastball coupled with good breaking pitches. It’s very possible he is a pitcher who makes it to the Majors in 2020, but right now, the question is what uniform he will be wearing.
Shervyen Newton, INF
Stats: .209/.283/.330, 15 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 32 RBI, SB, 4 CS
With a good 2019 season, Newton might’ve forced the Mets hands. However, Newton had an injury plagued season and struggled mightily and his somewhat troubling strikeout rate worsened. Still, looking through it, Newton is a very promising prospect with promising power, athleticism, good instincts, and a born leader.
In a normal year, Newton would almost be guaranteed to go undrafted. However, with Major League Baseball adding an additional roster space, teams may opt to use that spot to stow a promising prospect like Newton. That goes double for American League teams who may not need to go so deep into the bench for a game. More than one person has surmised the Tigers could very well take this gamble.
Stats: .245/.312/.426, 25 2B, 3B, 16 HR, 69 RBI, SB
On the subject of the 26th man, it will be interesting to see how teams use it in 2020. Some may use it to stash a Rule 5 prospect, and some may use it to carry an extra reliever or a catcher. If they are so inclined to carry an extra catcher, Mazeika is an interesting candidate.
Mazeika has a promising power bat, and he typically hits for more power when he is not catching everyday. While his stats in Binghamton don’t necessary prove that out, especially with him repeating the level, he did have a 118 wRC+with an above-average .182 ISO.
While there have been knocks on his catching ability, he has made significant strides. His framing has been overlooked, and he does his part controlling the running game. This is an area of his game he constantly works on and he makes strides forward each and every year. It’s possible a team sees that and wants him as their backup catcher.
Harol Gonzalez, RHP
Level: Binghamton & St. Lucie
Stats: 12-4, 3.01 ERA, 25 G, 23 GS, 137.2 IP, 1.082 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 7.3 K/9
The best way to describe Gonzalez is he is a pitcher who knows how to pitch. .He is a strike thrower who does not beat himself. He’s a four pitch pitcher without one outstanding pitch who thrives by mixing his pitches and locating them.
As the competition has improved through the minors, Gonzalez’s strikeout numbers have dipped, and yet he continues to be an effective pitcher. You could argue he has a future in the Majors as a long reliever or spot starter. His absolute ceiling could be fifth starter, but it is very questionable if he reaches that. Still, there is always room for a pitcher who knows how to pitch and can get outs. It will be interesting to see if some team finds that worthy of a Rule 5 pick.
Overall, the Mets arguably protected the right players. With the way the rules are designed, you cannot protect everyone. That leaves the Mets hoping the ones they did not protect will either go undrafted or be returned to the organization during the 2020 season. At the moment, that seems to be a long shot.
Yesterday, the New York Jets traded Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams to the New York Giants for a 2020 third round draft pick and a conditional 2021 fifth round draft pick. This is a shocking trade between teams who don’t just share a city but a building.
It was a gamble for the Giants in taking on an enigmatic player who is a pending free agent. For the Jets, this was seen as a coup to get a good return for a player they were not re-signing. However, if the Giants are able to get Williams to play like someone who was once the third overall pick in the draft, the Jets will constantly be reminded of their failure.
At the end of the day, who cares? Both the Giants and Jets did what they thought was best for their franchises. They put the fears aside, and they made a football trade just like they would’ve done with any other team. Somehow, this concept eludes the Mets.
Back in 2017, the New York Yankees were rumored to have interest in Lucas Duda. However, rather than trading Duda to the Yankees, the Mets opted to trade him to the Tampa Bay Rays for Drew Smith. There were rumors the Yankees could’ve bested the offer of what was just one relief prospect, but there was no real confirmation of what that return would be.
The Yankees were also to have been interested in Neil Walker. The Mets eventually wound up trading him to the Milwaukee Brewers for Eric Hanhold, a player the Mets recently designated for assignment so they could keep pitchers like Drew Gagnon, Donnie Hart, and Chris Mazza. In terms of the Yankees, we are not sure what they would offer, and there are some rumors the Yankees backed out of their deal because of Walker’s medicals.
Over the past few years, the Yankees have been rumored interested in a number of Mets players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler. Those trades never materialized, but then again, no trade ever materialized between the Mets and another team with those players.
