The previous few seasons, the New York Mets had Gary Disarcina as their third base coach. Compared to him, anyone would look terrific.
However, that does not mean Joey Cora has been great or even good. Remember, this is the same guy the last place and perennially rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates fired.
The reason the Pirates fired him was because he was literally the worst third base coach in the game. Things started off very rocky with the Mets.
He had very bad sends of Pete Alonso, Robinson Canó (remember having to deal with that mess), and Eduardo Escobar. Things got better over the ensuing months, but Cora has looked like the Cora of old of late.
Per Baseball Savant, McNeil has slightly below average speed. He also hesitated slightly around second.
It was a perfect carom to the center fielder who threw a strike to the cut-off man. The throw by cut-off man was strong but pulling the catcher towards first.
Now, the narrative usually is it took a perfect throw. The thing is it wasn’t perfect. It was string, but it wasn’t perfect at all. Still, it beat McNeil by a good margin. Here’s the photo:
McNeil didn’t really have a chance. Even if you want to blame him for the hesitation, that’s still on Cora because he sent him. McNeil tried, but he was still out by a good margin.
If this were an isolated instance, you shrug it off. However, these sends are starting to pile up. The hope is it stops here because if it doesn’t Cora may cost the Mets a postseason game.
The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies had their crack at the New York Mets. Coming to Queens, the Braves and Phillies could not have been hotter, and their pitching rotations were perfectly aligned.
The Braves and Phillies purportedly did better at the trade deadline. In fact, they grabbed a couple of the relievers the Mets were targeting.
The Mets were primed to be knocked down a peg. The Braves could repeat the horrors of last year and the late 90s. The Phillies wouldn’t have to wait until September like they did in 2007 – 2008.
The end result?
Even with Cora, the Mets expanded their division lead from 3.5 games to 5.5. They’re 39-15 against their division foes. That’s the most intra-division wins in the National League.
As an aside, the Mets are not a paper tiger demolishing NL East foes only. Outside the division, they’re 36-25 (.574). That’s a 93 win pace.
They’re also 37-26 (,587) against teams over .500. That’s a 95 win pace. Put another way, the Mets are doing more than beating up on their division. They’re just beating everyone.
This is all just a long winded way of saying they’re better than almost everyone. As composed right now, they could be the best team in all of baseball. Certainly, with the starting pitching and Díaz, they should be considered World Series favorites.
For now, they are the best team in the NL East. and they took care of the Braves and Phillies to establish that (again). All that’s left for the Mets now is to ensure they get that pitching healthy and set-up for October.
That said, he seemed to improve after April. Admittedly, his decision making at third base had not been an issue since April.
However, we are now seeing the return of Cora from April; the return of the worst third base coach in the game.
In the second game of the five game set against the Atlanta Braves, the Mets were down 8-0 in the second. Bases were loaded with two outs. Brandon Nimmo ripped a single scoring one.
The Mets had one on the board with Ian Anderson on the ropes. They had a chance to get back into the game with Anderson all over the place and the heart of the lineup due up. Then, Cora happened:
The play wasn’t even close. Guillorme was out by a large margin. Cora had run the Mets out of the inning. It’s the type of decision you get from the worst third base coach in the game.
The first game of the three game set was a pitchers’ duel. It was 1-1 with Starling Marte at third and one out. Remember, this is the same Marte who has been very cautious with a nagging injury, and as a result, we have not seen him trying to steal bases.
Marte was out by a significant margin. That ended the inning, and the Mets would lose in extras.
On both plays, Cora made a send he never should have made. He also clearly didn’t account for the catchers.
Travis d’Arnaud and J.T. Realmuto are great on those tag plays. d’Arnaud is probably the best in the game. They lessen the need for the “perfect throw,” and they’re not flubbing it the way Tomás Nido did.
Another thing, neither play required the perfect throw. It just needed a throw. Both runners were easily out. In the end, they were both indefensibly bad decisions.
Cora cost the Mets a chance to win in both games. The hope is that he doesn’t do that come October when his decision making may cost the Mets a postseason series.
