The New York Mets offense has been dreadful lately. With that being the case, you can never quite tell if it’s the offense or the opposing pitcher.
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers started Walker Buehler it’s easy to concede it was the starting pitcher. After all, Buehler is arguably the current NL Cy Young favorite. Despite that, the Mets almost got him.
That would be the last time a Dodger reached base. Carlos Carrasco settled in, and he would have his finest start since coming off the IL. It was the first time he went five innings, he struck out a season high six, and he seemingly started figuring stuff out.
After Carrasco, the Mets bullpen did their job putting up zeros. That kept the Mets in the game, and a Pete Alonso fourth inning solo shot had the Mets trailing 3-1 entering the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 21, 2021
That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.
That McNeil at-bat is where home plate umpire Nestor Ceja which would’ve left Eric Gregg scratching his head. McNeil appeared to work out a walk loading the bases. That was until Ceja called a pitch a foot off the plate a strike.
Yeah…about that… pic.twitter.com/rzyA5f6Wis
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 21, 2021
That bogus strikeout was the difference between bases loaded one out and two on with two outs. It would make a huge difference.
It was Alonso driving in another run with an infield single pulling the Mets within 3-2. Problem is it shouldn’t have been a single.
Good catch from SNY broadcast: Alonso's infield single appeared to hit his foot in the box, which would have rendered it foul: pic.twitter.com/Ie99PAaL2m
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 21, 2021
Alonso who has a ton of hard hit outs lately got some assistance from his cleat. On the subject of Ceja, he had called a foul off Jonathan Villar‘s foot when the ball easily cleared his foot.
Davis would strike out. It was the fifth time Davis struck out with the bases loaded, and he has yet to get a hit in that situation. It’ll be interesting to see how he blames that on Alonso.
After Kenley Jansen made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, the Mets fell to two games under .500 and six games behind the Braves. There are just no words for that right now.
It’s really unfair to say the New York Mets season hinged on one game. After all, there’s still 45 games remaining, and we’ve seen crazier stuff happen.
That said, the Mets showed us nothing in this pivotal game against not just the Los Angeles Dodgers, but also former division foe Max Scherzer. Absolutely nothing.
Being honest, if Jacob deGrom is done for the year, and he very well might, the Mets are going nowhere without Carrasco. Carrasco hasn’t seemed ready since returning from injury. He’s yet to hit five innings, and this is his second straight start under three innings.
For the first of many times in the game, the Mets had a chance to get back into the game. That’s when Luis Rojas made what could be a fireable decision.
With the Mets down six in this game, about to be swept, and with the Phillies and Braves having won, Rojas sent Carrasco to the plate with two on and one out.
What makes this decision all the worse was he was lifting Carrasco anyway. Rojas would explain he had a short bench and didn’t want to go through it.
To that, it should be noted Brandon Drury pinch hit in the eighth and stayed on to pitch the ninth. As bad as that may seem, when Drury wasn’t getting out of the inning, Kevin Pillar came off the bench to relieve him.
That’s right. For the first time in Mets history one position player relieved another on the mound.
That’s basically how to get to down six with a chance to pull closer in the second to a 14-4 loss. What makes it even worse is how the Dodgers just begged the Mets to get back into the game.
While the Dodgers had just one error, they had gaffes all over the field. Dodgers relievers walked three and the ERAs of the relievers they used were 8.22, 6.64, and 9.53.
In the end, the Mets were 0-for-12 with RISP stranding 10 base runners. Really, this isn’t new. That’s the story of the 2021 Mets offense.
This is a team who showed their competing the first two days was more fluke than talent. They can’t get the big hit. They’re inability to take advantage of chances. They get blown out on national television after the Braves and Phillies have won.
They’re now heading out to California to play against the San Francisco Giants and Dodgers. Compounding the level of competition was the Mets being a horrendous road team.
Maybe they’ll shock us over the next week and final month of the season. That would be great. However, if we’re being honest, without magic, the Mets appear like they’re done and won’t be winning the division.
One moment, you’re a player whose career is on the verge of ending before it really began. The next, you find yourself in the right situation, and you’re fulfilling your full potential.
Enter Billy McKinney.
