Lucas Duda

Thank You Asdrubal Cabrera

When looking at Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, you would have to say one of the best moves he made was signing Asdrubal Cabrera in the offseason immediately after the Mets pennant.

When you look at Cabrera’s Mets career, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is how he almost single-handedly carried the Mets to the 2016 postseason.

At that time, the Mets were down Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom in the rotation.  The team had no third baseman for most of the season.  Lucas Duda was essentially done for the year, and James Loney was doing a bad job offensively and defensively at first.  Neil Walker would go down with a season ending back surgery.  The prior year’s hero, Yoenis Cespedes, was in and out of the lineup with quad issues, and when he did play, he wasn’t the same guy he was in 2015.

After what was a largely disappointing injury plagued year, Cabrera came off the DL on August 19th, and he went on an absolute tear.  From that point until the end of the season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.

To put it in perspective just how great a run that was, Cabrera had the seventh best wRC+ over that stretch.  His 179 wRC+ was better than players like Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, NL MVP Kris Bryant.

In that insane stretch, the Mets went from two games under .500 to finishing the year 87-75 with the top National League Wild Card.  Not only did Cabrera fuel that run, but he might have also given us one of the greatest bat flips in Mets history:

From there, things haven’t been so great with the Mets.  Unfortunately, it did lead to Cabrera demanding a trade when the team wanted to move him off of shortstop.  With the Mets unable to move him, the team did pick up his option, and he returned.

It is a good thing he returned because Cabrera has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.  His 122 wRC+ is sixth best among Major League second basemen, and it is second best among players on the Mets Opening Day roster.

Whatever issues Cabrera may have caused with his demands, he is a guy who came to play each and every day.  No matter what the injury or issue, he wanted in the lineup.  More often that not, he contributed.

Part of the reason why is Cabrera is that rare breed of player who actually raises his game in New York.  His 116 OPS+ with the Mets is better than any of his previous stops.  He averaged a higher WAR with the Mets than at any other stop.  It’s impressive he did this as a player towards the end of his prime as opposed to one entering his prime.

Overall, the New York Mets organization has been better for Cabrera having been a part of it.  He was a player born to play in New York, and he had the opportunity to show it with a great pennant run in 2016.  For that run alone, Mets fans should be thankful.

In the end, we should all wish Cabrera good luck in Philadelphia, and yes, given his play here, there Mets should consider bringing him back next year.

Explaining Harvey Trade To A 2013 Mets Fan

Back in 2013, the Cincinnati Reds had their second consecutive 90 win season.  Unfortunately for them, they were not able to make the postseason like they were the previous year when they were bounced from the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants.  Due to a number of factors, there was an open question after that season how long the Reds could keep this core group together.

At the same time, the New York Mets finished the season in third place in the National League East with a 74-88 record.  In that season, the team saw a rejuvenated David Wright, and Matt Harveywas the talk of the town, at least until he needed Tommy John surgery.

Using that all as a backdrop, imagine explaining to a person from 2013 how the Harvey deal went down . . .

2013: So, wait, you’re telling me, Harvey and Dilson Herrera are both members of the Reds organization? What did we get for them?  Joey Votto?

2018: Well, no . . .

2013: So wait, tell me which Reds are members of the Mets now.

2018: The Mets have Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Devin Mesoraco, but . . .

2013: Wait, the Mets have Frazier, Wright, Ike Davis, and Lucas Duda?

2018: Well, no, not exactly.

2013: I’m guessing Davis never got over the Valley Fever.

2018: While I’m not sure if it was Valley Fever, Davis is no longer in the majors.  In fact, he’s trying to pitch now.

2013: PITCH?!?!?!

2018: Yup.

2013: And I’m guessing despite the team shoving him down our throats, I’m assuming Duda never panned out.

2018: Actually, he became a 30 home run hitter.

2013: Really, so if that’s the case, why are the Mets looking to move him off first?  Do they really think he can play the outfield?  He was dreadful out there.

2018: No, no, no, no.  Duda signed as a free agent with the Royals.

2013: Ok, so the Mets got Frazier to play first.

2018: No, they signed him to play third.

2013: So, Wright is playing first.

2018: About that . . .

