Luis Rojas

Simulated Recap: Shades Of 2005

Fifteen years ago, Mets fans were psyched for a season where Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran joined a team which already had Mike Piazza, Jose Reyes, and David Wright. On Opening Day, the Mets bullpen, namely Braden Looper, blew the game setting the stage for an 0-5 start. Based on the MLB The Show 20 simulations, we’re revisiting that season.

In the fourth, Rhys Hoskins would hit the first of two homers. That one homer off Michael Wacha was all the margin the Phillies needed as Aaron Nola completely shut down the Mets offense.

After this 3-0 loss, video game Luis Rojas has started his managerial career 0-5. That’s just like Willie Randolph. Of course, that Mets team would still finish the year above .500, and it would be a stepping stone to the last great Mets team in Shea Stadium the following year.

Any Mets fan would take this Mets team building towards being one at-bat from a World Series. Mostly, they’ll take any baseball whatsoever.

Simulated Recap: Mets Can’t Computer Generate A Win

Well, there are some issues with the AI and decision making, but in the end, the main takeaway so far is MLB The Show doesn’t think the Mets quite stack up to the NL East competition.

All his life, Rick Porcello wanted to be a Mets pitcher, and he took a one year deal with the Mets to make that happen. You can be sure he didn’t want his first start to go like this.

First off, you can be rest assured he didn’t want his Mets debut to be simulated because of COVID19. He also didn’t want to take the loss while not lasting five innings.

His big problem can in the second when he got hit hard. The hardest hit came off the bat of Didi Gregorius who opened the scoring with a solo homer.

The Mets trailed 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, with the lone run coming off a Brandon Nimmo homer off of Vince Velasquez. The Mets pulled to within 4-2 off a long Wilson Ramos RBI single. That’s when the bizarre AI kicked in.

Down two with two on and no outs, Amed Rosario bunted in front of Jake Marisnick, and the Phillies got the force out at second. Marisnick struck out, and then out of everyone on the bench, Jarrett Parker came up to pinch hit.

That’s the same NRI who was never going to make the Mets 2020 Opening Day roster. He grounded out to first to end the rally.

In the end, we can all assume Luis Rojas will be much better than this. If so, maybe the Mets don’t lose games like this 4-2, and mostly likely, they won’t begin the year losing their first four.

How much better they’ll be is up for debate. For instance, Baseball Reference‘s 2020 simulation with OOTP21 has the Mets with a 1-3 record at the moment.

Still, these are just simulations, and they’re helping us get through this stretch of self isolation and quarantine. Seeing these Mets start 0-4, we wait all the more for the real thing.

Simulated Recap: Nationals Sweep Mets Away

In years past, the Mets have been able to use the opening series against the Nationals to make a statement. In this simulated series, the Mets team without Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard was swept at home.

While some were debating Steven Matz or Michael Wacha for the fifth spot in the rotation, it was Matz as the team’s number three over Rick Porcello in the absence of Syndergaard.

Mets actually had an early lead when Wilson Ramos hit a two out two run double in the fourth. However, the wheels came off for Matz in the fifth as the Nationals scored five runs capped off by a Kurt Suzuki two run homer. Matz was lifted when he couldn’t get the last out of the inning.

The Mets were down 6-2 entering the seventh. Robinson Cano chased Patrick Corbin with an RBI single. Amed Rosario and Jake Marisnick greeted the Nationals bullpen with RBI singles pulling the Mets to within 6-5.

The Mets had two on, no out, and they were ready to flip to the top of their lineup. For some reason, Justin Wilson hit for himself, and he couldn’t quite get the sacrifice down leading the Mets to strand the tying run at third.

An eighth inning rally sputtered without scoring a run, and the Nationals racked on two insurance runs in the ninth for the 8-5 win.

In the series, we saw the Nationals were a better team as they flexed their championship muscles. Of course, while some may debate whether that’s an actual thing, it’s most likely not in a simulation. The other key detail is while we have not seen Luis Rojas manage a game yet, we can be certain he doesn’t bat Wilson in that situation.

Overall, the Mets may be 0-3 in MLB The Show, but they’re still 0-0, so that’s something.

Coronavirus Shutdown Helps Mets

Now that Major League Baseball has finally done the right thing in shutting down Spring Training and postponing the first few weeks of the 2020 season, we can now look at how this will impact individual teams. With respect to the New York Mets, this shutdown is exactly what they needed. That may seem a bit crass, but it is true nonetheless.

