It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.
Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.
There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.
Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.
With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.
The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.
To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.
J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.
And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.
Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.
Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.
When you go team-by-team across Major League Baseball, players who were supposedly signed to be the proverbial 25th man do not serve as a constant distraction. In the occasions that player becomes a distraction, they are cut. However, most teams are not the New York Mets, and most players are not Jose Reyes.
It was just two days ago, Mickey Callaway finally had to answer the question about how much ownership’s interference has led to Callaway playing Reyes as frequently as he has. Naturally, no one believed Callaway when he said there wasn’t any interference. Of course, no one believes that because Reyes’ play was precipitated by his going public with his complaints.
When speaking to Matt Ehalt of nj.com, Reyes had the audacity to say, “”I believe in what I can do. But it’s hard for me if there isn’t opportunity out there.”
Note, Reyes was signed to be a utility infielder, one who refused to get reps in the outfield during Spring Training which could have opened the door for more at-bats during the season.
And just so Reyes is aware, the last guy on the bench plays very sparingly, especially on good teams. In 1999, Luis Lopez played 68 games, and in 2000, he would play in 78. His former teammate, Julio Franco, started just 25 games for the 2006 Mets.
The difference between Reyes and those and many other players have been they learned how to handle the role, and they did it gracefully. More than that, they were productive.
Once again, Reyes has been just about one of the worst players in baseball. Really, you have to spend a significant amount of time to find what he does well.
Reyes has a -0.8 WAR, 52 wRC+, and a -4 DRS in the field. Over the last two years, Reyes has hit .231/.301/.380 with an 83 wRC+, and -1.2 WAR. The Mets are actually paying $2 million for this.
By contrast, the Mets opted to nontender Eric Campbell a contract. With respect to Campbell, he was a .221/.312/.311 hitter in three years with the Mets with an 80 wRC+ and -0.5 WAR. Defensively, he was a 0 DRS, and he was willing to play every position in the field.
Bascially, Reyes has been no better than Campbell, a guy who struggled in Japan last year and is playing in Triple-A this season. By contrast, Reyes is not only takingHea up a spot on a Major League roster, he is demanding and receiving playing time.
One of the reasons why is his ties to ownership. Yes, Ehalt’s article noted Reyes didn’t speak with Jeff Wilpon or Sandy Alderson. Of course, that made the failure to mention Fred Wilpon all the more glaring. It is something Howard Megdal addressed in his Deadspin article about how often the Wilpons are around:
Oh yeah, this year, all the time,” Reyes said, when asked how often owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon are in the clubhouse and around the team. “They come here a lot. Jeff was here yesterday. Fred is here all the time.
That’s no small thing especially in light of how Reyes has seen increasing playing time he has not merited. It isn’t just fans who feel that way, it’s people within the Mets organization. As Megdal reported, “Pro scouting advised his removal from the roster a long time ago.”
Ultimately, that leaves us with the question, why is Reyes here?
In 2016, we knew the answer was because the Wilpons didn’t care enough about how severely Reyes beat his wife. David Wright was done for the year, and his replacements weren’t cutting it. The team wanted to win, so they sold their soul to host the Wild Card Game.
In 2017, the selling point was Reyes performed admirably done the stretch, and the team needed insurance for Wright’s back.
In 2017, Reyes was absolutely terrible, and the team insisting on trying to get him going was one of the more prominent reasons why that season fell apart. Really, Reyes did not hit well until September where he went on a tear. Of course, that was too little way too late.
Despite Reyes being terrible, he was back this season. With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, he was going to be a bench piece. With his September, he was supposed to be much better this year. More than anything, he was purportedly brought back to mentor Amed Rosario.
On the Rosario front, he has been much worse this year than he was last year. In 2017, he was a -0.2 WAR player with a 74 wRC+ and a -1 DRS. This season, Rosario is a -1.0 WAR with a 68 wRC+ and a -16 DRS. Seeing his play this year, the Mets are now contemplating him being a center fielder.
Seeing Rosario’s play, it leads you to ask the question, “How exactly is Reyes mentoring Rosario?”
On that front, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post said, “He’s not mentoring as much as you think.”
If we sum this all up, with Jose Reyes, the Mets have a player, who:
- Can’t hit
- Can’t field
- Gripes publicly
- Is not mentoring younger players
- Is not worthy of a spot on an MLB roster
That’s what we definitively know. Based upon reports, we can also surmise he’s undermining a manager by using his influence with ownership.
That last point is important because Reyes has now gone public in saying he wants to come back. For some reason his draw to ownership is such that coming off a horrid 2017 season, the team not only brought him back, but they gave him $2 million when most teams wouldn’t even give him a minor league contract.
In all seriousness, if Reyes is back with the Mets in 2019, even on a minor league deal, it is time for everyone to reevaluate their support for this Mets franchise.
Reyes beating his wife wasn’t enough to keep him away. Reyes being a bad player wasn’t enough to keep him away. Reyes not mentoring the player he was supposed to be mentoring while playing terribly has not been enough to keep him away.
Really, the only thing that ever separated the Mets and Reyes was money because back in 2010, when it came time to pay him, the Wilpons didn’t so much as speak with Reyes.
However, now that he’s a bad, cheap, and wife beating baseball player, this organization cannot have enough of him. Really, it is past the breaking point of how ridiculous this all is. If he is back, how can anyone logically support this franchise?
Unfortunately, fandom isn’t logical, and for that reason, I know I will still be a Mets fans in 2019. That said, my enthusiasm for the team will take another significant hit much like it took a significant hit in 2016. At some point, there is going to be one hit too many, and at that point, who knows?
