When the New York Mets obtain a star, some have some trepidation. There are bad memories associated with the 1992 Mets as well as with future Hall of Famers like Roberto Alomar and All-Stars like Carlos Baerga.
Yes, those names were specifically chosen. They were not just chosen because they were great players before joining the Mets. They were also great Cleveland Indians players traded to the Mets.
What does that have to do with Francisco Lindor? In reality, absolutely nothing.
Alomar was 34 when the Mets obtained him. Baerga was hitting .267/.302/.396 with the Indians when the Mets obtained him.
No one asked if Trout should get the $426.5 million he received. There wasn’t a question about Betts’ $365 million extension. Yet, somehow, we see fans and articles question whether Lindor should receive an extension at all.
Really, it’s nonsense hand-wringing. It’s assuming everything goes wrong for the Mets. It’s remembering only the bad while conveniently forgetting Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and even Johan Santana.
The Mets traded for those stars and gave them extensions. Hernandez led to the best stretch in Mets history and the team’s second World Series.
Piazza set records for homers as a catcher, led the Mets to consecutive postseasons for the first time in their history, the homer after 9/11, and he became the second player to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Santana had the last great moment in Shea Stadium history, and to date, he’s thrown the only no-hitter in Mets history.
Do the Mets want to sort through this class and have the Los Angeles Dodgers run up the bidding like they did with Trevor Bauer, or the way the Toronto Blue Jays did with George Springer. That’s nothing to say of the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox who are resetting under the luxury tax to position themselves to attack free agency next year.
That’s whenever free agency does begin. Remember, the CBA expires at the end of the season, which very well may lead to a strike or lockout. In those circumstances, it makes it all the more difficult to navigate your way through the offseason.
Regardless, all of that distracts from the main point. Francisco Lindor is a top three player in the sport and future Hall of Famer who is in his prime. Instead of inventing reasons to try to justify not extending him, we should all just demand the Mets extend him.
Now that Francisco Lindor is a member of the New York Mets, the team now has to try to find a way to sign the 27 year old superstar to a contract extension. This is the move the Los Angeles Dodgers made with Mookie Betts just last year.
Its also what the Mets once did with Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza. Those moves resulted in a World Series, two pennants, two NL East titles, and four postseason appearances. Keeping Lindor can very well have the same impact on the Mets going forward.
However, it’s more than just Lindor. The Mets have key pieces of their core ready to hit free agency after this year.
First and foremost is Michael Conforto. In 2020, Conforto emerged as a true leader for this team and a potential future captain. Since moving past his shoulder injury, he’s re-established himself at the plate with a 135 OPS+ over the past two seasons.
Another homegrown Mets player who will be up for free agency is Noah Syndergaard, who will be returning from Tommy John at some point in 2021. Before suffering that injury, he was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.
From his debut in 2015 – 2019, Syndergaard was 10th best in the majors in FIP and WAR while having the second best hard hit rate. He’s also a pitcher who thrives on the big stage. He was the last Mets pitcher to win a postseason game, and in the last Mets postseason game he arguably out-pitched Madison Bumgarner over seven innings.
At 28, he’s still young and in his prime. This is the type of pitcher teams usually move to make a part of their franchise for as long as they possibly can.
Joining Syndergaard near the top of the Mets rotation and free agency is Marcus Stroman. Like Syndergaard, the 2017 World Baseball Classic MVP was born to pitch in the big game and on the biggest stage.
What truly stands out with Stroman is not just his positivity, but his tireless pursuit to improve as a pitcher. That is exactly the type of pitcher who not only tends to improve as years progress, but he’s the type of pitcher who has a positive impact on teammates.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) December 29, 2020
In terms of advanced stats like FIP and WAR, he lines up as a number two starter. However, he’s someone who you trust against another team’s ace. He’s not good, and he’s not getting outworked by anyone.
Right there, the Mets have four extremely important pieces due for an extension. After 2020, their two best position players, and two of their best three starters hit the free agent market. If the Mets truly want to rival the Dodgers, they need to move to lock these pitchers up long term.
That’s easier said than done. Some of these players may want to test the free agent market. Steve Cohen’s pockets aren’t bottomless. There’s also the matter of other players on the team.
Steven Matz will also be a free agent. After the 2022 season, Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can opt out of his contract after 2022, and the Mets have a team option on Carlos Carrasco.
Overall, the Mets have to make a number of extraordinarily important decisions on players on their roster over the ensuing two seasons. They need to balancing being able to extend those players with adding another huge contract.
