Right now, the Mets have the worst defense in the National League, and they have the worst left side of the infield defense. Amed Rosario has been the worst shortstop in the National League, and J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball.
Now, it is fair to point out these are small sample sizes. However, historically, both of these players have been poor defenders. Considering this is their respective histories, the Mets are in desperate need for a defensive upgrade at third. Fortunately, they already have a very good defensive infielder on their 40 man roster. It’s just a matter of when he will be available to play.
During Spring Training, Todd Frazier suffered an injury. As a result, he opened the season on the Injured List. For a player who had never been on the Injured List over the first seven years of his career, Frazier has now landed there three times over the past year plus.
So far, it has been slow going for Frazier. Over 10 rehab games for St. Lucie, Frazier has struggled hitting .200/.282/.200. However, yesterday, he finally broke out. He was 1-for-2 with a run, home run, three RBI, and two walks.
That could be a sign he’s finally ready and not a moment too soon.
The Mets have lost four of their last five games with their defense being a culprit. Davis plays way too deep, he has difficulty getting in front of balls, and his throws have been very poor. Really, his defense has been hurting the team.
Defense is one thing Frazier does really well. Since 2017, his 12 DRS is the fourth best among third baseman. His UZR is fifth best. Put another way, the Mets are getting the chance to replace the worst third baseman with one of the best.
It’s a reason why McNeil should continue playing left. Another reason is the Mets organization outfield depth is poor. Moreover, Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares not hitting, and Brandon Nimmo dealing with neck issues.
With McNeil in left, Frazier can play third until Jed Lowrie returns (whenever that will be) or Frazier establishes he shouldn’t be playing everyday. At a minimum, the Mets defense will be vastly improved. Best case, he goes on and has a Ray Knight type of season.
The Mets followed splitting with the Braves by losing two of three to the Phillies. As a result, the Mets have lost four of their last five – all of them in the division. Here are some observations from the disappointing series.
- Noah Syndergaard‘s peripherals are fine, and in the long run, he’s going to have Thor like numbers.
- What killed Thor and continues to kill the Mets pitching is a National League worst defense.
- J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball, and with his sprint speeds, he would be terrible in LF. In the long run, he really serves no purpose in this Mets team.
- It’s bizarre the Mets would let Davis Be this bad at third, continue to trot him out there, and not even allow a more physically fit and athletic Dominic Smith an opportunity to prove himself in left field.
- Amed Rosario continues to hurt this team with bad defense (worst SS in the NL) and his poor plate discipline. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Mets, Andres Gimenez has gotten off to a brutally slow start in Binghamton.
- So far Wilson Ramos is killing the Mets. By DRS, he’s the worst catcher in the NL, and he’s become a glorified singles hitter with a 58.3% ground ball rate.
- Not one Mets everyday infielder has a positive DRS.
- Keon Broxton needs to be better. He has a 47 wRC+, and we saw him overpowered by a 94 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to end the game. He’s also a -1 DRS in the outfield.
- Juan Lagares has been better every which way than Broxton, and as a result, he needs to get the bulk of playing time in center.
- With neither Broxton nor Lagares hitting, the Mets need to keep Jeff McNeil in left field, especially since that’s his ultimate destination when Todd Frazier and/or Jed Lowrie return.
- Mets desperately need Frazier’s glove. Not only will it give the Mets at least one plus defender on the field, but it will also allow Rosario to not have to cover nearly as much ground.
- With Frazier finally hitting the ball yesterday, he should be called up and immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
- Jeff McNeil is turning into a modern day Ichiro Suzuki. This is not hyperbole. When you break down the numbers, he should be regressing. Instead, he continuously adapts his approach and has incredible contact skills.
- You knew sooner or later Steven Matz was going to lay an egg, and boy did he. One thing to note here is he was this bad his first start of the 2016 season. He responded to that by putting up nine straight starts allowing two earned or less.
- So much for Zack Wheeler‘s second half being a fluke.
- To acquire Edwin Diaz, the Mets gave up two top 100 prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn), and they took on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. So naturally, when the game is on the line, they won’t use him.
- With the Mets limiting to Diaz to just the ninth, we once again learn the Mets statements about every game mattering only applied to Pete Alonso.