McKinney was the Oakland Athletics 2013 first round pick. While a prospect, he was involved in two high profile trade deadline moves. First, he was sent to the Chicago Cubs as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade. Then, he was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade.
Some of the shine came off McKinney’s prospects, and he dealt with a shoulder injury. With his being buried deep on the Yankees organizational outfield depth chart, he was included in the J.A. Happ trade.
McKinney struggles with the Blue Jays, and he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays late last season. McKinney was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers. He lasted all of 40 games before the underperforming outfielder was designated for assignment.
Make no mistake. This wasn’t necessarily the case of the Mets seeing something. Rather, with Michael Conforto down and Mets outfielders dropping like flies, the Mets had no other option than to obtain McKinney.
McKinney has been far better than the Mets ever could’ve imagined. Over 12 games, McKinney is hitting .275/.341/.700 with three doubles, a triple, four homers, and 11 RBI.
No, he’s not this good. No one is. However, we do see some positives from his Baseball Savant data. While he’s making a good amount of contact with increased exit velocities, it’s far too soon to adjudge if he can be the player many thought he could be when he was a top 100 prospect.
Right now, the only thing we can be assured of is he can field. Through it all, McKinney has shown himself to be quite a good fielder. If he can hit, his career is about to take off.
Fortunately for McKinney, he’s going to get the time to prove himself. Both Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL and aren’t returning soon. That allows McKinney to play everyday and to finally establish himself as a Major Leaguer.
On that note, it’s important to note he’s 26 and on the verge of the prime of his career. If he breaks out, that makes him a tremendous asset to a team as he’s under team control through 2024.
The Mets could use that. Aside from the fact this isn’t an organization deep in outfield talent, the Mets need to figure out their outfield past the 2021 season.
After this season, Conforto will be a free agent. In all honesty, he’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to sign. He’s represented by Scott Boras, and he’s basically the only All-Star caliber outfielder available in free agency. For that matter, he may be the only everyday outfielder available.
We can and should expect the Mets to do everything they can to keep Conforto. That said, we learned this past offseason with players like George Springer, the Mets have their limits, and they will walk away if they don’t believe a deal makes sense for them.
This is all a long winded way of saying re-signing Conforto is complicated, and the Mets need a viable alternative. It’s possible that could be McKinney. Still, it’s only been 12 games.
A week or month from now, we may be begging for Conforto and Nimmo as McKinney implodes. We may also be even more excited as McKinney continues his breakout. We just don’t know.
The only thing we do know is McKinney has a chance. If he continues playing well, he’ll continue to play. If that happens, he will continue to get his chance to replace Conforto on a more permanent basis.
Time will tell.
After the 2013 season, the New York Mets non-tendered Justin Turner for what is still inexplicable reasons. By any measure, it was a mistake to part with a player who was quality and versatile infield depth.
What we couldn’t have fully appreciated was just how much of a giant mistake it was. Really, it was an off the charts horrendous decision.
Since 2014, Turner was an All-Star, NLCS MVP, and part of the 2020 World Series champion Dodgers. While second baseman Daniel Murphy was the NLCS MVP the preceding season, no Mets third baseman accomplished these feats.
Since 2014, Turner has a 141 wRC+, 22 DRS, and a 26.6 WAR.
As a group, Mets third basemen have collectively amassed a 103 wRC+, -57 DRS, and a 17.9 WAR.
Turner has outhit, outfielded, and was just a flat out better player than anything the Mets put out on the field since he left the team. Certainly, that’s not something we ever expected from a team who had David Wright.
No one, and I repeat, no one should have realistically believed Turner would be far superior to Wright. That was absurd then. However, that wasn’t the point.
The Mets were making the claim Turner’s late season improvements weren’t of any value. They were claiming Eric Campbell was a better player. Even in 2013, those were both dubious claims.
With that, the Mets parted on cheap depth. They parted with a player on the cusp of a huge breakout. They parted with a difference maker.
Now, they’re in a position where Turner is STILL a massively better option than what the Mets have in-house. It makes you wonder if the Mets now realize this and try to bring him back, or if they’re going to keep going down this same path.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming, the New York Mets still do not have a third baseman for the 2021 season. With the Nolan Arenado trade their options are dwindling.
