Juan Lagares

Mets Need To Obtain Corey Kluber

With the Mets reportedly not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason, the Mets have put them in a position where their options to improve their batting order are becoming increasingly limited.  That is at least on the free agent market.  Instead, the team is going to have to look towards trades to try to improve their roster.

When looking at trades, the team should look much further than any of their oft publicized and discussed needs.  Instead, the team should do all they can do to improve their roster.  If you are looking to build a World Series contender, that means obtaining Corey Kluber.

If the Mets are able to obtain Kluber, they are going to have the best rotation in baseball, and quite possibly, they could have one of the best rotations of all-time.  When you have pitching like that, you win games and postseason series.

Remember, the 2001 Diamondbacks won the NL West and the World Series riding Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.  While Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homers that year, the rest of the Diamondbacks team wasn’t great offensively.  That team had a 97 wRC+, which was ranked 15th in the majors.

The Mets would have that with Kluber and Jacob deGrom.  Kluber has led the Majors in wins over the past three seasons with the second most innings pitched and the third highest fWAR.  As for deGrom, he was the best pitcher in baseball last, and we have seen what he can do in the postseason.

As for the Mets offense, well, in the second half of the season last year, they were ranked 11th in the majors.  With a 38-30 second half record, the Mets were tied with the Braves for the best record in the NL East.  Combining that improved offense with the emerge of Zack Wheeler, and this is suddenly a very scary Mets team, which is something the Mets need to be building.

Notably, Wheeler is a free agent after the 2019 season, and after the 2020 season, deGrom will be a free agent.  The biggest hit happens after the 2021 season with Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz becoming free agents.  That’s a big chunk of the Mets current core, which means this organization has three years to win a World Series with this group.

It just so happens Kluber is under team control for three years with 2020 and 2021 team options.  All told, Kluber is owed just $52.5 million over the next three years giving the team some flexibility to add talent around an ace pitcher.

Now, there will be obvious skeptics as to whether this will work for the Mets.  This plan would require buying Amed Rosario making strides.  It also requires Jeff McNeil to repeat a second half which was fueled by .368 BABIP.  Todd Frazier is going to have to be what he was in April and stay off the disabled list, and Jay Bruce is going to have to learn first base.  You are also going to need a full season from Juan Lagares in center.

Then again, maybe you won’t.

Adding Kluber only adds to the possibilities.  With Kluber atop the rotation with deGrom, the Mets could look to trade Wheeler at his peak value.  Possibly, the Mets could move Wheeler to address other areas of need like their bullpen or a right-handed bat.  With Charlie Morton and Dallas Keuchel being free agents and Lance McCullers missing all of 2019 due to Tommy John, the Astros are certainly a fit.  Seeing how Wheeler pitched in the second half, there will obviously be other suitors.

Now, getting Kluber is going to hurt.  At a minimum, you are probably talking Peter Alonso, Andres Gimenez, and some other notable Mets prospects.  It’s entirely possible, a Major Leaguer will need to be included in the deal.  Certainly, giving up your top talent will hurt the system.

However, a more broad based analysis needs to take place here.  The Mets window is 2019-2021.  After that, the next real wave for the Mets comes a year or two after that as Jarred Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, and Mark Vientos all played in Kingsport this past season.  Considering how the talent is structured in the Mets farm system, the time to make a run is right now.

If you’re making that run, the Mets need to go all-out improving this roster.  Unless you are spending on the free agent market to get Machado and Bryce Harper, which the Mets aren’t doing, it means trading for big pieces.  That means giving up Alonso and Gimenez for a big piece.  Right now, there is no bigger piece than Kluber.  He’s the real difference maker.

Get Kluber and make a real run at 2019 and 2020.  The talent is here, and the Mets have the chips to do it.

Peter Alonso Should Not Be The Mets 2019 First Baseman

With everything Peter Alonso does, it is getting harder and harder justifying keeping him in Triple-A past the first few weeks of the season.  His power is legit, and it he attacks this offseason like he did the last, he’s going to be a significantly improved player.  Seeing the season he just had, that’s a scary thought, and yet, there’s no way the Mets can just hand him the first base job next year, not if they are planning on winning next year.

Again, this is no slight against Alonso, but rather a result of the circumstances.  When analyzing the situation, there are certain assumptions we need to make.  The first assumption Jay Bruce has a contract which cannot be traded.  When looking at the sprint speeds compiled by Baseball Savant, Bruce is the slowest right fielder in the majors, and as a result, the second assumption is Bruce should no longer be playing the outfield.  The last assumption is with Bruce still having two years $28 million on his deal, the Mets are not going to put him on the bench, nor would Bruce be willing to accept such an assignment.

