Lucas Duda

Give Dominic Smith A Break

Last night, Dominic Smith had two errors in the third inning which led to what would prove to be the Padres game winning rally. Later in the game, Smith would have a misplay which would not be charged as an error. When you add in his letting a ball drop with Amed Rosario running towards him, a play which happened to both of them last year, Smith has not been good in left field recently.

As a result, Mets fans have begun again talking about how he is not a left fielder and that the team needs to trade him this offseason. The calls to get him out of the outfield and off the team are partially the result of Smith having a down July hitting just .170/.188/.340 albeit with a .171 BABIP.

Calls to remove him from the outfield and to get Smith off the team are a complete and utter overreaction to a rough stretch, and they need to stop. In fact, with all Smith has gone through in his career to get to this point, you would think at some point Mets fans would give him a break and just believe in him.

No, Smith has not been good in the field. However, even with those struggles, he is just a -2 DRS, and he is a week removed from being a 1 DRS. He also only has 307.0 Major League innings in the outfield and just 837.0 innings as a professional. Of note, Smith has never had an offseason or Spring Training to really work on the position. Because of the way the Mets are perpetually run, it has always been on the fly.

The point being here is no one can really tell you if Smith is really capable of being an everyday left fielder or not. It remains very possible he isn’t. It also remains possible he could be. After all, even when accounting for his poor play, he is still not a butcher out there. Certainly not anywhere near the level Todd Hundley, Daniel Murphy, and Lucas Duda were before him.

We should also note even with this recent cold streak, Smith is still hitting .283/.358/.514 (132 wRC+) on the season. That makes him the Mets third best hitter this year. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, that would be enough to rank as the 27th best hitting outfielder in the majors. Put another way, he has the bat to play out there. The question is if he can play well enough defensively.

The answer to that question is we don’t know yet. As noted he has well less than a full season’s worth of experience in the outfield over the course of his entire professional career. It is possible with a full offseason and Spring Training to prepare he would be adequate to good out there. Maybe he will never be, but we should never make snap judgments about his ability.

After all, when Smith struggled over parts of his first two Major League seasons, people made snap judgments he was never going to be any good. With him getting his sleep apnea treated and having real time to put in the work this offseason, he has proven everyone wrong. For those who doubt him, they should allow Smith to prove them wrong again.

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.

Wheeler’s Injury A Reason To Stand Pat At The Trade Deadline

With Zack Wheeler on the Injured List, and his being unsure as to when he can return, the Mets biggest trade chip has now been compromised. As a result, a player who could have fetched one or possible two very good prospects may not fetch nearly the same level of return. This leaves the Mets organization pondering what to do with Wheeler and really all of their trade assets.

Working backwards a bit, Wheeler is not the only expiring contract the Mets have. There is Juan Lagares, who really has zero value on the trade market between his contract and his regression both offensively and defensively. After him is Jason Vargas, who has failed to go at least five innings in 40 percent of his starts. Vargas also threatened to attack a reporter, and he has had a 5.94 ERA since the incident. That in mind, it’s unlikely he has any value on the trade market.

Todd Frazier is having a nice season, but again, you wonder what his market will be. To put things in perspective, in 2017, he was traded by the White Sox to the Yankees for a package including Ian Clarkin, Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford, and Tyler Clippard. Rutherford was a really good get for the White Sox, but that was mostly because they were trading Tommy Kahnle in the deal. Kahnle had been a very good reliever for a year plus, and he was under team control for four plus years.

For the Mets to get a similar return for Frazier, they would have to package him with an Edwin Diaz or a Seth Lugo. Based upon reports, the Mets are not interested in doing that, and you could understand that with the Mets having a young core still intact. It is also a reason the Mets are not looking to move Noah Syndergaard. As a result, the Mets really do not have any good trade chips; at least trade chips which will return anything more than the collection of right-handed relievers they received when they previously traded Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Jay Bruce.

