Juan Lagares

Mets Need To Hit Reset Button And Trade Wilson Ramos

When the signing happened, it seemed like the Mets made the right decision in signing Wilson Ramos to a two year deal. Ramos was coming off a year with a 131 wRC+, and he was comfortable in the National League East. With the state of catching in the majors, Ramos was that rare impact bat behind the plate, and the Mets were getting him on a short-term deal.

If we are being honest, the Ramos signing has not worked out well for the Mets.

At the time Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez were fired, Matt Ehalt of Yahoo reported Ramos was “causing frustration.” It should be noted at the time of this report, Tomas Nido had already become Jacob deGrom‘s de facto personal catcher. Ramos has caught deGrom since, but for the most part, it has predominantly been Nido catching deGrom.

As reported by Joel Sherman and Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets have also opted to make Nido the personal catcher for Noah Syndergaard. Unlike with deGrom, the Mets admitted this was the case when Mickey Callaway saying, “With what we’re trying to do with Syndergaard, keeping the ball down, [Nido] is a good complementary catcher for him. He receives the ball down better, so it’s something we have to continue to do.”

With the Mets top two starters having Nido as their personal catcher, the Mets have gone from having Ramos as their starter to creating a time share behind the plate. This has been the result of a number of factors.

First and foremost, Nido is the superior defensive catcher. For example, Ramos leads the Majors in passed balls, and Mets pitchers have 17 wild pitches with him behind the plate. On more than one occasion, you were left wondering about Ramos’ effort level or technique on balls in the dirt.

From a pitch framing perspective, Baseball Prospectus rates Nido as the 27th best pitch framer. Of the top 30, he has the second fewest chances. Ramos is ranked 85th. This is something Callaway had eluded to when speaking about Nido becoming Syndergaard’s personal catcher.

The main issue with Ramos isn’t his catching, it’s his bat. On the surface, he seems fine with a 103 wRC+ which ranks as the fourth best among qualified catchers. That’s even above J.T. Realmuto, who was a top Mets trade target this offseason. When you expand the search to catchers with 150 plate appearances, Ramos’ wRC+ ranks 14th.

While ranking well among catchers, this is not the 130 wRC+ catcher the Mets signed this offseason. It’s not a bat sufficient enough to carry his poor defense behind the plate. There are some warning signs this can get worse with the 31 year old having a career worst GB% and GB/FB ratio with his worst ISO in four years.

Fact is the Ramos signing has not panned out, and the signs indicate there may not be any improvement next year. If the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should push to move him at the trade deadline. Of course, that is easier said than done with many of the postseason contenders being either fairly set at catcher, being near their luxury tax thresholds, or both.

Still, if the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should make the move. It will give the team an extended look at Nido behind the plate while also possibly getting a look at Ali Sanchez, who is Rule 5 eligible, as a defensive backup. It would also given them an opportunity to pursue Yasmani Grandal in the offseason.

Grandal appears to be the one who got away. So far this season, Grandal has been the top catcher in baseball as rated by fWAR, and he is second according to wRC+. As Grandal recently said, “You never know, you have another offseason in which it could happen. Everything happens for a reason. I believe in that. I am here because that didn’t happen. It was crazy. [The Mets] were definitely the front-runner. They were pushing really hard. We were just too far apart.” (Joel Sherman, New York Post).

If the Mets can move Ramos at the trade deadline, that’s $11.75 million off next year’s budget. With Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, and Zack Wheeler being impending free agents, and presuming Jason Vargas‘ option is declined, along with other expiring deals, there will be an approximately $21 million more coming off the books. That is more than enough payroll room to push the reset button on the Ramos decision to bring in Grandal this coming offseason.

Overall, there were many things which went wrong this past offseason, but the more you look at it, Ramos has been one of the bigger missteps, especially when you consider how the Mets best pitchers no longer want to pitch to him. Based upon his track record, they will like pitching to Grandal, and the Mets will enjoy his bat in the lineup. As a result, the Mets need to push to trade Ramos at the deadline.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets First Half Was A Disaster

The New York Mets came into this season with bravado declaring they were the best team in baseball, and they challenged baseball to “Come get us.” Well, the Mets are 10 games under .500 with the second worst record in the National League:

1. As previously noted, Sandy Alderson left behind a solid young core, a farm system loaded with talent, and payroll flexibility. It’s been less than one year into his tenure, and Brodie Van Wagenen has completely botched all of it.

2. The Mets also continued to completely botch handling injuries. The team never gave Brandon Nimmo the requisite time to heal, and now he’s seeing David Wright‘s doctor. Michael Conforto‘s recent struggles have been at the same time he has been dealing with a back issue. Of course, he’s not on the IL.

3. Pete Alonso has been better than anyone could have ever expected. His winning the Home Run Derby is probably the best moment from this season.

4. Jeff McNeil is proving his rookie year was no fluke, and he’s much more than just a second baseman. He’s been able to be a good defender across the infield, and he is showing an Ichiro Suzuki like ability to hit it where they ain’t. That makes him a rare and exceptionally skilled player.

5. One of the best surprises to the season has been Dominic Smith getting treatment for his sleep apnea and becoming the player he was expected to be. His 152 OPS+ is the second best on the team. More than that, his friendship with Alonso has been endearing.

6. The bad defense is killing this team. Notably, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are in the top 20 in FIP, and Noah Syndergaard is 35th. They are pitching like top of the rotation starters with only deGrom having results near that.

