Jose Reyes

Mets Should Have Reservations About Jason Kipnis

With the Mets rumored to be obtaining Jason Kipnis, fans should be thrilled.  Kipnis is seemingly everything the team needs, and he could go a long way in making the Mets a better team.

He is a two time All Star, who seemingly has no ego.  After returning from the Disabled List, the Indians asked him to move to center field because that is what was needed to help the team win.  He did it, and he did it despite his having been a key player on a team that came within a run of winning the World Series in 2016.

In his two prior healthy seasons, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, six triples, 16 homers, and 67 RBI.  He also averaged a 4.3 WAR with him posting three seasons of a WAR above 4.0 in three out of his past five seasons.

Combine this with a reasonable salary (owed $28.3 million over next two years with a $16.5 million option for 2020), and you have a good player on a decent contract that can really help the Mets.

However, this is exactly the type of player that can also help a Cleveland Indians team with World Series aspirations – an Indians team who is about to take major hits in free agency.

Already, the Indians have lost Bryan Shaw and Carlos Santana in free agency. Jay Bruce and may not be far behind. By trading Kinsler, the Indians may be getting rid of a player who could help them at either first base, the outfield, or anywhere else the Indians need.

Yes, Jose Ramirez had an MVP caliber season, and he seemingly usurped Kipnis at second base.  Still, Ramirez moving from third to second also created some uncertainty at the third base position.

No doubt, the Indians have some talented young players who could play there like Yandy Diaz, Francisco Mejia, or Giovanny UrshelaHowever, it is quite telling that come postseason time the Indians handed the third base duties to journeyman Michael MartinezReason being is that the aforementioned trio wasn’t quite ready.  And really, who is to say they will be next season?

If you next take into account, Michael Brantley being constantly injured, you really begin to wonder why is it the Indians are willing to just give up on Kipnis?

It’s not like he’s at his peak value.  He’s coming off an injury plagued season where he had a 0.4 WAR, 81 OPS+, 82 wRC+, and a -2 DRS at second base.  Trading him now feels more like the Indians are dumping a salary than the Mets are blowing the Indians away with an offer to get a good player.

This should beg the question about what the Indians know that no one else does?  Is it Kipnis’ shoulder?  Is it fear of regression?  Is it just to free up money to spend elsewhere?  No one can be quite sure as of right now.

With all the said, Kipnis still presents a huge upgrade for a Mets organization that had the second worst DRS at second base in all of baseball.  It’s a massive upgrade for a team that views Jose Reyes and his -0.6 WAR last year as the free agent backup plan.  This all means the Mets should be pursuing Kipnis.

However, that doesn’t mean the Mets shouldn’t be concerned as to which Kipnis they are getting in return.

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Scrubs: My Disasterous 2017 Mets Season

In the end, this Mets season was just one large Scrubs season.  It wasn’t quite a comedy.  It wasn’t quite a drama.  Not nearly enough people should have appreciated it.  And, oh yeah, the players resembled the characters:

J.D. – Michael Conforto

There are many ways we can choose to compare the two with how they are treated by authority figures and seem to be dreamers.  Overall, it’s the Janitor who shows how the two are unmistakably intertwined:

Turk – Noah Syndergaard

Like Turk, Syndergaard can be both silly (his hatred of Mr. Met), had their bromances that ended when their bff departed (Bartolo Colon), and are serious about their craft (60′ 6″ away).  Both had serious health issues (Turk – diabetes; Thor – torn lat), that they largely ignored until they could no longer.

Dr. Cox – Sandy Alderson

Both are brash, saracastic, and quick witted.  They want everyone to conform, leave them alone, and they want the higher ups to give them the revenue they need to do their jobs because secretly they care.   Both have to deal with the hand they are given and do better than possibly anyone else would in their position.

Elliott – Jacob deGrom

The precocious blonde with long locks has gone from being overlooked to front and center.  Now, after a drastic haircut, we see them all grown up and in charge

Carla – Curtis Granderson

For much of the show, Carla was really the only adult in the room.  She was the one who was a parent and a friend to everyone.  There was no Met who has ever embodied that better than Granderson.

