With the Mets signing of Albert Almora, it is important to understand what the signing is and is not. The signing wasn’t to find the Mets everyday center fielder. Rather, this was purely a signing for depth and defensive replacement purposes.
Almora, 26, is a defensive replacement for all three outfield positions. Since 2017, he has a 6 DRS and a 11 OAA. Most of those stats were accumulated during an outstanding defensive 2018. Past that season, he has been a slightly above average defensive centerfielder. For the Mets perspective, that makes him a significant upgrade defensively.
Offensively, Almora really isn’t a good player. Since 2014, he has declined precipitously at the plate. After posting a 104 wRC+ that season, he dropped all the way down to a 36 in 2020. That 36 wasn’t even fully attributable to the shortened and disjointed season. In fact, when the ball was juiced in 2019, Almora only mustered a 64 wRC+.
However, that doesn’t mean Almora is completely over-matched at the plate. In his career, he has been able to handle left-handed pitching. In his career, he has just an 85 wRC+ against right-handed pitching as opposed to a 95 against left-handed pitching. Perhaps, he can be more than that. In fact, we know he once was.
On Baseball Savant, we see Almora has been able to hit both fastballs and breaking pitches fairly well at different points in his career. However, he has not been able to do both in the same season. In fact, in 2020, he did neither. Still, that doesn’t mean he can never do it. That is something to keep in mind for a player entering his prime.
In many ways, that makes Almora akin to what Juan Lagares once was for the Mets. He’s a defensive replacement who can be a viable platoon partner when he is hitting well. Of course, the fair question is what can Almora possibly offer if he’s not hitting because as we know, if he’s not hitting, he’s not really a good enough hitter to justify taking up a roster spot.
On that front, Almora has an option remaining. That means, if he’s bad, the Mets can demote him to Triple-A Syracuse. Keeping that in mind, that makes him outfield depth this organization did not have over the course of the past two seasons. Mostly, because of that, this makes signing Almora a relatively risk free move.
If Almora recaptures something, he could emerge as an important part of this Mets team. If not, he’s a good depth piece. Over the last two years, we saw Brodie Van Wagenen trade valuable prospects to try to plug this role. This offseason, the Mets did this by signing him to a free agent deal. It was a good deal at that as well. That is why, in the end, this was a very good move for the Mets. They acquired depth and fulfilled a need without having to part with much.
One of the best parts of the 2020 season was watching Luis Guillorme and Andres Gimenez perform pure magic in the middle infield. It rivaled Edgardo Alfonzo and Rey Ordóñez, and at times, you could imagine it being better.
Luis Guillorme and Andrés Giménez are making it look it easy out here. pic.twitter.com/NFRyvPzin6
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Rick Porcello gets a BIG double play to end the 4th 🙌 pic.twitter.com/Yie43Yclep
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 12, 2020
Luis Guillorme can pitch and make great plays in the field. Versatility >>> pic.twitter.com/uzEQkSyYb2
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 11, 2020
If you value up the middle defense and believe it’s a key to winning, there is arguably none better than the tandem of Guillorme and Gimenez. In 2021, Gimenez seems to be a lock at short, but we don’t ever hear Guillorme’s name for consideration of the starting second base job.
In just 102.0 innings at second last year, he had a 1 OAA and a 12.5 UZR/150. In his Major League career, he’s played 176.0 innings accumulating a 2 DRS and a 2 OAA.
While this is a small sample size, Guillorme was always known for elite defense. It’s one of the reasons the Mets once protected him from the Rule 5 Draft and have kept him as a utility player.
We’ve seen through Mets and baseball history glove first players like Guillorme can play everyday and be a tremendous asset. The classic example in Mets history is Ordóñez and Juan Lagares in 2013 and 2014.
When it comes to Guillorme, he’s a more promising hitter than those two elite defenders. We saw a classic example of that when he posted a 144 wRC+ with a career best 14.7% walk rate.
Of course, his .463 BABIP is unsustainable. Still, behind that were some sustainable things like the improved walk rate. Other important factors are his opposite field approach and improved line drive rate.
Guillorme knows what he is as a hitter, and he’s maximizing his skill set. Where he winds up as a hitter is a good guess, but you can probably safely assume he’ll hit enough to justify his Gold Glove caliber defense at second.
Now, if Jeff McNeil can handle third, Guillorme needs to be strongly considered at second. In terms of the current roster, Guillorme at second and McNeil at third is probably their best roster.
Of course, free agency and trades can change that. However, up until there’s a clear obvious upgrade available, and those options may not be readily attainable for the Mets, Guillorme needs to finally get the chance at a starting position.
According to reports, Steve Cohen is bringing Sandy Anderson back to the Mets as an advisor, and he is planning on finding a replacement for Brodie Van Wagenen. Both are excellent and needed decisions.
