The previous few seasons, the New York Mets had Gary Disarcina as their third base coach. Compared to him, anyone would look terrific.
However, that does not mean Joey Cora has been great or even good. Remember, this is the same guy the last place and perennially rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates fired.
The reason the Pirates fired him was because he was literally the worst third base coach in the game. Things started off very rocky with the Mets.
He had very bad sends of Pete Alonso, Robinson Canó (remember having to deal with that mess), and Eduardo Escobar. Things got better over the ensuing months, but Cora has looked like the Cora of old of late.
Per Baseball Savant, McNeil has slightly below average speed. He also hesitated slightly around second.
It was a perfect carom to the center fielder who threw a strike to the cut-off man. The throw by cut-off man was strong but pulling the catcher towards first.
Now, the narrative usually is it took a perfect throw. The thing is it wasn’t perfect. It was string, but it wasn’t perfect at all. Still, it beat McNeil by a good margin. Here’s the photo:
McNeil didn’t really have a chance. Even if you want to blame him for the hesitation, that’s still on Cora because he sent him. McNeil tried, but he was still out by a good margin.
If this were an isolated instance, you shrug it off. However, these sends are starting to pile up. The hope is it stops here because if it doesn’t Cora may cost the Mets a postseason game.
Honestly, in May, this was unthinkable. There were very real concerns about Baty. While the tools were there, he was hitting for zero power.
The big reason was he was a ground ball machine. Think J.D. Davis without the strikeouts. That and real promise.
Something clicked for Baty in June. He began hitting more line drives and for real power. That .409 SLG over the first two months of the season was a .604 from June 1 until his call-up.
We saw that power in Baty’s first career at-bat where he homered off of Jake Odorizzi:
It was an incredible moment. For a Mets fan, you think the third baseman of the future is now the third baseman of the present. He’s arrived and will be there for the next decade.
Baty followed with three good at-bats. He didn’t record another hit, but they were good at-bats with notably no strikeouts.
That’s a key. The moment wasn’t too big for him. He was ready, and he handled Major League pitching much like he did minor league pitching this year.
Left or right didn’t matter. He hit the ball hard. However, he hit it on the ground three times. That’s been the one thing that’s been a concern for Baty.
Of course, we see plenty of Major Leaguers ground out three times in a game. That doesn’t necessitate a rush to judgment. Rather, it’s just something to monitor.
In the field, he made the plays he was supposed to make. Nothing flashy or spectacular. There’s some debate whether he’ll stick, and to that, we saw him split time between third and left in his brief Syracuse stint.
With Baty, if he hits, the Mets will find the right spot. In his debut, there was room at third due to tut injuries, and he did hit. In fact, he hit a homer.
Ultimately, Mets fans should come away ver excited by this debut, and they are. That said, there is still room for Baty to grow and improve, which he will. Every fan should be ecstatic to see that happen.
That said, he seemed to improve after April. Admittedly, his decision making at third base had not been an issue since April.
However, we are now seeing the return of Cora from April; the return of the worst third base coach in the game.
In the second game of the five game set against the Atlanta Braves, the Mets were down 8-0 in the second. Bases were loaded with two outs. Brandon Nimmo ripped a single scoring one.
The Mets had one on the board with Ian Anderson on the ropes. They had a chance to get back into the game with Anderson all over the place and the heart of the lineup due up. Then, Cora happened:
The play wasn’t even close. Guillorme was out by a large margin. Cora had run the Mets out of the inning. It’s the type of decision you get from the worst third base coach in the game.
The first game of the three game set was a pitchers’ duel. It was 1-1 with Starling Marte at third and one out. Remember, this is the same Marte who has been very cautious with a nagging injury, and as a result, we have not seen him trying to steal bases.
Marte was out by a significant margin. That ended the inning, and the Mets would lose in extras.
On both plays, Cora made a send he never should have made. He also clearly didn’t account for the catchers.
Travis d’Arnaud and J.T. Realmuto are great on those tag plays. d’Arnaud is probably the best in the game. They lessen the need for the “perfect throw,” and they’re not flubbing it the way Tomás Nido did.