We are not sure as to the realistic chances are of obtaining either Kris Bryant or Eugenio Suarez in a trade. We also know Justin Turner is seeking too many years, and his preference is to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Mets aren’t in on Kolten Wong, and there aren’t any more free agent third base options available. The end result is the Mets running out of time and options to fulfill their massive third base vacancy.
And yes, it’s a massive vacancy as J.D. Davis has proven wholly incapable of playing that or any other defensive position. As we saw last year, without a juiced ball or overly inflated BABIP, he’s not worth playing on an everyday basis.
The end result of all of this means Luis Guillorme is probably the Mets best bet. He’s shown he can be a good everyday option at second base. While some may question his bat still, his defense there is elite and can carry his offense.
This means Jeff McNeil moves to third. Last year aside, he’s proven he can play the position, and as we know, his bat will play anywhere.
If that’s the plan, it’s a good plan. The only problem is the Mets don’t have the depth to cast Guillorme in a starting role. That’s obviously not his fault, and being fair, that shouldn’t preclude him from getting the starting position he’s earned.
Overall, the Mets are nearing Spring Training, and there’s no obvious third base plan. They don’t have the internal depth, and there are very few external options available.
All told, the Mets still have a lot of work to do.
There are reasons to not obtain Nolan Arenado. There’s the contract and maybe some concern about the shoulder. Mostly, it was a no trade clause allowing Arenado to pick his next destination.
Taking all that into account, you can understand why Arenado wasn’t going to become a New York Met. However, seeing the trade, you do have to question where exactly the Mets were in the trade discussions.
Really, not only did the Rockies kick in $50 million for the future Hall of Famer, but they also got an extremely underwhelming prospect return:
lol good one Ken! but seriously what are the actual names https://t.co/sNf0K7udUO
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) January 30, 2021
Even with Brodie Van Wagenen doing all he can to destroy the farm system through his sheer incompetence, the Mets easily could’ve beaten that package. That goes double when you consider the Mets had some Major League pieces which they could’ve included.
It’s very possible Arenado didn’t want to play in New York. He certainly wouldn’t be the first, and he won’t be the last. However, on that note, there have been others to think that only to come to New York and absolutely love it.
You would at least hope if the Mets had the opportunity to speak to Arenado, they could’ve sold him on the idea. Maybe they did, and he wasn’t persuaded.
However, unlike Ken Griffey, Jr., this doesn’t quite seem to be the case as the Mets weren’t among the purported final teams pushing to obtain Arenado. It does seem like whatever the reason, the Mets were not pushing for the superstar.
Whatever the reason, the Mets need a third baseman. If the Mets get Kris Bryant or sign Justin Turner, then the Mets missing out on Arenado isn’t a big deal. That said, if the Mets don’t eventually fill this massive hole at third base, they will have to answer questions how they couldn’t beat that dreadful package from the Cardinals.
For now, the Mets, who have so far had an incredible offseason, deserve the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, we won’t have to revisit this at any point before, during, or after the 2021 season.
When talking about Murphy’s career, first and foremost is the 2015 postseason. That postseason was not only the highlight of his career, it was also the greatest postseason performance we’ve ever seen from a Mets player with him becoming the first ever player to homer in six straight postseason games:
Part of that run was arguably the greatest game a Mets player has ever had. In Game 5 of the NLDS, Murphy went from first to third on a walk allowing him to score on a sacrifice fly, and he’d hit what proved to be a series winning homer off Zack Greinke.
Lost in that great run was the pitchers Murphy homered against. He wasn’t beating relievers or fifth starters. No, he was dominating Cy Young and postseason greats winners like Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, and Jon Lester.
That was the start of Murphy raising his game to become an All-Star MVP caliber player. Of course, that would come against the Mets in a decision Sandy Alderson admitted was a mistake.
You know Daniel Murphy homered in a record six straight postseason games, but did you know Murphy reached base safely in nearly every postseason game he played (24 of 25, 96%)? That's the highest percentage among the nearly 800 #MLB players that batted in 15 or more PS games.
— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) January 29, 2021
While we focus on those years, Murphy was more than that. He was a 2014 All-Star. He was a rookie who helped keep the 2008 Mets alive. He was the first LF in Citi Field history, and he’d be the first Mets player to lead the team in homers in a season at Citi Field.
He’s third all-time in Mets history in doubles. He’s one of only three Mets second basemen to be an All-Star. He’s the only homegrown Mets second baseman to make multiple All-Star teams.
By WAR, he’s the second best Mets second baseman in team history. He’s the fourth best middle infielder. By what we saw in 2008 and 2015, he’s arguably the most clutch player in Mets history.
Now, he’s not just a former Met, he’s a former MLB player. He can now take time to spend with his family. As we found out in 2014, that was his priority as he missed the early part of the season to be with his wife who just gave birth to their first child.
On a personal note, I not only appreciated Murphy for his play on the field, but his kindness to me. When he found out my wife was pregnant, both he and Justin Turner helped get a Mets onsie autographed for my son. He also gave me a ball from Citi Field to teach my son how to post baseball.
In the end, congratulations on a remarkable career, Daniel Murphy. You gave us a great ride in 2015, and you gave us Mets fans plenty of moments we’ll never forget.
One moment, Evan Longoria is a budding superstar. The next, Longoria is a player on an onerous contract the San Francisco Giants wish they didn’t obtain from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Putting that aside, let’s take a look at his level of production since joining the Giants.
Since 2018, Longoria has a 94 wRC+ and a 12 DRS. While his wRC+ is below average and ranks just 20th among qualified players, his DRS is third best in the majors over this time span. Overall, his 4.9 bWAR and 3.3 fWAR makes him a top 20 third baseman in the league.
Make no mistake, the offense is quite poor. However, part of that could be Oracle Park which is a nightmare for right-handed hitters. Longoria has been no exception.
In his career, Longoria is a .242/.293/.388 hitter at Oracle Park. That’s a paltry 83 wRC+. By and large, at best that’s the production of a Four-A player. More likely, that’s a player who is not even that good.
However, that’s only part of the story. Since joining the Giants, Longoria has been a .259/.314/.466 hitter, which equates to a 103 wRC+. By no means is that outstanding, but it’s a significant improvement over his home stats.
With Longoria’s glove, you can justify a 103 wRC+ at third. Assuming that’s the level of production you can get from him, the question turn becomes if it’s worth trading for him.
Before prejudging, there’s an important consideration. The third base market is absolutely barren. Right now, it’s really just Justin Turner, who is much more likely than not to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Beyond that, the Mets need a Plan C. No, Longoria isn’t preferable, but he’s a viable option. At a minimum, he’s a very good glove you can stick at third to help the pitching.
Perhaps, being removed from Oracle Park will awaken his bat. For what it’s worth, the team would probably look to have him hit no higher than seventh.
Essentially, what the Mets would be hoping for is the 2006 season Jose Valentin provided. Plug Longoria into a much better lineup, move him down the order, and just let him along for the ride.
At one year $14.7 million, he’s not going to require anything of value in return. Even then, the San Francisco Giants might eat salary to move him. Maybe they’ll take back a similarly bad contract in Jeurys Familia and call it a done deal.
If Longoria isn’t going to cost anything but money, he’s worth pursuing. The third base free agent market is barren, and at a minimum, the Mets would get excellent defense. Yes, explore other options more heavily, but don’t forget to come back to this one.
With Ha-Seong Kim signing with the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets ability to obtain a third baseman grew exponentially more difficult. That’s not to say there aren’t options.
Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant remain on the trade bloc. Of course, pulling the trigger on a deal for either player is extraordinarily difficult due to the damage Brodie Van Wagenen inflicted on the Mets farm system.
Looking at the remaining free agent third base market, Justin Turner is the only everyday third baseman available. There are many obstacles with him including his age and desire to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This leaves the Mets going all-in on the aforementioned trade options or getting creative.
The creative options involve the Mets addressing second base. That could be signing DJ LeMahieu, or better yet, Kolten Wong. Luis Guillorme could be given the starting second base job he’s more than earned, or the team could go with Andres Gimenez there with Amed Rosario back at short.
These and other options are on the table so long as the Mets believe they can entrust the third base job to Jeff McNeil.