Looking deeper, the Mets are “only” five games (four in the loss) out of the second Wild Card. At the moment, it is noticeable how the teams in front of them have done almost nothing to get going and really stake a claim to being a front runner for one of the two Wild Card spots. This is not too dissimilar from what we saw in 2016 where the Mets went from two games under .500 on August 19 to finish the season on a 27-13 tear to claim the top Wild Card spot.

Believe it or not, the Mets schedule actually does set up for another run like this. After today’s game against the White Sox, the Mets have 20 straight games against teams with a losing record. After that, they have a set at home against the Nationals, a team who currently has the top Wild Card spot.

That’s an incredible 23 game opportunity for the Mets to go on a real run up the Wild Card standings. This could be a team which could take full advantage of that opportunity because as Syndergaard said in 2016, the Mets are a second half team.

Wheeler has always been a strong second half pitcher. Same goes for Syndergaard whose career second half ERA is 38 points lower. Jacob deGrom has a better second half WHIP, K/9, and K/BB. In addition to the starters, we should expect to see a much better bullpen with the return of Justin Wilson. In fact, we have so far with the Mets bullpen ERA being 3.86 in July, which is 11th best in the majors and significantly better than the almost impossibly bad 7.53 June bullpen ERA.

There’s also the Amed Rosario factor. Over the past month, he is hitting .342/.365/.468 indicating he may be poised for a second half breakout. Very quietly, he has started to play better defense. In fact, since the All-Star Break, he is actually a 2 DRS. It’s a small sample size for sure, but it’s a positive development.

When you also consider how Michael Conforto and Robinson Cano are better hitters in the second half, you see a glimmer of hope. Speaking of Cano, with him and Edwin Diaz, you have to believe their second halves have to be better than their first.

Is this enough for the Mets to go out and buy? No, not even close. According to Fangraphs, the Mets postseason odds stand at 7.6 percent. Those are nearly insurmountable odds. However, that does not mean the Mets should go selling their players for little to no return when the schedule does set up favorably for them.

In the end, this is really about Wheeler. If he was healthy, the Mets could have received a significant return for him. If his IL stint changes things, it would behoove the Mets to offer him a qualifying offer at the end of the season and just let things ride with this team. After all, there is still a chance.

Sandy’s Team?

When the Mets were winning the 2015 pennant, there was a push in some circles to refer to that team as Omar’s team. Depending on your point of view, it was intended to either credit Omar Minaya for his leaving behind a better than advertised talent base, or it was to deride Sandy Alderson, who never gained traction with some Mets fans.

Even if it was said in jest, there was a nugget of truth to it. The core of that team, the pitching, was mostly there because of Omar Minaya. In fact, Minaya was the General Manager who drafted Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz. The other key starter, Noah Syndergaard, was obtained in exchange for R.A. Dickey, a pitcher who was brought to the organization by Minaya on a minor league deal.

Minaya was also the General Manager who drafted Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy. Jeurys FamiliaWilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Hansel Robles, and Ruben Tejada came to the Mets as international free agents signed during Minaya’s tenure. Minaya’s impact on the team went further than this with Sandy Alderson utilizing players brought to the organization during Minaya’s tenure to acquire Travis d’Arnaud and Addison Reed.

Taking it a step further, Minaya was the Assistant General Manager when David Wright was drafted, and he was the General Manager who gave Wright his first contract extension.

Overall, Minaya’s fingerprints were all over that 2015 team much in the same way Alderson’s fingerprints are all over this year’s Mets team.

Yesterday’s starting lineup featured four former Alderson draft picks (Brandon Nimmo, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil) and the player who his regime gave the second highest international signing bonus in team history (Amed Rosario). Robinson Cano came to the Mets when Brodie Van Wagenen traded two former Alderson first round draft picks (Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn) and two players Alderson had signed in free agency (Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak).

Looking further, the lineup also had two Minaya holdovers, one of which in Lagares who Alderson gave a contract extension.