At the moment, the Mets were put in a precarious situation as Michael Conforto was dealing with an oblique injury. This injury left the Mets in a position where they needed to go with a couple of first basemen in J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the corners or go with Jake Marisnick in an everyday role despite his inability to be even a near league average hitter when he knew what was coming.

This shutdown doesn’t just give Conforto time to heal, but it also gives Yoenis Cespedes more time to heal and get ready for the season. According to all reports, he had been working quite hard to get back on the field, and he was making considerable progress. However, even with all of his progress, he had not yet been playing in full games.

The further back the season is pushed; the more time Conforto and Cespedes have to get ready to play games. With each day the start of the season is pushed back (that’s an unknown at this point), the greater the chance Conforto and Cespedes will be ready for Opening Day.

Even if they are not ready for the new Opening Day, they will miss fewer games as a result of the delay to the start of the season. That means we are this much closer to an outfield of Cespedes-Brandon Nimmo-Conforto. That type of outfield takes the Mets from postseason contender to World Series contender.

It is not just Cespedes who is rehabbing from an injury which robbed him of his 2019 season. Dellin Betances was only able to pitch 0.2 innings for the Yankees last year due to a shoulder injury and then a partially torn Achillies. It was only recently he began pitching in Spring Training games.

As is typically the case, it takes Betances time during Spring Training to go from the low 90s to the upper 90s. When Betances is able to get to that point, he is a completely different reliever. It may be difficult to remember now, but when Betances can ramp up his fastball to the upper 90s he truly is the best reliever in baseball. The more time he has to get back to that pitcher (which may not be a given) the better for him and the Mets.

Generally speaking, the more time the Mets pitching staff has to work on things, the better. This is the first year with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. There are things he wants to share with players, and there are tweaks in deliveries and pitch sequencing/usage he wants the staff to make. Getting to get some of that out of the way now as opposed to in games helps.

Speaking of more time to prepare for the season, this is Luis Rojas‘s first year at the helm. While he has managed most of these players previously, he has not done it at this level. The more time he has to bond with the team and manage expectations the better he and the team will be set up for success.

Overall, the coronavirus has created a serious situation, and things should not be taken lightly. It may seem crass to say this about a virus which is infecting people at a scary rate leading to the shut down of all pro sports and society as a whole, but this is a bad situation which will help the New York Mets.

Can Eduardo Nunez Be Michael Conforto’s Replacement?

With the news of Michael Conforto straining his oblique, he will likely miss Opening Day, and it is possible he will miss approximately a month. That is a month to figure out what is the best way to manage his absence. That is a problem all the more problematic given how the Mets only have two outfielders who are everyday caliber with Conforto being one of them.

There are a number of potential solutions, each of which are fraught with with their own problems.

The Mets could go with J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith in the corners. However, with their OAA and sprint speed that is not a viable defensive solution. They could also go with Jake Marisnick in center, but he was a well below average hitter and among the worst hitters at his position even when he knew what pitch was coming.

The Mets could better mix and match in the outfield if they could put Jeff McNeil back in a corner outfield position. As we saw last year, he was a good defender out there, and as we saw, he was an All-Star in left last year. However, in order for that to happen, the Mets need to have a replacement for him at third as McNeil is slated to be the everyday third baseman.

On that note, Eduardo Nunez is having a good Spring Training, and according to reports, he feels the healthiest he has in years. As reported by Tim Britton of The Athletic, Nunez took time off to heal as he said, “Last year, I couldn’t even play defense, I couldn’t hustle, I couldn’t steal any base, I couldn’t hit for power, so it was really tough.”

If he’s completely healthy, which Nunez asserts wasn’t the case in Boston, he appears to be on track to making the Opening Day roster. More than that, he could insert himself into the everyday lineup with Conforto’s injury.

In his 10 year career, despite his speed, Nunez has never been a good defender. In fact, he is a negative defender at every infield position. That said, his best infield position is third base. That’s not exactly inspiring with him having a -22 DRS there in his career. However, notably, he amassed a -12 DRS in his two years with the Red Sox.

Prior to the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Nunez had not been all that bad at third. After posting a -4 DRS in 2014, he had a -3 DRS over the ensuing three seasons with two of them being at a 0 DRS or better. It should be noted his OAA numbers were not all the positive with a -6 in 2017, 0 in 2018, and -3 in 2019.

All told, he is just not good at third. However, what he appears to be is playable there over a shorter duration. Of course, the question is whether it is worth playing him there. On the surface, the answer is probably not. In his two years with Boston, Nunez’s wRC+ was 70, which is worse than Marisnick.

