Justin Turner

Mets Loss To Dodgers Glass Half Full

The already depleted New York Mets roster faced an even tougher challenge as Francisco Lindor slammed the door shut on his finger knocking him out of the opener of the series between the Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. To a certain extent, their being shut out for the first time all season wasn’t a shock.

Tony Gonsolin has been great all year, and he was again in this game pitching six shutout innings. Of course, his job was made easier with Lindor out of the lineup and with Brandon Nimmo dealing with a wrist injury. Digging deeper, Eduardo Escobar is ice cold, and the Mets were stuck putting J.D. Davis at DH, who is ill suited to play a team like the Dodgers.

So yes, the Mets were shut out. Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil collected two of the Mets three hits with Davis lucking into a mistake from Gonsolin around two strikeouts. Pete Alonso had a golden sombrero which was part of Mets batters striking out nine times.

Looking at that, you would think this was a lost game. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, the Mets showed something as they were in this game throughout despite being dominated by Dodgers pitching.

Taijuan Walker was fantastic limiting the Dodgers to two runs on seven hits and one walk over 5.2 innings. Remember, Walker is a pitcher who would move to the Mets bullpen in a potential postseason match-up between these teams. As of right now, the Mets fifth starter shut down the Dodgers vaunted offense.

Walker was helped by good Mets defense. That included a heads up play by McNeil to run Mookie Betts towards first as he got Freddie Freeman out at first. Alonso threw to Guillorme to get Betts heading to second, and Guillorme had his head on a swivel throwing home to try to catch Gavin Lux.

Guillorme did not make the best throw home, but Patrick Mazeika stopped it. It took longer than needed, but he made a strong throw to Escobar who made a terrific tag. That helped keep that rally to just one run.

The Dodgers scored another in the sixth off a two out double from old friend and now nemesis Justin Turner. Buck Showalter went to Colin Holderman who showed some moxy getting out of the jam. He would then throw another scoreless inning to boot.

For the final inning, the struggling Chasen Shreve threw a scoreless inning. With that, the Mets fifth starter and the Mets “lesser” relievers limited the highest scoring team in the majors to just two runs. Again, without using any of their best pitchers, the Mets limited the high powered Dodgers offense, with all of their best hitters in the lineup, to just two runs.

If you are someone who wants to view this series as a litmus test, the Mets came out of this game looking great. They have the arms to shut down the Dodgers. They’re going to get healthy, and they will hit anyone. Yes, it sucks getting shut out, but in the end, there was far more good than bad in this loss.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Blow Opportunity

The New York Mets had won seven straight series before a key divisional match-up against the Atlanta Braves. They would not make it an eighth straight series.

1.  Last season, the Mets failed on multiple occasions to deliver a knockout blow to the Braves leading to the Braves buying at the deadline, winning the division, and eventually, winning the World Series. This was the Mets first chance to deliver a huge blow to the under .500 Braves, and instead, they let the Braves walk away with a split.

2.  You can’t use Adam Ottavino for three straight games. That’s just an unforced error that helped lead to the Mets getting blown out.

3.  Buck Showalter came into this season with a number of questions. Seeing how he burns Drew Smith for two innings instead of saving him for another day and used an injured Trevor May in a key spot, it would seem like he hasn’t improved in the slightest in this area.

4.  Chris Bassitt and Tylor Megill deserved better.

5.  If Bassitt wants to sign an extension, the Mets should sign him to one. This is a good pitcher who seems to like pitching here. You keep those guys.

6.  The walks are starting to pile up with Megill. If he isn’t pounding the strike zone, he becomes vulnerable to the big inning. That is essentially what happened to him. Right now, this isn’t any cause for alarm.

7.  All the metrics say Francisco Lindor is hitting the ball very well, but the results aren’t there. Put another way, it’s too soon to overreact, but it is something we need to monitor.

8.  The Mets poor hard hit rates is not an issue for players like Jeff McNeil and Luis Guillorme. However, it is a much larger issue for the rest of the team who are more line drive power hitters.

9.  Eduardo Escobar went from pleasant surprise and leader to looking like the player the Mets shouldn’t have jumped the market to sign. His hard hit rates are cratering as is his defense.

10. Starting J.D. Davis over Dominic Smith, especially with a right-handed pitcher starting is just plain wrong. With extended playing time, Davis’ struggles with any sort of velocity and with pitches up in the zone are magnified.

11. For all the focus on the struggles of the bullpen, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, and Smith have the final 2-3 innings locked down. Looking at that, building the rest of the bullpen is a much easier task until May returns from the IL.

12. It’s very interesting how May and Jacob deGrom were dealing with very similar injuries. What that says about the Mets is anyone’s guess.

13. The umpiring in this series was embarrassing. It helped cost one game with Dansby Swanson being ruled to have a double on a clear foul ball. Dom was called out on a pitch well out of the zone. Between this series and the Madison Bumgarner ejection in Arizona, the umpiring has been unacceptably poor this season. Really, you know it’s bad when Max Scherzer gets thrown out of a game when he’s not pitching.

14. The notion anything other than balls and strikes is not reviewable is ludicrous.

15. Travis d’Arnaud is certainly going the way of Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner in how he is making the Mets pay for their flat out wrong decision to cut him loose and look in another direction.

