Tim Tebow is a problem because the Mets are making him one. So far, he has played in 60 of Syracuse’s first 79 games. Essentially, this means he is playing fairly regularly despite his hitting just .150/.232/.209. It should come as little surprise he’s not getting better with June being his worst month of the season.
If the Mets problems handling the player assignments and playing time at the Double-A and Triple-A level were limited only to Tebow, you can overlook things a bit. After all, whether you like to admit it or not, the Mets operate a business, and they are going to attempt to use Tebow to generate revenue for their newly acquired Syracuse franchise. Unfortunately, the problems run deeper than Tebow.
Entering the season, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson Cano, J.D. Davis, Todd Frazier, Jed Lowrie, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario. The Mets added to this glut by first signing and then calling up Adeiny Hechavarria. Considering the situation, the last thing the Mets needed were veterans taking up space on the Syracuse infield.
Despite that, the Mets signed Danny Espinosa, who is a career .221/.297/.344 hitter and hit .197/.286/.344 between 2016-2017 and did not play in the majors last year. To make matters worse, he leads the team in games played. Second on the team is Travis Taijeron, who has established himself as not being a Major League caliber player. Fourth in games played is Gregor Blanco, who hit .217/.262/.317 last year.
Those three players right there are not just taking up space on the roster, but it is also taking away at-bats from players who truly needed it.
It’s easy to forget Dilson Herrera is just 25 years old, but he is making him a young player with potential to develop. To be fair, he is third on the team in games played. However, it was not until recently the team has sought to develop him more into a utility player. Prior to June, he had only played two full games in left field and none at any other position but second and third.
To be useful to the organization, Herrera needed to be playing first, second, third, and all three outfield positions. However, he can’t partially because those spots are taken by Espinosa, Taijeron, and Blanco, three players who were never going to be a factor for the Mets in 2019. When you add Tebow, that’s four.
This has a necessary trickle down effect. Players like David Thompson and Gavin Cecchini, who just came off the IL, have been assigned to Binghamton. At this stage in their professional development, they need to be in Triple-A working on things. For both, that means become more versatile and becoming better hitters. However, they can’t be in Syracuse getting regular playing time because the Mets are wasting playing time on two has beens and two never will bes.
Those players being in Binghamton has a trickle down effect interfering with playing time for players like Luis Carpio. Carpio was someone once regarded as a top prospect, but he would suffer shoulder injuries. On that front, he has gotten healthy and shown some promise. Of course, that promise only goes as far as the team’s willingness and ability to get him playing time.
There are other issues like Braxton Lee, a 25 year old who plays good defense and has good speed, being forced to Double-A instead of getting real development time in Syracuse. There’s also the fact Luis Guillorme is in Triple-A splitting middle infield playing time instead of just playing over Hechavarria at the Major League level.
Really, the list goes on and on, and that is before you consider Rene Rivera catching everyday leaves the Mets having Patrick Mazeika and Ali Sanchez sharing catching duties in Binghamton instead of them being split up to allow them both to get regular playing time and thrive.
While we rightfully focus on what has transpired with the Mets, the organization’s problems run deeper than just the team in Queens. The same shortsightedness and reliance on under-performing players over promising young players is also very present in Triple-A.
If things continue this way, this will prove to be not just a lost season in Queens but Syracuse as well.
On Thursday, I had the honor and the privilege of being a guest on A Metsian Podcast. It was a lot of fun and cathartic, and I would hope you would all take a listen by clicking on the link provided.
I’m not sure if this is a reason to entice you to listen, but during the course of the podcast, I personally mentioned or discussed the following Mets players: Tom Seaver, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Cliff Floyd, Nolan Ryan, Aaron Sele, Jason Vargas, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, Jim Fregosi, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Sean Gilmartin, Darren Oliver, Pat Mahomes, Eric Hanhold, Steve Villines, Corey Oswalt, Jacob Rhame, Hansel Robles, Stephen Nogosek, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Darryl Strawberry, and others. This list is off the top of my head.
Looking at that list, maybe that’s why they haven’t brought me back after my last appearance three years ago when I went on a Daniel Murphy rant.