Another thing, neither play required the perfect throw. It just needed a throw. Both runners were easily out. In the end, they were both indefensibly bad decisions.
Cora cost the Mets a chance to win in both games. The hope is that he doesn’t do that come October when his decision making may cost the Mets a postseason series.
So far, the New York Mets have dominated the Atlanta Braves over the first four games of this five game set. Like the prior matchups, the Mets are just proving they’re the better team.
The only game the Braves won was when Taijuan Walker had that odd step on the mound. He says he was alright, but his pitching was clearly impacted.
As Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson, and Max Scherzer have shown, the Braves cannot handle the Mets starting pitching. Then again, who can? Oh, and by the way, the Mets have Jacob deGrom up for the finale.
After the dominant starting pitching comes Edwin Díaz. Like the rest of baseball, the Braves haven’t been able to do anything against him either.
Showalter also had the stones to have Tomás Nido lay down that suicide squeeze. With Naquin’s speed and Nido’s bunting ability, that’s knowing your roster and managing to their strengths.
Win or lose the finale, the Mets have taken the series. Win, and the Mets will have wrapped up the NL East in the beginning of August and can their sites on catching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the top overall record.
For those nervous at this statement, put 2007 aside. That year never happened, and really, this is a far different and deeper team.
This is the Mets team with the best chance of winning the World Series since 1986. It can and will happen. This Braves series is all the proof we need.
When you think of the New York Mets offseason, you think Max Scherzer. How can anyone blame you. After all, he’s a future Hall of Famer, and he’s still pitching like he’s in his prime.
The other big move was Starling Marte. He’s possibly been even better than expected. He’s an All-Star and may find himself getting down ballot MVP votes.
These are two great moves which have helped the Mets be in first place. They’re phenomenal moves having the exact impact you’d hope. There were other decisions which have fallen short.
First and foremost is the DH disaster.
The Mets decision to go with Robinson Canó at the start was a mistake. Just ask the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves.
Stubbornly trying Canó shelved J.D Davis and Dominic Smith, neither on whom got going on the season. Davis flopped in his extended chance and was shipped out to replace him. Smith never got his shot, and now he’s injured.
While they’re useless against same side pitching, they’re absolutely lethal against opposite side pitching. That makes this platoon nearly unstoppable, and it seems platoon is the name of the game with the Mets.
One platoon move they made without a trade is at third base. That was forced by Eduardo Escobar’s play. After a strong first month, he’s stopped hitting right-handed pitching, and he has a -4 OAA at third.
There were indications signing him to play out of position was a bad idea, but the Mets proceeded anyway. To a certain extent, they’ve been bailed out by Luis Guillorme (and the organization finally being willing to give him a shot to play everyday).
What’s a surprise is the Mets thought they needed a platoon partner for Mark Canha. By all accounts, Canha was having a good season, and the Mets were finding a way to get the best of him.
Canha has a 121 wRC+ and a -1 OAA. The defense isn’t great, but it’s playable.
That said, we did see continued signs of regression. Canha hit but with no power. He got on base but with a reduced walk rate and high .321 BABIP (.290 career).
That was with Travis Jankowski as his caddy. Jankowski was the late inning replacement in the field and on the base paths. The issue was Jankowski got hurt and then stopped hitting.
Rather than be victims to regression, the Mets were proactive acquiring Tyler Naquin. In a sense it was necessary with the Canha risk, but in another, it was odd considering Canha has always hit right-handed pitching better than left-handed pitching.
For that matter, he’s a better hitter overall than Naquin regardless of the split. However, Naquin has power, and Canha doesn’t. Looking at all the moves, this is an area the Mets specifically targeted.
The offseason approach was players who put the ball in play. That worked over the first two months of the season as the Mets had the best offense in baseball.
However, as the Mets hitting with runners on regressed to the mean, so did the offense. Over the past two months, this was an average to below average offense.
The Mets pitching, more specifically the starting pitching is too special to waste. Rather than wait for players to start hitting while hoping others didn’t stop, the Mets made a course correction.
Rather than be stubborn, the Mets acknowledged the limitations of their offseason plan. They made the necessary pivot. The end result is a far more dangerous team.
