In a surprise, Kevin Pillar is a free agent. While it was reasonable to presume the New York Mets would decline his option, it was a complete shock Pillar declined his.
Pillar will be 33 on Opening Day next season. He’s coming off a year where he had a career worst 0.5 WAR (for a full season). That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Pillar has been at an 88 OPS+ in the last two full seasons. This is a slight dip from his career best in 2015 when he was still below league average. In fact, Pillar has never been above league average in any full season.
That was acceptable when defense was his calling card. It’s really not that case anymore. Aside from 2016, when he was an astounding 11 OAA, he’s been between a 1 to -2 OAA in the outfield.
That’s not to suggest he’s bad. He’s not. Rather, he’s an average fielder who is a below average bat. That makes him a rotation, platoon, or bench player. He’s not a starter.
Judging from Baseball Savant, Pillar has issues. He’s not driving the ball, and his contact rate is in decline. Same goes for his eye. His speed remains good, but that’s also been slipping.
That’s the biggest issue with Pillar. He appears to be a player in decline. He had a safety net with the Mets with a fair $2.9 million option. With that one year, he had an opportunity to re-establish value.
While betting on himself is admirable, it might be misguided. It’s highly unlikely he finds a starting job. After all, he was offered a part-time role with the Mets after a decent 2020.
This leaves him again seeking out a bench role. Maybe he finds it without needing to resort to a non-roster invite. Maybe he even finds a team who can provide a decent role, albeit likely not one with as much playing time as the Mets could’ve offered.
Overall, Pillar either bet on himself or got out of a place he no longer wanted to play. He gambled he’d get a better role, salary, and/or chance to win. At this moment, it’s difficult to see that happening, which is why Pillar should’ve stayed with the Mets.
After Taijuan Walker struggled allowing five runs in the second, he’d actually settle in and give the Mets six innings giving them a chance to win the game. You won’t hear Luis Rojas get credit for sticking by Walker because he’s just become a punching bag.
Keeping in Walker, who’d actually have an RBI single, helped the Mets get into a position to win the game. After a surprise James McCann two run homer, the Mets would take a lead heading into the seventh.
Seth Lugo shut the New York Yankees down in the seventh with just seven pitches. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning carrying a 7-5 lead into the eighth.
The Mets would blow it, and for some reason, fans want to say it’s all Rojas’ fault.
It didn’t matter to them Lugo has not been good in a second inning of work this year. The hard hit balls off of him also didn’t matter. He needed to stay in the game.
It didn’t matter Trevor May has been great lately allowing just one run in his last 10 appearances. Apparently, Judge, one of the best players in all of baseball, only could’ve hit a homer off May in that spot to tie the game. (Never mind the second inning homer).
The Yankees take the lead on a wild throw! pic.twitter.com/dqZicSAQGz
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 12, 2021
It’s odd Rojas would order Báez to throw the ball away allowing the go-ahead run to score. That’s doubly irresponsible after Rojas apparently told May to surrender a homer to Judge.
The Mets would have their chances to reclaim the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, there were two on and two out. Pete Alonso gave one a ride which fell near the warning track for the final out of the inning.
The final backbreaker was in the ninth. With a runner on second and one out, Kevin Pillar struck out. That’s where Rojas struck again.
The pitch went to the backstop. Instead of breaking immediately Pillar hesitated. That hesitation, clearly ordered by Rojas, cost Pillar the chance to reach first safety.
You can’t help but wonder if McCann’s fly ball to end the game could’ve scored by tying run. We’ll ever know.
What we do know is one of the Mets better relievers, who has pitched extraordinarily well lately, chose a bad time to have a bad outing. Baez threw a ball away. Pillar didn’t immediately break for first.
Like it or not, this one was simply on the players for not executing. It happens. Unfortunately, it just means the Mets are a day closer to the end of the season and possibly a day closer to Rojas being the fall guy.
Game Notes: The Mets wore special alternates with no pinstripes and New York in the Tiffany font. They once again wore the First Responder caps.