- Good for Brodie Van Wagenen for taking the bullet on Diaz’s usage. He made the call, and he stood there like a man to defend himself. Also, good job by Mickey Callaway not throwing everyone under the bus and whining about the restrictions.
- Sometimes, you should just appreciate a player for what they do well. Paul Sewald went out there twice and ate up innings to help save that bullpen. Considering how well he handles that role, he has a spot in this bullpen.
- On that note, great job by Drew Gagnon pitching 5.1 innings on three days rest. Should Jason Vargas fail again on Friday, Gagnon has earned the first shot to replace him in the rotation.
The Mets went to Atlanta in first place, and they leave a half-game back. At one point, it didn’t seem like it was going to be the case, but that is how it proved to shake out. There were a number of reasons why:
- The Mets had the Braves on their heels, and they were in a position for a statement making four game sweep. Instead, they walk away with a split. The biggest reason why is they started Jason Vargas.
- The Mets need to give Corey Oswalt an opportunity to succeed. They had him rush to be ready to relieve on three days rests, and they instead had him on extended rest. They then decide to have him rush his warm-ups to enter a game with runners on base. How did they think his outing on Saturday was going to go.
- The Mets have to make a decision once and for all with the fifth starter spot. Enough of these half measures. It’s either Vargas or an open try out. You can’t keep pushing Vargas back and putting more pressure on the rest of the rotation. It’s still April, and the Mets are running their rotation like it’s late September and there’s a postseason spot on the line.
- Dave Eiland said it well when he said no one can succeed with how the Mets are handling Vargas. If the team doesn’t trust him, name Oswalt or Chris Flexen the fifth starter or sign Dallas Keuchel. If they do trust him, keep him in the rotation on regular rest. Overall, don’t make things worse than they already are.
- If the Padres get Keuchel on top of signing Manny Machado and having Fernando Tatis Jr. being the season in the majors, the Padres will be everything Brodie Van Wagenen has purported the Mets to be.
- The Mets sold us they needed Pete Alonso on the Opening Day roster to win the division. In that time, they won eight games. With their starting Vargas, they gave one of those wins back, and Vargas (or the fifth starters spot) has at least 28 starts to go.
- Just as we all expected, Steven Matz has been the best pitcher in the Mets rotation. If he continues to be so, he’s going to help overcome a lot of the problems created by the fifth starter spot.
- Zack Wheeler and Brandon Nimmo showed in Atlanta we should not overreact to slow starts from people who have historically performed. That is something to remember as Robinson Cano is hitting .183 with a -0.3 WAR.
- Michael Conforto is playing like an MVP candidate. Mets should be looking to lock him up, and don’t play the Scott Boras card. The Nationals locked up Stephen Strasburg. It may be an uphill climb, but it is possible if you have the will.
- With Jacob deGrom struggling with Wilson Ramos behind the plate, we can probably put to rest the insane notion deGrom’s last start was attributable to Travis d’Arnaud.
- The biggest warning sign with deGrom is batters hitting the long ball against him again. It may be just a slight adjustment, but he needs to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark again. On the other hand, deGrom is striking out batters more than he ever has (14.7 K/9).
- Ramos really needs to step up his game. He’s been quite poor behind the plate with very poor pitch framing and balls getting by him. While he’s hitting, he’s bound to regress as he’s hitting for no power, and he’s hitting the ball on the ground.
- While J.D. Davis hit that homer, his defense is hurting the team. Yesterday, his inability to make a play on an Ender Inciarte infield single helped drive up deGrom’s pitch count, and it led to deGrom not being able to have the pitcher lead off the top of the third. These little things always look large.
- Mets defense is the worst in the National League, and Davis leads the way with a -5 DRS. This is why when Todd Frazier is ready, the team should give consideration to keeping Luis Guillorme up. Another reason why is Amed Rosario (-3 DRS) has not played a particularly good shortstop.
- If Frazier was smart, he would not come up one second before he was ready. He can ill afford another injury plagued year, and with the team’s depth, if he doesn’t get off to a hot start, he may never get off the bench.
- It’s odd how quiet things are surrounding Jed Lowrie.
