Jenrry Mejia

Bautista Walks It Off

With the Mets starting Jacob deGrom tonight, the hope was deGrom could go deep enough into the game to minimize the damage the bullpen could do.

Well, deGrom did his part pitching eight brilliant innings striking out eight Rays.

The only mark against him was a Willie Adames fifth inning homer. It hurts when it’s a guy like Adames hits a homer. It hurts all the more when the Mets can’t give deGrom run support.

The only run deGrom got in support was in the third.

After deGrom made the first out of the inning, Brandon Nimmo reached on a throwing error by the aforementioned Adames. After a Jose Bautista walk, Nimmo would come around to score on an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI single.

The Mets had a chance to take the lead in the sixth, but Glenn Sherlock would have another one of his awful sends.

Todd Frazier hit a one out double to center, and for some reason, Sherlock sent Wilmer Flores, who was trying to score from first. As it usually happens when Sherlock sends Flores, Flores was out at the plate.

This all looked like it was going to haunt the Mets as the Rays loaded the bases against Jeurys Familia with one out.

Mallex Smith grounded to first. On the good side, Flores aggressively charged the ball. On the bad side, he lollipopped the throw home. The leaping Devin Mesoraco didn’t come down on the plate for the first out. Instead, he lunged to tag out Hunter Wood, who had entered the inning earlier as a pinch runner, by a hair.

Familia struck out Adames to escape the jam and keep the game at 1-1.

In the ninth, Frazier walked, and after he couldn’t get a bunt down, Mesoraco singled to put runners at first and second with no outs.

Next, the maligned Amed Rosario laid down a great bunt to move up the runners. Of course, the decision to give away an out almost backfired immediately when Dominic Smith grounded out to the pitcher Chaz Roe, which kept Frazier at third.

At that point, the Rays had the option to face either Nimmo or Bautista to get out of the inning. They chose wrong:

After 336 homers over a 15 year career, this would be the first walk off homer of his career.

About the only thing disappointing on the night is Jake didn’t get the win. That, and we weren’t treated to one of Bautista’s epic bat flips.

Game Notes: Suspended reliever Jenrry Mejia will have a chance to resume his suspension end and renew his baseball career in 2019.

Don’t Believe Cano

There was a famous scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Red says to Andy Dufresne, “You’re gonna fit right in. Everyone in here is innocent, you know that?”

The joke carried on later in the movie when it was discovered Andy really wasn’t a murderer.  A shocked Heywood would later exclaim, “Red? You saying Andy’s innocent? I mean *for real* innocent?”

Whenever another player is caught for steroids, these scenes from Shawshank should be replayed right after the accused and punished player offers their excuse.  Same goes for Robinson Cano, who after it was announced he was suspended for using a masking agent, put out a tweet saying:

Like all the players before him, Cano is innocent.  Really!

He’s just the next in a long line of innocent players who were screwed over by someone.  Jenrry Mejia‘s mom was only trying to treat his asthma.  Manny Ramirez was only trying to have a child.  Ryan Braun was the victim of a vicious anti-Semitic attack.  David Ortiz was falsely accused because someone needed to balance out all the Yankees suspensions in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The list goes on and on with innocent man after innocent man either being duped by a medical professional or falsely accused to settle a score.  Again, there are no guilty men in Shawshank.

The thing with Cano’s statement is you want to believe him.  Maybe he is Andy.  Afterall, he had a medical issue, and he says it is a drug that is commonly prescribed in the Dominican Republic!

As noted by T.J. Quinn of ESPN, the drug, Furosemide, is a commonly used to mask PEDs.  Also noted by Quinn, the suspension is likely the result of MLB being able to sufficiently prove in appeal after appeal after appeal Cano used it not for a medical benefit, but really as a masking agent.

Now, as noted by some, like Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal noted the drug does have a valid medical use to reduce edema mostly related to the heart, liver, or kidneys.

Could it be possible Cano had a real medical emergency which required quick thinking leading to his being prescribed and using Furosemide?  After all, he did say it was used to treat a medical ailment.  Maybe, just maybe he’s the innocent one.

But, he’s not.