Really, Reyes is exactly how you lose a passionate fan base. You turn people off because you tell people you have no issue with domestic violence. You turn people off because you build a team on the cheap instead of properly investing in a winning core and have a payroll commensurate with your market size. You turn people off because despite this player dragging your franchise down, you feel some devotion to him you didn’t have back when he was a good player.
So yes, I’ll still be there in 2019 even if Reyes is. I just won’t be as invested. To that end, I really hope Reyes is worth turning away passionate fans for over 30 years for this player. Something tells me it isn’t, and worse yet, the Wilpons don’t really care.
Last year, Travis d’Arnaud established himself as a major league catcher both behind and at the plate. He showed how far he had come from the player that had to be sent to down to the minors in 2014 because he wasn’t hitting.
In 67 games, d’Arnaud hit .268/.340/.485 with 12 homers and 41 RBI. He had a 127 OPS+. For the most part last year, d’Arnaud spent his time hitting fifth, sixth, and seventh. For whatever the reason, d’Arnaud was at his best when he was hitting seventh in the lineup. When he did hit seventh, d’Arnaud was hitting .311/.382/.541 with two homers and 12 RBI. d’Arnaud was hitting seventh in the lineup when he hit three homers in the postseason last year. Given the construction of the Mets roster this year, you could make the case that d’Arnaud should’ve been hitting seventh.
Instead, Terry Collins sees him as the eighth place hitter on this Mets team. There was a legitimate reason for it when he was hitting behind players like David Wright, Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Neil Walker, and Asdrubal Cabrera. Now, it is a bad decision. Duda and Wright are on the disabled list, and Conforto is in the minor leagues. Now, Collins is hitting d’Arnaud behind players he is clearly better. Take a look at the players who are currently hitting ahead of d’Arnaud:
- James Loney – a career .285/.338/.411 hitter who was released by the Rays prior to the start of the season.
- Wilmer Flores – a career .252/.290/.383 hitter who lost his starting job to Ruben Tejada last year and was never considered for a starting job this season
- Brandon Nimmo – a promising rookie
Given how much d’Arnaud progressed last year, it is easy to say he is better than these options, and accordingly, he should hit higher in the lineup. However, d’Arnaud is struggling this year only hitting .206/.270/.250 with no homers. There are various reasons for these struggles from his wrapping his hands around Julio Franco style when he bats to him starting with an open stance and closing it as the pitch is being delivered. He’s just not as quiet in his stance as he was last year when he was having his most successful season. It’s possible some of these changes were made due to his shoulder. It’s also possible these changes were made due to the struggles he has been facing while hitting eighth in the order.
In 17 of his 19 games this year, d’Arnaud has hit .203/.277/.254 while hitting eighth in the order. For his career, he is hitting .194/.278/.287 from that spot in the lineup. That includes him going 0-3 against the Nationals yesterday. In his entire career, d’Arnaud has never hit well out of the eighth spot in the lineup. It has been more of the same this year, and quite possibly, it has led to d’Arnaud reverting to some bad habits at the plate. The Mets need to get him going in order to help with their offensive woes. It’s possible the best way to cure help him and the Mets is to take him out of the eighth spot.
Did you ever hear of the saying, the more things change the more they stay the same? The saying drives me absolutely nuts. Inherently, something that is static cannot also be idle at the same time. However, for the first time I am starting to understand this saying.
I believe this season is starting to resemble 2005. Sure there was some optimism before that season with the signings of Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. This was also going to be the first full season David Wright and Jose Reyes were going to play together. That team also had some holes: Doug Mientkiewicz had a great glove but not the bat to play 1B, Kaz Matsui was being shifted to play 2B after he showed he couldn’t play SS the prior year, and let’s not forget the closer was Braden Looper in a largely ineffective bullpen. However, I don’t know of anyone that expected the Mets to realistically make the playoffs that year.
At that point, the Mets fans were suffering. In 2001, the Mets rallied around the city, but they fell short of making the playoffs in an otherwise disappointing season. In 2002, we watched Steve Phillips attempt to recreate the team as an offensive juggernaut with the likes of Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno. This lead to three years of just bad baseball. Now, the Mets fans were clamoring for a move to be made. We wanted to see Piazza go out on his last year with the Mets with a winner. At the Trading Deadline, the Mets found themselves only 4 games out of the Wild Card.
However, Omar Minaya stayed the course. The Mets made no trades. He kept his bullets for the offseason. If you recall, that was a magical offseason with the additions of Paul LoDuca, Carlos Delgado, Jose Valentin, Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, Julio Franco, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez, John Maine, Jorge Julio (was was then traded in season for El Duque), Darren Oliver, and Billy Wagner. Omar showing restraint permitted the Mets to build that great 2006 team the fans loved.
Now, Mets fans have been suffering longer than they were in 2005, and they are begging for just one bat (which I don’t think will do the trick). While Mets fans were disappointed in 2005, I don’t remember them being a distraught as they are now. I think the difference is trust. We trusted that ownership and Omar would spend the money to get the players that were needed. In fact, they just come off of a spending spree that netted Pedro and Beltran. Now, fans don’t trust that ownership will spend the money. I believe this is the trust gap that is the biggest sense of frustration with this team.
It’s a shame too because I remember 2005 being a fun season. So far, I think 2015 has been gut-wrenching with all the tight, low-scoring games. My only hope is that if the Mets don’t make a move now, they have a plan for what can be realistically accomplished this summer. There will be LF available who can really help the team in the short term, but the market is scarce on middle infielders. My fingers are crossed. I want to be able to go to a playoff game with my father and son.