2013: Francesca always yammered on and on about how he belongs at third because of his arm.  Honestly, I can’t believe the Mets listened to that blowhard.  Speaking of which, I’m sure he gloated about that for at least a week.

2018: Believe it or not, Francesca was retired when the Mets got Frazier.

2013: SERIOUSLY!

2018: Yup.

2013: With Francesca retired, who is now on during the drive home?

2018: It’s a long story, but it’s Francesa.  He unretired.

2013: Of course he did.  And he’s probably telling us all the time how Wright shouldn’t be compared to Derek Jeter because Wright hasn’t won, and Jeter does everything perfect.

2018: Believe it or not, Jeter owns the Marlins.

2013: Like, he’s still playing, and he won the World Series MVP?

2018: No, he’s actually a part owner of the Marlins.

2013: The media must love him and the Marlins now.

2018: People think Jeter is a prick now.  He fired a cancer patient while he was in the hospital.

2013:  SERIOUSLY!

2018: Oh yeah, he’s alienated everyone, including their biggest fan, Marlins Man.

2013: What’s a Marlins Man?

2018: It’s this guy who goes across the country sitting behind home plate of every nationally televised game while wearing an orange Marlins jersey.

2013:  That’s a thing?

2018: For a while now.

2013: So let me get this straight.  In the future, Jeter owns the Marlins.  Francesca pretends to be Brett Favre.  There is some guy who is a celebrity because he’s rich and wears an orange Marlins jersey, and the Mets displaced Wright in favor of Frazier.

2018: I hate to tell you this, but Wright’s career is done.

2013: With the Mets?  I knew the Wilpons wouldn’t pay him.  Where did he go?  Please don’t tell me he’s a Yankee.

2018: No, Wright’s baseball career.  It’s over.

2013:  Shut up.  He would be just, what, 34?

2018: He’s 35.

2013: So, what?  He’s the Mets Don Mattingly?

2018: Yes.

2013: No.

2018:   He is.  Back in 2015, when the Mets went to the World Series

2013: THE METS WENT TO THE WORLD SERIES?!?!?!?!?

2018: They did.

2013: Wow, Terry Collins must’ve really turned things around with better players.

2018: Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.

2013: Sorry, you were saying about Wright.

2018: Anyway, Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis.  He was actually able to play in the World Series, but after that point his career was essentially over.

2013: That’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

2018: Well, it gets worse.

2013: How could it get worse?

2018: Well aside from the Mets losing the 2015 World Series –

2013: Oh, they lost?  To who?

2018: The Royals.

2013:  HOW!  THEY ALWAYS SUCK!

2018: Well, for two years they didn’t, and they were helped along by some really bad decisions by Collins in that World Series, including leaving Harvey out too long.

2013: Let me guess.  Hurt again.

2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but not because of that.  At least, I don’t think.

2013: Thor – what?

2018: No, not Noah Syndergaard.  Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

2013: Wait, Syndergaard calls himself Thor.

2018: Yeah, and he picks fights with Mr. Met on Twitter.

2013: I thought Mr. Met doesn’t talk.

2018: Yeah, it’s this whole thing.  You know what.  Nevermind, it’s even dumber when you explain it.

2013: Fine, what’s the deal with Harvey again?

2018: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  At best it’s a shoulder condition that changes your career.  For some, it ends it.  Remember Josh Beckett?

2013: Yeah, he was bad last year.

2018: That’s why.

2013: So wait, the Mets went to a World Series with an injured Harvey and Wright?

2018: Well, Harvey wasn’t injured yet.

2013: But now he is.  Well, I got to give it to Sandy.  He was able to turn Harvey and Herrera into Bruce, Frazier, and Mesoraco, who was a promising catcher.

2018: Well, the Mets did use Herrera to get Bruce.  Frazier was a free agent, and the Mets used Harvey to get Mesoraco.

2013: Wow, that was one first round draft pick which really must’ve worked out for the Reds.  You’d hope for more for Harvey, but still, you have to give Sandy credit for getting a young impressive catcher for Harvey before Harvey broke down.

2018: Oh, Mesoraco is broken down himself.  He’s had shoulder and hip issues.  He can’t play everyday, and he’s been hovering around the Mendoza line for years.

2013: So, let me get this straight.

2018: Go ahead.

