The year 2020 was hard on us all, but there were some truly outstanding and unexpected uplifting moments scattered throughout the year. In no particular order here were some of the best moments for the New York Mets in 2020:
1. Steve Cohen purchases the Mets ending the Wilpons reign.
2. Dominic Smith finds his voice and that next level in his game.
3. Michael Conforto emerged as a real leader and showed he’s the star we all hoped he’d be.
4. While not winning the Cy Young, Jacob deGrom continued to prove he’s the best pitcher in the game.
5. Yoenis Cespedes gave us one last thrill with an Opening Day game winning homer.
6. Edwin Diaz returned to his dominant form.
7. Amed Rosario hit a walk-off homer at Yankee Stadium to beat the New York Yankees.
9. Mets were once again allowed to wear the first responders caps.
10. Sandy Alderson returned restoring credibility to the franchise and was given the opportunity to win a World Series with the Mets.
11. Marcus Stroman accepted the qualifying offer to return to the Mets.
13. Pete Alonso proved his rookie year was no fluke putting himself on what would’ve been a 42 home run pace.
14. Although in a circuitous route, Luis Rojas got the manager job he earned and did enough to earn at least a second season at the helm.
15. Luis Guillorme was great with the glove and better than we ever anticipated he’d be at the plate.
16. Brandon Nimmo proved his neck problems were no more while remaining an on-base machine.
17. Rick Porcello got to live out his dream by pitching for the same Mets team he loved as a kid.
18. The 1986 Mets were dubbed the best team ever.
19. Alonso honored the greatest Met ever by hitting a walk-off homer the first game the Mets played after Tom Seaver passed.
20. It was only 60 games and the Mets finished in last place, but we got to see Mets baseball. For at least those 3+ hours a day, we felt normal.
If you’re reading this now, chances are you went through a lot this year. The good news is you’re reading this meaning you’ve survived the year and can have hope for a better 2021.
God willing, that 2021 will be our best year ever, and we will see a Mets World Series title.
When manager Luis Rojas was asked to name team leaders, Conforto was the first name he mentioned saying Conforto “stands out.”
When Dominic Smith grappled with decisions like kneeling or even playing this summer, Conforto told him he wish he knew Smith was going to kneel so he could be by him. He was then right by Smith’s side when he spoke out about racial injustice.
When it became clear Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis were not only part of the Houston Astros sign stealing controversy, but also cheated against pitchers on this Mets team, Conforto said three important things: (1) Astros crossed the line; (2) it was going to be addressed; and (3) there was not going to be any animosity.
In the history of the Mets, there has been no more obvious choice for Captain since Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. This is a homegrown Met who is perfect to lead this team as they embark on a new era.
He’s also still a very good player who has had great moments. After he moved past his shoulder injury, he’s had a 135 OPS+. We know he’s capable of more too.
He’s an All-Star caliber player who can hit anywhere in the lineup, and he’s been a good defender. He’s also a team player willing to move to any position to help the team.
Conforto is the Captain in every possible way. Once the Mets give him the contract extension he’s earned, it’s time to formally announce him as the fifth Captain in team history.
During his press conference yesterday, Mets manager Luis Rojas indicated Amed Rosario will work at third base, but he will not be working in the outfield. This plan is not something which helps Rosario or the Mets.
One of the reasons is Rosario’s bat. It doesn’t play at the position.
Mostly buttressed by a 100 wRC+ in 2019, Rosario has a career 89 wRC+. From 2016 – 2019, MLB third baseman had between a 102 – 105 wRC+. That puts a typical Rosario season well below the threshold.
To even justify Rosario at third, he’s have to play elite defense. His ability to do that is certainly up for debate.
Rosario’s defense has been gradually improving, but it appears like he’ll never reach the Gold Glove aspirations many had for him, nor will be surpass Andres Gimenez.
By OAA, he made huge strides in this shortened season going from a -8 OAA to a 2. DRS paints the same picture with his going from a -10 to a -3.
