Jeurys Familia

Mets Should Be Angry They’re Terrible, Not at Puig Homers

Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot.  Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base.  Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate.  Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident.  Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview.  That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field.  More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played.  Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:

1.  They Can’t Pitch

The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets.  It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year.  That ERA is just inexcusable.  There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible.  Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.

2.  The Defense Is Terrible

The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball.  Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th.  At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th.  Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore.  Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers.  Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position.  Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.

3.  They’re Always Injured

Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List.  For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June.  The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries.  In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one.  If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.

4.  They’re Under-Performing

So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances.  Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100.  Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average.  Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP.  Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.

Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard.  After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94.  There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0

We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified.  Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing.  That’s on all of them.

5.  They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games

It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races.  They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own.  Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces.  In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22.  It is one thing lost six of seven.  It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.

If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves.  They are allowing the homers.  They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis.  They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.

For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).  Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.

Eight Players The Mets Should Protect

With the NHL having their expansion draft tonight, each of the pre-existing 31 teams will sit and wait to see which one of their players will be selected to became an inaugural member of the Vegas Golden Knights.  With the Golden Knights being required to select one player from each NHL team, each franchise is going to see a player depart their franchise.

Occasionally, there have been discussions MLB will expand.  Whenever that happens, each MLB team will have to go through the same exercise each NHL team just did.  If that were to happen, it would be interesting to see exactly who each MLB team would protect.

In terms of the NHL draft, teams can protect somewhere between eight to 11 skaters and one goaltender depending on who the team decides to protect.  Given an NHL has a maximum roster size of 23 players, the 8 – 11 paradigm is a good framework for a potential MLB expansion draft.

Assuming MLB lands upon eight players, it would be interesting to see who the Mets decided to protect.  Now, where the Mets are lucky is players with less than two service years are automatically protected.  As such, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and any other young player you would consider protecting are already protected.  With that in mind, here are the eight players the Mets should protect should such a draft take place:

1. RHP Noah Syndergaard

Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022

Last year, Syndergaard emerged as the ace of the Mets staff with a repertoire that has never been seen by a Major League Starting pitcher.  He has a fastball that tops off at 100 MPH and a slider that he can throw in the mid 90s.  He also has a swagger on the mound, and he gets up for the biggest games.  Again, like Cespedes, this is a no-brainer even with his lat injury this year.

2.  LF Michael Conforto

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

Conforto has been around for only three years, but it has been a whirlwind.  In 2015, he was a budding superstar.  In 2016, he had a wrist injury, struggled, and was demoted to Triple-A multiple times.  In 2017, he has emerged as an All Star.  Even with a rough June, there’s reason to believe in Conforto being a budding superstar, including but not limited to his ability to hit left-handed pitching.  Conforto is a foundation piece and should be the Mets right fielder for decades.

3. LF Yoenis Cespedes

Remaining Contract: 3 years $87.5 million

Given the fact players with no trade clauses must be protected in an expansion draft, the Mets would be required to protect Cespedes.  Even if that wasn’t the case, the Mets need to protect Cespedes.  He’s been a superstar with the Mets hitting .286/.354/.565 with 56 homers and 146 RBI since joining the team.  More than that, he puts fans in the seats.  You have to protect him at all costs.

4.  RHP Jacob deGrom

Free Agent: 2021

After an injury riddled year, and some ups and downs this year, deGrom has rediscovered himself, and he’s back to pitching like an ace.  That is evident with his being the National League Pitcher of the Week last week.  We also saw what deGrom was made of during the 2015 NLCS when he outpitched both Clayton Kershaw and Zack GreinkeThere are only a handful of the pitchers on the planet that can do that, and when you have one of them, you don’t let them go.

5.  LHP Steven Matz

Arbitration Eligible: 2019
Free Agent: 2022

When Matz is healthy, he has the potential to be an ace.  Before his bone spur issues arose in late June last year, Matz was 11-3 with a 2.58 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9.  In his return from season ending surgery, he has pitched well lasting seven innings in both of his starts.  Overall, when he’s healthy, he’s terrific, and he’s not someone you part with so easily.

6. RHP Jeurys Familia

Free Agent: 2019

When you consider the Mets bullpen is in shambles, and they are going to have to rebuild it in totality, the Mets need to keep Familia at all costs.  It is also important to keep in mind that despite his injury this year, Familia has been an absolute work horse for the Mets with his making the most appearances out of the bullpen and pitching the most innings from 2014 – 2016.  If the medical reports are promising, there is every reason to believe Familia can return to being that pitcher again.