Still, the point remains there has long been a hesitation between the Mets and Yankees to make a trade. While it does seem to mostly come from the Mets side, there is assuredly some hesitation from the Yankees as well. That may be in no small part due to their Pedro Feliciano experience, or inexperience as it proved to be, and they may also harbor the same issues which are imputed on the Mets.
Whomever is to blame, they need to get over themselves, and they need to make smart trades between themselves to benefit both teams.
The Yankees have seen former Mets like Carlos Beltran, David Cone, and Darryl Strawberry play well for them. The Mets have seen former Yankees like Curtis Granderson, Orlando Hernandez, and Al Leiter play well for them. This is of little surprise as good players who can handle New York can play well for either team.
Given how that is the case, perhaps it is time both teams benefit from these players switching teams rather than seeing other franchises serve as the beneficiaries of being the ones who get these players in-between stops.
According to various reports, unless Zack Wheeler accepts the qualifying offer, and he’d be crazy to accept it, he is going to be a part of another organization in 2020. This would be one thing if the Mets believed they should pursue Gerrit Cole or another big name free agent, but as we know, Wheeler is as good as gone with no real replacement coming to the Mets.
Using Nathan Eovaldi as a comp, Wheeler would be owed a deal with an AAV of at least $17 million. Given his strong finish to the season, it’s arguable Wheeler could meet or possibly surpass $20 million. Of course, that depends on the length of the deal.
Now, from some corners you’ll hear the Mets can’t afford to keep Wheeler for that contract. There will be excuses offered with respect to the luxury tax threshold, can’t keep all of your players, and/or the Mets can’t afford him. If any of these are true, this is the latest example of just how much Brodie Van Wagenen has screwed things up in just one year.
The $20+ million deal per year for four years or more which could’ve been given to Wheeler is already on the books. That money is being given to Robinson Cano.
Cano turns 37 this month, and he is coming off an injury plagued year where he had just a 0.3 WAR. He was below average at the plate with a 93 wRC+, and he was bad in the field with a -6 DRS.
This leaves the Mets path to contention vested in a 37 year old getting healthier, more durable, and turning back the clock. Historically, this is a very poor bet. It’s certainly not a bet you’d like to have $80 million riding on over the next four years.
This is money which could’ve been invested in Wheeler. This wouldn’t allowed the Mets to keep this vaunted starting staff together for at least one more year. Possibly two. Instead, the Mets are going to let Wheeler walk because the money which could’ve been given to him is already tied up with Cano.
The obvious retort is if the Mets didn’t have Cano, they’d likely have Jay Bruce still. Putting aside the Mariners were able to trade him, he is only due $14 million in 2020. As such, he didn’t tie up the payroll for the ensuing three years thereby giving the Mets room to negotiate with Wheeler.
So, again, the money which could’ve been spent to keep Wheeler has already been spent.
Initially, when the trade was made to obtain Cano and Edwin Diaz, the focus was on losing Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic. Rightfully so. However, the damage to the team goes beyond that. It’s not just losing two prospects, it’s losing Major League players.
It’s not just this year either with Wheeler likely to depart. It also will hinder the ability to keep players like Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Brandon Nimmo. It’s possible there are more casualties when you consider arbitration raises and the like.
So overall, the Cano Trade didn’t cost just two top prospects. In the long run, it’s going to cost the Mets high-end Major League talent; talent necessary to fulfill the Mets win-now objectives.
Put another way, that trade is only going to get worse.
Sometimes, one bad decision or call can change the reflection of an entire game. We saw that happen in the fifth inning.
Up until that point, the Mets were leading 2-0. The first run came when Jeff McNeil singled home Todd Frazier in the second. The Mets might’ve done more damage, but that inning ended on a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play with McNeil getting thrown out at second.
The shift ain't stopping this one. 💪 pic.twitter.com/2fxUnkZP83
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 7, 2019
At that time, Steven Matz was cruising. He limited the Phillies to two hits over the first four innings. He was in trouble once in the third when he allowed a double to Jean Segura, and he’d hit Bryce Harper in the hand. With one out, he’d get the ground ball, but it was in the hole. It didn’t matter as Amed Rosario got to the Rhys Hoskins grounder to start the inning ending double play.