2013:  Wright is broken.  Harvey is broken.  They also got Mesoraco, who is also broken. Ike is both broken and a  pitcher.

2018: Pretty much.

2013: Well, I guess with the Mets still making the World Series in 2015, Zack Wheeler and Rafael Montero must’ve panned out, so I guess there is at least some positives.

2018: You know what?  I think that’s enough for right now.

Strange But True Mets Minor League Facts

As we head into the 2018 season, we have seen some of these Mets prospects for a few years now, and we have made some assumptions about these players. Some of those assumptions are right on the money, and some of them, not so much. There may be some facts when brought to life which may surprise many of us. With that in mind, here are some facts about the Mets minor leagues which are sure to surprise you.

No. 1 Sandy’s First Draft Produced 11 Major Leaguers

When Sandy Alderson was entasked with rebuilding the Mets farm system, he and his staff went right to work with the 2011 draft. That draft was quite effective with the Mets producing 11 Major Leaguers from that draft.

1st Round: Brandon Nimmo & Michael Fulmer
2nd Round: Cory Mazzoni
3rd Round: Logan Verrett
4th Round: Jack Leathersich
8th Round: Daniel Muno
13th Round: Robert Gsellman
15th Round: Phillip Evans
21st Round: John Gant
34th Round: Seth Lugo
35th Round: Chasen Bradford

Almost as incredible, between trades and play on the field, nine of those players either played for a Mets team that made the postseason or were traded for a player who contributed to a Mets team that made the postseason.

No. 2 Vientos Same Age As Kranepool Was When Kranepool Debuted in the Majors

Last year, Mets second round pick Mark Vientos was the youngest player drafted at 17 years old. Amazingly, this is the same age Mets Hall of Famer Ed Kranepool was when he made his MLB debut. As a matter of fact, Kranepool was just a little more than four months older in his MLB debut than Vientos was when he made his debut in professional baseball playing in the Gulf Coast League.

No. 3 Alonso Only Player to Homer off Smith Prior to the Trade Deadline

When the New York Mets traded Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-handed relief prospect Drew Smith, the one stat which immediately jumped off his Baseball Reference page was the fact he had allowed just one home run all season. The person who hit that home run was his future teammate Peter Alonso. On the home run, Smith would tell MMN’s Mathew Brownstein, Alonso “brings it up probably once a week (laughs). But that’s just part of it.”

No. 4 Nimmo Drew More Walks Than Rosario in Triple-A

Last year with all of the injuries, it seemed as if Nimmo spent most if not all of his 2017 season in the majors. To a certain extent that is true with him playing just 42 games in Triple-A. That was actually 52 fewer games than Amed Rosario had in Triple-A last year. Overall, Rosario would have 227 more plate appearances for the 51s than Nimmo would have. And yet, despite all of that, Nimmo would draw 10 more walks than Rosario did in Triple-A.

No. 5 DeFrancesco’s First MLB Win Came Against the Mets

In the offseason, the Mets hired the Houston Astros Triple-A Manager Tony DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco had been a manager in the Astros organization since 2011, and during that time, he did get a 41 game opportunity to manage the Major League club after the team fired Brad Mills. After beginning his managerial career losing five straight, his Astros came to New York to face the Mets. With the Suffern, New York native’s family in the stands, his Astros team won the game 3-1.

Who’s Better: 2015 or 2018 Mets?

Entering the season, Yoenis Cespedes made the bold declaration the 2018 Mets were better than the 2015 Mets.  Now, if you recall that 2015 team, it did feature players like Eric Campbell and John Mayberry.  However, those players were not on the team at the same time as Cespedes.  When Cespedes joined the Mets, he was on a much better roster, a roster which went all the way to the World Series.

With that consideration, it is certainly bold for Cespedes to make that declaration, but is he right?  Let’s take a look:

CATCHER

2015: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki
2018: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki

Just looking at those names, you may be quick to think not much has changed in the catching situation.  In reality, everything is different, and the main difference is these catchers stand on much different footing.

The 2015 season was d’Arnaud’s best as a player with him posting a 126 OPS+ and emerging as an elite pitch framer.  Plawecki was overmatched at the plate, but he did handle the pitching staff exceptionally well.  Since that time, both had gone on to disappoint in 2016 and much of 2017.