Of course, that number was dragged down by Nunez’s woeful 2019 season. Looking back to the three seasons prior to Nunez’s Boston years, he had a 106 OPS+ making him slightly above league-average. Slightly above league average with the bat and below league average as a fielder isn’t a bad mix for a solid utility player.

However, for an everyday player it is less than ideal. In fact, it is not a recipe for success. Ultimately, this means Nunez shouldn’t be the solution for Conforto in his absence. That would then mean McNeil stays at third, and the Mets are left with either a center fielder who can’t hit or a pair of first baseman in the corners.

Right now, if the Mets don’t make a move, they are going to need Yoenis Cespedes to make unexpected progress, or they are going to need Luis Rojas to show deft touch in mixing a matching his lineup. That is not an enviable position to be in, but that’s where the Mets stand due to their not addressing their outfield depth this past offseason.

Did We Need To Know About Brandon Nimmo’s Heart?

When we discuss player’s health and injuries, fans always want to know, and the media has a duty to report the things they know to the public. Of course, in the case of Matt Harvey, the media and fans can become aware of health information and act juvenile.

Seeing that reaction, and seeing the procedure didn’t prevent him from starting on Opening Day against the Royals, you go back to whether we should know about a player’s health issues, especially those which do not keep a player off the field.

This issue was brought back to the forefront with Brandon Nimmo‘s heart scare. Actually, we don’t know if it was or was not a heart scare. However, that is where some people’s minds went when they saw the reports Nimmo was undergoing a precautionary screening for reasons unknown or unspecified by the manager Luis Rojas.

No one really had an idea what was the reason for the tests, and many Mets fans were worried about the fan favorite. We didn’t know if this was a serious issue leading to a future J.R. Richard situation, or if this was a complete non-issue. It wouldn’t be until his wife said there was really no issue for fans to have any sort of relief.

As we would later find out directly from Nimmo, himself, he has a larger heart and an irregular heartbeat. This led to him joking he has a larger heart because he has “a lot of love to give.” Gallow’s humor aside, we’re all fortunate Nimmo is alright, and he is healthy enough to play baseball in 2020.

Seeing that he is healthy enough to play, and his heart condition doesn’t interfere with his ability to play, you do have to question why the Mets made a player’s personal health issues available for public consumption. Do we really have the right to know about things personal to Nimmo when it has no impact on his play on the field or his ability to even play? Shouldn’t some things be left private.

Digging deeper, they kept the issues with Yoenis Cespedes‘ heels secret for years. Why did the Mets feel we needed to know about Nimmo’s heart issue which may or may not have kept him off the field, but we didn’t need to know about Cespedes’ heels which was impacting his ability to hustle and stay healthy, and more to the point would eventually require him to undergo major surgery?

In the end, all that matters is Nimmo is alright. His health is the number one priority. Looking past that, we really need to reassess whether information like this NEEDS to be made public and why the Mets choose to make information like this public while keeping other information a secret.

Mets 2020 Season Begins Today (Sort Of)

After what seems like one of the longest offseasons in baseball history, today, February 22, 2020, the New York Mets are finally playing a baseball game. Actually, they are playing two games with their split squads playing against the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins.

The focus isn’t on the Astros sign stealing, and how the Mets opted to fire Carlos Beltran while simultaneously keeping J.D. Davis and Jake Marisnick despite their own involvement in the scandal. Instead, the focus goes to Luis Rojas‘ first year as the manager of the Mets, and how the rotation and bullpen are going to hold up in the Mets hopes of winning a World Series for the first time since 1986.

Rick Porcello, who the Mets desperately need to have a bounceback year, takes the mound against the Marlins. Marcus Stroman, who is already being looked upon as a dark horse Cy Young candidate, will start against the Cardinals.

From there, we will look at whether Steven Matz can build off of his strong second half. In terms of the bullpen, all eyes will be on Dellin Betances‘ ability to rebound and whether the nasty splitter Jeurys Familia used against Jeff McNeil will appear during the season.

Overall, the 2020 Mets are playing games now, and the focus is going to be one how this team will improve from 2019, and whether this team truly is a World Series contender. That is a more fun and interesting discussion than what we have been having all offseason.

Baseball is back. Well, almost. In any event, it is great having baseball games back, and soon, we will have real baseball being played. When the game is being played, everything is better. Things are even better when the Mets are good. Soon, we will find out if they really are.

