When the Mets bucked conventional wisdom and put Pete Alonso, the rationale was this was a tight National League East, and the Mets needed every possible game they can get. Well, in the second game of the season, Alonso helped them win a divisional game against the Nationals.
It began right away with his hitting a single in the top of the first to set up a three run first inning rally. That rally also featured a Wilson Ramos double and a Jeff McNeil triple (more on him later).
That three inning first would become a 4-1 lead when Alonso annihilated a Stephen Strasburg pitch for a double.
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 30, 2019
This Strasburg start should have the Nationals very worried. Any hope last season was a blip for him were quickly dashed. According to Brooks Baseball, he was throwing 93 MPH. Remember, this is a guy who used to be able to get it up to 100 MPH. Now, he looks ordinary, and the Mets made him look as such.
Strasburg pitched six innings allowing four earned on seven hits. His eight strikeouts were good, but it’s not going to do him as much good if he’s going to be this hittable.
Despite Strasburg’s struggles, he got the no decision.
The main reason was Noah Syndergaard wasn’t sharp. Like Strasburg, he allowed four earned over six. However, Syndergaard’s game shouldn’t elicit as much concern for the Mets.
For starters, he has never pitched well at Nationals Park. In five starts, he’s now 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA. With Syndergaard’s velocity and location there, you could chalk this up to the quirks of a pitcher just not pitching well at a particular park.
The other issue was Mickey Callaway pushing him too far.
Syndergaard looked done after getting a huge strikeout of Anthony Rendon to end the fifth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 30, 2019
At the time, it was 4-3, and Syndergaard was at 86 pitches. He was battling most of the game, and Victor Robles was set to lead off the inning.
Robles would hit a ball through the shift, and he turned it into a double with Michael Conforto not getting over in time. The Nationals would then get him over and in with a Kurt Suzuki sacrifice fly.
The game was 4-4 entering the bottom of the eighth, and as we would soon learn, the once again retooled Nationals bullpen stinks with Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Grace, and Wander Suero combining to give up seven runs over the final two innings.
The go-ahead hit was a J.D. Davis opposite field bases loaded single to give the Mets a 6-4 lead. Alonso would soon be heard from again hitting a two run double giving the Mets an 8-4 lead.
On the day, Alonso was 3-4 with a run, two doubles, and two RBI. The doubles were smoked. At the bag, he had a pick a few balls out of the dirt. Overall, this was a great game for him, and it was the exact type of game the Mets envisioned when they put him on the Opening Day roster.
As good as Alonso was, McNeil might’ve been even better. In addition to the first inning RBI triple, he had a ninth inning RBI double. On the day, he was 4-5 with two runs, a double, triple, and two RBI.
His ninth inning double made it 9-4, and Dominic Smith‘s two RBI single made it 11-4. With respect to Smith, he’s also had quite the start to the season. In his limited duty, he’s 1-2 with a walk and two RBI while serving as Alonso’s defensive replacement.
Unfortunately, this was not a laugher as the Mets bullpen was not quite up to the task with Justin Wilson being the only set-up man to do the job with a scoreless seventh.
Matt Adams swung at the first pitch and gave it a ride, but it would fall short with Conforto catching it near the wall.
With the Mets having a seven run lead, Callaway opted to not waste any more relievers, and he stuck with Lugo. For whatever reason Lugo didn’t have it.
As the Nationals rallied, Callaway wasn’t as quick to respond and the relievers weren’t getting loose quick soon enough.
Rendon was hit by a pitch to force in a run, and then Ryan Zimmerman hit a bases clearing double to pull the Nationals within 11-8. Even with there being two outs, Callaway had no choice but to go to Edwin Diaz, who needed just one pitch to record the save.
Behind the win and the success of the Mets duo of Alonso and McNeil (the latest Mets bromance) was a poor game by Callaway.
Davis did deliver the go-ahead RBI single. On the play, the slow footed Ramos was at third. Instead of using Broxton to pinch run, he stuck with Ramos. The Mets got away with it.
