Fifteen years ago, Mets fans were psyched for a season where Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran joined a team which already had Mike Piazza, Jose Reyes, and David Wright. On Opening Day, the Mets bullpen, namely Braden Looper, blew the game setting the stage for an 0-5 start. Based on the MLB The Show 20 simulations, we’re revisiting that season.
After this 3-0 loss, video game Luis Rojas has started his managerial career 0-5. That’s just like Willie Randolph. Of course, that Mets team would still finish the year above .500, and it would be a stepping stone to the last great Mets team in Shea Stadium the following year.
Any Mets fan would take this Mets team building towards being one at-bat from a World Series. Mostly, they’ll take any baseball whatsoever.
In the aftermath of the penalties levied on the Houston Astros for the sign stealing scandal, the team made the right decision in hiring Dusty Baker as their new manager. Based on his experience, he was the best man for the job.
Baker took over for Matt Williams in the season after the Nationals saw Jonathan Papelbon choke Bryce Harper in the dugout. Even with the Nationals beginning the following season with both players on the roster, Baker would lead the team to consecutive NL East titles.
In sum, Baker can handle these situations adeptly. Arguably, there is no one better than him to handle him. However, seeing this Astros team in action recently, it may not be enough.
Public comments made by Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Justin Verlander were not well received publicly. From a player perspective, this is an organization flailing, and looking at their roster, they don’t really have a veteran who can help guide them through this process and to be a spokesman for the team.
This is a team who needs Curtis Granderson.
Between his time with the Yankees and Mets, he’s experienced it all. He was there for the drama between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. To that end, he was also with the Yankees and A-Rod dealing with the Biogenesis scandal.
With the Mets, he dealt with the Matt Harvey drama. He was there for Scott Boras causing a stir saying the Mets should shut him down. He was there when Harvey missed a postseason workout and was suspended by the team for not showing up to the clubhouse.
There was the news cycles created when Harvey was sick, and there was Harvey’s struggles with TOS.
Granderson was also with the Mets when the team brought back Jose Reyes after his domestic violence suspension.
Overall, Granderson has seen just about everything in his time with the Mets and Yankees. Through it all, he has been on teams facing intense media scrutiny which only heightened with scandal and team drama.
There may not be anyone better able to help those Astros players through what they’re about to experience.
More than that, this is clearly an Astros team whose public image has been destroyed. They’re easily the most reviled organization in baseball and perhaps in all of sports.
They traded for Roberto Osuna. It went lower when Brandon Taubman harassed female reporters following the ALCS. Now, suspicions of their cheating have been confirmed leading to the firing of Jeff Luhnow and AJ Hinch.
Every time an Astros player opens their mouth they come across as smug and out of touch. At the moment, none of their players appear likable, and those who once did, now look like hypocrites.
Granderson would go a long way towards restoring credibility in that organization, and it would go a long way towards helping those players who simply don’t have a clue. That’s important because they’re going to face more media scrutiny this year than they ever have.
With teams having an extra roster spot this year, it makes all the more sense. Keep in mind, Granderson showed last year he has something left in the tank with his still having sufficient speed to be backup outfielder and his having a .829 OPS as a pinch hitter.
Overall, the Astros need help getting their team through this season from a PR perspective. Hiring Dusty Baker was a very good first step. Now, they need to sign Granderson.
There is going to be a lot to be said here and other places about the New York Mets and Carlos Beltran “mutually agreeing to part ways,” but one thing remains clear – the Mets were unwilling to weather the storm and stand by their manager.
Despite the Mets profiting from a Ponzi Scheme and selling the team to a person who has paid the largest ever insider trading fine, this is apparently where they draw the line.
Perhaps, it shouldn’t come as a surprise with Jeff Wilpon having been alleged to fire a pregnant employee because he was not married, but the Mets have stood by their people who have committed violent acts against women.
In 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman before he managed one game after discovering his previous arrests for drunk driving and for a fight with his wife.
He’d be unemployable for Major League teams for years, and he’d have to resort to managing in the independent leagues. Eventually, the Mets brought him back to the organization and gave him a job for six years.
