On the dawn of the World Baseball Classic, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard made some waves when he stated, “I’m a Met. Ain’t nobody made it to the Hall of Fame or the World Series playing in the WBC.” (Abby Mastrocco, nj.com).
Judging from attendance at Spring Training, Syndergaard’s belief is not something that is universally shared in the Mets clubhouse. Jose Reyes is one of the few major league players that have appeared in all four WBCs. He is joined on the Dominican Republic team by Mets relievers Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia.
Fernando Salas threw his first pitch this Spring for Mexico. Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini have been stars for Italy. Seth Lugo and T.J. Rivera, two players arguably fighting over the last spots on the Opening Day roster, are playing with Mets back-up catcher Rene Rivera for an undefeated Puerto Rico team. Ty Kelly is both fighting for a potential roster spot and for a spot in the semifinal for Israel.
Point is, while Syndergaard doesn’t believe in the importance of the WBC, many of his teammates do. That includes team captain David Wright, who said, “Everybody has their right to their own opinion, and obviously Noah doesn’t think too highly of it. But I do. So I’m not sure if it’s just a different mentality, and I’m not sure if there’s a right or a wrong. But getting a chance to represent your country, and put that jersey on, and hear the chants of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ — that’s one of the highlights of my career. (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).
It should be noted Wright wasn’t calling out Syndergaard like the time he and Bobby Parnell threw Syndergaard’s lunch in the garbage. He wasn’t singling out Syndergaard either noting other great players like Clayton Kershaw have opted not to play in the WBC without having to face the same scrutiny Syndergaard has. Rather, Wright was merely trying to speak to what the WBC has meant to him.
It certainly was one of the highlights of Wright’s career. In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Wright sent USA to the semifinals with a walk-off hit against Puerto Rico. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Wright would loom even larger. He hit the decisive grand slam against Italy that helped propel the United States back to the semifinals. In the 2013 tournament, Wright hit .438/.526/.750 with two doubles, a grand slam, and 10 RBI. Wright was named as the third baseman to the All WBC Team. If not for his intercoastal injury before the semifinals, who knows if USA wins the WBC that year?
Among USA players in WBC history, Wright is second all-time in games played, third in hits, second in doubles, and first in RBI. He is a ,333/.400/.458 hitter in WBC history. He had two huge go-ahead late inning hits that propelled the USA into the semifinals. It is why Wright was dubbed Captain American. Overall, you cannot discuss the greatness of Wright’s career without mentioning the WBC.
It is an event that has mattered to Wright as much as any moment in his career. As Wright said, “Up to this point if you say, ‘Hey, what’s the most fun you’ve had on a baseball field?’ I’d say the World Series. But I would say in the conversation of cool things that I’ve gotten to do on a baseball field, the World Baseball Classic is toward the top of that list for sure.”
Overall, during Spring Training and the WBC, Wright has been noticeably absent. As his health issues continue to linger and keep him off the field, the 2013 WBC and 2015 World Series seem farther and farther away. However, those moments should not serve as the epilogue to a great career for a great Met. Rather, they should serve as highlights.
Deep down, each and every Mets fan must hope Wright has another chapter left in him. It may not happen in the WBC. It may happen in the World Series. And it may just happen this year.
Last year, we saw Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, and T.J. Rivera become significant contributors to a Mets team who claimed one of the two National League Wild Cards. Their contribution was as pleasant as it was surprising. In fact, no one truly could have predicated the slate of injuries that befell the Mets last year. This year? Well, that’s a different story all together.
With David Wright already questionable for Opening Day, and the Mets prospects performing better in Spring Training than many originally anticipated, many fans question not if, but when will we see these prospects contributing for the Mets. With that in mind, here are five prospects, who have yet to appear in a major league game, we may very well see at Citi Field in 2017.
Once Akeel Morris was traded to the Braves for Kelly Johnson, Roseboom became the closer for the Binghamton Mets last season. Roseboom blossomed in the role and made it an eight inning game for the B-Mets. He saved 14 out of 15 games while posting a 1.87 ERA in 52 games on the year. From July 2 to the last regular season game on September 5, Roseboom held opponents to a .130/.193/.383 slash line, and a 0.92 ERA. This work has caught the Mets attention, and he was a non-roster invitee giving the Mets coaching staff an opportunity to get an up close look at him.
At a minimum, he could very well be the second left-handed reliever the Mets covet in the bullpen. With the struggles we have seen from Josh Edgin this Spring, that could be sooner rather than later.
