Johan Santana

2018 Mets Season Ends On A Sad Note

Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended.  Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him.  Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.

There is the sadness with David Wright leaving.  He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced.  He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field.  Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.

Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players.  Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform?  Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform?  Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud?  How about Juan Lagares?  With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense.  Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together?  Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?

Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again?  He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed.  Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year.  At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play.  That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.

Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away.  Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year.  Addison Reed, Lucas Dudaand Curtis Granderson were traded away last season.  Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories.  Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas.  Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.

What we have left is good, really good.  We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted.  After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half.  Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.

We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner.  Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace.  Steven Matz actually made 30 starts.  Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close.  This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.

Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30).  When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse.  In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top.  If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.

Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.

There’s a hesitation there.  After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top.  Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.

Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring.  Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different.  The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade.  But after that?  Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short.  After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.

In the end, this is a really likeable team.  Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys.  They are what makes being a Mets fan great.  We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring.  That can’t happen.

In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one.  Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here.  Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series.  I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.

deGrom Having An All-Time Great Mets Season

In addition to Jacob deGrom making a case for him to win the Cy Young, he has also been making an impact on the Mets record books.  At the moment, he is the Mets all time leader in K/9 and ERA+.  He has also moved to second place all-time in ERA, third place in FIP, and he’s cracked the top 10 in strikeouts.  In essence, deGrom has moved into Jerry Koosman territory, and really, he is knocking at the door of being considered along with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden as being in the upper echelon of Mets pitchers.

With respect to Gooden, we all know his best year was 1985.  That year was not just the best year any Mets pitcher has ever had, it is among the best seasons any pitcher has ever had.  That year, Gooden was the unanimous Cy Young going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA, 0.965 WHIP, 229 ERA+, 2.13 FIP, 268 strikeouts, 8.7 K/9, and a 12.2 WAR.  After a record setting rookie season, you could see him at least threatening to challenge Seaver for the best ever in Mets history.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Perhaps, that was the mark of just how great Seaver was.  Looking at his Mets career, it is hard to pick just one season which defined his greatness.  After all, he does have three Cy Youngs, which remains the most in Mets history. Looking over his Cy Young seasons, his 1971 and 1973 seasons really stand out.

In 1971, Seaver was 20-10 with a 1.76 ERA, 0.946 WHIP, 194 ERA+, 1.93 FIP, 289 strikeouts, 9.1 K/9, and a 10.2 WAR.  In 1973, Seaver was 19-10 with a 2.08 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, 175 ERA+, 2.57 FIP, 251 strikeouts, 7.8 K/9, and a 10.6 WAR.

As an aside, it is astounding to see Seaver have two seasons that great.  Really, he was unparalleled in his greatness.  To put it in perspective, when R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young in 2012, he had a 139 ERA+ and a 5.7 WAR.  Seaver had eight seasons with at least a 139 ERA+ and eight seasons with at least a 5.7 WAR.

Looking back to Dickey’s 2012 season, he had a season good enough to beat out Clayton Kershaw to make him the third Met to win the Cy Young award.  While it was good enough to beat Kershaw, the best pitcher of this generation, it is nowhere as good as the season deGrom is having right now.

So far through 30 starts, deGrom is 8-9 with a 1.78 ERA, 0.950 WHIP, 207 ERA+, 2.05 FIP, 251 strikeouts, 11.0 K/9, and an 8.6 WAR.

Now, that is a season on par with what we have seen with Seaver and Gooden.  That FIP is better than what Gooden had in his all-time great 1985 season.  His ERA plus is better than what Seaver had in his aforementioned Cy Young seasons.  In fact, deGrom’s current ERA+ is even better than any season Seaver has posted in any season.

In essence, once you are mentally able to move past the win-loss record, deGrom is having one of the best seasons a Mets pitcher has ever had.  Depending on your gauge, it can be fairly ranked anywhere in the top five of Mets single season pitching performances.

Remember, the list goes beyond just Seaver and Gooden.  There were also great seasons from Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Koosman, and Matt Harvey.  However you look at it, deGrom belongs near or atop the list of single season performances.  More than that, deGrom is becoming one of the best pitchers in Mets history . . . if he wasn’t one already.