The Mets found a way to give him a second chance and stand by him. That applied even as he pushed Jack Leathersich‘s physical limits and might’ve had a significant role in Leathersich’s career altering injuries.
In 2015, Jose Reyes was arrested for a violent altercation in their Hawaii hotel room which led to her being taken to the hospital for treatment. For this altercation, he was suspended for 51 games and released by the Colorado Rockies.
Later in that 2016 season, the Mets signed him. They then picked up his option for 2017, and despite his being among the worst players in baseball that year, they signed him to return to the Mets in 2018.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in his wife being treated in a hospital, his poor play, and his publicly pushing for more playing time, the Mets not only kept him, but we also saw Reyes nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Backman and Reyes are not the only two individuals who the Mets have stuck by through the years when it comes to improper and violent acts against women. There’s other players, and Steve Phillips survived sexual harassment allegations.
Through it all, one thing is clear – if the Mets employee harmed a woman, the team would unquestionably have that person’s back even when no one else would.
For anything else, they’ll just see which way the wind is blowing. That’s why Beltran was fired before getting an opportunity to manage the team, and it’s why Reyes was celebrated by this organization.
With Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox now agreeing to part ways, that leaves Carlos Beltran as the only individual named in the Astros investigation who is still employed in baseball. This means the heat is going to be ratcheted up on him.
Already, we have heard calls for Beltran to be fired by the Mets. We’re also seeing the media call for Beltran to come clean and tell the truth.
This is a sampling of the swirling opinions about Beltran’s involvement and his prior statements to reporters disavowing knowledge of the Astros sign stealing measures.
Specifically, Beltran texted Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “I’m not aware of that camera. We were studying the opposite team every day.” With all due respect to Andy Martino of SNY, it is hard to believe he wasn’t lying when he said this.
That said, it is possible he didn’t lie, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The media believes Beltran lied to them and their brethren, and they are owed a correction.
To be fair, the reporters have a very valid point, especially since it is their job to seek and report the truth. However, the problem is it appears Beltran isn’t permitted to say anything at all.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) January 14, 2020
As we see with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball has requested the Dodgers and all of baseball “not to comment on any wrongdoings during the 2017 World Series.”
As reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, “Multiple ownership-level sources told ESPN that dissatisfaction with the penalties had emerged following a conference call with Manfred, in which he explained how the Astros would be disciplined, then told teams to keep their thoughts to themselves.”
Effectively speaking, for better or worse, Major League Baseball has placed a gag order on everyone. If that is truly the case, it is eminently possible, how could Beltrán possibly speak to the press about his involvement?
More to the point, why would Beltrán potentially incur Major League Baseball’s wrath by speaking at a time when Baseball very clearly wants no one talking about the scandal?
At this moment, Beltran is really awaiting direction from Major League Baseball, and more importantly, direction from the New York Mets. Keep in mind, if the Mets wanted Beltran to speak, he would’ve already spoken.
In the end, the calls for Beltran are all well and good, but at the end of the day, the Mets manager cannot speak unless otherwise directed by Mets ownership and permitted by Major League Baseball. Until such time, we have to sit and wait until he is permitted to say what apparently needs to be said. When that’ll happen is anyone’s guess.
Major League Baseball had concluded its investigation, and they have levied their penalties against the Houston Astros. This has led to the firing of AJ Hinch, and based upon what was contained in Major League Baseball’s report, it is safe to assume that not only is Alex Cora is eventually going to be handed his own severe punishment, but his days as the manager of the Boston Red Sox are likely over.
That leaves Carlos Beltran as the only current Major League manager named in the report who has not faced nor will face any discipline.
The reason behind Beltran not facing any discipline was Major League Baseball going out of its way to not suspend any of the players caught in the sign stealing scandal. In 2017, Beltran was a player, which means he is not subject to discipline.
Despite that, there has been a push for the Mets to fire their new manager. Chris Carlin attempted to conjure up Beltran being part of both a conspiracy and cover-up on his ESPN Radio program. It is also being discussed all over WFAN with Boomer and Gio as well as Moose and Maggie making it topics for discussion. On that point, like Carlin, Boomer said the Mets should fire Beltran.
