Marcus Stroman

Luxury Tax Should Not Be An Impediment For Mets

The Mets did good by hiring Carlos Beltran as the 22nd manager in team history. In Beltran, they have someone who is a very good communicator who has the ability to unite a clubhouse while also teaching players things to help them significantly improve. Given his skill set, he can be a superstar manager like he was a superstar player.

However, Beltran in and of himself is not going to be enough to take this Mets team over the top.

With Zack Wheeler being a free agent, the team is going to need a fifth starter. At the moment, internal options like Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt are not ready to step up to fill that void. The team has mentioned Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as options, but that only serves to further damage what is already a weak bullpen.

In 2019, Lugo and Justin Wilson were the only dependable relievers in that bullpen. When you look at it, even assuming a bounce-back from Edwin Diaz, this team still needs at least two big arms in the bullpen this offseason. They will need more if Gsellman or Lugo move to the rotation making that decision to rob Peter to pay Paul.

The Mets also need a center fielder, third baseman, backup catcher, and just plain old depth. With Juan Lagares having his option declined, they need a defensive replacement. The team cannot rely upon Jed Lowrie to contribute anything. Tomas Nido was a good defensive catcher, but with his complete inability to hit, you wonder how much you can rely upon him to be on the roster for a full season.

All told, this is a Mets roster which needs a lot of work. Given the dearth of prospects at the Double-A and Triple-A level last year, the team is going to have to acquire those players this offseason instead of looking from within. With all the prospects the Mets traded away over the last year, it is going to be difficult to trade their way back to contention.

That leaves the Mets with spending, and with the Mets being owned by the Wilpons, that is a dicey proposition.

Now, there are some who will say the Mets did spend last year. According to Spotrac, the Mets 2019 payroll was $160.5 million which ranked 10th in the majors.

Lost in that was how David Wright‘s $15 million is included in that amount. Wright had a portion of that salary covered by insurance, and the Mets renegotiated future payments with Wright. The figure also included Yoenis Cespedes‘ $29 million salary which was covered by insurance. Between Wright’s full salary and 70% of Cespedes’ salary being covered, the Mets payroll was reduced by $35.5 million.

That reduces the Mets REAL 2019 payroll to $125 million, which would’ve ranked 18th in the majors. That number is all the worse when you consider Adeiny Hechavarria and Carlos Gomez were cut before roster bonuses were due, and Jason Vargas was traded so the team could clear payroll space after obtaining Marcus Stroman.

As of today, the Mets payroll is $168.8 million. Now, that figure includes Wright’s $12 million, Cespedes’ $29.5 million, and the $5.1 projected arbitration figure due Joe Panik. On that front, as noted earlier, Wright’s contract was been renegotiated, and it is very likely Panik is non-tendered. With respect to Cespedes, there will be no insurance protection this year.

When you dig a little more, that $168.8 includes Jacob deGrom‘s $27.5 million salary. On that front, the $27.5 million figure is for competitive balance tax purposes only. In reality, deGrom is only making $13 million meaning $12.5 million of his salary is deferred.

This means the Mets ACTUAL payroll obligations are $139.2million. That is before the Mets go forward looking to add players this offseason. Still, people will point to the competitive balance tax as a reason why the Mets can’t spend. Let’s take a look at it for a second.

Putting reason aside, assuming the Mets sign Wheeler to a deal with a $30 million average annual value raising the payroll obligations to $188.8. That puts the Mets $19.2 million short of the $208 competitive balance tax figure.

Taking a more realistic approach, assume the Mets don’t go and sign Anthony Rendon. For a minute, just assume the Mets sign a Mike Moustakas ($10 million AAV), Drew Pomeranz ($8 million AAV), and a backup catcher like Jonathan Lucroy ($2 million AAV). Assume the rest of the roster is filled out for a cost of around $5 million, which is probably the very low end.

Assuming Panik is non-tendered, that puts competitive balance payroll at $213.8 million. That would incur the “tax penalty.” The amount of the penalty? It would only be $1.2 million. That’s it.