#2 Paul Sewald
What is interesting about Sewald is his terrific results have not gotten him the attention he deserves. Seemingly every pitcher struggles in Las Vegas, and yet in the second half, Sewald converted 10 save opportunities while posting a 1.85 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. While naysayers will point to his high 80s to low 90s fastball, Sewald has clearly shown the ability to get batters out even in the most difficult of pitching environments. As teams go through multiple relievers year-t0-year, it may only be a matter of time before Sewald finally gets his well earned chance to pitch in the majors.
This Spring, we have already seen Wright become questionable for Opening Day, and Lucas Duda need shots in his hip and have back spasms. For a Mets infield that already had injury questions to start the season, things are already progressing quite poorly. The Mets have talked about experimenting with Jay Bruce at first. Wilmer Flores has already shown he can be part of an effective platoon there as well. Neither player is the long term answer. That’s Smith.
Smith is a terrific fielding first baseman who reported to his first major league camp in the best shape of his professional career. So far, the only concern about him is if he will hit for power. He quieted some of those concerns in the final 58 games of the season. During that 58 game stretch, Smith hit .355/.426/.537 with 16 doubles, one triple, seven homers and 42 RBI. Extrapolating that over the course of a 162 game season, that would translate to 45 doubles and 20 home runs. That type of production can definitely play at first base especially when Smith has the promise to do even more.
#4 Amed Rosario
Across baseball and the Mets organization, Rosario has been dubbed a superstar in the making. The only question is when his star will begin shining at Citi Field. Arguably, he is further away from Citi Field than Smith as Smith played a full season in Binghamton last year. Moreover, you probably want to give both players until the All Star Break before you even begin to consider calling them up to the majors. And yet, as Michael Conforto proved in 2015, if you are a truly special talent, you can come to the majors and contribute for a World Series caliber team in the thick of a pennant race.
In Rosario, the Mets have a game changer in the field and at the plate. Should any infielder go down, room can be made for Rosario. Certainly, Asdrubal Cabrera has shown in his career he can play second and third. Also, do not discount the Mets trying to play Rosario at third this season so he can become more versatile, and quite possibly open a spot for him on the major league roster this year.
#5 Chris Flexen
Arguably, this spot could go to P.J. Conlon, but Flexen is on the 40 man roster. Also, Flexen pitched a full season for St. Lucie last year, whereas Conlon only pitched half a season there. Another issue is Flexen’s stuff plays better in the bullpen as Flexen has a mid-90s fastball and a plus curve ball. If the Mets were to be willing to move Flexen to the bullpen, he can rocket through the Mets system.
In addition to Conlon, another name to consider is Corey Taylor. He’s got terrific stuff, and the minor league closer is already drawing Jeurys Familia comparisons. Overall, the Mets farm system has plenty of players who should be able to contribute at the major league level at some point next year. It should give you some hope the Mets should be good in 2017 even if there is a rash of injuries. It should give you more hope that the Mets should be good in years to come.
Editor’s Note: I consulted Michael Mayer while making my list, and he pointed out to me he wrote a similar column for Mets Merized Online. His list is slightly different as he includes Champ Stuart. As Michael is one of the most knowledgeable people on the Mets farm system, please give his article a read as well.
After last season, Mets fans became aware of who Gavin Cecchini, Ty Kelly, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and T.J. Rivera were. While we may have been aware of who they were, Mets fans got to see Rene Rivera and Fernando Salas up close and personal for the first time. Naturally, you are well aware of who Jeurys Familia and Jose Reyes are. Still, there are some other Mets participating in this edition of the World Baseball Classic that most Mets fans are going to see for the first time. Here’s a a look at those players and what we may expect to see
2016 Level: Binghamton & Las Vegas
2016 Stats: 85 G, 327 PA, 290 AB, 28 R, 79 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, CS, .272/.347/.362
The 27 year old Carrillo is a catcher’s catcher. He is a good receiver behind the plate, and he has a good, not great, throwing arm that allows him to control the running game. For his defensive skills, he was recently given a Gold Glove in the Mexican Pacific Winter Leagues.
At the plate, Carrillo shows a good eye at the plate, but not much pop. While you can argue his glove is major league ready, his bat probably isn’t. Still, Carrillo is a hard worker that has shown the willingness to do whatever is necessary to improve his game. Considering Mets fans once saw the likes of Mike Nickeas serve as a back-up catcher at the major league level, it is not impossible that Carrillo could one day get a chance in the major leagues.