7.  C Travis d’Arnaud

Free Agent: 2020

There is every reason to leave him unprotected.  He has regressed in most aspects of his game, and he had yet another stint on the Disabled List this year.  Still, d’Arnaud is a good pitch framer, who still has offensive upside.  Before injuring his wrist, d’Arnaud was hitting .270/.357/.541.  While his stats have dropped precipitously, his .223 BABIP suggests d’Arnaud is due.  More than that, there’s really no better options available.  The catching across Major League Baseball is on a downturn, and you need someone to bridge the gap until Tomas Nido is ready.

8.  3B David Wright

Remaining Contract: 3 years $47 million

As noted above with Cespedes, the Mets would have to protect Wright due to his no trade clause.  Even without it, there is a case for keeping Wright.  Wright is the team captain, and he is the guy you want leaving an impression on Rosario and Smith when they get to the majors.  His contract is insured, so if he can’t play, you can reallocate the money.  More to the point, could you possibly imagine Wright in another uniform?  Me neither.  Is this all a stretch?  Sure, but fact is Wright will remain with the Mets until he finally decides it’s over.

As with any decision like this, there were hard choices.  Matt Harvey has been a cornerstone of the Mets rebuild, but his injuries and impending free agency, you’d be forced to expose him.  Zack Wheeler has had a strong return from the Disabled List, but even before he was injured, he was 18-16 with a 3.50 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, and a 100 ERA+ in 49 career starts.  In 2017, he has not appeared to be more than that.  That coupled with the rise of Gsellman and Lugo as well as other pitchers in the Mets farm system, you could very well expose Wheeler.

Overall, the hypothetical player that would get taken from the Mets roster would be damaging.  That includes Juan Lagares, who is a Gold Glover that showed some promise this year, but still has a terrible contract.  That also includes Wilmer Flores who still doesn’t quite have a position.

With all that said, it does speak to the talent Sandy Alderson has brought to this organization that the Mets could lose one of the aforementioned players and still have a team that could compete for a World Series next year.

How The Mets Handle Injuries

Ray Ramirez and Barwin Method jokes aside, do we really know who to blame for all of these Mets injuries?  Thi has seemingly been an issue since Pedro Martinez was with the Mets when in three straight seasons the Mets suffered a rash of injuries to their starting rotation.  It should be noted, Pedro put some blame on Jeff Wilpon’s shoulder for making him pitch hurt, but that doesn’t address how Pedro go hurt in the first place.

We saw it again last year with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz needing season ending surgery.  It is happening again this year with Harvey and Matz both landing on the Disabled List.  We also have seen Seth Lugo, Jeurys Familia, Tommy Milone, and Josh Smoker land on the Disabled List.

It goes further than that.  The position players keep getting injured too.  This year, Travis d’Arnaud, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera (twice), Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares (twice), and Brandon Nimmo have all landed on the Disabled List.  If you’ll notice, you will have seen many of those names pop up on the Disabled List last year.

There’s a simple reason for that.  Here’s example of how the Mets handle the situtaion:

Maybe if the Mets continue handling training and treatment of injuries the same way, maybe they’ll have a breakthrough. Just like the Futurama clip, it’s not going to happen.

Addison Reed Is Dominant Again

Prior to joining the Mets, Addison Reed had a career 4.20 ERA and a 1.327 WHIP.  During his time with the Diamondbacks, he was sent back down to the minors because he was struggling.  Despite all of this, a Mets team that was on the verge of making the postseason for the first time in 15 years took a flyer on the former White Sox closer.

The minute Reed put on a Mets jersey he became a completely different pitcher.

In his time with the Mets, Reed has made 97 appearances pitching 93.0 innings.  In that time, Reed has gone 5-3 with two saves with a 1.84 ERA, 0.957 WHIP, and a 10.5 K/9.  His ERA is the best of any reliever with at least 90.0 innings pitched.  He also has the second best WHIP and the third most strikeouts over that stretch.  With him and Jeurys Familia, the Mets had the best 8-9 combination in all of baseball.

Then Reed became the closer for the Mets.  He became the closer because of Familia’s suspension and ensuing surgery.  He struggled.