Things changed at the tail end of 2017.  Plawecki finally looked like the player the Mets once thought he would become.  d’Arnaud would finish the season with a strong September.  As a result, they will look to begin the 2018 season in a unique time sharing agreement designed to keep both healthy and effective all year long.

VERDICT: 2018if both replicate their Septembers, this won’t even be close

FIRST BASE

2015: Lucas Duda
2018: Adrian Gonzalez

In 2015, Duda hit .244/.352/.486 with 27 homers and 73 RBI.  He was as streaky as he ever was unable to carry the team when they needed his bat most, and he almost single-handedly beat the Nationals in a key late July series.

Gonzalez is coming off the worst year of his career, and he is still dealing with back issues which requires him to warm up two hours before the game starts.

VERDICT: 2015 Gonzalez may not be around long enough to make a bad throw

SECOND BASE

2015: Daniel Murphy
2018: Asdrubal Cabrera

We got a glimpse of what Murphy would became with him slugging .533 over the final two months of the season. Even with the increased power, no one could predict the home run barrage he’d unleash in the postseason.

For his part, Cabrera finds himself at second a year after protesting moving there or anywhere. He’s been a good hitter with the Mets, and he’s been terrific in the clutch. We’ll see if the injuries will permit him to be that again.

VERDICT: 2015 – Murphy’s postseason was an all-time great one

THIRD BASE

2015: David Wright
2018: Todd Frazier

This was really the last hurrah for Wright in a Mets uniform. He was very good in the 30 games he played after coming off the DL hitting .277/.381/.437. He’d hit two emotional homers: (1) his first at-bat since coming off the DL; and (2) his first World Series at-bat at Citi Field.

Frazier has been a solid to somewhat underrated player. Over the last three years, he’s averaged 34 homers, 88 RBI, and a 110 OPS+. He’s been a good fielder averaging a 5 DRS over that stretch.

VERDICT: 2018 – Frazier is no Wright, but he’s healthy

SHORTSTOP

2015: Ruben Tejada
2018: Amed Rosario

Tejada was not supposed to be the starting shortstop in 2015.  After wasting a few chances which led to Omar Quintanilla getting the bulk of the playing time over him, the Mets moved on to Flores.  Eventually, Collins and the Mets went back to Tejada because: (1) he had steadier hands; and (2) he had a .362 OBP in the second half.  Who knows how everything would have turned out had Chase Utley not broken his leg with a dirty slide/tackle.

Rosario is the future of the Mets.  Yes, there are flaws in his game like his very low walk rate.  However, this is a uniquely gifted player who is dedicated to being better.  He’s electric, and he’s got the skill set to be a superstar for a very long time.  For now, we will settle for him being a good defensive shortstop who brings real speed and upside to the table.

VERDICT: 2018 Rosario’s ceiling is just way too high

OUTFIELD

2015: Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson
2018: Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce

Cespedes was just an otherworldly player when he joined the Mets.  Despite his only being a Met for a few months, he finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting.  Really, the MVP for the Mets that year was Granderson who was a leader in the clubhouse on the lineup.  He had the most homers from a lead-off hitter, and he was a Gold Glove finalist.  Conforto jumped from Double-A to post a 133 wRC+ and a much better than expected 9 DRS in left.

With respect to the 2018 outfield, we see Conforto is a much better play (when healthy), and Cespedes is nowhere near as good as he was when he joined the Mets.  To be fair, there’s no way he could, but he’s still an All Star caliber player.  This means the main difference between the squads is Bruce and Granderson.

VERDICT: 2015 – That Cespedes was just that much better.

BENCH

2015: Michael Cuddyer, Wilmer Flores, Kelly Johnson, Juan Lagares
2018: Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, Jose Reyes

From the moment Uribe and Johnson joined the Mets, they were game changers.  They both brought a winning attitude and game winning hits.  In addition to the two of them, Lagares was the defensive specialist, a role to which he is best suited, and Cuddyer was a platoon partner with either Conforto or Duda depending on whether Lagares started the game as well.  Overall, it was a veteran bench who provided needed leadership.

The Mets current bench is similar to the 2015 bench with Reyes trying to emulate the Uribe role even if he’s not as productive a player.  Flores is Flores, but a better hitter, and believe it or not, a worse fielder.  Lagares rediscovered his range he lost in 2015.  Nimmo should be in the everyday lineup and leading off, but early indications are he won’t.