- Sometimes we over focus on what guys are instead of understanding their roles. Paul Sewald is well suited for mop up duty and for eating up innings. The 1.1 innings he gave yesterday helped save the pen a bit.
- The Mets offense is humming, but there are some warning signs. Alonso is striking out 30.6% of the time. Jeff McNeil has a .439 BABIP. Ramos has a 64.1% ground ball rate. Who knows what to make of Rosario yet?
- The Mets have missed an opportunity in the past two division series losing a series to the Nationals at home and missing a chance to win or sweep a four game set against the Braves.
- With Tiger Woods winning The Masters, the Game of Thrones premiere, and the extensive Hank Aaron interview during the game, the Mets were a complete afterthought yesterday, which is a shame because that was a first place Mets team playing a bitter rival.
No matter how good things are for the Mets, it appears like the Marlins are always there to ruin things. There are awful memories stemming from Tom Glavine, Scott Schoeneweis, and even Duaner Sanchez‘s cab ride. No matter how good things are, it seems like Miami is there to screw things up for the Mets.
To matters worse yesterday, the Marlins were starting Caleb Smith, who has pitched very well against the Mets.
Things did not start out well yesterday with Smith striking out Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, and Robinson Cano to start the game. Then, in the bottom of the first, Wilson Ramos botched catching a third strike allowing Miguel Rojas to reach. One bad pitch from Steven Matz later in the inning, and Starlin Castro would make it 2-0.
What was interesting about McNeil hitting the double was he got the hit off the left-handed pitcher Smith a day after being benched against Patrick Corbin. There were a few reasons for this including his historic performance against left-handed pitching and the Mets apparently wanting to get J.D. Davis into the lineup. You really have to wonder why that is.
It’s true Davis did hit his second double of the season, and that lead-off double in the fourth led to the Mets tying the game against the Marlins (scored off a wild pitch). However, when you look at his performance thus far, he is very much the same player who struggled in his limited Major League appearances with the Astros.
While he had the double, Davis again continued to struggle in the field. He would lollypop two throws to second with one of those throws putting Cano in position to get blown up. He cost Juan Lagares an assist when he failed to catch a ball and tag out Rosell Herrera. He also couldn’t field a ball off Castro’s bat leading to a run being scored.
With the Mets trading Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, and Scott Manea, they gave up a lot for Davis, so apparently they are going to force this work, at least until Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie return. It’s at the point where he is playing more than Keon Broxton and Lagares, and as we have seen, he has hit clean-up twice with him hitting ahead of hitters like Conforto and Ramos.
Davis playing third nearly cost the Mets this game too. His weak throw to Cano on a Herrera grounder prevented the team from turning a double play. As noted, he couldn’t field Lagares’ throw when Herrera froze on a Brian Anderson liner. He then didn’t have the range to get a Castro hit.
This gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead, and it put Steven Matz in a position to take the loss.
With respect to Matz, he shook off the first inning, and he would pitch pretty well. Over 5.2 innings, he allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts. If not for shoddy defense, he may have shut out the Marlins, and he might have been able to get through the sixth. Overall, he was not great, but he was certainly good enough to beat the Marlins (or even a Major League team).
While Lagares was not able to make a difference in the field (thanks to Davis), he would actually make a difference at the plate. The Marlins brought in the right-handed Tyler Kinley to face him, and Lagares would launch his first home run of the season:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 2, 2019
Tim Peterson stepped up pitching 1.2 scoreless. His performance not only allowed the Mets to tie the score, but it would save a bullpen which had started to accumulate some innings. This and the scoreless inning from Jeurys Familia was exactly what this bullpen needed, and it was what the team needed to try to win the game. They would thanks to a big ninth inning rally against Drew Steckenrider.
The rally started with Dominic Smith pinch hit single. In not too surprising fashion, the Mets opted to have Lagares even though there’s more than enough evidence to suggest it’s the wrong play. Fortunately, the Mets were bailed out as Steckenrider would hit Lagares with the pitch (x-rays on the finger were negative), and the umpires would completely miss Lagares failing to pull back the bunt in time.