7. Another issue on that front is Wilson Ramos, who with each passing day is frustrating Mets pitchers. We are already at the point were deGrom and Syndergaard want to pitch to Tomas Nido instead. This would make you think the team should push to trade Ramos and push reset on their decision not to go the extra mile on Yasmani Grandal.

8. The bullpen has been beyond terrible, and it is the result of poor pitching, bad framing, awful defense, and just having bad players. To put it in perspective, among Mets relievers with more than two appearances, Paul Sewald has the second best ERA among relievers on the team.

9. You know things are really bad defensively when Juan Lagares has a -6 DRS. In addition to his struggles, Amed Rosario has been the worst defender in the majors. With J.D. Davis having a -9 DRS, the Mets are the National League team with multiple players in the bottom 15 in DRS.

10. Once healthy, Todd Frazier has been everything the Mets could have hoped. He’s a plus defender at third base, and he is hitting well while serving as a good veteran presence in the clubhouse. You have to move him at the deadline, but that doesn’t mean he wont’ be missed from this team.

11. The Mets could and probably should replace Mickey Callaway with Joe Girardi if for no other reason than Girardi being an exceptional manager. That said, Callaway has done well here to keep things stable and his players playing hard despite an inept front office and a bullpen melting down nearly daily.

12. It’s bizarre to think about but so much has gone right for the Mets. Conforto picked up where he left off last year. Alonso, McNeil, and Smith have been great. Nido has been an exceptional defensive catcher. Frazier has been resurgent. The top of the rotation has good peripherals. All in all, this tells you just what a bad job Van Wagenen has done.

13. There are no good answers on what to do with Steven Matz. He struggled in the rotation, and he is not well suited to the bullpen. The hope is he figures it out because the Mets have no other choice with Wheeler as good as gone, and Jason Vargas‘ inability to consistently go five meaning they have to decline his option.

14. Other than Mets games, SNY has become completely unwatchable. Of course, many Mets games delve into the point of being unwatchable, so . . . .

15. In many ways, Alonso is too good to be true. He’s a hard worker, great teammate, an All-Star, and he’s playing at an MVP level in the first half of the season. If nothing else, Sandy Alderson left behind a very likeable group of players who are easy to root for even if the ownership and front office are horrible.

16. The Mets being willing to sell tickets for the rest of the year at 80% off shows you that a boycott will never work. Ticket revenues are just not a big line item for teams, and that’s why even if you stay away the Mets are going to earn a lot of money.

17. It’s difficult to imagine a time when Mets fans have been angrier than this. The Wilpons do need to be careful here because angry quickly becomes apathy, which means people staying away from the ballpark. If nothing else, that makes the Mets irrelevant, and it’s embarrassing to them.

18. When you look around baseball, there are players like Hansel Robles, Travis d’Arnaud, Justin Turner, and Daniel Murphy; players who this franchise needlessly gave up on. This screams to an internal scouting problem which has been around for far too long.

19. Andy Martino is just the worst. He champions Chase Utley. He doesn’t want Alonso, a player he wanted to begin the year in the minors, to get $1 million for winning the Home Run Derby, and because of optics, he wants it all to go to charity. The charities Alonso selected weren’t enough for him. He constantly trolls the fanbase while carrying water for the Wilpons. There is nothing redeemable about him as a reporter/analyst. In an ideal world, Martino would not longer be with SNY, and he will be left to once again stalk Richard Simmons.

20. Being Mets fans, there is always hope for a second half run like we saw in 1973. If it happened once, it can happen again. With the Mets second half schedule, it’s possible. Just don’t count on it.

20/20 Hindsight: Chairs Going Further Than The Mets

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, the Mets continue to embarrass themselves as an organization, and there is no one to answer for anything other than the manager:

1. Brodie Van Wagenen was real quick to put down Sandy Alderson in saying he was going to be more available to the media, and he was going to build a team with no ifs. Seeing how he is hiding in plain sight, and this team is a bigger disaster than any team Alderson, he should call up Alderson and apologize.

2. It should be noted former executives and players noted Van Wagenen’s behavior was completely unacceptable. Also unacceptable was how Van Wagenen ducked reporters on not just this question but any question. Instead, he would rather berate Mickey Callaway and send him to the wolves. This is the definition of callow.

3. Jay Bruce has as many homers against the Mets as Robinson Cano has for the Mets this season.

4. The reports Van Wagenen was angry over the team blowing a Jacob deGrom start just feeds into the narrative Van Wagenen took the job to help his clients.

5. The Callaway criticism among the fanbase is getting way over the top. It’s now at the point where they are criticizing him for being directed by the team’s video review official to challenge a play. That’s not a manager lacking feel. That’s a manager doing his job with the information on-hand. It’s also very doubtful if he passed on the challenging the call because he used his “game feel” the same fans killing him for it would give him credit.

6. Like with the media, Callaway is just a whipping boy. The fact he does this without throwing anyone under the bus is really remarkable. Even with the regrettable Healey outburst, he has shown himself to be the consummate professional. Even if you disagree, you should admit no one deserves to be treated the way he has been.

7. More than Callaway, Mets fans deserve better than this.

8. The state of umpiring in baseball is a joke. Rhys Hoskins was out at the plate, and yet, the umpires were perfectly content being wrong on a potentially game changing play. It’s beyond stupid that tag plays at the plate are not automatically up for independent review like touchdowns.

9. Pete Alonso is quickly becoming like Mike Piazza, Yoenis Cespedes, or Darryl Strawberry. You have to stop to watch when he bats. His homer off Aaron Nola ended the no-hitter, and in the rally later in the game, you were just waiting for that Jeff McNeil hit to get Alonso to the plate as the tying run. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

10. At least at the plate, Amed Rosario has been quite good for over two weeks now. Over the past 19 games, he his hitting .333/.361/.455 with five doubles, a homer, and six RBI. That’s real progress, and if he hits like this he has a spot on this team. Unfortunately, it is increasingly looking like that may not be short.