Believe it or not, this wasn’t more of the same of what we’ve seen from the New York Mets. Rather, it was the start of the Mets completely derailing of the New York Yankees in the start of the Citi Field portion of the Subway Series.
Megill had his best start as a Major Leaguer pitching a career high seven innings while recording a career high 10 strikeouts. He’d pick up his third career win as the Mets dominated.
A 1️⃣0️⃣ K night for Tylor Megill. ? pic.twitter.com/4MzJwvuxOA
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2021
The first indication of what we were about to see happened in the first inning. Gary Disarcina had an all-time bad send (his speciality), and yet Jonathan Villar was safe due to what can only be classified as the worst tag attempt in Major League history.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 11, 2021
Right there, Gary Sanchez set the tone. The rest of the Yankees team would take it home.
Javier Báez hit a ball to Gio Urshela. Urshela made a poor throw home thereby keeping the bases loaded and allowing the run to score. Jeff McNeil followed with a perfect drag bunt to increase the score to 4-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2021
A Kevin Pillar sacrifice fly and James McCann RBI double later, and the Mets had a five run inning. They were far from done. The lead was expanded to 7-2 when Francisco Lindor hit an opposite field one out homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 11, 2021
Later in the inning, Báez doubled home Michael Conforto from first. The rally ended there with Báez being nailed at third. It was just about the only thing the Yankees did right all night.
As Keith Hernandez put it, the Yankees were “Pepe Le Peu.” They had two errors and a number of misplays. They looked every bit the team who has now lost seven straight.
As for the Mets, this 10-3 win was a glimpse at what could’ve been. With the exception of Alonso, their top six hitters reached safely at least twice.
Overall, this looked like a real postseason team. The shame of it is they likely won’t get there. Instead, we see them in the black jerseys and dream.
Game Notes: McCann hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play in the seventh. Instead, Gleyber Torres threw it away allowing two runs to score. Yennsy Diaz surrendered a solo homer to Anthony Rizzo in the ninth.
There are many reasons the New York Mets blew this game to the Miami Marlins and lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Sandy Alcantara was brilliant, and the offense came up short again.
The Mets blew it in the 10th inning. There was probably a botched call from the umpires and replay. That meant instead of Jesus Sanchez‘s error leading to runners at the corners, it was just prolonging the at-bat.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 9, 2021
First, it was Luis Guillorme for Kevin Pillar. Guillorme walked. Then, in a somewhat incredulous decision, he pinch hit Patrick Mazeika for James McCann. Mazeika meekly grounded out to end the inning.
With the Mets other high end relievers having been used, Rojas was essentially forced to bring in Edwin Diaz. What was over concern should now be alarm.
After blowing consecutive saves to the Washington Nationals, Diaz was entrusted with getting this tied game to the 11th inning. He’d fail miserably.
The first batter, Magneuris Sierra, laid down a good bunt. Diaz got there and nearly threw it away. Really, it took a great play from Báez to not only get the out, but to also stop Diaz from throwing it away to end the game.
Diaz did rebound to strike out an overmatched Sanchez. Then, Bryan De La Cruz came to the plate. Make no mistake, there’s just no way Diaz should’ve been pitching to De La Cruz.
After the game, Rojas cited a number of reasons why. Those included the R/R matchup as well as Diaz’s control issues. No matter what, the real issue was Diaz.
Here’s Rojas on the decision to pitch to De La Cruz: pic.twitter.com/Db6QSgCTHD
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) September 9, 2021
Despite ordering the intentional walk being the right call, Diaz would pitch to De La Cruz. Instead of being careful, Diaz would throw a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate which De La Cruz launched to dead center to end the game leading to Diaz with the Hansel Robles signature finger point:
Incase you weren't familiar with Bryan De La Cruz already: pic.twitter.com/g3KiWlgiiV
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 9, 2021
Again, blame the offense all you want for the 2-1 loss. Blame Rojas for some weird pinch hitting decisions and for pitching to De La Cruz. Those are all valid critiques.