When looking at the $1.2 million remember the Mets already have $12 million off the books with Wright and $12.5 million deferred with deGrom. As a result, the $1.2 million is more than covered. When you look at it, the Mets can really blow past that $208 million this year.

In fact, the Mets should considering they have Cespedes’$29 million coming off the books completely, and the same can be said for Wright’s $12 million. Essentially, the Mets have $41 million coming off the books.

Whether the Mets will be proactive remains to be seen. If history is any measure, they won’t. Just remember, when they don’t, we should not let them invoke the competitive balance tax as a reason because it is not in any way a real impediment.

The only impediment to the Mets spending are the Mets themselves, and that is not in any way acceptable.

2020 Mets: Rewrite Our Story

If you were a Mets fan looking to latch onto something to give you hope that Carlos Beltran was the right hire, he gave you the line. Standing on the stage, wearing his old number 15, Beltran said, “I just can’t wait to rewrite our story.”

It shouldn’t be lost on anyone Beltran said that wearing the Mets pinstripe uniform. During his playing days, Beltran did not wear them often. Back then, the Mets mostly wore their black jerseys and the Brooklyn Dodger style jerseys. Going to the 2006 postseason, the Mets would not wear them until Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS. As we know, that series would end with Beltran striking out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball.

That could be one way Beltran looks to rewrite our story.

But it’s more than that. Late in his Mets career, Beltran had to deal with injuries, and he would clash with the front office over career saving knee surgery. In the ensuing years, it does not seem the Mets have learned from this experience.

Matt Harvey‘s TOS was initially described as a mechanics issue, and he would pitch the ensuing year with what was described as an atrophied throwing arm. Noah Syndergaard was allowed to pitch without an MRI. The team fought with Yoenis Cespedes over his double heel surgery. The list goes well beyond this group.

They could rewrite that story too.

In 2011, Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler. Wheeler is now a free agent, and he appears set to get a big free agent deal. For many, this is because Wheeler is the free agent who is most likely going to take off next year. This is not too dissimilar from Daniel Murphy.

Murphy was on the precipice of being an All-Star caliber player, and the Mets opted to let him walk and just take the draft pick compensation. The balance of power in the NL East shifted back to the Nationals when Murphy went there and the Mets thought they could replace him with Neil Walker.

The Mets learning that mistake and investing in their own players is a good place to rewrite the story.

Drawing that Murphy parallel out further, the Mets drafted Anthony Kay with that compensation pick. Kay had a great year in the minors this year leading to his being traded with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. Like with the Walker trade and with the team trading Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, the Mets were looking for shortcuts to building a competitive roster while also not spending money.

This is a free agent class with Wheeler, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, and a whole host of other players who could significantly improve this Mets team. In signing those players, the Mets will begin to rewrite the story.

Mostly, the Mets can rewrite the story by investing financially in their team, making smart moves to build a complete roster, allowing their injured players to heal, and by allowing their new manager to lead this team. If you look at it, the last time the Mets really did that was building that 2006 New York Mets team.

That team came within an at-bat of a World Series. With this Mets team having Beltran’s experience from that at-bat and all the ensued after, including his finally getting his ring with the 2017 Houston Astros, perhaps things will be much different. Hopefully, it never comes to that. In the end, that’s all the matters. We all want to see Carlos Beltran win a World Series ring with the New York Mets.

If that happens, Beltran will finally get the love and adoration from this fanbase like he always deserved. Sure, there is a significant portion of the fanbase who have and always will. Still, there are those who never let him off the hook for that strikeout or other events. If Beltran leads the Mets to victory, he will be universally beloved.

That would be the best way to end this story. Sorry, rewrite our story.

Mets Better Not Retire Jose Reyes’ Number

On his Twitter account, Mets starter Marcus Stroman said he was going to change his number from 7 because he believes the number belongs to Jose Reyes. Now, if Stroman is making this decision on his own, he’s entitled. After all, it’s his number.

However, given the fact these are the Wilpons, there is some hesitation here.

Right before the season ended, the Mets announced they were going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36. At the time of the announcement, the Mets also indicated there were going to be other retirement ceremonies coming in the future.

Most assume that automatically paves the way for Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and David Wright to have their numbers retired. There are other players who merit consideration as well. Under no circumstance should that list of players under consideration include Jose Reyes.

