Justin Turner

Thank You MLB For Joe West

The NLCS and the ALCS have been riveting series so far with many storylines and subplots.  After each and every game, there is so much to unpack and discuss.  In many ways, these series are all that is great about baseball.

The Brewers are trying to bullpen their way through the postseason.  Their efforts reached their peak yesterday with Craig Counsell pulling Wade Miley after he walked Cody Bellinger, so he could insert Brandon Woodruff.  The obvious goal there was to get the right-handed Woodruff in against a predominantly right-handed lineup.

The Dodgers have been dealing with the drama with Manny Machado not hustling and making dirty plays in the field.  Through all of it, Machado has been the best player in this series, and in a 13 inning Game 4 victory, he made the hustle plays to win the game.  In addition to Machado, the Dodgers have the usual postseason issues related to Clayton Kershaw, who followed a bad start with a gem yesterday.

In the ALCS, the Astros appeared poised to streamroll the Red Sox.  In Game 1, Chris Sale didn’t have his velocity, and he went to the hospital after the game.  In that game, the Astros beat up on what is a poor Red Sox bullpen.  It seemed as if this was going to be a recurring theme in this series except it hasn’t.  The Red Sox have won three straight games with the Red Sox taking advantage of the Astros bullpen while Alex Cora has used a deft touch, including his use of Rick Porcello in the pen, to navigate his way through each game even with Craig Kimbrel nearly pulling an Armando Benitez each game.

We should be talking about each and every single thing from each of these series.  We should be talking about George Springer having another phenomenal postseason run.  Same thing for Justin TurnerOrlando Arcia is playing at another level this postseason.  There are so many great stories and more, and today, we’re not talking about any of them.

No, we’re talking about Joe West because he made a decision which may have changed the course of not just Game 4 of the ALCS but the entire series.

Mookie Betts was about to rob Jose Altuve of a two run homer until his glove hit the hands of some fans in the stands.  While there may not have been a definitive video, it is about 99 percent certain Betts reached into the stands, which means pursuant to MLB rules, it should have been a home run.

Before discussing further, it’s important to see West’s position.  It is best shown in this video:

Joe West is nowhere near position to make that call.  Seeing him out there, it was clearly impossible for him to get into the correct position.  The right field umpire is really in no man’s land. and he felt comfortable enough to make a series changing call.  In addition, MLB did not have enough cameras in place to properly analyze a call which was still fairly obvious.

Really, unless you are from Boston, an MLB replay official, Joe West, or a horrid analyst like Billy Ripken, you knew it was not fan interference.  And yet, here we are.  Stuck with a bad call in what should be a great series.  Worse yet, instead of discussing all the great things which are happening in the postseason, we are focusing on Joe West.

Time and again, we hear from Rob Manfred about all that is wrong with baseball.  He has publicly chastised Mike Trout for not being available for MLB promotions.  And yet, while he’s focusing on all that’s wrong and blaming players for his marketing department not being able to promote players, he allows Joe West to go out there and be Joe West and not make sure there are enough cameras in place to mitigate against that.

No Grandy Finish For NLCS Game Turner on a Dime

In many ways, Game 2 of the NLCS was decided by a couple of former and well liked Mets.

In the top of the eighth, with the Dodgers down 3-2, Justin Turner hit a go-ahead two run homer off Jeremy Jeffress.

The Brewers would have their chance to respond in the bottom of the eighth.

With one on and two out, Dave Roberts pulled his left-handed reliever for Kenta Maeda, and Craig Counsell countered by sending Curtis Granderson to the plate. Granderson put a charge in one, but the ball would land harmlessly in Yasiel Puig‘s glove.

While there were many, many other factors which influenced the final score, when you boil down this game, the difference was Turner’s ball left the yard, and Granderson’s didn’t.

In some ways, it’s great to see some popular former Mets in the postseason, especially Granderson. In other ways, it is a reminder how the Mets once had the talent to be a World Series contender. That talent is still contributing in some fashion to teams on the cusp of going to the World Series.

It’s now incumbent on the Mets to find their next Turner and Granderson to get the franchise to the point where Turner and Granderson currently are.

Wheeler Great Again

Here’s how good Zack Wheeler has been pitching in the second half of the season.  Last night, he allowed three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out nine.  For him, that now qualifies as a poor start.