Why We Remain Mets Fans Despite The Wilpons

The Wilpons are the worst owners in professional sports, and based on their turning down over a billion in profit, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. With them and their equally incompetent General Manager, there is a sense of despair and/or anger which comes with being a Mets fan. Still, even with the Wilpons being horrible and their not going anywhere, there are reasons to still root for this team:

Pete Alonso – Rookie Home Run King who got the entire team cleats to honor the first responders of 9/11

Dellin Betances – he waited for the opportunity and came back to sign with the Mets because he wanted to stay in New York

Brad Brach – like you and me, he was wearing a Mets jersey rooting for them to win the 2015 World Series (even if he was an Oriole)

Robinson Cano – a truly charitable person who is working to stop domestic violence

Michael Conforto – willing to play any position to help the team, and when he’s hitting there’s few better

Jacob deGrom – the best pitcher in baseball

Edwin Diaz – it takes a big man to admit he had problems with the city making it easy to root for him to be dominant again.

Jeurys Familia – he came back here because he loves being a Met

Luis Guillorme – when finally given a real chance, he proved he can do much more than catch an errant bat.

Robert Gsellman – despite injury did all he could do to come back to try to pitch the Mets into the postseason like he did in 2016

Jed Lowrie – did everything he could give last year and earned those eight PH attempts

Seth Lugo – the best reliever in baseball

Steven Matz – a true blue Mets fan like us all who works to thank and help first responders

Jeff McNeil – a true throwback player who adopts puppies

Tomas Nido – strong defensive catcher who underwent elective surgery to improve his game.

Brandon Nimmo – his joy in baseball and life is only surpassed by his ability to get on base

Rick Porcello – took less to fulfill his boyhood dream of pitching for the Mets

Wilson Ramos – his learning his wife was pregnant with their next child was one of the most heartwarming parts of the 2019 season

Rene Rivera – keeps coming back to work with this pitching staff

Amed Rosario – as hardworking and exciting a player as there is, and he’s about to breakout.

Paul Sewald – a 10th round draft pick who proves himself in his scattered and limited chances

Dominic Smith – got healthy and proved himself to be a good baseball player and terrific teammate

Marcus Stroman – wants baseball to be fun, and he’s a role model to everyone showing it takes heart to be a great player (HDMH)

Noah Syndergaard – he’s standing 60′ 6″ away, and he’s the last Mets pitcher to win a World Series game.

Justin Wilson – pitched through injury to be a very reliable bullpen arm

Ultimately, even with the cheaters on the roster, this remains a very likeable team, and it is guided by a manager in Luis Rojas who Mets fans should soon love. It is hard to stay away from players like this even with their playing for absolutely despicable ownership.

When you account for Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling, the Mets broadcasts are unparalleled in their greatness. If nothing else, it is worth watching them do what they do best. It is even better when the Mets have players on the field like they will in 2020.

Combine that with wanting to share baseball with your parents, siblings, and children, and you are going to watch a team you have loved all your life. Ultimately, this is an easy team to root for, which unfortunately, is why boycotts never work, and why the Wilpons will always win.

That’s fine. We can still enjoy life and Mets baseball despite them. We can also make every effort we can to get rid of them and to let them know how much we want them gone. Sooner or later, they will be gone, and we will still be here.

Lets Go Mets!

J.D. Davis’ And Jake Marisnick’s Sign Stealing Against Mets Pitchers

While Major League Baseball underwent an investigation, it was a Houston Astros fan who really did the research into the extent of the Astros sign stealing.

Tony Adams set up a website named Sign Stealing Scandal. On his website and on Twitter, he released the results of his investigation into the extent of the Astros sign stealing. It also detailed how often there was the now infamous banging sound during an Astros’ batter’s plate appearance:

Looking at the chart, there was a banging noise 22.8% of the time during Jake Marisnick‘s at-bats and 28.6% of the time when J.D. Davis batted. Both players are members of the New York Mets.

However, in 2017, they were Houston Astros, and they squared off against pitchers who are currently on the Mets pitching staff.

On September 2, 2017, Davis played in both ends of a doubleheader going 2-for-8 with a double, homer, and two RBI. Both of those hits came against Tommy Milone and Jamie Callahan, neither of whom are with the Mets.

On that day, the only pitcher he faced who is still with the Mets is Seth Lugo. While he went 0-for-2, he was in a lineup which handed Lugo the loss.

Lugo, who wants to be a starter, has only started five games after that losing effort.

Marisnick was not in the lineup for either game. It should also be noted Sign Stealing Scandal denotes there was no video from those games. As such, we are not 100% sure the Astros used the banging those days, but it’s reasonable to assume it happened.