Anthony Swarzak entered. He’d allow a pinch hit infield single to J.D. Davis to load the bases. After nearly missing a grand slam, Jeff McNeil struck out. Pete Alonso, who hit a homer earlier in the game, lined out to end the jam.
And that was it.
A series after Jay Bruce beat up on the Mets, Swarzak shut the Mets down. Again, we’re reminded of just how terrible that trade was and how awful Brodie Van Wagenen has been as the General Manager.
The bright side is the Mets bullpen wouldn’t get another chance to blow a lead. Still, even without a lead, Robert Gsellman would have his own bases loaded jam except he gave up a bases clearing double to Johan Camargo to increase the Braves lead to 6-2.
Game Notes: A year after their horrific 5-21 June, the Mets ate so far 9-16.
The Mets went to Philadelphia to take on a wounded Phillies team who was aboslutely reeling. You knew after this series one of these two teams would still be standing, and the other will look like their past offseason was all for naught. Well, the Mets bullpen would make sure that would happen:
1. As noted by Michael Mayer, the last time a team blew five games where they led by at least two runs was the 2011 Mets. No, not the last time the Mets did it – the last time anyone did it. The closer that year was Francisco Rodriguez with Pedro Beato, Bobby Parnell, and Jason Isringhausen serving as setup men. Prior to this season, no one was saying “Come get us!”
2. We can talk about different parts of this Mets team getting exposed, but no one was more exposed than Brodie Van Wagenen. He mismanaged the “crisis” with Mickey Callaway and Jason Vargas. The media reported his involvement in game decisions like removing Jacob deGrom from a game. There were reports it was more than that as well.
4. This debacle is reminiscent of the 1993 Mets with Vince Coleman throwing fireworks at fans and Bret Saberhagen dousing reporters in bleach. What’s the common denominator between those two Mets teams? The Wilpons.
5. It was good for the Wilpons to take nine years to finally do the right thing by honoring Tom Seaver. Of course, they waited so long Seaver is now suffering from dementia so he cannot travel for these honors, and he may also not have the mental faculties to enjoy the honors being bestowed upon him.
6. The article by Wallace Matthews of Yahoo is completely ridiculous. Not only does he call Vargas the team’s most reliable starter, but he gets a chance to speak with Jeff Wilpon. With that access, he talks about the incident with Tim Healey instead of literally anything else. Honestly, if Jeff wants to talk about that, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time.
7. Jeff Wilpon’s silence on the state of this team and the continual inept way it is run from a number of facets should be met by fans with silence. We could call to organize a boycott or something, but in reality, the team being this soul crushingly bad is going to keep the fans away anyway. When that happens, Jeff’s silence will be met with silence.
8. Worse than that, Jay Bruce gets a key pinch hit home run and a walk off double, Robinson Cano has multiple 0-for-5’s, and Edwin Diaz blows a save. Right there, his biggest move completely busted. Actually, that’s not fair, it was a bust long before that.
9. So much for scapegoating Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez because the Mets bullpen imploded in the four game set. Worse yet, these were games the Mets absolutely should have won:
The Mets' peak win probabilities for these four games in Philadelphia:
MON: 68.2 percent
TUES: 86.1 percent
WED: 95 percent
THRS: 92.6 percent
They went 0-4.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) June 27, 2019
10. What Dominic Smith has done this season has been nothing short of remarkable. This team needs to be smart and really look at him in left field for the rest of the year to determine if he can be a long term solution there. If nothing else, the Mets need as many cheap bats as they can get.
11. Amed Rosario has had a number of peaks and valleys, and recently, this has been a bit of a peak. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .342/.366/.500 with four stolen bases in as many attempts. Ultimately, there still remains hope for him.
12. The Mets need to figure out what to do with Cano, and they need to figure it out sooner rather than later. Realistically speaking, he needs to be moved to a less demanding position like third base and get some days off. As each day passes, it’s clear he can’t play second everyday.
13. Moving Cano to third solves the problem there, and it allows the team to move Jeff McNeil back to second base. This should clear that spot for Smith and hopefully Brandon Nimmo if his injury proves to not be career altering.