Remember, Cano is not some wide eyed rookie.  This is a 14 year veteran in the midst of a 10 year $240 million contract.  He was previously represented by Scott Boras, and he is now being represented by Roc Nation.

If there is any player who should know better, it’s Cano.  Putting aside the avenues MLB makes readily available to its players to make sure these mistakes do not happen, his agents are a phone call or text message away.  Cano should know a suspension may not just mean a loss of over $10 million, but it could also cost him his shot at the Hall of Fame.

Yes, if this was a split second medical emergency, you can’t fault Cano.  But here’s how you know this wasn’t the case.  There was no leaked report.  Any agent worth his salt would have made sure this was leaked THE MINUTE Cano either took a test or tested positive.  That’s PR damage control.

That didn’t happen because it’s very likely Cano knew what he was taking, and he thought he could get away with it.  How long this innocent man in Shawshank got away with it is anyone’s guess . . . .

Reflecting on The Mets Longest Tenured Manager

Once Saturday’s game is over, Terry Collins will become the Mets all-time leader in games managed.  With this, he will be above Gil Hodges, who may have owned the record himself if not for his sudden and tragic passing.  He will surpass Bobby Valentine, who was the first Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive postseasons.  Finally, he passes Davey Johnson, who led the Mets to the greatest stretch in team history.

All of the aforementioned managers have had better records then Collins, who owns the Mets mark for most losses as a manger.  It leads to the question, why is it Collins lasted longer in New York than either Valentine or Johnson?  The answer is a complicated one for a man who has led the Mets over a complicated time period.

Collins took the helm for the Mets after the disastrous Jerry Manuel Era.  After bad mouthing his boss, Willie Randolph, he talked his way into the managerial job, and he oversaw his own collapse.  Despite that, the Mets decided to retain him as the new team manager as the Mets opened up a new ballpark.  In his two full seasons as Mets manager, his teams were 149-173.  This was despite having talented rosters with players like David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran.

The Manuel Era was done in by a number of issues.  First, the team was not built well for the then cavernous Citi Field.  Second, high priced veterans like Luis Castillo and Jason Bay were playing up the standards of being an average major league player, let alone their contracts.  Third, the team deal with a number of injuries – some of which were exacerbated by Manuel’s decision making.  Mostly, the mix of manager, ballpark, and roster were doomed from the beginning.  It was time for new blood across the organization.

This was the stage upon which Collins entered as the Mets manager in 2011.  The team was mostly a mix of veterans nearing either the end of their contracts or their careers and some interesting players who could be talented major league players.  In the early part of Collin’s tenure, the Mets were teams that overachieved in the first half of the season, and then with trades, injuries, or players coming back to earth, the Mets would fall apart as the season progressed.

During the early part of Collins tenure as Mets manager, no one realistically believed the Mets were going to be contenders.  As a result, judging him by wins and losses seemed counter-intuitive.  Rather, you want to look at managers like this through the prism of their ability to get the most out of the talent on their roster.  Specifically, you want to see them develop some young players.

Things almost came to a head in 2014.  The Mets first real prized free agent acquisition of the Sandy Alderson Era, Curtis Granderson, was struggling.  The other, Bartolo Colon, was the staff ace, which meant Zack Wheeler was not progressing like the organization would have liked.  There were also struggles from Dilson Herrera, Travis d’Arnaud, and others.  It was not how the Mets envisioned this season would go, and if not for the Wilpons intervening, it would have been a different manager that led the Mets to the 2015 pennant.

It’s unsure to pinpoint the exact reason Collins survived.  The biggest skeptics will pinpoint Collins was due money, and the Wilpons, who were dealing with the Madoff scandal, were loathe to pay two different managers.  It’s possible Collins was saved because the Mets were not exactly under-performing.  There were also some positive signs for the team.