By the looks of it, obtaining Lindor hasn’t completed the big moves for this Mets offseason. Rather, it means their work really has just begun.
In case you were skeptical this was indeed a new era of New York Mets baseball, the Mets just acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, the Mets added a top five player in the game at short, and they added a top of the rotation caliber pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.
When you add these players to a core with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, James McCann, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. Whether or not the Mets add another starter, bullpen arm, third baseman, or center fielder, the Mets already have the pieces in place to be a true World Series contender.
Just think about it for a moment. Assuming Noah Syndergaard returns this season, this is currently the Mets rotation:
Even if the Mets don’t go out there and sign a George Springer or add a third baseman, this is what the Mets lineup could look like during the course of the 2021 season:
- Brandon Nimmo, CF
- Michael Conforto, RF
- Pete Alonso, 1B
- Dominic Smith, LF
- Francisco Lindor, SS
- Jeff McNeil, 3B
- James McCann, C
- Luis Guillorme 2B
Sure, this Mets team could definitively stand to get better defensively in the outfield. That said, that infield defensive alignment is quite good, especially up the middle, and that lineup is as strong and deep as they come. This is a team who can go toe-to-toe with the defending division champion Atlanta Braves and the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Right now, this is a great baseball team.
What’s even better is the Mets are not done with their offseason. They are still going to add more pieces. That could include Springer, and it could be a reliever like Brad Hand. There are are likely going to be depth pieces added beyond this group. When all is said and done, the Mets with Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Jared Porter have already done and will continue to do what Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen could never even dream of doing.
Today is a great day in Mets history. Today is just like the day the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza. The Mets got a future Hall of Famer in his prime, and they completely changed the trajectory of the franchise both this year and in the years to come.
Lets Go Mets!
When it comes to Omar Vizquel‘s Hall of Fame case, it’s predicated more on opinion than anything substantive. Essentially, some people liked his defense, so they want to vote for him.
It took Vizquel 24 years to accumulate 45.6 WAR. That 45.6 number is well below the 67.5 which is the average from Hall of Famers at that position. When you realize he’s averaged less than 2.0 WAR per season, you really have to wonder where the love for him is deriving.
Sure, he won 11 Gold Gloves, but he was nowhere near the defender or player Mark Belanger was, and Belanger is still on the outside looking in for Hall of Fame voting. Also, considering Keith Hernandez is on the outside looking in, it’s not like winning 10+ Gold Gloves guarantees entry.
Then, we have the character clause issue.
In a report by Katie Strang and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Vizquel was accused of repeated acts of domestic violence by his wife Bianca during their divorce proceedings. There were also multiple police investigations.
It should be noted Vizquel denies the allegations. That said, many see that as a reason to not vote for Vizquel, which is quite understandable.
What is curious is this is seen by many as disqualifying for Vizquel but not Barry Bonds. Most likely, that’s because the accusations against Bonds is well over 25 years ago.
When Bonds was divorcing his first wife, she testified, “Barry was this big man who loved me one minute and the next minute was beating me up, and I didn’t know what to do.” (Ken Hoover, SF Gate).
In the divorce proceedings, she talked about being “habitually beaten” over the course of their six year marriage. Like with Vizquel, there were police reports. The incidents purportedly included getting “pushed to the ground and kicked while eight months pregnant.”
Like Vizquel, Bonds denied the allegations. However, as noted, unlike Vizquel, this isn’t an issue with Bonds’ candidacy.
This isn’t an isolated instance either for Bonds. During BALCO, it was discovered Bonds was verbally (but not physically) abusive and controlling of mistress Kimberely Bell. Voicemails included threats of mutilation and beheadings.
Overall, Bonds has more allegations and testimony against him than Vizquel. There are also voicemails. However, it’s not getting the same attention or publicity.
If you believe the accusations disqualify Vizquel, it should also disqualify Bonds. While Bonds’ 762 homers may have people overlook his PED usage, it shouldn’t also have voters look past his violence towards women. It’s the same with Vizquel and his 11 Gold Gloves.
Ultimately, if you don’t believe Vizquel should be inducted into the Hall of Fame due to the domestic violence allegations, you should also believe it serves as a barrier to Bonds’ induction.
When manager Luis Rojas was asked to name team leaders, Conforto was the first name he mentioned saying Conforto “stands out.”
