Justin Dunn

Trade Worsens: Cano Somehow Worse Than Bruce & Swarzak

When looking at the trade where the Mets acquired Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, there are already a number of developments to show why this trade was horrible for the Mets.

The most obvious is the respective performances of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn with both of them shooting up the prospect rankings. That goes double for Kelenic.

There’s also the performance of Cano. By the looks of it, the Mets may not even get one good year from the 36 year old second baseman coming off a PED suspension. Remember, this is just year one of a five year $100 million commitment.

As bad and/or injured as Cano has been, no one could have reasonably predicted he wouldn’t be as good as Jay Bruce has been this year. For that matter, he hasn’t even been as good as Anthony Swarzak. To make it all the worse, the Mariners traded Swarzak to the Braves and Bruce to the Phillies.

Essentially, the end result of the trade is Bruce, Swarzak, and Cano have been working to keep the Mets out of the postseason. That’s well beyond what most assumed would be the reasonably pondered worst case scenario for this trade.

And again, this is just year one of Cano. Mets fans should shudder to see year five . . . and that’s when Dunn and Kelenic should reasonably be contributing at the MLB level.

Not good. Not good at all.

Baty And Van Wagenen Have Big Shoes To Fill

During Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, he did quite well in the first round. Those first round picks included Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Gavin Cecchini, Kevin Plawecki, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, David Peterson, and Jarred Kelenic.

All of the players drafted prior to 2015 have played at the Major League level. They are only one of eight franchises who can say all of their first round picks in that time span reached the Major League level. Of those six players drafted prior to 2015, five of them have established themselves as bona fide Major League players with the jury still being out on Cecchini, who is still just 25 years old.

Nimmo was the second best hitter in the National League last year. Conforto and Plawecki were a part of a pennant winner with Conforto hitting two homers in a World Series game. Conforto and Fulmer have already been named All Stars. So far, this group has a Rookie of the Year and two All-Star appearances.

Fulmer, Dunn, and Kelenic were moved for pieces which were traded to help improve the Major League club. While people have disagreements with the respective trades, the deals brought back Yoenis Cespedes, Robinson Cano, and Edwin Diaz, each of whom are established All-Star caliber players.

Looking at the 10 first round draft picks, all but one of them have made some form of a top 100 prospect list since being drafted by the team. It may come as some surprise that includes Cecchini, who was named a KATOH Top 100 pick by Fangraphs, and Peterson, who was named a top 100 prospect by ESPN‘s Keith Law. In fact, the one who hasn’t is Kay, who right now appears on the cusp of getting named to a list on a midseason update or sometime next year.

Overall, the Mets have drafted talented players they have used to both build a strong core to the current Mets roster and to acquire players in the hopes of winning a World Series. With Kay and Peterson in Double-A, they can soon be part of the current core’s push to win the Mets first World Series since 1986.

That’s the legacy in front of Van Wagenen and Baty. For Van Wagenen, he has to show he has the ability to add talent to the organization the way Alderson did during his tenure as the General Manager. For Baty, he has to prove he can be every bit as talented as the players who came before him.

20/20 Hindsight: Dodgers Expose Mets For What They Are

The Mets seemed to have righted the ship as they headed out to Los Angeles on a tough road trip. In a four game series against the Dodgers, we learned just how good the Mets are against the top teams in the National League:

1. The one thing we saw in this series was just how better the Dodgers are. Sure, it is the talent on the field, but it is also ownership’s dedication to winning. We see that when the Dodgers hire Andrew Friedman away from the Rays and the Mets hire a former agent who has never run an organization. For example, we see the Mets trade three good prospects for J.D. Davis, who continues to regress. The Dodgers use their superior scouting and player development to identify players like Justin Turner and Max Muncy.

2. The Mets did have an opportunity to earn at least a split on two different occasions. The fact they didn’t speaks volumes to how the Dodgers are just a better and more resilient team.

3. It is easy to jump all over Edwin Diaz for blowing a save in a game the Mets absolutely had to have. Then again, he’s been overworked pitching in eight of the past 11 days not including the times he was dry humped. This blow-up was bound to happen. What’s eerie was his 0.1 IP, 4 ER performance was a year to the date since his last one.

4. You can certainly get on Mickey Callaway for his usage of Diaz. He has to be better in handling him to try to prevent these types of blow ups. Then again, what other options does he have? With Seth Lugo on the Injured List, he’s down to maybe one other reliable set-up man in Robert Gsellman. Fact is, the bullpen remains an arm or two short, and the front office seems uninterested in getting him the help he needs.