While the topic certainly is going to drive ratings and discussions, at the end of the day, you really have to wonder why exactly the Mets should fire Beltran.
Right off the bat, you could say it is going to be a distraction. It’s a fair point as it is going to be a topic for discussion during Spring Training when Beltran meets with the press. However, that’s really only going to be it.
Remember, one of the purported reasons not to sign Jose Reyes was his domestic violence was going to be a distraction. It was for maybe a week or two. Beyond that, Citi Field was alive with Jose chants, reporters wrote articles advocating for him to be signed and to receive more playing time, and at the end of the day, he was nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Keep in mind this story will die quickly. In terms of Mets Spring Training, this scandal is going to die very quickly as the Mets have Yoenis Cespedes return and Jed Lowrie‘s health to cover amongst the myriad of issues which always arise in St. Lucie during February and March.
Of course, there’s an ethical issue to discuss. After all, cheating in sports (and life) has always been viewed distasteful, and an organization should not be led by an individual who is so willing to skirt the rules to their own benefit.
On that higher moral note, Jeff Wilpon has his own history of distasteful conduct including firing an unwed pregnant woman. The Mets eventual new owner, Steve Cohen, paid a $1.2 billion fine, the largest fine ever levied, for insider trading.
Like it or not, the Mets have not shown any had any sort of an ethical litmus test for their ownership, front office, or players. It would now be bizarre to hold their manager up to some standard not present anywhere else in the organization.
Beyond that, no one is quite sure what Beltran even did. Major League Baseball‘s report stated, “a group of players, including Carlos Beltrán, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams’ signs and communicating the signs to the batter.” It then said Cora devised the system and had the players execute it.
Be careful of what it did and did not say. It said Beltran discussed better decoding and communication. It did not say he was responsible for the illegal technological set-up, nor did it specifically name him as one of the players relaying messages. It’s possible he had a hand in all of it, but he was not specifically named for anything other than wanting a better system.
When it was the New York Giants with Bobby Thompson, it was the “Shot Heard Round the World.” With the Astros, it’s now being treated as the biggest scandal in Major League history this side of the Black Sox.
It is a slippery slope when you penalize and fire people for what you think they did. Honestly, many assume the worse with Beltran, but those assumptions are not present in the report. If you are going to take the position his even being a part of it is enough to want him gone from the team, the same is then true for J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick, each of whom were members of the 2017 and 2018 Houston Astros teams.
Overall, Beltran was part of a team who cheated and won a World Series. After that, he was a member of the New York Yankees front office as an advisor to Brian Cashman. Knowing Major League Baseball was conducting this investigation and fully knowing Beltran may be implicated in that investigation, the New York Mets hired him to be their manager.
While some may want to trump up the report to be more than it was, fact is the Mets hired Beltran with their eyes fully opened. When they did hire him, Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Carlos has an extremely high baseball IQ. He has an appetite to collaborate and he’s a mentor, and he’s a communicator from the 25th man on the roster to the first. From our veteran players to our minor-league prospects, he cares about improving each player in that clubhouse.”
That is why he is the Mets manager, and even after the investigation all of this remains true. As a result, Carlos Beltran should remain as the Mets manager until he proves unfit for the job, or until he is further implicated as being anything other than a player who wanted to find a better way to steal signs.
For a moment, let’s assume the 2019 season was similar to the 1998 or 2005 season in that it was a stepping stone to real World Series contention.
While we can and should dicker about whether the 2020 team will be better than the 2019 team, there is hope for optimism as Carlos Beltran begins his second act in a New York Mets uniform.
Behind that optimism is a cold dose of reality.
We didn’t know it in 1998, but that Mike Piazza led team had two seasons as a contender. That was basically the same case with the David Wright and Jose Reyes led 2005 team we all thought would be good forever. This will likely be the same fate this core faces.
After the 2020 season, Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be free agents leaving the team to try to scramble to either re-sign them or attempt to sign a starter from a free agent class nowhere as good as the one which saw the Mets lose Zack Wheeler.
