As a second straight Mets season has completely fallen apart, there has been discussions about whether the Mets should blow the whole thing up. Those discussions have been ramped up with Yoenis Cespedes being out for at least 10 months with his having double heel surgery.
There’s talent present which could make the Mets winners in 2020 or even 2019. However, for that to happen, the Mets will need to add some pieces.
Fortunately for the Mets, this could go down as one of the most consequential free agent classes in Major League history. Teams will be lining up to throw money to Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel, Clayton Kershaw, and A.J. Pollock.
Given all that has happened, the Mets will have the money to be competitors on the free agent market. In fact, they are going to be quite flush with cash.
Even if the Mets do not trade anyone who is due money past this season, the Mets will have money freed up because there are a number of contracts expiring after this season:
- AJ Ramos – $9.225 million
- Asdrubal Cabrera – $8.25 million
- Jerry Blevins – $7 million
- Devin Mesoraco* – $5.625 million
- Jose Reyes – $2 million
With respect to Mesoraco, there was an undisclosed amount of cash provided by the Reds when they obtained Harvey in exchange for Mesoraco. While Mesoraco is due $13.12 million this year, it was Harvey’s $5.625 million salary that was part of the Opening Day roster. Therefore, for the sake of calcualting how much money will be available, Harvey’s salary is used as the placeholder.
With the Harvey/Mesoraco caveat, the Mets will have $32.1 million coming off the books just from contracts currently on the books expiring after the season.
Subtotal $32.1 million
With the Mets trading Jeurys Familia, the team not only was able to acquire two prospects in Bobby Wahl and William Toffey, both of whom will be earning de minimis minor league salaries, but the team was also able to remove Familia’s $7.925 million from the books with the team getting some cash savings this season with the Athletics taking on the remainder of Familia’s 2018 salary.
David Wright has not played a Major League game since May 27, 2016. With each passing day and each additional set-back, it becomes increasingly unlikely we will ever see Wright play in another game for the Mets. Now when it comes to Wright, there are two factors at play which would give the team an avenue to spend more money this offseason.
First and foremost, Wright’s salary goes from $20 million in 2018 to $15 million in 2019. Right off the bat, that gives the Mets an additional $5 million to spend this offseason.
Additionally, Wright’s contract is fully insured with insurance paying 75% of Wright’s salary. As a result, the Mets will have an additional $11.25 million available to spend due to Wright’s inability to play.
But Wright is not the only injured player insured. In addition to Wright, Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract is also insured. That’s important in light of the announcement Cespedes will have double heel surgery and will be out at least 10 months. For what it’s worth, the Mets suggested he may be out longer than that.
Remember, Cespedes is out from 10 months from whenever he has the surgery. Not from the date of the press conference. With that in mind and for the sake of being conservative in the estimates, lets assume Cespedes is out for half the season.
With the Mets saying there is insurance that picks up over 50% of the salary owed to Cespedes, that means, the Mets will be able to recoup roughly 50% of a half’s seasons salary. With Cespedes due $29 million next year, insurance will pay at least $7.25 million. With each passing day that number will grow.
When combining the monies covered by insurance for Wright and Cespedes, the team will have an additional $18.5 million available to spend. When you include the $5 million drop in Wright’s salary, that number is $23.5 million.
As noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, ownership says it considers Wright’s contract part of the payroll, and the team does not reinvest the money saved into baseball operations. Putting aside what that means in terms of money available for a second, what this does mean is the team has saved and socked away $15 million of the $20 million due and owing to Wright this season.
The same likely applies to whatever the team can and will recover from insurance from Cespedes’ $29 million contract this season.
Additionally, the team saw savings of roughly $3 million for trading Familia, and they will likely see the same savings when other players are traded for the roster. Presumably, since that money is not being invested into baseball operations this season that would make that money available for 2019 and beyond.