Really, when you truly break it down, the only player on the Mets Opening Day lineup who has zero ties to any previous Mets regime was Wilson Ramos.

When you break it down further, the only Mets players who have no ties to previous regimes were Ramos, Luis AvilanJustin Wilson, and Jed Lowrie, a player who opened the season on the Injured List and who currently has no timetable to return. Considering Familia was a free agent signing, you could potentially credit him solely to Van Wagenen even if he was seeking to return to the team. The other 20 players on the Opening Day roster were either players brought to the team by Alderson, or they were players who were acquired utilizing players Alderson brought to the organization.

Given the narrative which was in place four years ago, the question should be presented whether the 2019 Mets are Sandy’s or Brodie’s team.

The answer is this is definitively Brodie’s team. As the General Manager, he was the one who set into course a series of transactions made to build the Mets in his image. It was he who decided to extend deGrom and to bring in Cano. When you are the General Manager, you are the one making the decisions, and you should receive the credit or blame if your decisions succeed or falter.

As for Sandy Alderson, Mets fans should be appreciative of the talent he acquired during his tenure. Alderson not only left behind a talented group of players, but he left behind a very likeable group of players. In the end, the Mets were better off for him having been the General Manager, and we can only hope we can say the same when Van Wagnen’s tenure as the Mets General Manager ends.

Mets First Base Competition Has Been Fun

In Pete Alonso‘s first two at-bats of Spring Training, he hit a home run and a double. It seemed those two hits were the beginning of something special, and regardless of service time, Alonso was going to force his way onto the Opening Day roster. After that double, Alonso cooled off a bit at the plate. He would go three for his next 12. With him not hitting tape measure shots, Dominic Smith would begin to grab some headlines.

Through his first seven games, Smith was actually out-hitting Alonso going 8-for-16 with a big three run homer. Mets Manager Mickey Callaway spoke glowingly about Smith. There were articles written about how Smith has turned the corner, and some were suggesting Smith had a real chance to win the Mets first base job.

Yesterday, Alonso reminded everyone why he’s a top prospect and why people were excited about the possibility of his playing first base for the Mets this season:

In the game, Alonso was 2-for-3 with a double, homer, and an RBI. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, Alonso’s OPS is now 1.356 putting him not too far ahead of Smith’s 1.256. Put another way, there is little separation between the two. The reason is both players spent all offseason preparing to give themselves the best possible chance of winning the Mets first base job.

As a fan, this is fun to watch. Alonso starts off with big power numbers, and Smith responds with great defense and a .500 batting average. Alonso then hits another tape measure shot while Smith maintains his .500 Spring batting average. This is exactly what everyone wants to see. They want this to be a difficult decision, not just for Spring Training but for the future.

This is not too dissimilar from 2014 when the Mets had to choose between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. The Mets decision there may not have been popular, but it proved to be the correct one. That decision would play a role in the Mets going to the World Series. As Mets fans, we can only hope the same thing happens with this team.

Editor’s Note: this was originally published on MMN

Patriots Winning The Super Bowl Is A Bad Omen For The Mets

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:

2002
Super Bowl XXXVI
Mets: 79-86

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.

2004
Super Bowl XXXVIII
Mets:
71-91

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.

2005
Super Bowl XXXIX
Mets:
83-79

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.

2015
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.

2017
Super Bowl XLIX
Mets: 70-92

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.

2019
Super Bowl LIII
Mets: ?

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.

 

Reasons Mets Are Justified In Not Pursuing Manny Machado

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:

  1. 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;
  2. With David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets already have two $100 million players.  You don’t need three.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. With Jack Reinheimer, the Mets already have a 25 year old shortstop.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Machado, like Alex Rodriguez, will prove to be a 24+1 player, and you cannot possibly win with an A-Rod on your team.
  10. 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?