VERDICT: 2015 – Uribe and Johnson were just that important

ROTATION

2015: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon
2018: Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Jason Vargas

When you consider Vargas was basically brought in to replicate what Colon did in 2015, the question is whether you believe the Mets top four starters are better as a group now or then.  Looking at it objectively, Syndergaard is the only one who has improved with no one knowing what Harvey and Matz can still provide.

VERDICT: 2015 – they were just healthier then

BULLPEN

2015: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Jon Niese, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel
2018: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald

Familia was that good in 2015 that he was able to cover many of the warts in the 2015 bullpen.  This resulted in Collins using him for multiple innings more than any other closer that year.  Reed would begin his emergence as a great reliever, but a back injury would cost Clippard of his effectiveness.  One surprise was Niese performing well as a lefty in the bullpen.

When you include Sewald’s Triple-A experience, this is a bullpen with three closers, six pitchers with closer’s stuff, and a very good LOOGY in Blevins.  Even if Familia is not as good as he was in 2015, it won’t matter because there is enough depth here for the Mets to not need to rely upon him as much.

VERDICT: 2018 – they’re just deeper and with more upside

MANAGER

2015: Terry Collins
2018: Mickey Callaway

For all the warts and problems Mets fans discovered with Collins, he had his finest year as a manager in 2015.  When the ship could have sunk multiple times, he pulled the team together and kept things afloat until the team got healthy and reinforcements arrived.  Of course, he followed this up by helping cost the Mets the World Series with a series of baffling decisions which all blew up in the Mets faces.

Right now, Callaway looks like a genius.  He’s innovative batting Cespedes second and Rosario ninth.  He came down hard on Dominic Smith for being late.  His players seem to love him, and the baseball world roundly believes the Mets made an excellent hire.  However, the season isn’t even a week old.  Even if everyone is a fan at the moment, let’s check back in a couple of months to see if he’s an innovative genius or if he’s a know-it-all who can’t leave good enough alone.

Verdict: 2018 – Collins did cost the Mets a World Series

VERDICT

If you break it down, the 2015 Mets were better at first, second, outfield, bench, and rotation.  The 2018 version is better at catcher, third, short, bullpen, and manager.  Looking at the breakdown, you can say it’s a 5-5 draw.  However, in reality, it’s not.  That 2015 team pitching rotation was just so dominant, and hypothetically, if these teams were going to step on the same field, the 2015 rotation would dominate the 2018 version.

That said, there is a lot of talent on this 2018 team, and from what we have seen so far, this is a roster tailor made to what we presume is Callaway’s talents as a manager.  If Callaway is indeed as good as we hope it will be, we can see him and Dave Eiland taking this pitching staff as a whole to the next level.  If that can happen, and with a little help, this Mets team could accomplish what the 2015 version didnt – win the World Series.

Meet The Mets Fan: Derek Carty

The Mets Fan

My name is Derek Carty. I’m the former fantasy manager for sabermetric sites Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times (now part of FanGraphs), but I’m best known these days for my work in Daily Fantasy. I write for ESPN, was on Baseball Tonight during the 2015 season, and put out content through RotoGrinders, including my DFS projection system THE BAT, which has been shown to outperform even Vegas lines.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I’ve been a Mets fan since I was a kid. The crazy-good infield of John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, Rey Ordonez, and Robin Ventura was what I grew up with. I’ve become more jaded over the years…

Favorite Mets Player

Mike Piazza, and it’s not close. Everyone agrees he’s the best hitting catcher of all time, but he was an incredibly underrated defender that got shafted because of the era he played in. He had a bad arm, and that’s all anyone ever focused on back then. But a catcher’s arm is much less important than his framing, and Baseball Prospectus’s retro framing stats show that he was +60 runs above average for his career. He gave some back with the arm, but for his career he was actually a well above-average defender, despite a reputation as a bad one. This is the greatest catcher of all time. Not the greatest hitting catcher. The greatest catcher. Not getting into the Hall on the first ballot was an absolute joke.