Whether this results in a World Series remains to be seen. What we can see is the Mets better positioned themselves to win because they acknowledged what wasn’t working and worked to fix it.
With respect to that, here are the respective wRC+ this season for the players at issue:
* Canha 123 wRC*
* Guillorme 119 wRC+
* Vogelbach 118 wRC+
Vogelbach is the worst hitter of that group. Of course, it’s more about Vogelbach against right-handed pitching. With respect to that, he is better.
However, not so much, you ravage your bullpen. Vogelbach does have a 149 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, but both Canha and Guillorme are at a 136.
Again, they’re better against right-handed pitching, but they were already good against right-handed pitching, at least with an optimized lineup. Also, their bullpen is worse.
We saw it in the Mets 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres. Max Scherzer left with the Mets down 2-0 after six. Joely Rodriguez was wholly ineffective allowing two runs before needing to be bailed out by Seth Lugo.
It was a perfect illustration as to why the Mets couldn’t just frivolously part with Colin Holderman. As noted above, with the offensive production so close, it was frivolous because it further weakened a weakness.
On the season, Holderman was 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.019 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, and a 9.2 K/9. Seeing those numbers and his pure stuff, you understand why the Pirates wanted him.
However, it’s why the Mets couldn’t afford to part with him, at least not now. Right now, there is no bridge to Edwin Diaz. Holderman was emerging to be part of that bridge, but now, he’s gone.
Sure, Billy Eppler said there’s plenty available on the relief market. However, you have to be able to get them. Moreover, you now need another arm to replace Holderman.
The Mets did this to incrementally improve their offense against right-handed pitching while ignoring the very real problems against left-handed pitching. Their bullpen is overall worse.
So yes, Vogelbach serves a need and is a slight improvement. However, the team is on more uneasy footing because it cannot handle the innings leading up to Diaz.
In the end, you can argue this trade actually hurt the Mets chances. That makes the next 10 days vital to the Mets chances to win the division and World Series.
With the New York Mets potentially pursuing Juan Soto, the question becomes what the team does with their outfield alignment. Despite Soto being a poor outfielder, the Mets really aren’t going to get the 23 year old superstar to put him at DH.
If Soto was moved to left, where he belongs, this would force Mark Canha to DH. Really, when you look at it, the Mets should probably move Canha to DH as soon as the second half starts.
The predicate for such a decision is the Mets current options at DH have been a complete failure. J.D. Davis is a strikeout and ground ball machine. Dominic Smith has already been demoted once and is easily having the worst season of his career. Neither belong in the everyday lineup right now.
On that front, Luis Guillorme does belong in the everyday lineup. You can argue it’s for his defense alone, but he’s also been hitting this season. Of course, it’s hard to play him everyday.
Remember, Jeff McNeil was an All-Star second baseman. His defense has been good too with a 0 OAA. It’s not Guillorme good (2 OAA), but with his bat, you can more than justify playing him there.
That said, McNeil is versatile. In addition to being a good second baseman, he is a good left fielder (1 OAA). Actually, he is better in left than second.
On that front, Canha has not been good in left. In fact, he has a 0 OAA. Yes, it’s the same as McNeil at second, but across Major League Baseball, McNeil’s zero ranks higher than Canha’s.
At least from a defensive standpoint, it makes sense to put McNeil in left with Guillorme at second. The move makes further sense with McNeil battling a hamstring issue.
So, it makes sense defensively, and it makes sense offensively.
Guillorme (119 wRC+) has hit much better than Davis or Smith. However. However, he hasn’t hit better than Canha (124). The good news is this never needs to be an either/or calculation. It’s a both/and.
Defensively, Guillorme at second, McNeil in left, and Canha at DH. As it so happens, all three of these bats in the everyday lineup with Davis and Smith sitting is also the optimal batting order.
To a certain extent, this is and should be obvious. However, the Mets have not operated this way. Rather, they’ve flipped a coin and picked one of Davis or Smith to diminishing returns.
It’s one thing if the Mets were still invested in Davis or Smith, but they’re not. They’ve gone out of their way to say they’re upgrading the DH position to replace them.
