According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
Well, the Mets took two out of three from the Phillies. As a result, the Mets next series actually matters. So there’s that. Here’s some more:
1. This is just the third series the Mets have won all year and the first against a team other than the Miami Marlins.
3. The deGrom start was a tough one because it probably cost him the Cy Young, which will also hinder his Hall of Fame chances.
5. As far as the starting pitching, we haven’t seen much of a tangible impact from new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, but we have seen him help relievers with pitch utilization and locations.
6. That’s not to say the bullpen has been good because it hasn’t. However, they came up big in a series when deGrom and Lugo didn’t pitch five innings combined.
7. There’s a lot to unwrap from Lugo’s start including how the Phillies hit four homers off of him and his decreased velocity as a starter. While this bears mentioning, we need to see more before drawing any conclusions.
8. Lugo even being in the rotation is another indication of just how awful a job Brodie Van Wagenen has done and just how much he has stripped the Mets of quality rotation depth.
10. Articles trying to explain why Steve Cohen’s money may not matter and why he won’t spend right away are trying to be a little too cute and are very disingenuous in their premises.
11. Also, Cohen is getting approved because he’s going to be the wealthiest owner in the game, and he bought the Mets for more than any North American sports team has ever sold. People telling you his approval is because of the respect Fred Wilpon has in the game are embarrassing themselves.
12. Wilson Ramos has seemingly struggled more than anyone being separated from his family. It’s a real shame he has dealt with these issues.
13. Its a good thing J.D. Davis had that big game on Wednesday because he’s been basically terrible since August 1 costing the Mets games with his ground balls and glove.
14. Over the last month, Davis is hitting .253/.360/.411, and Jeff McNeil is hitting .360/.442/.584. Naturally, McNeil bats seventh and Davis third. It’s because it’s not about winning, but rather about Van Wagenen.
15. With Davis and Pete Alonso struggling, at some point the uncomfortable conversation needs to happen about how much the juiced ball impacted their 2019 production.
16. Anyone calling Brandon Nimmo a fourth outfielder doesn’t know anything about baseball.
17. With Dellin Betances likely exercising his $6 million player option, and the Mets having to buy out Ramos for $1.5 million and Robinson Chirinos for $2.5, the Wilpons have left a nice $10 million tab for Cohen.
18. The extra postseason spots made sense in a 60 game season, but it will be a disaster going forward. So naturally, Rob Manfred wants it.
19. Looking through the years, under this new proposed format, you’re going to get under .500 teams in the postseason on a routine basis. That’s bad for the sport.
20. The Mets have to play the best baseball they possibly can to even have a chance. Given the matchups against the Braves and Rays, their chances aren’t good, but we’re Mets fans, so we’re going to watch and hold out hope.
It seems at least once a year the Washington Nationals just embarrass the Mets. While much has changed in this COVID19 world, apparently, this tradition has survived.
Brandon Nimmo had a rough night in the outfield. He didn’t make an error, but he didn’t get to a lot of balls. He wasn’t the only one off during the Nationals 16-4 thrashing of a the Mets.
The Nationals hit four homers with two of them coming from former Met Asdrubal Cabrera. That included a true juiced ball homer.
JUICED BALL HR OF THE NIGHT pic.twitter.com/uGxSYEHKSb
— Dylan Hornik (@_Hornik_) August 11, 2020
You may remember Cabrera from his stint with the Mets. If not, you may remember him as the guy Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t give a courtesy call to when he instead opted to sign his former client Jed Lowrie, who had a busted knee.
Lowrie gave the Mets nine pinch hit attempts, and Cabrera helped the Nationals win the World Series. He also helped destroy the Mets tonight. So, thanks for that Brodie.
Really, the less said about this debacle, the better. It’s time to turn the page and just try to figure out how to piece together a starting rotation. Again, thanks for that Brodie.
Before the game, the New York Mets announced Yoenis Cespedes went missing. The Mets didn’t know where he was, and as time progressed, it turns out, we didn’t even know if the Mets did the bare minimum to locate him . . . if they even did that.
During the game, they informed us they still haven’t heard from or located Cespedes, but they knew he was safe. That’s an odd statement to make about someone you haven’t spoken to nor know his whereabouts.