When Dominic Smith grappled with decisions like kneeling or even playing this summer, Conforto told him he wish he knew Smith was going to kneel so he could be by him. He was then right by Smith’s side when he spoke out about racial injustice.
When it became clear Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis were not only part of the Houston Astros sign stealing controversy, but also cheated against pitchers on this Mets team, Conforto said three important things: (1) Astros crossed the line; (2) it was going to be addressed; and (3) there was not going to be any animosity.
In the history of the Mets, there has been no more obvious choice for Captain since Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. This is a homegrown Met who is perfect to lead this team as they embark on a new era.
He’s also still a very good player who has had great moments. After he moved past his shoulder injury, he’s had a 135 OPS+. We know he’s capable of more too.
He’s an All-Star caliber player who can hit anywhere in the lineup, and he’s been a good defender. He’s also a team player willing to move to any position to help the team.
Conforto is the Captain in every possible way. Once the Mets give him the contract extension he’s earned, it’s time to formally announce him as the fifth Captain in team history.
When Carlos Delgado was five percented off the Hall of Fame ballot, there was shock from fans. Almost yearly, people look to point out the absurdity.
While understood, Delgado did not have a career as good as John Olerud‘s, and yet, we rarely hear about how Olerud should not have been five percented off the ballot.
Olerud played 17 years in the majors hitting .295/.398/.465 with 500 doubles, 13 triples, 255 homers, and 1,230 RBI. He won one batting title, was a two time All-Star, and won three Gold Gloves.
In terms of the advanced numbers, he has a 58.1 WAR, 39.0 WAR7, and a 48.6 JAWS.
Looking at the average Hall of Fame first baseman, he’s fairly well behind the 66.9 WAR and 54.8 JAWS. However, he’s closer to the 42.7 WAR7. Examining his career past these numbers you see a more compelling case.
Notably, by WAR, Olerud is the 20th best first baseman of all-time. When looking at the top 20, the only three eligible players not tainted by steroids not in the Hall of Fame are Todd Helton, Keith Hernandez, and Olerud.
Behind these players are nine Hall of Famers. Those players include Hank Greenberg and Orlando Cepeda. Other players behind him are Fred McGriff, Delgado, and Don Mattingly, three players who have very vocal advocates.
First and foremost, the 500 doubles is significant. Olerud is one of 64 players to accomplish that feat. Of those 64, there are few eligible players not in the Hall of Fame.
When you eliminate steroids tainted players like Rafael Palmeiro and players currently on the ballot like Helton, there are only members of the 500 doubles club not in the Hall of Fame.
Digging deeper into that, putting aside Barry Bonds and Palmeiro, Scott Rolen and Helton are the only players with 500 doubles and three Gold Gloves who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Notably, Rolen and Helton are still on the ballot.
Beyond that, Olerud deserves a bump for his postseason play. In his postseason career, he was a .278/.365/.435 hitter. When you look at his performance prior to the final two seasons of his career, he had a .816 OPS. He won two World Series and was part of several memorable games.
There are also some very unique and noteworthy aspects of his career. Olerud became the only first baseman and just the second overall to hit a cycle in both leagues.
Like Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, he went straight from the draft to the Majors. In fact, Olerud would be the only second round pick to accomplish the feat.
While Hernandez is seen as the best defensive first baseman ever, Olerud is the all-time leader in defensive WAR at first base. He’s fifth in total zone rating.
Even with his being part of the best defensive infield in history, Olerud is overlooked for being one of the greatest defenders at the position. In fact, he was so good Bobby Valentine was able to utilize him holding on runners without Olerud having to stand directly on the bag.
Nearly everything about Olerud’s career was unique right down to his wearing a batting helmet in the field. Looking at his entire career, Olerud left an indelible mark on the history of baseball.
He was a great defensive first baseman, one of the best ever, and he was a very good hitter who would hit .350+ three times and have eight seasons above a 124 OPS+. In fact, in 16 of his 17 seasons, Olerud was an above league average hitter.
Overall, Olerud was an outstanding player who was one of the more complete first baseman of not just his era but MLB history. While you may still fairly look upon as his career as just short, he certainly deserved a deeper look into what might’ve been a Hall of Fame career.
It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.
It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven A Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:
Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.
Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.
For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.
If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.
The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.
Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.
What makes Mets broadcasts so special is Gary Cohen and Howie Rose grew up Mets fans. They’ve been there since the beginning, and they’re an encyclopedia of Mets knowledge.
