Justin Dunn

Mets Fan Ideal 2019 World Series Winners

First and foremost, we all know the ideal 2019 World Series would involve the Mets beating whichever American League team won the pennant. As it stands, the 2019 World Series winner is not going to be an ideal situation for Mets fans. To that end, here’s a ranking on what Mets fans would probably like to see happen.

Houston Astros

The Mets and Astros broke into the Majors together in 1962. Through that time, the only time these two franchises ever really clashed was the 1986 NLCS. In the NLCS, there were (proven) allegations Mike Scott was scuffing the ball. Fortunately, thanks to a miracle rally in Game 6 and Keith Hernandez threatening Jesse Orosco if he threw another fastball, the Mets prevailed in that series.

Really, if you want to be sour grapes about the Astros, you could pinpoint how an Astros World Series would cement their status as a better expansion franchise than the Mets. Still, when you see the other options, that is the least of Mets fans concerns.

Washington Nationals

The Washington Nationals franchise began in 1969 when they were the Montreal Expos. Before the time the Expos moved to Washington, the only real issue you’d have is the Expos taking out the Mets in 1998 ending their Wild Card dreams. Of course, with the Expos sending the Mets Gary Carter in 1985, you could overlook it.

Really, if you look deeper, there isn’t much to the Mets/Nationals rivalry. The two teams have only been good together in three seasons. In 2015, the Mets embarrassed a Nationals team who choked figuratively, and thanks to Jonathon Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper, they literally choked too.

In 2016, Daniel Murphy tipped the power balance between the two teams, but that still didn’t keep the Mets out of the postseason. After that season, the Nationals would remain a competitive team while the Mets fell by the wayside.

This year, the two teams were good again with some memorable games. The August 10th game was a real highlight for the Mets with Luis Guillorme‘s pinch hit homer followed by J.D. Davis‘ sacrifice fly to give the Mets an exciting victory. Of course, the less said the better about Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, Edwin Diaz, Ryan Zimmerman, and Kurt Suzuki, the better.

New York Yankees

Putting aside Yankee fans crowing about all the rings won back in the days of the reserve clause and the game being integrated, there is enough history between these teams to despite the Yankees. There’s Derek Jeter being named the MVP of the 2000 World Series. As bad as the blown game against the Nationals was, Luis Castillo dropping Alex Rodriguez leading to Mark Teixeira scoring the winning run arguably felt all the worse.

Since Interleague Play started, this has been an intense rivalry with the Mets having a number of low moments. Aside from these, there was Mariano Rivera being walked to force in a run, Johan Santana having a career worst start, and everything Roger Clemens. Really, Clemens throwing a ball and bat at Mike Piazza with the Yankees who once accused Clemens of head hunting rushing to his defense is sufficient enough to hate them.

Of course, we then have Joe Torre, who has been the one who not only delivers the message but also defends Major League Baseball not allowing the Mets to wear the First Responders’ caps on 9/11.

St. Louis Cardinals

The so-called “Best Fans in Baseball” called the New York Mets teams of the 1980s pond scum. That’s how intense this rivalry was, and really, continues to be.

Going back to the 1980s, this was as intense a rivalry as there was in baseball. You can pinpoint to any number of plays and player like Terry Pendleton, John Tudor, and so much more. Even with realignment, this rivalry never truly subdued. The Mets got the better of the Cardinals with Timo Perez, Edgardo Alfonzo, and NLCS MVP Mike Hampton running roughshod over the Cardinals.

In 2006, Adam Wainwright freezing Carlos Beltran is forever crystalized into everyone’s minds. Beyond that was Scott Spiezio‘s game tying RBI triple off Guillermo Mota (why did he shake off Paul Lo Duca) and So Taguchi‘s homer off Billy Wagner. There was much more including Albert Pujols trash talking Tom Glavine (back when that was a bad thing).

Overall, the absolute worst case scenario is a Cardinals-Yankees World Series. Really, Yankees against anyone is the worst case scenario. Of course, that is the worst case for this World Series. The real worst case is seeing what Brodie Van Wagenen has in store as he tries to top trading away Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to get Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.