Really, it was a shame each of them had to come out. It was a joy to watch them one up each other.
Scherzer only allowed two hits while walking one and striking out 10. Mikolas allowed four hits and walking one while striking out five.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 26, 2022
As is typically the case, after a pitchers duel, things tend to get a little haywire with the bullpens. This game was no different.
The eight and nine hitters singled, and with the Mets having the wheel play on, Tommy Edman swung away. May jumped and got a piece of it allowing Jeff McNeil to make a quick reaction to get the first out at first.
Buck Showalter then made a curious decision to have May pitch (around?) to Paul Goldschmidt rather than just walk him. The at-bat seemed to take a lot out of May as he wound up walking Goldschmidt anyway to load the bases.
Tyler O’Neill hit a two run RBI single, which at the time seemed like the game winner. Some credit should go to May here for recovering by striking out Nolan Arenado en route to getting out of the inning.
The Mets entered the ninth down 2-0 with Giovanny Gallegos entering the game. That’s usually game over.
Now, you really had to wonder what Showalter was thinking. It’s one thing to slot Robinson Cano as DH. It’s another to bat him ahead of McNeil. It’s beyond baffling how Showalter let Cano bat in this spot.
In all seriousness, the Mets were lucky Cano didn’t hit into an inning ending double play. That at least gave Mark Canha and the Mets a chance.
Canha had a terrific at-bat. After falling down 0-2, he battled his way back into the at-bat. On the seventh pitch, he grounded it to Arenado.
A throwing error from Nolan Arenado gives the Mets a run and life in the 9th pic.twitter.com/qJNfA5wMnR
— SNY (@SNYtv) April 26, 2022
That should’ve been game over. However, Arenado threw it away. Between the Escobar advancing on the difference indifference and the home town scoring, Canha had an RBI single.
For the baffling decisions Buck made, he made a very good one here inserting Travis Jankowski as a pinch runner. Jankowski absolutely flew around the bases on the ensuing McNeil double, and if not for perfect Cardinals execution on the play, Joey Cora might’ve sent him.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 26, 2022
Smith ripped one down the line, and he was robbed by Goldschmidt. Had Gallegos broke immediately, the game was over. Instead, it was a foot race, and Dom beat him to the bag.
That not only allowed Jankowski to score the tying run, but it also allowed McNeil to score. On the play, McNeil never slowed up, and he scored rather easily.
A point here is you have to wonder what the Cardinals were thinking. With Smith pinch hitting (and looming all inning) and Brandon Nimmo lurking, T.J. McFarland was warning. You’d think they use him for the consecutive left-handed batters.
Well, we got a sense of what the Cardinals might’ve been thinking when Nimmo greeted McFarland with a two run homer to put the Mets up 5-2:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 26, 2022
It needs to be reiterated the Mets were down to their last strike with Canha. If Arenado makes a routine play, it’s over. Gallegos going to first immediately ends that game.
Yes, the Mets got the breaks here. However, that underscores how good they are. They got those breaks, and they took advantage of them to score five runs and shock the Cardinals.
The 5-2 win was complete when Edwin Diaz came on and earned his second save of the season.
Remember, this is a very good Cardinals team, and the Mets just flew in from Arizona. That’s just two of many factors which just makes this such an incredible win.
Game Notes: Mets still have not been shut out. McNeil had two doubles. Nido struck out three times. Jacob deGrom had an MRI and the results will be shared tomorrow.
The New York Mets traveled to Philadelphia for their first “test” of the 2022 season. While it started rocky, the team passed with flying colors.
1. The Mets built this team on starting pitching, and it is working. They league the league in innings, ERA, and WHIP while being second in strikeouts. That could be the biggest reason they started the season 5-2.
3. Taijuan Walker looked great until he had to leave with injury. Fortunately, it appears he will be fine.
4. David Peterson stepped up in long relief, and it appears he will rejoin the rotation. On that front, he started out jittery, and the K/BB wasn’t great. Still, there is talent there.