For a moment, we can presume for a moment the $3 million saved on Familia can offset the $3 million pay increase due to Jay Bruce next season. Of course, the pay raises due in arbitration and the like will very easily be offset by the money saved on the Wright and Cespedes insurance policies. Really, there should be money to spare.
What This All Means
Looking at the Mets as currently constituted, they have tw0-third of their outfield set with Conforto and Nimmo. On the infield, they have Todd Frazier and Amed Rosario. They will also have Wilmer Flores, T.J. Rivera, and Jeff McNeil, who could become part of a time sharing at either first or second. If he can get healthy, the team could have Bruce at first or right depending on the development of Alonso, or yes, even Dominic Smith.
All told, this means the Mets have the payroll room and the spots on the roster to add at least one player of significance. Perhaps even two.
With that in mind, with the Mets having $63.525 million to spend this offseason, there is no excuse why this team shouldn’t aggressively pursue Machado and Harper. They should come away with one of them plus an additional piece to help take them over the top like a Kimbrel, Pollock, or yes, even a Daniel Murphy (first base only).
If the Mets do that, this is a potential World Series contender, especially with this starting pitching. If the team goes out and does this, the fans will pack Citi Field to the gills.
The time for excuses is over. It’s time to act like a big market club with a chance to win a World Series.
Well, the impossible has happened. After 17 tries the Mets have finally won a series. It’s been a long time.
The last series the Mets won was the May 18th – May 20th sweep of the Diamondbacks.
At that time, the Mets were 23-19 and just 3.5 games back. The winning pitcher, Noah Syndergaard didn’t have any issues with his finger, or his hand, foot, or mouth.
Today, the Mets won with Corey Oswalt picking up his first career win. His final line was five innings, three hits, two earned, two walks, and four strikeouts.
Later that inning, Mickey Callaway would face a tough decision. With two outs and the Mets down 2-1, should he pull Oswalt and chase the win, or should he keep Oswalt in and hope for another rally.
Callaway opted to pinch hit for Oswalt despite his just having thrown 62 pitches. Callaway’s decision was rewarded when Phillip Evans hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie the score.
The move looked even better when Amed Rosario hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
That lead grew to 6-2 with Bautista hitting a two run homer:
Hasta Bautista! 👋 pic.twitter.com/Mndd4etjko
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 25, 2018
Then considering it is the Mets bullpen at work, it was time to hold on for dear life.
Robert Gsellman would relieve Peterson with one out and one, and he would preserve the 6-4 lead.
Anthony Swarzak would then have his best outing as a Mets pitching two scoreless to pick up the save.
For Swarzak, it was more than just two scoreless innings, it was his throwing 95 with a really good slider. Really, he looked like the guy who the Mets thought they were signing.
Some more of that, and suddenly, things look much better for this team next year.
Game Notes: For reasons no one can explain, Reyes started over Jeff McNeil. Before the game, Cespedes announced he el have season ending surgery.
In some ways, the Mets final game before the All Star Break was a microcosm of the entire first half of the season. It started with a lot of promise, and things would quickly unravel from there.
Really, the biggest thing you want to take away from this game is just how good Corey Oswalt pitched. He only needed 59 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed just one earned on two hits while walking none.
In four of his five innings, he got the Nationals to go down 1-2-3. The only issue was the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams led off the inning with back-to-back singles setting the stage for a Michael Taylor RBI ground out. Even with that rally, Oswalt still impressed inducing Matt Wieters to hit into a rally killing and inning ending double play.
Of course, with how well he was pitching, you knew Mickey Callaway was going to be double guessed for lifting him for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
At the time, the score was tied 1-1, and to be fair, the Mets weren’t really setting the world on fire against Jeremy Hellickson.
After Jose Reyes hit a one out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Amed Rosario had a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI and not just get the lead but keep Oswalt in the game. He struck out. Dominic Smith, who was given a talking to by Callaway, pinch hit for Oswalt, and he was hit by a pitch.