While the Mets were losing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was spending his night in jail while his wife had to go to the hospital as a result of Reyes grabbing his wife by the throat and threw her into a sliding glass door leading out to a lanai in their hotel room at the Four Seasons in Maui.

As a result of his abuse, Reyes received what was at the time the longest ever domestic violence suspension. He’d also be released by the Colorado Rockies.

The only team willing to bring him aboard was the Mets. It wasn’t a surprise given the team’s need for a third baseman due to Wright’s stenosis, the teams shoestring budget, and this being the same team who was sued for firing an unwed pregnant woman.

After Reyes wasn’t particularly good in 2016 (-6 DRS, 0.6 WAR), the Mets brought him back in 2017. He’d be even worse in 2017 with a -0.4 WAR. Somehow, that earned him a $2 million deal to come back in 2018.

That season, Reyes was flat out terrible. Worse than that, he was a malcontent who went public with his demands for more playing time he did not merit.

In the end, that’s what you have with Reyes – a man (if you can call him that) who beats his wife and complains about playing behind players playing much better than him. When viewed through that prism, there’s absolutely no way you even contemplate retiring his number.

If you want to look past that (you shouldn’t), he still hasn’t done enough to have his number retired.

Despite playing 12 years with the Mets, he’s only 10th in career WAR. He’s not in the top 10 in average, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, homers, or walks. Keep in mind, he has the third most plate appearances in team history.

Yes, he leads all-time in triples and stolen bases. On the later, he also has been caught stealing more than anyone too.

Looking beyond that, when he was on the Opening Day roster, the Mets went to the postseason once, and in his 11 postseason games, he hit .239/.275/.354.

In the end, there are plenty of things you can point to in making the case Reyes was a good player on the field for the Mets. He’s also clearly the best shortstop in team history. What he isn’t is someone who merits having his number retired.

Biggest Reason Mets Shouldn’t Hire Joe Girardi As Manager

The New York Mets have begun assembling their list of managerial candidates, and they are beginning to set up interviews with different candidates. Judging from what we heard when he broadcasted Mets games this year, Joe Girardi really wants this job. Given his being a very good manager, the Mets should be doing all they could do to hire him.

But . . .

Even with Girardi being the best candidate available there are some red flags with him. He was fired from the Marlins for an inability to get along with ownership, and there probably aren’t any more meddlesome owners in sports than the Wilpons. While he has managed in New York, and he has worked in the media, he was never great handling the New York press. No, he wasn’t bad, but he does have a tendency to be a bit cantankerous, which does not play well in the press.

In terms of the fanbase, Mets fans who have loudly criticized Mickey Callaway for not having a feel for the game are going to go berserk with Girardi and his binders. There is also the issue of how things ended poorly with the Yankees in terms of communication with the players.

Taking all that into account, Girardi is still an excellent manager who would make the Mets better. Yet, there is one massive reason why the Mets should not hire him.

Money.

In Girardi’s last year managing the Yankees, he was making $4 million a year. Even if he accepts some form of a discount, the Mets are still going to owe Callaway $850,000 in 2020. Being that this is the Mets, that money can be damaging.

Adeiny Hechavarria was cut one day prior to his being owed a $1 million roster bonus. Carlos Gomez was cut as he was about to reach bonus levels. That’s at least $1.25 million the Mets could not afford to spend in-season. Connecting the dots further, it appeared the Mets needed to trade Jason Vargas to fit Marcus Stroman into the budget.

The Mets operate with a shoestring budget. Assuming the combined cost of Girardi and Callaway is $4 million, that is going to cost the Mets at least one player, maybe more.

That salary level is just $1 million less than what Justin Wilson will earn in 2020. That means Girardi will cost the Mets a late inning reliever they so desperately need. That puts more of an onus on Seth Lugo and puts the Mets in a position where they will have to completely rely on an Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia rebound.

In addition to the bullpen, the Mets need to add a fifth starter to replace Zack Wheeler. That extra couple of million to Girardi could make the difference between a trusted arm and them having to turn to Walker Lockett or Corey Oswalt.