After 2021, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That leaves the Mets looking to invest in four spots in the rotation over the next two years as the farm system is not prepared to provide that help in a way it could’ve if Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson were still with the organization.
Yes, we should see David Peterson grab one of those rotation spots, and a Stephen Gonsalves or Franklyn Kilome may emerge. However, they likely don’t have the same ceiling the 2015 – 2019 rotations had thereby eliminating the key competitive advantage the Mets had.
If you really want a heavy dose of reality look a year past that, and you’ll see Nimmo and Lugo will be a free agents, and deGrom can opt out of his deal. That’s going to happen as Alonso, McNeil, and Rosario are likely getting big arbitration salaries.
This means by 2022 this entire core could be completely gone with Alonso being the player designated to build around much in the same way the Mets opted Wright for that honor.
Overall, this means unless things change dramatically, the Mets have a two year window. That could be opened longer if Steve Cohen flexes some financial muscle, and/or he opts to bring in an actually qualified and competent GM to replace Brodie Van Wagenen.
To that end, there’s hope even if Jeff Wilpon will be running the show. On that point, we can all hope it’s just a title with no real opportunity to drag the organization down.
No matter what the case, it’s imperative the Mets realize this is their shot, and they need to start acting like it instead of making a series of half measures hoping it adds up to a whole competing roster.
With yesterday being Black Friday, people ran out to stores and websites looking for deals, and today, they’re assessing what they got and still need to get. Being Mets fans, we expect the team to spend most of the offseason diving through the discount bins.
To a certain extent, every team needs to do that. The player signed to a minor league deal or on the cheap emerges to be much better than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. Many times, when that happens, your team takes it to the next level. In honor of Black Friday, here are some of the best bargain signings the Mets have made in their history.
For this list, we are only looking at players signed to minor league deals, and as this is the Mets we are talking about, it’s being run on Small Business Saturday.
C Todd Pratt – he went from delivering Dominos to being signed to a minor league deal with the Mets. Three years later, Pratt would hit a walk-off homer off of Matt Mantei clinching the first NLDS in team history.
1B James Loney – in 2016, the Mets were left without a first baseman due to Lucas Duda‘s back injury as well as a host of other injuries on the team. Loney would step in and help the team hitting .305/.367/.463 over his first 22 games to help keep that team afloat and make that push for the Wild Card.
2B Jose Valentin – the Mets signed Valentin to be veteran depth only for him to fill the vacuum left at second base by Anderson Hernandez‘s offensive struggles and Kazuo Matsui‘s injuries. In addition to his 3.6 WAR in 2006, he would hit two homers in the NL East clincher.
3B Matt Franco – signed a minor league deal with the Mets entering the 1996 season. He’d emerge as a good pinch hitter who hit a game winning single off Mariano Rivera clinching the Mets first series win in the Subway Series.
SS Omar Quintanilla – the Mets let Jose Reyes go due to a mixture of the Madoff scandal and the belief Ruben Tejada was ready to be the every day shortstop. When Tejada wasn’t Quintanilla was a pleasant surprise with a career year before being traded for cash considerations.
LF Melvin Mora – Mora signed a minor league deal coming out of Japan. In the 162nd game of the 1999 season, he scored on a wild pitch enduring the playoff game. In the Grand Slam Single game, he hit the cut off man leading to Keith Lockhart getting cut down at the plate. In that postseason, he hit .400/.500/.600.
CF Endy Chavez – signed as a free agent prior to the 2006 season, a season where he’d have the greatest catch in NLCS history. He’d also have other defensive gems and game winning bunts in his Mets career.
RF Marlon Byrd – back in the cavernous Citi Field days, Byrd came to the Mets on a minor league deal in 2013 and hit 21 homers before getting traded to the Pirates in a deal which netted Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
RP Pedro Feliciano – soon dubbed Perpetual Pedro due to his rubber arm, he’d be a key piece of a great 2006 bullpen, and he’d emerge as the best LOOGY in franchise history.
SP R.A. Dickey – this is the gold standard. Dickey was signed to a minor league deal in 2009, and a few short seasons later, he would become the biggest surprise Cy Young winner in Major League history. The Mets then selling high on him and getting Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud for him makes signing Dickey all the more legendary.