It looked like nothing could stop Matz. As it turned out, Fieldin Culbrith stood in the way with a bad (non-reviewable) call.
To Whom It May Concern,
We respectfully disagree with this being called a fair ball.
Gary, Keith, Ron and the Social Media Person Running This Account pic.twitter.com/z3h7moBGOI
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 7, 2019
That foul ball was ruled a Segura double. He’d then score on a J.T. Realmuto RBI double. Matz escaped that jam, but he wouldn’t escape the one in the sixth.
After Hoskins walked to lead off the inning, he’d move to second on a fielder’s choice. With Matz not paying attention, Hoskins would steal third.
At that time, there was a base open with noted Mets killer Maikel Franco at the plate. Instead of walking him to set up a better matchup, Mickey Callaway made the very curious move of letting Matz pitch to him. It didn’t end well as Franco hit the game tying RBI single.
After a Jose Pirela single and Phil Gosselin being announced as the pinch hitter, Callaway made the unorthodox move of going to his LOOGY Luis Avilan to ensure Gabe Kapler wouldn’t go to hit potent left-handed bats on the bench (Jay Bruce, Corey Dickerson) wouldn’t come up.
Avilan was careful throwing nothing but change-ups, but he’d walk Gosselin to load the bases. This led to Brad Brach coming into the game to face Segura. Despite his dealing with a shoulder injury, he’d not only get Segura out, but he’d also pitch a scoreless seventh as well.
After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless eighth, the Mets would finally rally in the bottom of the eighth after being stymied by the Phillies bullpen for two innings.
The rally started with Frazier drawing a leadoff walk against Blake Parker. With Frazier being the go-ahead run, Callaway went to his bench and pinch ran the fast Sam Haggerty. He then made the odd decision of using Luis Guillorme as a pinch hitter to sacrifice Haggerty over. Guillorme wanted to do more with his bunt, and he almost got a base hit as he seemingly purposefully popped it over the charging Hoskins.
Well, if you insist on bunting, at least make it weird. pic.twitter.com/6gorZNYMN8
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) September 7, 2019
In any event, it got the sacrifice part of the job done. After McNeil walked, Kapler played games trying to get Hector Neris more time. Kapler did get more time for Neris, but apparently, it wasn’t enough time with Pete Alonso delivering the go-ahead RBI single.
On the play, it should be noted Haggerty scored easily despite the hard hit ball and Dickerson’s strong arm. In some ways, pinch running Haggerty bought the Mets a run. An insurance run would score on a Wilson Ramos RBI single.
For a brief moment, Diaz looked electric striking out Logan Morrison. Then, it was a Segura single and no-doubter Realmuto game tying homer. Diaz would strike out the final two batters, but it was too little too late as he blew his seventh save and his second straight save opportunity.
This is a good time to remember just how resilient this Mets team is. After Mike Morin got two quick outs, the hand changed when Juan Lagares hit a 1-2 pitch for a single. J.D. Davis then hit a 3-2 pitch for a single setting up runners at the corners for McNeil.
Kapler went to his bullpen yet again bringing in Nick Vincent. It would prove to be a huge mistake. The moment was way too big for Vincent who first hit McNeil before being wild against Alonso. Honestly, if Alonso doesn’t go out of the zone, it’s not a full count. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as Alonso would draw the bases loaded walk to literally give the Mets a walk-off 5-4 win.
Once again, the Mets backs were against the walls. They were delivered a guy punch. Like all season long, they didn’t go down. Rather, they staggered, delivered the knockout blow themselves, and they live to fight another day.
Game Notes: Diaz has allowed 14 homers, and Cano has hit 11. Diaz “earned” the win, his second of the year.
The Mets went to San Francisco with a chance to take a series against the Giants, pull to at least five games under .500, and surpass the Giants in the Wild Card standings. Instead, they managed to blow three games and probably leave their chances of making the postseason in San Francisco.
1. The Mets outscored the Giants by a healthy margin in this series, but that was only because of Saturday’s blowout. Putting that game aside, both teams were as feckless as can be at the plate. In some ways, both teams being alive in the Wild Card chase is a black mark for baseball.