The Mets could use some bench help too. The money to Girardi likely means the Mets are stuck with Tomas Nido and his bat as the backup catcher. That means there Mets are likely stuck looking at a series of minor league deals to league minimums for an everyday center fielder or defensive replacement. That’s if they can afford that.

Overall, a few million may not seem as much to normal teams, but to the Mets that is crippling to their ability to add players to the roster. In the end, the Mets really need to ask themselves if Girardi alone is enough to overcome a fifth starter, one or more arms in the bullpen, and/or bench depth.

While Girardi is good, he’s not that good. No one is. As a result, the Mets should probably be looking to hire another (read cheaper) manager.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Sweep On Into 2020

The New York Mets season is officially over with the team finishing with an 86-76 record. It is just the third time they have had a winning record since the team began playing in Citi Field. To that end, the season has been a success even if it was disappointing from what was promised:

1. Congratulations to Pete Alonso for breaking Aaron Judge‘s rookie record and a whole host of rookie and Mets records during the 2019 season. He proved he was ready, and he showed himself to be more than that by donating money to charity, spear-heading the cleats and donating them to the 9/11 Museum this week, and just being a great teammate.

2. On the first base topic, you can’t help but feel great for Dominic Smith. He not only proved himself to not be a bust, but he would also show he’s a terrific team first player who is actually a tireless worker. He earned that at-bat late in the game, and he ended the season on about as high as note as you can end the regular season.

3. Of course, the Mets were in that position because the bullpen blew another lead. Unfortunately, it cost Paul Sewald his second career win. It won’t be his last time in the Majors, but it might be the last time he is with the Mets. If so, that would be a sad way to end his career after his being just a feel-good story who has overcome so much to be in the majors.

4. It was really unfortunate Juan Lagares did not get into the game on Sunday. It might’ve been his last time ever wearing a Mets uniform, and it would have been nice to see the best Mets defensive outfielder ever get one final ovation and thank you from the fans.

5. Hopefully, this won’t be a good-bye for Noah Syndergaard, who once again reminded everyone he is actually a very good pitcher, and that when you set him up to succeed with a good catcher like Tomas Nido he is going to succeed.

6. Syndergaard’s final start (of the season) and Smith’s walk-off was a feel good way to end the season, and we hope those positive vibes carry forward into 2020 and beyond.

7. Part of that is the Mets being much better run. There are reasons to both keep and fire Mickey Callaway. He has a two year body of work, and yet, somehow the Mets aren’t even going to meet to discuss his future. This is further evidence the Mets would have to rapidly speed up their processes to be considered reactive.

8. One of the biggest areas to address this offseason is going to be the bullpen. Given the budget, the team is going to have to hope players like Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz return to form. As we saw with Diaz’s final appearance, that is certainly a possibility.

9. It was great seeing Luis Guillorme have a strong finish to the season. This was just another example of how he has further cemented himself a real depth piece going forward who needs to be on the Opening Day roster.

10. If that was it for Todd Frazier, good luck to him. He gave the Mets what he had, and he earned his contract. Whoever gets him next year is going to get a real asset.

11. Considering his wanting to stay in the New York area, and the Mets not faring well against left-handed pitching, the Mets may well consider keeping him to play in the Jed Lowrie role which Lowrie, himself, couldn’t fulfill.

12. One note with Lowrie is he finished the season with fewer hits for the Mets than Marcus Stroman, a pitcher who spent the year with the Blue Jays. With respect to Stroman, his finish to the season gave us reason to be excited for his 2020 season.

13. Local players Brad Brach and Joe Panik really contributed to the Mets and their push for the Wild Card. They are winners who brought something to the team. It will be interesting to see if the team could keep them around next year.

14. On the topic of local Mets, Steven Matz had yet another strong start to finish his season. He has certainly been a different pitcher in the second half which is partially attributable to his moving to the middle of the rubber. The Mets should really consider signing him to a team friendly extension this offseason.

15. The Mets having a very local flavor is one of the reasons why this proved to be a fun season. A bigger reason why was this was a very resilient team who fought like few other Mets teams. Top to bottom, this roster earned our admiration and respect.