In the end, it turned out Cespedes opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID19 concerns. As reported by The Athletic, Cespedes has a family member who was high risk for COVID19 which drove his decision.
Before the season, there were reasons to play. There was a lot of money on the line not just for 2020, but if he could prove he could play, his 2021 contract was at stake.
However, as time passed circumstances changed dramatically. The Marlins had an outbreak. The Cardinals may be on the verge of one. He wasn’t getting the playing time, and he wasn’t hitting to the extent he needed to hit those incentives.
All in all, it’s possible Cespedes said it wasn’t worth the risk anymore.
However, at this point, we still don’t know. Cespedes hasn’t commented, and the Mets made sure no one but Brodie Van Wagenen commented on the matter.
In the same Zoom session Brodie Van Wagenen talked about transparency, #mets PR cut off the session with 6 hands still raised and then made just one player — a rookie pitcher — available.
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) August 2, 2020
While the Mets told us about how they were blindsided by Cespedes, they certainly seemed to know he was alright, and the team also seemed to have addressed his absence by obtaining Billy Hamilton from the San Francisco Giants.
So, to sum up, the Mets traded for another outfielder, knew Cespedes was alright, stopped answering questions about it, and they refused to let the players speak to the press about it. Believe what you want, but the Mets are hiding something here.
So today’s fiasco seems to be either:
1. The Mets sent a statement designed to shame Yoenis Cespedes.
2. The Mets sent out a statement to say Yoenis Cespedes didn’t come to work — but without first determining his wellbeing.
A well-run organization would do neither.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 2, 2020
On the field, the Mets continue to disappoint.
David Peterson had a quality start allowing three runs over six innings, but he’d take the loss because the Mets were shutout. The team was 1-for-15 with RISP and left 13 runners on base.
There were many culprits for this 4-0 loss, but the biggest was the Mets front office spearheaded by Brodie Van Wagenen with not just how he handled this situation, but each and every situation with this team.
The Mets were bludgeoned by the Yankees over the two game exhibition set by the combined score of 15-3. The key word there was exhibition.
Neither of these two games counted, and they had all the weight and importance of a Spring Training game. That’s because it was Summer Camp, which was really Spring Training Part Deux.
Really, when you break it down, almost none of what happened the past two games matters. That’s even if you want to get bent out of shape about the Yankees homering off of Corey Oswalt, Drew Smith, and Chasen Shreve, i.e. bullpen bubble guys.
That’s not to say there weren’t some important takeaways. There absolutely were. It’s just the final score of home run barrage weren’t close to them.
The biggest takeaway was Yoenis Cespedes was able to play consecutive days, and he looked good running. He also only played three innings in left meaning he’s not quite in a spot to play the outfield just yet. Put another way, on a team of DHs, he’s the Mets DH.
Jed Lowrie still isn’t really playing, and the Mets have no idea when he can play. Basically, it’s 2019 all over again. To a certain extent, in this topsy turvy COVID19 world, it’s nice having some consistency.
It appears with Wilson Ramos missing these two games to attend to an undisclosed family matter and Rene Rivera being added to the 40 man roster, Tomas Nido might be the Mets Opening Day catcher. Somewhere the rehabbing Noah Syndergaard must be ripping his hair out.
On the topic of Opening Day, Jacob deGrom had a good bullpen session, and he appears set to go.
In that Opening Day lineup, all indications are Robinson Cano will start the year batting third . . . again. Of course, this once again means this wasn’t a Mickey Callaway decision, but rather a Brodie Van Wagenen one. That is, unless, you believe Luis Rojas independently reached the same decision, and Van Wagenen isn’t still trying to prop up his former client he used Jarred Kelenic to obtain.
More than any of this, it’s great having baseball back with Gary, Keith, and Ron calling games. Let’s all just cherish this, hope everyone stays safe, and the Mets got the work in they needed to start their path towards winning the 2020 World Series.
Jacob deGrom left after the first inning of an intrasquad game with a back issue. He has now undergone an MRI, and it was determined there was no structural damage.