After Brandon Nimmo struck out (he’s really struggling), Rosario would come up huge with the go-ahead RBI single giving the Mets a 4-3 lead. Speaking of huge, Alonso would follow with his first career homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 2, 2019
Alonso absolutely destroyed that pitch. The 444 homer had a 112.8 exit velocity. The homer gave the Mets a 7-3 lead meaning the warmed up Edwin Diaz was entering the game in a non-save situation.
Perhaps it was just yesterday, but we saw Diaz is like most closers where his focus is not quite what it is in a save situation. He’d load the bases to start the ninth before unleashing some filthy sliders to strike out Jorge Alfaro, the evil Peter O’Brien, and JT Riddle to end the game.
If you want to harp, there was a lot not to like. Davis was poor, and the Mets defense failed Matz. This was a battle against a clearly inferior team. However, at the end of the day, the Mets got the win, which is what matters most.
Game Notes: Smith has been off to a terrific start in his own right hitting .500/.600/.500 earning him the start in today’s series finale against Jose Urena.
For this season, there is going to be a new feature after every series wraps up called “20/20 Hindsight.” Essentially, the concept is to look back at a series, and make 20 quick observations about the state of the Mets. This can include both things which directly affect the Mets and those which circumstantially affect the Mets. Without further ado, here is the initial 20/20:
- With Jacob deGrom opening the season with six shutout innings, he’s continued his streak of consecutive starts with three earned or fewer and is one off Bob Gibson‘s Major League record for consecutive quality starts. Sooner or later, the conversation with deGrom is going to focus on his being an all-time great pitcher.
- Seeing deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola pitch great on Opening Day, this is already shaping up to be a fun and exciting race for not just the National League East but also the National League Cy Young.
- Pete Alonso has so far been everything the Mets touted him to be. After going 0-for-3 against Scherzer, he was 6-for-9 with a run, two walks, three doubles, and three RBI.
- Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler do not pitch well at Nationals Park. Syndergaard is still winless there, and Wheeler has a 4.24 ERA and a 1.441 WHIP at the park.
- The Nationals bullpen is once again terrible highlighted by Trevor Rosenthal and his INF ERA after failing to get an out in two appearances.
- While we focus on the NL East aces, we already see the division being loaded with MVP candidates including Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Trea Turner. With respect to Turner, he single-handedly beat the Mets on Sunday.
- It wasn’t a popular decision, but Mickey Callaway made the right decision sitting Jeff McNeil on Sunday. In addition to McNeil having durability issues in his professional career, he only hit .255/.331/.390 off left-handed pitchers in the minors last year. Don’t let Patrick Corbin foul him up when he is going good.
- McNeil has been off to a hot start picking up where he left off in 2018. If he keeps this up, he’s going to cost at least one of Todd Frazier or Jed Lowrie a job (whenever they can return to the lineup).
- The Mets quickly showed they are not going to be neutralized by left-handed pitching whether that is in the form of a Corbin or a LOOGY like Tony Sipp. So far, Cano and Conforto have combined to hit 6-f0r-16 against left-handed pitching.
- It was shocking to see Stephen Strasburg look like a shell of his former self. A guy who lived at 98+ MPH is now in the 93 MPH range. That follows a trend of diminished velocity from him last season. Nationals need him to be great to win, and he didn’t look like he’s up to the task.
- J.D. Davis made some flashy plays at third which overshadowed his lack or range at the position, and his error on a routine play on Saturday, set-up the bullpen machinations which partially attributed to Sunday’s loss.
- Callaway had some bad luck on the reliever front. He got trapped looking to ride Seth Lugo to easily close out a seven run lead in the ninth, and he looked bad not having someone ready in time. On Sunday, he tried to do the right thing by double switching Tim Peterson into the game, but the rally took him out and left Callaway looking to get two innings out of Justin Wilson.
- While he was trapped in those two games, Callaway’s use of his bullpen remains to be an issue dating back to last season. Given his experience as a pitching coach, his troubles handling a bullpen is particularly odd.
- Callaway also has to let go of the manager fear of not removing a starting catcher from the game. On Saturday, Wilson Ramos was on third in a tie game in the eighth inning. With speedy runners on the bench, he should have been substituted out of the game for a runner.