Robinson Cano Trade Will Cost Mets More Than Zack Wheeler

According to various reports, unless Zack Wheeler accepts the qualifying offer, and he’d be crazy to accept it, he is going to be a part of another organization in 2020. This would be one thing if the Mets believed they should pursue Gerrit Cole or another big name free agent, but as we know, Wheeler is as good as gone with no real replacement coming to the Mets.

Using Nathan Eovaldi as a comp, Wheeler would be owed a deal with an AAV of at least $17 million. Given his strong finish to the season, it’s arguable Wheeler could meet or possibly surpass $20 million. Of course, that depends on the length of the deal.

Now, from some corners you’ll hear the Mets can’t afford to keep Wheeler for that contract. There will be excuses offered with respect to the luxury tax threshold, can’t keep all of your players, and/or the Mets can’t afford him. If any of these are true, this is the latest example of just how much Brodie Van Wagenen has screwed things up in just one year.

The $20+ million deal per year for four years or more which could’ve been given to Wheeler is already on the books. That money is being given to Robinson Cano.

Cano turns 37 this month, and he is coming off an injury plagued year where he had just a 0.3 WAR. He was below average at the plate with a 93 wRC+, and he was bad in the field with a -6 DRS.

This leaves the Mets path to contention vested in a 37 year old getting healthier, more durable, and turning back the clock. Historically, this is a very poor bet. It’s certainly not a bet you’d like to have $80 million riding on over the next four years.

This is money which could’ve been invested in Wheeler. This wouldn’t allowed the Mets to keep this vaunted starting staff together for at least one more year. Possibly two. Instead, the Mets are going to let Wheeler walk because the money which could’ve been given to him is already tied up with Cano.

The obvious retort is if the Mets didn’t have Cano, they’d likely have Jay Bruce still. Putting aside the Mariners were able to trade him, he is only due $14 million in 2020. As such, he didn’t tie up the payroll for the ensuing three years thereby giving the Mets room to negotiate with Wheeler.

So, again, the money which could’ve been spent to keep Wheeler has already been spent.

Initially, when the trade was made to obtain Cano and Edwin Diaz, the focus was on losing Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic. Rightfully so. However, the damage to the team goes beyond that. It’s not just losing two prospects, it’s losing Major League players.

It’s not just this year either with Wheeler likely to depart. It also will hinder the ability to keep players like Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Brandon Nimmo. It’s possible there are more casualties when you consider arbitration raises and the like.

So overall, the Cano Trade didn’t cost just two top prospects. In the long run, it’s going to cost the Mets high-end Major League talent; talent necessary to fulfill the Mets win-now objectives.

Put another way, that trade is only going to get worse.

Mickey Callaway Officially The Mets Scapegoat

There were plenty of reasons to fire Mickey Callaway if you wanted. In fact, his incident with Tim Healey in and of itself was grounds for firing. To the extent it was Callaway and not the front office making some of those curious moves, you certainly have further justification.

However, what you really can’t do is pin the Mets failures to make the postseason at Callaway’s lap, which is what firing him does. That was all the more the case when Brodie Van Wagenen was trying to spin the 2019 season as a positive, including but not limited to noting Edwin Diaz had 26 saves.

Before proceeding, some background is necessary here.

By and large, the Mets were seen as a third or fourth place team in the division with around 85 wins. For example, ZiPS predicted the Mets would finish the year 87-75 in a three way tie for second place in the division. Looking at the 2019 season, the Mets Pythagorean was 86-76, and it just so happened, that was the Mets final record as they finished in third place in the division.

To that extend, the Mets neither over nor underachieved. Rather, you could argue they performed as expected. Of course, lost in that was all that happened during the season.

Pete Alonso had a season greater than anyone could’ve imagined. Jeff McNeil was an All-Star. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half. The Mets got more production from J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith than they could’ve reasonably expected.

Looking at that alone, you would say the Mets should’ve finished much better than they did. After all, when you are getting that level of production from your young players, the Mets should have been in the Braves position. They would fall far short of that.