With all of that being the case, where is the room for Alonso on the 2019 roster?

You could argue he could go play right field, but then you are weakening your outfield defense.  Last year, Bruce was a -4 DRS in 538.2 innings in right field.  With him in right, Brandon Nimmo is your likely center fielder, and he was a -2 DRS and -2.8 UZR in 350.1 innings in center last year.  Configuring your outfield this way may also carry with it the possibility Juan Lagares, who is the best defensive center fielder in baseball, even fewer innings in the outfield.

The obvious rebuttal to this is Bruce is not a first baseman.  It’s a fair comment, but if you follow the scouting reports, Alonso has struggled at first base next year.  You could argue Alonso would not be better than the 0 DRS Bruce had in 180.1 innings there last year.  You could even argue Alonso would be worse.

Assume for a second, the Mets decide to ignore outfield defense completely, and they put Bruce in right field to make room for Alonso.  Your outfield is now set, and also, it means your infield is likely set.  This means the Mets do not add a Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock, or other big right-handed bat this team really needs to add this offseason.

Sure, you could say the Mets could still sign someone, but then you are likely forcing Jeff McNeil to the bench because it is unrealistic to expect Brodie Van Wagenen to tell his former client Todd Frazier he is now a utility infielder.  Moreover, for a Mets pitching staff who induces many groundballs, it would seem like a mistake to put your only quality infield defender on the bench.  If you have your choice between Alonso and McNeil, don’t you have to go with McNeil at this point because he’s proven he can play and play well at the Major League level?

The bigger question iss if  you’re the Mets, and you are truly trying to build a World Series contender next year, are you really going to put all of your eggs in the Peter Alonso basket?  That’s a really big risk.

Keep in mind, some of his stats in Binghamton were inflated by a .344 BABIP. Given how slow he is, he’s due for some course correction on that.  Compounding the problem is the fact he pulled the ball 50.3 percent of the time with Vegas.  If he is going to be that extreme a pull hitter (as opposed to what he was in 2017), teams are going to shift him accordingly, and he’s going to lose a lot of base hits he is currently getting.

With Vegas, he had a 25.9 percent strikeout rate.  In the Arizona Fall League, he is striking out 25.6 percent of the time.  That’s not a great strikeout rate, and it’s possible he strikes out more against Major League pitching.

There’s also some question about his ability to hit right-handed pitching at the Major League level.  Baseball America said of Alonso, “his power will play in the big leagues, perhaps in the second half of 2018, whether as a regular or a platoon masher.”  To be fair, the stats don’t necessarily prove that out with Alonso having a higher OPS against right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching last year.

Now, it’s possible Alonso comes to Queens next year, and he is able to succeed despite these question marks.  After all, Paul Goldschmidt was once thought to be a platoon bat who proved he could hit anybody.  Lucas Duda was able to prove himself an everyday first baseman despite a high strikeout rate because of his plate discipline and power.

Really, by no means should we count out Alonso being a masher at the Major League level.  However, we also shouldn’t count on it happening immediately next year.  More than that, the Mets shouldn’t be counting on it if they intend to try to win the World Series next year.

Ultimately, Alonso needs to start the year in Syracuse because the Mets are going to have to find a spot for Jay Bruce to play and because the team needs to get a proven right-handed bat this offseason.

Mets 2019 Starting Lineup As It Stands Today

With Brodie Van Wagenen being announced as the new Mets General Manager tomorrow, his work begins immediately.  Right now, Jose Reyes, Devin Mesoraco, Jerry Blevins, Austin Jackson, and Jose Lobaton are free agents.  With eight more players listed on the 60 day disabled list (Eric Hanhold, Rafael Montero, Bobby Wahl, Travis d’Arnaud, Phillip Evans, T.J. Rivera, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares), the team needs to cut at least three players by Friday.

More than that, Van Wagenen will be entasked in improving the roster into a 2019 World Series contender.  Here is Van Wagenen’s starting point:

C – Kevin Plawecki
1B – Jay Bruce
2B – Jeff McNeil
3B – Todd Frazier
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Michael Conforto
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Brandon Nimmo

Certainly, the Mets are set in the middle infield and the corner outfield spots.  Obviously, Yasmani Grandal would be a significant addition to both the lineup and in the pitch framing department.  Even if not Grandal, the catching position seems to be a real target to upgrade either on the free agent market, where real upgrades are limited, or on the trade front, where there are a number of rebuilding teams who could move a catcher (Buster Posey?).