Lucas Duda not only won the first base job, but he hit 30 home runs.  Daniel Murphy was a first time All-Star.  Jenrry Mejia showed he was closer material.  Wheeler had a strong finish to the season.  Jeurys Familia looked like a closer in waiting.  Juan Lagares won a Gold Glove.  Jacob deGrom was a surprise Rookie of the Year.  Matt Harvey had just been the All Star Game starter the previous season, and he was set to return in 2015.  R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young Award that allowed the facilitation of the trade to bring over d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.  Overall, you could see young pieces who could be part of the Mets’ future.  These were players who were cultivated under Collins.  It should also be kept in mind Collins created a certain atmosphere in the clubhouse that partially led to Wright signing a contract extension in 2012.  Overall, the pieces for a future contender were there, and they were all cultivated under Collins.

There’s another factor that is not often discussed with Collins is the fact he’s a good human being.  Time and again with Collins we hear little things he does that mean so much to people.  He has reached out to grieving Mets fans to offer his condolences.  He’s stopped the team during Spring Training to assemble them to spend some time with sick children.  He struck the right chord between honoring Jose Fernandez and trying to keep the Mets team competitive in that three game set.  That’s a harder job to do than we all give him credit.  Having a man like this around your team and leading young men is always a good thing.

And yet, there are plenty of instances where you look at Collins’ tenure and wonder how he’s lasted this long.  His usage of Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, Johan Santana, Jim Henderson, and others have had a negative impact upon their ability to stay healthy.  Certainly, it can be argued these pitchers’ arms were ruined by Collins.

There has also been his over-reliance on his veteran players.  Despite Collins mantra that you hit you play, it really has only every been applied to young players.  It has twice taken a litany of injuries to get T.J. Rivera in the lineup.  Collins never would put Michael Conforto back in the lineup last year no matter his raking in Triple-A and his wrist being healthy.  Instead, he watched Jay Bruce continue to flail at the plate.  This year, we see him keeping Reyes and Granderson in the lineup despite their both hitting under the Mendoza Line.

More to the point, Collins allows the question to be asked over who exactly is in charge.  There are always reports Alderson dictates to him what should be done instead of Collins being allowed to manage the team as he wishes.  Collins allowed Reyes to pull himself from the last game of the 2011 season to preserve his batting title.  One of the lasting images of the 2015 World Series was Harvey telling him not to pull him from the game.

That World Series is certainly one that will haunt the Mets.  Collins made a number of questionable moves throughout that series which did not put his team in the best possible position to win.  Given how the Mets are struggling now, it does beg the question whether that was this core’s best opportunity to win a World Series.  But it’s more than that.  We have consistently seen Collins ignore reliever’s workloads and splits when making pitching changes.  He will send Wilmer Flores up there to pinch hit against right-handed pitchers even with other players still on the bench.  Overall, it is his in-game managing that leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite all of that, Collins is still here.  He has survived a lot to get to this point.  There was the Madoff scandal.  There was a rebuild that took a year or two longer than initially advertised.  He has consistently tried to hold a team together that has seen a number of injuries, brutal losses, and disheartening losing streaks.  He oversaw the transition from the Mets being a last place team to a team that almost won a World Series.

The Terry Collins’ Era will forever be a complicated one in Mets history.  To a certain extent, it does not matter that he is the manager who has managed the most games in Mets history.  That is mostly the result of circumstance.  Arguably, the circumstances have dictated Collins remain on for as long as he has.  Say what you will about the man, but he has always been accountable, never left you questioning his loyalty to the players or fans, and he has had the pulse of his clubhouse.  If nothing else, Collins is a leader of men, and as a man, you are hard pressed to find a better human being in baseball.

It does not matter if you believe someone else should have this record.  It’s Collins’ now.  He deserves everyone’s congratulations for it, and he deserves the respect of Mets fans for his tenure.

Jeurys Familia Is Still a Great Closer

One thing that is strange about narratives is that they don’t stay static.  Rather, narratives are dynamic and are often change wildly with a strong recency bias.

Last year, the narrative was the Mets blew Game 4 of the World Series because Terry Collins didn’t go to his closer to start the eighth inning.  Instead, Collins brought in Tyler Clippard, who proceed to walk consecutive batters after retiring the first batter he faced.  With runners on first and second with one out, Collins finally went to Jeurys Familia.  Familia induced a ground ball that went under Daniel Murphy‘s glove loading the bases.  Two singles later, the Mets 3-2 lead turned into a 5-3 deficit.