To wit, no one knows just how great Tom Seaver was and just how much he meant to Mets fans.
For Mets fans, today is the wake and funeral. We’ve lost Seaver, and we’re turning in more to hear the tributes than we are to see the Mets face the Yankees.
We need Cohen and Rose to deliver the eulogy. They’ll do that in their pre-game introductions. They’ll do it by spinning tale after tale during the games.
They should do so unfettered. No need for Steve Gelbs interjections or for Wayne Randazzo to be able to really provide no perspective on this.
There is a place for Seaver’s former teammates Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez to provide some perspective. Having listened to them through the years, they both respect and revere Seaver much like we all do.
Overall, this is the day we all want to hear from Cohen and Rose. SNY and 880 should find a way to get them in the booth again together and to have them simulcast the game across TV and radio.
Let them deliver Seaver’s eulogy in a way only they can.
With the bases loaded, the count 3-0, and the Texas Rangers trailing the San Diego Padres by the score of 10-3 in the eighth inning, Juan Nicasio threw what was essentially a get me over strike. For much of baseball history, no batter would swing at the pitch.
There were and are unwritten rules where you don’t show up your opponent. When the score is this lopsided late in the game, you don’t steal bases, take the extra base, and you certainly don’t swing when up 3-0 in the count. Last night, Fernando Tatis, Jr. swung 3-0 and boy did he connect:
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 18, 2020
The swing caused some controversy. Tatis’ manager Jayce Tingler spoke about how he didn’t like it calling it a “learning opportunity.” Seeing that, perhaps it should come as no surprise Tatis apologized for it.
When Rangers manager Chris Woodward addressed the “incident,” he said, “I didn’t like it personally. You’re up by seven in the eighth inning. It’s typically not a good time 3-0. It’s kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But … the norms are being challenged.”
Woodward hit it right on the head. There are going to be people who don’t like it. There’s NOTHING wrong with that. In sports and life, there’s always room for sportsmanship and not showing up the opponent or rubbing it in their face.
On the other hand, baseball is definitively evolving. Players are throwing out the unwritten rule book. There’s definitely merit to it.
Look at it this way, Tatis’ homer helps his case for MVP discussions. It also helps him for a future arbitration cases and salary discussions. Understand the point here. It’s not that one single PA affects it, but rather all of these PA accumulated.
As a Mets fan, we have heard Keith Hernandez comment on several occasions about these purportedly garbage time at-bats. As he’s said, you don’t just give away these at-bats. From his old school perspective, it could be the difference between hitting .300 and reaching 200 hits or falling short.
Almost assuredly, Hernandez would not be a fan of Tatis swinging 3-0. However, even with his old school mindset, you don’t just give away at-bats. That has an impact on your season and career. You’re a professional hitter facing a professional pitcher. You go up there, and you try.
That’s also part of the unwritten rules. The batter isn’t up there to just give up. Another part of the unwritten rules is the Rangers are still going to try and comeback to win that game no matter how unlikely.
That last part is why Tatis swinging is justified. The Rangers didn’t give up. Sure, if it was a position player pitching, we could see swinging 3-0 as beyond the pale. Still, these are Tatis’ numbers and MVP voters and arbitrators aren’t going to tally unwritten rule points to factor into their determinations.
So yes, for a multitude of reasons, Tatis was justified in swinging. By the same token, there’s no problem with the Rangers feeling like they were shown up. That goes double when for over 100 years things like swinging 3-0 just wasn’t done.
The Rangers just threw behind a Padres hitter because the previous hitter (Fernando Tatis Jr.) hit a granny on 3-0.
Here's a thought: how about you learn how to not give up 14 runs and not give up 7 RBI to a kid who can barely legally buy a beer. pic.twitter.com/y68zDQW8dS
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) August 18, 2020
It’s important to note Gibaut did it the right way. He kept the pitch low and towards Machado’s backside. It wasn’t towards the head or hands.
Gibaut went up there, and he stuck up for his teammate. He properly delivered the message to the Padres to knock it off. They found what Tatis did wasn’t acceptable.
Machado understood. He assuredly wasn’t happy, but he didn’t escalate the situation. The umpires did what they needed to do to make sure the situation didn’t escalate from there. Gibaut then did the right thing by moving on and pitching normally to Tatis.
There are going to be many who didn’t like what Gibaut did. To that, there’s still room in this game for having your teammate’s back, and there’s room for delivering messages. Notably, by getting it out of the way, it was addressed and no issues should fester.