Kelso – Fred Wilpon

He’s the penny pinching curmudgeon who deep down believes he cares about the place more than anyone.  As time goes on, and they become more separated from the day-t0-day affairs, they become more likeable as newer villains begin to run interference.  In reality, they haven’t changed one bit.  Just ask Enid.

Janitor – Asdrubal Cabrera

He was once a guy with dreams and wanted to be someone.  Instead, he’s stuck around this place finding himself not wanting to be fired despite not being good at his job and terrifying everyone.  Oh, and now he needs this job to provide for his family.

The Todd – Yoenis Cespedes

Both seem like all flash and no substance with high fives, bat flips, cars, banana hammocks, chains, and compression sleeves.  However, once you get past all of that and look at their abilities, they are among the best at what they do.

Ted – Travis d’Arnaud

There was probably a time where dear old Ted had the world as his oyster much like d’Arnaud did when he first joined the Mets organization.  At this point both are beaten down and quite possibly both are forever broken.  In d’Arnaud’s case that’s probably more physical than spiritual.

Jordan – Terry Collins

As we found out in Marc Carig’s piece about Collins’ firing, the manager had contempt for most everyone around him except for a small few he treated kindly.  Of course to him that meant hurting them (ruining their arms).  That’s Jordan in a nutshell – hates almost everyone and is still nasty to those she likes.

Murphy – Ray Ramirez

They want to help, but they just keep killing everyone in their path.  Like with Dr. Murphy, the Mets have finally found a place where he could do less harm.

Keith Dudemeister – Lucas Duda

Aside from the fact that their surnames practically beg for the comparison, both seem like people we could have all been friends with under completely different circumstances.

Laverne – Jose Reyes

Just when you thought they were dead and gone, they’ve come back.  For Laverne, she came back under a different name.  For Reyes, it was a different position.

Enid – David Wright

Both were quite loved in their day, but now they are broken down and our eyes look elsewhere for something younger and sexier to take their place.

Sean – Kevin Plawecki

They seem like perfectly nice guys who try hard. In the end no matter what they do, no matter how good it is, it elicts the same response.  “Nobody cares!”

Bearfacé – Chasen Bradford

Of all the Mets, Bradford was the only Mets player who put together a beard that could come close to Beardface.

Extra points to Bradford for Baseball Reference not quite knowing if it’s Chase or Chasen similar to how Dr. Beardface constantly corrects everyone screaming it’s BEARD-FAS-AY!

Hooch –Hansel Robles

When Robles points to the sky as if to suggest a home run is just a pop fly, you know Robles is crazy.  Like Hooch, the craziness was comical at first, but now it is just downright scary.

Lloyd – Jeff Wilpon

He’s got the job because of who his father is, and someone he has a place on the Brain Trust.

Dr. Wen – Dan Warthen

They were tutors for a young talented group, but in the end, their time came as they refused to adapt.  For Warthen, it was teaching a slider when everyone was focusing on the curve.  For Dr. Wen, it was:

Ben – Neil Walker

He came here sick, and the Mets just couldn’t fix him no matter what they did.  Before we knew it, he was gone, and we were all looking for someone to blame.

Dan – Jay Bruce

When he first appeared, he was useless, and yet, somehow people seemed to love him.  He was an older brother that tried to take people under his wing, but he, himself, was the one who needed help.  Eventually, he got himself together just before we all said good bye to him.

Leonard – Seth Lugo

It’s the giant hook and the impressive hair (afro, blonde).

Julie – Wilmer Flores

Both are young, lovable, and so accident prone.  In the entire Scrubs series, the only way capable of breaking their own nose the way Wilmer did was Julie.

Jill – Matt Harvey

We all just assumed the worst in their intentions.  However, in the end, we discovered it wasn’t anything they did particularly wrong.  Rather, it was a problem related to something else entirely that if someone detected it earlier, everything might have changed.  Instead, a waste of a 2017 ensued.