This isn’t the first time deGrom had a back issue. Back in his first Cy Young season, he dealt with a back issue near the end of Spring Training. As we know, not only did he not miss a turn through the rotation because of it, deGrom would have an all-time great season en route to his first Cy Young.
If you’re an optimistic person, you could see this as a harbinger of good things to come. Even if you don’t try to grasp at straws to try to paint this as an induction of another great season for deGrom, hearing it’s “just” muscle tightness is a relief.
Well, at least it should be.
If we’re being honest, the Mets have a horrible track record on this. In April 2015 David Wright was only diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Pedro Martinez‘s toe in 2005 preceded a torn labrum in 2006.
Those problems still persistent. Much like with Carlos Beltran in 2010, the Mets initially insisted Yoenis Cespedes didn’t need career saving surgery before relenting. There’s also the matter of Jed Lowrie whose problems are still not fully known or addressed by the Mets.
On Lowrie, aside from making the biggest free agent blunder in team history, they’ve reached new standards in medical diagnosis and treatment. That’s something else.
Jed Lowrie is dealing with left knee soreness, Mets are limiting his activity.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) February 20, 2019
— Wayne Randazzo (@WayneRandazzo) February 22, 2019
If you’ll notice, Lowrie’s MRI revealed “no significant damage.”
Soreness became no significant damage. That became soreness behind his knee. That became a capsule strain. After that, the Mets have all but given up on trying to pretend to know what Lowrie’s issue was and is. We just know he can’t play in games until he can play without a knee brace.
So yes, celebrate deGrom not suffering a significant injury. Breathe a sigh of relief. Picture that third Cy Young and World Series trophy. Its hard not to get carried away. After all, deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball, and he should dominate in 2020.
That’s if he can pitch. Considering the Mets history, we can’t be 100% sure. At least not yet. Sure, it’s a melodramatic way of looking at things, but this is the Mets. It’s also 2020 with all the crazy and bizarre things that have happened it’s difficult to trust some good news.
In the end, not trusting deGrom will be fine may be nothing more than paranoia. Well, justified paranoia.
The Mets have done their part protecting the confidentiality of their players. We know Brad Brach and Robinson Cano aren’t in camp, but the team will not say why. Thar said, Luis Rojas might’ve given us an indication it’s COVID19 related:
Luis Rojas said the Mets haven't had any baseball-related injuries so far during camp.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) July 12, 2020
As is typically the case when a player is going to miss time, the discussion begins on what the Mets should do to replace these players.
There’s a ton of options available to replace Cano, and it’s an interesting debate.
It’s similar to Brach. Newly signed Jared Hughes is obviously the first man up to replace him. There’s also Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Stephen Gonsalves, Franklyn Kilome, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, and some interesting minor league arms.
If this were a normal 2020 season, we’d debate the correct path, and we’d see the Mets have time to get it wrong, get it wrong again, and hopefully, finally make the correct decision.
However, this is far from a normal season. There is a pandemic which threatens the lives and long-term health of people. We’ve already heard about Freddie Freeman and his struggle with this disease. We’re hearing about Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz still experiencing some issues.
Right now, we don’t know if Brach or Cano have COVID19. To the extent they do have it, we don’t know how much it’s impacting them now, or will affect their health in the future.
The only thing we do know is there’s a pandemic which is affecting people differently. We know this pandemic has no vaccine. Even with precautions, we can’t guarantee players won’t become infected.
With all we know and don’t know with COVID19, at some point we need to pivot from who will replace these infected players to whether there should be baseball in 2020.
Remember, it’s alright to desperately want baseball to return. It’s also alright to believe it’s not safe for these players to play. We’re all human, and there’s no clear cut answer or solution.
When it comes to the Mets, there have been several bad to disastrous free agent signings. In fact, up until recently, there was a real debate over which signing was the worst.
Players like Bobby Bonilla and Kazuo Matsui never quite fulfilled his promise. Roger Cedeno was nowhere near the player he was in 1999 when he returned to Queens. Jason Bay didn’t hit for power before the concussions happened.
As bad as those were, there was Vince Coleman, who was an unmitigated disaster. Aside from his numbers falling off a cliff, he threw firecrackers at fans, injured Dwight Gooden with a golf club, and he was accused of sexual assault (charges never filed).