11. When looking at the trade with the Brewers, everything that has occurred has been reasonably foreseeable. The lone exception may be Edwin Diaz‘s struggles. However, there are indications it may be bone spur related, which was a known problems. So, overall, every disaster that has occurred was foreseeable.

12. A Future’s Game with Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn, and Jarred Kelenic could have been the high point of the season, especially with them being friendly with one another and talking about how much they love and respect Alonso. It was still great seeing Kay pitch a scoreless inning.

13. As if things weren’t bad enough, Jerry Manuel wore a Mets cap as he coached the World Team in the Future’s Game. The backstabbing self-interested walking soundbite sacrificing the team’s youth and potential wearing a Mets cap is just perfect.

14. Somehow, Jake Arrieta hit Todd Frazier and Rosario were hit by pitches, and it was Frazier and Callaway who were tossed from the game. You can say it was unintentional, but Arrieta did hit three in that game which doubled his season total. He also gave that psychopath press conference after the game saying he was going to dent Frazier’s skull.

15. The Mets aren’t going anywhere, and they were heading into the All-Star Break. How the team doesn’t put Michael Conforto on the IL with his stiff back and just give Juan Lagares more playing time in the hopes of creating some sort of a trade market is just plain incompetence.

16. Still no Jed Lowrie.

17. Mets are getting better than can be expected production from Alonso, McNeil, Frazier, Dominic Smith, and Tomas Nido, and they are 10 games under .500. That’s almost impossibly bad and a reflecting on a bad GM making impossibly bad decisions.

18.  Steven Matz in the bullpen didn’t exactly look good with him allowing three hits to the five batters he faced in his second game. Of course, you should probably ask yourself why a starter would work in back-to-back games. But that would assume the Mets have a rhyme or reason for what they do.

19. The “Sell The Team” chants need to be much more prevalent in the second half of the season. No, it’s not going to get them to spend or operate this team better. What is will do is embarrass the Wilpons who deserve all the embarrassment they’re due.

20. Alonso has the potential to become a superstar tonight with a big performance in the Home Run Derby. Let’s hope it happens.

Ill Conceived Mets Outfield Provides Win

This was about as bad a mix as you could get for the Mets. Jason Vargas, a fly ball pitcher, was starting in Wrigley. To make matters worse, the Mets opted to make this the day they broke out the Dominic SmithMichael ConfortoJeff McNeil outfield alignment.

On the outfield alignment, while it was a bad decision to play those three players out of position, they played well out there making all the plays. That includes those hit to the ivy:

It would get better later.

While the outfield got off to a good start the Mets didn’t. For a second day in a row, the Mets scored a run while ending a rally by hitting into a bases loaded double play. Today, that cake courtesy of Smith.

In the bottom of the second, the Mets paid for the transgression by losing the lead right away in the bottom of the second.

The trouble started when Vargas walked the leadoff batter Javier Baez, and it got worse when J.D. Davis completely botched a routine ball at third. After David Bote reached on the error, he stole second putting runners at second and third with one out.

On the stolen base, Tomas Nido made a terrible throw and almost hit a ducking Vargas in the face. It was one of two stolen bases the Phillies had with both throws being poor. It just must be something to do with being a Mets catcher.

The Cubs plated their first run without a hit on an RBI groundout. The second came on a Yu Darvish RBI single giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead. It was the seventh hit of Darvish’s career, and he would be 2-for-2 off Vargas.

While the Mets lost the lead, they remain a resilient team as evidenced by McNeil hitting a two run homer to give the Mets a lead in the top of the third:

That lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth when Addison Russell hit a go-ahead two run homer. Things then get dicey when the lineup flipped over. Kris Bryant doubled, and in a weird course of events Anthony Rizzo struck out.

Initially, Rizzo was seemingly ruled not to swing, but for some reason, he also wasn’t awarded first on a ball that hit him. That’s when Vargas flipped, and he actually got the third base umpire (who upon further review ruled dead ball and not no swing) and home plate umpire to get everything squared away. In the end, Rizzo was ruled to have struck out.

After the delay, Vargas was at 104 pitches, so Mickey Callaway brought in Brooks Pounders to face Baez. Pounders got the Mets out of the jam and put himself in line for the win.

With Vargas departing, he has now had 10 straight starts allowing three earned or less. The problem is he’s only pitched 5+ innings in only half those starts putting pressure on a bad bullpen. Fortunately, the Mets were up to the task shutting out the Cubs for 4.1 innings.

The Mets would even take a late lead in this game and hold onto it. The outfield would again be the driving force.

In the sixth, Conforto hit his 15th homer of the year to tie the score at 4-4. Then in the seventh, McNeil did what he needed to do to get the lead hitting a two out RBI single scoring Adeiny Hechavarria.

On the play, McNeil was thrown out trying to go to second. On the one hand, it seemed like Hechavarria was scoring anyway. On the other, the play killed the chance of the lead growing with Pete Alonso due up.

This put the game in Seth Lugo‘s hands. After an 11 pitch seventh, he came back out for the eighth. Things didn’t go as smooth.

Willson Contreras hit a two out single to left. McNeil, who had replaced Smith in left when Juan Lagares came into the game for defense, appeared to deke Rizzo. Deke or no deke, Rizzo cannot be heading to third in that spot. He got into a rundown thereby ending the rally and the Cubs last chance to tie the game.