This past season, what stood out was he’s better able to go to his right. However, in a normal season, he was far better going to his left. Certainly, if he has the range for short, he should for third.
Looking at these numbers, Rosario can certainly play third. However, that’s not the issue. As noted, he needs to play at an elite level due to his bat.
Now, you could argue he’s a better option than J.D. Davis, which he certainly is. Davis is incapable of playing the position, and without the juiced ball, his offense came hurtling back to earth.
However, this shouldn’t be the test. Just being better than Davis isn’t sufficient. Again, the Mets need a real third baseman. Rosario has not shown yet he can be that with his offense being the biggest issue.
His offense won’t be as much of an issue in center. In three of the past four seasons, center fielders we’re below league average offensively. As noted, Rosario does have the tools to succeed in center.
If nothing else, Rosario should be working towards being a good center fielder. If he’s lost the shortstop job, he needs to become as versatile as possible. Learning center does that.
Overall, Rosario’s chances of success at third are not as good as his chances of success in center. Regardless, he needs to work on both as he’s now a bench player. That’s why focusing just on third is a very bad plan.
One of the hopes Mets fans have with Steve Cohen taking the helm is his new regime correcting a lot of the wrongs committed by the Wilpons. There are countless examples of how poorly the Wilpons treated their former players, and that gives Cohen a real chance to seem magnanimous.
One area where he’s already planning to do this is an Old Timer’s Day. Another area Mets fans want to do this is by bringing Carlos Beltran back to the organization.
With Hensley Meulens not returning as bench coach, many fans see this as the opportunity to bring back Beltran as bench coach. Realistically speaking, Beltran is the worst possible choice for this job.
The modern bench coach job is very complicated. As a result, of all the jobs on the coaching staff, manager included, bench coach is the single job where you absolutely cannot have a novice like Beltran in charge.
As Brad Mills explained to the Sporting News, “You work with everyone from the groundskeepers to the traveling secretary, and you might even make sure the field is ready for early work.” Put another way, the bench coach has to make sure all the planning and preparation for the game is completed.
The bench coach is handling scouting and game prep. He’s running quality control before and during the game. He’s discussing strategy with the manager. He’s fostering relationships with players. He has his hands in everything. As was the case with Derek Shelton and Rocco Baldelli, that included media responsibilities.
With Beltran never having worked on an MLB coaching staff at any level, and with his front office experience having been just one year, he is ill-suited for the job. Very ill suited.
While you can understand Mets fans wanting to repair the relationship with Beltran, this isn’t the time or the job. However, just because the Mets shouldn’t use this opportunity to right a wrong with Beltran, it doesn’t mean they can’t hire a bench coach who can simultaneously right a wrong.
The Mets could very well look to hire Willie Randolph for their vacant bench coach position.
Randolph has the fifth most wins by a Mets manager, and he has the second best winning percentage. In his time as manager, he did a lot of good things including helping David Wright and Jose Reyes reach their full potential.
In addition to his successes as a Mets manager, he was on Joe Torre‘s coaching staff for the last Yankees dynasty. That includes his being a bench coach. Randolph has also been a bench coach in Milwaukee and Baltimore.
All told, Randolph knows the role extraordinarily well. He also knows the challenges Luis Rojas faces as the Mets manager. He knows how to develop players and handle a coaching staff. He knows how to win in New York, and he knows the intense scrutiny a manager faces.
If the 66 year old Randolph is interested in the position, the Mets should interview him for the role. If Rojas has a comfort level with him, Randolph should absolutely be hired for the job.
With that, the Mets will hire an exceptionally qualified person for the job thereby making the Mets a better team. It will also have the benefit of righting the wrong of how he was fired in 2008.
Ultimately, if the Mets want to right some wrongs, they should hire Randolph. If they want the best man for the job, they should hire Randolph. He’s just the perfect fit for this job right now.
This should come as no surprise as Rosario has been given time to establish himself as the Mets everyday shortstop. Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, that hasn’t happened. With a better SS option on the Major League roster, Rosario needs to play somewhere.