Finally, while starting Lugo in the ninth was the right move, Callaway was probably too slow to react, especially with Lugo’s pitches not being sharp.
Still, even with the Callaway lapses, the Mets won mostly because Alonso and McNeil were great. The Mets have taken the first series from the Nationals and are now in a position to sweep the fist series of the year.
Game Notes: Wilson picked up the win in his first appearance as a Met. Alonso joined Conforto, Kazuo Matsui, Nick Evans, and Preston Wilson as Mets who began their careers with three hits and two extra base hits over their first two Major League games (hat tip Mathew Brownstein).
Last night, the New England Patriots won the sixth Super Bowl in team history. If you look at how the Mets have performed in the other five years the Patriots won the Super Bowl, you may not believe this to be a good thing:
Super Bowl XXXVI
After a disappointing season on the heels of a National League pennant, Steve Phillips decided it was time to make some drastic changes with the Mets. The team would clear out Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile to make way for Mo Vaughn and Roberto Alomar. The team would also reunite with Roger Cedeno and Jeromy Burnitz. A disappointing rotation was “buttressed” with pitchers like Pedro Astacio, Jeff D’Amico, and Shawn Estes.
What would result was an unmitigated disaster as none of the imported players would perform close to their historical levels of production. In fact, only Estes would be playing baseball the next time the Mets made the postseason. Perhaps the biggest indignity to their also-ran season was Estes inability to exact revenge against Roger Clemens.
Super Bowl XXXVIII
This year was probably rock bottom for that era in Mets history. The team proved ill advised at trying to make Mike Piazza a part-time first baseman. Kazuo Matsui looked like a bust leading you to wonder why the Mets not only contemplated signing him, but also shifting Jose Reyes to second base to accommodate him. You also wondered if Reyes was going to prove out to be an injury prone player. Braden Looper should never have been contemplated as the closer.
As bad as that was, the team made a series of trade blunders. First and foremost, for some reason with the Mets being five games under .500 and seven out in the division, they talked themselves into contender status leading to the infamous Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano trade.
As bad as that was, we would also see the Mets first obtain Jose Bautista only to trade him away for Kris Benson. Again, this was done in the vein of the Mets are contenders despite being so many games out of contention.
Jim Duquette would shoulder the blame for the moves, which probably were not all his idea, and he would be reassigned in September. Without Duquette at the helm, the Mets would completely bungle firing Art Howe leaving him to manage the end of the season knowing he was doing it with the axe swiftly coming down on his head.
Super Bowl XXXIX
With Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph at the helm, this was a new look Mets team. Still, things weren’t quite there. Doug Mientkiewicz proved to be a bit of a disaster. The team leaned on Miguel Cairo too much. At the time, Carlos Beltran seemed to be channeling Bobby Bonilla with a year where he regressed in nearly every aspect of his game. As bad as that was, he had the horrific collision with Mike Cameron in right-center field in San Diego:
The biggest bright spot of that season was Pedro Martinez, who was vintage Pedro all year long. He flirted with no-hitters, and he led the league in WHIP. He was a throwback to a time when the Mets dominated with their pitching. He would also battle some injuries leading to Randolph smartly shutting him down for the rest of the year.
Except he wasn’t. As Pedro would detail in his eponymous book “Pedro,” Jeff Wilpon forced him to pitch while he was hurt. This would exacerbate his existing injuries and would lead to other injuries. Instead of having Pedro in the 2006 postseason, he was watching with the rest of us.
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: Lost World Series 4-1
Even when things are going right, they fell completely apart. Alex Gordon jumped on a Jeurys Familia quick pitch. Daniel Murphy booted a grounder. Lucas Duda couldn’t make a throw home. Terry Collins did about as poor a job managing a World Series as you possibly could do. What was once fun ended in bitter fashion.
Super Bowl XLIX
The 2016 Mets made a late furious push to claim a Wild Card spot despite being without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler in the rotation. The thought was if these pitchers could be healthy in 2017, then the Mets could return to the postseason for a third consecutive year, and maybe, just maybe, the Mets could win the World Series.