Gift Shop GirlCarlos Beltran

We had our chance with him, but we blew it.  We forgot about him for a long time, but now that we remember him, he’s now got a ring on his finger.

Paige – Brandon Nimmo

Both are extremely religious, and you cannot wipe the smile off of either one’s face . . . no matter how much you try.

Mickhead – Barwis

We all know Barwis murdered the Mets season.  We just don’t have the proof.

Congratulations Carlos Beltran

With the Houston Astros winning the World Series yesterday, future Hall of Famer, Carlos Beltran finally won his World Series ring.  It could not have happened to a better player and a better individual.

While many Mets fans may have been tangentially aware of the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, everyone knew who he was went he had an incredible 2004 postseason for the Houston Astros.  During that postseason run for the Astros, Beltran hit .435/.536/1.022 with a record eight homers in a single postseason.

On that postseason stage, we saw not just a five tool player, but a great player who had that rare ability to raise his game on the bigger stage.  Those are the types of players who typically thrive in New York, and Mets fans were thrilled when Omar Minaya made the bold move and made him the Mets first ever $100 million player.

If we’re all honest, things did not go as well for Beltran with the Mets as we all would have hoped.  His first season was marred by struggles and his head-first collision with Mike Cameron in right center field at Petco Park that left Beltran with facial fractures and a concussion.  That collision was so bad he was the one that got lucky.

Still, during that first season with the Mets, he helped create a culture that led to one of the better runs in Mets history.  Early on in the 2005 Spring Training, Beltran took David Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing, and he showed them what it took not just to be Major League players, but great players.

This sparked the incredible 2006 season that ended in heartbreak.  Because baseball is a cruel sport, that season and perhaps Beltran’s entire career with the Mets will forever be remembered for Beltran’s strikeout with the bases loaded at the end of Game 7 of the NLCS.  However, Beltran’s season was much, much more than that.

Beltran would hit .275/.388/.594 with 38 doubles, a triple, 41 homers, 116 RBI, and 18 stolen bases.  By WAR, it was the greatest single season performance ANY Mets position player has ever had.  He was predominantly in the Top 5 to 10 in all single season Mets categories setting the marks for runs scored and tying the record for homers and extra base hits.  In addition to that, Beltran joined Tommie Agee as the only Mets outfielder to win a Gold Glove.  When Beltran would win in the following season, he became the only Mets outfielder to win multiple Gold Gloves.

Essentially, Beltran became the Mets version of Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza.  He was the seminal figure that taught the young players how to play, and he was the player who led the charge by being the superstar.

By the way, for all the talk about the Adam Wainwright moment, Beltran hit .278/.422/.556 with three homers in that postseason.  The Mets don’t even get to that Game 7 without him.  He should have been revered for that season.

If only he was treated as such.  Though not his fault, from that 2006 NLCS on his Mets career became one of what if to hand wringing instead of celebration.  The disappointment of the 2006 NLCS carried forward into collapses in 2007 and 2008.  Although, he did all he could do to try to stop it.

In 2007, he hit eight homer and 27 RBI in September marking his highs for any month that season.  In 2008, he had an impossibly great month hitting .344/.440/.645 with six homers and 19 RBI.  This includes a game tying two run home run at the final game at Shea Stadium.  To that end, Beltran provided the Mets with the team’s final highlight at the beloved Shea.

From there, Beltran would have some injuries and run-ins with the front office.  Rightfully and despite the Mets objections, he had a knee procedure which probably extended his career.  Always, the good teammate and doing what was best for the team, he willingly moved from center to right in 2011 before he was traded away for Zack Wheeler.

Since Beltran has left, Mets fans have seemed to have warmed much more to him remembering him more for the great player he was than the strikeout.  When he was introduced at the 2013 All Star Game, he received the standing ovation he so rightfully deserved.

That’s what you do for a player that is the greatest center fielder in team history, and is arguably the best outfielder in team history.  More than that, that’s what you do for a player who built his Hall of Fame career during his seven year career with the Mets.