- It’s odd Luis Guillorme has not seen any game action yet, especially when the Mets have opted for late inning defense in their games.
- It’s still very early for Brandon Nimmo, but his striking out in half of his plate attempts is problematic. On the bright side, he got off the snide with a single against the left-handed Corbin.
- Keon Broxton showed he has to play against left-handed pitching. In his lone start, he was 2-2 with a walk off Corbin with a stolen base. For his career, he hits .242/.357/.445 off lefties.
- Phillies sweeping the Braves was certainly eye opening, but we should take into account Jake Arrieta walked six against a fairly aggressive Braves lineup, and Nick Pivetta couldn’t even get out of the fifth.
- Dominic Smith has gotten off to a good start in his own right going 1-for-3 with a run, walk, and two RBI on top of being a defensive substitution. His start makes you wonder if he should start seeing some outfield time to occasionally fit him into the lineup.
- The Mets being the best Opening Day team in Major League history is perfect for a team who continuously builds up Mets fans hope only to quickly dash them. Hopefully, this is more like 2006 than it is just about every other year in Mets history.
When the Mets were winning the 2015 pennant, there was a push in some circles to refer to that team as Omar’s team. Depending on your point of view, it was intended to either credit Omar Minaya for his leaving behind a better than advertised talent base, or it was to deride Sandy Alderson, who never gained traction with some Mets fans.
Even if it was said in jest, there was a nugget of truth to it. The core of that team, the pitching, was mostly there because of Omar Minaya. In fact, Minaya was the General Manager who drafted Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz. The other key starter, Noah Syndergaard, was obtained in exchange for R.A. Dickey, a pitcher who was brought to the organization by Minaya on a minor league deal.
Minaya was also the General Manager who drafted Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy. Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Hansel Robles, and Ruben Tejada came to the Mets as international free agents signed during Minaya’s tenure. Minaya’s impact on the team went further than this with Sandy Alderson utilizing players brought to the organization during Minaya’s tenure to acquire Travis d’Arnaud and Addison Reed.
Taking it a step further, Minaya was the Assistant General Manager when David Wright was drafted, and he was the General Manager who gave Wright his first contract extension.
Overall, Minaya’s fingerprints were all over that 2015 team much in the same way Alderson’s fingerprints are all over this year’s Mets team.
Yesterday’s starting lineup featured four former Alderson draft picks (Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil) and the player who his regime gave the second highest international signing bonus in team history (Amed Rosario). Robinson Cano came to the Mets when Brodie Van Wagenen traded two former Alderson first round draft picks (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn) and two players Alderson had signed in free agency (Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak).
Looking further, the lineup also had two Minaya holdovers, one of which in Lagares who Alderson gave a contract extension.
Really, when you truly break it down, the only player on the Mets Opening Day lineup who has zero ties to any previous Mets regime was Wilson Ramos.
When you break it down further, the only Mets players who have no ties to previous regimes were Ramos, Luis Avilan, Justin Wilson, and Jed Lowrie, a player who opened the season on the Injured List and who currently has no timetable to return. Considering Familia was a free agent signing, you could potentially credit him solely to Van Wagenen even if he was seeking to return to the team. The other 20 players on the Opening Day roster were either players brought to the team by Alderson, or they were players who were acquired utilizing players Alderson brought to the organization.
Given the narrative which was in place four years ago, the question should be presented whether the 2019 Mets are Sandy’s or Brodie’s team.
The answer is this is definitively Brodie’s team. As the General Manager, he was the one who set into course a series of transactions made to build the Mets in his image. It was he who decided to extend deGrom and to bring in Cano. When you are the General Manager, you are the one making the decisions, and you should receive the credit or blame if your decisions succeed or falter.
As for Sandy Alderson, Mets fans should be appreciative of the talent he acquired during his tenure. Alderson not only left behind a talented group of players, but he left behind a very likeable group of players. In the end, the Mets were better off for him having been the General Manager, and we can only hope we can say the same when Van Wagnen’s tenure as the Mets General Manager ends.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
Last year, Luis Guillorme struggled at the Major League level. In 35 games, he had a -0.3 WAR and a 53 wRC+. His defense, which was his calling card, was far from the Gold Glove level many expected it to be. In fact he would have just a 0 DRS in 41.0 innings at second and a -3 DRS in 98.2 innings at third. To make matters worse, even though he was on the 40 man roster, the Mets would not call him up in September.