In his first 18 appearances in his role as the Mets designated closer, Reed was 0-2 converting seven of nine save attempts.  During this time, Reed had a 3.72 ERA, 1.138 WHIP, and a 10.2 K/9.  Overall, Reed looked more like the pitcher who was an average to struggling reliever with the White Sox and Diamondbacks than the dominant reliever he has been with the Mets. About the only thing that resembled the Reed we have come to know with the Mets was his excellent 22:3 strikeout to walk ratio.

If you have taken notice recently, Reed is looking more and more like the pitcher we have come to know him to be with the Mets.  In the month of June, Reed has made four appearances pitching 5.2 scoreless innings with a 0.706 WHIP converting all four of his save opportunities.

With his stretch, Reed’s stats are looking more familiar.  Overall, he is 0-2 with a 2.70 ERA, 11 saves, 1.050 WHIP, and a 10.0 K/9.  He is once again a pitcher the Mets can rely upon to dominate out of the bullpen.  The team needs it too with the relievers who are struggling.

The Mets are at a cross-roads right now, and they need everyone to be at their best.  Fortunately, Reed is, and he once again gives the Mets the best chance to win each and every time he takes the mound.

Mets Last Chance

The Mets have a number of excuses why they are in the position they are.  Those excuses mostly surround the pitching.  Noah Syndergaard went down in April with a torn lat.  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom haven’t been the same since returning from their season ending surgeries.  There has been a revolving door at the fifth starter spot that has seen the likes of Rafael Montero, Adam Wilk, Tommy Milone, and Tyler Pill.  This has put stress on the bullpen, and the bullpen broke.

They broke because Jeurys Familia went down for the season.  Hansel Robles couldn’t keep up with the workload and fell apart.  Josh Smoker hasn’t been able to figure it out this year.  Addison Reed is a much better set-up man than a closer.

Through all of this, despite playing a weak schedule, the Mets are seven games under .500.  The Mets are THIS CLOSE to being sellers.

However, there is hope.  Seth Lugo and Steven Matz are coming off the Disabled List.  Last year, Lugo was 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP.  He followed that breakout performance with a breakout performance in the World Baseball Classic.

Matz is even better than Lugo.  Before succumbing to the bone spur in his elbow last year, Matz had a stretch from April 17th to June 18th where he was 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP.  That was after his rookie season where he was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP.

That combination of Lugo and Matz vastly improves the Mets rotation.  It also bumps a good pitcher like Robert Gsellman into the bullpen.  Lately, Gsellman has figured it out.  In his last four appearances, he’s 2-0 with hold posting a 2.66 ERA and a 1.082 WHIP.  This will give the bullpen a fresh arm.  More than that, it means one of Smoker or Neil Ramirez is going to be gone from the bullpen.

Finally, the Mets will have the pitching to help an offense that has tried to carry this team.  In May, the Mets averaged the second most runs per game (5.7) in the National League.  Things promise to get better with Yoenis Cespedes having played in his first rull rehab game for St. Lucie last night.

With that, the Mets will have as complete a team as they can expect for the reason for the season.  Now, they just have to take advantage of their opportunities.  That starts with the four game series with a Braves team who is a half game up on the Mets for second place in the National League East.  Sweep them, and the Mets will find themselves just three games under .500.

After that, the Mets have a seven game home stand.  First, there are the Chicago Cubs, who are not the same team they were last year.  After that, the Mets have a four game set with the Washington Nationals.

If the Mets take care of business against the Braves and Cubs, that could be a HUGE series for this Mets team.  Sweep the Nationals at home, and all of a sudden the Mets could be just eight games back in the division or better.  That’s still a large deficit to overcome, but it’s not as daunting as the 12 games they are now.

The Mets don’t take advantage of this opportunity?  It’s time to sell.  At that point, the team should look to move everyone to pave the way for Amed Rosario, who frankly should be here now, and Dominic Smith to become the David Wright and Jose Reyes of this generation.

If the Mets don’t want to do that, it’s time to take care of business.  That starts tonight with a huge start for Matt Harvey.  This used to be the exact moment you wanted him on the mound.  It is time for that to happen again. 