14. Speaking of Nimmo, only the Mets could take a talented fan favorite player like him, have him get to an All Star level, and then do all they can to completely ruin him. It’s a not so fun pattern with this team.
15. Todd Frazier has done a lot to help this team and build his trade value. The problem is he’s still a rental who is not really getting you something in return. Really, if you want to make a difference at the deadline, you need to trade major pieces, but with the young talent so close, you can’t do that either.
16. Michael Conforto continues to show himself to be both a great and underappreciated player. He should be an All Star this season. If he isn’t, it’s because this team stinks, and the organization can’t be bothered to promote it’s most talented and perhaps best position player.
17. Chris Mazza getting called up at 29 years old is a feel good story. It’s a feel good story just like Tyler Pill and Drew Gagnon was before him. He should enjoy the moment, but we shouldn’t be expecting anything from him.
18. Chris Flexen looks like a real weapon in the bullpen. Brooks Pounders may become that as well. The optimistic Mets fans could look at them joining Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in front of Diaz, who really cannot be this bad next year, to become a formidable bullpen. As Mets fans, we should know better than to hope.
19. Callaway does sound ridiculous when he says the Mets are so close, but he’s not wrong. This team continues to fight and play hard. If they had even a capable bullpen, they’d be in a much better position. If fact, this is the only team in baseball with more blown saves (20) than saves (18). If you just take back half of those blown saves, the Mets are 47-35, which puts them a game out of first place.
20. Short of honoring the 1969 Mets this weekend, and maybe sometime late in the season to see if Pete Alonso breaks some home run records, there is zero reason to go see the Mets at Citi Field other than your love of the Mets and baseball. The latter is why the Wilpons have us and will never sell the team.
Michael Conforto gave the Mets some hope with a single off Phillies closer Hector Neris (who was working in his three straight day). It could’ve been a double, but he wisely stopped at first when Bryce Harper, who homered to provide the margin, cut the ball off and made a string throw to second. This would put the game and perhaps the season on Todd Frazier‘s bat. For a moment, he saved the season:
The big 🐶 got all of that one. pic.twitter.com/ZTjBApR3yM
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 27, 2019
The Mets tacked on another run to take a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. In this moment, Edwin Diaz had an opportunity to put the past behind him and to just go out there and lock down a big win.
Instead, he issued a leadoff walk to Cesar Hernandez before allowing a game tying homer to Maikel Franco. The homer seemed to have the same issue Jeff McNeil‘s double the other day only this time it was ruled a homer:
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) June 27, 2019
Diaz was not intent on just blowing the save. Oh no! He had grander plans.
After striking out J.T. Realmuto, he again walked a batter. This time it was Sean Rodriguez, who is apparently still playing, who entered the game with a career .300 OBP. Frazier couldn’t bail the Mets out again this time deflecting what would be ruled to be a Scott Kingery single. That set the stage for the soul crushing Jean Segura walk-off.
What’s left to say? The Mets have more blown saves than saves. The Phillies have the two ex-Mariners who are actually helping a team win a division.
As noted by Mike Mayer of MMO, the last MLB team to blow five consecutive games with a two plus run lead was the Mets in 2011. There’s much more to look at including the Mets odds to win those games:
The Mets' peak win probabilities for these four games in Philadelphia:
MON: 68.2 percent
TUES: 86.1 percent
WED: 95 percent
THRS: 92.6 percent
They went 0-4.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) June 27, 2019
In the end, this was a team who needed a good road trip, and they instead went 3-8. They are now a season worst eight games under. If you had hope, it’s fading very fast.
Game Notes: Before the game, the Mets revealed the new address to Citi Field (41 Seaver Way), and the announced plans for a Tom Seaver statue. This took about nine years too long to accomplish.
In Mets history, it always seems like young guys break into the majors close in time to one another and become forever linked. Seaver & Koosman. Doc & Darryl. Wright & Reyes. This generation was supposed to be Smith & Rosario, but with their early career struggles that hype fell by the wayside. They’ve also been surpassed by the Step Brothers (Pete Alonso & Jeff McNeil).
