Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Brandon Nimmo Returning Would Be A Game Changer

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Brandon Nimmo may soon be beginning a rehab assignment which would put him on a schedule to hopefully return to the Mets lineup before September, and at least before the end of the season. If you are skeptical he could return, after all Nimmo had a rehab assignment earlier this year which did not end well, his wife offers hope as well:

If Nimmo is back, the Mets are a significantly improved team. It’s easy to forget, but Nimmo is one of the best players on this team.

Last year, Nimmo was the second best offensive player in the National League with a 149 wRC+. Despite getting injured during Spring Training, Nimmo was on his way to repeating his 2018 season. Through the first 17 games of the season, he was hitting .241/.388/.463 before being removed from the April 16 game against the Phillies after getting hit on the hand.

Up until that point, he had a a great 16.1 percent walk rate, and he was still a magnet getting hit by a pitch twice. Even with the struggles which ensued from getting hit on the hand and his neck, Nimmo maintained that 16.1 percent walk rate. Put another way, the skills which made him a great hitter in 2018 were still present in 2019 even with the injuries.

Taking that into account, Nimmo is a significant upgrade to the Mets outfield situation. It’s not just over Juan Lagares or Aaron Altherr, both of whom are not performing this year. It is also over Dominic Smith (who is also on the IL) and J.D. Davis. While Smith and Davis are good stories this year, they are not better than Nimmo and certainly not as an outfielder.

Putting that aside, Nimmo gives the Mets actual outfield depth and options. With him as an outfield option, Jeff McNeil can move to second base if needed. This gives more options for late inning double switches and defensive substitutions. With Nimmo returning, this will be the best Mets bench since the 2015 bench with Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, Michael Cuddyer, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Wilmer Flores/Ruben Tejada.

Nimmo returning makes the starting lineup better. It deepens the bench giving the team more options. It takes a Mets team already in contention, and it makes them even better. When Nimmo returns, we may be talking much differently about this club and their chances of making the postseason and doing damage in the postseason.

Robinson Cano Channels His Inner Kirk Nieuwenhuis

When the Mets season was on the line, and they still had a legitimate chance to make a run to get back into contention, Robinson Cano was 3-for-15 in the series against the Giants with no RBI, and he was 3 for his last 21. In the Mets 100th game of the season, when the team is nine games under .500 and basically forced to sell at the deadline, Cano finally showed up:

Cano joined Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda as the only Mets to hit three homers in a home game. That may the best way to summarize this season. It took Cano 100 games to equal Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Cano hitting these homers overshadowed what was supposed to be Round 2 between Pete Alonso and Chris Paddack. In the first matchup, Paddack threw his three fastest pitches of the year to Alonso striking him out two times. This matchup was a relative dud with Alonso going 0-1 with a walk off Paddack.

With Jason Vargas pitching well with six shut out one hit innings, the Mets were up 5-0 after seven and should’ve ended the game without drama.

Robert Gsellman has to rescue Tyler Bashlor from a seventh inning jam, and he’d allow a run in the eighth. In the ninth, Justin Wilson would walk the only two batters he faced pressing Edwin Diaz into the game for a save opportunity.

Diaz would make things interesting allowing an RBI double to Fernando Tatis, Jr. making it 5-2. Diaz wouldn’t let it get past that point shutting the door and earning his 22nd save of the year.

On the day, Cano provided the margin, and Diaz shut the door. One hundred games later we finally see how Brodie Van Wagenen drew things up.

Game Notes: Cano surpassed Damion Easley to become the oldest second baseman with a three home run game. It’s Cano’s first three home run game in his career.

Meet The Mets Fan: Upgrade Star Logan Marshall-Green

The Mets Fan

I’m Logan Marshall-Green.

How I Became a Mets Fan

1986

Favorite Mets Player

Gary Carter

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Bill BucknerMike Piazza 9-11 homer.  Johan Santana No-no (listening at 3 AM from London).

Message to Mets Fans

Does anyone want a signed, ‘87 throwback Kirk Nieuwenhuis Jersey?

Also, Go see UPGRADE. June 1st. (Mets play the Cubs that night, we all know it’s an L).