There were many reasons for that. Brandon Nimmo would miss over three months of the season. Jed Lowrie would record no hits in only nine pinch hitting attempts. Robinson Cano had an injury plagued year, and when he did play he was not up to his typical standards. Aside from Seth Lugo, the bullpen was mainly a mess. Noah Syndergaard would struggle with the new ball and the new catcher.

The Syndergaard point brings up another interesting point. All the moves Van Wagenen made this offseason proved to be a downgrade from what was already on the team.

Ramos’ 1.4 fWAR was lower than Travis d’Arnaud‘s 1.6. Another interesting note is d’Arnaud would have a 107 OPS+ with the Rays, which is the same Ramos would have with the Mets the whole year. The Mets would cut d’Arnaud after one horrible game leaving the Mets with Tomas Nido as the backup for the full season. He’d have a -0.5 fWAR, which is lower than both d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki (0.2).

Cano’s 0.3 WAR was lower than McNeil’s 5.0. Worse yet, it was only 0.1 higher than Justin Dunn‘s 0.2 in four games with the Mariners this year. In fact, Dunn’s 0.2 WAR was much higher than Diaz’s -0.6. Things get worse when you consider Anthony Swarzak had a 0.0 WAR.

Long story short, the Mets would have been better off in 2019 if this trade was never made. What makes this all the more scary is this was supposed to be the year the Mets benefited most. Things are going to get much worse as Jarred Kelenic continues his way to the majors.

Now, people will want to say not all of Van Wagenen’s moves were bad with Davis being held up as the ideal. On that note, Davis was terrible in the field. Among players with at least 550 innings in left, his -11 DRS was the worst in the National League. Among third baseman with at least 200 innings, his -9 DRS was the third worst in all of baseball.

All told, Davis had a 1.0 WAR on the season. That’s just 0.2 higher than Wilmer Flores despite his having played 51 more games. All told, the Mets would have been better off keeping Flores over trading for Davis and signing Lowrie. It would have been a much better allocation of resources than what Van Wagenen actually did.

Beyond all of that, the Mets had players like Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Gomez serve as outfield depth. They’d cycle through relievers like Tim Peterson, Stephen Nogosek, Hector Santiago, Brooks Pounders, and the like all season rather than adding that one other arm the bullpen needed. That would make Jeurys Familia‘s season long struggles and Justin Wilson‘s needing to be limited all the worse.

In the end, you can see all the good mitigated against all the bad. In fact, you could argue given all that happened, the Mets probably could’ve been worse than their third place finish. This is all to say the Mets probably did about as well as could have been expected.

That brings us back to Callaway.

Given the Mets did not underachieve, you have a difficult basis to fire him. If you want to argue a better manager could have gotten more from this team, you certainly have a point. If that is the case, the Mets have to now go out and get that guy. That means you hire Joe Girardi or maybe Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker.

But make no mistake here. By firing Callaway, the Mets are essentially pinpointing him as the reason why this team missed the postseason. In the end, if the Mets are going to sell everyone Callaway was the problem, the next manager is going to have to take the Mets to the postseason. That is the bar which has now been set.

If the Mets don’t make the postseason, then we’ll know what we have known since Spring Training. The Mets weren’t good enough not because of their manager. No, they weren’t good enough because the Wilpons didn’t invest enough money into this team, and the General Manager they hired failed to assemble the roster good enough to back up the “Come get us!” hype.

Jeff Wilpon Hiding From Media In Plain Sight

On Monday, Jeff Wilpon was at Belmont Park to attend a groundbreaking for the Islanders new arena. Through the Sterling Project Development, the Wilpons are investors and developers of this project. At the event, Jeff Wilpon did not receive, and as a result, he did not have to answer questions about the Mets.

On Tuesday, Jeff Wilpon held an unexpected press conference to announce Jerry Koosman was going to join Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza as the only Mets players to have their numbers retired. As this was a press conference honoring Koosman, there were questions about plans to retire his and other numbers in the future.