While they’ve been surpassed, that doesn’t mean they can’t re-emerge. In fact, they just might be doing that.
In the series against the Phillies, Smith has homered in three straight games. Overall, he’s 6-for-12 with a double, three homers, three RBI, and two walks. With respect to Rosario, he’s had peaks and valleys this year with this series being part of a peak. He had a homer and key stolen base. Over his past 10 games, he’s hitting .382/.405/.559.
Smith has overcome both weight and improperly treated medical conditions. While he’s now blocked by Alonso at first base, he has first accepted a role as a bench player and later as the team’s left fielder. He came into the season as someone willing to do whatever it took to help the team, and he has done just that.
On the season, he’s up to a 1.4 WAR making him the fourth best player on the team. He’s at a 0 DRS in left field having made 100 percent of the routine plays so far. While there is the caution of Todd Hundley, Daniel Murphy, and Lucas Duda, you could envision Smith being the Mets left fielder of the future (at least for the moment).
It also seems the Mets may be looking towards moving Rosario to center field. Between his athleticism and the Mets inability to properly shift, and Juan Lagares‘ pending free agency, you could see a real future for him there. It’s also possible he could figure things out at short.
When looking at Smith and Rosario, it is important to remember both are still young and very talented. While you want immediate gratification, sometimes it takes players some time to figure it out at the Major League level, and when that finally happens, watch out! At the moment, we may be seeming Smith as being a player who has figured it out, and with respect to Rosario, he may be a player who is on the cusp.
Overall, while the Mets have had a number of issues and disappointments this season, there are still reasons to watch and enjoy this team. Smith’s and Rosario’s continued development is part of that, and it is something we can look forward to in the second half of this season.
Things were looking great for the Mets. To put it in perspective, Robinson Cano had an RBI single to open the scoring.
It was 2-1 Mets after one, and Walker Lockett was looking pretty good after allowing a leadoff homer to Scott Kingery. He would settle in from there allowing just a Rhys Hoskins homer in the fourth as the two teams entered the sixth.
That lead grew to 5-2 in the top of the sixth. The run was set up by Rosario. After hitting a one out single, he stole second, and he went to third on a throwing error by J.T. Realmuto. Rosario would score on a two out RBI single by Jeff McNeil.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 26, 2019
Going back, it was a two out RBI single by McNeil because Mickey Callaway was told by Brodie Van Wagenen to have Lockett bat in the top of the sixth. Sure, he had a walk and a single, but that was the time to pinch hit for him. The Mets would regret not doing it.
Harper led off the sixth with a walk, which is always a bad omen. There would be runners on second and third on a Realmuto one out double. That double led Van Wagenen to have Callaway bring in Wilmer Font.
Font allowed the first inherited runner to score on a Jay Bruce RBI groundout. The other scored on a Cesar Hernandez RBI single. After that, it was back-to-back homers from Maikel Franco and Brad Miller to give the Phillies a 7-5 lead.
To make matters worse, Font responded by going way up and in on Kingery. The HBP led to both benches bring warned, the ejection of an irate Gabe Kapler‘s ejection, and the Mets bringing in Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman and Chris Flexen would combine to pitch 2.1 scoreless to give the Mets a chance to comeback in this game. For a moment, it looked like they did when McNeil hit one deep off Juan Nicasio in the eighth.
Instead of it being a game tying two run homer, it was a ground rule double. Apparently, there’s a small fence above the actual fence. Balls must clear that to be a homer. It didn’t. With the fan interference, Wilson Ramos wouldn’t get a chance to score from first (not that he would’ve anyway).
Neris would get Alonso, and he’d work his way around a Cano leadoff ninth inning double to close the door. With the loss, the Mets are a season low six games under .500. You get the sense this isn’t rock bottom.
Game Notes: Mets were 2-for 12 with RISP leaving 11 men on base. Mets June bullpen ERA is 7.44.
While Mickey Callaway was finally giving the apology which was demanded of him (which was summarily dismissed) and Jason Vargas barely did the bare minimum, Brodie Van Wagenen filled out a lineup card with Robinson Cano batting third and an outfield of Dominic Smith–Michael Conforto–Jeff McNeil.