Heading into the 2019 season, the odds were really stacked against Guillorme. Not only did the organization seem to sour on him, but the team seemed to move past him. During the offseason, the team not only signed Jed Lowrie, they would also sign Adeiny Hechavarria. The team would also add Dilson Herrera to an already crowded Syracuse infield mix.
Seeing the Mets decisions, it was fair to question whether Guillorme would remain a part of the organization for a full season let alone get another opportunity at the Major League level. Guillorme took it upon himself to answer those questions.
While the Mets were finishing another .500 season, Guillorme traveled to Europe to play in the Super 6 Baseball Tournament. In the tournament, he would hit .333/.435/.944 with a triple, three homers, and six RBI, and he would lead Spain to the bronze medal. That would be just the start of an offseason where Guillorme would work hard to get himself ready for the 2019 season.
Put another way, despite the considerable odds stacked against him, Guillorme came to Spring Training ready to force the issue. Everyone would soon take notice:
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) March 3, 2019
In 18 games this Spring, Guillorme has hit .361/.465/.556 with four doubles, a homer, and four RBI while playing well defensively. With his play on the field, he would outlast all of his competition for a roster spot. That included Herrera, and it would eventually include Hechavarria. He is now poised to make the Opening Day roster, and he is in a position to impress while Lowrie is on the Injured List.
This means Guillorme will once again have an opportunity to impress the Mets. If he builds off of what he did well last year, he will.
Specifically, Guillorme was quite good off the bench. In 15 pinch hitting attempts, Guillorme was 3-for-11 with a double, four walks, and an RBI. Overall, he would enter 21 games as a sub, and he would hit .375/.524/.438 in those games. One of the reasons why is despite his power, he makes a high rate of contact at the plate, which was evidenced by his 4.1 percent strikeout rate at the Major League level last year.
More than that, Guillorme has always been a smart player who has gotten the most out of his talent. As we are now seeing, he is responding to getting knocked down by coming back a better player. We have seen him play well defensively, and we have seen him perform well as a pinch hitter. Ultimately, he has proven he has the talent to play at the Major League level.
Now, he will have an opportunity to prove he can play well at the Major League level while being a key component of a postseason contender. Based upon his entire professional career, we may see him have a similar impact on the Mets that Joe McEwing once had for the 1999 and 2000 Mets.
The long winter is over and Opening Day is just three days away. During the 2019 season, we are sure to see some ups and downs, and there will be players who will surprise us over the course of the season. In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we discussed which players we believe will surprise us and all of baseball during the 2019 season:
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
I don’t think Met fans would be surprised by anybody having a good year, because we’re looking hard at everybody. In terms of the baseball world, I think the surprise would be Amed Rosario. He had a down season but his last two months and his spring would be great. I think around baseball, nobody is really expecting much from him but he could surprise in the way that he might live up to his potential in his second full season.
Though I think the surprise will be Noah Syndergaard. Not that it would shock anyone if he had a good or even great season, but I think he could have “that” season. Like … Jacob deGrom type season. That would even surprise Mets fans, but I think it has a chance of happening.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
I totally agree on Syndergaard. When you actually watch his highlight videos, so much of the time he’s just completely untouchable. If he finally has “that” season, where he pitches up to his potential almost every start, he’s easily a Cy Young candidate.
Another candidate — Juan Lagares? He’s never been an offensive star, but I’ve always thought he looked better than replacement-level as a hitter. I don’t think he’ll bat .300 or hit 30 (or even 20) home runs, but if he finally plays close to regularly and replicates or slightly improves on his 2014 performance — say, .280/.320/.380 — he’ll be an enormous asset. Remember: his defense has stayed fantastic (positive dWAR every year), and last season, in 30 games, he looked like a legitimate professional hitter.