5. We can point to the draft coming on Monday as the point where the Mets could sign Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel without forfeiting a pick, but that would be idiotic. We all know that’s not the type of compensation preventing the Mets from signing either pitcher, especially with Van Wagenen being all too happy to purge all of those prospects.

6. Baseball is funny. Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard struggled against the Dodgers, but it was Jason Vargas who really pitched well against the Dodgers allowing just one earned over seven innings. Give credit to him not just for the big game but also for saving a depleted and exhausted bullpen.

7. With respect to Vargas, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Today is the last day of May, and he finally has a quality start. This was the first time all season he has consecutive games pitching at least five innings. In his previous four starts, he’s averaged 4.2 innings per start. If he can pitch at least five in his next start maybe then we can talk about his FINALLY being a viable fifth starter.

8. Steven Matz has been quite good this year, and he showed it in this series picking up the Mets only win in the series. In some ways, he has emerged as the Mets most reliable starter.

9. It’s a dangerous game to play, but if you eliminate his horrendous start against the Phillies and his short start in his first game off the Injured List, Matz is 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.191 WHIP.

10. Give Noah Syndergaard credit for gutting through six innings when he didn’t have anywhere near his best stuff. While he’s getting killed for it, that looks more like Syndergaard looking like a great pitcher. The great ones can get quality starts when they are throwing junk. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves on that front. He needs more consistency to get to that point.

11. Mets fans frustations at the starters seem to be misplaced. If you look at their FIP, Zack Wheeler has been the team’s best pitcher with a 3.25. While not what you expected, deGrom (3.56) and Syndergaard (3.62) have pitched better than their results are indicating. Unfortunately, this also indicates Matz is due for a regression. Honestly, you take that if those other three get going.

12. We can’t get too worked up about Hyun-Jin Ryu shutting down the Mets. He is currently pitching like deGrom did last year. It’s also noteworthy the Mets offense was humming prior to that scoring 6.7 runs per game in the series and 5.5 runs per game over their prior 11.

13. Todd Frazier has completely turned his season around. Over his last 16 games, he is hitting .327/.403/.491, and he continues to play a very good third base. That was a great tag he got down on Corey Seager after what was a terrific throw from Carlos Gomez (which came after a terrible play – details, details).

14. Amed Rosario also had a very good series. Even with yesterday’s 0-f0r-4, he was 6-for-16 in the series with two doubles, a triple, a homer, and two RBI.

15. It’s been an interesting year for Rosario. Just when you think he’s figured things out, he suddenly struggles. Even with all of that, he is showing marked improvement over the first two years of his career. If he were to find some consistency, he’s going to make the leap into stardom. Hopefully, that happens in the second half.

16. Adeiny Hechavarria has the same amount of homers and just three fewer RBI than Robinson Cano who has had 151 more plate appearances. This is both a statement about how Hechavarria has played well over his head and how bad Cano has been.

17. Diaz currently has mediocre stats (at least for the moment), and Cano has already looked like the $100 million albatross we knew he would eventually be. Jarred Kelenic has already been promoted to High-A, and Justin Dunn has a 2.25 ERA over his last three starts and has struck out 11.2 per nine this year. Mind you, this is just two months into the season. Wonder how this trade will look five years from now.

18. Between Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis, the Mets have two players who have no business playing left field. With Davis, they really have a guy who doesn’t have a position. Taking that into account, the Mets just need to play the better bat, and without any doubt, that is Smith.

19. Juan Lagares needed to be better than this. At a time when the Mets desperately needed him, he has completely faltered. Hes in the middle of an 0-for-13 stretch, and he is just one for his last 26. Worse yet, he’s at a -1 DRS. Yes, his 17.3 UZR/150 shows he is still the same fielder, but the Mets needed him to be more productive than this. Really, they needed him to be actually productive.

20. Give credit to Pete Alonso. Over a 41 game stretch entering this series, he was hitting .214/.305/.497. Put another way, it appeared the league had figured him out after a hot start. In the series against the Dodgers, he was 7-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, and five RBI. This is an indication he might be adjusting to what pitchers are doing to him. If so, that’s a sign he’s on his way to becoming a great player.

Mets Finally Listening To What Everyone Told Them Over A Month Ago

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.