Favorite Moment in Met History

2000 NLCS Game 5. I remember listening to “Who Let the Mets Out” on repeat lol.

Message to Mets Fans

“Try not to cry”? That’s been my motto. The way they handled the trade deadline (specifically Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce) was terrible, the Bruce deal this off-season was bad, the way they’ve handled their pitchers has been bad. Seriously, what were they thinking with Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz last year? I really want to be optimistic, but it’s tough. There is *some* reason for it. I like the Todd Frazier deal. I like that they are trying to fix the training staff. I think the A-Gon deal is an okay low-risk move. But as long as the Wilpons are in charge, I have a hard time seeing this organization ever really turning a corner. I have them projected for 84 wins this year, which is solid and could put them in contention for the Second Wild Card, but that’s assuming relatively good health. A team in a market like NYC needs to be better, even if they have to tear it all down first.

Mets Messed Up With Duda, Reyes, Gonzalez Decisions

To be fair, no one really expected the free agent market to go the way it has. Really, as free agency opened, the Mets with their limited budget was not expected to be able to bring in Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Anthony Swarzak. Based upon past years, the Mets really only would have had the budget to get just one of them. However, with the way it has played out, it does beg you to re-visit the Mets offseason.

Certainly, there should be no quibbling with the aforementioned additions. Bruce provides the Mets both with a left-handed power bat as well as first base insurance. Frazier joins Amed Rosario to give the Mets a defensive left side of the infield they have not had since at least a decade ago. Swarzak helps solidify a bullpen that needed all the quality arms it could get.

Where you can question the Mets was their minor moves. The team brought back Jose Reyes back on a one year $2 million deal, and because the Dodgers are playing his 2018 salary, the Mets were able to sign Adrian Gonzalez for the league minimum. In retrospect, was this really the best move the Mets could have made.

When the Mets signed Bruce, it gave the team only four healthy outfielders on the 40 man roster. Two of those outfielders, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares, are injury prone. Already, both players are having health issues, which certainly calls into question whether the Mets outfield can last a full season. It gets even worse when you consider Bruce is dealing with plantar fasciitis.

Because of those injuries, the Mets may be left with the rock and hard place decision of choosing between putting Wilmer Flores in the outfield or playing Matt den Dekker and his career .234/.316/.354 batting line in the outfield. The Mets are faced with this decision because as Josh Lewin put it during the Mets Spring Training opener, Reyes has shown not interest in playing the outfield this year.

It does seem odd the player many consider to be the quickest, if not the fastest, on the team is not even going to try to play the outfield. Considering he was signed as a utility player, it certainly begs the question why he isn’t playing the outfield at all.

There’s also the matter of Gonzalez. There’s no doubt when he’s on the top of his game, he’s much better than Duda or what the Mets envision Dominic Smith will be. However, at 37 and with back problems, is Gonzalez really that player anymore? His last full season was 2016 when he hit .285/.349/.435 with 18 homers and 90 RBI.  Considering how poorly he played last year, his needing two hours to work with trainers just to get onto the field, and his start to the Spring, it’s doubtful he even puts up those numbers.

Last year, Duda hit .246/.347/.532 with 17 homers and 37 RBI in 75 games with the Mets.  Overall, he would have the second 30 homer season of his career.  In three of his last four years, he’s hit 27 or more homers.  The one year he didn’t was an injury riddled 2016 season.

Certainly, you can say Duda was a better bet than Gonzalez.  Moreover, it’s fair to say giving him $3.5 million was a better decision than giving $2.5 million to Reyes and Gonzalez.  It also would’ve given the Mets wiggle room to add another player to the roster who was at least capable of playing the outfield.  Given their suspect depth there, you really need to question Sandy Alderson’s thought process on these respective decisions.

OF Wilmer Flores? Why Not?

When it was announced the Mets were going to try Wilmer Flores in the outfield, it was met with a collective groan from Mets fans.  That shouldn’t be surprising as Wilmer has established himself to be not exactly fleet of foot, nor has he shown himself to be a great defender anywhere the Mets have dared to put him.

As a result, Mets fans were reminded of the horrors of watching Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, and Todd Hundley in the outfield.  With injuries to Juan Lagares and Jay Bruce this Spring, we are a step closer to seeing that happen.

Given this being Spring Training, and with the Mets health perpetually being what it is, this is exactly the time of year you are supposed to be experimenting with these types of moves.  Maybe, just maybe, Flores could handle the position.