As for the other positions, the Mets are going to have to move a player/contract.  If the Mets really want to significantly upgrade this roster, the team is going to have to find a way to move Bruce, Frazier, or both.  That not only opens room for a significant addition, but it also means the team will have some extra money on the budget to improve the roster.

In the end, there is real talent here, but talent which needs to be surrounded by the right players.  Ideally, that is at least one right-handed power bat to balance out a lineup which already balances out Conforto, Nimmo, and McNeil.  When doing that, Van Wagenen will need to buttress this group by building a strong bench, which is something which has not been done since the trade deadline maneuvers in the 2015 season.

Free Agents Mets Should Avoid This Offseason

With the way Yasmani Grandal is outright struggling during the NLCS, he is invariably going to damage his value on the free agent market this offseason.  Exactly how much remains to be seen, and you will likely see in some uneducated corners that the Mets should not pursue Grandal this offseason.  To a certain extent, it’s absurd to ignore a player’s entire career over a few games.

When looking at Grandal, this is a Mets team built on pitching, and as such, they should prioritize a catcher who thrives at pitch framing.  They should also avoid players who are terrible at it.  Really, overall, there are a number of players the Mets should absolutely avoid this offseason.

C – Wilson Ramos

In case you have missed the past decade of Mets baseball, the last thing this franchise needs is another injury prone player who is over 30 years old.  As bad as their injury issues were previously, they suddenly become worse when they wear a Mets uniform.  When you combine that with Ramos having terrible pitch framing numbers and his probably getting a fairly large contract, the Mets should be a hard pass on him.

1B – Marwin Gonzalez

Gonzalez’s reputation seems to be much better than the player he actually is.  This is not unusual for a player who is not too far removed from a great year or for a player who is playing for a great team.  Breaking down Gonzalez’s career, he is a .264/.318/.419 hitter with just one good offensive season under his belt.  He’s a versatile player whose best position is LF.  He’s going to be 30 and overpaid.  Mostly, he’s a complimentary piece which helps a great team like the Astros but will not be a significant contributor to a team like the Mets.

2B – DJ LeMahieu

With the emergence of Jeff McNeil, the Mets are not likely in the market for a second baseman, but then again, due to McNeil’s versatility, they could opt to sign a second baseman and move McNeil elsewhere.  If they do so, they need to avoid LeMahieu.  While very good defensively, this is a guy who just can’t hit outside of Coors Field, and for what it’s worth, he doesn’t hit all that well at Coors Field either as evidenced by his career 96 wRC+ there.

3B – Asdrubal Cabrera

When he was with the Mets, Cabrera was a clutch second half player.  Despite all the injuries, he tried to play everyday.  He was a popular player, and he was much better than anyone could have anticipated he would be when the Mets signed him.  That said, he’s no longer an everyday player, and it’s questionable just how much he’d be willing to accept a utility role.

SS – Jose Reyes

Over the last two seasons, he was just about the worst player in baseball, and he was a malcontent who was not above going to the press to try to lobby for more playing time.  His team in a Mets uniform or really any MLB uniform should be over.

LF – Rajai Davis

As we saw with Jackson with season (more on him in a minute), the Mets are likely looking for a cheap right-handed hitting veteran who can play CF.  After Davis hit that incredible game tying homer in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, he has not done much since.  He may come cheap, but the 37 year old will be cheap for a reason.  The Mets need to do much better than this to fill out a bench.

CF – A.J. Pollock

Back in 2015, Pollock was a superstar in the making.  He was a Gold Glover, and he was probably the third best center fielder in all of baseball.  Since that time, Pollock has been injury prone, and he has not played more than 113 games in a season.  He’s no longer a big bat in the lineup.  While his defense is still good, it has been in decline, and there is a fair question over how long he can stay there (whether due to injuries or regression).  He’s going to get a big contract, but it should not be by a Mets team with a horrendous history of dealing with over 30 year old injury prone players.

RF – Austin Jackson

The Mets signed Jackson late in the season presumably to see if he should be part of the mix next season.  In 57 games, Jackson was a bad hitter and an equally poor fielder.  Especially with Juan Lagares coming back from injury (again), the Mets should steer well clear of Jackson.

SP – Bartolo Colon

We get it.  Fans love him because he’s fat, old, has been suspended for steroids, and didn’t pay child support to his second family.  When you strip down the whole contrived lovable gimmick, he’s a bad MLB pitcher who should either be retiring, fighting for a bullpen spot, or rounding out a terrible team’s rotation just like he did with the Rangers this past year.