The Dodgers were able to score the three runs off of him because they hit two homers.  It should come as no surprise one of those homers was by Cody Bellinger, who absolutely owns Wheeler.  In fact, Bellinger is 4-for-8 against Wheeler with four homers and nine RBI.

The other homer was in the fourth inning.  After Justin Turner hit a comebacker which hit Wheeler in the ribs, Max Muncy would hit a two run homer off of Wheeler.  Given how Wheeler was still dealing with the shot to the ribs, you could put a bit of a mental asterisk next to that one, especially when you consider Wheeler would retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.

Even with those homers, the Dodgers could not pull ahead of the Mets.

In the fourth, the Mets finally broke through against Hyun-Jin RyuAmed Rosario singled and Jeff McNeil doubled to put runners at second and third with no outs.  From that point forward, the Mets would BABIP the heck out of Ryu.

Wilmer Flores would hit one back which hit Ryu that allowed him to reach safely and would allow Rosario to score.  McNeil would challenge Joc Pederson‘s arm on a Michael Conforto flyball, and he would score because Yasmani Grandal could not hold onto the ball.  In an odd official scorer position, Conforto was not given the RBI as it was ruled an error on Grandal.

Part of the key to that play was Flores going to third, which would allow him to score from third on the two out RBI single from Austin Jackson.  That was important as Jackson was nailed at second trying to challenge Alex Verdugo‘s arm.  Had Flores been at third, it’s very likely he does not score on the play.

Kevin Plawecki led off the fifth with a double, and he moved to third on a Brandon Nimmo bloop hit.  After Wheeler struck out, Rosario singled home Plawecki.  Later that inning, Flores brought home Nimmo on a ball Enrique Hernandez was not quite tall enough to get.  With that, the Mets had a 5-2 lead, and they were in control of the game.

That became a stranglehold with Conforto delivering a seventh inning RBI single, and Ryan Madson throwing a wild pitch to allow McNeil to come home from third.

After 105 pitches, Wheeler was done after seven, and Mickey Callaway brought on Seth Lugo to close out the final two innings.  He did just that allowing no hits and striking out a batter.  With the win, the Mets have now won consecutive West Coast series, and the team is playing much better baseball of late.  They are two games over .500 in the second half.

Game Notes: In his final at-bat ever against the Mets, Chase Utley lined out to Nimmo.  So in the end, the dirtiest player alive lined out to the nicest and most genuine player in the majors.

deGrom Sets Mets and MLB Records In No Decision

When Justin Turner hit a first inning home run off of Jacob deGrom, it was evident deGrom did not have his best stuff.  After all, deGrom had not allowed a home run in his last 42 innings pitched.  As it turned out, it really was a struggle for deGrom with him needing 109 pitches to get through six innings.  That’s notably because he threw 108 pitches in each of his last three starts, and he went 9.0, 6.0, and 8.0 innings respectively.

Through all of his troubles tonight and him fighting it, deGrom’s final line was 6.0 innings, two hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and six strikeouts.

It’s at the point where deGrom is so good his inability to find himself and be on his A game leads him to having an absolutely terrific and dominant start.  He’s been having a lot of those lately.  In fact, with this quality start, deGrom set a new Mets record with 20 straight quality starts.  It gets better.  With deGrom allowing three earned runs or less in his past 25 starts, he has set a new MLB record.

And to think there are some people who don’t want to give him the Cy Young.  Of course, those people’s justification is wins.  Well, tonight was another exercise of how absurd that is.

While deGrom has been great all season, Alex Wood has been great of late, and the Mets do not hit left-handed batters well.  More to the point, for some reason when the Mets have been playing good teams of late, they find ways to shoot themselves in the foot.  Tonight was no exception.

In the first Wilmer Flores hit into an inning ending double play.  In the second, Todd Frazier, who had made a fine catch in the game diving into the stands,  was thrown out stealing to end the inning.  In the third, Austin Jackson struck out to end the inning with runners at second and third.  After all of that, deGrom needed to take control of things himself in the fifth inning.

After a Jay Bruce leadoff walk and a Devin Mesoraco single (he was lifted from the game and Jose Reyes pinch ran for him due to injury), Jeff McNeil hit into a double play leaving it up to deGrom to get Bruce home from third.  With him using McNeil’s bat, deGrom delivered the RBI single tying the game at 1-1.  Really, deGrom was doing all he could do out there with him combining his excellent pitching with him going 2-for-2 at the plate.