The reason is Edwin Diaz looked like Diaz again. Maybe it was his working with Phil Regan, or maybe it was some rest or just some luck. Whatever the case, it was great seeing the Mets bullpen do it’s job again and put the Mets back in the win column.

Game Notes: As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, Lugo has a 0.38 ERA over his last 23.2 innings pitched. The Mets have no finalists in the All Star voting.

Brodie Van Wagenen Ruined Mets Payroll Flexibility And Prospect Depth For Nothing

While Sandy Alderson had his faults as the Mets General Manager, he left the Mets in a very good position. The next General Manager would have at this disposal the assets and core necessary to build a real World Series contender sometime within the next three years. If done, properly, this could have been a stretch akin to the 1980s Mets.

First and foremost, there was a young core still under control. Michael Conforto rebounded from shoulder surgery in the second half, and he appeared ready to return to his All Star form. Brandon Nimmo had a breakout season where he was the second best hitter in the National League. Jeff McNeil emerged to hit .329/.381/.471 in 63 games showing a great contact rate while playing well at second base.

The team still had a very good starting rotation. Jacob deGrom is the reigning Cy Young winner. Zack Wheeler‘s second half was as good as deGrom’s. Steven Matz finally made 30 starts in a season. Noah Syndergaard came back from a finger issue and pitched well. Over his final eight starts of the season, he was 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA.

The team also did not have an onerous long term deal which would stand in the way of really improving the team. After the 2019 season, the contracts of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Anthony Swarzak, and Jason Vargas were set to come off the books. That was $32.5 million coming off the books. Combine that with Wheeler’s $5.975,  and that was $38.475 coming off the books.

With respect to Vargas and Wheeler being pending free agents, the team did have internal options. Justin Dunn had a breakout season, and he re-emerged as a Top 100 prospect with an ETA of last 2019 or early 2020. With a similar 2019 season, you could see him realistically being part of the 2020 rotation or possibly the bullpen.

Behind Dunn, Anthony Kay and David Peterson had an opportunity to make a push to put themselves in a position to have an ETA of 2020. Between the three pitchers, the Mets realistically only needed one more starter via trade or free agency.

Those three pitchers were not the only near Major League ready talent the organization had. Pete Alonso was Major League ready. If he wasn’t, the team still had Dominic Smith who would spend the offseason addressing his medical issues and continuing to get into better shape.

This was all part of a very promising farm system which could have made a charge to the top of the game. In addition to the pitching and Alonso, the team had Jarred Kelenic, who appeared to be a once in a generation talent. Behind him was an impressive collection of teenage talent which included Andres Gimenez, Ronny Mauricio, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and Mark Vientos.

If handled properly, the 2021 or 2022 Mets could have had a rotation with deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and at least one of Dunn, Kay, Peterson, or possibly Simeon Woods Richardson. The infield would been Alonso, McNeil, and two from the aforementioned group of teenage prospects. That’s if Amed Rosario didn’t have a breakout season or move to the outfield. Speaking of the outfield, an outfield of Nimmo-Kelenic-Conforto would have been the envy of the game.

Sure, not all of the prospects would have developed, but you also could have had someone like a Ross Adolph or another prospect emerge much like we saw with McNeil in 2018. There was also the impending 2019 draft class to consider. The overriding point here was the Mets had a deep well of prospects, and they had payroll flexibility.

Whoever was going to be the next General Manager of the Mets was going to be, they were taking over a job in an enviable position. There were difficult decisions in front of them like which players do you extend, and how hard exactly do you push to contend in 2019 or 2020 knowing what was on the horizon. Certainly, you had to do some of that because taking over the job was likely going to require you to sell a vision of contending in 2019.

While players like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado would have been well worth pursuing, realistically speaking, the Wilpons were not going to green light those signings. On the trade front, the only player available worth the Mets top prospects was probably J.T. Realmuto, but the Marlins have never seemed inclined to be reasonable in a potential deal with the Mets.

With that in mind, whatever the vision for the new General Manager, there needed to be an element of restraint. No matter what the new General Manager did, they needed to maintain that level of payroll flexibility while also not damaging the farm system to pursue short term fixes and/or underselling prospects in order to find ways to circumvent not being able to spend.

Well, in one trade, just one, Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed. In trading Dunn, the Mets lost their lone near Major League ready starter. That was important in case of an injury in 2019, and it was important because with Wheeler and Vargas being free agents, the Mets needed to find at least one cheap option for the rotation.

Worse than that, the team added Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. Over the next five years, the Mets had $20 million on the books for a player who was going to have a steep decline in one of those five years. That player was coming in at a position already filled by McNeil and at a position which was going to be filled with young talent during the duration of Cano’s contract. You also weren’t moving Cano to first due to Alonso and/or Smith.

Yes, this is where many point out the Mets obtained a cost controlled closer in Edwin Diaz. That’s true. However, he came with a debilitating contract. He also came at the expense of Kelenic. Certainly, a prospect of Kelenic’s level is worth more than a closer both in terms of value in a trade and just in terms of a future impact on a team.

Brodie Van Wagenen would then worsen things. He would trade prospects in Adolph, Adam Hill, Scott Manea, Felix Valerio, and Santana with Bobby Wahl to add J.D. Davis and Keon Broxton (who didn’t last two months with the team). No matter your impression of those players, that’s a big chunk of prospect depth for two players who were really nothing more than bench players.

That’s not a good allocation of your assets, especially when your organization does not have the ability to absorb Cano’s contract in stride and spend their way around losing this prospect depth. Anyone taking over the Mets job knew this, Brodie Van Wagenen included.

