Justin Turner

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.

Mets Better Be Right About Mickey Callaway

Anytime you enter into a search for a new manager, you are really dealing with the realm of the unknown.  For first time managers, you really have no idea if that person is truly ready for the big leagues, he is better suited to the minors, or is a better coach.  For every Davey Johnson you hire, there are also the Joe Torres of the world, who were talented managers, but not ready to manage at the time you gave him the job.

Really, in these instances, you have to look at the relevant information available and the recommendations of other baseball people.  Mostly, you’re going with your gut.

The Mets gut told them to go out there and hire Mickey Callaway.

The Mets only needed one interview to choose Callaway over former manager and Mets coach Manny Acta.  It was sufficient enough for them to bypass current hitting coach Kevin Long.

Callaway had impressed so much during his interview and during his time with the Cleveland Indians, the Mets were not willing to wait.  They had Fred Wilpon sit down and sell him on the franchise similar to how the team once did with Billy Wagner and Curtis Granderson.

Give the Mets credit here.  They identified their man, and they did all they could do to bring him into the organization.  Deservedly so, many complimented the Mets on making a smart hire, including the fans who were skeptical of the direction the Mets would go.

Their man also happened to be a pitching guru, who will now be tasked with the responsibility of fixing Matt Harvey as well as finding a way to keep Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia healthy for a full season.

If Mets fans want a reason to be excited for this season, there is no bigger reason than Callaway choosing to manage this pitching staff.  By doing so, he’s announced he’s a believer, and he’s put his and the Mets future on this lines.

The team hiring Callaway so early and so aggressively had a domino effect.  It looks like the first domino to fall will be hitting coach Kevin Long.

Long has had a positive impact on the players on this Mets roster.  He helped turn Yoenis Cespedes from a slugger to a star.  By OPS+ and wRC+, Asdrubal Cabrera had two of his best five offensive seasons.  Michael Conforto would prove he could hit left-handed pitching at the Major League level.

With Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith being two cornerstones of the franchise, Long was exactly the man you wanted to help them reach their offensive ceilings.  Now, that won’t happen because Long is likely gone.

Another person you would want to help lead young players like Rosario and Smith is Joe Girardi.  In his one year with the Marlins, and this past season working with young players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Yankees made a surprising run this season that ended with a Game 7 loss in the ALCS.

What is interesting is the Mets were rumored to want Girardi.  As reported by the New York Post, the Mets were looking to possibly “pounce” on Girardi if the Yankees did not bring him back.

That was written during the ALDS when it appeared Girardi’s job was in jeopardy.  After the Yankees recovered and upset the Indians and took the Astros to seven games, there weren’t too many people who stuck believed Girardi would be looking for another job.

And yet, he is.  This should at least raise some questions whether the Mets should have done their due diligence.  Maybe another round of interviews were in order.  Conducting that extra round could have left the Mets open to the chance of not making an hire before Girardi became available.

Maybe if there was a second round of interviews, Long feels more appreciated instead of taking his binders to another job.  That other job could be as the manager or hitting coach of the Washington Nationals where he would reunite with Daniel Murphy.  Maybe with Long at the helm, the Nationals finally get past the NLDS.

If that were to happen, and if Callaway falters, it would be too much for Mets fans to bear.  Yet again, the Mets let one of their own go to the Nationals leading them to further success because they were enamored with someone from another organization.  Like with Murphy and Justin Turner, Sandy Alderson will have opened himself up to justifiable second guessing.

The team jumped the gun costing themselves a chance to hire a terrific manager in Girardi, and it might have cost them the opportunity to retain a coach they thought highly enough of they almost made him their manager.  The Mets were left with a manager who has never managed professionally, and they have to rebuild a coaching staff.

Instead of making the safe choice like they did when they hired Terry Collins, the Mets instead chose to go for the high risk – high reward hire.  It worked with Davey, and it failed with Torre.

This is exactly why the Mets need to be right about their decision to hire Callaway.

T-Mobile Presents The Seventh Inning of Game One of the 2017 World Series

Watching the World Series last night, there was certainly a lot to unpack.  With the game time temperature being over 100 degrees, it was easily the hottest temperature for a World Series game.  What ensued from there was a very played, very enjoyable, and very interesting game.

Chris Taylor hit the first pitch from Dallas Keuchel for a home run.  This was the first time that has happened in a World Series since Alcides Escobar hit an inside the park home run off Matt Harvey on a ball that Yoenis Cespedes still hasn’t bothered to chase after.

Staying on the Mets related front, Curtis Granderson was removed from the World Series roster, but Chase Utley was kept on it.  Of course, this means we will have to keep an eye on Carlos Correa‘s legs should Utley make it on base.  Considering he’s gone 0 for his last 21 postseason at-bats, it does not seem like Houston will have a problem on that front.

There was also seeing Justin Turner hitting the game winning home run in the sixth inning was enough for the Dodgers to pull out the 3-1 victory.  This was just another reminder that the Mets had no need for the man who just tied Hall of Famer Duke Snider of “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke” fame for the most RBI in Dodgers postseason history.