 

Good Luck Lucas Duda

With the Mets trading Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, we bring an end to the Mets career of one of the better Mets in their history, and we also see the beginning of the end of an era of Mets baseball.

Duda was a player with a promising bat the Mets that first Omar then Sandy tried to get into the lineup.  With players blocking his path to his natural first base position, Duda would be moved to the outfield.  Duda would be standing there ins what was then a fairly cavernous right field when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history.  Lost in that game was Duda homering in the sixth to put the game away.

Despite Duda being in the outfield during one of the biggest moments in Mets history, it became increasingly clear he wasn’t an outfielder.  He belonged at first base.  The fact he even forced a competition for the spot with Ike Davis was impressive.  Duda did all he could to wrestle that spot from Davis, and he finally showed the Mets what he could do hitting 30 home runs in 2014.  He had more in store in 2015.

When people have typically written about the 2015 season, they usually credit with Yoenis Cespedes for winning the National League East.  This overlooks how Duda almost single-handedly pulled the Mets into first place in 2015:

In that pivotal series that saw the Mets go from second to first place, Duda was 8-9 with a double, three homers, and five RBI.  With Mets fans debate over whether Duda was clutch or not, this series should answer the question in the affirmative.

As we know that season would eventually end in heartbreak.  Duda played his part throwing away the ball in Game 5 allowing Eric Hosmer to score the tying run.  It was hard to watch, and unfortunately, it masked all the good he had done that season including his grand slam in the division clincher and his homer effectively sealing the pennant:

These are many of the many great things Duda has done in a Mets uniform.  He was the second Mets player in history to hit three home runs in a game at home.  Shockingly, he was second to Kirk Nieuwenhuis.  Speaking of homering at Citi Field, Duda leaves the Mets as the all-time leader in home runs at Citi Field.

Hitting homers was one of the things Duda did well.  This year, he passed notable Mets like Edgardo Alfonzo, Kevin McReynolds, and Todd Hundley to finish his Mets career with the seventh most in Mets history.  Depending on whether you view Dave Kingman as an outfielder or first baseman, Duda’s 125 Mets homers are either the most or second most for a Mets first baseman.

There were many great moments with Duda, but none of the aforementioned moments were my favorite.  My favorite Duda moment was a seemingly meaningless Spring Training Game in 2015.

One night, I was sitting up watching the game with my then one year old half watching a Spring Training game when Duda ripped a double leading to an enthusiastic Gary Cohen call to the effect of “LUCAS DUDA rips an RBI double . . . .”  My son immediately latched on and began screaming Duda, and he wanted to see Duda play more and hit more.  As that season wore on, he became more and more interested in baseball, and he would learn the Mets players.  First one he’d learn:

That was a magical year as both a father and a Mets fan.  I’d get to see the Mets go to the World Series for the third time in my life, but it would be the first time I’d get to experience it with my son.  I still remember him trying to stay up to watch the games with me.  I remember him getting me a Duda jersey for Father’s Day and getting the Duda growth chart at one of the Mets games.  Even with Duda gone, we will still use it.  I also remember him going crazy during that World Series cheering for the Mets:

Duda leaving does not only mean we are saying good bye to a good player who began his career with the Mets.  We are also saying good-bye to a part of a Mets era.  It was an era that saw the Mets go from a frustrating team a team that came so close to winning a World Series.

On a personal note, I see Duda leaving as part of the ever changing realization that my son is no longer a baby – he’s now a little boy.  He doesn’t just snuggle up with me at bedtime trying to watch Mets games, he now goes outside and plays baseball with me.

It was time to move on, especially with Dominic Smith waiting in the wings.  Still, as Curtis Granderson would point out, you just want to hold onto all of these moments just a little longer:


Like Granderson, I still want to hold on to not just Duda, but all of these memories.  In reality, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.  With that said, I enjoyed each and every minute Duda was a Met (except for that throw), and I appreciate all he has done in a Mets uniform.  He was a class act, who was always there to answer questions in even the hardest of times.  On a personal note, he helped make another great fan.  He deserves another opportunity to win a World Series, and I hope he does get that ring.

Good luck Lucas Duda.