20/20 Hindsight: Did The Mets Even Show Up In Miami?

The New York Mets were swept/embarassed by the Miami Marlins, a team who is rivaling the 1962 Mets in futility. There doesn’t need to be anything else said, but here it is anyway:

1. Managers get fired for the way the Mets played this weekend, but if we are being honest, this has nothing to do with Mickey Callaway. This is all on the team Brodie Van Wagenen built.

2. Van Wagenen fled Miami before the series was over and was not present to answer one question about the team he built or their play. That’s absolute cowardice.

3. Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote an article finally directing the blame towards Van Wagenen. We also saw Mike Puma of the NY Post say attention will eventually need to turn to to Van Wagenen, but first, the media wants Callaway gone first. Where were these articles in March when Van Wagenen was mortgaging the future to build what projections had as a fourth place team?

4. We all knew Robinson Cano didn’t hustle. With his PED suspension, we knew there was a chance he would be a chance he regressed,especially with him turning 36 years old. Van Wagenen was the only person who dismissed this.

5. Too often, we make the mistake of confusing players struggling with them not caring. The Mets players are probably embarrassed and still trying hard. They’re just not good right now for a multitude of reasons.

6. Then again, it’s hard to make that claim with Cano when he just blatantly did not run. There’s not hustling, and then there’s what he did. While we thought he had his defenses, it turned out they were lies, at least the scoreboard one.

7. Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic were tow of the biggest risers on MLB Pipeline‘s updated Top 100. Also, Edwin Diaz hasn’t had a save opportunity in well over a week. It’s almost like trading two top 100 prospects and taking on a $100 million commitment for a closer is a terrible idea. Who knew?

8. It’s telling how respected Callaway is in the clubhouse with Noah Syndergaard and Todd Frazier being so vocal in their support of Callaway. What would be better than those words is playing well.

9. To be fair to Frazier, he has been the Mets player during this five game losing streak. On the converse, it speaks volumes about this team that Frazier has been their best player during this losing streak.

10. The Mets trotted out a lineup on Sunday where the bottom four hitters were Adeiny HechavarriaJuan LagaresTomas NidoNoah Syndergaard. We’re really killing the manager for a lineup that noncompetitive lineup not scoring? That’s four straight 8/9 hitters!

11. The Mets have completely bought into Chili Davis, a man fired by the Red Sox and Cubs because of this philosophy. This is what happens when you make terrible hiring decisions.

12. Syndergaard deserves credit for how he pitched on Sunday. There is no reason whatsoever why he lost that game. In addition to that, the bullpen deserves a lot of credit for continuing to pitch well through all of this. This group is one of the few who deserves credit for actually showing up and performing anywhere close to expectations.

13. With is injury history and how abdominal injuries tend to linger, it’s great to see Jeff McNeil was able to play. Hopefully, we should not see any drop off from his level of play. The Mets can’t afford it.

14. Carlos Gomez was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and he airmailed a ball on Friday. That throw not only let the one run score easily, but it also put the batter into scoring position. Seeing Gomez play so far, he’s actually worse than what Keon Broxton was forever hammering home the point things can always be worse with the Mets.

15. So far, the Mets have held Broxton, a fifth outfielder, and Travis d’Arnaud, a back-up catcher, accountable for the team’s poor play. That’s obvious scapegoating, and it had no effect because things don’t change when you get rid of a fifth outfielder and back-up catcher to try to send a message to the everyday players you, as an organization, outright refuse to make accountable.

16. If Mike Francesa is going to genuflect when he has Jeff Wilpon in studio, he can’t suddenly rail on the Mets. Well, he can if he wants; it’s his show. Just know that when he does that, he exposes himself to be a fraud, and it helps Michael Kay catch up.

17. The Mets were completely dominated by the Miami Marlins. The Marlins.

18. Through all of this, don’t be confused. There are plenty of reasons to fire Callaway. Just don’t for a second believe firing him is the thing that is doing to turn this team around. It’s not.

19. When the Mets play tonight, Boo, don’t boo, who cares? If you’re in the park spending money, the Wilpons don’t care. They got what they want out of you. That’s not to say it’s the fans fault. The point is the Wilpons don’t care about contending. They only care about creating the appearance of it to generate revenues.