However, despite that knowledge he went all-in on 2019. He did not maintain the payroll flexibility needed to address the loss of two rotation spots, a third baseman, and a center fielder in free agency. He traded away not just two top 100 prospects but also quality depth prospects thereby harming their ability to add at this year’s trade deadline (if everything worked out) or to build the 2020 team. Mostly, he lost Kelenic who was a franchise altering prospect, who aside from Darryl Strawberry, the organization has not seen.

Overall, not only did Van Wagenen fail to build the 2019 Mets into a contender, he hamstrung the team’s ability to build that contender in 2020 and beyond. The reason is the team does not have the payroll flexibility or the prospect depth truly needed to overcome the way the Wilpons choose to operate their team.

Consider for a moment if Van Wagenen did nothing, the Mets would have been a fourth place team much like they are now. However, if he did actually do nothing, the Mets would have had a deep farm system and real payroll flexibility to attack this upcoming offseason. That’s all gone now, and seeing what he did to this organization in less than a year on the job, it’s difficult to have any faith he can turn things around and get the franchise back on track.

20/20 Hindsight: Braves End Mets Season

The Mets went to Atlanta with an opportunity to make a statement, and they did. It was just the wrong one:

1. The Mets needed to address their bullpen, defense, and depth. Brodie Van Wagenen completely failed in his efforts.

2. The bullpen has been the biggest culprit this year. What makes it all the more depressing is Anthony Swarzak has been better this year than Edwin Diaz. It gets better when you realize Swarzak is now a Brave pitching well against his former team.

3. The Mets followed a season with the second worst defense in the National League with the worst this year. There’s being a horrible shifting team, and there is also having players like J.D. Davis way out of position in left field.

4. On the topic of Davis, Gary Disarcina‘s send of him was inexplicably bad. It was the latest in bad decisions he’s made there. When you combine that with how horribly the infield has been shifted and his inability to help Amed Rosario improve defensively, you realize he’s been a bad coach for two years now. Really bad.

5. The defense killed Zack Wheeler‘s and Steven Matz‘s starts, but that was not the only reason. Both pitchers needed to be better in their starts. They needed to pick up their defense. They didn’t, and they unraveled and lost. Their failures are as much on them as the defense.

6. For Wheeler, this follows his career splits. His Junes are always terrible. He then rebounds to have a great second half. The problem for the Mets is his following this pattern is taking them out of contention, and it’s also not letting him build up trade value for when they have to sell him a month from now.

7. As bad as they were, Jacob deGrom is back and once again pitching to a Cy Young level. Sadly, he can only pitch once every five days.

8. You get a sense of how bad things are when Mickey Callaway felt compelled to use Robert Gsellman to handle the ninth after deGrom’s start. Essentially, Callaway said he didn’t want one of his other relievers tacking on runs to his starter and ruining the good feeling that start would’ve had on his ace and the club.

9. It’s funny. That seemed like the perfect opportunity to use Stephen Nogosek to break him in easily. That said, as fans we’re never privy to the internal dynamics of a clubhouse and wanting to build up your players.

10. Nogosek and Daniel Zamora showed they are not answers to what has been ailing the bullpen. Instead, this was the team shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s something to keep in mind when they previously passed on Craig Kimbrel and still have yet to sign Cody Allen.

11. That said, Chris Flexen showed us something. When he entered that game, the Braves had a real chance to put it out of reach. He stepped up and pitched two scoreless innings. In what was a lost series, he emerged as a potential bright spot.

12. Michael Conforto has been great lately with a 10 game hitting streak and a hit in 15 of the 17 games this month. In addition to his good defense in right field, he is easily the most underappreciated player on this roster.

13. After a bad May, Pete Alonso has picked it back up in June. He’s been a monster at the plate. It will be very interesting to see how this continues to play out this season.

14. Why isn’t Jeff McNeil playing in center? Juan Lagares hasn’t been good. Neither has Carlos Gomez. Really, McNeil can’t be worse and making him the everyday center fielder would allow the team to get Dominic Smith into the lineup everyday. Sure, Smith in left won’t help the defense, but he’s a better option than Davis out there.

15. For all the talk about Adeiny Hechavarria needing to play over Rosario, if you look, he’s hitting like Hechavarria again with him hitting .176/.222/.176 over the last two weeks and a .241/.276/.434 batting line overall. If you’re going to go down like this as a team, shouldn’t you be looking at Luis Guillorme in this role?

16. Both Brandon Nimmo and Justin Wilson have been shut down after the team’s repeated efforts to try to get them to play through their injuries. You really have to question how the Mets continue making this mistake with their players. It takes an extra level of a complete lack of self awareness and examination to repeatedly make the same mistake.

17. While this is a very down time for the Mets and being a Mets fan, just remember this team still has a young core, and they have been better than anyone could’ve hoped. While the hope for 2019 is fading fast (if not completely gone), there is real hope for 2020.

18. We could talk about the division being unofficially being out of reach and the Mets needing to focus on the Wild Card, but that’s only fooling ourselves. It’s time to sell. That said, if the Mets sweep the Cubs, I’ll probably talk myself into this team being a competitor. With Walker Lockett starting things off for the Mets, the chances of that happening are remote.

19. The worst place in baseball to be is inbetween being a competitor and a bad team. The Mets were in that position in 2002, and they made a horrendous trade with the Rockies trading Jason Bay as part of a package for Steve Reed. A few years later, we’d see it happen with the Scott Kazmir/Victor Zambrano trade. With Brodie Van Wagenen’s hubris, another awful deal like this is a real danger.