All Mets fans should now be congratulating one of the best players in team history for getting that elusive World Series ring which we all know meant so much to him.  He didn’t get it with the Mets.  Ironically, he got it with that Astros team with whom he built his postseason reputation that inspired Minaya to go out and get him.

This won’t be the final day of celebration for Beltran.  One day in the not too distant future, the Hall of Fame will come calling.  The hope is he wears a Mets cap, and he returns to Citi Field to watch his number 15 get retired and hang forever next to his fellow Mets greats.

Astros And Dodgers Fans, This One Is Going To Hurt For A While

If you ask a New York Giants fan about the postseason, they will reminisce about Super Bowl XLII and XLVI.  You will hear about the Helmet Catch and Eli hitting Manningham down the sideline for 38 yards.  You know what you don’t hear about?  Fassell having the Giants ill prepared for Super Bowl XXXV or Trey Junkin.

The reason is simple when you win, you remember it forever.  However, when you lose, and you lose and lose, that memory festers and worsens year to year.

For years and even until this day, you will occasionally hear Howie Rose bemoan Yogi Berra‘s decision to go with Tom Seaver on short rest over George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series.  One of the reasons that memory lingers is the Mets where irrelevant from 1974 until 1984.

After 1986, Mets fans were in their glory, and to this day many fans who got to live through 1986 talk about it as fondly today as they probably did when they got to work on October 28, 1986.

Behind them is a group of Mets fans who never really got to live through the 1986 World Series.  As a result, they just know Madoff Scandals and hauting postseason failures:

1988 NLCS

  • Davey Johnson botched that series including leaving in Dwight Gooden too long in Game Four.  Doc would allow a game tying home run in the top of the ninth to Mike Scioscia.
  • It was the last hurrah for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who struggled over the final few games of the series, and respectively faced poor and injury plagued 1989 seasons before finding new homes in 1989.

1999 NLCS

  • First and foremost, the one thing that should stick out was how those Braves teams just tortured the Mets, and the Mets could never get past them.
  • Both John Franco and Armando Benitez blew leads in Game 6 preventing the Mets from sending the series to a seventh game and letting the Mets be the team to do what the Red Sox did to the Yankees five years later.
  • Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to end the series.

2000 World Series

2006 NLCS

2015 World Series

2016 Wild Card Game

  • Connor Gillaspie

The list for the aforementioned series really goes on and on, but those were just some of the highlights.  After tonight’s game, that is what Astros and Dodgers fans will be doing.  They’ll be asking if Dave Roberts was too aggressive with his pitching changes while A.J. Hinch was not aggressive enough.  Why didn’t Chris Taylor try to score, or why could Josh Reddick just put the ball in play.  Really, the list goes on and on.

For one fan base, they will focus on the things that went wrong.  Considering the Dodgers haven’t won in 29 years and the Astros have never won, the pain of this loss is going to hurt all the more.  For the fanbase that gets to win this one, they will have memories to cherish for a lifetime, and they will never again be bothered by the what ifs that could have plagued their team in this epic World Series.

Mets Managerial Position Is A Dead End Job

Recent reports indicate Robin Ventura and Brad Ausmus are not interested in the Mets managerial job.  For Ventura’s part, it seems he’s just not interested in managing again.   With respect to Ausmus, he’s interested in managing again, but he doesn’t want the Mets job.  Ausmus is interested in the Red Sox job.

There are also reports other managers with managerial experience were out of the running as well.  Specifically, Bob Geren and Chip Hale will not be reuniting with the Mets.  Both were assumed to be well respected by the organization, but for unspecified reasons, neither is a candidate for the Mets managerial opening.  With respect to these two, it should be noted, it was not known if they took themselves out of the running, or the Mets decided to go in another direction.

Really, the only manager with prior experience who is a candidate for the job is Manny Acta, who due to poor stints in Washington and Cleveland, probably won’t be a candidate for many managerial positions.  Unless Acta gets the job, the Mets are going to hire a first time manager, and the top managerial candidate on the market, Alex Cora, appears destined to go to the Red Sox.