That’s two times this week Jeff Wilpon was with the media, and that’s two times he was not subjected to the questions which needs to be asked of him and the franchise.

Despite all the “Come and Get Us!” bravado from Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets best case scenario for this season is a third place finish more than 10 games out in the division. This is after the franchise traded away top prospects in Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, and Simeon Woods Richardson in connection with more interesting and talented prospects.

Those trades come with payroll issues, which is largely created by Robinson Cano being owed $100 million. There are reports about the lack of a real budget to address the deficiencies in the bullpen and the bench in addition to the team needing to make a decision on Zack Wheeler.

Speaking of the payroll, the purportedly all-in Mets who are in the largest market in the world have a $158 million payroll. According to Spotrac, that ranks only eighth in the Majors. It should be noted that includes David Wright‘s $15 million salary which was restructured. It also includes Yoenis Cespedes‘ $29 million salary, which Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported, was covered by an insurance policy reimbursing 75% of his salary.

When you back out Wright’s $15 million and the $21.75 million reimbursed to the Mets on Cespedes’ salary, the Mets actual payroll was $121.25 million. That would rank 20th in the Majors. That’s not remotely all-in, and the owners of the team should have to face questions why they aren’t reinvesting money in the team while they also have the money to invest in other ventures.

There are a number of other issues facing the team like the status of Mickey Callaway‘s future as well as what the team plans to do with Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto. There is plenty more beyond that.

The fact is Jeff Wilpon is always there when there is something to celebrate. He’s not there to answer the tough questions facing the team. He and his General Manager have actively denied requests to speak with the media when there have been questions facing the team which need to be answered.

At some point, the media is going to have to stop letting him hide in plain sight. If he is only going to make himself available on limited occasions, those occasions need to be used to get answers to questions which need answering. After all, he’s the Mets COO, and when he attends events, he is attending them as the Mets COO making it more than fair game to ask those questions which should be directed to the Mets COO.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow It Against Phillies

The New York Mets had another golden opportunity to make headway in the Wild Card race, and once again, they failed. Instead of taking control of their destiny, they have lost two out of three propelling the Phillies and not the Mets forward:

1. To a certain extent, it would be better if the other Wild Card teams would just put the Mets out of their misery. They’re not, and we’re all hanging on desperately hoping they’ll find their way to the Wild Card Game.

2. Mickey Callaway was terrible in this series. You can’t let Tomas Nido bat knowing you’re pulling Marcus Stroman. You can’t let Luis Avilan face Maikel Franco. Intentionally walking Andrew Knapp makes little to no sense. His decision making in those three instances was just ugly.

3. Really, Callaway put the Mets in a position to fail, and like when Franco predictably homered off of Avilan, the Mets did fail. However, it should be noted it was the players failures before and after the decisions which magnified the simply awful decisions Callaway made.

4. J.D. Davis has to catch that ball, and Stroman has to pick him up. Even with that ridiculous error, there is no reason that had to become a four run inning except for the Phillies hitting Stroman quite hard.

5. Going to Davis for a second, defense matters, and you can’t keep putting him in the field if you really want to win. That is all the more the case when Brandon Nimmo is back and playing great. Really, you can’t have someone with a -8 DRS over 474.0 innings out there. It’s irresponsible.

6. Noah Syndergaard needs to be better. Under no circumstances can he surrender a 3-0 lead in that spot. He’s a big time pitcher who tries to back it up with his talk and swagger. Big time pitchers don’t lay an egg like he did with the season on the line. He’s better than that.

7. Also, pinch hitting for Syndergaard was the right move. He can slam his helmet all he wants. He deserved to be lifted from that game, and Todd Frazier gave that team a much better chance to score with the bases loaded and two outs. Neither player delivered when they needed it most, which was a theme this weekend.

8. One of the reasons why the Mets didn’t win was Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto came up well short. Each came up two times in the late innings as the tying run. They couldn’t get the key hit or even draw a walk. When you boil it all down, even taking into account Callaway’s terrible decision making, that’s why they lost.