2. The play which blew the Friday night game perfectly encapsulates the season. Dominic Smith doesn’t make a play partially because he is playing out of position. Unlike Robinson Cano, Alex Dickerson hustled around the base paths. Then, after Todd Frazier astutely cut it off, Wilson Ramos was nowhere near the play, nor did he even attempt to get into position.
3. In short, on one play we saw the effects of the Mets playing guys out of position, playing poor defense, and having their high priced veterans not perform up to the level they need to perform. Throw in the Mets blowing a completely winnable game, and you have the 2019 Mets in a nutshell.
4. The more you look at it, the more you realize Ramos is the biggest issue with this team. His catching has forced the pitching staff to bring pitches up in the hitting zone because of his framing and inability to effectively block pitches. As we saw on Friday night’s play, there are times you question how fully engaged he is. Finally, he’s a shell of himself offensively. Moving him at the trade deadline needs to be a priority.
7. The way Smith responded to the play was incredible. On the first pitch he saw, he would hit a homer. In that game, he was 3-f0r-5 with that homer and four RBI. The way Smith put everything behind him speaks well to his future.
8. Of course, we should not be surprised about Smith’s response. After all, this is the same guy who responded to struggling in parts of his first two Major League seasons, getting surpassed on the depth chart, and his battles with sleep apnea. Smith is a fighter and a hard worker. Dealing with him this offseason is going to be a conundrum.
9. As we saw with his snapping the bat over his leg, Pete Alonso is both fatigued and frustrated. That sums up how every Mets fan feels after staying up or trying to stay up for the Thursday and Friday night debacles.
10. Alonso sitting on Saturday is a testament to the veteran presence of Frazier, who told Alonso and Mickey Callaway about the fatigue which sets in after the Home Run Derby. Considering how the Mets clubhouse fell apart when the Mets moved Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce in 2017, the Mets should consider keeping someone like him around to help this team continue to develop and prepare to be contenders in 2020.
11. It should also be noted with all the deals Van Wagenen has made in his Mets tenure, no one should trust his ability to trade anything for any value at the trade deadline. In all likelihood, when he is done, we will long for the days of the return of “prospects” like Nogosek, Gerson Bautista, Jamie Callahan, Ryder Ryan, Will Toffey, Drew Smith, etc.
12. Maybe it is time Jeff McNeil gets a day off. So far in the second half, he is hitting .268/.318/.488. Mets need much more from him than this.
13. It gets frustrating seeing how Mets fans choose to overlook some guys while constantly making others a perennial target. For example, Michael Conforto was chastised for not coming through in one pinch hitting attempt on Friday night, but McNeil, who three times failed to knock in the go-ahead run, had nary a bad word said about him.
14. Really, Mets fans don’t deserve Conforto much in the same way they don’t deserve Noah Syndergaard. With both players, all we hear is nitpicking over them instead of just enjoying them for the really good players they are.
15. The Mets offensive cold snaps were beyond frustrating in this series. After scoring a run in the first inning of the first game, they did not score another run until the 16th inning. After that, they didn’t score another run until Saturday’s game. After hitting two homers in the second inning Sunday, they didn’t score another run. If you’re not scoring runs, you can’t win.
16. The pitching staff was as good as you could ask during this series. The only blips were Chris Mazza and Stephen Nogosek. For Mazza, he was pressed into action in a spot where it was going to be difficult to succeed, and Nogosek struggled in mop up work.
17. Going back to Mazza, it shows how seemingly meaningless decisions come to matter. When the Mets needed someone to wrap things up in what became a laugher in Minnesota, the Mets turned to Mazza for the final two innings. The team did this despite knowing Jacob Rhame had a suspension looming. The end result was being an arm short in a 16 inning game the subsequent day pressing Mazza, a pitcher who just threw two innings, to work multiple innings again.
18. In what is becoming a lost season (if it wasn’t one already), the Mets need to stop pushing Seth Lugo. He’s too valuable a bullpen arm going forward. Don’t mess that up to chase games in July and August when you did nothing to really build the bullpen when you had the opportunity.
19. The hopes for a Cano turnaround are quickly fading with him now three for his last 21. If Brodie Van Wagenen had a clue, he’d spend the offseason finding a way for a team to take on Cano’s contract because Cano is one of the reasons why the Mets are going to struggle to compete in the ensuring seasons.