16. Players like Travis Jankowski and Guillorme deserve more respect. They fill their roles in perfectly and make this ball club infinitely better. Jankowski knows people won’t buy his jersey, but we will all cheer him on like he’s a superstar.

17. Carlos Carrasco has been amazing this season, and his eight innings not only helped the Mets pick up a win, but it also saved the bullpen.

18. Trevor Williams wasn’t great, but he took one for the team pitching 3.2 innings. Outings like this often get overlooked and under appreciated, but it is something which will really help the Mets in the long run. With May out, you do wonder if the Mets can give him more of a look out of the pen. After all, it’s not like they have other options.

19. The Showalter suspension was ridiculous, especially when you consider Stubby Clapp wasn’t suspended. You do wonder how much that impacted the Mets in the opener of the series, especially with Showalter being informed right before game time.

20. Alonso is heating up just when the Mets need his bat to carry this team. Hopefully, he can help carry the offense as they try to give the Philadelphia Phillies the knock out blow they failed to give the Braves.

Recaps

Same Old Mets Against Braves

Mets Send Message to Braves

Credit to Trevor Williams

Dominic Smith And The Zack Wheeler Lesson

There were rumors Dominic Smith wasn’t going to be happy with a bench or part-time role with the New York Mets, and he wanted one elsewhere. As is typically the case, that came around the time he was almost traded. Well, Smith, himself, put those rumors to rest:

Smith has long made the case he should play everyday. We are seeing it again this spring. His shoulder is healthy, and Max Scherzer noted Smith is hitting balls he hasn’t hit before in his career out for homers. Once again, Smith is poised to have a big season.

More than that, Smith is someone who wants to be a Met. In years past, that is not something which the Mets have actually valued. It is an odd thing to see loyalty and allegiance not valued or honored, but that was the way the Mets were operated under the Wilpons.

That’s not to say those values should be treated in higher regard than performance. However, the Mets have taken poor stock of a player’s drive to succeed not just in baseball but with the Mets. They overlooked skills and conditions which served as detriments to performance. Instead, of removing those obstacles, they just removed the player and later lamented why that player is thriving elsewhere.

It is something we have seen time and again. Justin Turner and his new launch angle approach became an All-Star, NLCS MVP, and World Series champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wilmer Flores has been a coveted and very successful role player. The list goes on and on.

That list includes Zack Wheeler. When he and Flores were almost traded for Carlos Gomez, Wheeler went to the Mets and said he wanted to stay. He backed that up by getting healthy and improving each season. In his last season with the Mets, it was apparent he was emerging as an ace.

Wheeler went to the Philadelphia Phillies, and he arguably should have won the Cy Young award in 2021. He was that good, and he will continue to be that good as the Mets continue to try to address pitching depth in their organization. To be fair here, things are much improved under Steve Cohen.

When the Mets have a player who is on the verge of a breakout, and that player wants to be a Met, the Mets need to find a way to get that player to succeed here. Like Wheeler, Smith has. Now, the Mets need to make sure they allow him to succeed in 2022 and beyond. It is the right thing to do for someone who is going to be a very good and impactful player, and it is the right thing to do for someone committed to this franchise.

Mets Lose On Umpire Blown Call And J.D. Davis Strikeout

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.

The Dodgers had jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Trea Turner being a pest. In the first, he led off the inning with a double, tagged up on a fly out, and scored on a Justin Turner RBI ground out.

In the third, Turner he hit a one out single and would score on a Max Muncy double. After Turner walked, Corey Seager hit an RBI single giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

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.

That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.

Patrick Mazeika got it started with a single. Brandon Nimmo followed with a one out single. They’d both advance on. Buehler wild pitch during the Jeff McNeil at-bat.

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.

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.

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.

With Michael Conforto due up, the Dodgers brought in Alex Vesia. In what was a great 10 pitch at-bat, Conforto drew a walk. Unfortunately, this meant J.D. Davis came up with the bases loaded.

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.

Game Notes: James McCann and Jake Reed were put on the IL. Geoff Hartlieb and Yennsy Diaz were recalled. Jacob deGrom was transferred to the 60 day IL.

Dodgers Effectively End Mets Season

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.

The end was quick with the Dodgers jumping all over Carlos Carrasco. Justin Turner and Will Smith homered in the first giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

In the second, Trea Turner doubled home a run, and Max Muncy hit the first of his two homers in the game. After two, it was 6-0.

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.

Billy McKinney Auditioning To Replace Michael Conforto Permanently

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.

That was the story with players like Jose Bautista and Justin Turner. However, it’s not a story we really see happen favorably to the New York Mets.

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.

There are other factors like re-signing Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard. The Mets also have to try to figure out third base while preparing themselves for the eventual Jacob deGrom opt out.

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.

Justin Turner Flat Out Better Than Mets Third Basemen Since 2014

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.

Mets Still Need A Third Baseman

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.

Where Were Mets On Nolan Arenado?

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:

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.

Congratulations Daniel Murphy On A Terrific Career

Former New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has announced his retirement after 12 years. For seven of those years, he established himself as a Mets great.

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.

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.