There was a chance deGrom was going to get into the seventh inning in this game to just allow him to hang around long enough to hope beyond hope the Mets put him in a position to win.  However with an Amed Rosario error in the sixth inning, that pretty much ended that hope meaning the 8-8 deGrom was saddled with another no decision, and this was going to become a battle of the bullpens.

The Mets would win that battle as the offense would eventually break through and because the Mets bullpen did not break.

In the seventh, the Mets were close.  They had the bases loaded with two outs, but Jackson couldn’t deliver the key hit.  Well, if the Mets thought they were close, the Dodgers were even closer.

Against Seth Lugo in the seventh, they had runners at the corners and no outs.  Lugo first struck out Yasmani Grandal, and then he induced Yasiel Puig to hit into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

In the eighth, Drew Smith issued a two out walk to Turner which almost blew up in his face.  If not for the low right field wall in Dodgers Stadium, it is likely Manny Machado‘s double gives the Dodgers a 2-1 lead instead of being a ground rule double putting runners at second and third with two outs.  After getting Enrique Hernandez to fly out to center, Smith officially dodged a bullet.

Kenta Maeda was not dodging the same bullet in the ninth.  After a Bruce leadoff double, Kevin Plawecki sacrificed him over to third base.  After McNeil was hit by a pitch, the Mets had runners at the corners with one out setting the stage for Brandon Nimmo, who came on to pinch hit for Smith:

With Nimmo’s pinch hit three run homer, the Mets had an unlikely 4-1 lead, which Robert Gsellman had the task to save.  It was not going to be easy for him and the Mets.  After a replay review, the Dodgers had runners at the corners with no outs.  The game was 4-2 after Grandal brought a run home with a sacrifice fly.  That would be the final score as Gsellman induced Matt Kemp to hit into the game ending 6-4-3 double play.

So overall, the Mets won a game partially because of the six dominant innings he gave them, but for some reason, there is going to be a voter out there who is not going to put him atop the Cy Young ballot because of his 8-8 record.

Game Notes: With the Dodgers starting the left-handed Wood, McNeil batted eighth, and Nimmo was on the bench.  Before the game, the Mets recalled Dominic Smith, Jack Reinheimer, and Drew Gagnon

Flores Winning 2019 First Base Job

This year, the Mets have been unwilling to give either Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso an opportunity to prove themselves at the Major League level. We’ve also seen recent reports Jay Bruce will get a long look at first base to close the season. Of course, there’s also Yoenis Cespedes who may need to play first when he returns from his double heel surgery, whenever that might be.

While all of this has been occurring, Wilmer Flores has been playing first base, and he’s done a good job there.

Since June 15, the day he ostensively took over the first base job, he’s hit .283/.332/.473 with 14 doubles, seven homers, and 26 RBI. That production equates to a 118 wRC+.

If Flores maintained that level of production, his 118 wRC+ would rate as the eighth best among MLB first basemen. This would leave him tied with Cody Bellinger and ahead of players like Anthony Rizzo, Jose Abreu, Carlos Santana, and Justin Bour.

It also happens to be the same level of production which prompted the Mets to give Bruce a three year $39 million contract even with Bruce not having a season anywhere near as productive since 2013.

There are a few reasons why Flores has been this productive.

First and foremost, he’s learned how to hit right-handed pitching. So far this year, he’s hitting .286/.344/.492 against right-handed pitching. This makes this the first year of his career the once thought of platoon bat has hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching.

Flores is also showing improved plate discipline. Flores has a 7.8 percent walk rate and a 9.3 percent strikeout rate. Both numbers are career bests and both follow positive yearly trends Flores has made since 2015.

That’s one of the unheralded aspects of Flores’ 2018 season. He’s shown himself to be an improved player on the field, and he’s shown the ability to withstand playing everyday.

At 27, Flores is now in the prime years of his career, which means we could reasonably expect him to take a positive step forward in each of the next few years.

Looking over the roster and the Mets choices at the position, you’d be hard pressed to argue the Mets could do better than a 118 wRC+ player making improvements in his plate discipline and against right-handed pitching.