The thing is the Mets may not actually need a DH. In the end, what they may need is to just optimize their lineup with the players already on the roster.
For some reason, the New York Mets just don’t want to give Dominic Smith a full time job. Worse yet, they don’t want him to earn it either.
Consider this, of all the players on the Opening Day roster, Smith is the only player who has not started at least four games in a row. Yes, that does mean Travis Jankowski has.
At the time, Smith was hitting .186/.287/.256. Again, when that’s your line, you put yourself in that position, especially when you have options.
However, Davis has similarly faltered. Since June 19, he’s hitting .162/.279/.297 striking out 16 times in 43 plate appearances (37.2%). That’s with a three hit game!
Nowhere will you find the Mets even contemplating sending down Davis. Again, he’s not hitting at all, and he can’t field any position. He’s literally useless to this Major League roster.
Despite that, he continues to get at-bats at the expense of Smith. Even with Smith historically faring better against left-handed pitching, they’ll sit Smith for Davis.
You don’t do this if you’re invested in Smith. That goes double when Smith had a hot bat. The reason is the Mets, at least the Sandy Alderson directed Mets, have never been truly invested in Smith.
This goes back to 2017 and 2018.
Smith was given competition to Adrian Gonzalez, who was really signed to play. The Mets preference was made all the easier when Smith was late to pregame, and Mickey Callaway felt the need to display his authority.
This was before Smith’s sleep apnea was diagnosed and treated.
To make matters worse, Smith was used as a left fielder for a good portion of the time. This was a first round pick and top 100 prospect. A Mets team completely out of it thought the best course of action was to see what he had . . . in the outfield.
Keep in mind, Rosario struggled, and the Mets went out of their way to ensure he’s have no competition for the job. Better yet, the team sent down Luis Guillorme for a stretch leaving Rosario as the ONLY shortstop on the roster.
Between 2018 and the present, there’s a pattern, and the person at the helm has been Sandy Alderson. People can say he’s out of the loop, but he’s out there making statements the Mets need to address the DH position.
That was yet another shot at Smith, a player he didn’t want.
Remember, the Mets nearly traded Smith for Eric Hosmer (horrendous contract), Chris Paddack (injured pitcher with a 96 ERA+), and Emilio Pagan (81 ERA+ over last three seasons). That’s just how much they wanted rid of Smith.
They wanted to take on a ton of money to get worse. It’s no wonder Steve Cohen was reportedly forced to nix the deal.
That’s all well and good, but the front office response was just to not let Smith earn a job. On some level, that’s personal. There’s certainly a history backing it up.
Overall, the Mets didn’t want Smith. Alderson has a long track record of not giving him a fair shot. Now, the Mets are ready to move on without even so much as giving him a week of starts to try to earn a job.
You can argue the New York Mets best options for DH are not currently on their roster. However, it does not appear the Mets are ready to head in those directions as of right now.
Mark Vientos is mashing, but the Mets seem to be scared enough by the 30.7% strikeout rate to keep him in Triple-A. Francisco Alvarez was just called up to Triple-A. He is not an answer for DH as he is being developed as a catcher, and the Mets do not want to find themselves in a Kyle Schwarber or Gary Sanchez situation.
As for a trade, you don’t normally see big trades like this until the end of this month. Certainly, you will not see anything until after the All-Star Break. Everything considered, it seems the Mets solution for DH is already on the roster, at least the short term solution.
Looking at the roster right now, you can only conclude Dominic Smith needs to get the job.
Yes, Smith struggled mightily to start the season. He was hot in Spring Training, and he cooled off considerably as the Mets first tried to see if Robinson Cano had anything left. He didn’t. At that point, the Mets appeared to decide they should go with J.D. Davis, and when the Mets felt a pitching crunch, they sent Smith to Triple-A.
Over that time period, we saw Davis again prove he can’t be a Major League DH. On the season, Davis has 101 wRC+, 31.0% strikeout rate, .099 ISO, 1.81 GB/FB, and ranks towards the very bottom in the majors in whiff% and K%. In sum, there is no way, shape, or form the Mets can justify playing him evreryday at any position.
That brings us to Smith.