Meet The Mets Fan: MMO’s Tim Ryder

The Mets Fan

My name is Tim Ryder. I’m a writer for MMO, a contributor at Call to the Pen, and have been published at Hardball Times/Fangraphs, as well as Good Fundies. I formerly wrote for Friars on Base, a San Diego Padres site.

Personally, I’m 34. I was born October 12 at Booth Memorial in Flushing, which probably sealed my fate. I’m married to a wonderful woman named Heather and I have two lovely daughters, Kayla, 13, and Lily, 8.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I became a Mets fan at birth for the most part. Being born in 1983, I don’t remember ’86 and only vaguely recall ’88. My first real Mets memory is that 1989 team with the championship core still intact. I do remember hysterically sobbing on my kitchen floor after finding out Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were released in November of that year. A precursor for my relationship with this team, I guess.

Favorite Mets Player

Excellent question. My favorite Met of all-time is probably David Wright. Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana are right up there, as are Mike Piazza, John Franco, geez, I could literally go on forever. Next question.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Johan’s no-hitter. I sat with my dad at the kitchen table and watched that game from first pitch to last. My dad passed away in 2015, so it’s definitely emerged as “the one” for me. And no, I don’t care that Carlos Beltran‘s foul ball was actually fair. Plus, even with replay, it still would have been foul (can’t review a ball that bounces in front of the base ump).

Message to Mets Fans

Keep voicing your displeasure with the way this organization is run. Send tweets. Send letters (126 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY).

Keep putting pressure on the Wilpons to run this team properly. They’ve become tone-deaf to our passion, as well as our desperation. We’ve been loyal through the best and, mostly, the worst of times and we deserve the same respect in return.

Meet The Mets Fan: Steph

The Mets Fan

I’m Steph, aka whutyearisit on the Twitter. I’m a senior in college and an aspiring sports journalist, but my account is reserved for very strong Mets opinions only.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I grew up a mets fan from my dad, uncle and brother. I really didn’t get into the Mets like i am now until 2012, right around Nohan time.

Favorite Mets Player

Mike Piazza was my first favorite player, but Jacob deGrom has stolen my heart, and I love him dearly.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

I was at Game 3 of the World Series and Game 1 of the NLCS.  I have been to many a game in my time, but i think my fave all-time game was Asdrubal Cabrera Bobblehead Day on July 1, 2017. I was on rain delay theater that day.

Message to Mets Fans

Don’t take out frustrations on bad players or players out or position or a first-year manager or even the GM. All of these problems spread across multiple GMs/managers. The Wilpons are the problem and nothing will be solved until they’re gone.

Meet The Mets Fan: JT Teran

The Mets Fan

Hey everyone! I’m JT Teran. I’m a former baseball writer at Rising Apple, and I currently own a hardwood flooring business in upstate New York.

How You Became a Mets Fan

After coming back to the US in 1999 at age 11, I started watching baseball with my uncle. While he’s a Yankee fan, he still taught me a lot about the game and would have me watch “the best first baseman in the game” John Olerud whenever I was over. I fell in love with the 99 squad and the subsequent heartbreak of the NLCS that year only cemented the fact that this would be the team I should root for.

Favorite Mets Player

My favorite Mets player of all-time is easily Carlos Beltran. His struggles in 2005 and incredible bounce-back season the following year was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen as a fan. Every time he came up to bat, you knew something special was going to happen. I think he became a favorite of mine after the NLCS that year. It was the worst seeing my favorite player strike out looking, but years later, I mainly just remember the awesome games I got to see him play in live those years.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

I unfortunately wasn’t alive in 1986, and while the World Series appearances in 2000 and 2015 were incredible, the best moment for me will still be Johan’s no-hitter. I was at the movies, and a friend of mine kept blowing up my phone with text messages that Johan Santana had a no-hitter in the seventh. I, of course, immediately left the theater and caught the last three innings on TV in a shady Ruby Tuesday’s bar. I still can’t believe he actually got it done.