Ya Gotta Believe In This Team

Let’s be honest.  With nearly two months gone in the season, there is not a lot of reason to believe in the 2017 Mets.  The team is five games under .500 and just 14-16 against their own division.  Important players like Yoenis Cespedes, Jeurys Familia, Steven MatzNoah Syndergaard and David Wright have had extended stints on the disabled list.  Presumably, Familia, Syndergaard, and Wright are done for the season.    The team features two everyday players who are fighting to get and stay atop the Mendoza Line, and the entire pitching staff has underperformed.  And despite all of these problems, and many more which have not been mentioned, there are very real reasons to be optimistic about the Mets as we head into the summer months:

1.  The Starting Pitching Is Improving

In case, you haven’t noticed the Mets are no longer have the worst ERA in all of baseball.  A huge reason for that is the starting pitching is not only improving, but they are also pitching deeper into games.  That has started with the re-emergence of Jacob deGrom.  Before last night’s debacle, in his last two starts, deGrom pitched 15.1 innings allowing just one earned run.  He threw down the gauntlet, and the other starting pitchers have responded.

The Mets are now starting to put together quality starts with some regularity.  Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman are coming off their best starts in over a month.  Zack Wheeler continues to pregress well in his first season in over two years.  Matz and Seth Lugo will soon join the rotation.  As we have seen time and again, this team goes as its pitching goes, and the pitching is trending in the right direction.

2.  The Bullpen Is Settling Down

With the starters failing to go deep into games and Familia essentially being a non-factor this season, the bullpen has struggled.  The struggles stem from both overwork and trying to slot guys into different roles than had previously been anticipated.  With the starters going deeper, the bullpen is starting to get some rest, and the bullpen is starting to look better.

Another factor is the emergence of Paul Sewald.  A player the Mets were willing to risk losing in the Rule 5 Draft has now become the Mets most important reliever.  He has been used for multiple innings and to nail down the eighth inning.  He has shown his success in Vegas was no fluke pitching to a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 innings.  His emergence has allowed Terry Collins to ease up on some of his other relievers.Salas has responded by lowering his ERA by almost two runs in the month of May, has not blown one lead,  and he has not allowed an earned run in 11 of his last 14 appearances.  A rejuvenated Salas is good for the Mets.

Another key factor is the composition of the bullpen.  Rafael Montero is gone. Neil Ramirez is on his way out as well.  He should be gone once Hansel Robles figures things out in Vegas and/or Gsellman is moved to the bullpen with the return of Matz and Lugo from the disabled list.  Certainly, the composition of arms is going to be much better down there, and with the starters going deeper, they will be better rested.

3.  Help Is On The Way

As noted, Matz and Lugo will soon rejoin the rotation.  Behind them, we may also see Robles return to the majors prompting the Mets to send down one of the more ineffective arms in Ramirez and/or Josh Smoker.  But it’s not just on the pitching side that the Mets will improve, it’s also on the offensive side.

According to various reports, Cespedes is about 7-1o days away.  When he returns, the Mets will be adding an MVP caliber player to play alongside Michael Conforto in the outfield, who is having an MVP caliber season himself.  Cespedes not only lengthens the lineup, but he also adds a right-handed power threat which the lineup is sorely lacking right now.  While the offense isn’t the issue so far, a team that is fighting to not only get back to .500, but also to get back to the postseason needs to upgrade everywhere it can.

It’s more than Cespedes.  At some point, the moving target that is the Super Two deadline is going to comfortably pass clearing yet another hurdle for the Mets to call-up Amed Rosario.  If Rosario does get called-up, it would significantly improve the Mets infield defense, and it could also improve the lineup.  Through his first 50 games, Rosario is hitting .354/.393/.519 with 13 doubles, three triples, five homers, and 37 RBI.

With all that, there is legitimate reason for hope the Mets will be a better team over the final four months of the season.  That team could catch the Nationals in the standings especially when you consider the two teams have 13 games against one another remaining.  That is enough games to make-up the 9.5 game gap between the teams in the standings.  That goes double when you consider the Nationals have bullpen issues of their own, and they are just 15-12 since losing Adam Eaton for the season.

If the Mets play as well as they can play, this is going to be an exciting summer at Citi Field.  If the Mets play the way they are capable, this will soon become a pennant race.

Las Vegas Doesn’t Have The Solution To the Mets Bullpen Problems

It’s no secret the major league club has had bullpen issues. Jerry Blevins pitches in far too many games. Jeurys Familia is possibly done for the year. Fernando Salas and Addison Reed aren’t the pitchers they were last year. Both Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles have been sent down to Triple-A due to ineffectiveness. Somehow Rafael Montero is still on the major league roster, and he does not appear to be in jeopardy of being sent back to Vegas.

Part of the reason for that is the 51s relievers have been struggling mightily of late. Worse yet, it is the arms who were possibly closest to making the major leagues that are struggling the most.