The biggest issue with Smith is we only saw him healthy and hitting in one season. That was the pandemic shortened season when he actually received MVP votes despite the Mets being terrible. With that season, you thought he would be a permanent fixture for the Mets. However, he battled an injured shoulder in 2021, and he had the aforementioned nightmare start this season.
Well, after he was recalled Smith has started hitting again. Over the past nine games, Smith is hitting .333/.333/.524 with four doubles and two RBI. Smith came up as a pinch hitter on Saturday hitting a double. After that, he started the following two games. Over this three game stretch, Smith is 4-for-9 with three doubles and 2 RBI.
Simply put, he’s hitting well. With the way the Mets are hitting now, if anyone is hitting well, they simply need to be in the lineup. Does this small sample size seem like grasping at straws? Perhaps, but then again, that’s where the Mets are.
Consider, the Mets 84 wRC+ from the DH position is the second worst in the National League. Since June 1, the entire team has a 99 wRC+, which ranks as tied for seventh worst in the National League. That’s a precipitous drop for one of the best offenses in all of baseball over the first two months of the season.
Now, DH is the only issue. We have seen Mark Canha, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo fall into bad slumps. Only recently did Eduardo Escobar and Francisco Lindor battle out of very bad slumps. The team has gotten absolutely nothing from the catcher position. Taking everything into account, the team needs players who are hitting well in their lineup.
Right now, that’s Smith. He’s hitting right now. As a result, he needs to be in the lineup now either at first or DH. Give him a few weeks. If he falters, he can be traded for the needed relief help. If he succeeds, the Mets assets can be directed to fill real needs. Whatever the case, the Mets need Smith, and for Smith, this should be his last opportunity.
Watching Luis Guillorme against the Houston Astros was a thing of beauty. His defense alone was worth the price of admission, and he really have not seen a New York Mets player play defense at this level since Juan Lagares or even Rey Ordonez. He’s just been that magical out there.
"Guillorme just continues to shine!" ✨ pic.twitter.com/cF5SyCCWTC
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 29, 2022
His defense in the game was on another level with 10 assists and two put outs. He was lunging and fielding balls towards the middle. He was one handing balls and making strong throws. He was grabbing hot shots to the hot corner. With the ground ball pitcher Taijuan Walker, the Houston Astros sent 12 balls his way, and Guillorme ensured they led to outs.
This is part of what has been a stellar year defensively for Guillorme. He has a 3 OAA in his time split between second, third, and short. He rates as the fifth best second baseman in the NL and 10th in the majors. If he had enough innings to quality, he would be the eighth best shortstop in the NL and 11th overall, and he would be the seven best third baseman in the NL and 14th overall.
Keep in mind, that is with Guillorme playing the fewest innings for each of these positions. With more innings at any of these three positions, he would likely rank higher or even much higher in any of these rankings. However, on the Mets, they need him to be a defensive wizard across the diamond.
That shouldn’t diminish what he has done this season. You see it every time he steps on the field. He makes all the routine plays, and he makes the hard plays. More than that, he is making the plays no one makes. His footwork is phenomenal, and he’s one of the best in the majors at turning the double play.
Despite all of that, there is no shot he is going to be a contender for any Gold Gloves. He is simply not going to log the innings needed at any position to quality. Due to the Mets needs and technicalities, one of the best fielders in the game will not be recognized for his play this season. That’s an unforced error by baseball.
Keep in mind, this is a league who instituted a rule for a universal DH. There is a whole non-position whose only job is to hit. That player doesn’t fight the rest of baseball for a Silver Slugger. Instead, that non-position gets one all to themselves. It should naturally follow there would be a separate Gold Glove just for utility players, i.e. those players who demonstrate defensive brilliance all across the diamond.
Overall, when you look at baseball in 2022, it is difficult to argue Guillorme isn’t one of the best defenders in the game. If there was any justice, he would at least be a finalist for a Gold Glove. However, because baseball is too busy look to rebuild Rob Manfred’s image and tell us everything they think is wrong with the sport while instituting rules which do nothing to generate fan interest, they’ll purposefully overlook honoring top defenders on mere technicalities.
That practice needs to end, and it need to end with Guillorme getting a Gold Glove this season.