Looking at it objectively, Flores deserves that first base job next year over the options the Mets currently have.

Subjectively, it doesn’t hurt to have a fan favorite who has the most walk-off hits in team history. Moreover, you would like to get another look at him in his last year of team control to avoid another Justin Turner/Daniel Murphy situation.

Overall, Flores is a guy who wants to be a Met, and he is a guy who continues to make improvements in his game. Give him the 2019 first base job he’s earned with his play on the field.

Mets Should Not Trade Wilmer Flores

Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets handed Wilmer Flores the starting shortstop job.  The ensuing two-and-a-half years have been mercurial for both Flores and the Mets organization, and somewhat astonishingly, the Mets probably still do not know what they have in Flores.

For a while, that matter seemed resolved.  Flores was a platoon bat you could use to platoon at any position across the infield, especially first base.  A funny thing has happened.  Flores has learned how to hit right-handed pitching.  So far this year, Flores is hitting a robust .301/.359/.553 against right-handed pitching.

Considering Flores has improved his OPS against right-handed pitching in each year since 2015, this may not be a fluke either.  Flores may actually be a bat to keep in your everyday lineup right now.  However, that leads to the eternal question over where exactly Flores should play.

Well, based upon circling trade rumors, it appears that decision may be up to a new team.

Now, if the Mets are going to trade Flores, they need to first consider what type of prospect would Flores even merit?

While not a perfect comparison, let’s look at Eduardo Nunez.  Like Flores, Nunez was seen as a guy who didn’t really have a position on the infield, but ultimately, contending teams were willing to take a chance on him due to his versatility and his offense.

Back in 2017, Nunez was acquired by the San Francisco Giants from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Adalberto Mejia.

As noted by John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Mejia was a C+ prospect who projected to be a fourth starter in the majors.  Of note with Mejia, he had already served a PED suspension and didn’t look the same since returning from the suspension.

Since the trade, Mejia has made 22 starts and one relief appearance for the Twins.  Overall, he is 4-7 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.620 WHIP.

Assuming the Mets could even acquire a player the level of a Mejia, the question is whether a C+ prospect would be worth foregoing Flores’ prime years.  Put another way, are the Mets really willing to risk Flores becoming the next Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy for what may ultimately become a forgettable prospect?

To that end, Flores may actually be the type of player who is more valuable to his own team than to another team.

Flores is a fan favorite, and he is a player who is steadily improving.  We have never heard him complain about his playing time or about what position he plays.  More than that, from his crying on the field to his recent comments, this is a guy who genuinely enjoys and wants to continue being a New York Met.

All told, it would behoove the Mets to find out if this is another step in Flores’ progression.  They can easily give him the second base job for the end of the year into next year to see if he further grows as a player.  If he does, it’s very possible Flores will want to sign a deal to be around for the next Mets team to go to the World Series.

And who knows?  Maybe this time, instead of making the last out, he’s delivering the series winning hit as both he and all of New York have tears streaming from their eyes.

Looks Like The Mets Messed Up The Harvey Decision

While the Mets are trying to pull out all the stops against a Marlins team actively trying to lose games, over in Cincinnati, it seems Matt Harvey is starting to put things together.

Over his last three starts, Harvey has been terrific pitching to a 1.47 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/BB ratio.  Over these starts, opposing batters are hitting just .200/.257/.231 against the Dark Knight.  What makes these starts all the more impressive is when you consider they have come against the Cubs, Braves, and Brewers.

That’s three quality offensive opponents in games all started in hitter’s parks.

But it’s more than just the opponents and the results.  His velocity and control are back.  As already noted, Harvey is no longer walking batters, and apparently, he’s not leaving the ball in a position to be teed up by opposing batters:

According to Brooks Baseball, Harvey is back to throwing 95+ with a slider near 90.  Before getting traded to the Reds, Harvey was missing a tick or two on all of his pitches.  In some of his outings, he had nothing but guts out there.

As noted by C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, Harvey says he is feeling better than at any time since 2013.  That’s notable because in 2013, he had Tommy John and in 2016 he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

That could partially because the Mets never really let Harvey get back to full strength post TOS surgery.  It also could be because Harvey always believed he was getting better and getting there.  It just so happened that has actually proven true with the Reds.