RHP Nabil Crismatt
2016 Level: Brooklyn, Columbia, Binghamton
2016 Stats: 1-4, 2.47 ERA, 13 G, 7 GS, SV, 65.2 IP, 74 K, 0.883 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
The 22 year old Crismatt has been an interesting pitching prospect since the Mets signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Columbia in 2011. Crismatt has never had dominating stuff with his fastball typically sitting between the high 80s to the low 90s. With that said, he’s able to get batters out because he knows how to pitch. He has clean, easily repeatable mechanics. While he does not have a blazing fastball, he is able to locate the pitch well. He gets the most out of his fastball because he has a terrific change-up. He gets the most out of both pitches because he knows how to attack hitters to not only get a high number of strike outs, but also get a good number of ground balls.
The Mets did not protect Crismatt from the Rule 5 Draft last year, and he wasn’t selected. The Mets may not be so lucky the next time around. Crismatt has shown he can thrive as a starter and as a reliever. At the moment, he projects as a major league reliever. With that said if he can develop a third pitch to be on the level of his fastball and change-up, he may very well be able to thrive in a major league rotation.
Certainly, aside from these prospects, I’m sure the player most Mets fans have the most interest in seeing play during the World Baseball Classic is Yoenis Cespedes‘ 19 year old brother Yoelkis. Unsurprisingly, Yoelkis has been dubbed a five tool player.
With today being Valentine’s Day, it is only right we get into the spirit of things by being as clever as Bobby Valentine was the time he used eye black to make a fake mustache. Without further ado, here are some “clever” Mets themed Valentine’s Day lines you may see on one of those cards you used to pass out to your classmates in grammar school:
Jerry Blevins – Jerry? Hello! Be my Valentine
Josh Edgin – I’m Edgin my way closer to you.
Jeurys Familia – I want to become Familia with your sexy self.
Matt Harvey – If you thought 50 Shades of Grey was seductive, wait until you see the Dark Knight I have in store for you.
Seth Lugo – Lugo you want to get with this.
Rafael Montero – You might as well be my Valentine because we both know there’s not getting rid of me not matter how awful I am.
Addison Reed – You and Me Addison up to a great Valentine’s Day
Hansel Robles – You’re so hot right now
Fernando Salas – If I had to the same again, I would, my Valentine, Fernando
Josh Smoker – You’re so hot, I can see the Smoker from miles away
Noah Syndergaard – Can you handle this god’s thunder?
Yoenis Cespedes – There’s a lot of Potencia between you and I Valentine
Travis d’Arnaud – d’Arnaud it pains me to be apart from you
Lucas Duda – Duda right thing and be my Valentine
Wilmer Flores – I’ll cry if you put me in the Friends zone
Amed Rosario – Don’t Be Surprised Be Ready
Neil Walker – I would Walker 5,000 miles to be your Valentine
David Wright – It’s only Wright we would be Valentines
Jay Bruce – Let me be the Valentine you regret for years to come.
Michael Conforto – It’s a Conforto to know whether in NY or Vegas we’re Valentines
Curtis Granderson – It’s Grandy being your Valentine
Juan Lagares – You’re the only Juan for me
Brandon Nimmo – Nimmo I’m smiling because of you.
Ron Darling – Be my Darling this Valentine’s Day
Keith Hernandez – I mustache you to be my Valentine’s Day OR How about a Valentine’s Day mustache ride?
Happy Valentine’s Day
With Baseball America‘s Adam Rubin reporting the Mets are considering using low A starter P.J. Conlon out of the bullpen, the Mets are really giving the impression that they may not sign any relief pitchers this offseason. This would coincide with earlier reports the Mets may not have the budget to acquire another player unless the team is able to trade an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce. When considering the difficulties the Mets have in trading Bruce, it’s becoming increasingly more likely the Mets will use internal options to build their bullpen.
The Mets should have varying degrees of confidence in returning relief pitchers Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, and Hansel Robles. Last season, Reed and Familia combined to be the best 8-9 combination in baseball. Robles has shown versatility whether it was his bailing Jim Henderson out of a bases loaded no out jam or pitching 3.2 innings because Bartolo Colon left a game in the first inning with an injury.
While the Mets should have confidence in these three pitchers, they still need at least four other arms to complete their bullpen. Here are the leading options:
RHP Seth Lugo – While he should get the opportunity to compete with Robert Gsellman for a spot in the rotation, indications are Lugo will land in the bullpen. In limited bullpen duty last year, Lugo was terrific. In his nine relief appearances, he had a 2.65 ERA, 0.941 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Pitching out of the bullpen should also permit Lugo to ramp his fastball up to 95 MPH and throw his curveball, which has the best spin rate in the majors, making him an even more dominant pitcher.