However, at the end of the day, the Mets have a closer who can’t seem to pitch in September in a pennant race. He had a 7.36 ERA in September 2019. He’s allowed five runs in 3.0 innings taking a loss and going 1/3 in save chances.
Closers like Diaz, or at least what many pretend Diaz to be, are supposed to hide some of the deficiencies by ensuring the close games go in your favor. That just doesn’t happen with Diaz in the huge spots.
For the third straight outing, that was the case. You just wonder how many more outings like this he has before the Mets are completely out of contention.
Well, it was bound to happen. After all the times the New York Mets were going to ignore his track record, they were bound to get Rich Hill through six. Tonight was that night.
This was Hill’s best start as a Met, and he was helped along by his defense and some Nationals snafus.
Garcia hit his second double in the fifth. If not for a terrific play off the wall by Michael Conforto and a strong relay throw, Riley Adams scores. Instead, Hill got Keibert Ruiz popped out to end the inning
As evidenced by the above and Francisco Lindor, really the play behind Hill was phenomenal. Hill dropping down some and getting Juan Soto out in big spots, like the sixth, is exactly how you pitch six shutout innings.
Hill got the win because the Mets offense did just enough. It also helped they were able to absolutely abuse Soto’s poor defense in right.
Fortunately, Nolin was able to move enough it didn’t hit him in the head. More than that, he was able to stay in the game.
In the third, Brandon Nimmo drew a one out walk, and Pete Alonso hit a ball the other 29 right fielders in baseball catch. Soto was the one who couldn’t turning it into an RBI triple giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
At this point, the hope was the Mets offense would take off and put the game away. Instead, the Mets offense went away leaving very little margin for error.
The Mets had chances. In the fifth, there were runners on second and third with one out. In the seventh, they had first and third with one out. They failed to score in either situation.
This is where Nimmo almost cost the Mets the game.
On an 0-2 pitch, Stevenson took off, and Adams lined it to center. Nimmo had no chance to catch it, but he dove anyway. If not for Conforto backing up the play, the Mets lose on an inside the park homer.
Instead, they lost their catcher. Conforto made a strong relay, and Báez made a strong but albeit offline throw. Sisco just got blown up on the play, Stevenson scored. and the game was tied with the tying run at third.
Patrick Mazeika came in, and Diaz settled down to get the next two outs to send it to extras. The Mets would score more in the tenth than the previous nine.
With Lindor as the ghost runner, Alonso golfed one to center giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. When Baez fouled out to deep left, Alonso had heads up base running to tag up and go to second.
This led the Nationals to intentionally walk Conforto to set up the double play. Instead, Kevin Pillar ripped a two RBI double to left extending the lead to 5-2.
That lead would be extended to 6-2 later in the inning when Jonathan Villar hit an RBI single. Remarkably, Villar started the game 0-for-2, and he would still have a four hit game.
Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 10th, and there would be no blowing it. He shut the door on a game the Mets had to have.
Well, the Mets need them all. In any event, the Mets turned what could’ve been a bad loss to a terrific 6-2 win.
Game Notes: Brad Hand was activated. Dominic Smith was placed on the bereavement list. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling went on the road to broadcast a game for the first time in nearly two years.
Finally, the New York Mets won a game in easy fashion. For that matter, they finally won two games in a row for just the second time this month.
This wasn’t the thumbs down like we once saw with the Mets fan and Todd Frazier when Frazier was with the New York Yankees. No, according to Báez, it was retaliatory booing of fans.
Javier Baez on the thumbs down sign Mets players have been flashing to the crowd after big hits: "To let [the fans] know when we don't get success we're going to get booed, so they are going to get booed when we have success."
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) August 29, 2021
We can debate whether Báez was here long enough to react that way. The clear answer is no. Sure, he’s sticking up for his good friend Lindor, who fans stupidly booed, but Báez isn’t the guy here.
He’s also not the guy to adjudge fans not being behind this team. He seriously has zero clue as to what it means to be a Mets fan. It’s an idiotic statement. It’s all the more idiotic given the ovations he received when he first joined the Mets.
Assuredly, those are gone.