It really makes you question why there isn’t greater interest in the Mets managerial position?  There may be a number of viable reasons why, but let’s not overlook the fact the Mets managerial position is somewhat of a dead-end job.

Since the Wilpons assumed team control in 2003, the team has gone through four managers.  That’s five if you include Bobby Valentine who was fired after the 2002 season.  Of those five managers, Valentine was the only one who would ever get another managerial job, and that was only after he first went to Japan, worked as an analyst on Baseball Tonight, and got the opportunity from a Red Sox ownership group eager to hire him.  Otherwise, Valentine likely never gets another job.

There are several reasons why these managers never got another job.  With respect to Terry Collins, he will turn 69 early in the 2018 season, and there were rumors before the announcement the Mets were reassigning him in the organization, Collins was going to retire anyway.  Still, that didn’t prevent the Mets from trashing him on the way out.

It’s quite possible the scathing analysis of Collins as detailed in Marc Carig’s Newsday article was the Mets masterpiece.  It may well be the result of all the practice they’ve had.

In a New York Daily News feature after it was announced Art Howe would finish out the season before being fired, Howe was characterized as soft, uninspiring, weak, and lacking credibility with players.

His replacement, Willie Randolph, was treated just as poorly on the way out.  In addition to being fired after winning the first game of a West Coast trip, the Mets would again go to assassinate their manager’s character.  As detailed by Bill Maddon of the New York Daily News, the Mets let it be known they had their reservations about even hiring Randolph and insisted the team won in spite of him.  As if that wasn’t enough, the report stated the team believed Randolph, “lacked fire; the players, especially the Latino players, had tuned him out; he was too sensitive to criticism; he was overly defensive; he didn’t communicate with his coaches.”

Is there any wonder why a manager with a 302-253 (.544) record never got another job?  The same manager who deftly handled the development of David Wright and Jose Reyes never got another opportunity.

Yes, there were other reasons why Randolph never got another job, but in the end, the character assassination levied upon him was a great disservice, and it played an important role in his never getting another job.  Same went for Valentine and Howe.

Knowing how the Mets handle the firings of their managers, and knowing how their managers never get another job, why would a top candidate ever consider taking this job?

Beltran Hit A Curveball For That Ninth Inning Series Winning RBI

Game Four of the ALDS between the Red Sox and Astros was a just a bizarre game with many things you may not have seen before in a baseball game and some things may never see again in a game.  Both Chris Sale and Justin Verlander came into the game in relief, and both would give up the lead.  For that matter so would Craig Kimbrel.  To lead off the top of the ninth, Rafael Devers would hit an inside-the-park homer.

All of these things and many more of the events that happened in the game were truly remarkable.  However, there is one that stands out above the rest for Mets fans.

In the top of the ninth, the Astros were trying to add an insurance run to their 4-3 lead.  With runners on first and second and two outs, Astros manager A.J. Hinch would tab Carlos Beltran to pinch hit for designated hitter Evan Gattis.  With a 2-2 count against him, Beltran would foul off three straight pitches before hitting a curveball off the Green Monster for an RBI double extending the Astros lead to 5-3.  With Devers’ aforementioned inside-the-park homer in the bottom of the ninth, Beltran would have the game winning hit; a hit that came off of a curveball.  It should come as no surprise to Mets fans this was the first ninth inning RBI in Beltran’s illustrious postseason career.

While all of Houston rejoiced, Mets fans were once again shaking their heads with visions of a Beltran frozen by an Adam Wainwright curveball.

Throughout his career, Beltran has certainly earned a reputation for one of the greatest postseason hitters in Major League history.  When Cooperstown comes calling, one of the reasons for Beltran’s induction will be his October exploits.  Mets fans are certainly no stranger to them.

Many forget before that strikeout, Beltran had hit three homers in that series against the Cardinals.   The Mets don’t win Game One of that series, let alone get to a Game Seven without Beltran.  If the Mets won that Game Seven, it was truly a toss-up between him and Carlos Delgado as to who was going to be the NLCS MVP.  When Beltran dug in against Wainwright with a berth to the World Series on the line, it looked like it was going to be Beltran.