In Game 5, again Collins was blamed for the loss because he did not go to Familia.  After eight absolutely brilliant innings, Collins allowed Matt Harvey to talk himself into pitching the ninth inning.  After a leadoff walk and an RBI double, Collins brought in Familia to now protect a 2-1 with a runner in scoring position and no outs.  Familia induced the groundout he needed for the second out.  On the play, Eric Hosmer famously tried to score from second while Lucas Duda infamously threw the ball away.

With that, Familia technically blew saves in Games 4 and 5 of the World Series.  The main reason why Familia blew these saves is his manager brought him into difficult situations and his defense abandoned him.  Now, all of a sudden, the narrative has shifted to he’s a choke artist.

In the Wild Card Game, Familia took the loss.  It started with a Brandon Crawford opposite field double to left-center.  On the play, Yoenis Cespedes, perhaps due to his lingering quad injury, made no effort whatsoever to cut the ball off before it went all the way to the wall.  Familia then struck out Angel Pagan, who had been attempting to bunt Crawford to third.  Familia then had Joe Panik 2-2, but he couldn’t put him away.  With Panik walking, there were runners on first and second with one out.  Familia got a sinker up in the zone, and Conor Gillaspie hit a three run go-ahead homer.  From there, Familia got out of the inning, but it was too late.  After the third out, he was booed off the Citi Field mound.

That’s right.  Mets fans booed one of the best closers in the game off the mound.  Worse yet, the narrative became Familia can’t pitch the big one anymore.

That’s nonsense.  In the World Series, if Murphy fields a ground ball, or Duda makes an even average throw home, Familia saves both of those games.  For what it’s worth, Familia had only allowed one earned run in the 2015 postseason, and neither were in that game.

Furthermore, focusing on those games ignores the work he did to get the Mets to the World Series.  In Game 1 of the NLDS, Familia came on in the eighth inning to bail out Clippard.  Familia would have to go 1.1 innings to get the save.  In the Game 5 clincher, Familia pitched the final two innings not allowing a baserunner to send the Mets to the NLCS.  In Game 1 of the NLCS, he came on for Harvey, and he pitched the final 1.1 innings to earn the save.  Between the NLDS and NLCS, Familia was a perfect 5/5 in save opportunities with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.414 WHIP.  This run is conveniently ignore in discussing how clutch Familia is.

What is also ignored is the phenomenal work Familia has done since taking over and becoming the Mets closer.  Yes, his work has been phenomenal.

Over the past three seasons, Familia has thrown more innings than any other reliever in baseball.  Over the past two seasons, he leads all major league closers in appearances, innings pitched, games finished, saves, and multi-inning saves.  Between the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he has made 154 appearances pitching 155.2 innings recording 94 saves with a 2.20 ERA and a 1.105 WHIP.  The advanced stats also indicate he’s been great as he has had a 2.56 FIP and an 180 ERA+.  In the 2016 regular season, he only allowed one home run.

During the 2015 season, when the Mets were not getting any offense due to a mixture of injuries and poor performances, the Mets bullpen had no margin for error.  From the time David Wright got injured until the Mets acquired Cespedes at the trade deadline, Familia made 42 appearances pitching 45.2 innings.  In that time frame, he recorded 24 saves with a 1.97 ERA and a 0.985 WHIP.  Each and every one of those 24 games he saved was important as for much of the summer, the Mets season was on the brink of disaster.  If not for Familia, who had been unexpectedly thrust into the role due to the injuries and suspension of Jenrry Mejia, the Mets may not have lasted in the NL East race.

All Familia would do for an encore this season was record the most saves by a Mets closer in a single season.  His 51 saves would also stand as the single season record for a Dominican born pitcher.  For a Mets team that tied with the Giants in the standings for the Wild Card.  By the Mets winning the season series against the Giants, they had the right to host the Wild Card Game.  In the three games he pitched against the Giants, Familia recorded two saves without allowing an earned run.  Without Familia, the Mets play the Wild Card Game at AT&T Park.