9. On the bright side with Alonso, his bases loaded walk winning Friday night’s game was a real sign of maturity. He was clearly amped up for that at-bat, and while he ran the count full swinging at some pitches he probably shouldn’t have, he did take the one he needed to take to draw the walk to win the game.

10. The bigger problem with the Mets is this bullpen. The one day Justin Wilson doesn’t have it, and the Mets don’t have someone to pick him up. When you dig deeper, it’s very likely Paul Sewald is the third or fourth most reliable reliever out of the bullpen. That can’t happen.

11. Speaking of the bullpen, you can’t have a series like this and not have Seth Lugo not throw one pitch. Not one. Unless he is hurt, that’s inexcusable, especially with the season on the line yesterday.

12. In terms of Lugo, at some point the Mets need to begin contemplating shutting him down for the year. If you are not going to win this year, you should not be wasting his innings. In all likelihood, that decision will likely be fueled by how the Mets do in this upcoming series against the Diamondbacks.

13. Seeing all that Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, he deserves to watch the Diamondbacks pass them in the Wild Card standings led by a Wilmer Flores who he did not want on the team.

14. On that note, while Stroman was struggling, Anthony Kay had a strong Major League debut against the Rays. His eight strikeouts was a Blue Jays debut record. It should also be noted in that game Travis d’Arnaud would drive home the go-ahead run for the Rays.

15. In Seattle, Justin Dunn was called up. That means Jarred Kelenic remains the only first round draft pick made by Sandy Alderson who has not made it to the majors. Sandy really acquired about built up the young talent in the Mets system.Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to get rid of them in one bad trade after another.

16. When you boil it all down, the issue isn’t Callaway or the bullpen or the depth. The issue is Van Wagenen. As one noted on this site, Van Wagenen mortgaged the future and ruined the payroll flexibility to build the fourth best team in this division. Seeing how he’s operated the team and how the Wilpons continue to operate this team, Major League Baseball needs to intervene. At a time with their being concerned about attendance and ratings, they cannot possibly let a team in the largest media market in the world continue operating this way. It’s not good for the game.

17. What is good for the game is Nimmo. He’s always enthusiastic on the field, and as we saw this weekend, he can come up big when the Mets need him. Since he came off the IL, he walked nine times in 22 plate appearances. He drove in a run and found a way on base with the game on the line. He’s been great . . . just like he was last year.

18. Credit is due to Amed Rosario. He made a great play in the hole on Friday to turn what could’ve been a Rhys Hoskins RBI single into an inning ending double play. He was also 3-for-5 yesterday getting on base twice in the late innings starting what should’ve been run scoring rallies. If you want to take some solace in this series and season, Rosario’s growth is the biggest takeaway.

19. Mets fans won’t want to hear this, but Edwin Diaz is THIS CLOSE to figuring it out. He has struck out 12 out of the last 20 batters he has faced. That shows he is getting back to what he was last year with the Mariners. Of course, he still has allowed too many big homers, and even if he is starting to figure it out, it appears to be too little too late.

20. On that front, thanks to the Brewers this weekend, the Mets are still alive. Until such time as the odds become impossible, the Mets have a chance especially since they have Jacob deGrom and a host of other very good players. As long as the Mets have a pulse, and seeing how they continued to fight back in this series, they do, we should continue to believe.

Mickey Callaway Managed The Ninth Inning Correctly

The New York Met did not lose last night’s game because of Mickey Callaway. They lost the game because the Mets bullpen could not hold a six run lead in the ninth inning. That’s not on the manager, and if you think it was, honestly, you are going to blame him for anything that goes wrong.

Sure, the Mets could have left Seth Lugo in the game and had a much smoother finish. However, by pulling Lugo, you save him to pitch today in what should have been an opportunity for a sweep. Again, this was a six run lead with the bottom of the Nationals linuep. If you can’t trust the rest of your bullpen to hold that lead, you’re not winning any games from here on out.