Ultimately, we should all be able to admit Tatis did absolutely nothing wrong while also saying Gibaut did nothing wrong. Both can be true, and honestly, baseball is better if we can admit this.
It’s great if we have a sport where talent like Tatis can shine, and we have the ability to have one teammate stick up for another (in the right way). To a certain extent, this is what Woodward was hinting at in his statement. Essentially, he said, I don’t like it, we don’t have to like it, but things are different.
Really, when you break it down, only one person was absolutely in the wrong here – Tingler. He needed to have Tatis’ and Machado’s backs. He needed to say my players compete, and don’t throw at my players. He didn’t, and that’s plain wrong.
Overall, other than Tingler, who embarrassed himself, no one should have a problem with anything that happened. Tatis’ grand slam was great, and the Rangers response was fine. That’s baseball.
The last we saw the Mets Dominic Smith was hitting a walk-off extra inning homer against the Braves. So much has happened since then, including but not limited to a pandemic. About nine months later, the Mets and Braves were back squaring off at Citi Field.
With this matchup it seemed like the Mets picked up where they left off. That was the case with Jacob deGrom who pitched like his Cy Young self.
deGrom began the game just throwing 100 MPH with ease. The Braves just could not put up much of a fight against him. Even when Marcell Ozuna, a good MLB hitter, got up 3-0 in the count, deGrom still dispatched him with ease.
Overall, deGrom was limited to just five innings because it’s the first start after the revamp of the season. He’d allow just one hit and one walk while striking out eight. Of course, with this being deGrom, he had a no decision.
Part of the reason was Mike Soroka started for the Braves. Soroka emerged as a future ace in his rookie year last year. Soroka was good . . . and lucky.
In the first two innings, the Mets got the lead-off hitter on only for the runner to be erased on a double play. Ender Inciarte robbed both J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil of potential RBI extra base hits. There was also a bad McNeil base running gaffe.
While the Mets offense was getting shut down, the combination of deGrom and Seth Lugo was doing the same to the Braves.
Lugo mowed down the Braves in the sixth, but he’d have to come up big in the seventh. Ozuna hit it sharp to left. With a better defender, it might’ve been a single, but the Mets don’t care about defense.
After his one out double, Ozuna took third when Wilson Ramos, who had not caught in a week due to his attending to personal issues, whiffed on a pitch.
The Mets brought the infield in, and we saw one of the most unique plays you’ll ever see. Matt Adams, who was recently released by the Mets, was the Braves DH. He hit a sharp grounder to the right side. McNeil, who flipped from third to second with the shift, fielded the ball and walked it to first for the extremely rare five unassisted at first.
After that unique play, Lugo struck out Austin Riley to get out of the jam. That put Lugo in line for the win in the event the Mets could score at least one run.
Enter Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes was back after double heel surgery and a wild boar attack. He was inserted in the lineup as the first ever DH Mets DH in a game between two NL teams. After a pop out and ground out against Soroka, he faced Chris Martin.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 24, 2020
Right there, the Mets were up 1-0 with a homer we honestly would’ve expected from Cespedes years ago. These were the moments he thrived, and at least today, he seemed primed to be that player again.
What’s fascinating is Cespedes became the first ever DH to record a hit, homer, and RBI in a game between two NL teams. Believe it or not, he has now homered in three straight games.
Cespedes' last three games:
May 13, 2018
July 20, 2018
July 24, 2020
He homered in all three.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 24, 2020
The Mets pitching, which was excellent, made that 1-0 lead hold up. Justin Wilson worked around a lead-off single in the eighth to pitch a scoreless inning.
Edwin Diaz issued a one out walk to Freddie Freeman in the ninth. In case you had fear this was going to be the same Diaz who imploded all of last year, he’d quash those concerns by striking out Ozuna and Adams on seven pitches to end the game.
The Mets pitching was phenomenal in this win. They combined to shut out the Braves allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 15. The Braves had no chance today.
When the Mets pitching is at this level, they don’t need much. Last year, they don’t get that run. This year, they have Cespedes. That may be all they need.
Game Notes: The Mets won their first challenge of the season when McNeil was incorrectly ruled out when stretching a single to a double. The play caused Keith Hernandez to quip about the umpire, “Get an eye chart!” Matt Adams made MLB history by being the first DH to have a PA in a game between two NL teams. The Mets wore Black Lives Matter shirts (before the game but did not kneel for the anthem.
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 24, 2020