The Mets also finished one game up on the St. Louis Cardinals, each and every single one of these saves were important.  If Familia falters just one or two times more, the Mets miss the postseason.

Overall, if Familia is not the best closer in baseball, he’s in the conversation.  He’s also more durable than the other closers, and as we have seen with his work throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons, he is clutch.  His defense failing him, and his making one bad pitch to Gillaspie doesn’t change that.  It’s a given that he will be the Mets closer next season.  And he should be, because if the Mets have any designs on getting back to the postseason, they are going to need Familia to repeat his successes from the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Then in the 2017 season he can go out there and remind everyone just how clutch he is.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online

Jeurys Familia Is the Best Closer in the Game

On Opening Day 2015, Jenrry Mejia was unavailable due to an elbow injury.  As a result, Terry Collins turned to Buddy Carlyle to close out the Mets 3-1 victory.  Between Mejia’s elbow injury and his successive steroid suspensions, the Mets would need to turn to Jeurys Familia to become their closer.  Familia wouldn’t get a chance to earn a save for about another week.  In that April 12, 2015 game, Familia recorded two outs to earn his first save of the season.  It would set him on a path where he has become the best closer in the game.

Since 2015, Familia has pitched 118.1 innings in 117 appearances.  In those appearances, he has a 2.13 ERA, 1.073 WHIP, 183 ERA+, and 72 saves.   His 72 saves are second only to Mark Melancon in that time frame.  However, unlike Melancon, Familia is more than a three out closer.  Familia leads all closers in appearances, innings pitched, and multiple inning saves. Familia has done whatever his team has asked of him to help his team win.  These are all part of what makes Familia a great closer.  However, what is often overlooked is his durability.  It’s his durability that truly makes him great.

We recently saw how important durability is with Wade Davis.  Davis was as dominant a closer as there was in baseball.  Mets fans need not look any further than the World Series for evidence of that.  In the same time frame that Familia has been the Mets closer, Davis has had a 1.02 ERA and a 421 ERA+.  That ERA+ is more than double that of Mariano Rivera‘s career mark of 205, which also happens to be the best in major league history.  By any measure, Davis could be anointed the best closer in the game.  However, he’s not in the conversation right now as he’s currently on the disabled list with a right forearm strain.  As Mets fans have seen with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, a forearm strain in your pitching arm can be an ominous sign.

As we see all the time in sports, one the most important abilities a player must have is availability.  Familia has been available more than any other closer in the game, and he has pitched just as well if not better than all of them.  This year he was finally recognized as such when he was named to his first All Star team.  Given his durability and his ability to close out games, it will be the first of many.

Harvey Is Wright’s A-Rod

Last year during the Matt Harvey drama over his agent’s push for the Mets to adhere to the supposed agreed upon innings limits, Harvey was put in a tough spot, and he didn’t handle it well. He certainly wasn’t helped by his Captain, David Wright. Wright responded to the drama publicly snubbing Harvey. 

Harvey made a massive and inexcusable mistake by missing the last practice before the beginning of the NLDS.  Wright responded to the situation by saying he was only concerned with the Mets who were at practice

During Spring Training, when Harvey was going through some serious medical issues. The end result was Harvey was alright, and he was the subject to unnecessary ridicule. Harvey responded with a media boycott. In response to the situation, Wright cracked jokes with the media about the boycott. 

Harvey just had another misstep with the media and his teammates. After another bad start, Harvey bolted leaving his teammates to face to media. It’s one thing to boycott the media after unnecessary and unfair coverage. It’s a whole other thing to not to speak to the media leaving your teammates to answer for your problems. Kevin Plawecki was left to answer the same questions he’s been answering after every Harvey start he’s caught. Unfortunately, Plawecki was seemingly the only guy left to answer questions about Harvey’s start. 

Wright has now spoken up about Harvey’s most recent behavior. As he told Mike Puma of the New York Post, “A lot of us don’t agree with what he did, but we all take this game personally, and when we don’t play at the level we’re accustomed to, sometimes we make decisions we regret.” 

Wright noted Harvey wasn’t accountable saying, “All of us like coming in here and talking when we have a good games, and a few of us, myself included, enjoy coming in here and talking when we don’t play well. Accountability is big and I think [Harvey] just had a bit of a lapse in judgment.”  