Maybe the credit should go to Reds interim pitching coach Danny Darwin and an assistant pitching coach Ted Power.  The duo, especially Darwin, are beginning to get credit for helping turn not just Harvey around, but also what was once considered a bad Reds pitching staff.

That’s not a criticism of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland.  After all, the Mets duo has helped Jacob deGromreach another level in his game.  They have also seen Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz possibly turn the corner in their careers becoming more reliably and healthy starters.

What it is an indictment upon is the Mets patience and their ability to properly evaluate their own players.  After all, Harvey’s spot in the rotation was effectively taken over by Jason Vargas to be an effective starter this season.  Therein lies the problem.

To that point, here’s the series of transactions and moves the Mets made immediately after designating Harvey for assignment:

Since that time, the Mets have designated both Robles and Conlon for assignment.  We’ve also seen the Mets give chances to Buddy Baumann, Scott Copeland, and Chris Beck.  At a minimum, this is really bizarre roster management, and you have to question what the Mets saw in Baumann, Copeland, and Beck that they didn’t see in Harvey.

Even if you invoke all the Justin Turner non-tender defenses (wouldn’t happen here and the like), that doesn’t mean getting rid of Harvey was the right decision.

It’s not the right decision when you look at the pitchers who have made appearances and struggled in his stead.  It’s not he right decision when you consider the team miscalculated on whether Harvey had something left in the tank.  Really, they miscalculated on his being a disruption.

Since his being traded, the Mets are 14-30 (.318).  They just had a 5-21 month.  On the other hand, the Reds 26-19, and they were 15-11 in June.

Overall, both the Mets and Reds are sellers, and right now the key difference between them is as a result of the deal, the Mets will be looking for someone to take Devin Mesoracowhereas the Reds will have Harvey, who is suddenly a pitcher who is building up trade value.

In the end, it’s funny.  Harvey was partially traded to remove a distraction to help them win ballgames.  In fact, in pure Metsian fashion, the opposite happened.  They fell apart with his replacement in the rotation, Vargas, going 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP.

Sandy Alderson Should Want Focus On Payroll Instead Of His Record

In what has already been a frustrating offseason for Mets fans, Sandy Alderson has already uttered a statement that may prove to go down in “Panic Citi” history.  While speaking with reporters, Alderson suggested people “spend a little less time focusing on our payroll.”

If Alderson wants everyone to spend less time focusing on payroll, maybe it is time to focus on Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager to see how it was the team has gotten to this position.

Injuries

During Alderson’s entire tenure, there have only been eight players who have played over 140 games in a season – Asdrubal Cabrera (2016), Ike Davis (2012) Lucas Duda (2014), Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2016), Juan Lagares (2015), Daniel Murphy (2012 – 2014), Jose Reyes (2017), and David Wright (2012).

This is because of a long list of injuries that have occurred to their position players.  This ranges from the ordinary (Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issues) to the bizarre (Davis’ Valley Fever) to the tragic (Wright).

As poorly as things have gone for the position players, the pitching situation is even worse.  Johan Santana, Tim Byrdak, and Scott Rice suffered injuries that effectively ended their careers.  Same could be said for Bobby Parnell, Jeremy Hefner, and Jim Henderson.  The list goes on and on..

That list includes a starting pitching staff upon which this franchise was supposedly built.  Each of the treasured purported five aces have undergone surgeries that have cost them multiple months.  Matt Harvey may never be the same, and the same can be said for Zack Wheeler.

The irony is Alderson implemented the famed “Prevention & Recovery” mantra, and arguably things have gotten worse under his control.

Evaluating Own Talent

Now, there are varying reasons why teams choose to extend some players while not extending others, or why they choose not to re-sign other players.  Still, Alderson’s record is not exactly sterling on this front.

The main players discussed on this front are Murphy and Justin Turner.  However, there are some other less discussed players that have slipped through the Mets fingers.

The Mets traded Collin McHugh for Eric Young only to watch McHugh thrive elsewhere.  Chris Young was given a large one year deal, was released, and has been an effective player for the Yankees and Red Sox.  They released Dario Alvarez to see the Braves claim him and trade him to the Rangers for a former first round draft pick.  Finally, there was the Angel Pagan trade for a couple of players who amounted to nothing with the Mets.