20. Through all of it, we can say a lot of things, but the most succinct thing to say here is the Mets suck.

Craig Kimbrel Should Be The Mets Closer

In a nine year Major League career, Craig Kimbrel has saved 333 games, which is the 14th most all-time. His career 1.91 ERA and 211 ERA+ is the best all-time for a reliever. He is a seven time All-Star, and he has finished in the Top 10 in Cy Young voting in five of his nine seasons. How Kimbrel performs during this next contract will go a very long way in determining whether or not he goes to the Baseball Hall of Fame when he retires.

With the Hall of Fame on the line and with his being an elite closer for NINE SEASONS, you can understand why Kimbrel would insist on remaining a closer. While there are no public statements confirming this is Kimbrel’s hold-up, there have been a number of outlets who have drawn the inference.

According to recent reports, the Mets are not willing to have Kimbrel pitch the ningth. To put it as simply as it can be put, if the only hold-up with Kimbrel right now is he wants to close, the Mets as an organization are stupid for letting that be a hold-up.

No, this is not an indictment whatsoever on Edwin Diaz. So far this season, Diaz has been everything the Mets could have possibly asked him to be. He is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities with a 16.4 K/9. His 11th inning save against the Phillies where he mowed down Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto on 11 pitches was awe inspiring.

Understandably, you want to have a pitcher like Diaz closing out games in the ninth. However, you also want a closer like Kimbrel closing out games in the ninth. What you don’t want is the current state of the Mets bullpen.

What is not great is the rest of the Mets bullpen. So far, Jeurys Familia has been a massive disappointment. We have also seen some unexpected struggles from Seth Lugo. In the long run, both pitchers should be fine, and with Justin Wilson and Robert Gsellman, the Mets do have the pieces for a good bullpen.

Still, there are major issues in the bullpen. Luis Avilan has been used as more of a mop up reliever than a LOOGY, and frankly, there is no way he is going to succeed in that role. Worse than that, the Mets have had a revolving door this year of Tim Peterson, Drew Gagnon, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, and Corey Oswalt for the last spot in the bullpen.

Realistically speaking, the Mets cannot expect any of those pitchers to truly succeed at the Major League level. Exacerbating a very soft spot in the bullpen is the fact the Mets entered the season with just four MLB caliber starting pitchers in their rotation. As a result, at least every fifth day, the Mets are going to need to get some quality innings from their worst relievers. Put another way, the Mets can ill afford to have a weak spot in the bullpen when they have a glaring hole in the rotation.

That hole in the bullpen can be repaired with Kimbrel. Moreover, if you put Kimbrel in the ninth inning, him and Diaz pitching the final two innings makes every game a seven inning game for the Mets. The tandem would combine to make the best 8-9 combination in Major League history.

Really, there is no good explanation to not give Kimbrel the ninth. While you could argue the Mets did not give up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to have Diaz as a set-up man, the obvious counter-argument is the Mets did not give up those players to have relievers like Rhame derail games and ultimately the season. Additionally, with how great a pitcher he has been, no one should expect Diaz to falter in the eighth.

Overall, when you break it down, if the ninth inning is a breaking point for Kimbrel, just give it to him. He has the resume to justify such a demand, and really, he has the ability to not come to the Mets. Worse yet, he could go to Philadelphia to stick it to the Mets.

Of course, that would be the ultimate irony. The Mets gave up Kelenic to keep Diaz away from the Phillies, but they weren’t willing to have the best bullpen situation in Major League history to keep him away from Philadelphia.

 

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Losing Division Games

The Mets followed splitting with the Braves by losing two of three to the Phillies. As a result, the Mets have lost four of their last five – all of them in the division. Here are some observations from the disappointing series.