On November 4, 2004, the New York Mets introduced Willie Randolph as the 18th manager in Mets history. In his three plus years on the job, Randolph would have the second best winning percentage in Mets history, and like Davey Johnson, he would be one of only two Mets managers to never have a losing record over a full season.
During Randolph’s tenure, there tends to be a heavy focus on the 2007 collapse and his being fired one game into a trip to the West Coast. Lost in that was Randolph taking the Mets to that level. Sure, adding players like Carlos Delgado were a huge factor. However, Randolph helped develop players like David Wright and Jose Reyes.
People also forget Randolph guided the Mets to a winning record in a season where Doug Mientkiewicz, Miguel Cairo, and Victor Diaz got the most games played at first, second, and right. Randolph did help build a winning culture, and to his credit, he learned to adapt to the team while doing a good job with the bullpen.
No, he was not perfect by any means, but overall, Randolph had done a good job with the Mets. Seeing the jobs Jerry Manuel, Terry Collins, and Mickey Callaway did, you tend to realize Randolph was much better than anyone realized.
Fifteen years later, the Mets are following a pattern a bit in hiring their next manager.
Like Randolph, Carlos Beltran came to the New York Mets directly from the Yankees organization. Like Randolph, Beltran played for both the Mets and the Yankees. Both were multiple time All Stars who won a World Series. Both were looked upon by Mets fans as someone who really wanted to be a Yankee and not a Met.
It was odd for Randolph considering how he grew up a Mets fan. Randolph spoke lovingly about the team even telling everyone his first date with his wife was at Shea Stadium. When Randolph had an opportunity at the end of his career, he came to the Mets.
For Beltran, he actually signed with the Mets. As we know things ended poorly with the Mets, but despite all of that, Beltran came back to the Mets. Like Randolph 15 years ago, Beltran is going to become the Mets manager. He is also going to be entasked with guiding the young careers of players like Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
If in the end of his career as the Mets manager, Beltran never has a losing record, helped his young players take the next step forward, and he takes the Mets to the postseason, we would all agree it was a very successful run. However, that is today. As we know, there is a lot which happens in-between now and then.
The Philadelphia Phillies did what we expected and hired Joe Girardi to replace Gabe Kapler. To their credit, the Phillies knew they wanted, nay needed, an experienced manager like Girardi, Buck Showalter, or Dusty Baker to take their team to the next level. They honed their search, and they hired who they deemed to be the best candidate.
What is interesting is Girardi was the one candidate the Phillies and New York Mets had in common. In 2017, that person was Mickey Callaway. That led the Mets to hire Callaway after just one interview to keep him away from the Phillies. The following offseason, the Mets would admit to including Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano deal to keep Edwin Diaz away from the Phillies.
However, when it came to Girardi, the Mets didn’t rise to the occasion. Rather, they let Girardi go to the Phillies leaving them with a group of managerial candidates without Major League managerial experience. Looking at it that way, you could say this was a managerial search which was Girardi or bust, and with Girardi going to the Phillies, the Mets search went bust.
While the Mets do deserve scorn for how they operate the team, the manager search did not go bust. In fact, there are a very intriguing candidates remaining.
Tim Bogar is a well respected coach and a three time Minor League Manager of the Year. He has experience as a first base, third base, and bench coach. He has spent time in the front office on the player development side. Also, in 2014, he took over as interim manager of the Texas Rangers after Ron Washington resigned due to personal issues. Bogar would led the Rangers to a 14-8 record in those game.
With his work on Baseball Tonight, MLB Radio, and other media ventures, Eduardo Perez is a media savvy individual, which is something all managers, especially the Mets manager need. That said, Perez is much more than that having been a minor league and Winter League manager as well as a former Major League bench coach. With his working on the “Nerdcasts,” we are well aware he is well versed in analytics.
Another interesting factor with Perez is the Mets seem to want to keep some of their current coaches on the Major League coaching staff. To that end, Perez is a former teammate of both Chili Davis (hitting coach) and Gary Disarcina (third base and infield coach).