The troubles evaluating their own players go beyond who they willingly let go.  It goes to those players the Mets opted to extend – Lagares, Jon Niese, and Wright.  None of these three ever amounted to the promise they had at the time the contracts were extended.  There are differing reasons for this, but in the end, the Mets proved wrong in those decisions.

The Draft

The glass half-full is that every first round draft pick made prior to 2015 has made the Majors.  Additionally, two of those players have made All Star teams.  The glass half-empty is the players the Mets have drafted have not lived up to their potential.

At a time the Mets need a starting center fielder, Brandon Nimmo isn’t even being considered.  This is not surprising as many see him as a fourth outfielder.

Coincidentally, the Mets also need a second baseman, and they are not even considering Gavin Cecchini for so much as a utility role let alone an opportunity to compete for a job in Spring Training.

The team was not at all enamored with Dominic Smith‘s rookie campaign, and they have publicly talked about bringing in insurance for him not being on the Opening Day roster.

The Mets had no 2015 draft pick because the team lost it signing Michael Cuddyer.  Effectively speaking, this decision cost the Mets two first rounders as the team’s lack of offense and health caused them to trade Michael Fulmer for Cespedes.  We have all seen Fulmer win a Rookie of the Year Award and make an All Star team in Detroit while the Mets have been desperate for pitching.

Justin Dunn has done little to quell the concerns he is a reliever and not a starter while Anthony Kay, the compensation for the reigning NLCS MVP, has yet to throw a professional pitch because of his Tommy John surgery.

This leaves Conforto, who should be a burgeoning superstar, but sadly we wait with baited breath looking to see if he is going to be the same player he was before separating his shoulder on a swing.

Free Agency

Alderson’s ventures into free agency have not been all that fruitful.  Of all the players who have signed multi-year deals, only Granderson has posted multiple seasons over a 2.0 WAR.  In fact, Granderson is the only player who has posted a cumulative WAR of over 4.0.

For those that would bring up Colon or Cespedes, their exploits are not attributable to their multi-year deals.  Colon accumulated 4.9 WAR with the Mets with 3.4 of that coming during his one year contract.  Cespedes has accumulated 7.2 WAR with the Mets with just 2.1 WAR coming last year in an injury plagued first year of a large four year deal.

It should be noted Alderson may not have much success on this front because the team has not gone crazy in free agency signing just a few players a year to Major League deals.

Depth

Even in 2015 and 2016, two years the Mets made the postseason, the Mets had depth issues.  This was why the team traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons.  It’s also a reason why in those consecutive years the Mets had to add to the bullpen.

Those seasons have taken a toll on the Mets prospect front.  They have sent away a number of assets and potential Major League contributors for a number of players who were attainable before the season began on reasonable deals.  Instead, the Mets thought they would be set with players like Eric Campbell

Synposis

Much of what is attributed to Alderson being a good General Manager is predicated upon a stroke of genius in obtaining Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra in exchange for R.A. Dickey.  Even with many fans wanting to give him plaudits for Cespedes, it should be noted the trade was made largely because of a series of missteps.  It should also be noted the Mets lost a pretty good pitcher.

Now, if you are going to defend Alderson by saying his hands have been largely tied due to the Mets payroll, remember, Alderson himself doesn’t want thinks we should spend a little less time focusing on that.

Sadly, we have to do that because the Alderson regime has had difficulties in evaluating their own talent and drafting high end talent.  If he had, the discussion would probably be the Mets fine tuning to make another postseason run instead of there being fan anger over how the payroll is restricting the Mets from building a World Series caliber roster.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

2017 World Series Game 5 Top 10 Game Changing Plays

The expectation is that with a game changing play, you would expect things to become a little more one-sided, and one team to begin to pull away.  As Endy Chavez and Carlos Beltran can tell you, that is not always the case.  Last night, there was a myriad of change-changing plays.  Here’s a shot at ranking the Top 10:

1.  Gurriel’s 3 Run Homer (4th Inning)

Perhaps none of yesterday’s game would be possible if not for Yuli Gurriel‘s three run homer.  At that point, the Astros were down 4-1, and their former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel had nothing.  While the Astros had already gotten to Clayton Kershaw, it’s still Kershaw.  If Kershaw gets Gurriel there, the inning is over, and the game has a much different feel.  Instead, Gurriel hit a homer that came out of nowhere and descended us all into madness.