RHP Zack Wheeler – Like Lugo, Wheeler may get an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, but early indications are he will start the year in the bullpen. Wheeler’s fastball-slider combination should play well out of the bullpen, and it should lead to him recording a high number of strikeouts. Conversely, he may have a high amount of walks as well. Unfortunately, Wheeler may not be able to sustain the same workload of a relief pitcher as the Mets will likely want to ease him back after Wheeler missed two years due to Tommy John surgery.
RHP Paul Sewald – With a high 80s to low 90s fastball with a slider in the low 90s with a low 80s slider, Sewald doesn’t have the dominating stuff you would typically look for in a major league reliever. However, despite having “lesser” stuff, Sewald has succeeded at every level of the minor leagues including his being an effective closer for the 51s last year. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, Sewald had 10 saves with a 1.85 ERA, 0.945 WHIP, and an 11.8 K/9 in the second half of the season.
RHP Erik Goeddel – If Goeddel can return to his 2014 – 2015 form, the Mets have a reliever they can rely upon. During that time, he was on the New York – Las Vegas shuttle making 41 major league appearances. Over that stretch, he had a 2.48 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, and a 9.0 K/9. For many, it was believed Goeddel did it with smoke and mirrors, an impression that was given credence with his 4.54 ERA and 1.318 WHIP in 2016. With Goeddel able to strike out 9.1 batters per nine last year, he has at least shown he can get batters out, and as a result, should get another chance. His success in 2017 is going to depend on his ability to regain some of his fastball velocity or his ability to adapt to pitching without it.
RHP Chase Bradford – Like Sewald, Bradford has fringy stuff with a low 90s fastball and a low to mid 80s slider. However, unlike Sewald, Bradford has struggled in AAA. Over the past three years, Bradford has pitched to a 4.88 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9. It should be noted many pitchers, like Lugo, struggle in Las Vegas, only to have success in the majors.
RHP Ben Rowen – The submarine style Rowen was brought in on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The hope is that Rowen can be a modern version of Chad Bradford in what was an excellent 2006 Mets bullpen. However, given his low 80s fastball, and with both right-handed batters and left-handed batters hitting him hard in his brief 12 major league appearances, this seems more hope than reality.
RHP Rafael Montero – Despite being terrible for the Mets, he somehow remains a part of the Mets organization. As if his presence on the roster wasn’t baffling enough, Sandy Alderson even mentioned him as a possibility for the bullpen. (ESPN). It figures that this year is the year push comes to shove with Montero. Either he is finally going to trust his stuff and throw strikes at the major league level, or the Mets are going to designate him for assignment for someone who can.
RHP Gabriel Ynoa – Ynoa struggled with the Mets last year, but those struggles could have been the result of him being asked to pitch out of the bullpen when he’s never done that before and the team shifting him between the bullpen and rotation late in the year. Fact is Ynoa has real talent. He has a low to mid 90s fastball that he may be able to consistently get in the mid 90s if he was airing it out in the bullpen. His slider is also effective in generating a number of groundballs. With him in the bullpen as opposed to the rotation, he can primarily utilize his two best pitches to get batters out.
LHP Josh Smoker – There are three things we learned about Smoker last year: (1) he strikes out a lot of batters; (2) left-handed batters absolutely crush him; and (3) he is not effective for more than one inning. Now, if Smoker is able to work with Dan Warthen to develop a slider to get help him get left-handed batters out, he’s got closer potential. If not, he’s still an effective arm out of the bullpen so long as Terry Collins acknowledges his limitations.
LHP Josh Edgin – Even with his reduced velocity, Edgin still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out. Until such time he re-gains his velocity, if it ever were to happen, he should primarily be used as a LOOGY. Now, with Familia, Reed, and Robles each being extremely effective against left-handed batters, the Mets are not in dire need of a LOOGY. Still, in a division with Freddie Freeman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper the Mets could benefit from having more than one pitcher who can get left-handed batters out.
LHP Sean Gilmartin – In 2015, Gilmartin was an important part of the Mets bullpen as the team’s long man. That season, he made 50 appearance pitching 57.1 innings going 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9. Surprisingly, Gilmartin had reverse splits allowing a .216 batting average to right-handed batters and a .260 batting average to left-handed batters. Last, year, Gilmartin began the year in Las Vegas as a starting pitcher. Due to some bullpen issues at the major league level, the Mets had him fly on a red eye and pitch on short rest. Eventually, he would suffer a minor shoulder injury, and his promising season would tail off. Ultimately, the Mets will need a long man in 2017, and there is enough evidence here to suggest Gilmartin can competently fill that roll.