That was enough because we got an old fashioned pitchers duel between Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw.  After an Alex Bregman fourth inning homer, many questioned whether we would see the return of the Kershaw who struggled in the postseason.  It didn’t happen.  Instead, Kershaw was Kershaw allowing just three hits over seven innings while striking out 11 Astros.

It was a great and rare 2 hour and 28 minute baseball game; not just World Series game, but baseball game.  It truly was a joy to watch except for the encroachment of the commercial breaks.

On three separate occasions during the telecast, Joe Buck broke from the action for a quick commercial break.  One was for Wendys and the other two were from T-Mobile.  Now, this didn’t happen while a ball was in play, but rather in between plays.  That’s typically the time for John Smoltz or whoever the color commentator is to give a quick quip or analysis.  At times, that’s when the sideline reporter is given the opportunity to provide insight or a sentimental story on a player:

How did MLB allow this to happen?  We didn’t see this at all during the games broadcast on FS1 this postseason.  We don’t see Fox do it to their other sports, especially not football.  In baseball’s biggest showcase, they’ve allowed Fox to broadcast intrusive commercials during game action.

What makes this all the more egregious is there are longer commercial breaks for nationally televised games.  Fox has an extra window to get in commercials.  There are plenty of other areas to get adverstising dollars.  Certainly, every Mets fan is aware of the Cholula hot sauce gun readings during Mets games.  If you’ve listened to a game on the radio, you’ve heard Howie mention it’s the 15th batter of the game necessitating we do a quick GEICO mention.

The point there is while it was an intrusion, it didn’t take away from the game action.  It was handled by the announcer who could then quickly throw it back to the game.  You didn’t have that with the odd split screen, you know, in case you actually wanted to watch the game.

Believe it or not, this was a bad omen.  It could very well be the beginning of much more instrusive commercials during not just nationally televised games, but also regionally televised games.  Once teams get the sense this is either permissible, or that fans have become apathetic to it, it’s going to happen.  And that’s a very bad thing, especially for Mets fans who tune into games partially to hear Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling.

In the end, the lasting image of the 2017 World Series may not be a Turner homer or Kershaw finally being Kershaw in the biggest stage of all.  Likely, it’s going to be a T-Mobile commercial.

REMINDER: Mets Didn’t Want Justin Turner

After the 2013 season, the Mets made the decision to non-tender Justin Turner.  That is something important to remember with all the issues with David Wright, the failure that was the 2017 season, and with Turner joining Kirk Gibson as the only Dodger to hit a walk0ff postseason homer:

It’s incredible to think it’s 29 years to the day of Gibson’s dramatic Game 1 home run off Dennis Eckersley.  It’s also incredible to think the Mets had no use for Turner.

This is the point where everyone enters into some needless arguing.  The defenders of Sandy Alderson will say Turner hit .280/.319/.385 with a 0.8 WAR in 2013 right before the Mets decided to non-tender him.  The people upset with the move will point out how Turner worked with Marlon Byrd to help increase his launch angle.  It should be noted that in September 2013, Turner hit .357/.357/.571.

It also should be noted Turner was first time arbitration eligible and due approximately $1 million.  The Mets passed, and the Dodgers eventually gave it to him.  Turner emerged as the everyday third baseman, and the Dodgers have won four straight division titles.

Overall, the argument boils down to this:

  • Defenders point to past performance as justification
  • Critics point to Turner’s production

Put that all aside and really ask what is the job of the General Manager.  Is it for a General Manager to analyze past production to determine the future outlook of a player?  Or is it to analyze a player and pay him based upon what is a reasonable expectation of future production?

Before answering the question, here’s just one more to ponder – Was it worth $1 million to find out if Turner’s September production was indicative of future success?

Keep in mind the Mets decided to pay Omar Quintanilla $800k, Jose Valverde $1 million, and Ruben Tejada $1.1 million in 2014.

Chase Utley Really Hates Shortstops

After the 2015 when Chase Utley ruined Ruben Tejada‘s career, you got the sense Utley not only Hayes the Mets, but also shortstops. 

The latter was readily apparent with the news the Dodgers were leaving Corey Seager, arguably their best player not named Clayton Kershaw, off the NLCS roster: 

The official reports were Seager tweaked it on a slide during Game 3 of the NLDS, but us Mets fans know the truth. It was probably punishment dished out by Utley for Seager going 0-3. 

You can tell this is what happened because a good man like Curtis Granderson held himself out of the lineup in a quiet protest to Utley’s actions. Some people will tell you Dave Roberts held him out  of the lineup because the Cubs started the left-hand hitting Jose Quintana

Don’t be that naive. Kike Hernandez has never gotten a hit off Quintana in his career.  For his part, Granderson has hit a homer off Quintana. If it really were up to Roberts, who are you playing?  

For the Dodgers sake, you can only hope Utley doesn’t take out Charlie Culberson before the series is over because it’s doubtful Hernandez or Justin Turner can really handle the position. 

Better yet, Roberts should just put Utley there and see what happens.