Now, last year, the Mets gave up on McNeil at third rather quickly. There were many reasons why including J.D. Davis‘ ineptitude in left. Of course, Davis was equally inept at third (again) causing this issue.
The other reason why the Mets moved McNeil from third was McNeil struggled there. In 75.0 innings, he had a -2 OAA and a 0 DRS. Part of the issue was he struggled with his throws.
This should give everyone pause, but it should be remembered 75.0 innings is the epitome of a small sample size. Another issue is the bizarre nature of the 2020 season. Taking all that into account, we shouldn’t overreact to McNeil’s third base defense.
Entering last season, McNeil had a career 3 OAA and 5 DRS at third. Of note, that was still a small sample size with his having played 173.1 innings over the span of two years.
However, while he’s doesn’t have extensive third base experience in the majors, he played over a thousand innings at third in the minors. This leaves the impression the Mets believe he can handle the position.
Well, maybe. In Sandy Alderson’s first Mets stint, he was reluctant to call-up McNeil saying he wasn’t a third baseman. When Robinson Cano was suspended, Alderson said third was “up in the air.” All told, in typical Alderson fashion, we’re still not quite sure what he thinks.
Whatever the case, McNeil is easily the best in-house option. As the options for third dry up and look all the more unattainable, he increasingly becomes the only option there leaving the Mets to replace Cano at second with someone else.
At least with second, there are plenty of very good options remaining. Unfortunately, McNeil is probably not one of those options as the Mets could very well need him at third.
When it comes to players from other leagues, you can never be too sure how well their skills and stats translate. That is partially the result of MLB being that much better than the other leagues.
Even no doubt candidates like Hideki Matsui put up lesser numbers in MLB. That said, Matsui was a very good player who was a two time All-Star and World Series MVP.
However, that’s Japan. The KBO doesn’t have as many success stories partially because they haven’t sent over as many players. That said, you can see some examples where KBO players played well after coming overseas.
Jung-Ho Kang had a 126 OPS+ in his first two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates before his legal troubles. Eric Thames went to the KBO to resurrect his career, and it worked. In his first three seasons back in the majors, he had a 118 OPS+.
Looking at these and all foreign players, there is one guiding principle. If you’re a talented player, you will succeed in the majors. That brings us to Ha-Seong Kim.
Kim has been great in his seven seasons hitting .294/.373/.493. Using ZiPs, Dan Symborski of Fangraphs projects Kim to hit .274/.373/.477 with 23 homers and 82 RBI. In terms of advanced stats, Kim protects to have a 117 OPS+ and 3.8 fWAR.
Now, this is where Kim’s position would matter a great deal. At shortstop, he’d be a potential top five hitter in the league. At third, he’s just middle of the pack to possibly lower.
Lost in that are two things. First and foremost, it’s a projection. Second and perhaps more importantly, Kim will be 26 next year meaning he’s about to enter his prime and potentially put up bigger numbers.
Another important consideration is the bat is just part of the equation. His defense is a factor as well.
Kim won back-to-back Gold Gloves at shortstop. He didn’t repeat in 2020, but part of the reason why was his team signed Addison Russell. With Russell at short, Kim moved to third where he played well.
Looking at the complete picture. Kim looks like he’ll be an above-average hitter, and at third, he could be an above-average defender. All-in-all, that makes a good baseball player who could help the Mets significantly.
Keep in mind, J.D. Davis has twice proven he can’t play the position, and there are significant question marks about Jeff McNeil‘s ability to handle the position on a daily basis. Luis Guillorme and Amed Rosario are other options, but their bats may not play well there.
Looking at free agency, Justin Turner is the best MLB option. The problem there is he’s 36 and not guaranteed to want to move back east. On the trade market, there’s Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, but they’ll be difficult to obtain with the way Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly ravaged the farm system.
That brings us back to Kim. Arguably, there’s no free agent with his upside or ability to help the Mets branch out to another market. He could fit very well into the lineup and make the Mets significantly improved defensively. While he may not be a sure get to see his skills translate well, we’ve seen other KBO players successfully make the jump, and we see Kim is immensely talented.
All told, you can see why the Mets are interested. Hopefully, they can get a deal done and lock down third base for the next 5-10 years.