LHP David Roseboom – It’s not common for pitchers to go from AA to the Opening Day roster the next year, but Roseboom may just be capable of doing it. While a closer by trade, who is coming off a season with a 1.87 ERA, he is extremely effective against left-handed batters. Last season, he limited left-handed batters to a .141 batting average. Primarily, Roseboom is a sinker/slider pitcher who also has a change that allows him to remain effective against right-handed batters. While Roseboom primarily sits in the high 80s to the low 90s, he remains effective because he is able to effectively locate his pitches, and he induces a high rate of ground balls.
LHP P.J. Conlon – As touched on above, considering Conlon for the Opening Day roster was a surprise given he has not pitched in AA, he consistently throws in the mid to high 80s, and he was used as a starter last season. Another reason this was a surprise is the Conlon is better against right-handed batters than left-handed batters. The main reason for that is while Conlon is a four pitch pitcher, his out pitch is his change-up. Like with most left-handed pitchers, Conlon’s change-up is more effective against right-handed batters than left. Overall, it is highly unlikely he will make the Opening Day roster, but he should still benefit from the opportunity to further develop his slider.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wheeler seems assured of being in the Opening Day bullpen with Familia, Reed, and Robles. Considering the Mets probably want to add another left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, and the fact that he is out of options, Edgin seems to be the next best guess as to a pitcher who will make the r0ster. Based upon their performance in the bullpen last year, it is likely the next two spots go to Lugo and Smoker. Right there, the Mets have a seven man bullpen with an interesting array of arms that can both register strike outs and induce ground balls to try to get a double play to get out of the inning.
If there is an injury, suspension, or someone proves to be ineffective, the Mets have interesting options behind this group in Rowen, Sewald, and Roseboom. There is also Gilmartin and Ynoa who can provide either a spot start or be able to serve in the bullpen if needed.
Ultimately, while you would feel much better with the Mets having at least one more veteran arm in the bullpen like a Jerry Blevins or a Fernando Salas, there is at least enough quality arms in the Mets system that can conceivably build a good bullpen.
We are headed for another season of Mets baseball where we hope that once again these Mets can make it all the way back to the World Series. Since 2015, we have seen a definite pattern emerge with the Mets, and I think as Mets fans, we should all try better this year to not react, some would say overreact, when one of the following things we know will happen, happens:
- The Mets are not going to sign another big name free agent this offseason. It’s not going to happen, and it just may happen that Jose Bautista winds up in the division and on a fairly discounted deal;
- Jerry Blevins will sign an extremely reasonable two year deal . . . with another team;
- Instead of fortifying the bench, the Mets are going to go with this year’s version of Eric Campbell -> Ty Kelly;
- Terry Collins is going to use and abuse Addison Reed to the point where his arm may actually fall off. This will go double if Jeurys Familia gets suspended;
- Hansel Robles is going to go through a stretch in one week where he pitches five innings, 1/3 of an inning, two innings, and three innings, and everyone is going to wonder why his production has fallen off;
- The infield of Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, David Wright, and Asdrubal Cabrera will be ridden hard despite their injury histories and capable backups like Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes on the bench;
- Just pick a random player on the roster – he’s going to be on the DL for over two months with a back injury;
- There will be a game with Reyes in center and Juan Lagares in right;
- Travis d’Arnaud is going to get injured, and Kevin Plawecki is not going to be able to replace his bat in the lineup;
- Matt Harvey will complain about the six man rotation that will be implemented at some point during the season;
- Robert Gsellman will make an appearance throwing well over 100 pitches in five innings or less;
- Rene Rivera will hit under the Mendoza Line;
- T.J. Rivera will be raking in AAA and not get called up despite the Mets needing some offense;
- Michael Conforto will not face one left-handed pitcher all season;
- Yoenis Cespedes will not dive for a ball, run out a pop up, or run hard to first on a dropped strike three;
- Curtis Granderson will have a better OBP than Reyes, but Collins will continue to lead off Reyes and his sub .330 OBP;
- Collins will not know if Brandon Nimmo is faster than Flores and it will cost them a game;
- No matter where he winds up this offseason, and no matter how poor his year is going, Chase Utley will hit two home runs in a game he faces the Mets;