Sandy Didn’t Want To Call-Up Michael Conforto Either

Back in 2015, the New York Mets season was falling apart at the seams.  The Mets needed offense, and the fans wanted Michael Conforto.  Scouts and talent evaluators said the Mets 2014 first round draft pick was ready, but the Mets consistently insisted Conforto wasn’t ready.

Instead of Conforto, the Mets trotted out people who weren’t good and weren’t ready.  The Mets were happy trotting out John Mayberry, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Darrell Ceciliani in the outfield.  Briefly, the Mets would even try Eric Campbell in left field.  For the most part, the Mets mostly stuck with a clearly injured and hobbled Michael Cuddyer in left field.  He fell apart in June hitting just .211/.237/.311 in 25 games.

Finally, both Cuddyer and the Mets both had enough, Cuddyer would go the Disabled List, and Conforto would finally get called-up to the majors.  At that time, the Mets had lost two in a row and five of their last seven.  For a team that once had a 4.5 game lead in the division, they would fall to three games back.

It turns out Conforto was indeed ready.  He would play 56 games hitting .270/.335/.506 with 14 doubles nine homers, and 26 RBI.  He was a big part of the Mets turn-arond with the team having been 10 games over .500 in the games he played.  He was also a big part of the Mets postseason run.  He hit three homers in the postseason including two in Game Four of the World Series.

It’s possible Conforto needed every bit the time he had in Double-A.  Maybe the extra time he spent in Doube-A put him in position to succeed when he came to the majors.  It’s also likely Conforto was ready well before the Mets did what they didn’t want to do when they called him up.  Fact is, we’ll never know.  The only thing we do know is Conforto was very good when he was called up to the majors, and he has an important part of the Mets success in 2015.

The Mets are in the same exact situation in 2017.

The team has seen Asdrubal Cabrera struggled offensively and defensively, and he has landed on the Disabled List twice.  His primary back-up, Jose Reyes, has statistically been the worst infielder in the major leagues this year, and he appears to be getting worse.  Now, Neil Walker has suffered an injury that will keep him on the Disabled List for an extended time frame.

Unlike 2015, the real issue for this Mets team is defense.  As a team, the Mets rank last in the majors with a -13 DRS, and it is not likely to improve.  Reyes is not only struggling offensively, but he is struggling defensively as well.  The other players on the roster aren’t much better.

The Mets took the starting shortstop position away from Wilmer Flores for a reason.  The Mets also transitioned T.J. Rivera from shortstop to other positions because he couldn’t handle the position defensively.  Same goes for Gavin Cecchini who is now a second baseman.  Matt Reynolds is actually a good defensive shortstop, but he can’t hit enough to play everyday.

Like in 2015, the fans are clamoring for the Mets top prospect, and like in 2015, everyone but Sandy Alderson seems to believe he’s ready.  In 65 games for Las Vegas, he’s hitting .336/.378/.500 with 15 doubles, four triples, seven homers, 47 RBI, and 12 stolen bases.  Based on the offensive statistics, he seems ready, but that’s not an in depth analysis.  Truth is considering the hitting environment that is the Pacific Coast League, we probably don’t know how much improvement a player is making until they get to the majors.

However, the Mets don’t need Rosario for his offense even if anything else is likely better than what Reyes is providing.  No, the Mets need him for his defense, and the Mets need him sooner rather than later.

After losing last night’s game, the Mets are five games under .500, and they are 10.5 games back in the division.  Like in 2015, the Mets promising season is falling apart.  Instead of the team calling up the player who could help address the team’s needs, they are being stubborn in insisting the top prospect isn’t ready.  They are once again letting the season slip away.  Unlike 2015, things are much more dire.

Sure, the Mets could be right in saying Rosario isn’t ready.  After all, it is very well likely they know more than anyone about where Rosario stands in his development.  Maybe, just maybe, the Mets know what they’re doing, and when they finally bring Rosario up to the majors, he will have the success and impact Conforto did in 2015.

Hopefully, there is still a season to salvage whenever the Mets get around to calling up Rosario.

Mets Wouldn’t Be Denied a Third Time

With the way the Mets season has gone, you knew they were going to regret not scoring with bases loaded and no outs. The issue was whether they would be able to rebound. 