Ike Davis Had A Worthwhile Career

Back in 2010, things were bleak with the Mets, really bleak.  The team closed out Shea Stadium with brutal losses on the final game of each season.  In 2006, Carlos Beltran struck out looking.  In 2007, Tom Glavine allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning.  In 2008, in what was the final game at Shea Stadium, Jerry Manuel brought in arguably his worst reliever in Scott Schoeneweis, who would allow a homer to Wes Helms to complete a second collapse.

In 2009, fans were less than thrilled with Citi Field.  It looked like more of an homage to the Dodgers than the Mets.  As much of a disappointment as Citi Field was, the team was even more of a disappointment.  The Mets went from a World Series contender to an under .500 team.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse the Madoff scandal hit.  It would forever change the impact how the Mets organization would be run.

Fans were looking for hope in any way, shape, or form, and they would find that hope in Ike Davis.

The 2010 Mets would disappoint, but there would be hope because of the play of the 2008 first round draft pick.  As a rookie, Davis hit .264/.341/.440, and he would finish in the Top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting.  While fans loved his bat, it would his play on the field, including his signature catch which would make him a quick fan favorite:

Using DRS as a metric, Davis was already the best fielding first baseman in the National League.  More than that, he seemed to be the only player not intimidated by Citi Field.  With his defense and game winning hits, it seemed like Davis was a star in the making.

As 2011 began, he seemed well on his way recording an RBI in nine of the Mets first 10 games.  In early May, he was hitting .302/.383/.543.  By any measure, he was a budding star, and then he would suffer an injury, which was compounded because the injury itself was originally mischaracterized.

With the injury, his potential breakout to stardom was delayed a year.  Instead, during Spring Training, Davis would contract Valley Fever.  The Valley Fever was most likely a factor in Davis’ drop from his early production.  He would hit a disappointing .227/.308/.462, but he would hit 32 homers.  Whatever hope the 32 homers would present were quickly dashed as Davis would never again be the same player.

As difficult as 2013 would be with Davis, the 2014 season would be worse.  Davis’ injuries and production opened the door for the Mets to look at Lucas Duda, and based upon a number of factors, including play on the field, the Mets would tab Duda as their first baseman.  This meant that Duda was a key bat in a lineup which would win the 2015 pennant while Davis would bounce around between the Pirates, Athletics, Rangers, Yankees, and Dodgers organizations.

Eventually, the slugger would abandon hitting, and he would attempt to become a pitcher.  It would not lead anywhere as Davis would become a minor league free agent after the 2017 season, and he found himself with no suitors.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t have one last big moment as a baseball player.

During the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Davis would play for an Israel team, who would make a surprising run.  He’d have a key pinch hit and he would hit well in the tournament.  In six games, Davis hit .471/.571/.706 with two doubles, a triple, and three RBI.  After that, he was no longer a position player, but a pitcher.  After a year in the Dodgers organization, he was neither.

He did not play at all in 2018, and now, he has decided he will no longer play baseball anywhere.

This may not have been the career Davis wanted or believed he would have when he was a first round draft pick, and yet, he was a player who left a definitive impact.  He was a key figure who gave Mets fans hope.  He is the only human being who can say he played first base when the Mets had a no-hitter.  He was a fan favorite, and he is a player many Mets fans still have a soft spot for all these years later.

And if things take off after the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he could have an impact on baseball in Israel.

All in all, that’s not a bad career.  In the end, Davis should hold his head high fully knowing he left an impact on the Mets, and he may have done even more than that. Really, congratulations to Ike Davis on a fine MLB career.

Peter Alonso Should Not Be The Mets 2019 First Baseman

With everything Peter Alonso does, it is getting harder and harder justifying keeping him in Triple-A past the first few weeks of the season.  His power is legit, and it he attacks this offseason like he did the last, he’s going to be a significantly improved player.  Seeing the season he just had, that’s a scary thought, and yet, there’s no way the Mets can just hand him the first base job next year, not if they are planning on winning next year.