Message to Mets Fans

The motto we all know, love, and sometimes shake our heads at: Ya Gotta Believe. This team has been incredibly frustrating to watch these last two seasons and with the Wilpons still at the helm, it may not look like there’s much hope for the future. Somehow, someway though, we all have to believe that the Mets will turn it around soon and will again give us the same amount of excitement we saw in 2015. BELIEVE.

Meet The Mets Fan: ESPN Radio’s Matt Markus

The Mets Fan

My name is Matt Markus and I am a sports radio talk show host in the Lehigh Valley, PA. Phillies country.

How You Became a Mets Fan

Growing up in the 80s my dad was/is a Mets fan and I latched on really easily.

Favorite Mets Player

HoJo was my favorite player growing up, but I’d have to go with David Wright. I loved watching him grow as a player and the leadership he has shown. His struggles have only endeared himself to us fans ever more.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

The Mets went to the Series while I was in college. Being at Seton Hall, I was so close to the action. Although in defeat that run is up there for me, as well as 2015. The Johan Santana no-no has to be tops though right?

Message to Mets Fans

I still believe Mickey Callaway can be the guy to take this team to new heights. There have been more than enough growing pains but at the end of the day the guys need to produce. The hitters need to hit, the fielders need to field, and the closer needs to close. If that starts to happen. this team can be fine. The hole is too big for this year, but if they hold on to their Aces and jettison some of the dead weight while calling up some young guys, it can be fun again.

Meet The Mets Fan: Upgrade Star Logan Marshall-Green

The Mets Fan

I’m Logan Marshall-Green.

How I Became a Mets Fan

1986

Favorite Mets Player

Gary Carter

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Bill BucknerMike Piazza 9-11 homer.  Johan Santana No-no (listening at 3 AM from London).

Message to Mets Fans

Does anyone want a signed, ‘87 throwback Kirk Nieuwenhuis Jersey?

Also, Go see UPGRADE. June 1st. (Mets play the Cubs that night, we all know it’s an L).

 

Meet The Mets Fan: That Mets Chick Breanna

The Mets Fan

Hey there Mets fans, My name is Breanna! Some of you may know me from twitter as @ThatMetsChick. I am 23 years old and I am a diehard Mets fan and a baseball enthusiast. I played 4 years of division 3 college softball. I played center field and was a switch hitter.

My work can be found on MMO and Twitch TV.

How I Became a Mets Fan

I was pretty much born a Mets fan but I really got into the games back in 2003-2004 when Jose Reyes got called up to the majors. I remember my dad had company seats from his job and we used to always go to Shea Stadium for free. I miss those bright orange seats.

Favorite Mets Player

My all-time favorite Mets player was 2006 Jose Reyes. Back then he brought so much energy to the team and was pretty much an automatic run if he got on base. My current favorite Mets player is not 2018 Jose Reyes (sorry buddy). I currently have two favorite (can’t decide who I like more) and they are Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

My favorite Mets moment was Johan Santana’s no hitter back in 2012. I was at the ballpark that day and I remember getting the tickets from my High School for free. During the 7th inning stretch I told my friend “Santana’s going to throw a no hitter today.” An old man behind me got so upset that I potentially jinxed and told me (at the age of 17) to “shut up.” Once the no hitter happened he later apologized.

Message to Mets Fans

If the Mets are stressing you out, go outside and get some fresh air. Take a week off from the Mets because you are going to need it. It’s a long season and anything can happen. Ya gotta believe!

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Which Unwritten Rules Should Be Abolished?