Callaway brought in Paul Sewald. Since he was called back up on August 20, he had allowed one earned run over 7.1 innings with 13 strikeouts and one walk. In his last appearance against the Phillies, he came into the game with two outs and the tying run on second, and he would get J.T. Realmuto to pop out to end the inning. As it stands, Sewald has become the Mets most reliable right-handed reliever not named Lugo.

Sewald just didn’t have it. With Anthony Rendon coming up and Juan Soto on deck, the Nationals had a run home with runners at the corners. At this point, it should be noted Brad Brach has allowed at least one run in three of his last six outings. Jeurys Familia had just blown the Phillies game, and he has not been good all year. At this point, it was very reasonable to give Sewald one more batter.

After Rendon’s RBI single, Callaway went and brought in Luis Avilan to face Soto. Entering last night’s game, left-handed batters were 2-for-38 off Avilan. Again, Avilan had allowed TWO HITS ALL YEAR to left-handed batters. TWO. He is exactly the guy you want in that situation to face Soto.

Again, he didn’t get the job done allowing a single to load the bases.

Now, the Nationals were going to pinch hit Ryan Zimmerman for Matt Adams with Avilan on the mound, and Kurt Suzuki was on deck. Before commenting this was a spot for Justin Wilson consider the splits Zimmerman and Suzuki had.

  • vs. LHP
    • Zimmerman .382/.417/.559
    • Suzuki .349/.373/.587
  • vs. RHP
    • Zimmerman .195/.280/.356
    • Suzuki .237/.308/.439

Look at those splits. You bring in the right-handed pitcher to face them. This was the exact situation you bring in Edwin Diaz, who just so happens to be the pitcher Brodie Van Wagenen traded Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract to acquire.

If you’ll remember, when Familia was blowing the game against the Phillies, people were screaming Callaway should have brought in Diaz. The narrative then was Diaz had figured out his slider after working with Jacob deGrom, and he was much better. After all, he had struck out six of the last eight batters he had faced. He also had a streak where he allowed runs in just one of his past eight appearances.

You could argue for Wilson. However, Zimmerman and Suzuki annihilate left-handed pitching. Absolutely, destroys them. Chances are if you are blaming Callaway for not using him, you’d blame him for his ignoring the splits if Zimmerman and Suzuki beat him. Diaz was hot, and it had been argued Diaz figured it out. Also, just like Sewald and Avilan, this was a spot Diaz has to succeed.

Zimmerman doubled. Suzuki walked it off. That’s seven runs in one-third of an inning.

To recount, Callaway made the right move lifting Lugo to have him available for today’s game. By doing that, he could get an inning from him instead of having to use one of the guys who can’t get the job done. He went to Sewald, who has been great lately. He then went to Avilan who had allowed two hits to left-handed batters all year. He then went to the guy the Mets mortgaged the farm and payroll flexibility to close out games. That same guy had been really good entering yesterday’s game.

Ultimately, the Mets lost this game because of the inexcusable performance of three relievers who had been very good of late. This wasn’t on Callaway. Not everything is. As for his postgame comments, who cares? They’re meaningless. What matters is how he handles that clubhouse. We’ll see that in today’s game.

Overall, Callaway made the right moves. Sure, you could argue for Wilson or to stick with Lugo, and if they do that, maybe they win last night. However, at some point, you have to go to relievers not named Wilson or Lugo, and they need to succeed. That’s the case all the more with Wilson and Lugo each having elbow issues.

If no one other than Wilson and Lugo can’t get the job done, blame the relievers who can’t hold a six run lead. Blame the General Manager who assembled this disaster of a bullpen. At some point, Callaway has to use these guys, and a six run lead in the ninth was the right spot. He’s not to blame for it.

Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Beat Padres While On Verge Of Losing Everything Else

The Mets took two out of three against the Padres. It is something which should have further propelled them into the Wild Card race. However, after losing three out of four to the Giants, it matters little. Of course, with all things Mets right now, it’s the off the field stuff which really matters.

1. Take all the pitchers across Major League history. I may just take Jacob deGrom in a daytime start over all of them.

2. In 2020, deGrom and Noah Syndergaard should be the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but they won’t be because the Mets are grossly incompetent, and they will look to trade Syndergaard for well under value. What’s humorous about that is the smartest teams in baseball are lining up begging the Mets to be stupid and trade him.