Looking at it, Coleman was probably the worst of the group. When you consider the long standing animosity Mets fans had towards him prior to the signing and his off the field problems, he may still have claim to that title.
However, when it comes to on the field performance, Jed Lowrie is definitively the worst ever Mets signing. We just need to look at video from the Mets summer camp yesterday to confirm that.
Jed Lowrie is participating in base running drills with his brace on. His speed is definitely not game-ready. pic.twitter.com/PyVmUqT9J4
— Deesha (@DeeshaThosar) July 5, 2020
Rewinding back to Spring Training last year, Lowrie was initially described as having left knee soreness. Time and again, the Mets downplayed the injury, and to date, they have yet to really reveal what the injury actually is.
They didn’t reveal it when he had multiple rehab assignments shut down. They didn’t reveal it when he was 0-for-7 as a pinch hitter in September. They didn’t reveal it when he came to Spring Training this year not really ready to play. Even months later, they’re still not revealing it. Worse yet, they’re downplaying it.
New manager Luis Rojas was put in the position today that Mickey Callaway failed far too often. He had to offer an out-and-out lie and make it sound believable. According to what Rojas said, Lowrie is a “full go.”
Later in the day, we saw the video running and realized there’s no way that’s true. Lowrie is not a full go, and to a certain extent the Mets talking about Lowrie ramping up to try to play without a brace is a strawman. All told, brace or no brace, this is simply a player who can’t get on the field.
The more you see the aborted rehab attempts, the lack of explanations for the injury, the mixed messages, and Lowrie’s inability to do anything but swing the bat, the more you’re reminded of David Wright. Before his send off, Wright would make similar attempts to get back, but ultimately his body wouldn’t let him. It seems the same with Lowrie.
Maybe Lowrie is different , but that’s anyone’s guess. Really, that’s all we have. That’s partially because the Mets revealed no news, and it’s because Lowrie didn’t either.
Asked what is exactly wrong with his leg, Lowrie said he doesn't want to create a distraction.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 5, 2020
Maybe telling everyone why his knee, left side, or whatever else the Mets want to call it would be more of a distraction than it is already. Maybe it won’t. Whatever the case, when you strip it all down, the Mets gave a two year $20 million deal to a guy who just can’t play.
The Mets didn’t need Lowrie when they signed him. They already had Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Jeff McNeil. What they needed was arms in the bullpen, but they already allocated their budget towards an infielder who would wind up doing no more than a few pinch hitting attempts (without a hit). You could say the Mets not having those extra arms in the pen is what cost them the postseason last year.
Ultimately, Lowrie is getting $20 million from the Mets, and he can’t get on the field. The money allocated towards him could’ve addressed other deficiencies on the roster and helped pushed the Mets into the postseason. Brodie Van Wagenen signed his former client, who was too injured to even start one game, and with that Van Wagenen quite possibly made the single worst free agent signing in Mets history.
On February 21, 2019, Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters the MRI on Jed Lowrie‘s knee revealed “no significant damage.” The following day, Lowrie’s injury was described as nothing more than “soreness behind his left knee,” and ultimately, the team gave no estimates for when Lowrie could return to play.
As we know that no significant damage would eventually be classified as a capsule strain. That capsule strain became the Mets know really knowing what was wrong with Lowrie, and by all accounts, the Mets still do not know what is wrong with Lowrie.
All we know at this point is he was limited to just eight pinch hitting attempts in 2019, and he showed up to Spring Training this year wearing a very large brace on his left leg. Realistically speaking, no one knows what, if anything, Lowrie can contribute in 2019. Really, no one knows if Lowrie will ever be able to play again.
Almost a year later, J.D.Yoe Davis dives for a ball at third, is taken out of the game, and he undergoes an MRI. When announcing the results of the MRI, Brodie Van Wagenen announced there was inflammation, a pre-existing labrum tear, and that they need to reassess Davis in a week.