20. It was sad to see Matt Harvey get designated for assignment. For years, he was the source of hope for Mets fans, and he really did all he could do to get the Mets a World Series in 2015. Hopefully, he finds a way back to the Mets to work with Phil Regan and build himself back to being a good pitcher. More than that, here’s hoping he finds a fit like he did in Cincinnati last year where he can get the most out of the stuff he still has.
With Zack Wheeler on the Injured List, and his being unsure as to when he can return, the Mets biggest trade chip has now been compromised. As a result, a player who could have fetched one or possible two very good prospects may not fetch nearly the same level of return. This leaves the Mets organization pondering what to do with Wheeler and really all of their trade assets.
Working backwards a bit, Wheeler is not the only expiring contract the Mets have. There is Juan Lagares, who really has zero value on the trade market between his contract and his regression both offensively and defensively. After him is Jason Vargas, who has failed to go at least five innings in 40 percent of his starts. Vargas also threatened to attack a reporter, and he has had a 5.94 ERA since the incident. That in mind, it’s unlikely he has any value on the trade market.
Todd Frazier is having a nice season, but again, you wonder what his market will be. To put things in perspective, in 2017, he was traded by the White Sox to the Yankees for a package including Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard. Rutherford was a really good get for the White Sox, but that was mostly because they were trading Tommy Kahnle in the deal. Kahnle had been a very good reliever for a year plus, and he was under team control for four plus years.
For the Mets to get a similar return for Frazier, they would have to package him with an Edwin Diaz or a Seth Lugo. Based upon reports, the Mets are not interested in doing that, and you could understand that with the Mets having a young core still intact. It is also a reason the Mets are not looking to move Noah Syndergaard. As a result, the Mets really do not have any good trade chips; at least trade chips which will return anything more than the collection of right-handed relievers they received when they previously traded Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Jay Bruce.
Looking deeper, the Mets are “only” five games (four in the loss) out of the second Wild Card. At the moment, it is noticeable how the teams in front of them have done almost nothing to get going and really stake a claim to being a front runner for one of the two Wild Card spots. This is not too dissimilar from what we saw in 2016 where the Mets went from two games under .500 on August 19 to finish the season on a 27-13 tear to claim the top Wild Card spot.
Believe it or not, the Mets schedule actually does set up for another run like this. After today’s game against the White Sox, the Mets have 20 straight games against teams with a losing record. After that, they have a set at home against the Nationals, a team who currently has the top Wild Card spot.
That’s an incredible 23 game opportunity for the Mets to go on a real run up the Wild Card standings. This could be a team which could take full advantage of that opportunity because as Syndergaard said in 2016, the Mets are a second half team.
Wheeler has always been a strong second half pitcher. Same goes for Syndergaard whose career second half ERA is 38 points lower. Jacob deGrom has a better second half WHIP, K/9, and K/BB. In addition to the starters, we should expect to see a much better bullpen with the return of Justin Wilson. In fact, we have so far with the Mets bullpen ERA being 3.86 in July, which is 11th best in the majors and significantly better than the almost impossibly bad 7.53 June bullpen ERA.
There’s also the Amed Rosario factor. Over the past month, he is hitting .342/.365/.468 indicating he may be poised for a second half breakout. Very quietly, he has started to play better defense. In fact, since the All-Star Break, he is actually a 2 DRS. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it’s a positive development.
When you also consider how Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano are better hitters in the second half, you see a glimmer of hope. Speaking of Cano, with him and Edwin Diaz, you have to believe their second halves have to be better than their first.
Is this enough for the Mets to go out and buy? No, not even close. According to Fangraphs, the Mets postseason odds stand at 7.6 percent. Those are nearly insurmountable odds. However, that does not mean the Mets should go selling their players for little to no return when the schedule does set up favorably for them.
In the end, this is really about Wheeler. If he was healthy, the Mets could have received a significant return for him. If his IL stint changes things, it would behoove the Mets to offer him a qualifying offer at the end of the season and just let things ride with this team. After all, there is still a chance.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the Mets continue to embarrass themselves as an organization, and there is no one to answer for anything other than the manager:
1. Brodie Van Wagenen was real quick to put down Sandy Alderson in saying he was going to be more available to the media, and he was going to build a team with no ifs. Seeing how he is hiding in plain sight, and this team is a bigger disaster than any team Alderson, he should call up Alderson and apologize.