Let’s start with the obvious – Wilmer is slow.  That is something not just proved by the eye test but also by Statcast data.

As published on Baseball Savant, Flores had a sprint speed of 25.7 feet per second.  To put that in perspective, Flores ranked 398th out of the 451 MLB players ranked.  While this isn’t surprising, it is surprising Flores was ranked ahead of two outfielders – Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp.

Now, no one should consider Bautista or Kemp good fielders anymore.  Last year, Bautista posted a -8 DRS in 1,242.2 innings in right, and Kemp posted a -17 DRS in 851.2 innings in left.  Using Fangraphs parameters, that puts Bautista and Kemp in the poor to awful range.

Judging from Kemp and Bautista, Flores ceiling in the outfield is probably being a poor outfielder.  As Mets fans, we already have that expectation no matter where Flores plays.  Last season, he had a -14 DRS.  Being a versatile and poor fielder is kind of Flores’ thing.

However, unlike Kemp and Bautista, we shouldn’t expect to see Flores spend the majority of his time in the outfield. Basically, what is instructive is Flores is just fast enough to fake it in the outfield.  However, the issues is whether he can field enough out there.

When it comes to fly balls and pop ups, Flores has never had a real issue fielding the ball, so long as he doesn’t have to deal with a bat boy (who aren’t in the outfield):

Really, when it comes to Wilmer his defensive issues have typically been range and arm.  That’s a big reason why he didn’t work at shortstop and why he has shown himself to be a poor fit at third.  Again, as noted throughout his career, he’s not a real fit anywhere.

Really, it could be he’s as poor a fit in the outfield as he is in the infield, so why not?  If he’s hitting, they are going to want to find a spot for him in the lineup.  If this team repeats their injury issues from last season, and 2018 has not gotten off to a great start, the team may be forced to put him out there.  At a minimum, you’d be hard pressed to argue he could be any worse out there.

 

Does Bruce Or Gonzalez Play Second Base?

Heading into this offseason, THE major hole on the Mets roster was second base. So naturally, the Mets went out and have made sure to collect a bunch of first base options:

That’s right. The Mets brought in Gonzalez. On a Major League deal to boot. Presumably because teams were beating down the door of a soon to be 36 year old first baseman with back problems who skipped out on a postseason run with the team to go on vacation. 

Clearly, the Mets were enticed by his .242/.287/.355 slash line. 

In all seriousness, this move makes no sense on many levels. 

First, the team already had Bruce to move to first if Smith wasn’t ready. Second, Smith might be ready by Opening Day, and he’s now blocked by a broken down player. Third, there were plenty of options available. 

Matt Adams went to the Nationals for just one year $4 million. Adam Lind and Lucas Duda were still available. Heck, even Mike Naploli and his clubhouse leadership is still there for the taking. 

Nope, the Mets went with the cheapest option available, which is not at all surprising:

While all this tomfoolery was happening, the Mets nixed a deal for Jason Kipnis because, wait for it, he makes too much money. They’ll say not a good value, but essentially, it’s the same thing to the Mets. 

Kipnis is likely the best option available to them at second. Many will say Josh Harrison, but with teams with much deeper minor league systems also pursuing him, it’s not likely the Mets emerge out on top. 

Sure, we’ll hear about Eduardo Nuñez and Howie Kendrick, but do we really believe the Mets will sign them?  Their pursuit of those players is like their pursuit of the non-Gonzalez first base options. 

At this point, with Bruce and Anthony Swarzak likely having eaten up the offseason budget, aside from Gonzalez type deals, it means the 2018 second baseman is likely on this roster. 

With Jose Lobaton already in the fold, every Mets fan should know that the second base plan is for next season. 

That’s right. It’ll be Travis d’Arnaud and Asdrubal Cabrera switching back and forth between second and third depending on the handedness of the batter. 

I’m Why The Wilpons Get Away With This

Like many Mets fans, I was irritated about how last offseason was handled. 

They brought back a team who was not good enough to win the Wild Card Game expecting them to both stay healthy and win a World Series. 

As we know, it all fell apart. That’s what happens when Jacob deGrom and Jerry Blevins were the only two players to last the full season on the roster without hitting the Disabled List. 