- Sandy Alderson will mortgage a part of the Mets future because he didn’t make a move in the offseason that he should have made;
- Paul Sewald will pitch well in AAA, but the Mets won’t call him up because they would rather rip Sean Gilmartin or Gabriel Ynoa from the Vegas rotation to make a relief appearance on 2-3 days of rest;
- Both Josh Smoker and Robles will be fully warmed up, and Collins will go to Smoker to pitch to the lefty;
- For reasons the Mets themselves can’t quite explain, Rafael Montero will spend the full season on the 40 man roster;
- d’Arnaud will come off the disabled list, play well for a stretch, and the Mets will lose him and Steven Matz in the same game;
- Matz will have appendicitis, but the Mets will talk him out of the surgery because they need him to start against the Reds;
- Dilson Herrera will tear it up every time he plays the Mets;
- Wherever he lands, Jay Bruce is going to hit 30 homers and 100 RBI;
- Collins will show up in the dugout without wearing pants, and the Mets still won’t fire him;
- Noah Syndergaard will get ejected from a game for throwing inside. A player who takes a bat to one of the Mets infielders in retaliation won’t;
- Fans will clamor for Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to get called up all season long;
- Seth Lugo will bounce between the bullpen and rotation so much, MLB is actually going to test him to see if his arm is actually made out of rubber;
- Bartolo Colon will pitch so poorly against the Mets, fans will wonder why they wanted a bum like him back;
- R.A. Dickey will not only beat the Mets, but he will throw the team into a week long offensive funk causing some fans to decry the trade;
- One or more pitchers will get hurt, and fans that even question if the Warthen Slider could be an issue will be mocked mercilessly;
- Some way some how Jon Niese will pitch for this team;
- Rather than build Tom Seaver a statue, the Mets will issue #41 to Niese upon his return to the team;
- Daniel Murphy will have another terrific year for the Nationals, and some Mets fans will still defend the decision to let him go;
- Ricky Knapp will make a solid spot start for the Mets causing fans to think he is the second coming;
- Mets will trade a good prospect for Kelly Johnson; and
- Despite all of this the Mets will make it to the postseason
Honestly, I give it until April 9th when Collins declares the last game in a three game set against the Marlins is a must-win game.
In 2015, the Mets not only won the National League East, but they went all the way to the World Series. During that wonderfully unexpected run, the team left a bevvy of left-handed relievers in their wake. Time and again, the team tried to solve their presumed issues with not having a left-handed reliever to no avail. Here is a look at all the left-handed relievers they went through that season:
- Josh Edgin – needed Tommy John surgery before the season began
- Jerry Blevins – appeared in seven games before suffering a broken arm
- Alex Torres – pitched to a 1.515 WHIP and was released on August 4th
- Sean Gilmartin – used as a long man in the bullpen due in part to his reverse splits
- Jack Leathersich – shuttled back and forth between New York and Las Vegas before his season ended due to him needing Tommy John surgery
- Dario Alvarez – appeared in six games before suffering a groin injury that cost him the rest of the season
- Eric O’Flaherty – 13.50 ERA and left off the postseason roster
The lack of the left-handed pitcher did not prevent this team from making it to the postseason or to going to the World Series. The main reason is that team’s right-handed relievers could pitch to left-handed batters. In fact, the batting lines suggests the right-handed relievers performed just as well as a LOOGY would:
- Jeurys Familia .214/.291/.325
- Tyler Clippard .137/.231/.237
- Addison Reed .253/.330/.368
- Hansel Robles .179/.287/.299
The moral of the story is that you do not need a left-handed pitcher to get out left-handed batters. Rather, you need pitchers who are effective at pitching against left-handed batters to get them out.
There are some caveats. First, the Mets did go with Jon Niese as the left-hander in the bullpen during the 2015 postseason, and he did get some big outs including a key strike out of Anthony Rizzo in the NLCS. Second, Blevins was an extremely important part of the 2016 bullpen. Without Blevins in the bullpen, it is quite possible the Mets do not get one of the two Wild Card spots. This creates a problem as Blevins is now a free agent – a free agent that is about to cash in on a terrific year.
So far, we have seen arguably less talented left-handed relievers get big contracts. Brett Cecil received a four year $30.5 million contract from the Cardinals. Marc Rzepczynski received a two year $11 million contract from the Mariners. Mike Dunn received a three year $19 million from the Colorado Rockies. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Blevins was already seeking a three year deal worth $5-$6 million per season. Based upon the contracts already handed out, it is easy to assume Blevins will get the deal he is seeking.