Wright further elaborated on these comments by saying, “Him, the stature he’s built, the last thing you want . . . you want to be known as an accountable player. You want to be a stand-up guy, and this is a little blip on the radar screen. Hopefully, we all learn from it and don’t make the same mistake again.” 

Wright’s comments are understandable. It’s apparent Harvey’s teammates were irked by his actions. He broke a code, and he put his teammates in a very difficult spot. There’s no excusing what Harvey did. With that said, Wright broke the code as well. He went public with his criticism of a teammate. Yes, his comments were relatively mild. However, he did call Harvey out in the media instead of keeping it in the clubhouse. Perhaps, it was because Harvey wasn’t in the clubhouse. 

Through the past year, Harvey has seemed like he’s been a difficult teammate. That must be really frustrating for an old school player like Wright. It must be doubly frustrating for a player like Wright who was showed how to comport himself as a professional on and off the field by great teammates and people like Cliff Floyd and Carlos Beltran. It’s no wonder Wright has allowed this frustrations with Harvey to come out in the media. 

It’s reminiscent of how cold Derek Jeter acted towards Alex Rodriguez. Jeter never came to A-Rod’s aide the way he did other teammates. The classic example given was how Jeter implored Yankee fans to stop booing Jason Giambi, but he wouldn’t extend the same courtesy to A-Rod. When it came to A-Rod, he suggested that even he, Derek Jeter, couldn’t control the fans reaction. Jeter had a chance to make things easier for A-Rod publicly like he once did with Giambi. For reasons we are all still not fully aware, Jeter chose to leave A-Rod out to dry. 

It’s how Wright has been with Harvey over the past year. Wright hasn’t been as public with criticism of his other teammates. Perhaps it’s because the other Mets players don’t create the same attention Harvey does. Perhaps it’s because the other Mets players do not act the way Harvey does on and off the field. Whatever the case, Wright has been harder on Harvey than anyone else (with the possible exception of Jenrry Mejia). Whatever the case may be Wright has reacted towards Harvey the way Jeter reacted towards A-Rod. 

It’s pretty ironic. Harvey grew up wanting to be Jeter. Instead he’s A-Rod, and he’s receiving the Jeter treatment. 

No One Will Overlook Verrett Again

On Wednesday, Logan Verrett pitched six scoreless innings against at the Miami Marlins. Verrett allowed three hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. It was a remarkable start for a pitcher who was never supposed to be here. 

Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets declined to put Verrett on the 40 man roster thereby exposing him the the Rule 5 draft. He was selected by the Orioles, who waived him when it was apparent he was not making their team. He was picked up by the Rangers, who made their Opening Day roster. 

In very limited duty for the Rangers Verrett struggled. He pitched nine innings in four appearances with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.667 WHIP. Verrett was offered back to the Mets, who accepted him back and sent him to Triple-A. 

Verrett first came up with the Mets in June to help an exhausted bullpen. He would pitch 12.1 innings over the course of six appearances. He had a sterling 0.73 ERA and 0.649 WHIP. Batters were only able to hit .100/.178/.100 against him. He recorded his first save. Despite this stellar performance, he would be sent back down to the minors to make room for Jenrry Mejia, who was returning from his first PED suspension. 

In Verrett’s second stint with the Mets in August, he would further prove his value. With the Mets needing to keep their young pitching staff fresh for the postseason, especially Matt Harvey, Verrett was called upon to make some spot starts. In his first start, he threw eight shutout innings in Coors Field of all places. He would follow that up with a couple a relief appearances and another strong spot start against the Marlins. 

In total, Verrett would pitch in 14 games with the Mets making four spot starts. He was 1-1 with one save, a 3.03 ERA, and a 0.879 WHIP. In a season of incredible performances from a myriad of players, it’s easy to overlook Verrett’s contributions. 

Then again, it’s been easy to overlook Verrett. In an organization that seemingly churns out nothing but pitchers throwing 95 MPH plus striking people out left and right, Verrett uses all four of his pitches, including a 91 MPH, to get outs. While each and every Mets draft pick gets attention, he simply flew under the radar honing his skills and becoming a better pitcher. Perhaps that is why he became the first ever draft pick from the Sandy Alderson regime to play in the majors. 