Unfortunately, Brandon Nimmo, who hasn’t been hitting near as well since he was hit on the hand in Atlanta, couldn’t deliver.
Seth Lugo came out of the pen for a shutdown inning, but after that it was the typical Mets comedy of errors coming out of the bullpen.
The Mets would use Anthony Swarzak, Tim Peterson, and Jerry Blevins in the seventh. None of them were effective. Swarzak was the worst with him walking the two batters he faced before getting pulled. Ultimately, to add insult to injury, it was Daniel Murphy who delivered the go-ahead hit in what would become a five run inning.
In the end, the Mets lost 6-1, and they have not won a series since May. They have the fewest wins in the National League, and they continue to play Reyes everyday while not giving younger players like Jeff McNeil or Smith an opportunity.
Really, this is a bad team whose front office is managing it to the ground.
Game Notes: Blevins escaped the seventh inning jam by picking off a runner. That was his third pick off of the season tying him with Steven Matz for the team lead.
I had a previously scheduled event at the precise time as first pitch yesterday. With the Mets 16 games under .500, that should not have been an issue. And yet, I couldn’t help but follow the game on my phone.
I was pumped when I saw the 7-0 led propelled by a Michael Conforto three run homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 14, 2018
I then lamented how Wheeler may soon join Matt Harvey as an ex-Met as this dream rotation is dismantled before it really ever got off the ground.
In the end, really, I write about the Mets because I love this team no matter how bad they are and no matter how awful ownership is.
Yesterday, Chase Utley had a press conference to announce he was going to retire from baseball at the end of the season. As a Mets fan, this probably should make you elated.
After all, back from his days in Philadelphia, he has been nothing but a dirty player, and he has been a villain. For proof of that look no further than that tackle which not only broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg, but it really ruined his career. Just remember that as people write and talk about Utley being a hard-nosed player who “played the game the right way.”
Utley is also the guy who completely embarrassed Noah Syndergaard and the Mets. Really, Shawn Estes‘ message to Roger Clemens was more heartful, and really much closer, than the message Syndergaard tried to send that night. As a bonus, we did get that great Terry Collins‘ ejection video.
If you’ve been a Mets fan long enough, there are many, many, many more Utley moments which will instantly spring to mind.
So yeah, in a sense it’s good for the Mets that Utley is gone much in the same way it was good to see players like Chipper Jones retire.
However, the Mets and their fans are nowhere near a position to celebrate the retirement like Utley, even if he was a coward ducking the Mets and and their fans during the NLDS.
Ulitmately, it’s really hard to care when the Mets not only chose to employ the 35 year old Jose Reyes, but they also play him over Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, and really any player who could hit better than .164/.246/.227.
So, people can go ahead and celebrate Utley’s retirement and pretend like the bad guy is gone. It’s not true.
The real bad guy, the one who is a Met right now because he threw his wife through a glass door, is still with the Mets, and he’s become a major impediment to the Mets organization moving forward and improving for the future.
So congrats on a great career to Utley. He may have been dirty and ruined careers, but at least he didn’t beat his wife and complain to the press to help take playing time away from players he was supposed to mentor.
When Todd Frazier landed on the disabled list, one of the justifications proffered for the Mets not calling-up Jeff McNeil was the organization views McNeil as a second baseman, and at the moment, the team still had Asdrubal Cabrera.
In true Mets fashion, their narrative and their actions made this statement and position increasingly absurd. And that’s before you consider Cabrera having an MLB worst -16 DRS at second base.
First and foremost, the Mets actually had Mickey Callaway say Jose Reyes was playing well enough recently to man third until Frazier returns. It shouldn’t shock anyone that since Callaway uttered those words, Reyes is 1-for-17 at the plate.
While Reyes was hitting, sorry not hitting, Cabrera would hyper-extend his elbow requiring him to come out early from one game and not start the next.