Kevin McGowan started the year using his big fastball to strike batters out at high clip. More than racking up strikeouts, McGowan was keeping runners of the bases. He had a 0.700 WHIP to go along with a sterling 0.90 ERA. With him harnessing his stuff, and the major league bullpen struggling, it appeared as it he might get his chance sooner or later. Well, it is going to be later. Since May 4th, he’s appeared in six games, and he has allowed two plus runs in four of those appearances. His last appearance was a disastrous 0.2 appearance where he allowed six earned.

Another pitcher who has struggled of late is Alberto Baldonado. The left-handed pitcher was getting both righties and lefties out in Double-A leading to his promotion to Triple-A. Since joining the 51s, Baldonado has been hit hard. In his six appearances, he has a 10.80 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP. He’s become less of a cross-over reliever and more of a LOOGY with right-handed batters hitting .261 off of him. It’s a large reason why Baldonado has allowed three earned runs in two of his last three appearances.

Both McGowan and Baldonado have presumably surpassed Erik Goeddel on the depth chart. In 2014 and 2015, Goeddel had been a good major league reliever pitching to a 2.48 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP. Last year he struggled, and he would need surgery to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow. He hasn’t gotten back to the effective major league reliever. In fact, he hasn’t even gotten back to being an effective pitcher. In 16 games, Goeddel is 2-3 with an 8.68 ERA and a 2.036 WHIP. He’s probably closer to being designated for assignment than getting called up.

It is more of the same with the rest of the 51s bullpen. Ben Rowen went from a consideration for the Opening Day roster to a 5.91 ERA. David Roseboom went from revelation last year in Double-A to an 8.31 ERA. Chasen Bradford has a 4.22 ERA and a 1.622 WHIP. Beck Wheeler has a 5.95 ERA and a 1.932 WHIP. About the only reliever with good stats is Logan Taylor, and he is walking the ballpark with a 4.1 BB/9.

Right now, as bad as things are in the majors, it is worse in Triple-A. At both levels, the Mets have talented pitchers who are going to have to make the necessary adjustments to start getting batters out. If they don’t, the Mets will be forced to look outside the organization for bullpen help. That is something no reliever in the Mets organization wants right now.

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.

Enough of This – Call Up Rosario

The Mets are a team with a number of issues right now.  The pitching staff as a whole has the worst ERA in all of baseball.  The starters haven’t been going deep into games, and the bullpen is just now starting to crack.  While the position players are hitting, the team defense is unacceptably poor.  While there may not be any causation, there is certainly a correlation between the Mets poor pitching, and their poor defense.

With Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia going down, it is hard to believe the pitching staff is going to get any better.  Right now, the Mets can pin their hopes on Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, but who knows when they can come back?  And when Matz comes back, how long is he going to be healthy?  Same goes for Lugo who has a torn UCL in his pitching elbow.  With the Mets unlikely to significantly upgrade the pitching staff in any way, the team is going to have to upgrade their defense.

There are some minor tweaks that can be made.  Juan Lagares can start in center field over Curtis Granderson.  Typically, you do not want to start Lagares due to his offense, but with Granderson hitting .144/.206/.272 on the season, it’s hard to argue Lagares can be any worse.  Unfortunately, a switch from Granderson to Lagares is likely insufficient to address the defensive issues.  That goes double with the Mets statistically having the worst middle infield in the major leagues.

Right now, the easiest position to upgrade is shortstop.  Asdrubal Cabrera has a torn ligament in his thumb leading the Mets to consider putting him on the disabled list.  In addition to his thumb, we have also seen Cabrera struggle for the second straight year with some leg issues.  If he were to go on the disabled list, the natural option to replace him would be Jose Reyes.

For his part, Reyes just isn’t hitting.  For the season, Reyes is hitting .189/.286/.315.  Those numbers have been boosted by his numbers in May.  In May, he is hitting .220/.283/.341.  As a result of his poor hitting, Reyes is eminently replaceable.  In fact, he has been replaced.  When Lucas Duda returned from the disabled list on Friday, Reyes moved to the bench, and T.J. Rivera was moved to third base.

Overall, the Mets need a shortstop.  As it so happens, they have on in Triple-A with Amed Rosario.

Depending on whichever source you rely, Rosario is either a top 10 prospect or the best prospect in all of baseball.  One of the main reasons for this is he is succeeding in Triple-A.  Through his first 36 games, Rosario is hitting .359/.401/.493 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homes, and 22 RBI.  This isn’t even him padding his numbers at Cashman Field.  In fact, he has hit better on the road.