Instead, Harvey would have off-the-field issues leading to a suspension. Back then, we thought those issues were affecting his performance. In actuality, it was Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Joining Harvey on the shelf was Noah Syndergaard, who went down with at a torn lat. Matz had ulnar nerve issues costing him most of the season. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman unable to reclaim their 2016 magic, the season was history.
Still, during that season there was a glimmer of hope in the form of Michael Conforto. The then 24 year old was playing at a superstar level. He was named a first time All Star, and he was proving himself to be a leader for a Mets team which still had the talent to be contenders in 2018. Instead on August 24, he would swing and miss on a pitch and collapse to the ground with a severe shoulder injury.
As if that all wasn’t enough, this would be the first time since 2003, David Wright would not appear in at least one game for the New York Mets.
Super Bowl LIII
This past offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen has set out to put his stamp on the Mets. He has rebuilt the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson. He has reshaped the lineup with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, and Wilson Ramos. There are still some holes on the roster, but generally speaking, this is a stronger club than the Mets have had over the past two seasons.
The additions have come at a cost. The Mets traded away arguably their two best prospects in Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. The team has also parted with well regarded prospects Ross Adolph, Luis Santana, and Scott Manea for J.D. Davis. There was also a further burying of former first round picks Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini on the depth charts.
Sure, there is no real correlation between the Patriots winning a Super Bowl and the Mets performance during the ensuing season. To suggest that is foolish. And yet, there is an unsettling pattern where a Patriots Super Bowl begets a disappointing Mets season.
Really, when you break it down, the real analysis to be made here is the disparity between the Patriots and the Mets. Whereas the Patriots are regarded as one of the best run organizations in all of professional sports with a terrific owner, the Mets are regarded as one of the worst run organizations with meddlesome owners. If the Mets are to break this “streak,” it is going to be because the Mets are a much better run organization who has the full resources and backing it needs from ownership.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, the New York Mets are not pursuing Manny Machado this offseason as they “don’t see him as the right player to spend big on.” While this may create an uproar amongst Mets fans and Mets critics, the is 100% the correct move for the Mets franchise. There are several reasons why:
- Machado only wants to play shortstop, and as we saw with Kazuo Matsui displacing Jose Reyes, moving Amed Rosario off shortstop is a bad idea;
- With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players. You don’t need three.
- Carlos Beltran was the last under 30 year old who the Mets signed to a $100 million contract. Do we really want the Mets to sign someone who is just going to strike out looking anyway?
- The last Orioles shortstop to play for the Mets was Mike Bordick, and he hit .260/.321/.365 in 56 regular season games with the Mets before getting benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series.
- With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
- Infamously, Timo Perez did not hustle in the World Series. After the World Series, Perez would hit .275/.311/.394 with the Mets. If that’s what we can expect from players who do not hustle in the postseason, giving Machado a megadeal will be a disaster.
- The Mets gave Ronny Mauricio a $2.1 million signing bonus. You cannot give him that type of bonus and then block his path to the majors by giving Machado a huge contract.
- For the price of Machado, you can sign eyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Oliver Perez, Rene Rivera, Devin Mesoraco, Lucas Duda, Carlos Gomez, Eric Young, Jr., Chris Young, Tyler Clippard, and still have room to make strong offers to Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson.
- Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
- It will be hard to free up the funds to sign him with the Mets still paying Bobby Bonilla.
So really, when you break it down and look at the reasons, the better question is why should the Mets even consider signing Machado?
In their history, the Mets have had a number of truly awful free agent signings. Their foibles on the free agent market have inspired books, and they have led to the Mets having prolonged down periods which have led to the team being under .500 for extended periods and eventually rebuilding. Their mistakes are not limited to just any position. Really, they have made mistakes across the diamond:
C Rod Barajas (1 year, $500,000) – In the Mets history, they have had just four free agents catchers as their Opening Day starter with Barajas being one of them. With respect to Barajas, he was the cheap option in a truly uninspiring free agent group of catcher, and he would not last the season getting released towards the end of August.