6. As good as the starting rotation is, the bullpen has been that bad. Much of the blame there goes to how Buck Showalter chooses to utilize them.
7. Showalter knew Trevor May was dealing with bicep and tricep issues, and he still tried to push him another inning. This is all the more egregious considering it was cold and Showalter just came from a lecture about not pushing relievers early in the season. Fortunately, May is alright.
9. Brandon Nimmo has been phenomenal atop the lineup. He has been everything we could expect and more.
10. The lineup in the finale of this series was perfect. Switching Francisco Lindor and Starling Marte makes so much sense analytically. Also, getting Robinson Cano out of the lineup right now makes even more sense.
11. Cano looks just about done. He has no bat speed. He has no speed. He isn’t hitting the ball with authority. This is already a huge problem.
12. Pete Alonso looks very comfortable as the DH. You still want to use the position to cycle through players on a modified rest, and you want to keep him engaged defensively, but it would be ideal for him to be the primary DH.
13. Dominic Smith needs to be better. Assuredly, some of the slow start is being sat to see if the Mets could get Cano or J.D. Davis going, but he needs to earn his way back into the linup. Hopefully, that sacrifice fly will get him going.
14. It is a pleasure watching Eduardo Escobar play. He gives his all on every play, and it was his hustle that allowed the umpires to award him a triple on that fan interference.
15. Sending Escobar was just plain dumb. Even a semi-competent throw gets him easily, and Escobar has real speed. The Mets have a very real Joey Cora issue, and it was an unforced error.
16. That Phillies lineup is frightening. As we saw on Monday, you give them an inch, and they can make you pay. More than that Joe Girardi alternates L/R so effectively you can never bring in a true LOOGY.
17. It’s a testament to this Mets offense they knocked both Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola out of the game early. It wasn’t that they put up a lot of runs, but rather, they just continued to grind and force up the pitch counts for both pitchers.
18. It should bother everyone Clayton Kershaw left a perfect game after seven innings with just 80 pitches. That is inexcusable, and there is simply no defending it. It really was everything wrong with baseball right now.
19. It is long past time we have a Tom Seaver statue, and it is going to be great seeing one on Opening Day.
20. The Mets still need to face some of the better teams in baseball to get a true feel for them, but so far, they look like a real contender this year.
Nothing about this Opening Day was as the New York Mets expected. It was delayed by the lockout, and then, it was pushed back to 7:05 only to be rain delayed to 8:21.
Maybe things are different with Buck Showalter, and maybe this is just the Mets Opening Day mojo. Whatever it was, it worked.
It all started with Megill. He was amped throwing 99 MPH in the first, and he was pacing the dugout like Max Scherzer. He had the results to back that up.
In his five shutout innings, Megill easily dealt with the little adversity he faced.
In the second, after a one out double by Keibert Ruiz, Francisco Lindor made an error putting runners on first and second with one out. Megill got out of it by getting Mets killer Maikel Franco (he would have five unassisted put outs at third) to hit into an inning ending double play.
Megill needed to keep the Mets off the board because Patrick Corbin was keeping the Mets off the board for the first four innings despite not really having anything.
Then, the Mets first rally of the season started with Cano getting a bunt base hit against the shift. Canha walked, and McNeil singled loaded the bases with no outs.
In 2021, this was a death knell for the Mets. Those concerns were abated when James McCann was hit with a pitch giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.
1st time in Mets history that their first run of the season scored on an Opening Day HBP
— Mark Simon (@MarkASimonSays) April 8, 2022
Starling Marte followed with what could’ve been an inning ending 5-5-3 double play, but Franco’s throw to first was wide giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
At that point, Victor Arano was in for Corbin. With J.D. Davis getting the start at DH because he kills Corbin, everyone, including GKR wondered why Dominic Smith wasn’t pinch hitting. We all wondered why all the more when Davis hit into the inning ending double play.
In the sixth, Alonso had a one out single, and Cano had a two out walk. Finally, Canha delivered the Mets first RBI hit with a single giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 8, 2022
McNeill followed him with a two out RBI single of his own. For McNeil, it was a return to what we saw from him before his down 2021 season. He was 2-for-4 with an RBI and strikeout.