Another important note, this is a Mets team who opened the month with a 3.5 game division lead. It hasn’t even been a full month, and they turned that into a 7.5 game deficit.
That shifts to what makes this all too embarrassing and hilarious. Apparently, the Mets players had been trying to do this for a week.
The fact the players have tried to do this for a week and we’re all just noticing now is the funniest thing ever.
Hey fans, we were trying to boo you back but we were so terrible no one could possibly notice.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA https://t.co/guRZozzqN3
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) August 29, 2021
That’s just how bad the Mets have been. They’ve been trying to make this a new thing for a week. The only problem is no one noticed because they have been so bad the past week, and really this month, they couldn’t even pull it off.
It’s just a bad joke.
They’ve been trying to get back at the fans for the better part of a week, and they were so bad, no one knew this was a thing. Pulling off this retaliation might as well have been the Mets hitting with the bases loaded.
And therein lies the problem. The players are now obsessed over trying to teach the fans a lesson. Great. Good for them. It’s not going to help them win games or hit.
So, great, teach Mets fans a lesson. They’re still going to boo a team four games under .500 who completely nosedived against teams they were supposed to compete with in the postseason.
Even better, the booing is going to get worse much like the Mets performance has been in the second half. So, in the end, the players actions are going to be as counter productive as their at-bats with RISP have been.
Really, all you can and should do, is laugh at them because this is just sad.
After being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets were perilously close to being swept by the San Francisco Giants. With all that was happening, you almost expected it.
After all, even by Mets standards, things were completely haywire. It started with Steve Cohen’s tweet calling out the offense.
There was also Tim Healey of Newsday sending a bizarre tweet including the amount of times Marcus Stroman re-tweeted his highlights amongst his game stats. Then, there was Stroman re-tweeting tweets promoting violence against Healey and calling Cohen a clown.
James McCann was still dealing with back spasms, and the Mets still weren’t aware of whether he’d need to be put on the IL. This necessitated Chance Sisco getting emergency called up and Patrick Mazeika doing the dreaded starting a day game after a night game.
Then, well, there was a game where a lot happened. Again, that’s a lot by Mets standards.
Tylor Megill was terrific allowing just one run over six innings. Of course, he’d leave on the losing side because the Mets offense has been terrible. That’s even with Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani leaving the game in the second with an injury.
Over the first eight innings, the Mets only had just three hits. When they did get a base runner, well, they didn’t knock them in, and even better, Jonathan Villar got picked off again. Even for Villar, this was horrendous.
Got hiiiiim pic.twitter.com/nICC2uW7MP
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 18, 2021
That seemed to give the Mets life as Michael Conforto followed with a single sending Alonso to third. He’d then score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. He’d then leave the game as a result of the HBP.
Edwin Diaz mowed down the Giants on six pitches sending it to extras. In the tenth where the Mets inability to score runs went to comical levels.
Villar was the ghost runner, and for some reason, Luis Rojas wanted Mazeika to bunt him to third. Naturally, Mazeika had a poor bunt, and Villar was out by a wide margin.
Diaz again came up big. While he would plunk Austin Slater with one out, he dominated the other Giants hitters sending it to the 11th.
In the 11th, Conforto came up big with a one out RBI double giving the Mets the lead. To no one’s surprise, he’d be stranded there. That hurt as Jeurys Familia allowed a single to the first batter he faced tying the game at 2-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
In the 12th, the Mets offense finally woke up and put the game away. Mazeika hit a one out single, and then Kevin Pillar hit a three run homer giving the Mets the lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
That 5-2 lead grew to 6-2 with McNeil and Sisco hitting a pair of two out doubles. With Diaz and Familia done, the Mets turned to Jake Reed to close out the game.
Once again, Reed was very impressive. He retired the Giants in order. While it wasn’t a save with the Mets having a four run lead, it was every bit of a save considering the Mets struggles and needs to win this game.
In many ways, the Mets had to have this one. It got them back to .500, and it has them past a brutal losing streak. It also has them feeling better heading into a four game set at the Dodgers.
Time will tell whether then can turn their season around and get back in the race. If so, this was a huge next step.