1B Eddie Murray (2 years, $7.5 million) – Murray was the first piece the Mets locked down in what was to be known as the Worst Team Money Could Buy. In his previous stops, he was a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best switch hitters to ever play the game. With the Mets, Murray had two disappointing seasons where he hit .274/.330/.446.
2B Luis Castillo (4 years, $25 million) – In 2007, the Mets needed a second baseman, and the team was able to get Castillo for nearly nothing. While that team collapsed, Castillo was hardly to blame hitting .316/.404/.418 over the final month of the season. To that end, it made sense to bring him back but not for the extreme overpay which was immediately panned by everyone. Castillo would disappoint from that point forward, and eh woudl become a symbol of what was wrong with the team with the seminal moment being his dropping Alex Rodriguez‘s pop up leading to the Mets losing a game to the Yankees.
3B Todd Frazier (2 years, $17 million) – After a year in which Frazier had his first ever trips to the deisabled list and he had a careeer worst .390 SLG and .693 OPS, he was an obvious candidate. Frankly, the choice was much easier when you consider how well Robin Ventura played during his Mets tenure and the Mets predominantly using homegrown players or trades to fill the position.
SS Kazuo Matsui (3 years, $20.1 million) – Despite the presence of Jose Reyes, the Mets opted to sign Matsui to be their shortstop. It looked like a great move when Matsui homered in his first ever at=bat, but it was all downhill from there as Matsui disappointed at the plate and in the field. Matsui dealt with injuries, was moved to second base, had a negative WAR in his last two years with the Mets, and he was eventually traded for Eli Marrero, who lasted just two months with the Mets.
LF George Foster (5 years, $10 million) – The Mets first free agent splash was Foster, and in many ways, Foster set the tone for some for the big moves the Mets would make in the future. Foster would go from being an All Star who hit .295/.373/.519 to someone who hit .252/.307/.422 in a Mets uniform. Overall, Foster had a rocky tenure with the team, and he would be released in 1986 after making comments to the press.
CF Vince Coleman (4 years, $11.95 million) – It wasn’t enough the Mets let Darryl Strawberry go to the Dodgers they replaced them with Coleman, a player who tortured the Mets. If Mets fans didn’t despise him enough when he wore a Cardinals uniform, they certainly did during his Mets tenure which featured not just poor play but also throwing firecrackers at a group of fans.
RF Roger Cedeno (4 years, $18 million) Cedeno wasn’t just an important part of the 1999 team, but he would also serve as a key piece of the trade which brought the Mets Mike Hampton. When he was a free agent, the Mets pounced to bring him back. Just three years later, he was a shadow of the player he was leading to his being traded to Wilson Delgado.
SP Oliver Perez (3 year $36 million) – After being obtaine by the Padresx, Perez was great in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, won 15 games in 2007, and gave the Mets every chance to win in the final game every played in Shea Stadium. Despite all of that, there were red flags everywhere, and Perez predictably failed after getting his big free agent deal. He struggled, and he would refuse a stint in the minors leading to the team freezing him out. His Mets career would end in infamy as he was brought into the 14th inning of the final game of the season after not having pitched in nearly a month. He’d be released after the season with a one year and $12 million left on his deal.
RP Francisco Rodriguez (3 years, $37 million) -Needing a close, the Mets went out and signed the closer who just set the single season saves record to a massive contract. In his first year in the deal, he had the second most blown saves in the NL and a then career worst ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, and K/9. In the second year of his deal, he was placed on the restricted list after being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend’s father in the family room at Citi Field. The Mets finally traded him in the last year of his deal to accomplish both rebuilding and to prevent an onerous option from being activated.
In Brodie Van Wagenen’s first offseason as Mets manager, it is incumbent upon him to navigate through the minefield of potential free agent busts which are lurking. The success of the 2019 Mets and his success during his tenure as the Mets General Manager depends on it.