On that point, Luis Rojas has worked extensively with Phil Regan both this year’s team as well as the minors. Speaking of the minors, Rojas has managed most of this current Mets team including Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and others. They speak highly of him, and the team thinks so highly of him they created the Quality Control position for him. In that position, Rojas was entasked with handling communications between the front office and players on expectations and how to utilize data. To that end, there is perhaps no one better prepared to understand what the front office expects and wants from their manager.
In terms of relationship with the front office, perhaps no one would have a better relationship than Carlos Beltran. Beltran is close with both Assistant General Managers Allard Baird and Omar Minaya. There’s also his close relationship with David Wright which began in Beltran’s first Spring Training with the Mets when he took Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing to show them how to prepare for the season.
Sure, he has had his clashes with ownership, especially when he opted to have knee surgery prior to the 2010 season. However, that does speak to an asset Beltran has. Over the years, the Mets have been criticized for their handling of injuries. Who better than Beltran to help protect the players from themselves and the team?
Finally, there is Twins Coach Derek Shelton. He has a wealth of experience including his being a hitting, quality control, and hitting coach. In those roles, he has worked for analytically forward organizations while also working for different types of managers like Joe Maddon, Eric Wedge, John Gibbons, and Rocco Baldelli.
Overall, you could make the case any one of these five candidates would make an excellent manager for the Mets. While you are free to question the wisdom of the Mets exiting the Mickey Callaway era by going to another first time manager, especially when Girardi apparently wanted the Mets job, that does not mean these candidates could not be better than Callaway. In fact, it’s very possible each one of these candidates could ultimately prove to be better than even Girardi.
On his Twitter account, Mets starter Marcus Stroman said he was going to change his number from 7 because he believes the number belongs to Jose Reyes. Now, if Stroman is making this decision on his own, he’s entitled. After all, it’s his number.
However, given the fact these are the Wilpons, there is some hesitation here.
Right before the season ended, the Mets announced they were going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36. At the time of the announcement, the Mets also indicated there were going to be other retirement ceremonies coming in the future.
Most assume that automatically paves the way for Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and David Wright to have their numbers retired. There are other players who merit consideration as well. Under no circumstance should that list of players under consideration include Jose Reyes.
While the Mets were losing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was spending his night in jail while his wife had to go to the hospital as a result of Reyes grabbing his wife by the throat and threw her into a sliding glass door leading out to a lanai in their hotel room at the Four Seasons in Maui.
As a result of his abuse, Reyes received what was at the time the longest ever domestic violence suspension. He’d also be released by the Colorado Rockies.
The only team willing to bring him aboard was the Mets. It wasn’t a surprise given the team’s need for a third baseman due to Wright’s stenosis, the teams shoestring budget, and this being the same team who was sued for firing an unwed pregnant woman.
After Reyes wasn’t particularly good in 2016 (-6 DRS, 0.6 WAR), the Mets brought him back in 2017. He’d be even worse in 2017 with a -0.4 WAR. Somehow, that earned him a $2 million deal to come back in 2018.
That season, Reyes was flat out terrible. Worse than that, he was a malcontent who went public with his demands for more playing time he did not merit.
In the end, that’s what you have with Reyes – a man (if you can call him that) who beats his wife and complains about playing behind players playing much better than him. When viewed through that prism, there’s absolutely no way you even contemplate retiring his number.
If you want to look past that (you shouldn’t), he still hasn’t done enough to have his number retired.
Despite playing 12 years with the Mets, he’s only 10th in career WAR. He’s not in the top 10 in average, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, homers, or walks. Keep in mind, he has the third most plate appearances in team history.
Yes, he leads all-time in triples and stolen bases. On the later, he also has been caught stealing more than anyone too.
Looking beyond that, when he was on the Opening Day roster, the Mets went to the postseason once, and in his 11 postseason games, he hit .239/.275/.354.
In the end, there are plenty of things you can point to in making the case Reyes was a good player on the field for the Mets. He’s also clearly the best shortstop in team history. What he isn’t is someone who merits having his number retired.