Now, this wasn’t an opportunity to call-up McNeil. Not for a game. However, this was a chance to play Dominic Smith. After all, the former first round pick and once first baseman of the future has only started in 16 of the Mets past 28 games.
Think about that for a second, the Mets actually went out of their way to start the soon to be 31 year old den Dekker in center over giving the 23 year old Smith playing time. Naturally, the Mets are now looking to send down Smith while presumably keeping den Dekker up in the majors.
It gets better.
The average age of the Mets bench last night was 26.0 years old, and that includes the 22 year old Rosario and the 23 year old Smith.
Remember, this is a Mets team who his now 17 games under .500. Sure, you can understand the concept of playing Bautista to try to pump up his trade value. However, it is unfathomable to sit both Smith and Rosario to get Reyes and den Dekker into the lineup.
If you think this is all a sick joke and a gross mismanagement of the team, we have yet to reach the best part.
Last night, McNeil, the guy the Mets solely viewed as a second baseman, played third base for Triple-A Las Vegas. On Monday, McNeil was just a second baseman. By Thursday, he was capable of playing third base. It didn’t take the Mets a week before completely upending their own narrative.
This just highlights how completely lost this entire Mets organization is.
The player the Mets view only as a second baseman is playing third base. The man who is supposed to be the first baseman of the future has played way out of position in left field over one-third of the time. Their starting shortstop, a player upon much of the future hangs, is sat because he’s playing too well.
The Mets would have to significantly improve things in order for them to start looking completely inept and confused. Really, this is as bad as it gets. But hey, at least the Wilpons are doing well financially.
Even when the Mets were at their best, Max Scherzer dominates them. In fact, as the Mets were preparing for what would be a pennant run, Scherzer threw a no-hitter against them.
Shockingly, the Mets were actually game against Scherzer tonight.
That rally sputtered with Bautista getting nailed by Taylor inches:
.@Nationals challenge call that José Bautista is safe at 2B in the 1st; call overturned, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) July 12, 2018
In the fourth, Bautista hit a solo homer, and Kevin Plawecki homered in the seventh.
It wasn’t enough as the Mets were chasing all night.
Aside from the Rendon at-bats, Matz had a pretty good game. He limited the rest of that lineup to six hits in 6.1 innings.
Still, he would be tagged with the loss.
The big hit for the Nationals came after Matz left the game. With the Mets down 3-2 in the seventh, Mickey Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper. Harper would launch a homer to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 13, 2018
After that homer, Bautista and Michael Conforto drew back-to-back walks putting the tying run in scoring position with one out.
Since it was the eighth and not the ninth, Wilmer Flores fouled out, and den Dekker followed with a strikeout.
In the ninth, Plawecki led off against Ryan Madson with a single. That went nowhere.
The Nationals are back over .500 now and are in the thick of the postseason race. The Mets are 17 games under .500 and starting Reyes.
Game Notes: Jeff McNeil, a prospect the Mets previously said is only a second baseman, started tonight at third base. This is on the same night Bautista started at third for the Mets.
Heading into the 2018 season, one of the justifications for the Mets bringing back Jose Reyes was for him to serve as a mentor to Amed Rosario. Certainly, that seemed to be the case with Rosario publicly lobbying for the Mets to bring Reyes back into the fold and with article after article mentioning this as a positive from Reyes’ dreadful 2017 season.
Now, it’s quite possible Reyes was more than willing to give his time to a young Rosario who was in the minor leagues. However, with Rosario in the majors serving as an impediment to Reyes’ playing time, it increasingly seems as if Reyes is less mentor and more malcontent.
Aside from his complaining publicly about his playing time and opportunities leading to a significant increase in playing time, there are some things which remain a real concern about his “mentoring role” which was highlighted last night:
Here's Amed's "mentor" Jose Reyes taking a ball away from Amed Rosario. Listen to Gare. Look at Amed's reaction. pic.twitter.com/RWsFbm5YyY
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) July 10, 2018
Reyes, being the “mentor” and a former shortstop, knows that’s this shortstop’s ball. He’s called off the play by Rosario. Instead of giving way, which is the correct baseball play, Reyes lunges in front of Rosario to make the catch.