Again, this is no slight against Alonso, but rather a result of the circumstances.  When analyzing the situation, there are certain assumptions we need to make.  The first assumption Jay Bruce has a contract which cannot be traded.  When looking at the sprint speeds compiled by Baseball Savant, Bruce is the slowest right fielder in the majors, and as a result, the second assumption is Bruce should no longer be playing the outfield.  The last assumption is with Bruce still having two years $28 million on his deal, the Mets are not going to put him on the bench, nor would Bruce be willing to accept such an assignment.

With all of that being the case, where is the room for Alonso on the 2019 roster?

You could argue he could go play right field, but then you are weakening your outfield defense.  Last year, Bruce was a -4 DRS in 538.2 innings in right field.  With him in right, Brandon Nimmo is your likely center fielder, and he was a -2 DRS and -2.8 UZR in 350.1 innings in center last year.  Configuring your outfield this way may also carry with it the possibility Juan Lagares, who is the best defensive center fielder in baseball, even fewer innings in the outfield.

The obvious rebuttal to this is Bruce is not a first baseman.  It’s a fair comment, but if you follow the scouting reports, Alonso has struggled at first base next year.  You could argue Alonso would not be better than the 0 DRS Bruce had in 180.1 innings there last year.  You could even argue Alonso would be worse.

Assume for a second, the Mets decide to ignore outfield defense completely, and they put Bruce in right field to make room for Alonso.  Your outfield is now set, and also, it means your infield is likely set.  This means the Mets do not add a Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock, or other big right-handed bat this team really needs to add this offseason.

Sure, you could say the Mets could still sign someone, but then you are likely forcing Jeff McNeil to the bench because it is unrealistic to expect Brodie Van Wagenen to tell his former client Todd Frazier he is now a utility infielder.  Moreover, for a Mets pitching staff who induces many groundballs, it would seem like a mistake to put your only quality infield defender on the bench.  If you have your choice between Alonso and McNeil, don’t you have to go with McNeil at this point because he’s proven he can play and play well at the Major League level?

The bigger question iss if  you’re the Mets, and you are truly trying to build a World Series contender next year, are you really going to put all of your eggs in the Peter Alonso basket?  That’s a really big risk.

Keep in mind, some of his stats in Binghamton were inflated by a .344 BABIP. Given how slow he is, he’s due for some course correction on that.  Compounding the problem is the fact he pulled the ball 50.3 percent of the time with Vegas.  If he is going to be that extreme a pull hitter (as opposed to what he was in 2017), teams are going to shift him accordingly, and he’s going to lose a lot of base hits he is currently getting.

With Vegas, he had a 25.9 percent strikeout rate.  In the Arizona Fall League, he is striking out 25.6 percent of the time.  That’s not a great strikeout rate, and it’s possible he strikes out more against Major League pitching.

There’s also some question about his ability to hit right-handed pitching at the Major League level.  Baseball America said of Alonso, “his power will play in the big leagues, perhaps in the second half of 2018, whether as a regular or a platoon masher.”  To be fair, the stats don’t necessarily prove that out with Alonso having a higher OPS against right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching last year.

Now, it’s possible Alonso comes to Queens next year, and he is able to succeed despite these question marks.  After all, Paul Goldschmidt was once thought to be a platoon bat who proved he could hit anybody.  Lucas Duda was able to prove himself an everyday first baseman despite a high strikeout rate because of his plate discipline and power.

Really, by no means should we count out Alonso being a masher at the Major League level.  However, we also shouldn’t count on it happening immediately next year.  More than that, the Mets shouldn’t be counting on it if they intend to try to win the World Series next year.

Ultimately, Alonso needs to start the year in Syracuse because the Mets are going to have to find a spot for Jay Bruce to play and because the team needs to get a proven right-handed bat this offseason.