RHP Reliever – Cody Allen

Like with Bryan Shaw last year, there will likely be a call for the Mets to reunite some of the Indians bullpen with Mickey Callaway.  While the urge is understandable, the Mets should resist as the wear and tear of his workload seemingly took a took a toll on him this season.  After posting very good numbers in the first six years of his career, Allen had a career worst 4.70 ERA, 93 ERA+, and a 4.56 FIP.  While he may be salvaged to be a good reliever, with how the market has gone insane with relievers the past few years, it’s not likely Allen will be paid as the rehabilitation project he just might be.

LHP Reliever – Jerry Blevins

Look, Blevins has had a good career, and his best years were clearly with the Mets.  His numbers were skewed this year by a bad April and an equally bad September.  More troubling than that is Blevins really struggled getting left-handed batters out this season.  While it’s possible that issue will iron itself out, the real issue is his walks.  For three straight seasons, his walk totals have gone up while his K/BB ratio has gone down.  With the emergence of Daniel Zamora and with other relievers available this offseason, it’s time to turn the page.

Is Mickey Callaway The Right Manager?

When the Mets hire a new General Manager, one of his, or in the case of Kim Ng getting the job, her, first duties is to decide if they want to retain Mickey Callaway as the Mets manager.  Given how Callaway may come attached at the hip with Dave Eiland and seeing how this pitching rotation took off this year, you’d be inclined to keep Callaway on the job.

However, seeing Aaron Boone in Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS, we know a General Manager needs to look at much more than that.  Basically, the new General Manager needs to assess not just if Callaway is the guy who can bring the Mets to the postseason, but he needs to assess if Callaway would stand as an impediment to the Mets winning a World Series.

In the regular season, we have seen some really good and really terrible things from Callaway and his coaching staff.  The question is what is fixable and what are flaws which stand in the way.

The negatives have been oft discussed.  There was the lineup card incident.  Callaway had real difficulty handling the media.  We saw him exhaust the bullpen, especially Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, early in the season.  He was also not above continuing to go back to that well even with them being overused.  At times, the lineups were outright baffling, and unlike some of his other issues, this was something which seemed to get worse (more traditional?) as the season progressed.

On the positive, the Mets players did progress.  According to wRC+, Brandon Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League.  Michael Conforto returned to his All Star form.  Amed Rosario went from potential bust to improving young player.  Jeff McNeil emerged as an everyday second baseman.  Lugo became a dominant reliever.  As noted previously, the rotation improved.  Mostly, this team did not quit even after the season was over after a 5-21 June.

We have also seen Callaway use analytics to inform his decisions.  In April, he was started Juan Lagares because Jacob deGrom was a flyball pitcher, and the Cardinals starter, Michael Wacha, had reverse splits.  Essentially, he is well versed in analytics, and he’s able to use them to inform his decision making.

He’s also an aggressive manager.  On multiple occasions, he brought in a reliever to force the other managers hand.  Instead of being reactive to another manager’s pinch hitting choice, Callaway ensured he brought in his better pitcher to get a worse hitter up at the plate thereby ensuring himself of the better match-up.

Essentially, there’s enough here to suggest Callaway is the right guy for the job, but make no mistake, it is not a clear-cut decision.  While he was strong in motivating and developing players as well as being aggressive in his pitching decisions, his position player choices left something to be desired and arguably got worse as the season progressed.

In the end, if the Mets are going to keep him or replace him, they better be right.

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.

Mets Problem Isn’t Analytics, It’s The Wilpons

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons.  The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person.  The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”

Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.

For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera.  Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.

In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second.  That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014).  Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.

Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS.  That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.

Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third.  This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap.  That deal was nixed over money.

With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began.  In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP.  Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.

As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363.  It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243.  Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better.  Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.

In addition to bringing Cabrera back into the fold, the Mets also brought back Jay Bruce after having traded the then impending free agent to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan.

At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder.  The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right.  Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.

In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418.  In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence.  With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.

Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited.  More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year.  Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch.  In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.

Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason.  That honor goes to Jason Vargas.

The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth.  At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.

Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter.  Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen.  Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.

The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP.  He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.

What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department.  From reports, Vargas was not the only one.  Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven.  Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?

They’re not.

In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been.  It’s the Wilpons.

They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over.  They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wrights insurance policy into the team.  They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window.  They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.

Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.

What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone.  That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.

Mets Players Weekend Nickname Alternates

Last year, Player’s weekend was a hit as fans got to see their favorite players wear fun jerseys featuring their nicknames on the back of their jerseys.  Believe it or not, some of those were nicknames were rejected for various reasons.