J.D. Davis' MRI didn't reveal any new structural damage and will begin rehabbing today, according to Brodie Van Wagenen pic.twitter.com/lbqkVEHEgq
— SNY (@SNYtv) February 26, 2020
While some circles will paint that as good news, it is hard to calculate it as such, especially with what we knew heading into Van Wagenen’s statements. First and foremost, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported Tigers team doctors examined Davis and determined “there wasn’t labrum or rotator cuff damage.”
Davis, himself, was unaware he had an existing torn labrum. The Tigers doctors, without the benefit of an MRI, were unaware of it. In very short order, this went from nothing to a pre-existing injury, inflammation, unable to do baseball activities in a week, beginning rehab, and re-evaluation of the injury in a week or so.
However, Van Wagenen wants us to now believe the Mets were well aware of the injury, and that now, it is not going to be an issue.
While it is very possible that is the case, there is a certain element of Yoenis Cespedes to this. Supposedly, the Mets were always aware he had double heel issues, and yet, they initially expressed disbelief he would need the surgery before finally acquiescing.
No one is going to say Davis needs surgery. By the same token, no one is going to say Davis will be a complete non-factor in 202o like Lowrie and Cespedes were in 2019. However, what we have seen with Lowrie, Cespedes, and even David Wright (spinal stenosis initially ruled mild right hamstring strain), the Mets have a very poor history initially diagnosing significant injuries and setting forth a plan to get the players on the field.
The initial news for Davis isn’t as dire as many feared when he first went down and needed an MRI. There is hope he can come back in a week and be ready to resume baseball activities. However, with this being the Mets, no one should take anything out of this other than we won’t know if Davis can play until we see him active and playing in Queens.
We haven’t completed the first week of Spring Training games, and suddenly, the Mets are moving towards being put in a position where they will need to find their Opening Day left fielder. Arguably, we are not yet at that day, but from the looks of it, that day of reckoning may soon come.
Yoenis Cespedes has been rehabbing from his double heel surgery, and according to indications, he is doing roughly 85% of what the other Mets players are doing. Cespedes has been pushing hard, but no one quite knows if he is going to be able to be ready for Opening Day, and if he is, no one knows if he can play everyday.
To some, Cespedes was seen as a luxury because the Mets had other options in the outfield. Depending on how things shake out, that may no longer be true.
J.D. Davis dove for a ball at third, and he is being at least temporarily shut down. He has a “pre-existing” labrum tear and inflammation. Davis says he will be ready for Opening Day, but we heard the same refrains from Jed Lowrie last year, and when we look at history, the Mets have a terrible history diagnosing and handling injuries.
Brandon Nimmo, who was supposed to be ready to go for Opening Day, is now dealing with a cardiac issues. He is undergoing cardiac screening, and at this point, we don’t know what the exact issue is, and really, we don’t know how this issue (to the extent there is one) will limit him.
Right there, the Mets are potentially down three outfield options. That leaves Jake Marisnick, who was a below average hitter even when he knew what pitch was coming, and Dominic Smith, who suffered a stress fracture playing the outfield last year. Keep in mind, where the Mets stand right now, they are in a position to play Marisnick and Smith everyday with their backup outfielder being Jeff McNeil, who is also their everyday third baseman.
The question is what then happens when or if either Marisnick or Smith go down? There just isn’t the depth in Triple-A to sustain an injury. When you look at it, the Mets are getting increasingly shallow in the outfield, and that is before the season even begins.
With Puig, the Mets are getting a good fielder, who even at his worst, is a league average bat. No, Puig is not the superstar many thought he’d be when he debuted with the Dodgers. Rather, he is a solid, good, durable, and reliable everyday Major League outfielder. Put another way, he is exactly what the Mets don’t have.
Now, it is possible Cespedes will be ready by Opening Day. Davis’ shoulder and Nimmo’s heart may not keep them out of the Opening Day lineup. Marisnick could have a career year, and after a full offseason, Smith could be ready to play everyday in the outfield. Still, that is a lot of question marks, and it is unwise to hinge your season on all of that breaking in the Mets favor.
Seeing that is the case, the Mets should be acting quickly to sign Puig. If nothing else, they’ll put themselves in a position to have too many player for too few spots. That’s a much better problem to have than not having Major League caliber players to play the outfield because the Mets waited too long to act and some other team signed Puig at the precise moment they needed him most.