3. The amount of Mets fans who are happy to see Syndergaard traded and can’t recognize the greatness of a top 20 FIP pitcher in a down year is bizarre. Hopefully, these people enjoy watching Walker Lockett pitch every fifth day next year.

4. After the fiasco of trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners, you would think the Mets would refrain from making bold moves with young talent. But no, they’re going to do something stupid again.

5. Speaking of that trade, Robinson Cano had a three home run game snapping a 3-for-21 stretch. After the game, he would go 1-for-5. These good moments are fleeting.

6. This is a New York baseball franchise, and they are talking about Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler as an either/or proposition and not a as locking up both to win now and in the future. It is emabarassing Major League Baseball allows this to continue especially with the Wilpons pocketing the insurance proceeds from Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright and leveraging the Mets/SNY to keep themselves personally solvent and invest in the Overwatch League.

7. Dominic Smith had a very bad day in left field during Syndergaard’s start. That’s two poor days in the past week. The only conclusion we should draw from this was he’s inexperienced and the Mets decision not to give him time to prepare to be the left fielder during the offseason, Spring Training, and during the regular season was myopic and stupid.

8. No one knows yet if Smith can be capable in left field, but what we have learned with him is we should never count him out.

9. Another point here is the Mets should stick with Smith for the rest of the year as there are no other options on the roster at least until Brandon Nimmo returns. Of course, that assumes he can return at some point this year. Considering his injury and how poorly the Mets handled it, that’s not a safe assumption.

10. Pete Alonso has had a difficult time after the All-Star Break hitting just .125/.333/.350. He’s falling into the same bad habits pulling the ball and striking out which led to his not getting called up at the end of last year. His defense is also slipping of late.

11. It is way too soon to be concerned about Alonso. After all, he followed a bad May with a great June. On the front, we should only caution we do not know where he true talent level lies at the Major League level or what type of player he will be with teams making adjustments pitching to him.

12. The only untouchable players in trades should be deGrom, Syndergaard, and Jeff McNeil. They are the only three players without a suitable replacement for what they do, and the Mets depth chart does not allow them to easily replace them on the roster.

13. With every passing day, the thing which becomes most clear is the Mets need a center fielder. Looking forward, there isn’t going to be one on the free agent market, so before people go up in arms about being willing to trade Alonso, they should first ask themselves the following questions: (1) How do you propose you get a center fielder? (2) Is this team better as is, or would they be better with Smith at first and really good center fielder?

14. Alonso needs to pick it up because he is in danger of getting passed in the Rookie of the Year competition. Recently, Fernando Tatis Jr. has narrowed the WAR gap, and he is surging.

15. Why are the Mets surprised on the lack of interest in Todd Frazier? In addition to him struggling in July, the teams in contention are fairly set at third, and we know the Mets don’t eat money to help facilitate deals or to get better returns.

16. Somewhere M. Donald Grant is laughing while watching Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon make a mockery of this proud franchise. Seriously, this combination may be worse than Grant, and Grant is the person who facilitated the Tom Seaver trade and the Midnight Massacre.

17. Michael Conforto has arguably been the Mets best hitter in the second half which should come as no surprise as he’s a very good hitter. Mets fans really don’t appreciate just how good a player he is.

18. Even with Juan Lagares going 2-for-4 yesterday, he looks done as a baseball player. If so, that’s a sad end to not just an exciting player to watch, but a real hard worker who busted it everyday. Hopefully, this is a one year blip, and he lands on his feet somewhere next year.

19. The Mets have a very talented young core with no hope of winning this year and really the next few years. This is the worst place to be a franchise, and it is a terrible spot to be in as a fan. Again, the Wilpons are incompetent owners, and they put an agent in charge instead of Chaim Bloom. I really don’t know what fans did to deserve this level of incompetence.

20. It’s funny how the Mets are now considering trading Edwin Diaz. Doing so would be to hit the reset button on a terrible trade. An even better idea would be to hit the reset button on a terrible hire and replace Van Wagenen with a capable General Manager.