Now, Rosario has cooled off in May hitting .283/.339/.472.  However, if those numbers are indicative of what a slump looks like for Rosario now, that’s extremely encouraging.  Even with a potential regression if he were to be called up to the major leagues right now, Rosario’s offense would certainly play in the majors.  One of the reasons why is Rosario is a good defender.

Look past his nine errors this season.  This is a player widely regarded as one of the top defensive prospects in baseball.  Overall, it is his defense that is needed right now.  His range at shortstop is far and above what either Cabrera or Reyes can provide at the moment.  Those ground ball hits pitchers give up could be turned into outs.  If those hits become outs, rallies end, or maybe rallies don’t start in the first place.  The starting pitchers now have to throw less pitches, and they could go deeper into games.  In turn, this could take some of the burden off of the bullpen.

Is this an oversimplification?  Perhaps.  But there is no denying the Mets need a better glove at shortstop.  A shortstop with more range would permit help abate the range issues Neil Walker has at second and Rivera has at third.  Even if this all is an oversimplification, it’s at least worth a shot.

Right now, the Mets are not really going anywhere as currently constituted.  There are few areas in which the team can look to upgrade internally.  With Cabrera’s injuries and Reyes’ ineffectiveness, shortstop is one of those areas.  If the Mets are serious about winning in 2017, now is the time to call-up Rosario.

What Happened To This Bullpen?

Watching the game yesterday, we all got to see both Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed meltdown.  Since both players were acquired by the Mets, both pitchers have been as dominant as you could expect.  This was a day after Hansel Robles, who has arguably been the Mets best reliever this season, completely melted down.  If you have been watching the Mets so far this season, you expected this to happen sooner or later.

With the loss of Noah Syndergaard and the rest of the starting pitching staff under-performing, Terry Collins has had to go to the bullpen far too frequently early this season.  In fact, Jacob deGrom is the only starting pitcher who is averaging at least six innings this season.  Essentially, the bullpen is needed for about 40% of the innings pitched in any game.  The four extra inning games doesn’t help much either.

What also doesn’t help is how Collins has chosen to deploy his bullpen.  Lately, we have seen Collins using multiple relievers to get through just one inning.  What is bizarre about that approach is the score doesn’t matter.  Collins is as prone to do this in a one run game as he is in a five run game.  When you go to the well too often with the same guys time and again, you are going to tire your bullpen arms out.  It’s now the middle of May, and the Mets are about one-fifth through their schedule.  Here is the current pace for each of the Mets relievers:

  • Blevins – 95
  • Reed – 90
  • Salas – 90
  • Robles – 86
  • Edgin – 81

No one has made more than 90 appearances in a season since Pedro Feliciano made 92 appearances for the 2010 Mets.  The Mets currently have three relievers on pace to make 90 appearances.  The last time there were multiple pitchers in baseball who made 90 appearances in a season was 1979.  By the way, this is the only time it has happened in major league history.  The last time there were five relievers who have made 80 plus appearances in all of baseball.  On their own, the Mets are on pace to do that.

But it’s not just those relievers.  Jeurys Familia was eligible to pitch in just 18 games between his suspension and subsequent surgery.  Familia pitched in 11 of those games.  At that usage rate, Familia was on a pace to appear in 99 games.  That shouldn’t be much of a surprise as Familia has led the major leagues in appearances since the 2014 season.

Josh Smoker was demoted on May 9th due to his pitching to a 7.88 ERA and a 1.750 WHIP.  When he was demoted, Smoker had appeared in 15 of the Mets 32 games.  At the rate he was used, Smoker was on pace to appear in 76 games.  That number usually leads most teams.  That number was the sixth most on the Mets.

Since Paul Sewald has been recalled on May 1st, he is pitching on a pace to appear in 68 games this season.  This makes him the reliever who has been pitching with a manageable workload.  He is also one of the best relievers in the Mets bullpen right now.

Overall, this bullpen is being used at an unprecedented rate.  As we saw in Milwaukee, this bullpen is starting to crack.  That’s troubling when you consider the Mets have carried an extra reliever for much of the season.  The blame for this goes on the starters for not going deep into games.  It also goes on Collins for him not being judicious in how he deploys his bullpen arms.  Whatever the case, what was once a strength for the Mets is now becoming a liability.  Something has to change and fast.