2. It should be noted former executives and players noted Van Wagenen’s behavior was completely unacceptable. Also unacceptable was how Van Wagenen ducked reporters on not just this question but any question. Instead, he would rather berate Mickey Callaway and send him to the wolves. This is the definition of callow.
4. The reports Van Wagenen was angry over the team blowing a Jacob deGrom start just feeds into the narrative Van Wagenen took the job to help his clients.
5. The Callaway criticism among the fanbase is getting way over the top. It’s now at the point where they are criticizing him for being directed by the team’s video review official to challenge a play. That’s not a manager lacking feel. That’s a manager doing his job with the information on-hand. It’s also very doubtful if he passed on the challenging the call because he used his “game feel” the same fans killing him for it would give him credit.
6. Like with the media, Callaway is just a whipping boy. The fact he does this without throwing anyone under the bus is really remarkable. Even with the regrettable Healey outburst, he has shown himself to be the consummate professional. Even if you disagree, you should admit no one deserves to be treated the way he has been.
7. More than Callaway, Mets fans deserve better than this.
8. The state of umpiring in baseball is a joke. Rhys Hoskins was out at the plate, and yet, the umpires were perfectly content being wrong on a potentially game changing play. It’s beyond stupid that tag plays at the plate are not automatically up for independent review like touchdowns.
9. Pete Alonso is quickly becoming like Mike Piazza, Yoenis Cespedes, or Darryl Strawberry. You have to stop to watch when he bats. His homer off Aaron Nola ended the no-hitter, and in the rally later in the game, you were just waiting for that Jeff McNeil hit to get Alonso to the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
10. At least at the plate, Amed Rosario has been quite good for over two weeks now. Over the past 19 games, he his hitting .333/.361/.455 with five doubles, a homer, and six RBI. That’s real progress, and if he hits like this he has a spot on this team. Unfortunately, it is increasingly looking like that may not be short.
11. When looking at the trade with the Brewers, everything that has occurred has been reasonably foreseeable. The lone exception may be Edwin Diaz‘s struggles. However, there are indications it may be bone spur related, which was a known problems. So, overall, every disaster that has occurred was foreseeable.
12. A Future’s Game with Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn, and Jarred Kelenic could have been the high point of the season, especially with them being friendly with one another and talking about how much they love and respect Alonso. It was still great seeing Kay pitch a scoreless inning.
13. As if things weren’t bad enough, Jerry Manuel wore a Mets cap as he coached the World Team in the Future’s Game. The backstabbing self-interested walking soundbite sacrificing the team’s youth and potential wearing a Mets cap is just perfect.
14. Somehow, Jake Arrieta hit Todd Frazier and Rosario were hit by pitches, and it was Frazier and Callaway who were tossed from the game. You can say it was unintentional, but Arrieta did hit three in that game which doubled his season total. He also gave that psychopath press conference after the game saying he was going to dent Frazier’s skull.
15. The Mets aren’t going anywhere, and they were heading into the All-Star Break. How the team doesn’t put Michael Conforto on the IL with his stiff back and just give Juan Lagares more playing time in the hopes of creating some sort of a trade market is just plain incompetence.
16. Still no Jed Lowrie.
17. Mets are getting better than can be expected production from Alonso, McNeil, Frazier, Dominic Smith, and Tomas Nido, and they are 10 games under .500. That’s almost impossibly bad and a reflecting on a bad GM making impossibly bad decisions.
18. Steven Matz in the bullpen didn’t exactly look good with him allowing three hits to the five batters he faced in his second game. Of course, you should probably ask yourself why a starter would work in back-to-back games. But that would assume the Mets have a rhyme or reason for what they do.
19. The “Sell The Team” chants need to be much more prevalent in the second half of the season. No, it’s not going to get them to spend or operate this team better. What is will do is embarrass the Wilpons who deserve all the embarrassment they’re due.
20. Alonso has the potential to become a superstar tonight with a big performance in the Home Run Derby. Let’s hope it happens.