20. If Brodie Van Wagenen did nothing this offseason but keep what was here, the Mets would still be a fourth place team, but instead they would’ve been one with payroll flexibility and a farm system on the cusp of being the best in the game.

Trying To Pinpoint Lagares’ Defensive Problems

By DRS, the Mets are the worst defensive team in the National League. That is somewhat expected based on a number based upon the talent that was here. However, it is more than just the raw defensive talent, we are also seeing good defensive players like Juan Lagares really struggle defensively.

As noted by Mark A. Simon of The Athletic, the Mets have been one of the three worst shifting teams in all of baseball. In fact, the Mets are one of just four teams in baseball who has seen their shifts cost them runs. While it should be noted this article deals with ground balls and infield defense, it does speak to how the Mets are processing the data and putting their fielders in a poor position to field the ball.

As we saw with Manny Machado going from the Orioles to the Dodgers last year, we can see how teams shifting can help create poor defensive numbers for good fielding players. Possibly, that has been the case with Lagares who has an uncharacteristic -3 DRS in center this year.

When you look at Lagares’ sprint speed, he still has the same speed. According to Baseball Savant, Lagares’ sprint speed is 28.1 feet per second. Last year, when Lagares had a 17.2 UZR/150 and 5 DRS in just 128.1 innings, his sprint speed was 28.5 feet per second. In 2017, his sprint speed was 28.6 feet per second, and he had a 15 DRS and 22.8 UZR/150 in 566.2 inning in center.

Yes, he’s a step slower. Actually, it’s less than a step. While not impossible, it would be strange to suggest just that small of a drop off would turn Lagares into a Gold Glove caliber center fielder to a negative in the outfield.

According to a new stat, Lagares is just not getting the same “Jump” as he used to get on balls.

Mike Petriello of MLB.com described jump as a stat “which helps us measure how quickly an outfielder gets moving toward the ball, often before a full sprint is even required.” Technically, the definition is “How many feet did he cover in the right direction in the first three seconds after pitch release?

With respect to Lagares, his Jump is 0.4 feet versus average, which puts him above-average among Major League players. His 35.3 feet covered is among the top 14 in the game. On the surface, these are good numbers, especially with him having good speed and reactions. However, there is more to it.

In 2019, he has had poor routes to balls. If you have watched games, you can see how many times he has just missed a ball. Your eye test is substantiated in the numbers as Lagares is no longer getting the Jumps he used to get. Back in 2017, Lagares was at a 1.6 feet versus average. This tells you part of the story.

What’s interesting is Lagares actually covered less ground. Sure, the 35.1 feet covered is a de minimis difference than the 35.3 feet covered this year. The same can be said of his drop in sprint speed.

Overall, when looking at the numbers, Lagares is just not the player he once was. He is a hair slower, and it has partially attributed to his ability to get to balls. This mostly show up in his “Jump.” That said, it’s difficult to put this all on Lagares.

Effectively speaking, Lagares has the same tools he had back in 2017 when he was playing like a Gold Glover. The main difference now is the Mets have someone else shifting the team. Whoever it is taking over, they are just not doing an effective job in putting players in the right spots. As a result, we not only see the Mets as the worst defensive team in the National League, we also see them putting still effective players in the wrong spots thereby creating career worst seasons.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Escape Bronx With Split

The Mets and Yankees had their first doubleheader since 2008, which was also their first doubleheader in one ballpark since the inception of the Subway Series. The Mets walked out of Yankee Stadium with a split, and they are still one game under .500. How that happened was quite eventful:

1. The Subway Series needs to stop. The Mets get four games against the Yankees while the teams they are fighting against for the division or Wild Card don’t have the same four tough games locked into their schedule all year. I don’t care how much fun it is, it is putting the Mets at a competitive disadvantage.

2. We can and should talk about payroll disparity and ownership commitment when it comes to why the Mets are the Mets and the Yankees are the Yankees. However, it’s more than that. The Yankees got Luke Voit and IFA money for essentially nothing while the Mets traded three prospects for J.D. Davis.

3. Speaking of Davis, it’s inexcusable hes’ one of three players who started both ends of the doubleheader in the field. Really, the team needs to stop trying to make this ill-advise trade work and instead focus on making decisions to help this team win games.

4. The Mets defense was terrible in the first game. Amed Rosario missed first. Todd Frazier threw one away. J.D. Davis couldn’t get to anything because he was sitting in the front row of the bleachers to make up for his lack of range. Overall, this is a terrible defensive club with a National League worst -51 DRS.

5. With respect to the poor defense, Juan Lagares is a -2 DRS in center, which seems unfathomable. However, if you look at the new stat called jump, Lagares is not getting the same read on the ball as he did over the previous two years. Who knows why that is, but until he figures it out, he’s borderline unplayable at this point.

6. Zack Wheeler needs to be better than this. Yes, the defense behind him was atrocious, but he wasn’t much better. It was not the defense who served up the homers to Gio Urshela or Luke Voit. Overall, his peripherals show he’s better than this, and he has shown himself to be a second half pitcher. You just wish he would get to being the second half Wheeler sooner rather than later.

7. Yankee Stadium is a real joke where pop flies to the infield in other parks go out. That said, Pete Alonso‘s homer in the second game of the doubleheader would have left Yosemite.

8. Alonso is becoming way too much of an all or nothing guy. Since May 1, he’s hitting .224/.300/.560 with 13 of his 30 hits being homers. He has also struck out 26 percent of the time while walking six percent of the time. As the season progresses, he looks more and more like this type of a hitter than he does the guy who set the world ablaze in April.