However, it should be noted that deal is likely not coming from the Mets. As already noted, Sandy Alderson does not want to give out multi-year deals to relievers. Furthermore, it does not not appear the Mets are interested in investing $6 million a year on a left-handed reliever. With that being the case, the Mets best chance might be to revert to the 2015 model thrust upon them.
From that team, Familia, Reed, and Robles still remain, and they are still effective as ever in getting left-handed batters out. Here were their stats from the 2016 season:
- Familia .239/.315/.313
- Reed .210/.264/.269
- Robles .179/.287/.299
There is also some promise with Edgin. Despite him not fully regaining his velocity after his Tommy John surgery, he still showed the ability to get left-handed batters out in a very small sample size. In 2016, he faced 20 left-handed batters, and he limited them to a .235/.300/.235 batting line.
Between, Familia, Reed, Robles, and Edgin, the 2017 Mets may already have sufficient bullpen depth to get left-handed batters out. Moreover, with the Mets resportedly wanting to cut payroll from where it currently stands, the team may be forced to stick in-house and instead seek a seventh inning reliever.
That is certainly a justifiable route because the bullpen as constructed already has enough depth to get left-handed batters out. As such, the team does not need to add a left-hander for the sake of adding a left-hander.
With Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia in the fold, the Mets have their eighth and ninth innings guys set up for next year. In 2016, that tandem was the best in baseball. However, it was also the most taxed. The duo pitched more innings than any other reliever combination in the major leagues. The main reason is that the Mets played many close games that necessitated Terry Collins going to the whip with them time and time again. It was needed in the regular season, but as we saw in September and the Wild Card Game, they were beginning to show some signs of fatigue. With that, obtaining a seventh inning reliever, preferably one with closing experience, should be a high priority this offseason.
With that in mind, the Mets should re-sign Fernando Salas.
Salas had a Reed-like impact on the 2016 Mets. In 17 appearances, Salas was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA, a 0.635 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. With that, Salas completely took over the seventh inning, and he allowed both Reed and Familia some rest down the stretch. Understandably, between his usage and his statistics prior to joining the Mets, you could expect him to regress. That’s almost assuredly true of his 0.635 WHIP. However, his regression would not be as troublesome as one would have you believe because, like Reed, Salas has benefited tremendously from the Mets exceptional pitch framing.
Keep in mind, there was not change to Salas’ stuff or his pitching patters when he became a Met. It is similar to Reed who became a completely different pitcher when he became a Met. Before joining the Mets, Reed had a 4.20 ERA and a 1.275 WHIP. In Reed’s season plus with the Mets, he has a 1.84 ERA and a 0.957 WHIP. When Reed became a Met, he didn’t develop a new pitch or pitching patters. Rather, it was the Mets catchers getting the extra strike for him.
It is something Reed emphasized when he said of Travis d’Arnaud, “There’s been a couple of times just this season that I’ve went back and looked at video just because I wanted to see how low the ball was, and how good of a strike (d’Arnaud) made it look. He’s the best I’ve ever thrown to at doing that. Just the way he frames the ball, it’s unbelievable. He makes balls that are four or five inches below the zone look like they’re almost right down the middle by just the way he flicks his wrist. I couldn’t even tell you how he does it.” (ESPN.com)
Given the pitch framing having a similar impact on Salas, you could expect Salas to have a similarly terrific 2017 season. With that, Collins can be more judicious in how he uses both Reed and Familia. This would permit all three pitchers to be fresh come the stretch run to the 2017 postseason; and hopefully, dominant all the way up until the World Series.
Another important point is that pitching in New York is a completely different animal. Some guys can do it and others can’t. The best and most recent example of this was Antonio Bastardo. Prior to joining the Mets, Bastardo had a 3.58 ERA and a 1.198 WHIP. He spent 2015 with the Pirates, and he was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.134 WHIP. Those numbers were why the Mets gave him a fairly lucrative deal for a seventh inning reliever.
Sure enough, Bastardo was terrible with the Mets. Bastardo made 41 appearances with the Mets with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.420 WHIP. Things got so bad, the Mets actually welcomed back Jon Niese and the Mets actually giving the Pirates some money in the deal. Naturally, Bastardo pitched better with the Pirates with him having a 4.13 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP in 28 games for them.
Simply put, Bastardo is the risk you take when you sign free agent middle relievers who have never pitched in New York. At the time of the signing, no one knew if Bastardo could pitch in New York. Conversely, we found out that Salas absolutely could pitch in New York, and that he could pitch with a postseason berth on the line in New York. With that in mind, the Mets should make every effort to bring back Salas to pitch in the bullpen next year . . . regardless of what happens with Familia.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on Mets Merized Online
Typically, speaking when fans are frustrated during the offseason it would indicate their team has been largely inactive. After a “flurry” of early activity that included Neil Walker accepting the qualifying offer and Yoenis Cespedes signing a four year deal that team has been the Mets.