Former Mets Available In Free Agency

It may be every fan base, but it seems like whenever the Mets need to add players via trade or free agency, fans seem to look towards acquiring former players.  It may not be just the fans either as the Mets bucked conventional wisdom by signing Jay Bruce and Jason Vargas last year.  If the fans and organization wants to go down that road again, there are plenty of options this offseason:

Jose Lobaton – If he’s back, we may actually see fans boycott the team.

Devin Mesoraco – Other than like a one week stretch, he was terrible in every facet of the game.  There is no way he should be back in Queens next year.

Rene Rivera – He would be a fine addition on a minor league deal to work with up and comers like Justin Dunn.  If there’s an injury or two (ideally three), he could resume his role as Noah Syndergaard‘s personal catcher.

Lucas Duda – Fans used to debate at length whether Duda was a good or bad player.  The debate is over.  He’s now a bad player who has not much to offer anymore.

Asdrubal Cabrera – Unless Cabrera is looking to accept a utility role behind two still largely unproven young players, there would be no reason to bring him back to the Mets.

Daniel Murphy – There is a scenario in which bringing him back makes sense, but that includes the Mets moving at least one bad contract to put him at first base because his knees have made his already poor defense all the worse.  There are many other variables past that making this a non-starter.

Jose Reyes – He shouldn’t even be playing for the Long Island Ducks next year.

Neil Walker – Considering he accepted a utility role for the Yankees last year, he could be willing to accept one with the Mets next year.  If so, he could be quality depth for the Mets roster which has not had depth on their bench since 2015.

Carlos Gomez – Judging from last year, it does not seem like Gomez can hit much anymore, but he can still play defense.  The Mets need a right-handed outfielder or two, and he would be a much better option than Austin Jackson by the simple fact he’s not Austin Jackson.

Chris Young – In 2014, the Mets made a $7.25 million bet Young still had something in the tank.  They wound up releasing him, thereby allowing other teams to discover he did have something left in the tank.  That something was hitting left-handed pitching, which is something he didn’t do at all last year.

Austin Jackson – He used up all the playing time he should receive in a Mets uniform last year.

Curtis Granderson – With Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, you could argue the Mets have no need for another left-handed hitting corner outfielder.  Lost in all of that is the fact Granderson is still a productive player who is great in the clubhouse.  It would not be the worst idea to bring him back to let him serve as a mentor to the Mets young players.

Bartolo Colon – If you want him back, you deserve to see the Mets go under .500 again.

Matt Harvey – Harvey has basically said he doesn’t want to return.  If you ask the Mets, the feelings are probably mutual.

Chris Beck – He was terrible for the Mets last year, so if you’re upgrading your bullpen, you should probably avoid the guys who were terrible for you.

Tyler Clippard – He had surprisingly good stats last year, which is all the more incredible when you consider he pitched in the AL East.  Signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training is not the worst idea in the world.

Jeurys Familia – Familia is the best right-handed reliever in Mets history, and unlike the other free agent relief options not named David Robertson, none of them have proven they can pitch in pressure situations in New York.  If you’re looking to compete, Familia could be a big boost to the bullpen.

AJ Ramos – The main reason Ramos didn’t work out this year was because he was injured.  He did have surgery to repair his shoulder, but we don’t know what he will be when he is ready to pitch again.  The Mets need far more certainty than that from their bullpen.

Fernando Salas – Salas helped pitch the Mets to the 2016 Wild Card, and the thanks he received was getting over-used by Terry Collins to the point he was released by the Mets in 2017.  He returned to a slightly below average reliever last year.  The Mets have plenty of those already.

Jerry Blevins – Even with last year’s struggles, Blevins has traditionally been a good LOOGY for the Mets.  If Dave Eiland and Mickey Callaway think he can return to form, and he signs a reasonable one year deal, the Mets should bring him back.

Oliver Perez – If Brodie Van Wagenen had a sense of humor, he would work out a contract with either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, but the day before the Mets officially signs either one of them, the Mets would announce Ollie was returning to the Mets organization.