In 2016, Verrett made the Opening Day roster, and he’s back to doing what he does best – pitching in whatever role the Mets need. In his spot start in place of the ailing Jacob deGrom, Verrett threw six shutout innings. Not only did he help prevent the Mets from getting swept by the Marlins, but he also pitched somewhat deep into the game to give a fatigued Mets bullpen some rest. 

As we know, the Mets never intended to have Verrett start that game. Frankly, no one thought he would pitch a game for the Mets. However, because the Mets got lucky with the Orioles and Rangers overlooking how good he truly was, like the Mets once did themselves, Verrett is pitching in the majors showing the world what a truly talented pitcher he is. 

No one is going to overlook him ever again. 

I’m Done with the Mets

It’s a process that began with Game 5 of the World Series. 

In that game, I saw Terry Collins turn to noted steroid cheat, Bartolo Colon, when the Mets were down in extra innings. The Mets went to him even after he blew Game 1 of the World Series. Why turn to a younger, fresher, and overall better arm like Hansel Robles?  No we go to Colon, who blew it again. 

I processed the emotions of that loss, and I moved on. Then the Mets bring back Collins, the very same man who managed a horrendous World Series. They brought back Colon because, well, there was no good reason for that. Also, because Sandy Alderson is trying to replicate his late 80’s Oakland Athletics teams (i.e. steroid users), he added Antonio Bastardo to the bullpen mix. That was also after the Mets offered Jenrry Mejia a contract – if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying. 

While the Mets made sure to keep their steroid cheats, they got rid of Daniel Murphy, who single-handedly carried the Mets this offseason. I guess if Murphy started a steroids cycle and hit 30 home runs last year, the Mets would’ve given him a legitimate contract. 

Think about it. The Mets threw away Murphy, who led them to the World Series, and they kept Lucas Duda, who literally threw away the Mets chances of winning a World Series. If the Mets were really serious about winning, they would keep the players that helped them win, and they would’ve gotten rid of the streaky players that did nothing to help them win anything. 

Furthermore, during the offseason, we had to see Matt Harvey flaunt his bedroom prowess on Bravo. We saw Noah Syndergaard take a victory lap at every New York stadium and arena after the Mets lost. He probably should’ve spent that time learning how not to lose a World Series or needlessly throw at batter’s heads. 

Even better, the Mets released Ruben Tejada for no reason at all.  Tejada was an integral part of this Mets team. It was his injury that galvanized the Mets. Even with a cane, he was able to help the Mets win the pennant.  When the Mets released him, they not only got rid of their leader, they had no legitimate backup plan. Eric Campbell has no business being a baseball player, and Matt Reynolds is a complete bust. Seriously, just remember it was Omar Minaya’s players, not Sandy Alderson’s that won the pennant. 

I got past all of that and more. However, this Spring Training was the final straw. This Mets team has gone 13 straight games without a win. It’s clear from all of this Spring Training, they’re not taking getting ready for the season seriously. 

Well, if this team can’t take winning seriously, I can’t root for this team anymore. I still can’t root for another NL team, and I’ll never root for the Yankees. I’ll be honest. It’s hard to pick another team to root for. I’ve been a Mets fan all my life, and the vast majority of my family (including my Dad and brother) are Mets fans. 

Right now, I’m leaning towards the White Sox. Their coaching staff is full of great former Mets like Robin VenturaJoe McEwing, and Daryl Boston. They’re taking getting ready for this season seriously. They actually addressed their needs in the offseason, and they let Adam LaRoche know they will not let his son be a distraction. 

I wish Mets fans the best of luck. It’s been 30 years since the last World Series. I’d like to tell you to hang in there; that’ll happen soon. However, I’ve seen two collapses, Carlos Beltran not swinging, and Mike Piazza fly out to deep center. I know it’ll never happen in my lifetime, especially not with this offseason. 

Best of luck to you Mets fans. Go ChiSox!