Looking at the Mets current roster, there are holes at third and center. Presumably, Rosario could fill either spot.
In terms of third, his continued marked improvement at short with his strong arm suggests he could play very well there. That said, there should be some reservation over his ability to go to his left.
Of course, the bigger issue is his bat. At a career 89 wRC+, including a regression in 2020, his bat won’t play at third.
It would, however, play in center. The bigger issue is whether he can play the position. There are strong indications he can.
In his career, Rosario has exhibited elite sprint speed. Even with his 28.7 ft/second being a career low, he’d still rank in the top 20 among center fielders (if he played the position).
Really, he has the speed to not only play center, but to play the position at a high level. With Luis Rojas, he also has a manager in place who can get him quickly up to speed in center.
The Mets should absolutely pursue them as well as other options. That said, just because the Mets have significant interest and money to spend doesn’t de facto mean they’ll land either player. For example, the Red Sox also have very deep pockets and are rumored to be interested in Springer.
The Mets may also need or want to allocate their offseason budget towards the pitching staff and catcher. Neither of those areas are going to be cheap to address in free agency.
As such, the Mets need a viable CF alternative plan. Given his skill set and the need to find a position for him, the Mets should be preparing the Rosario in CF contingency plan.
If for no other reason, the Mets should pursue this path for Rosario to make him more versatile and to make him a backup at the position.
Lloyd Christmas may want to say there’s still a chance here, but there isn’t. Any realistic shot the Mets had faded when they lost this series to the Atlanta Braves:
2. People rightfully focus on the starting pitching and pitching staff as a whole when examining what a terrible job Brodie Van Wagenen has done. Looking at it Wilson Ramos‘ production against d’Arnaud, and his other moves, he might’ve bungled the catching position even worse.
3. Yes, we saw d’Arnaud be this player in a Mets uniform previously. Yes, it was fair to believe he’d return to his 2015 form post Tommy John. Yes, he has always been a very good catcher. Anyone saying otherwise is lying to you, pushing an agenda, or just doesn’t know that much about catching.
4. You’ll notice with the Wilpons selling Gary Cohen and Brandon Nimmo were quite vocal in their support for d’Arnaud and wishing he didn’t leave the Mets.
5. Nimmo has every right to talk as he’s come back from injury and proven himself to be a terrific ballplayer. He’s just not a center fielder.
6. On the note of people who have performed well, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Andres Gimenez, and Jeff McNeil are part of the still young core who have had good seasons and are very much a part of the Mets future.
7. Seeing that young core, we should all celebrate Steve Cohen bringing back Sandy Alderson to the Mets organization. Hopefully, Cohen will right some other wrongs in due time.
8. David Peterson stepped up big time in what was the biggest start of his career. Hopefully, that’s a sign of his figuring things out and raising his ceiling.
9. Rick Porcello stepped up and was phenomenal yesterday. If the Mets truly invest in infield defense this offseason, he can be a part of the 2021 equation.
11. Sending down Luis Guillorme was stupidity. He did everything to earn not just the role he had but a much bigger one at that.
12. Amed Rosario lost his starting job, and he needed a recent hot streak to improve to a .266./283/.379 hitter. He should’ve been sent down.
13. J.D. Davis is hitting .248/.376/.383 since August 1, and he’s incapable of playing a defensive position. He should’ve been sent down.
14. Instead, it was Guillorme so Franklyn Kilome could allow six earned over 1.1 innings giving the Mets zero chance to win a game at a time when they can ill afford to punt games. Another great decision by Brodie Van Wagenen.
16. The Mets are in a precarious spot with Steven Matz. After last year and in Spring Training, he appeared poised for a breakout. Since the return, he looks like a non-tender candidate. These are critical franchise and season altering decisions.
17. Alex Rodriguez confirming he’d have Jeff Wilpon in the front office in a prominent role shows just how much the Mets dodged a bullet when A-Rod failed to beat out Cohen in the bidding.
18. Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon thinking they’re smarter than everyone and watching their team failing to make an expanded postseason is the perfect way for them to leave this organization.
19. Normally, we’d be saying it was time to tear it down and rebuild. Thanks to Cohen and competent baseball people in charge, we know the Mets can build off this strong core.
20. This season has been a massive disappointment, but on the bright side, we got 60 games of Mets baseball. That’s a real positive.
If you ever wanted the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a Mets fan and the Wilpon Era has been, this was the series for you:
1. Amed Rosario takes first with two outs in the ninth after a wild pitch on strike three. He got picked off first.
2. That’s being a Mets fan. There’s a near miracle which gives you hope, and it’s followed with a massive blunder which leaves you completely befuddled.
3. Speaking of befuddled, how does Wilson Ramos swing at ball three against a reliever who can’t find the strike zone? That double play helped cost the game more than Rosario getting picked off.
5. It seems Rojas hasn’t found that balance of when to push a starter or go to the bullpen. It at least seems his decision comes back to bite the Mets no matter what.
6. Of course, that’s a larger sign of how bad the Mets rotation has been and just how bad the Mets bullpen is without Lugo.
7. Speaking of the state of the Mets pitching, Jeff McNeil apparently left the game to go to the bathroom.
8. At that point in the game, he had scored the Mets only run, and well, it seems the runs went with them.
9. Dominic Smith continues to be great this year. Not bad for a guy the team didn’t realize was one of the best players on the team.
10. Speaking of players the Mets thought were better than Smith, J.D. Davis has a .780 OPS and dropping, and he still can’t play third.
11. On the topic of ill conceived Brodie Van Wagenen trades, one poor appearance for Anthony Kay doesn’t suddenly make Kay bad (he isn’t), the Marcus Stroman trade good (it wasn’t), or Simeon Woods Richardson not a key part of the deal (he was).
12. Brandon Nimmo is a good hitter who can play a good corner outfield. He should not be the 2021 center fielder. In fact, he shouldn’t be that in 2020.
14. Again, Jacob deGrom showed he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s nearing towards locking down his third straight Cy Young.
15. Even with deGrom having another historical great year, the Mets rotation is historically bad and are challenging the 1962 Mets for the worst starting rotation ERA in team history.
16. The Mets have legitimate candidates for Cy Young (deGrom), MVP (Michael Conforto), and Rookie of the Year (Andres Gimenez). Despite that, odds are they won’t finish above .500 or compete for a postseason spot.
17. When does Brodie Van Wagenen collect his Executive of the Year award?
18. Mets will be promoting the team being just three games back despite all that’s gone wrong on the final game of the season.
19. Steve Cohen is almost complete in his purchase of the Mets. This means the Wilpons will not win a World Series as majority owners of the team.
20. MLB finally did the right thing allowing the players to wear the first responder caps again. Everyone involved in making that happen, including Jeff Wilpon, should be commended.
Mets are down 3-2 with two outs in the top of the ninth. Blue Jays closer Rafael Dolis struck out Amed Rosario, but the ball got away from Alejandro Kirk allowing Rosario to reach first without a throw.
Dolis was wild, and Jeff McNeil, arguably the Mets hottest hitter, was at the plate. Dolis’ first pitch was in the dirt, but Rosario didn’t take his chance to challenge Kirk by taking off for second.
Next thing you know, Dolis threw over to first. The umpire initially called Rosario safe, but upon video review, it was overturned.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 13, 2020
Rosario was out, and the game was over.
The team went from getting a gift allowing Rosario to reach to watching him excusably get picked off. That marred an otherwise good day at the plate with him going 3-for-4 with a double.
That’s what it’s like watching the Mets this year. We keep telling ourselves they’re still in it only for something completely stupid to come along and end the game.
That’s just the perfect way to end the game. It’s been better way to describe the Wilpon ownership of the team.
The Yankees were banged up, and they struggled against the Mets. However, when push came to shove, they came out on top because this Mets team couldn’t get that big hit or big out.
