On June 26th, Sandy Alderson effectively ended his Mets tenure by taking a leave of absence to fight cancer. The Mets first started out with J.P. Riccardi, Omar Minaya, and John Ricco reporting to Jeff Wilpon. This was a temporary solution for the trade deadline with the Mets looking for a new General Manager to replace Alderson.
Back in August, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported Doug Melvin was one of the early candidates the Mets had interest in hiring. Despite the Mets knowing they had a vacancy, their search for a new General Manager did not begin in earnest until after the regular season ended.
On October 3rd, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported “Melvin is the first known official candidate on a first-round interview list that could contain up to 12 names.” Puma’s article would go on to explain Melvin was selected in part because he fit the old Fred Wilpon wanted:
All indications are team owner Fred Wilpon would prefer a veteran presence with a strong background in scouting and player development leading the baseball operations, and Melvin, who has spent four decades in the industry, certainly fits that description.
During the first round of interviews, we saw a number of names either decline to be interviewed or pull themselves from consideration. During this time, we have also seen the Mets make some key decisions about their minor league system. After Frank Viola announced he was departing from the Mets organization, the team would announce Val Pascucci, Marc Valdes, and Sean Ratliff were not going to return to the organization.
The Pascucci and Ratliff moves were surprises. Pascucci was the hitting coach in Binghamton where Jeff McNeil and Peter Alonso began their breakout offensive seasons. Ratliff is a 31 year old first time manager who took Kingsport to the postseason. Under his tutlage prospects like Luis Santana, Shervyen Newton, Mark Vientos, and Jarred Kelenic would have terrific seasons.
Over this past week, the Mets whittled down the list of candidates to five and then to three candidates. It should come as no surprise that Doug Melvin made the cut both times. One of the reasons why this should not be a surprise is because Mike Puma of the New York Post reports Melvin is the favorite for the job. That’s not one man’s opinion either. There have been other reports which have labeled Melvin as such.
When reading the tea leaves, the Mets identified Melvin as one of the guys they wanted early in the process. During that process, it seems Melvin is the only guy who is sticking through the entire process. Put another way, he’s one of the few willing to take over the Mets job despite reports over what comes with the position.
If the Mets have truly identified him as the guy to officially take over for Sandy Alderson, which who are we kidding, they have, the team should just get it over with and hire him. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to build this roster into one that can win the 2019 World Series. The Mets have wasted four months in this process. They should not waste one more day.
If Melvin is the choice, so be it. There’s no use complaining about it, and we can only hope he goes out and builds the Mets into an NLCS contender like he did with the Brewers in 2011 or with the foundation he set for this year’s team. However, for him to do it, he’s going to have to get to work. For that to happen, the Mets have to hire the guy they wanted to hire from the time this entire process began.
While many Mets fans wanted Amed Rosario or Dominic Smith to be the first major call-up of the 2017 season, with Zack Wheeler‘s potentially season ending injury, that honor is going to go to Mets right-handed pitcher Chris Flexen.
Heading into the 2017 season, Flexen was added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, and Mets Minors rated him the Mets 20th best prospect. As noted in the prospect analysis, Flexen had all the tools to be a good starting pitcher. His fastball is the mid to upper 90s. His curveball was a devastating out pitch. What was holding him back was the refinement of his change-up, and his delivery.
In 10 starts this year, Flexen is 6-1 with two complete games, a 1.76 ERA, 0.815 WHIP, and a 9.2 K/9. For a pitcher that spent much of his professional career struggling with control he has dropped his BB/9 from 3.4 last year to 1.5 this year. Opposing batters are hitting just .183/.217/.260 against him. Put simply, Flexen has been a dominant starting pitcher this year who has certainly earned a call to the major leagues.
When he toes the rubber on a major league mound for the first time tonight, Flexen brings not just his big right arm, but he also brings hope in what has been an otherwise dismal 2018 season.
He brings the hope Matt Harvey did when he went from a start in 2012 to starting the 2013 All Star Game. He brings the hope we saw when Jacob deGrom took an unexpected opportunity and became the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. Noah Syndergaard and his 100 MPH gave you hope the 2015 Mets could win a World Series, and he did his part being the only Mets pitcher to win a World Series Game at Citi Field. We also had hope that hot June afternoon when Steven Matz and his grandfather become beloved figures.
All four of these pitchers turned that hope into a National League Pennant in 2015. It has been a rough road since, but the Mets are not far away from returning to that point. Seeing Flexen toe the rubber tonight, we can once again have hope and dream the Mets can return to the World Series.
Flexen has a big arm, and he has been dominating the minor leagues. He is joining a pitching staff who very well know what it is like to dominate hitters. He’s joining a pitching staff that wants to get back to that point. If he pitches well enough tonight and for the rest of the season, he may very well be a member of that rotation in 2018.
That’s what Flexen’s start tonight is. It’s hope. Hope that the 2017 season was just a one year blip. Hope the Mets have another big arm who can complete the rotation. Hope the Mets can win the World Series as soon as next year.