9. Alonso’s being in the top five in All Star voting is fun. We should celebrate that. However, it’s bizarre Mets fans are only rushing to help him when Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil have been so good all year.

10. As noted previously, McNeil is hitting like Ichiro Suzuki. This shouldn’t be sustainable, but yet, it has been. Hat tip to Jerry Beach, a man whose taste in television shows is as excellent as his taste in managers is poor, for saying McNeil is like Wade Boggs after Gare tried to say McNeil wasn’t Boggs.

11. As much as I adore Gary, Keith, and Ron, they need to stop talking about the advanced stats, especially since they clearly don’t fully understand it, and they are mostly doing it to disparage them. Case in point was Gare saying how the shift only affects ground balls.

12. Jeurys Familia has been looking much more like Familia. He now has three consecutive completely dominating innings/appearances. We are getting closer and closer to trusting him in pressure situations again. And the Mets should if everything is ironed out as this looks more like a mechanical issue than a mental one.

13. The Mets bullpen has too many bottom feeders in it. At most, you can have one of Wilmer Font, Drew Gagnon, Tim Peterson, or Hector Santiago. You cannot have four of them. That’s how you start burning out productive arms in the pen and putting games way out of reach.

14. Yesterday, Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, and Justin Wilson played in a rehab game in Syracuse. The team needs all three of them back as soon as possible to help this team go on a run, but the team cannot bring them back until each one of these players is fully healthy and ready to contribute.

15. Somehow, someway, Jason Vargas escaped the third allowing just three runs, and he got out of the fourth unscathed. When all was said and done, he had a quality start and a win. That’s a big credit to him.

16. Right now, Vargas is on one of the better stretches in his career. He pitched well against two good offensive teams, and he flat out dominated a terrible Giants team. The .286 BABIP and 83.3 LOB% would indicate this is not at all sustainable. That said, Vargas is getting results, so you might as well ride this out as far as this takes you.

17. Wilson Ramos seems to be doing with the extra days off here and there. Starting in May, he played less frequently, and he started to become much more productive. When Tomas Nido hits like he did in the first game of the doubleheader, the plan to get the over 30 and injury prone Ramos more rest becomes a more viable solution.

18. Speaking of back-up catchers, good for Travis d’Arnaud for turning things around with the Rays. In addition to catching, he’s also working out at other spots in the diamond. This is what the Mets should have done with him. Instead, they rushed him up way too soon, and they then DFA’d him in a complete overreaction.

19. There was a real fear this team was going to repeat it’s horrendous June of last year. So far, the Mets are 4-4 this month meaning they are just one short of the total win total from June 2018. While things could be better, things could also be a lot worse.

20. Mickey Callaway said about the team how he believes once this team gets back to .500 they are going to take off. With Nimmo, Cano, and Wilson in Syracuse and as Syndergaard puts it, the Mets are a second half team, it’s hard not to believe him.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Season A Little Less Rocky

The Mets went from a very bad loss on Friday to winning a series against the Rockies, a team ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. All in all, it was a good weekend with a lot of great things happening:

1. Noah Syndergaard is not getting enough credit for reinventing himself on the fly. He’s lost his slider due to the new ball, and he’s adapted by throwing more four seamers and his curveball, two pitches he needed to develop further. He’s really turned a corner and maybe he’s on the brink of a stretch like he had in 2016.

2. It does seem every Mets pitcher likes pitching to Tomas Nido. It should come as no surprise as he is a first rate defensive catcher and pitch framer.

3. That said, we cannot have Nido being the personal catcher to Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. That is especially the case when Wilson Ramos has been the Mets best hitter for over the past three weeks, and he has improved his rapport with the pitching staff. Fact is, Ramos has to play.

4. That said, Nido should play a little more. In the first month plus of the season Ramos played in 28 of 29 possible games, and he started in 22 of 29 games. The Mets played 28 games in May, he played 24 games and started 19. Apparently, easing off the throttle off the 31 year old catcher with an injury history has benefits.

5. Speaking of easing off the throttle, Robert Gsellman was dominant in his one inning on Friday, and then he didn’t pitch in the subsequent two days. Getting him more rest could make him more effective like he was earlier in the year. That’s the hope at least.

6. For those who were clamoring for Drew Gagnon in pressure situations, you got to see why Mickey Callaway was hesitant to put him in those spots as he allowed homers to David Dahl and Daniel Murphy. In three of his last five appearances, hes’ allowed runs with two of them being three run blowups.

7. That’s the thing with pitchers like Gagnon. They’re effective in a role like long reliever, but pressure situations are a different animal. From what we’ve seen, Gagnon definitely has a spot in a Major League bullpen just not in the seventh or eighth inning. That’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with having pitchers who can pitch effectively in certain roles.

8. Jeurys Familia has been great in his last two appearances retiring the side both times. If he’s turning the corner, the Mets bullpen is now more than just Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo.

9. Todd Frazier is not this good, but he was also not as bad as he was to start the season. That’s the inherent problem with judging players over hot and cold streaks and especially over week-to-week production. Overall, what we have seen from Frazier is he’s a very good defensive third baseman who can draw walks and has pop in his bat. At least, that is what he is when he’s healthy. He’s healthy now, and he’s finally helping the Mets much in the same fashion Sandy Alderson thought he would.

10. The Mets need Frazier all the more because Jed Lowrie is apparently as real as the Tooth Fairy.

11. Speaking of moves which blew up unexpectedly, Robinson Cano has been less productive than Jay Bruce or Anthony Swarzak, both of whom have been traded in the division and are now working to beat the Mets.