When the Cubs traded away Jorge Soler before signing Koji Uehara, I was almost led to believe that a team could not sign a free agent reliever until they traded away an outfielder. Given the relative inactivity on all free agents this offseason, it seemed like this was a bizarre and strange wrinkle added to the newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement. Alas, when the Marlins signed Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler it proved a team can sign a reliever without trading an outfielder.
That’s what makes this offseason so frustrating. The Mets are letting Bruce and/or Granderson hold their entire offseason hostage while players who can very well help them are going to other teams. Once again, the Mets have signaled they are not quite willing to spend. They are not willing to spend like a team in New York. They are not willing to spend like a team on the cusp of the World Series. Instead, this team is actually looking to cut payroll from its current levels before making another move.
Somewhere, someone is saying that spending doesn’t guarantee a World Series. That person is largely correct. However, this point also neglects the Chicago Cubs, a team that just went to the NLCS, went out last offseason and signed Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Jon Lester. The team also took on Aroldis Chapman‘s salary because they needed a closer heading into the offseason. No, the money didn’t guarantee the Cubs the World Series, but the money spent helped them win the World Series. By the way, Zobrist was the World Series MVP.
Somewhere else is a fan urging patience. Admittedly, Chapman and Kenley Jansen making late decisions held up most of the free agent market. This in turn led to a late and slow developing market for the next tier of relievers. However, those relievers are now coming off the board, and the Mets were not really in the discussion for any of them. In reality, the Mets aren’t going to be contenders for any relievers if they are looking to hand out cheap one year deals.
This means a player like Fernando Salas, who was very good for the Mets last year, may very well find himself playing for another team without receiving a competitive offer from the Mets. That really is unacceptable.
Lastly, there is someone saying that signing a reliever now would really hurt Bruce’s trade market. This is of course nonsense because Bruce obliterated much of the trade market by hitting .219/.294/.391 with the Mets. That market took another hit when the Mets re-signed Cespedes. It took yet another hit when Sandy said the Mets had to trade him before making another deal. Essentially, the Mets have forfeited whatever little leverage they had in trade discussions. How can the team re-signing Salas hurt Bruce’s market any more than it has?
Overall, the fact is the Mets are going to eventually be able to move Bruce. Once players like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and even Mark Trumbo sign, there are going to be teams interested in Bruce. However, how long is that going to take in what has been a really slow developing free agent market on almost all fronts? What players that can help the Mets are still going to be available in free agency?
The likelihood is players that would be willing to sign with the Mets are going to be elsewhere which makes this inactivity all the more frustrating. The team has real needs in the bullpen, and they need to address them now especially with the prospect of losing Jeurys Familia for 30 games.
Ultimately, it is time the Mets act like an even mid-sized market team and get the players it needs to compete for a World Series next season. This isn’t a matter of going out there and giving Jerry Blevins a five year deal for the sake of making a move. It is a matter of letting a pitcher like Ziegler go to an in-division rival on a reasonable contract. That’s an error created by the Mets not having the resources they need to compete.
It’s a shame too because with one or two moves this team could have been drastically better.
Countries have begun trying to assemble their rosters for the World Baseball Classic, and it should come as no surprise that many countries are interested in the Mets players. So far, Ty Kelly (Israel), Seth Lugo (Puerto Rico), and Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela) are confirmed to be participating in the World Baseball Classic. There is also a chance Jeurys Familia (Dominican Republic), Brandon Nimmo (Italy), and Michael Conforto (Italy) could be participating as well.
Whoever plays, they would join a long list of Mets who have played in the World Baseball Classic since its inception in 2006. Can you name all the Mets players who have played in the World Baseball Classic? Good luck!
Dae-Sung Koo, Willie Collazo, Pedro Feliciano, Ivan Maldonado, Juan Padilla, Orlando Roman, Jose Santiago, Carlos Delgado, Javier Valentin, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jorge Sosa, Duaner Sanchez, Jorge Julio, Victor Zambrano, Tony Armas, Endy Chavez, Stefan Welch, Elmer Dessens, Oliver Perez, Shawn Bowman, Jason Bay, Frank Catalanotto, J.J. Putz, David Wright, Fernando Tatis, Ruben Tejada, Nelson Figueroa, Alex Cora, Jesus Feliciano, Francisco Pena