But it wasn’t.  And so a part of Beltran’s complicated legacy as a baseball player and a New York Met soon crystallized.

Beltran is one of the greatest postseason players in Major League history, but he didn’t even attempt to swing at a pitch that ended the World Series.  The Mets would never have gotten to that point without Beltran, but in reality, during his tenure with the Mets, the team was mostly disappointing with two emotionally crippling collapses in subsequent seasons.  Beltran was one of the greatest Mets to ever wear the uniform, but for some reasons, even before the strikeout, Mets fans never seemed to fully embrace him.

Regardless of the past, Beltran was a great Mets player, who absolutely gave it his all with the Mets.  He did all he could do to be a great player here and to ensure the Mets success.  Lost in his legacy was his immediately taking David Wright and Jose Reyes to workouts with him to show them what it took to be a great baseball player.

So yes, Beltran struck out looking against Wainwright, and he doubled off Kimbrel.  Mets fans were depressed, and all of Houston rejoiced.  Mets fans should be happy as well, and not just because a former Met won a game against a former Brave.

Beltran was a great Mets player who deserves our admiration and respect even if he wasn’t fully given it while he was a member of the Mets.  He was a great Met who did everything he could do to help them win.  He was a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, MVP caliber player the Mets have not seen from an outfielder before and have not seen since.  We should cheer for him when he finally gets that game winning series clinching hit, and we should want him to get that elusive World Series ring.

Thanks For The Memories Terry Collins

Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting.  He will not be returning as Mets manager.  While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring.  The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.

In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started.  The Mets were bad and injured.  It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag.  What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.

Part of being human is being emotional.  We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences.  And yes, we’ve seen him cry.  Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality.  In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory.  In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.

He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title.  He left Santana in for that no-hitter.  He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult.  Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.

Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players.  It would be the source of much consternation among fans.  This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto.  What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.

In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed.  You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop.  Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.

But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers.  It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players.  Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner.  It wasn’t just those players.  Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.

With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets.  Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets.  Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.

Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see.  A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young.  A Mets player won a batting title.  There was actually a Mets no-hitter.  Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.

Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that.  Collins got the best out of his players.  It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.

And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans.  More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect.  He returned their affection.  That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:

It was more than the celebrating.  Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants.  At his core, Collins is a good and decent man.  It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.

Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake.  Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers.  This was just one aspect of his poor managing.  There were many times where he left you scratching your head.  It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.

However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins.  To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season.  We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.

He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history.  When he was hired no one expected him to last that long.  Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure.  In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.

I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him.  My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man.  Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled.  Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Mets Final Game An Allegory For The Season

Even though the Mets were well out of it, and there was literally nothing to play for in that final game of the season, there was some buzz to the final game of the season.  The reason why was Noah Syndergaard got the start.  He was great:

Syndergaard lasted just two innings striking out two while allowing no hits.  He would then leave the game.  This wasn’t his April 30th start against the Nationals.  No, this was planned.  Still, like this season once Syndergaard departed the pitchers who followed weren’t up to par, and the Mets chances of winning took a real hit.

Specifically, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero imploded.  Flexen allowed five runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings.  Things would have been worse for him, but Kevin McGowan bailed him out striking out the final two batters of the inning.

It was then Montero’s turn to implode in the eighth with him allowing five runs on two hits and hit walks.  The low light was a Nick Williams inside-the-park homer.

In many ways, it was quite fitting the worst ERA in team history was clinched on an inside-the-park homer in a bandbox like Citizen’s Bank Park.

Those 11 Phillies runs would go unchallenged as the Mets could only muster two hits on the day.  One of them was by Gavin Cecchini, who was the only Mets player who had a decent day at the plate going 1-3 with a walk.  In many ways, that is a fitting end to the season.  Cecchini, a guy the Mets never gave much of a chance, performed well while the Mets favored players didn’t.

Like all of us, Terry Collins was ready for it all to end, and he just wanted to get out of there:

Game Notes: In what could be the last game of his career as a Met, Jose Reyes did not enter the game.