As things started to slip, acting general manager Zack Scott had a press conference blaming the players for their injuries. He also called the team he assembled mediocre.
Now, that the season is falling apart with the Mets in third and 3.5 games back, owner Steve Cohen is now attacking the players:
It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive.The best teams have a more disciplined approach.The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie.
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) August 18, 2021
Cohen, Scott, and whoever is with the front office can put the blame on the players all they want. Fact is, they assembled the roster, and they opted not to fortify a roster 3.5 games up in the standings at the trade deadline.
Their lone Major League acquisition was Javier Báez, a player who was dealing with heel issues at the time of the trade. He would play 10 games before hitting the IL.
The team failed to really add another starter. You could say Trevor Williams, but considering the Mets keep stashing him in Syracuse, they didn’t add one.
The Mets didn’t add to a bullpen who has been HEAVILY used. There are signs of overwork and fatigue with everyone but Aaron Loup. The front office opted to instead ride with pitchers like Anthony Banda, Yennsy Diaz, Geoff Hartlieb, and others of the same ilk in big spots.
Another important matter here is Chili Davis. His track record shows how players under his tutelage fall down this path. Despite that, they opted to keep him to start the season.
As an example of the Davis effect look at Kris Bryant. He went from an MVP to the absolute worst offensive season of his career. With Davis gone, he’s again improved to being Bryant again.
There’s another important point on Bryant. The Mets have punted on third base all year. They hoped for J.D. Davis to magically learn the position (he didn’t) or for Jonathan Villar to be a regular player (he’s been somewhat).
The Mets had the option to address the rotation, bullpen, third base, and the depth that includes non-playable players like Kevin Pillar. As we saw with the Braves, that didn’t need to be blockbuster deals.
Remember, the Dodgers current run was jump started by trading for Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. That option was on the table with the Twins looking to move Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda to the Mets.
Adding Donaldson and Maeda would’ve transformed the Mets and made them significantly better. However, the deal fell apart over money.
Therein lies another problem. Entering the season and at the trade deadline, the Mets treated the luxury tax threshold as a hard cap. They were unwilling to surpass it despite the very soft penalties for first time offenders. They were unwilling to surpass it despite a new CBA being negotiated this offseason which will likely change the threshold and penalties.
All told, the Mets front office just wasn’t willing to do what they needed to do to win the division. They failed to give a first place team what they needed to stay there.
In the end, they can point all the fingers they want, but at the end of the day, this team is a direct reflection of their actions, and when this team misses the postseason, they have no one to blame but themselves.
With the injuries the New York Mets have faced, Jonathan Villar has become the everyday shortstop. Believe it or not, he’s actually done a good job with a 2 OAA and 2 DRS.
The issue is what happens when Villar needs a day or gets hurt himself. Looking at the roster, there really isn’t an answer on this roster. That may be why Luis Rojas offered up J.D. Davis as a possible name.
If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Davis couldn’t play left field, and he’s played there. He can’t play third, and he’s played there. He can pitch and play first, but you’ll never find him at either position.
Seriously, Davis has no business being in a position where he has to move, field, and throw. He has poor reaction time and instincts, and he needs to at least double clutch.
It’s seriously at the point where he makes a routine play look nearly routine, we get hyperbole. You can understand because it’s a complete shock to see it.
That may well be why when Davis made a routine play in what was a lopsided loss, Gary Cohen suggested Davis had shortstop skills.
Giving Cohen the benefit of the doubt, he’s sometimes so wry, you can miss the joke. He can also be like anyone of us watching a game into the early hours of the morning leaving us a little delirious. It’s also possible he’s watching the Mets fall apart looking to cling to something good.
Whatever the case, the statement was as insane as the thought itself.
So that said, just do it. The Mets aren’t going anywhere with this stretch of games and with the way they’re playing. Put Davis at short and then use him as a defensive substitution in center.
After all, as Davis intimated after the loss dropping them to .500, it’s not necessary to stay over .500. With that being the case, let Davis play wherever he wants.
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.
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.