When it comes to Van Wagenen, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much damage he has done to the well built and talented Mets organization gift wrapped to him from Alderson. Essentially, all that Alderson built needs to be rebuilt.
Van Wagenen was given a starting staff comprised of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz. Behind them were well regarded prospects in Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson.
The Mets rotation over the final week of the 2020 season will be deGrom, Rick Porcello, maybe Matz, and who knows what else?
The position player core was remarkably cheap and talented. There was Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. Behind them was Andres Gimenez and Jarred Kelenic.
Sure, there were some bad contracts, but they were short term in nature, and they were not going to serve as an impediment to either building on or retaining this core.
For example, the Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes contacts were set to expire after this season. That coincided perfectly with having to have the money to re-sign deGrom and to have extension talks with Conforto, Matz, and Syndergaard.
Instead, the Mets no longer have Kelenic giving them a buffet against losing one of Conforto or Nimmo. They also have Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract on the books which already served as an impediment to re-signing Wheeler.
That’s nothing to say of the quality prospect purge in the same of finding a late inning defensive replacement in center for a team who already had Juan Lagares and adding J.D. Davis to a team already overstocked in 1B/DH players.
Couple this with the Mets getting rid of Wilmer Flores for nothing only for him to be more productive than anyone Van Wagenen brought into the organization and signing Jed Lowrie for $20 million to get eight pinch hitting attempts, and the Van Wagenen stint as GM has been an unmitigated disaster.
If you want to point to Van Wagenen’s drafts as a positive, you should. However, in doing that, remember, that was a scouting group built by Alderson and Omar Minaya. The Mets will be keeping both advisors.
When you take everything into account, Alderson built the Mets to be a competitive team in 2019 and 2020. With any luck, he had a deep farm system to make the types of trades he made in 2015 to help get the team over the top.
The real window for this Mets team was supposed to open in 2021. Given the talent on the Major League roster and in the farm system, it promised to be a 1980s like run.
Instead, Alderson is back to figure out how yo fix this mess. Fortunately for him, he won’t have Van Wagenen or Jeff Wilpon standing in his way. Instead, he will have an owner with deep pockets who intends to let smart baseball people like Alderson do their jobs.
If you ever wanted the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a Mets fan and the Wilpon Era has been, this was the series for you:
1. Amed Rosario takes first with two outs in the ninth after a wild pitch on strike three. He got picked off first.
2. That’s being a Mets fan. There’s a near miracle which gives you hope, and it’s followed with a massive blunder which leaves you completely befuddled.
3. Speaking of befuddled, how does Wilson Ramos swing at ball three against a reliever who can’t find the strike zone? That double play helped cost the game more than Rosario getting picked off.
5. It seems Rojas hasn’t found that balance of when to push a starter or go to the bullpen. It at least seems his decision comes back to bite the Mets no matter what.
6. Of course, that’s a larger sign of how bad the Mets rotation has been and just how bad the Mets bullpen is without Lugo.
7. Speaking of the state of the Mets pitching, Jeff McNeil apparently left the game to go to the bathroom.
8. At that point in the game, he had scored the Mets only run, and well, it seems the runs went with them.
9. Dominic Smith continues to be great this year. Not bad for a guy the team didn’t realize was one of the best players on the team.
10. Speaking of players the Mets thought were better than Smith, J.D. Davis has a .780 OPS and dropping, and he still can’t play third.
11. On the topic of ill conceived Brodie Van Wagenen trades, one poor appearance for Anthony Kay doesn’t suddenly make Kay bad (he isn’t), the Marcus Stroman trade good (it wasn’t), or Simeon Woods Richardson not a key part of the deal (he was).
12. Brandon Nimmo is a good hitter who can play a good corner outfield. He should not be the 2021 center fielder. In fact, he shouldn’t be that in 2020.
14. Again, Jacob deGrom showed he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s nearing towards locking down his third straight Cy Young.
15. Even with deGrom having another historical great year, the Mets rotation is historically bad and are challenging the 1962 Mets for the worst starting rotation ERA in team history.
16. The Mets have legitimate candidates for Cy Young (deGrom), MVP (Michael Conforto), and Rookie of the Year (Andres Gimenez). Despite that, odds are they won’t finish above .500 or compete for a postseason spot.
17. When does Brodie Van Wagenen collect his Executive of the Year award?
18. Mets will be promoting the team being just three games back despite all that’s gone wrong on the final game of the season.
19. Steve Cohen is almost complete in his purchase of the Mets. This means the Wilpons will not win a World Series as majority owners of the team.