At the time, the Mets were up 2-1 after a Wilmer Flores two run homer in the second scoring the clean up hitter Curtis Granderson. The home run was off the right-handed Jake Esch, who was making his major league debut. It was an important homer for Wilmer as he needs to hit righties more with the uncertainty surrounding Neil Walker and his back. 

As in the first two games of this series, the Mets scored the half inning immediately after the Marlins too the lead. 

The Mets had their chance to blow things open but failed. Jay Bruce started the rally with a single. Travis d’Arnaud singled himself leading to the Mets loading the bases. The rally was killed and the Mets scored no runs as Bartolo Colon hit into a double play. Which inning was this? 

It was the second and the fourth. 

In the second, Colon came up with one out, and he hit into the 3-6-3 inning ending double play. In the fourth, there were no outs as Colon hit into the rare 5-2-3 double play. Colon had two at bats leading to four outs. 

The second failure with the bases loaded was especially notable as there are no outs and Bruce’s decided not to test Ichiro Suzuki‘s arm despite Tim Teufel waving him in. Kelly Johnson didn’t get the RBI, and after a Jose Reyes groundout, no one scored. 

The Mets would regret missing out on these chances after Christian Yelich hit a game tying solo homer in the sixth. 

The homer was a blip for Colon who was great on the night. His final line was seven innings, seven hits, two runs, one earned, no walks, and three strikeouts. However, he wouldn’t get the win, in part, due to his offense. Addison Reed  would after pitching a scoreless eighth. 

In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets would not be denied again. The bases were loaded with two outs as Johnson stepped to the plate. He would hit a 3-2 pitch for a bases clearing double giving the Mets a 5-2 lead. 

Jeurys Familia came on and closed it out recording his 44th save of the season. With the save, he broke the tie he shared with Armando Benitez for saves in a single season. He is assured to only add to that. 
With that, the Mets have taken three of the first four from the Marlins. They also finish the month over .500 for the first time since April. 

Game Notes: Old friend Kirk Nieuwenhuis did his part to help the Mets hitting a three run home run against the Cardinals. 

Mets May Be Intersted in Jon Niese

Last year, the Mets had released Kirk Nieuwenhuis after he had hit .079/.125/.132 with no homers and two RBI in 27 games. Nieuwenhuis would go to the Angels where he would be similarly ineffective causing them to release him. The Mets then jumped on the chance to bring him back due to injuries and the ineffective play of players like Darrell Ceciliani.

Now, a year later the Mets are facing a similar situation with Jon Niese. According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Mets are internally debating whether or not the Mets should reunite with Niese. 

This move speaks more about the Mets options than Niese’s performance as Niese is 7-6 with a 5.13 ERA, 1.574 WHIP, 80 ERA+, and a 5.49 FIP. He’s performed so poorly he recently lost his spot in the rotation and caused his General Manager Neil Huntington to quip, “In hindsight, maybe two fringe prospects [in exchange for Neil Walker] and trying to figure out how to reallocate the money might have been a better return.”  Even with all this is mind, the Mets are still deliberating over whether they should bring back Niese to take Matt Harvey‘s spot in the rotation.  

He is a consideration as Logan Verrett is 1-4 with a 5.64 ERA and a 1.649 WHIP as a starter this year. Sean Gilmartin has had a 6.17 ERA and a 1.447 WHIP in his last 10 starts with one relief appearance. Gabriel Ynoa has a 6.65 ERA and a 1.630 WHIP in his last eight starts. 

As for now, the Mets plan on starting Verrett tonight against the Phillies. Furthermore, the team intends to prioritize pursuing a right-handed reliever who can pitch the seventh inning before turning their sights onto Niese. 

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

Mets Bullpen Had One More Escape Act

As Lou Brown said, “Ok, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called ‘two in a row.’  And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called ‘a winning streak’ . . . .  It has happened before!”  That’s where Matt Harvey . He’s on a streak of good starts. 