Chris Archer Deal Provides Framework For Noah Syndergaard Deal Which Should Never Happen

Last year, the Rays traded Chris Archer to the Pirates for a package which included Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz. This was a somewhat unexpected blockbuster which has paid dividends for the Tampa Bay Rays who are currently in the thick of the postseason race.

Before the 2018 season, Meadows was rated by Baseball America as the 44th best prospect in baseball. That was a dip from his ranking six the previous season. That was due more to recurring injury issues than performance. Before being traded to the Rays, he had made his Major League debut, and he played 49 games for the Pirates hitting .292/.327/.468 (114 OPS+).

Glasnow was rated by Baseball America as the 23rd best prospect in baseball after the 2016 season. At the time of the trade, Glasnow had struggled in the Pirates rotation going 3-11 with a 5.79 ERA, 1.705 WHIP, 5.8 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9 in 17 starts and 39 relief appearances. Still, Glasnow was a highly rated and touted young pitcher who had the “ceiling of a No. 1 starter.”

As if two Top 50 prospects who were Major League ready weren’t enough, the Pirates also sent Baz to the Rays. Baz was the Pirates 2017 first round draft pick (12th overall). Currently, Baz is rated as the 91st best prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline and the 88th best prospect by Baseball Prospectus. Overall, with Baz in the deal, that’s three top 100 talents for Archer.

At the time of the trade, Archer had three plus years of team control with him being owed $7.6 million in 2019 with a team option for $9 million in 2020 and $11 million in 2021. At that point in his career, Archer was 54-68 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. Of note, since a career best 2015 season, he had a 100 ERA+ in 2016, 103 ERA+ in 2017, and a 97 ERA+ at the time of the trade. FIP paints a similar picture with him having a 3.81, 3.40, and 3.62 in the successive time periods.

For his part, Noah Syndergaard is currently 44-26 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and a 9.7 K/9. He is currently arbitration eligible, and he is under team control for two plus years. Like Archer, he has regressed since his career best season, which was 2016. Currently, he has a 94 ERA+, and he has a 3.67 FIP.

On the FIP point, Syndergaard’s FIP is ranked 21st in the majors, and he is pitching in front of the worst fielding team in the National League with the Mets having a -58 team DRS. By contrast, when Archer had a 3.62 FIP at the time of the trade to the Pirates, he was ranked 30th in the majors while playing in front of the fifth best defensive team in all of baseball in 2018.

There are two other factors to consider with Syndergaard. First, he is a second half pitcher with his second half ERA 44 points lower and a WHIP 23 points lower. He also has had tremendous postseason success. In four starts and one relief appearance, he is 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and a 12.5 K/9.

Those postseason performances include an electric shutout inning in a clinching Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. It also included his picking up a win in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series. He would also go toe-to-toe with Madison Bumgarner for seven innings in the 2016 Wild Card Game. When you have a pitcher who can match zeros with Bumgarner in a winner take all game, you know you have a special postseason performer.

Taking everything into account, Syndergaard is a better pitcher than Archer was when he was traded to the Pirates. Even with one less year of control, he is a more valuable trade commodity than Archer due to his being a top 20 starter in the league and his postseason experience. As a result, if the Mets contemplated trading Syndergaard, they should be receiving a more impressive haul than the three top 100 prospects the Rays received for Archer.

Given Brodie Van Wagenen’s trade history, a history which includes trading Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic in a deal for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, he is not the guy the Mets should trust making this deal. Ironically, the guy you would trust is Chaim Bloom, who was part of the Rays braintrust when they pulled off the Archer deal. Of course, Bloom lost out on the Mets GM job to Van Wagenen.

Overall, if the Mets were receiving two top end Major League ready talents plus another top 100 prospect, they should absolutely consider trading Syndergaard. However, given Van Wagenen’s trade history, there’s no way you can trust him moving Syndergaard. As a result, Syndergaard needs to remain a member of the Mets for the foreseeable future.

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.