Mejia’s Press Conference Didn’t Disappoint 

In all seriousness, the last thing I want to do is to write about Jenrry Mejia again. It’s going to be an exciting year for the Mets, and there are so many great and positive things to write about and discuss. 

However, he called a press conference, and WOW, do we need to address his allegations. 

First, Mejia alleged that baseball threaten him with a third suspension if he didn’t name names. Essentially, Mejia is asserting that the way MLB handles its steroid policy is nothing short of how the McCarthy hearings transpired.  For not naming names, Mejia alleges he was suspended a third time even though he was not using a banned substance at the time of the last suspension.

Now, Mejia only admitted to being guilty the first time, which he chalked up to an accident. He said the subsequent tests were no accurate. When pressed on whether MLB was issuing false positives, Mejia’s attorney said the information is confidential. Despite the confidentiality asserted here, it did not prevent Mejia from making that assertion. 

Second, Mejia has alleged that MLB has hacked into player’s social media accounts. Following the Cardinals’ hacking scandal this is no small allegation. Mejia is not only asserting baseball has infringed upon his rights, he is also accusing baseball of criminal behavior. If true, this is a scandal that could rock baseball. If false, these allegations are nothing short of defamation. 

Of less surprising news, Mejia says he is innocent, and he will appeal the suspension through the Player’s Union. As such, no court case as of right now. As we’ve seen in past cases, these appeals happen behind closed doors, which is a shame. With all that Mejia is claiming, I’d love to see this on live TV. 

This press conference has raised many issues regarding how MLB handles people who test positive for PEDs. If MLB is willing to bargain with a tainted player for information, it puts the legitimacy of the policy and what’s on the field in question. Conversely, if MLB is creating false positives and hacking into player’s social media accounts, it shows the great lengths baseball will go to in order to catch PED users. At this point, this all seems a little far fetched . . . at least I hope it is. 

The Mejia drama has taken some strange twists and turns thus far, and by the looks of it, the drama is not going away any time soon. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

Buddy Carlyle May Only Have One Chance Left

It was Opening Day last season. Jenrry Mejia was injured and could not pitch. Terry Collins had to turn to someone to close out the Mets 3-1 win over Washington. He turned to the 37 year old Buddy Carlyle, who earned his first career save. 

In some small measure, Collins pick was to reward Carlyle for an absolutely terrific 2014 season. 

Carlyle really came from nowhere. He had been 11-12 with a 5.58 ERA in his seven year major league seasons. He played one year in Korea, one year in Japan, and one year in the Dominican Winter Leagues. In the two years prior to joining the Mets, Carlyle pitched in AAA. There was no reason to believe that Carlyle could help the Mets in 2014. Then again, there was no reason to believe the bullpen that was constructed would need Buddy Carlyle. 

Carlyle got called up at the end of May. He would go on and pitch 31.0 innings in 27 appearances. Carlyle would finish the year with a sparkling 1.45 ERA. He was supposed to be a part of the 2015 bullpen and build upon his success. Instead, Carlyle recorded the one save and had season ending hip surgery

Well Carlyle is back with the Mets on another minor league deal. There’s two open bullpen spots, and at least in theory, Carlyle is a candidate for the job. He has a history of pitching well for the Mets, and they thought enough about him that they invited him to come back on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. 

Carlyle is 38 years old. As of right now, it appears he’s ticketed for AAA to start the season. I always have an immense amount of respect for players like this. Guys who could easily quit and go home. He’s had a tough career, had some success, and have suffered injuries. It’s never easy for the Carlyle’s of the world, yet he is going to force baeeball to tear the uniform off his back. At that point, he’ll look to play elsewhere. He will play until someone says he can play no more. 

That’s admirable. Baseball is better with the Buddy Carlyles of the world. People who scratch and claw just to be average, just to be a part of something. When he finally retires, it’ll be a blurb in the newspaper instead of him having an elaborate press conference. 

Before that point, I hope Carlyle gets one last chance to pitch for the Mets. I hope he can walk off the field, under his own terms, with his head held high. With all he’s done to be here, he deserves that chance. I’m rooting for Buddy Carlyle.