On May 30th, he pitched seven innings allowing two hits, no runs, and one walk with six strikeouts. On June 5th, he pitched seven innings allowing four hits, one earned, and no walks with three strikeouts. Tonight, he pitched six innings allowing two hits, one earned, and two walks with eight strikeouts. That’s three straight starts allowing one run or less. That’s vintage Harvey. 

Harvey did get some help in the third when replay overturned a run:

Initially, the umpires ruled Aaron Hill got in under Kevin Plawecki‘s tag. Upon replay, it was ruled Hill was out, and the run was taken off the board. The Brewers would have to wait until the fifth to score. 

Ex-Met Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a one out triple to right, and he would score on Ramon Flores‘ sacrifice fly to left field. It was going to take a good throw to get Kirk out, but Alejandro De Aza was not up to the task. First, it got caught in his glove. Next, he double clutched. Finally, the throw was up the first base line. It was just one part of a bad game for De Aza. 

In the first, he erased a Curtis Granderson leadoff walk by hitting into a double play. In the fifth Brewers starter, Junior Guerrera, intentionally walked Granderson to load the bases with two outs to face De Aza. De Aza grounded out meekly to second. Overall, he was 0-5. 

Overall, the Mets batters weren’t hitting well. Even when Kelly Johnson hit a double in first at bat back with the Mets, he followed it up with a TOOBLAN.  With no force play, he was slow (somewhat frozen) on a ball hit to the shortstop. He was tagged out, and Harvey was nailed at first ending the inning. 

FINALLY, in the sixth the Mets gave Harvey some run support after not giving him any run support in 15 innings. Yoenis Cespedes did this:

He hit a laser to right center tying the game at 1-1. Unfortunately, that was all the run support Harvey would get as Nieuwenhuis did this to Johnson:

Harvey had a great start and a no decision.  It would become a battle of the bullpens. It was a battle of escape acts. 

Hansel Robles entered the game in the seventh, and it appeared like his struggles were going to continue. It was first and second with no outs with the newly minted Mets killer Nieuwenhuis at the plate. Robles struck him out, and then he got the next two batters to fly out to get out of the jam. Antonio Bastardo followed up with a 1-2-3 eighth. 

Jeremy Jeffres did his Robles’ impersonation in the ninth by getting out of a bases loaded no out jam. First, Plawecki popped up to second. Neil Walker pinch hit for Bastardo and struck out looking. Granderson then meekly grounded out to second. 
It was then Jim Henderson‘s turn for the Houdini act. He issued a one out walk to Jonathan Lucroy, who was pinch run for by Keon Broxton. Broxton would easily steal second, and he would go to third on a comedy of errors. Plawecki would bounce the ball 10 feet short of second, and the ball would go through Johnson’s legs allowing Broxton to go to third. After a walk to Chris Carter, he struck out Nieuwenhuis on three straight pitches, and he got Hill to ground out to end the inning. 

Henderson was then pressed for a second inning out of the pen despite his injury history. The reason was unavailable after pitching three innings in today days, and Logan Verrett will start tomorrow due to the doubleheader. After walking the leadoff hitter Flores, Henderson had to leave the game with what appeared to be a blister. That made it Jerry Blevins turn to get out of the jam. 

After a sac bunt, Blevins had a runner on second with one out, and he threw a pitch in the dirt. Flores took off for third, and he made it safely for a split second. Matt Reynolds, who was double switched into the game when Blevins entered the game, kept the tag on Flores, so when Flores oversold third, he was out. Rally over. 

Wilmer Flores then cleared the Flores’ good surname in the 11th. He ripped a one out double pushing Asdrubal Cabrera to third. After Johnson was intentionally walked, the Mets found themselves in the same situation as they did in the ninth – bases loaded and no outs. Plawecki fouled out, and then all hell broke loose. 

Reynolds hit a sharp liner at Jonathan Villar, who dropped it. He flipped the ball to Scooter Gennett, who stepped on second while Flores was standing there. By Gennett stepping on the bag, Johnson was out, but the Brewers didn’t know it.  They didn’t know it because the second base umpire somehow called him safe. They got Johnson, who was already out, in a rundown. While this was happening Cabrera scored making it 2-1. Keith Hernandez put it best when he said everybody had to do back to school. 