12. With Juan Lagares having a -3 DRS in center and seeing Carlos Gomez play in center, the Mets should give a real consideration to seeing Jeff McNeil in center. As we see he has above average speed, good instincts, and an ability to quickly learn new positions. This would allow Brandon Nimmo to go to left field, which is a more natural fit whenever he comes off the IL.

13. Of course, if Dominic Smith continues to hit and play a passable left field, you could move McNeil to second. Of course, when Cano is healthy that raises a whole other list of issues. However, that falls under the category of good problems to have, which is a really nice change of pace around here.

14. Amed Rosario is an extremely talented player. We keep seeing glimpses of it, but we also see frustrating stretches. Part of this is the coaching staff with the Mets being one of the worst shifting teams there are, which has a negative impact on Rosario’s defensive numbers. There’s also the fact he’s still working to figure things out. Hopefully, sooner or later, something finally clicks.

15. Speaking of something clicking, Mets need to hope Pete Alonso is finally clicking again. While he’s hitting just .223/.298/.559 since May 1, Alonso is hitting .281/.349/.649 0ver his past 15 games. One thing to track here is Alonso is much better against left-handed pitching.

16. Bob Klapisch’s article in Bleacher Report on the Wilpons on their handling of their attempts to void Yoenis Cespedes‘ contract as well as all the other areas where the Wilpons are petty, over-matched, cheap, and whatever other adjective you want to use, is exactly the type or articles which need to be written instead of the paint-by-number fire Mickey Callaway articles which are being written.

17. Prior to this series against the Rockies, the Mets had exactly one series win against a team with a winning record. That series was the April 22 – 24 series at home against the Phillies where they blitzed them over the first two games before the Phillies destroyed Jason Vargas in the final game of that series. Things went sour for the Mets after that.

18. Mets haven’t been good for a while now, and it does seem like things are turning a corner. Fortunately, the Wild Card and division are still well within reach.

19. The Subway Series always seem to be a seminal moment in the Mets season. They appear headed in the right direction and the Yankees not so this next series could prove to be a springboard for the Mets.

20. What happened to David Ortiz was horrific, and instead of rushing to judgment like Dallas Braden, we should be just offering our prayers for Ortiz for a speedy recovery.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Overcome More Than Giants

On Monday, people wanted Mickey Callaway sacrificed to the baseball gods, and by Wednesday, the Mets had won a home series. As you can guess a lot happened in just three games:

1. While the vast majority of people would have let Noah Syndergaard face Evan Longoria, it doesn’t mean pulling him from the game was the wrong decision, especially with Syndergaard’s numbers a fourth time through the lineup.

2. If you’re upset Seth Lugo entered the game and/or pinpoint his entering the game as the reason the Mets lost, you don’t trust or have faith in him. There’s no arguing around it.

3. Callaway’s real mistake was Robert Gsellman in the ninth. While we can all understand the other non-Lugo set-up men are terrible, you can’t pitch Gsellman into the ground this way. It’s indefensible.

4. Under the unjustifiable workload, Gsellman has a 12.96 ERA raising his season ERA from 2.48 to 5.05. Essentially, Callaway made one of his few reliable guys completely unreliable.

5. With everything that’s happened to the Mets bullpen, Jeurys Familia going out there and looking like the Familia of old might’ve been the most important thing that happened in this series.

6. Considering the state of the Mets bullpen and the complete lack of starting pitching depth, they needed one of Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel. Not only did that not happen, the overwhelming odds are the Mets didn’t even try.

7. Keuchel going to the Braves makes it so much the worse. His replacing one of Kevin Gausman or Mike Foltynewicz making their rotation much improved. That’s huge for a team just one game back in the division.

8. Andrew McCutchen trading his ACL is bad for both the Phillies and baseball. That said, it does open a door permitting the Mets to contend for a division title.

9. One cure for the bullpen ills is the Mete starters going deeper into games. Mets starters are on a streak of nine straight games of pitching at least six innings.

10. If before the season, someone told you Jason Vargas had a complete game shut out in the same game Adeiny Hechavarria hit a homer, you’d probably talk about the terrific job Wally Backman has done with the Long Island Ducks.

11 With that Hechavarria homer, he now has one more homer and just one fewer RBI than Robinson Cano despite having 114 fewer plate appearances.

12. With Cano leaving a game early, and his season in general, you’d realize this is just year one of what’s an onerous contract.

13. With Brandon Nimmo staring his rehab assignment, and Dominic Smith playing well, you do have to question if the Mets aren’t better off with McNeil at second, Frazier at third, Smith in left, and Cano as a pinch hitter.

14. Things have certainly changed over the past few weeks when it’s Clint and not Todd who’s the Frazier who is subject to scorn.

15. With his go-ahead homer, you realize Frazier has been the Mets best player over the past few weeks.

16. Carlos Gomez hasn’t been good, but at least he didn’t cost three players like Keon Broxton did.

17. The Mets and Juan Lagares needed him to have the game he had yesterday. If nothing else, he becomes a more viable fourth outfielder or defensive replacement.

18. Van Wagenen does deserve credit for keeping Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta. That duo helped the Mets have another terrific draft.

19. If nothing else, the Mets are great at home. At Citi Field, they’re 17-10 (.630), have a 118 wRC+ at home (third best in the Majors), and a 3.73 FIP (fourth best in the NL). Essentially, they’re the best team in baseball when they’re at home.

20. It’s great to see and hear Ron Darling again. He’s been sorely missed. Here’s hoping he’s healthy and will not have to leave the booth again anytime soon.