However, it wasn’t discussed as there were “more pressing matters.”
If you didn’t think anything could be more embarrassing, Cano was the only position player in either starting lineup who did not have a hit in a game where there was a combined 20 runs and 34 hits in the Mets 13-7 loss. You think that’s bad? Well, Jay Bruce came and got the Mets:
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) June 25, 2019
This is a solid reminder Van Wagenen’s trade with the Mariners was a disaster and with each passing day things get worse.
It blew a big game at the plate for Conforto who hit a double and a homer. In fact, the Mets as a team teed off on Phillies starter Zach Eflin. In addition to Conforto, Todd Frazier, Wilson Ramos, and Smith homered.
It was all for naught as Matz didn’t have it, and the Mets outfield defense let Brooks Pounders down including Conforto playing a what should’ve been a J.T. Realmuto single into a triple. Pounders would give up the homer to Bruce.
In the end, the Mets blew another winnable game, and when you break it down, the only people owed an apology are those who watch this terribly assembled team.
Game Notes: Jeff McNeil‘s hitting streak grew to six games, but he snapped his streak of five straight multi-hit games.
Well, it’s not the Mets unless they do something completely bizarre while also completely blowing an opportunity. Still, this seemed like a new one for the Mets:
1. First things first, we should be talking about Pete Alonso. He already broke Darryl Strawberry‘s rookie home run record, and he now has his sights set on the single season record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. He also has his sights on the single season extra base hit mark (80) shared by Beltran and Howard Johnson.
2. What Alonso is doing this year is truly special, and more than anything he needs to be commended. He also needs to be commended for responding for a subpar May with a big June. More than the homers or anything else, that’s special.
3. Of course, we are not talking about Alonso because Mickey Callaway blew up at a Tim Healey of Newsday, and Jason Vargas challenged him to a fight while needing to be held back by Carlos Gomez and an injured Noah Syndergaard.
4. Callaway completely and utterly overreacted to Healey, and as the manager, he can’t do that. There’s no excuses even if the media is out there gunning for his job. As for Vargas, well, it is good to see this team is willing to fight for him, but needing to be held back is taking it way too far.
5. After the incident, the media members took their rounds discussing the altercation. The most eye opening statements came from Mike Puma of the New York Post who said Callaway is a puppet just following orders, inclusive of the bullpen. He also said he thinks Callaway was trying to get fired.
6. On that front, it’s bizarre how the media believes Callaway is a puppet making no decisions, and yet, they want him fired, and they’re not pursuing the answers to the questions they want answered. As a fan, we don’t know anything because it’s not at all being reported.
7. With respect to the blown game, Seth Lugo was pushed too far. He needed to be pulled after the 20 pitch seventh. He didn’t have it, and you got a clean inning out of him. Going beyond that was too greedy. Normally, this is where you criticize Callaway, but after Puma’s comments, who knows anymore?
8. On the bullpen, Brooks Pounders, Chris Flexen, Wilmer Font, and Stephen Nogosek combined to pitch eight scoreless innings in the series. That is a huge accomplishment, especially with the Cubs having the fourth best offense in the National League.
9. While you may want to attribute some of this to Phil Regan, as well as Edwin Diaz‘s clean inning, it would be surprising if this was all because of his working with the staff over a few days and not just things Dave Eiland had been working on with them.
10. With respect to Eiland and Chuck Hernandez, they join Travis d’Arnaud and Keon Broxton as scapegoats for an ill conceived roster. We will see how much further the scapegoating goes as the season progresses. What makes the scapegoating even worse was Brodie Van Wagenen’s refusal to accept any personal responsibility for the failures of the team. That’s callow especially when you’re firing two people.
11. One of the interesting tidbits which emerged after Eiland’s firing was how the pitching staff was frustrated with Wilson Ramos. The pitch framing stats shows part of the reason. You also see it when he seemingly doesn’t even bother on some passed balls and wild pitches. If he’s going to be this way behind the plate, he needs to hit much more than he is.
12. While respect to Zack Wheeler, this is the time of the year he typically turns things around. July is his second best month of his career, and his second half ERA is more than a full run lower than his first half ERA. With the way things are going, it seems like the has time to really raise his trade value.