1. The Mets were sellers at the deadline obtaining Steve Cohen for Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, and a Wilpon to be named later.
2. You’d have to assume if any deadline deals go forward now they have Cohen’s blessing. Of course, with the Wilpons, it may not be safe to assume.
3. This season is more evidence Brodie Van Wagenen should be fired. Hopefully, that’ll be one of the things Cohen does first.
4. No, Van Wagenen’s hot mike saying Rob Manfred doesn’t get it doesn’t make him likable or competent.
5. Hopefully, that wasn’t Van Wagenen’s Terry Collins ejection video.
6. Mets should insist on wearing Jackie Robinson‘s 42 for the rest of the year as art of their protests.
7. Luis Rojas‘ bullpen management has not been great.
9. These games just further cement how much the Mets need Seth Lugo in the bullpen. Aside from him, there’s no one you can truly trust in that pen.
11. The COVID19 anonymity doesn’t work when you put players on the IL. At that point, we all know who had it.
12. Aside from that huge three run homer, Pete Alonso has been lost at the plate all season.
14. Chapman plunked J.D. Davis leading some to point out Davis was on the 2017 Astros.
15. Speaking of Davis, he’s been flat out terrible. Without the juiced ball, he’s back up to a 50% ground ball rate. That’s where he was before the juiced ball.
16. While others struggling mightily stay in the starting lineup, Luis Guillorme continues to sit despite his stellar defense and his continuing to get on base. If he’s not playing, it’s clear these Mets only want to win with Brodie’s guys.
17. Dominic Smith continues to play great, and he continues to show the Mets organization failed when they didn’t give him a real chance to win the first base job.
18. Andres Gimenez had just about as bad an inning at third as you can have. It’s a reminder he’s a rookie who never played above Double-A before this season.
19. If you like these seven inning games, you don’t like baseball. You might’ve at one point. You might’ve even loved it. But if you’re pushing for seven inning games now, you no longer like the sport.
20. Hopefully, Cohen tells Van Wagenen he’s not allowed to ruin the Mets future for short term personal glory before being shown the door for a real GM.
The Mets were up 7-2 after a good Rick Porcello start and some late clutch hitting blowing the game open. It was the bottom of the seventh of the top end of the doubleheader, which meant this game should have been over.
But this is the Mets.
Andres Gimenez, ironically in for defense, threw a ball away to allow the lead-off hitter to reach. Later on in the inning, he had a chance to tag out Thairo Estrada to end the game on an insanely bad base running mistake, but Estrada would kick it out of Gimenez’s glove.
Still, that doesn’t explain why Justin Wilson pitched so poorly. Even with those two gaffes, Wilson still allowed two runs leaving runners at the corners with two outs.
Well, Diaz threw a wild pitch scoring a run before allowing Aaron Hicks to hit a game tying homer. From 7-2 to tied 7-7.
Since this is a doubleheader in 2020 and Manfred hates baseball, this meant the eight inning was considered extra innings, and there was a runner at second to start the innning.
That meant Diaz got a blown save and a loss in one of the most frustrating losses you will see.
Being this is the Mets, more misery was in order.
Yankees prospect Deivi Garcia made his Major League debut and was great allowing just an unearned run over six.
In that sixth, Jeff McNeil reached and went to second on a Luke Voit error. He’d score on a Dominic Smith RBI single. The rally ended there was J.D. Davis, who has been absolutely terrible of late, hit into an inning ending double play.
That play got Seth Lugo off the hook after he had allowed one run over 3.2 innings. It also meant another maddening loss was on the horizon.
Drew Smith, who was not trusted to protect a five run lead in the first game, came on to pitch the eighth. He’d take the loss because Gary Sanchez would hit a grand slam off of him, and in the bottom of the inning, Ramos would strike out in his bases loaded situation.
Overall, the Mets should’ve won four of these games. Instead, they lost three, and they did so in excruciating fashion.
Game Notes: Luis Guillorme made a pinch hitting appearance and drew a walk. Despite hitting .419, it was just his sixth plate appearance over the past week.