Looking at it, Rosario was not happy, and Reyes was quite dismissive of Rosario’s being irritated.
Even if this is reading too much into the situation, and Reyes is really mentoring Rosario, you have to ask the question of when that mentorship is going to bear fruit?
In Triple-A, Rosario hit .328/.367/.466, but there were some warning signs in his game. Notably, Rosario had a 5.4 percent walk rate. Another issues is despite his speed and athleticism, Rosario was only successful 76 percent of the time on his stolen base attempts.
When Rosario was called-up to the majors, he struggled mightily. He hit .248/.271/.394 (74 wRC+). In the field, he had a 1 DRS. All told, he was a -2 WAR player.
The good news was supposed to be Rosario was just 21 years old, and really, he could only go up from there. That hasn’t happened.
This season Rosario has been much worse. He’s hitting .234/.279/.347 (69 wRC+). In the field, an area he was supposed to thrive, he’s at a -10 DRS. Overall, he’s a -0.7 WAR player.
He’s a -0.7 WAR player who has shown no improvement in his game. His walk rate is 5.2 percent. He’s got just a 50 percent success rate in stolen bases. When you look at him, you see a 22 year old who is just over-matched. Worse yet, his mentor is publicly lobbying for playing time which is likely to come at Rosario’s expense, and whent heya re in the field, his mentor won’t so much as defer to him on a ball that is his.
Even if Reyes is making an effort to serve as a mentor to Rosario, the results are not there. Rosario is regressing instead of progressing. Reyes’ presence is serving as a distraction, and it is now impeding the playing time of Dominic Smith and Jeff McNeil.
In the end, the Mets have to really reassess this situation and see if this is a dynamic which is serving the best interests of their 22 year old former phenom. If it isn’t, the team is going to have to do what is best for both Rosario and the franchise, not the washed up veteran.
Whenever a team plays a game, there are issues which are going to emerge, and it is likely going to be a topic of conversation in the hours leading up to the next game. When there is a doubleheader, there is so much more to discuss that some things get lost in the weeds, or in some instances, it allows teams to bury stories.
Yesterday, before the Mets played the first game of the doubleheader against the Phillies, it was announced Todd Frazier was going to go on the disabled list, and to replace him on the roster the Mets were going to recall Ty Kelly. The end result of this would be Jose Reyes taking over in the interim as the everyday third baseman.
Now, the Mets entered the doubleheader 16 games under .500, and the team decided to go with their 35 year old albatross instead of giving a young kid an opportunity. That means Dominic Smith is still a 23 year old sitting on the bench not getting at-bats. It also means Jeff McNeil, a player who has arguably been the best hitter in all of the minor leagues this season, remains in Triple-A.
The Mets are making this option despite Reyes clearly showing he’s incapable of handling a bench spot, and as a result, is really no part of the Mets future. Worse yet, when he does play, he plays terribly. On the season, Reyes has a -1.2 WAR. He can’t hit with a a .168/.238/.235 batting line (32 wRC+), and he can’t field with a negative DRS at third and short.
In essence, the Mets have an old player who can’t hit and field taking away at-bats from young players in a seaosn where the Mets are selling at the trade deadline.
The joke continues with the Mets claiming McNeil is only a second baseman. In his minor league career, McNeil has played 209 games at second base and 148 games at third. Even if you as a franchise believe he’s only a second baseman, why can’t you temporarily shift Asdrubal Cabrera to third?
Cabrera is a much better third baseman defensively than he is a second baseman. In fact, Cabrera is an MLB worst -16 DRS at second base. Why can’t the Mets move him to third to remind teams of a versatility, to keep him healthy, and to give McNeil and/or Smith an opportunity?
When it comes to the Mets, this is by far the most pressing issue in what has become a nightmare of a season.