20. MLB finally did the right thing allowing the players to wear the first responder caps again. Everyone involved in making that happen, including Jeff Wilpon, should be commended.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 28, 2020
Again, in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets fell behind the Yankees. However, while David Peterson did struggle in his first start off the IL.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
With that, Rosario hit a walk-off homer in Yankee Stadium giving the Mets a 4-3 win and doubleheader sweep, and Jared Hughes picked up his first Mets win. The Mets batted last in this game (but were still technically the away team) due to this game being rescheduled from last week.
As if the doubleheader sweep with both wins coming in dramatic fashion wasn’t enough, it appears Steve Cohen will be buying the Mets. All in all, this is about as good a day as it gets for Mets fans.
Game Notes: Juan Lagares was DFAd to make room for Marisnick. In the doubleheader, Smith was an incredible 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, and RBI.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Mets were 0-for-10 at the plate with runners in scoring position. Things weren’t as bad in the second half as the Mets offense went just 0-for-5.
The no hits with runners in scoring position, the Mets offense was shut out over 14 innings. Even if the Mets played the other four innings, you’d be hard pressed to find an argument why they’d score a run.
In this game, the Mets offense had just two hits, and those hits were originally Red errors. That at least spared the Mets the indignity of joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in being no-hit today.
At least the Pirates faced Lucas Giolito. This Mets team really has no excuses.
The Mets inability to hit ruined a good return to the rotation by Seth Lugo. Lugo lasted three innings, and he didn’t allow a base runner while striking out five.
While Luis Rojas said Lugo was good for 60 pitches, he lifted Lugo after 39 pitches. Seeing how the fourth inning unfolded, he may want to revisit this decision (or text message).
Chasen Shreve would relieve Hughes and get out of the inning, but it was too little too late as the Mets couldn’t drive in a run.
It’s gotten to the point where the Mets are snake-bit. Case-in-point is the sixth. The Mets had runners on first and second with one out, and Luis Guillorme tattooed a line drive.
That ball was hit right at Marlins first baseman Lewin Diaz. Diaz caught the liner before easily beating the runner to the base to end the inning.
That sixth was a very curious inning for Rojas.
After Cano beat the shift by slapping the ball the other way, Rojas tabbed Juan Lagares to pinch run for Cano. He did that even with Billy Hamilton being on the bench. Hamilton is a better runner and weaker hitter. The move made little sense.
As embarrassing as that was, there was Berti flat out embarrassing the Mets in the bottom of the sixth.
That wasn’t the worst of it.
With two outs, Ali Sanchez had looked Berti back to third. Berti moved towards third as Sanchez lollypopped a throw back to Familia.
On the throw, Berti spun and broke for home. Even with Berti slipping, he was able to steal home as Sanchez couldn’t field the throw Familia had spiked in front of him.
What — and I cannot stress this enough — just happened. pic.twitter.com/L2zKweOkFv
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) August 26, 2020
It’s one thing to lose. It’s a whole other thing to be flat out embarrassed like this. The Mets lost 3-0. It might as well have been 100-0.
Game Notes: With this being a makeup game, the Marlins batted second. Even with the Marlins batting second, the Mets were still the home team. Jacob deGrom is slated to start tomorrow because the Mets wanted to keep him on his regular schedule. Sanchez had his first career MLB start.
After a Mets player and coach tested positive for COVID19, they haven’t played since Thursday. They came back to play today, and they didn’t figure out how to hit with RISP during their time off.
In the fourth, Rosario grounded out with runners on first and second.
In the fifth, Robinson Cano grounded out with runners on first and second.
In the seventh, Brandon Nimmo led off the inning with a double. Davis grounded out. Conforto reached on an error. Cano lined out.
That was it. No, not because the Mets didn’t do anything afterwards. It’s because doubleheaders are only seven innings now. Mostly, it’s because Rob Manfred apparently hates baseball.
The Mets ultimately lost 4-0 because of their complete inability to hit with RISP. It also doesn’t help Rick Porcello struggled.
The Marlins got to him for three runs in the second. All three runs were scored with two outs. The key difference in the game was the Mets went 0-for-10 with RISP while Lewis Brinson and Miguel Rojas had two out RBI singles.
Porcello allowed another run in the third. It would be his last inning as he’d be pulled after a rain delay of over an hour. He was replaced by Corey Oswalt, who was the Mets bright spot of the game.
Oswalt allowed just one hit over the final four innings while striking out three. He’d also get some help from Dominic Smith.
WHAT A CATCH BY DOM SMITH!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/jPI6RAw6n8
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 25, 2020
Overall, this was a flat out bad loss by the Mets. They need to be better than this. Hopefully, they will in the second part of the doubleheader.
Game Notes: Andres Gimenez and Tomas Nido were put on the 10 day IL for “undisclosed reasons.” Juan Lagares and Patrick Mazeika were called up. Ali Sanchez was the 29th man for the doubleheader. McNeil batted eighth.