Well, the baseball season was less than a week old before we got our first violation of the unwritten rules of baseball.  Down 7-0 and with one out in the ninth, Baltimore Orioles catcher Chance Sisco had the audacity to bunt against the shift to get on base.  Trying to win a game where they were getting blown out was taken as an affront by Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who said, “When they didn’t hold our runner on [earlier in the blowout], they conceded to the fact they didn’t want us to steal, so we didn’t steal.  We could have very easily stolen and put up more runs, so therefore in return, you don’t bunt. That’s what everybody is missing in this whole thing.”  (ESPN)

Apparently, everyone is missing what he was saying because Dozier has been roundly mocked, but his rant does bring up another round of discussion on the unwritten rules of baseball.  Seemingly, there is a chasm among fans whether these rules should be followed.  No matter what side of the fence you are on, you are bound to have an unwritten rule or two you particularly don’t like.

So in the spirit of Dozier inventing unwritten rules, the Mets Blogger Roundtable now tackles the subject of which unwritten rules we want to see abolished:

Michael Baron (MLB)

Celebrations have become part of the fabric of the game, like it or not. And as long as the sport continues to celebrate these celebrations, be it during their broadcasts or in social media, we have to except that as an adaptation to the game. Personally, there are far bigger issues with the game than what people consider over-the-top celebrations.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Shawn Estes missed Roger Clemens. Estes later homered off of him and nobody seemed to care. Noah Syndergaard got ejected and he didn’t even hit Chase Utley. The unwritten rule that you have to hit a dude because that dude’s teammate plunked a teammate of yours, intentionally or not, is pretty dumb, and the Mets can’t seem to get it right. Also, some of us are not neanderthals. If you want revenge, you do it right. Ruin Chase Utley’s credit. Convince him to try a fake diet that actually makes you fat. Post his postseason stats from the last few seasons on the scoreboard while he’s batting. Recite them over the PA during his batting practice. Spoil his favorite TV shows while you’re at it. Steal his XBox. Sign him up for all of the spam mail. Donate $50,000 to NAMBLA on his behalf and let Reddit do it’s thing. Hitting him once? With a baseball? That’s just lazy.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

I want more unwritten rules, except what Dozier said; that’s a millennial unwritten rule.

The bat flipping and mic drop antics deserve an up and in dusting.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

The entire keep the celebrations to a minimum after hitting a homer is ridiculous. Let them have some fun and instead of focusing on hitting them at their next at bat, why not just try hitting more homers in return. I think it’s slowly changing to be accepted more, at least among Hispanic players.

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

Celebrating may have changed forms, but let’s not act like this is something that didn’t happen in the past.  I wonder how many time Rickey Henderson got dusted.

It’s ridiculous to head hunt over a celebration.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

The one unwritten rule I find particularly dopey is the one that says swinging on three-and-oh is some sort of affront to the pitcher.

The one unwritten rule that I wish to see enforced is pitchers ought to tip their caps to the fans if they are receiving applause upon leaving the mound. Perhaps it’s been forgotten, perhaps these guys are super-focused, but c’mon. It’s just good manners.

Mets Daddy

The one unwritten rule I never quite understood was you’re not allowed to bunt when the opposing pitcher has a no-hitter going.  Throwing a no-hitter is supposed to be extremely rare and difficult.  Heck, it took the Mets 50 years to get one.  Before Johan Santana‘s, I’ve seen the Mets lose no-hitters in the most excruciating ways possible.

One that immediately comes to mind is how David Cone once lost a no-hitter to what amounted to a swinging bunt.  Sure, the batter attempted to swing rather than bunt.  However, was that oopsie base hit more virtuous than a batter coming to the plate with an idea of what he wanted to do and executing.

As John Sterling would say between self aggrandizing and incoherent in multiple languages home run calls, “That’s baseball, Suzyn.”

In some sense, it is strange a group of people who spend their document writing everything about the Mets down and publishing it on various mediums offer an opinion on unwritten rules.  What isn’t strange is the thoughtful and honest answers they provided to this question.  Hopefully, it will encourage you to click their links and read their work.

 

Callaway’s Opening Act a Walk in the Park

While being a Mets fan may come with some trials and tribulations, the one day Mets fans are typically happy is Opening Day.  Heading into today’s game, the Mets were 36-20 all time on Opening Day, which is the best Opening Day winning percentage in Major League history.  As a result, the Mets are usually 1-0, and their manager looks like a genius.