The Nationals got one back in the sixth when Trevor May yielded a bomb to Soto. The Mets got that run back in the top of the seventh on a Lindor RBI single.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 8, 2022
This is a game where nearly everyone contributed. That included Travis Jankowski who pinch ran and stayed on to play center moving McNeil back to second. Jankowski had pinch ran for Cano who was 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk. McCann was the only Mets starter without a hit, but he was hit by pitches twice.
#Mets catchers to be hit by a pitch twice in one game:
**James McCann, tonight
John Buck, 7/22/13
Josh Thole, 7/30/11
**Gary Carter, 4/9/85
** = Opening Day
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) April 8, 2022
Overall, this is Mets Opening Day baseball. They win, and they tend to dominate with Megill being the fourth straight Opening Day starter to not allow a run.
Game Notes: Megill had the fewest career innings of any Mets Opening Day starter. Scherzer was the first Met introduced to a warm ovation from Nationals fans. With Marte wearing 6, McNeill switched to 1. Alonso was lifted in the ninth after getting hit by a pitch in the shoulder which ricocheted off his mouth.
The New York Mets were on a hot streak. They hired Buck Showalter, and then they started filling out the coaching staff with some well respected candidates.
And then, nothing.
The Mets are looking for a bench coach, and they’re coming up dry. Andy Stankewicz will remain as the head coach of Grand Canyon University.
Suddenly, this search is becoming reminiscent of the Mets GM search. It was then a reminder of the beginning of the Mets offseason when Noah Syndergaard shockingly left the organization to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Things were bad.
Out of that would eventually emerge Starling Marte and Max Scherzer. With that, the Mets suddenly changed the narrative about the direction of the franchise. Suddenly, the same old Mets became legitimate World Series contenders. It happens that fast.
At this point, the Mets keep striking out on bench coaches. That’s fine. There are still a number of qualified candidates out there, and the Mets will eventually get their guy. If they don’t, well, they still have Marte and Scherzer, so in the end, they will be more than fine.
On the bright side, Cora has the experience and pedigree. He’s a baseball lifer and well respected in the game. He was a gamer who brings the same attitude as a coach.
As a coach, he has mostly been tied to Ozzie Guillen. First, it was the Chicago White Sox, where they won the 2005 World Series. Then, it was the Miami Marlins where Guillen imploded leading the Marlins to clean house.
Notably, Cora wasn’t too big to return to the minors and work his way back up to the majors. That’s exactly what he did leading to his serving the last five years as the Pittsburgh Pirates third base and infield coach.
As the infield coach, Cora was well respected and had a strong impact. When you’re a Mets team with J.D. Davis, Eduardo Escobar, and to a certain extent, Jeff McNeil (ignoring positioning cards and Mets unwillingness to play him at third), Cora is a significant upgrade who can provide a strong impact.
However, that’s only part of it, albeit the most important part of it. Cora was also hired to be the third base coach.
If you were a Mets fan justifiably frustrated with the indecisive and inept Gary Disarcina, things aren’t getting better. In fact, against all odds, it could be getting worse.
Pirates Ranks with Joey Cora (2017-2021):
· Extra Bases Taken Percentage: T-23rd
· Outs on Base at Home: T-30th
· Percentage of Successful Advances of a Runner on 2nd Base on a Hit: 30th
— Mets Metrics (@MetsMetrics) January 4, 2022
Really, seeing his work at third, you really have to wonder why the Mets hired him for the role. While the competition for his services is unknown, you wonder if the Mets needed him that much.
Understandably, the Mets are going in another direction for the bench coach. They need a more analytically inclined individual to buttress Showalter. In the case of Clayton McCullough, you get the added benefit of grooming a potential future manager.
Whatever the thought process, the Mets are better today. Cora is a good baseball man and asset to any organization. That said, some of what his brings will be offset by putting him at third where he is a detriment to the team. It just makes you wonder if there was another role other than third they could’ve offered him.