  1. Noah Syndergaard‘s peripherals are fine, and in the long run, he’s going to have Thor like numbers.
  1. What killed Thor and continues to kill the Mets pitching is a National League worst defense.
  2. J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball, and with his sprint speeds, he would be terrible in LF. In the long run, he really serves no purpose in this Mets team.
  3. It’s bizarre the Mets would let Davis Be this bad at third, continue to trot him out there, and not even allow a more physically fit and athletic Dominic Smith an opportunity to prove himself in left field.
  4. Amed Rosario continues to hurt this team with bad defense (worst SS in the NL) and his poor plate discipline. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for the Mets, Andres Gimenez has gotten off to a brutally slow start in Binghamton.
  5. So far Wilson Ramos is killing the Mets. By DRS, he’s the worst catcher in the NL, and he’s become a glorified singles hitter with a 58.3% ground ball rate.
  6. Not one Mets everyday infielder has a positive DRS.
  7. Keon Broxton needs to be better. He has a 47 wRC+, and we saw him overpowered by a 94 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate to end the game. He’s also a -1 DRS in the outfield.
  8. Juan Lagares has been better every which way than Broxton, and as a result, he needs to get the bulk of playing time in center.
  9. With neither Broxton nor Lagares hitting, the Mets need to keep Jeff McNeil in left field, especially since that’s his ultimate destination when Todd Frazier and/or Jed Lowrie return.
  10. Mets desperately need Frazier’s glove. Not only will it give the Mets at least one plus defender on the field, but it will also allow Rosario to not have to cover nearly as much ground.
  11. With Frazier finally hitting the ball yesterday, he should be called up and immediately inserted into the starting lineup.
  12. Jeff McNeil is turning into a modern day Ichiro Suzuki. This is not hyperbole. When you break down the numbers, he should be regressing. Instead, he continuously adapts his approach and has incredible contact skills.
  1. You knew sooner or later Steven Matz was going to lay an egg, and boy did he. One thing to note here is he was this bad his first start of the 2016 season. He responded to that by putting up nine straight starts allowing two earned or less.
  1. So much for Zack Wheeler‘s second half being a fluke.
  1. To acquire Edwin Diaz, the Mets gave up two top 100 prospects (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn), and they took on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s onerous contract. So naturally, when the game is on the line, they won’t use him.
  2. With the Mets limiting to Diaz to just the ninth, we once again learn the Mets statements about every game mattering only applied to Pete Alonso.
  1. Good for Brodie Van Wagenen for taking the bullet on Diaz’s usage. He made the call, and he stood there like a man to defend himself. Also, good job by Mickey Callaway not throwing everyone under the bus and whining about the restrictions.
  1. Sometimes, you should just appreciate a player for what they do well. Paul Sewald went out there twice and ate up innings to help save that bullpen. Considering how well he handles that role, he has a spot in this bullpen.
  2. On that note, great job by Drew Gagnon pitching 5.1 innings on three days rest. Should Jason Vargas fail again on Friday, Gagnon has earned the first shot to replace him in the rotation.

Callaway Needs To Manage to Game Not Save Situation

Last night, the game hung in the balance with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Even after Jeff McNeil had bailed out Jeurys Familia with a fine play to start a 5-4-3 double play, Familia walked the subsequent two batters to load the bases. With the heart of the Phillies lineup coming up, Mickey Callaway needed to get Familia out of the game.

This past offseason, the Mets made a blockbuster deal with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. In the deal, the Mets paid a hefty price including not just Justin Dunn, but also Jarred Kelenic. At the introductory press conference for the two new Mets stars, Jeff Wilpon admitted the Mets parted with Kelenic partially to make sure Diaz did not go to the Phillies.

This was the precise moment the Mets needed Diaz. They needed a pitcher whom they touted as the best reliever in baseball to do what the best reliever in baseball does. He needed to go out there and strike out Jean Segura and ensure the Mets took the lead into the ninth. That’s not what happened.

Instead, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman, who is arguably the team’s fifth best reliever. In terms of pinch hitting, this is equivalent to Callaway sending up Juan Lagares to face a tough right-handed reliever with bases loaded and two outs in the eighth just so he could save Dominic Smith for a pinch hitting opportunity in the ninth inning.

In terms of pinch hitting, you are not sending one of your worst options at the plate with the game on the line, but for some reason, Callaway opted to send one of his worst relievers out there with the game on the line.

After the game, Callaway would rightfully point out Gsellman has a job to do, and he needs to get out of that jam. However, this is a bit misleading. While it is Gsellman’s job to get out of that jam, it is also incumbent on the manager to put the right people in the right situations. Using the earlier example, if Lagares strikes out while Smith is on the bench people would be far less understanding.

Now, we did learn after the game the Mets do not want Diaz pitching more than three outs during the regular season. Putting aside whey the team would sacrifice two former first round picks for a one inning reliever, we still have to question the strategy.

Already, there have been two instances where Diaz came on to get just one out. So clearly, the Mets are not going to shy away from Diaz entering the game to get a huge out. What is bizarre is the Mets were not trusting their best reliever to go get that out.