13. Going back to Diaz, we already know how he’s used it dictated by the front office. Once again Callaway was left holding the bag while the reporters did not ask the specific question whether he was allowed to use Diaz for more than four outs. If you think Callaway is a puppet, the questions need to be asked accordingly.
14. Too much was made of Sunday’s lineup. Players need days off, and Cole Hamels was going. In addition to that, the Mets had Jacob deGrom. You can fly with the defense first lineup in these situations, especially if the team is just going to blow the lead in his starts anyway.
15. Jeff McNeil continues to show just how valuable he is. He played three positions well, hit a homer, and he deked Anthony Rizzo into a TOOBLAN to get Lugo out of a jam. This guy is a real baseball player who is not getting nearly enough attention.
16. The fact McNeil and Michael Conforto were not in the top 20 in outfield voting was a really bad job by Mets fans. On the topic of Conforto, he is as unappreciated a player as there is in baseball and really among this fanbase.
17. Todd Frazier went from a .164/.179/.291 batting line to a .267/.357/.453 batting line with a 1.3 WAR. That is a remarkable turnaround, and it is one of the few things which has kept this team (barely) afloat.
18. With respect to Frazier his throwing his bat in disgust on a homer shows how much the ball is juiced as well as what happens when the ball is blowing out in Wrigley.
19. It’s funny how completely in disarray the Mets have been before and after Sandy Alderson. Say what you want about Sandy, but he was able to control message, deflect attention, and he was able to make the Mets seem like a well run organization. Now that he’s gone, the team looks like a Mickey Mouse operation all over again.
20. The real problem with this team is Jeff Wilpon. Instead of calls for Callaway’s head, we need to have more and more articles and media attention criticizing him. If the attention is on Callaway for following orders, all you’re doing is throwing jabs at Jeff’s designated punching bag.
One of the burdens for a first time dad is figuring out just how you can make your child a Mets fan. The Yankees have long owned New York, they win, and they always have the bigger stars. As a parent, you make do with what you have.
Back in 1983, that was Darryl Strawberry.
Strawberry was the biggest thing to happen to the Mets since seemingly Tom Seaver. He was the first overall pick of the 1980 draft, and he was hailed as the black Ted Williams. He’d be called up in 1983, and he’s actually live up to the hype that year.
Strawberry electrifying baseball and the Mets made selling the team easy to young impressionable baseball fans. The ensuing run for the team made it all the easier. While we talk about players like Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Carter, and justifiably so, Strawberry was the first to burst onto the scene and give everyone a glimpse into what would soon be.
Some of Strawberry’s Mets rookie records still stand today. That includes his 26 homers, which was 26 if his still team record 252 homers as a Met.
The latter still stands, but for who knows how long. In today’s 10-2 route over the Cubs, Pete Alonso hit his 26th homer of the season tying him with Strawberry atop the Mets all-time rookie leaderboard:
It's June 22nd. pic.twitter.com/CAYrv6u1LP
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 22, 2019
With 85 games remaining in the season, Alonso is not just assured to surpass Strawberry, he’s going to obliterate the record. In fact, Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season home run record (41) is in jeopardy.
Other records like Beltran’s and Howard Johnson‘s 80 extra base hits or Mike Piazza‘s .614 SLG may fall as well. Seeing how these power records are in jeopardy, you understand why Alonso’s at-bats have become must see TV. You have to stop to watch him hit because you don’t know what’ll happen next.
Combine that with his being a great teammate, and his doing fun Step Brothers spoofs with Jeff McNeil, you see how he and his epic home run blasts have made him a fan favorite. Much like Strawberry, you not only see how he provides hope for the future, but you also have a seminal figure who makes it cool to be a Mets fan, which is a relief to fathers everywhere.
So, with him hitting his 26th homer congratulations to tying a record which had stood for over 35 years and a record which exists for a franchise which is 57 years old. More than that, congratulations are in order for being a terrific ballplayer whose skills are only surpassed by being the teammate he is. Overall, congratulations to Alonso for being Alonso. As we see, that’s a very special thing to be.