Today, new Mets Manager Mickey Callaway looked like a genius.

When you looked at the Opening Day lineup, you knew immediately this was no longer Terry Collins‘ Mets.  The lineup not only had the Mets best hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, batting second, it also had Noah Syndergaard batting eighth and Amed Rosario batting ninth.  If you were skeptical of the decision, the Mets quickly put you at ease.

Kevin Plawecki reached on a one out walk, and he remained there after Syndergaard struck out.  With two outs and the lead-off hitter behind him, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez challenged Rosario with fastballs.  Rosario shot a single up the middle putting runners one first and second with two outs.

Brandon Nimmo did what Brandon Nimmo does, and he drew a walk.  Cespedes came up with the bases loaded, and he delivered with a two out RBI single, which at the time gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.  And with that, Callaway looked like a genius.

Frankly, it’s easy to look like a genius when everyone plays as well as the Mets did today.

Nimmo set the tone getting hit by the first pitch of the game and eventually scoring on a Jose Martinez throwing error on what could have been an Asdrubal Cabrera double play grounder.  Instead of an inning ending double play, the Mets scored a first inning run without getting a base hit.  That’s what happens when you draw nine walks in the game.

Speaking of Nimmo, he was brilliant today.   He went 2-3 with two runs, a walk, and the aforementioned hit by pitch.  With Michael Conforto reportedly being much closer to being ready to start his season, Nimmo is going to need more games like this to stay in the starting lineup.

So will Adrian Gonzalez.  The veteran was coming off a horrific injury plagued 2017 season where the Dodgers not only didn’t miss him as they won the pennant, it seemed they didn’t even want him around.  Nor did the Braves for that matter, as after a trade, they are paying him almost $22 million to play for an NL East rival.

Between that, his terrible Spring Training, and his soft line out to short in his first at-bat, helooked done.  He wouldn’t make another out on the game going 2-3 with a run, double, two walks, and an RBI.

In situations like this, you want your players to make the decision about who should sit and who should play to be extraordinarily difficult.  Based on Nimmo’s and Gonzalez’s play, Callaway’s decision will just be that.

Overall, the Mets offense and unconventional lineup was humming.  The team scored nine runs on 12 hits highlighted by a five run fifth where they not only chased Martinez, but also former Mets prospect Matthew Bowman.

Every Mets starter, save Syndergaard, reached base at least once safely.  Cespedes and Rosario were the only ones who did not draw a walk.  However, when Rosario is attacking first pitch fastballs to the tune of a 2-4 day with two runs and two RBI, you don’t mind his over-aggressiveness at the plate.

About the only negative on the day was seeing Yadier Molina homer.  That just brought back too many raw emotions from 2006.  Some of that sting was taken away with Molina suffering the indignity of Jay Bruce stealing a base off of him.

With Syndergaard, you had some real reason for excitement.  He became just the second Mets pitcher to strike out 10 on Opening Day.  He needed just 85 pitches to get through six innings.  Yes, he would give up the two homers, but overall, he seemed poised and ready to have a dominating 2018 season.

Speaking of dominating, the Mets bullpen came out and completely shut the door on the Cardinals.  Robert Gsellman, Anthony Swarzak, and Jeurys Familia combined to pitch three scoreless and hitless innings.  Gsellman was the most impressive striking out the side in the seventh.  This bullpen performance will make you forget about the Cardinals getting Greg Holland over the Mets for one day.

And for this one day, Gonzalez is rejuvenated, the bullpen is lights out, Callaway is a genuis, and the Mets are the best team in baseball.  Sure, it seems that way almost every Opening Day as a Mets fan, but at least for tonight, let’s just believe this will carry on well into October.

Game Notes: A number 10 was placed on the back of the mound to honor the recently deceased Rusty Staub.  Syndergaard joined Pedro Martinez as the only Mets starter to have a double digit strikeout game on Opening Day.  This was the first time a Mets starter made back-to-back Opening Day starts since Johan Santana did it from 2008 – 2010.