If Gsellman allows a hit to Segura or Harper, it’s game over. Diaz never sees the game, and the Mets lose. Why is this a more acceptable result than having Diaz get one out?  That was potentially the game right there, and the Mets didn’t have the guy they gave up so much to acquire go get that out.

If the Mets didn’t want Diaz going four outs, then have hit get that out. Callaway then had the option to give the ball to Gsellman or Justin Wilson for the ninth. Both relievers have closed games in their careers. We have also seen Callaway give the ball to Jacob Rhame for a save.

Overall, Callaway does not have to manage to the save statistic, he has to manage to the game situation. When he was managing to the statistic, the Mets almost blew a game against the Phillies. The Mets almost didn’t get a chance to use the pitcher they were so afraid the Phillies were going to get. Ultimately, that is completely unacceptable.

 

 

Diaz Saves Game Three Innings Too Late

The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn while taking on $100 million of Robinson Cano‘s contract because they apparently believed Edwin Diaz was such a difference maker, they needed to not only have him, but they also needed to keep him away from the Phillies.

While Diaz has five saves in as many opportunities, tonight was the first time the Mets really needed their difference making closer.

Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Mets were up by a run, and Jeurys Familia immediately got into trouble, and he couldn’t get out of it even with Jeff McNeil making a nice play on a very hard hit grounder by Maikel Franco to turn the 5-4-3 double play.

With a runner on third and two outs, Familia loaded the bases by walking Andrew Knapp and Andrew McCutchen. This is the exact spot the Mets needed Diaz.

They needed him to come into the game to strikeout Jean Segura to end the threat and take the 6-5 lead into the ninth. The Mets needed their supposed big time closer to face the middle of the Phillies order to get four outs to get the save.

Mickey Callaway didn’t even have him warming. Instead, he put this game in Robert Gsellman‘s hands.

Gsellman walked Segura on four straight pitches to force home the tying run. Fortunately, Bryce Harper popped out to end the inning. Normally, you’d question why Gsellman and not Luis Avilan for Harper, but you avoid asking it because you know there’s no possible good answer.

All told, the Mets absolute failure to use Diaz was the reason why the Mets blew this lead and had to fight even harder to try to win a game they already were well in position to win.

Neither Aaron Nola nor Noah Syndergaard pitched like aces today as both allowed five earned. For Nola, it was over four innings, and for Syndergaard, it was over five.

The frustrating thing with Syndergaard was he was handed leads of 3-0 and 5-4, and he couldn’t hold either.

Seth Lugo calmed things down with two brilliant innings, and Brandon Nimmo homered to put the Mets in position . . . to blow the lead.

Somehow, the Mets survived Gsellman for 1.1 innings and one from Avilan, who was bailed out by Segura swinging at a pitch well out of the zone to end the 10th.

The Phillies went to Pat Neshek to start the 11th. He got into trouble immediately by allowing a single to Juan Lagares and walking Nimmo. Callaway then almost blew the game again.

Travis d’Arnaud was the last bat on the bench, so with the pitcher’s spot up, Callaway used d’Arnaud to try to sac bunt. Well, d’Arnaud doesn’t bunt well, and his at-bat ended in a pop out. Robinson Cano then struck out putting the game on Michael Conforto‘s bat.

Conforto tattooed a ball which was too hot for Rhys Hoskins to handle at first. With the ball bouncing off him, Lagares, who was hustling on the play, scored from second giving the Mets a 7-6 lead.

With the lead, Callaway finally turned to Diaz, who struck out Harper, Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto to earn the save. Too bad he didn’t get that chance earlier in the game.

Game Notes: Despite his being on two days rest, the Mets called up Drew Gagnon. To make room for him on the roster, Luis Guillorme was sent to Syracuse. Dominic Smith got lucky not getting thrown out if the game after spiking and breaking bid helmet after being called out on a very borderline strike three.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Chance Against Nationals

After coming in red-hot after going 5-1 on the road to open the season, the Mets had their first series at home, and while they returned to Citi Field, their momentum did not. While it is waaaaaaay to soon to look at these things, the Mets are now 0.5 games back of the Phillies. Here are some observations from the Mets home opening series:

  1. Noah Syndergaard seems to be a spokesman of sorts for this team airing their grievances publicly. Look it anyone is going to be the bad guy, Syndergaard is well suited for it because: (1) the fans are going to love him regardless; and (2) he seems to have the do not care what you think personality to make it work.
  2. Not only did MLB mishandle this by having the Mets play a night game, but they also had a drug test after the game. Considering there were only 7,486 at that game, I cannot imagine attendance was the reason for the later start time.
  3. If the rumors were true, the Mets are absolutely idiots for starting that game at 1:00 P.M. instead of 4:00 P.M. Those three extra hours matter, especially when a player like Robinson Cano has completely forgotten how to transverse New York after signing with the Mariners after the 2013 season.
  4. The Nationals came into this series under .500 with an already beleaguered Dave Martinez, a more beleaguered bullpen, and arguably their best player, Trea Turner, on the disabled list. This was a very wounded team who was primed to be knocked down a peg or two and possibly sent into turmoil. It may still be just April, but the Mets missed a big opportunity here.
  5. The two home run game from J.D. Davis was great to see as was his reaching base safely five consecutive times. However, we are going to need to see a lot more of that before we believe he has finally figured things out.
  6. As we saw from Davis’ two home run game, April is the time for overreaction, and we are seeing that with Zack Wheeler‘s tough start. One thing to keep in mind here is Wheeler has always gotten better as the season progresses.  For example, his career April ERA is 4.95, and his career August ERA is 2.30. Lets give this a month or two before we decided last year’s second half was a blip.
  7. It seems like Steven Matz figured something out in the bottom of the second against the Nationals. If so, watch out, he’s going to have a breakout season.
  8. The Mets have gone from Jason Vargas not needing any competition during Spring Training to only trusting him for five innings in a hitter’s park against the worst team in the National League to skipping his start. It’s not even the middle of April, and the Mets have completely bungled their fifth starter situation.
  9. Perhaps this is an overreaction, but Robert Gsellman has not proven to be that late inning relief ace the Mets imagined him to be. With the Vargas situation, perhaps the Mets should consider sending him down to Syracuse to lengthen him out to rejoin the rotation while making Vargas the long man in the bullpen.
  10. Even with Jeurys Familia‘s blow-up where he allowed his first homer at Citi Field since Conor Gillaspie, and he allowed two homers in an appearance for the first time in his career, he’s been fine.
  11. While there has been justifiable hand-wringing over just how poorly this bullpen has been performing, we are seeing Justin Wilson-Familia-Edwin Diaz turn into a formidable 7-8-9 combination.
  12. Thankfully, Seth Lugo was back to himself Sunday throwing 96 MPH and striking out the side. Overall, he’s very tempting to use, but Mickey Callaway has to be much more judicious in his usage of him.
  13. With the Mets being a starter short and one to two arms short in the bullpen, just a subtle reminder Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel are still free agents. And for a GM who traded away Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Gerson Bautista, Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, Scott Manea, Bobby Wahl, Adam Hill, and Felix Valerio, we do not need to hear about giving up a draft pick.
  14. Michael Conforto looks like a real MVP candidate.
  15. Brandon Nimmo is going to be fine. Whether it was an injury or something else, he will get back to being Nimmo. We saw that with his double yesterday.
  16. For all of his prodigious power, and how he already looks like a veteran out there, the one thing which really stands out with Pete Alonso is how great a teammate he is. It is utterly stunning to believe a player with less than 10 games under his belt may already be the glue guy in the clubhouse. Speaking of Alonso, while everyone was celebrating the opposite field hitting, it was nice to see the Mets start hitting for power again.
  17. The Mets signed Wilson Ramos for his bat. We are seeing that with his lackluster pitch framing and how he couldn’t locate a ball which was right behind him allowing a runner to score from second.
  18. It was great to see Travis d’Arnaud return. He’s been an under-appreciated player because he has not been exactly what he was supposed to be, but he is good behind the plate. Sooner or later, his pitch framing is going to really help this team.
  19. On the one hand, all of Callaway’s double switching is maddening because it is partially the reason why this bullpen is so taxed. On the other hand, it is proving to be an adept way to get everyone into the game and having them getting enough reps to contribute when called upon. Ultimately, Callaway just needs to find a way to better handle this bullpen.
  20. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Mets sell out when they have these bobble head days. For the life of me, I do not understand how it makes sense to send kids home upset and to ruin their experience at the park by not having enough bobble heads for everyone. This a sponsored giveaway, and they are cheap to make. The mid market Brewers have figured this out, and they order enough so they can donate the extras after the game. Seems like it’s better to have everyone walking out with a Jacob deGrom and Todd Frazier bobble head this weekend than having sad little kids, which is never good for business.