For all his bravado, Brodie Van Wagenen has not only stripped the farm system down, but he did it while impinging the Major League roster’s ability to compete for a World Series. To put it in perspective, let’s just look at what the Mets roster would look like right now if Van Wagenen only kept the Mets players in the organization had he not taken the job, or, if he did nothing.
Some caveats here. This assumes free agents were re-signed. Without the Robinson Cano deal, that would’ve been possible. Also, it assumes the same players who are injured for the season would remain injured. Finally, this will eliminate those players not on active 28 man rosters. With that in mind, here’s what the 2020 Mets would’ve looked like.
2B Jeff McNeil
3B Todd Frazier
SS Amed Rosario
CF Juan Lagares
DH Pete Alonso
INF Wilmer Flores
1B/OF Jay Bruce
INF Luis Guillorme
RHP Jacob deGrom
RHP Zack Wheeler
LHP Steven Matz
LHP Anthony Kay
LHP David Peterson
RHP Seth Lugo
RHP Rafael Montero
RHP Justin Dunn
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Drew Smith
LHP Blake Taylor
RHP Bobby Wahl
LHP Daniel Zamora
RHP Paul Sewald
RHP Franklyn Kilome
Looking at the team overall, the starting pitching is vastly superior as is the team defense. The bullpen may not be as deep, but they certainly have the arms.
Overall, this non-Van Wagenen impacted roster would’ve certainly been better than the 9-14 team his Mets roster is. This just goes to show you how bad of a GM Van Wagenen is.
He’s made the Mets worse in 2020, and he’s made the Mets future less promising. You could not have done a worse job than Van Wagenen has done.
To hear Brodie Van Wagenen tell it, the Mets were completely blindsided by Yoenis Cespedes opting out of the 2020 season. They had no idea he was contemplating this, and they had no idea he would do this.
Given the quirky nature of Cespedes, the Mets account was believable. Cespedes really was the guy you never knew what he was going to do next.
The Mets actions told another story. At that postgame press conference to address Cespedes’ opt out, Van Wagenen notably ended the conference somewhat abruptly with many questions still pending. After Van Wagenen was done, the Mets only made rookie pitcher David Peterson available.
They told everyone they knew he was alright despite admitting they weren’t in contact with him.
Yesterday, the Mets made their players available for the first time since Cespedes’ opt out. Pete Alonso was first. He sidestepped the question about whether he knew, but he did talk about what a great teammate Cespedes was and how the whole team supports his decision.
Then, there was Brandon Nimmo who would cast doubt on the Mets whole version of events. His version was his representatives told the Mets prior to the game. Specifically, as reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post:
There’s two sides of the story,” Nimmo said. “We have the side where [the Mets] were let known before the game and we’ve also heard the side where they weren’t let known until the eighth inning, so I honestly don’t know which one to believe and I’m not going to try to figure that one out, but as far as us, we knew that people could walk whenever they wanted.”
You’ll note Nimmo said the players understood Cespedes informed the team before the game. That would include Michael Conforto confirming to his teammates Cespedes opted out.
The other version, the wholly unsubstantiated version, is the one the Mets have been pushing. Their version is despite confirming Cespedes was safe without speaking to him and the Mets obtaining an outfielder before the game, they had no idea Cespedes would opt out.
The only thing which is clear is no one told Luis Rojas. That’s really unfortunate.
The players apparently knew and didn’t tell him. According to the players, Cespedes informed the Mets, and the front office didn’t tell the manager. The manager deserves to be treated better by everyone.
Honestly, Cespedes needed better treatment here too. For example, the Mets didn’t need to put their SNY smear machine into effect with their Wilpon paid talking heads saying he was never the same player after he signed his deal, and he quit over money.
Wow this is really truly disgusting and it is below my lowest expectations for the state-owned network:
“He quits because he has a .161 average … and conveniently uses COVID as an excuse .” – Sal Licata
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) August 4, 2020
This is typical for the Mets who never had a kind word for someone who departed the team. There is no graciousness with them.
Given the Mets history of smearing people, telling half-truths, and outright lying, there’s simply no reason to believe them here. This whole Cespedes situation is right out of their playbook.
With respect to Cespedes, yes, he’s quirky and maddening. He’s also honest and forthright to a fault. He told the Mets about his injury immediately including how he sidestepped a boar. He also spoke about how he’d like to return to Oakland before his career was over.
Looking at the respective histories, one is honest, and the other is notoriously not. One has their version of events substantiated by the players, the others don’t.
In the end, you can choose to believe what you want, but when doing so, keep in mind Cespedes has been historically honest, and the Mets really haven’t.
In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.
The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.
With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.
Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.
What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.
The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.
Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.
But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.
However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.
They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.
The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.
Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.
Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.
This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.
In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.
In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.