2. Barnes’ Hustle Double (9th Inning)

If you subscribe to the theory home runs are rally killers, Yasiel Puig‘s two run homer in the top of the 9th gave Chris Devenski and the Astros a chance to exhale, get the last out, and win the game.  Instead, Austin Barnes stretched what should have been a long single into a one out double.  The pressure was back on, and more importantly, the game tying run was in scoring position for Joc Pederson and eventually Chris Taylor, who would deliver to the two out RBI single to tie the game.

3. Taylor Didn’t Go Home (8th Inning)

After Corey Seager hit a one out double off Will Harris to pull the Dodgers to within two runs, Justin Turner hit a deep fly ball to right center.  Instead of challenging the arm of Josh Reddick, and pulling the Dodgers within a run, Taylor stayed at third base.  The reason was because Minute Maid Park was so loud, he confused third base coach Chris Woodward‘s direction to “Go!” as him saying “No!”  Chalk that one up for home field advantage.

4. Altuve Ties It Again (5th Inning)

Narratives exist because things happen.  Game 5 was case in point why people say he chokes in the postseason even with his Game 1 peformance.  After recording two quick outs, he walked Springer and Alex Bregman back-to-back, and with him at 94 pitchers, Dave Roberts brought in Kenta Maeda, who had been previously unscored upon this postseason.  That changed with the Altuve home run, and it really set the table for the complete inability for the respective bullpens to get the job done.

5.  Springer Redemption (7th Inning)

The half inning after Springer made an ill fated dive at a sinking liner in center (more on that in a moment), he would lead-off the bottom of the seventh against an exhausted Brandon Morrow, who had nothing.  Springer got back the run he effectively gave up by hitting a monster of a game tying home run.  That would spark a three run rally giving the Astros an 11-8 lead.

6.  Bellinger Unties It (5th Inning)

After Gurriel hit the aforementioned game tying three run homer, Cody Bellinger hit a three run homer off of the struggling Collin McHugh, who had not pitched since the ALDS.  At that time, the Dodgers seemed to have reclaimed momentum, and they gave Kershaw back a sizeable lead he should have been able to protect.

7. Bregman Walk-Off (10th Inning)

It may seem strange to have this so low, but that was the type of game it was.  Bregman’s two out walk-off single against Kenley Jansen was the capper in a series of back and forth plays that not only gave fans whiplash but also sleep deprivation.

8.  Springer Dove and Missed (7th Inning)

Believe it or not, the sixth inning of this game was scoreless as the bullpens began to settle in a bit after a crazy fifth.  A Turner lead-off double of new reliever Brad Peacock created some tumult.  Turner would then score easily when Bellinger hit a sinking liner to center.  Instead of fielding in on a hop and trying to get Turner at home or decoying him, Springer dove . . . and missed.  At the time the Astros fell behind 8-7, and they were lucky Bellinger wasn’t able to score on an inside-the-park home run.

9.  The “Double Steal” (1st Inning)

At the outset of this game, you honestly believed a pitching matchup of Kershaw and Keuchel would be a pitcher’s duel.  In fact, the Dodgers took Game 1 with both pitchers mostly shutting down the opposition save for three homers in the game.  With the Dodgers having a 2-0 first inning lead, they were already in the driver’s seat.

Then, Keuchel made the weakest of pickoff attempts, and in what must’ve been a designed play, Logan Forsythe took off for second.  As Gurriel threw it wide of second, Kiké Hernandez broke for the plate.  With the errant throw and Forsythe getting in just ahead of the tag, it appeared as if the Dodgers had a commanding 3-0 lead in the game en route to a 3-2 series lead heading back to Chavez Ravine.

10.  Correa in Just Ahead of the Tag (4th Inning)

Before the Gurriel game tying homer off Kershaw, Carlos Correa would deliver a one out RBI double to get the Astros on the board.  On the play, Correa got in just ahead of the throw of Hernandez, and he would keep his foot on the bag.  Had he not stayed on, he’s not on base when Gurriel hits the game tying home run.

Overall, these are just 10 moments from an otherwise Helter Skelter type of game.  We all may have a different order, and there may be some plays that should have been included that were not.  That’s just indicative of what type of game that was and what type of series this is.