Jeurys Familia then came in and recorded his 21st save in his 21st chance to end all of this tomfoolery. 
Game Notes: Harvey is the all-time leader for winless starts in which he’s allowed one run or less through a pitchers first 78 starts. It gets better:

Matz Back on Track

After all the Mets fans hysteria after Matt Harvey struggled against the Nationals, it was easy to forget there was a game to be played tonight. 

Like most of May, the Mets offense seemed to forget as well. For the first five innings, the Mets offense could only muster one run with three hits and a walk against Wily Peralta. This is the same Peralta who came into tonight’s game with a 2-4 record, 7.30 ERA, and a 1.992 WHIP. It didn’t matter as the Mets offense lately has been worse than Peralta . . . at least until the sixth inning. 

Asdrubal Cabrera lead off the inning with a single, and he scored when Michael Conforto hit one into what used to be the Party City Deck. 

Mets led 3-2. 

There was a chance for more, but well, no one is quite sure what happened. Yoenis Cespedes singled, and he took off on a 3-2 pitch to Neil Walker. Walker took the pitch right down the middle for strike three, and Cespedes didn’t even bother sliding into second. Former Met Carlos Torres came on, and he got the Brewers out of the inning. 

The three runs were enough for Steven Matz, who was terrific. He pitched seven innings allowing three hits, two earned, and no walks with eight strikeouts. He only made one mistake, which was hit for a two run homer in the first by Chris Carter, who is tied with Cespedes for the league lead in homers. Matz’s start was all the more incredible when you consider he had been shut down with elbow inflammation. 

However, it looks like he’s back on track, and the Mets are back on track as well. 

Game Notes: Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Torres got their NL Championship rings before the game. Eric Campbell started at third as David Wright had a scheduled day off. Rene Rivera had a nice game with an RBI ground out in the second, and he threw out another basestealer:

Murphy & Nieuwenhuis 

In the offseason, the Mets unceremoniously let two left-handed batters walk out the door: Daniel Murphy and Kirk Nieuwenhuis

The Mets just got their first taste of Murphy as an opponent, and it was a bitter. In the three game series, Murphy went 4-11 with an intentional walk, two runs, four RBI, and a homerun.  His replacement, Neil Walker, was 2-10 with no runs, no RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts. Walker was outplayed by Murphy. The only thing you can say the Mets got over on Murphy was knocking his batting average down from .400 to .397. 

It should come as no surprise that Murphy outplayed Walker this series as Murphy has outplayed Walker this whole year. Murphy is better in almost every statistical catergory than Walker. The main exception is homeruns where Walker’s nine is more than Murphy’s six. So far, the Mets are not benefitting from their change from Murphy to Walker. 

So far, they are also not benefitting from their change from Nieuwenhuis to Alejandro De Aza

De Aza has struggled so far as a Met. In 25 games, he’s hitting .167/.222/.484 with three runs, one double, one homer, and two RBI. Most of that damage came on April 15th against the Indians. In that game, he went 3-4 with a run, a double, a homerun, and an RBI. If you omit this game, De Aza is hitting .105/.171/.105 with no extra base hits, two runs, and one RBI. 

Conversely, Nieuwenhuis is having a good year in Milwaukee.  In 35 games, he’s hitting .267/.389/.413 with eight doubles, one homer, and 12 RBI. Believe it or not, he had similar good numbers with the Mets last year hitting .279/.364/.559 with seven doubles, four homeruns, and 11 RBI in 37 games. Three of those homeruns came on one glorious July day when the season was in the balance. 

Despite that, the Mets felt like they could get an upgrade over Nieuwenhuis. He was designated for assignment in December, and he was picked up off waivers by the Brewers. Ironically, he was on waivers so the Mets could make room for De Aza on the 40 man roster. The Mets are also paying De Aza roughly $5.2 million more than Nieuwenhuis is making. 

Overall, the Mets switch from Murphy and Nieuwenhuis to Walker and De Aza hasn’t panned out as well as they thought it would.  It is still early, and a lot can change over the next 100+ games. For right now, all we can hope for is that Nieuwenhuis doesn’t outplay De Aza the way Murphy just outplayed Walker.