When it comes to the Mets, there have been several bad to disastrous free agent signings. In fact, up until recently, there was a real debate over which signing was the worst.
Players like Bobby Bonilla and Kazuo Matsui never quite fulfilled his promise. Roger Cedeno was nowhere near the player he was in 1999 when he returned to Queens. Jason Bay didn’t hit for power before the concussions happened.
As bad as those were, there was Vince Coleman, who was an unmitigated disaster. Aside from his numbers falling off a cliff, he threw firecrackers at fans, injured Dwight Gooden with a golf club, and he was accused of sexual assault (charges never filed).
Looking at it, Coleman was probably the worst of the group. When you consider the long standing animosity Mets fans had towards him prior to the signing and his off the field problems, he may still have claim to that title.
However, when it comes to on the field performance, Jed Lowrie is definitively the worst ever Mets signing. We just need to look at video from the Mets summer camp yesterday to confirm that.
Jed Lowrie is participating in base running drills with his brace on. His speed is definitely not game-ready. pic.twitter.com/PyVmUqT9J4
— Deesha (@DeeshaThosar) July 5, 2020
Rewinding back to Spring Training last year, Lowrie was initially described as having left knee soreness. Time and again, the Mets downplayed the injury, and to date, they have yet to really reveal what the injury actually is.
They didn’t reveal it when he had multiple rehab assignments shut down. They didn’t reveal it when he was 0-for-7 as a pinch hitter in September. They didn’t reveal it when he came to Spring Training this year not really ready to play. Even months later, they’re still not revealing it. Worse yet, they’re downplaying it.
New manager Luis Rojas was put in the position today that Mickey Callaway failed far too often. He had to offer an out-and-out lie and make it sound believable. According to what Rojas said, Lowrie is a “full go.”
Later in the day, we saw the video running and realized there’s no way that’s true. Lowrie is not a full go, and to a certain extent the Mets talking about Lowrie ramping up to try to play without a brace is a strawman. All told, brace or no brace, this is simply a player who can’t get on the field.
The more you see the aborted rehab attempts, the lack of explanations for the injury, the mixed messages, and Lowrie’s inability to do anything but swing the bat, the more you’re reminded of David Wright. Before his send off, Wright would make similar attempts to get back, but ultimately his body wouldn’t let him. It seems the same with Lowrie.
Maybe Lowrie is different , but that’s anyone’s guess. Really, that’s all we have. That’s partially because the Mets revealed no news, and it’s because Lowrie didn’t either.
Asked what is exactly wrong with his leg, Lowrie said he doesn't want to create a distraction.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 5, 2020
Maybe telling everyone why his knee, left side, or whatever else the Mets want to call it would be more of a distraction than it is already. Maybe it won’t. Whatever the case, when you strip it all down, the Mets gave a two year $20 million deal to a guy who just can’t play.
The Mets didn’t need Lowrie when they signed him. They already had Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, and Jeff McNeil. What they needed was arms in the bullpen, but they already allocated their budget towards an infielder who would wind up doing no more than a few pinch hitting attempts (without a hit). You could say the Mets not having those extra arms in the pen is what cost them the postseason last year.
Ultimately, Lowrie is getting $20 million from the Mets, and he can’t get on the field. The money allocated towards him could’ve addressed other deficiencies on the roster and helped pushed the Mets into the postseason. Brodie Van Wagenen signed his former client, who was too injured to even start one game, and with that Van Wagenen quite possibly made the single worst free agent signing in Mets history.
Gsellman allowed both inherited runners to score. The Diamondbacks would add insurance runs to win this game 6-1.
Rick Porcello had what was probably the best start of his computer simulated baseball career allowing just one earned to the Cardinals over 6.2 innings.
Even though he had allowed just three hits up until that point, Luis Rojas went to his bullpen. Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances kept the Cardinals off the board heading into the ninth for Edwin Diaz, who converted the save.
In this 2-1 Mets victory, Brandon Nimmo hit a second inning RBI single against Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon scoring Wilson Ramos. In the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes hit a solo homer, which proved to be the game winner.
The Mets blew a few leads in this one including a 2-0 first inning lead courtesy of solo homers by Pete Alonso and Yoenis Cespedes. Unfortunately, Rick Porcello wouldn’t get out of the inning without the Brewers tying the game up.
A Brandon Nimmo two run shot in the second gave the Mets another two run lead. However, the Brewers would not only tie it, but they’d also take the lead heading into the ninth.
With Josh Hader on the mound, the Mets staged a great comeback in the top of the ninth.
Edwin Diaz got the first two out in the ninth before getting into trouble, allowing a run to score, and Luis Rojas going to Seth Lugo for the one out save. When Lugo got the only batter he faced out, the Mets won 7-6.
Heading into the 2020 season, many anticipated Steven Matz and Amed Rosario would have breakout seasons. In the simulated game against the Milwaukee Brewers, we got a look into what that might’ve looked like:
Through six, the only run scored in the game was off a Rosario solo shot. At that point, Matz was straight dealing, and as such, Luis Rojas let him hit for himself in the top of the seventh.
That appeared to be a mistake when Eric Sogard homered off Matz to start the bottom of the seventh.
Jeurys Familia relieved him, and he’d pick up the win. Pete Alonso led off the eighth with a ground rule double. Jake Marisnick pinch ran for Alonso, and he’d eventually score on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.