The Mets postseason chances ended in injuries culminating in a 70-92 record. 

Even better, Sandy Alderson completely botched the fire sale. The Mets traded Jay Bruce, Lucas DudaCurtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker for a group of Minor League right-handed relieves. Oh, and sweet, sweet salary relief. 

The plan of action would’ve been acceptable had the team opted to reinvest that money in the team. Well, not only did the Mets opt not to reinvest that money, they decided to hold onto more of it. 

That’s right. Despite a good core that includes Noah SyndergaardMichael Conforto, and Amed Rosario, the Mets are refusing to spend what is needed to get this team to .500 let alone the postseason. 

How do I respond to this?


Yup, I got a knit Mets hat for my newborn son. Apparently, despite everything, I want him to be a Mets fan just like my entire family. 

I know why. It’s because if the shared experiences. I want to be able to enjoy the rare times the Mets are relevant with my sons. 

I want to go to games with them and tell them I got to see players like Mike PiazzaDavid Wright, and Carlos Beltran. I want to celebrate the Mets next World Series title with them. 

Hell, I’d love to do that with my Dad as well. However, with the way this team is being operated from a financial and personnel standpoint, it seems like that’s becoming less and less of a possibility. 

Sadly, the Wilpons don’t care about my story or other fans stories. They don’t have to because they’re making money anyway. They don’t have to because fans like me keep coming back for more, and even worse, we begin the process of indoctrinating our children at a young age. 

So yes, I’m to blame why the Wilpons get away with operating the Mets this way. However, only the Wilpons themselves are to blame for choosing to operate the team this way. 

On The Mets And Eric Hosmer

One of the more polarizing free agents this offseason is Eric Hosmer.  The main reason why is he just looks like a better player than he actually is. 

For that, look no further than his Gold Gloves. In four of the last five seasons, he has taken home a Gold Glove despite posting a cumulative -6 DRS over that stretch with his posting a -6 and -7 DRS over the last two seasons. 

Offensively, over the last three years, he has averaged 159 G, .294/.359/.463, 29 2B, 23 HR, 97 RBI. Pretty good looking numbers, but those numbers translate to a 119 OPS+, 120 wRC+. 

For this some teams, including the Royals and possibly the Padres, are willing to pay him over $20 million a year for seven years. That’s a gross overpay for a player who is averaging a 2.9 bWAR and 2.5 fWAR during the prime of his career. 

Now, there are some plausible reasons why you could say he’s more than the numbers say he is. By all accounts, he’s a leader and a tremendous clubhouse presence. The man seemingly does everything it takes to win. 

My personal favorite is when his GM Dayton Moore said, “”If you told Eric Hosmer, ‘We need you to hit 40 home runs,’ he would be able to hit 40 home runs. He’s that type of athlete.”  (WEEI). 

Basically, all you need to do is to tell Hosmer to do something, and he’ll do it. Whatever it takes to win, except hitting 40 homers because he doesn’t need to do that to win. What he will do is make the mad dash home Alex Gordon didn’t the prior year and scoring a run as Lucas Duda‘s throw went nowhere near home. 

That brings us to the Mets. 

There’s no doubt the Mets could very well use a player like Hosmer in the clubhouse. There’s value in adding a winner, and there’s more value in adding a headsmart player on a young team. 

The first problem with considering Hosmer, which the Mets purportedly aren’t, is Dominic Smith

The young first baseman was a well regarded prospect who struggled in his debut. This led the Mets to tell everyone who will listen they’ve soured on Smith. They soured on him so much they began the offseason listing first base as a need. 

It was more than a short-term consideration. The team did inquire on Carlos Santana as the Mets viewed him as a “difference maker.”

Apparently, he wasn’t enough of a difference maker to garner $20 million a year. Although, that may have more to do with the Mets not having $20 million to spend this offseason. 

Therein lies the problem. We’ll never truly know how much of an impact a player like Hosmer would have on the Mets. We don’t get to see the blending of new and old school and how they work together to build a winner. 

In fact, the way the Mets offseason is transpiring, you’d be hard pressed to argue this team is really looking to build a winner for 2018 or beyond. 

That leaves Mets fans watching Hosmer dashing for a chance to win again while we all look on in horror.