It should be noted this wasn’t the only time Davis and Marisnick squared off against current Mets pitchers.

On June 3, 2018, Davis was 0-for-3 against Rick Porcello in a game Porcello picked up the win.

Essentially, Davis’ full extent of facing current Mets pitchers as a member of the Astros was those five at-bats against Lugo and Porcello.

Given his going hitless in those at-bats and how popular he appears among those players from last year’s Mets roster, it appears he may not have to do much, if anything, to smooth things over with his teammates.

Marisnick might be a different story.

In 2017, he was a combined 1-for-5 with a double against Marcus Stroman, Edwin Diaz, and Justin Wilson. The double came against Stroman in a game played at Minute Maid.

If we expand the time period to include 2018 and 2019, Marisnick has faced six of the pitchers currently on the Mets pitching staff. In addition to doubling off Stroman, he has also doubled against Porcello and Brad Brach. He didn’t record a hit against Diaz, Wilson, or Dellin Betances.

With respect to Stroman, he’s been very outspoken about what the Astros did, and like many, he isn’t happy about it.

In that tweet, he specifically addresses the game Marisnick doubled off of him. Clearly, Stroman was baffled by this game, and he’s justifiably upset about the whole sign stealing scandal.

He’s not the only one. Andy Martino of SNY reports Jacob deGrom and Edwin Diaz suspected they were victims of sign stealing, and for his part, deGrom was angry about it.

The Mets were actually one of the more vocal teams about this last year. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post wrote about how much the Dodgers were on top of Diaz’s pitches. While cautioning they didn’t believe it to be illegal, Mickey Callaway and the Mets spoke about how they believed the Dodgers were stealing signs.

Callaway lost his job. We’ve also seen the Astros teeing off on Chris Flexen, who is now pitching in Korea.

Right now, we know Davis and Marisnick cheated, and we’re starting to learn the extent to which they cheated. We also know their cheating has affected Mets new and old. Finally, we know at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about the Astros sign stealing.

What we don’t know is what, if any, impact Davis’ and Marisnick’s part in the sign stealing will have on the 2020 Mets.

One of the reasons Carlos Beltran was fired was the difficulty in carrying on his managerial duties after discovering his involvement in the scandal. That may or may not have included his ability to handle pitchers like Stroman who he cheated against.

Now, the conversation shifts to those same pitchers reactions to their teammates, how Davis and Marisnick respond, and ultimately how Luis Rojas can manage the situation.

Of course, that presupposes there is going to be an issue. Maybe there won’t be one at all.

In the end, all we know is Davis and Marisnick cheated against former and current Mets pitchers, and at least some of the Mets pitchers are upset about what happened in Houston. Where the Mets go from here could very well be a factor in how the Mets clubhouse holds together and the team performs in 2020.

Today Is About Eli Manning, Not Luis Rojas Or The Mets

Today, the Mets are introducing Luis Rojas as the newest manager of the New York Mets. It’s going to be a complete afterthought because it is also the day Eli Manning is formally announcing his retirement.

It is a shame for Rojas, who worked his entire life to reach this point only to have it completely overshadowed by a legend. To a certain extent, being the son of Felipe Alou, the brother of Moises Alou, and the cousin of Mel Rojas, he’s accustomed to it.

The same could be said about Eli. After all, he is the son of Archie Manning and younger brother of Peyton Manning. Eli rose above it and built his own Hall of Fame career, and in what is a historically crowded New York landscape, he is one of the true legends.

Eli arguably is part of the greatest play in NFL history with the “Helmet Catch,” and a few years later, he arguably threw the greatest pass to Manningham. Both took increased importance not just because they happened in the Super Bowl, but also because it took out a Patriots dynasty.

There’s so much more to his great Hall of Fame career, and anything Eli does is automatically the biggest story in New York. In fact, it’s even bigger news right now than Derek Jeter being voted into the Hall of Fame.

This day and his level of fame and accompanying adoration may not have been contemplated when Eli was a kid or even when he was the first overall pick in the draft. And yet, today he outshines them all.

That’s certainly instructive for Rojas. The Mets might’ve overlooked him when they hired Carlos Beltran. Everyone is going to overlook him today.

But make no mistake, if Rojas is a big winner in New York, he’s going to be a legend, and no one will be overlooking him no matter how crowded the New York landscape is.

Today is about Eli, and he both deserves this day and the adoration of Giants fans. Tomorrow and the next is up for grabs. For the Mets sake, let’s hope Rojas inserts himself into the discussion and is one day overshadowing a future New York great.