However, that’s not what we are talking about today. We are not because SNY helped changed the narrative.
In the eighth inning in the second game of the doubleheader, Aaron Nola‘s spot was due up, and Gabe Kapler appeared as if he was going to use Odubel Herrera as his pinch hitter. Before Herrera was announced as the pinch hitter, Mickey Callaway had sprung from the dugout out, and he brought in Jerry Blevins.
Initially, this looked like a gaffe from Callaway because it allowed Kapler to keep Herrera on his bench while bringing in the right-handed hitting Jesmuel Valentin to pinch hit instead.
In the postgame, Callaway explained this was not in fact a gaffe. Instead, he opined he hoped Kapler would make the decision to pinch hit Valentin instead of Herrera.
In defending his position, Callaway noted how entering the game Valentin was a .190 hitter whereas Herrera was hitting well against left-handed pitching with a .804 OPS.
Ancedotally, while it is true Herrera is just 1-12 against Blevins, it should be noted only one of those 12 at-bats were this season. That’s an important note because this year, Blevins has really struggled with left-handed hitters allowing them to hit .318/.392/.523 off of him. It is important to note right-handed batter are hitting .150/.292/.250 off of Blevins this year.
Essentially, Callaway made the right move here. He forced Kapler into the match-up he wanted late in the game.
However, instead of commending him for using data to make an informed and well reasoned decision and for his making moves to force the other manager into a decision where a .190 hitter stepped up to the plate, SNY had commentator after commentator after commentator who ripped Callaway for the decision.
With each commentator following the narrative, the Mets decision to give Reyes more playing time over Smith and McNeil became an even distant memory. In essence, the Mets utilized their network to help shift the narrative from “How can you play Reyes and not give McNeil a chance!” to “Callaway is over-matched and doesn’t know what he’s doing!”
It’s infuriating, and it’s going to become increasingly infuriating as people focus on Callaway instead of what the real issue is.
Really, as the end of the day the biggest issue was the Mets insistence on playing a 35 year old who can’t hit or field instead of giving a young player a chance. Anything else is just a distraction and a perpetuated false narrative.
Well, it was a topsy-turvy doubleheader with the Mete earning a split. With a lot to digest, instead of paragraph form, it might be easier to make some quick points:
- This was a Zack Wheeler start from earlier this season with him not making it through the fifth.
- Seth Lugo continues to both confound and be a weapon by pitching 2.2 scoreless in relief.
- Asdrubal Cabrera must really want to go to a contender because he was 2-4 with a double, homer, and two RBI.
- With Todd Frazier landing on the DL, Jose Reyes started both games, and according to Mickey Callaway, Reyes will get the bulk of the playing time.
- The Mets will continue to keep Dominic Smith languishing on the bench and refuse to call up Jeff McNeil, who the team only views as a 2B now.
- Pinch hitting for Tim Peterson in the 10th, Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run. He’s now the Mets all-time leader in walk off RBI (10).
- Mets won the first game 4-3 in 10 innings.
- Corey Oswalt looked much improved in the second game of the doubleheader starting things off with four perfect innings.
- In the fifth, Oswalt walked three batters. The first two led off the inning. The third was intentional so Oswalt could face Aaron Nola, who entered the game as a .067 hitter. He would hit a bases clearing double.
- Nola was dominant allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 over 7.0 innings.
- Entering the ninth inning, there were two hits total in the game, and yet, the Phillies lead 3-1.
- Callaway opted to bring in Jerry Blevins and force Gabe Kapler‘s hand. Kapler opted to go with that .190 hitter. over Odubel Herrera. Kapler went with Jesmuel Valdez who struck out.
- Flores ninth inning double to pull the Mets to within 3-1. Mets would lose by this score.
- There was a pop up with Amed Rosario calling for it. Instead, Reyes took it from him, and he walked away right as Rosario looked miffed.
- Mets lost the second game 3-1.