For example, Brandon Nimmo wanted to use his Twitter handle, You Found Nimmo, but MLB was afraid of copyright issues.  When it came to Kyle Seager, he wanted to go with “Corey’s Better.”  With that rejected, he paid homage to his brother Corey Seager by merely noting on his jersey he was “Corey’s Brother.”

Well, the Mets officially approved Player’s Weekend nicknames and jerseys have been released.  However, as noted with Nimmo, there were other names the players wanted which were rejected by MLB:

Tyler BashlorMickey, I’m Available To Pitch

Jose BautistaTrade Value Going, Going, Gone!

Jerry BlevinsOne Magic LOOGY

Jay BruceJason Bay

Michael Conforto – Shouldering The Load

Travis d’Arnaud – d’L

Jacob deGromFewest Wins 4 Cy Young Winner

Phillip EvansDFA TBA

Wilmer Flores – 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Todd Frazier Regrets, I’ve Joined The Mets

Robert GsellmanDon’t Care What You Think

Luis GuillormeAssistant to the Regional Manager

Austin Jackson2019 Opening Day CF

Juan LagaresOut For The Season

Seth Lugo – Quarterrican (That’s perfection; you don’t mess with that)

Steven MatzNot So Strong Island

Jeff McNeil2B/3B/OF

Devin Mesoraco – Harvey’s Better

Brandon Nimmo – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Corey OswaltVargas (figured it was the only way he would get a start)

Kevin Plawecki – Plawful

Jose ReyesMelaza Virus

Jacob RhameStay (Refers to his roster spot and glasses)

Amed Rosario – Mentor Wanted

Paul Sewald AAAAll Star

Dominic SmithWaist And Future Gone

Drew SmithMickey, I’m Available To Pitch (Yes, it’s a repeat of Bashlor.  They’re trying to prove a point.)

Anthony SwarzakStill Just One Good Season

Noah Syndergaard 60’6″ Away

Jason Vargas$16 Million Dollar Man

Bobby Wahl After All, I’m Your . . .

Zack WheelerFinally Good

David Wright – Hurts Here Doc

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

Guillorme Deserves Better Treatment Than This

If you had the pleasure of watching Luis Guillorme play middle infield in the minor leagues, you had the privilege of watching a virtuoso at work.  He had the ability to make the impossible seem plausible, the difficult seem easy, and perhaps just as impressive to make the routine look routine.

Defensively, he could be the best player in the entire Mets organization this side of Juan Lagares.  Offensively, well, he had work to do.

While he had work to do, he continued to make strides.  Over the past three years in the minors, he increased both his walk rate and his wRC+.  He worked both on bunting and hitting the ball with more exit velocity and a better launch angle.  Really, he was working to do anything he could do to make himself a Major League hitter.

When he was called up to the Majors on May 11th, he may have been making progress, but he was not ready to make the leap to the majors.  However, with his being on the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft and the team facing a number of injuries, he was needed in the majors.

It’s been a struggle for Guillorme since getting called-up.  Not only was he asked to play third, a position he had not previously played as a professional, but he struggled at the plate.  With those struggles, he has become buried on the bench being nothing more than a pinch hitter.

During this stretch, a stretch which may potentially stunt his development, Guillorme said nothing.  No complaints.  No excuses.  Nothing.

That was the case yesterday when he made a couple of errors and another misplay.  Instead of whining about rust, lack of playing time, and not being in the best position to succeed by his manager Mickey Callaway, Guillorme owned up to his mistakes and made no excuses.

Seeing how hard he works as a player, and seeing his making no excuses, why is he used as a pinata for those people who want to call upon Jose Reyes to play more for some reason or other.

That’s just one example of the unfair treatment Guillorme has received from those in the media who would rather have a wife beating bad baseball player get more playing time.  The narrative on Reyes has gotten to the point where they suggest he has not been put in a position to succeed, which is completely absurd because Reyes was getting the playing time befitting a utility player, which is what he signed on to be.

As an extension, the people holding the water for Reyes and the Wilpons decide that since they can’t defend Reyes based upon his play on the field, they would rather trash a player like Guillorme.

It’s nonsense, and it has to stop.

Day-in and day-out, Guillorme is there waiting for his chance.  He’s working on his game.  He’s not speaking to Matt Ehalt of nj.com and saying things like, “I believe in what I can do.  But it’s hard for me if there isn’t opportunity out there.”

Nope, Guillorme keeps to himself and works hard.  His reward?  People going out of their way to trash him for making the simple mistake of getting called up before he was ready, arguably still out-performing Reyes, and being the being labeled as the guy who is preventing Reyes from getting in the lineup.

Guillorme deserves better than this garbage treatment.