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
I’d agree with Rosario as the best “surprise” candidate. Has tremendous ability but hasn’t put it all together besides the occasional flashes. Think he can take another step forward and grow into more than a decent defender who bats at the bottom of the order.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
I’m sticking with Jason Vargas as my pleasant surprise this season. His strong second half last year and, for the most part, lights out spring are both very encouraging signs. As long as he sticks to his game (slow and low, that is the tempo), pitching behind four fireballers in deGrom, Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz, I really feel like he’s gonna be successful. A high threes-to-low four ERA out of your fifth starter is a great thing. Hopefully, he can find a rhythm and contribute consistently.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
From two sides: Robinson Cano, for having more left than we suspect.
Ryan O’Rourke, as that useful bullpen arm we didn’t necessarily see coming.
My initial instinct was to peg players like Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini, but ultimately, I am not sure they are going to receive sufficient enough playing time to really get a chance to surprise anyone or even establish themselves.
One player who should receive an opportunity is Luis Guillorme. Last year, he did establish himself as an adept pinch hitter, and with him being in better shape, he should play excellent defense at second, third, and short. With the injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie (especially Lowrie), he’s going to get that opportunity too. He’s the type of guy who could breakthrough and become a fan favorite this season.
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Yesterday was a very good day for Luis Guillorme. After an offseason where he put in a lot of work, he had a very good Spring Training. If yesterday is any indication, he’s overcome long odds and took advantage of Jed Lowrie‘s and Todd Frazier‘s injuries to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster.
It was a very good day for him indeed. By the same token, it was not a good day for Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
First and foremost, the Mets assigned Devin Mesoraco to minor league camp. In response, he told the Mets if he was not released he was going to retire. He also said he expected to make the Opening Day roster.
Devin Mesoraco has told the Mets he won’t go to Triple-A. His expectation was he would be on the club. He is now pushing for the Mets to release him. If that doesn’t happen he will be placed on the restricted list.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) March 23, 2019
Expectation is a funny word. It could be Mesoraco thought he was better than Travis d’Arnaud and Tomas Nido, and as such, he expected to make the team. It could also be his expectations were if d’Arnaud were to start the year on the IL, he would make the team. Neither are the case here.
It’s also possible overtures were made by Van Wagenen that Mesoraco was going to make the team, and those overtures might have induced Mesoraco to sign with the Mets over seeking another opportunity or waiting it out a little longer to see if a catcher (like Salvador Perez) suffered an injury.
You do wonder if it was the latter as Adeiny Hechavarria did not make the roster. With respect to Hechavarria, he was taken to dinner by Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, who sold him on their vision for him with this club. Aside from the fact it’s odd to wine-and-dine a 29 year old replacement level player, it would seem strange Hechavarria was enticed to sign with the Mets over another team because he thinks Syracuse is a great city.
Between the Mesoraco and Hechavarria situations, the more likely scenario is they were asked to sign minor league deals with the expectation the Mets would make a 40 man move at the end of Spring Training to add them to the Opening Day roster.
It’s the most likely but not the only possible explanation. However, the problem with the others is it would require a more plausible explanation why Mesoraco seems so upset and why Hechavarria would want to play in Syracuse.
And no, we should not cite Spring Training stats. They’re meaningless, especially for veteran players. The Mets know the level of production these players would provide over the course of a 162 game season. A poor Spring doesn’t change that.
As bad as that is the Mets brought back a lot of old friends from years past. The team signed Ruben Tejada and Travis Taijeron, each of whom was a dubious signing. Really, neither serve as MLB depth, and in reality, their presence only serves to take at-bats away from younger players like Gavin Cecchini, i.e. players who could still have a chance to improve and make an impact on the Major League level.
As bad (or even overblown) as all this is, there’s Jacob deGrom.
Jacob deGrom says he's "probably not as" optimistic as he once was that he and the Mets will complete a contract extension before Opening Day.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 23, 2019
Like all of us, he sees the extensions the other players are getting, specifically Chris Sale and Justin Verlander. Now, deGrom isn’t as optimistic his former agent can get him the deal he told him he was worth.
This could mean at a time when all of baseball is pushing to extend their stars, the Mets are shut out, or in the best case scenario, only lock up deGrom.
All told, what was a great day for Guillorme was a very bad day for Van Wagenen and the Mets.