16. It doesn’t matter than it may or may not have counted for anything, sweeping the Braves is always a great thing. Hopefully, this sweep set them up for postseason disappointment. Of course, there’s no point in rooting for anyone in the NLDS because they are facing off against the Cardinals.

17. On the topic of the postseason, congratulations to Travis d’Arnaud on turning his season around and being a key reason why the Tampa Bay Rays made the postseason. Considering all he gave the team, Mets fans should be rooting for him.

18. The use of Seth Lugo for two innings on Saturday was just stupid, but we should note Callaway was very judicious in using him all season. This year, he was ticketed for 100 innings, and he was only used for 80, which is all the more surprising considering the team lost Robert Gsellman during the season.

19. Lugo may want to start, and he’s earned that right, but if the Mets were smart, they’d keep Zack Wheeler and Syndergaard making this a moot point. Like has been said a few times in this post, he should be signed to an extension.

20. For the last time this season – LFGM.

Pete Alonso Ties Aaron Judge

The Mets are eliminated from the postseason. The Braves have homefield in their NLDS series against the Cardinals locked up. That doesn’t mean there was nothing to play for tonight. We saw there was when Pete Alonso hit his 52nd homer of the year.

That now ties him with Aaron Judge for the most homers by a rookie. It moves him ahead of Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.

The homer was the Mets first run of the game. They’d also score runs off an Amed Rosario third inning RBI single scoring Alonso and a J.D. Davis two run homer in what was a Mets 4-2 win.

It was a good start for Marcus Stroman who had a very good close to the season to give you hope for 2020. It was his 10th win of the year and his fourth with the Mets.

What left you puzzled was Seth Lugo pitching two innings to close out the game. He’s been great all year, and there’s no need to push him, even slightly, for the sake of a save. After all, they shut down Justin Wilson, and Lugo is a better and much more important reliever.

But today was about Alonso, and the rest of the season will be about him as well. While he’s tied Judge, his job may not be truly complete until he surpasses Judge to hold the record all by himself.

Game Notes: Jeurys Familia pitches a scoreless eighth to pick up his first hold this month.

Thank You 2019 Mets Players

Now that the Mets postseason hopes are officially over, there will come a time to write post mortems to assess all that went wrong and how the Mets could improve in the future.

Before doing that, we should first acknowledge these Mets players fought tooth and nail giving all they could give to help make an improbable run. What we would discover is this is a tough and very likeable group who deserves our gratitude.

Pete Alonso – for having perhaps the greatest rookie season in MLB history while being just a good person.

Aaron Altherr – his RBI double and scoring later in the game proved to be the winning run in a game against the Pirates as the team looked to turn their season around.

Luis Avilan – limited LHB to a .104/.189/.188 batting line making him an exceptional LOOGY, perhaps the last true LOOGY with the incoming MLB rule changes.

Tyler Bashlor – had a seven game scoreless streak in May and another four game one from June to July where he picked up his first hold.

Brad Brach – came to the Mets like he always wanted, and he helped stabilize a bullpen which desperately needed his help.

Keon Broxton – had a go-ahead RBI against the Nationals in April helping the Mets get off to another great start.

Robinson Cano – returned from what should’ve been a season ending injury to do all he could to help get this team into the postseason.

Michael Conforto – reminded us how great he is when he is healthy. Yes, great.

Travis d’Arnaud – came back too soon, never complained, and he left the Mets with pride and dignity after a good Mets career.

J.D. Davis – had a season better than anyone could’ve imagined with a number of big hits. More than that, he became a fan favorite as he was a player who clearly loved being a part of this team.

Rajai Davis – the lifelong Mets fan came home, and he would deliver two absolutely huge pinch hits to keep the Mets afloat at times they needed them.

Jacob deGrom – we are experiencing greatness everytime he takes the mound, and at some point we will need to begin having Hall of Fame conversations about him.

Edwin Diaz – there was a real dignity with him when he faced the media everytime he struggled. He made no excuses, and he put the work in to try to get back to where he was in Seattle. From what we’ve seen, he will get back there next year.

Jeurys Familia – you have to say something about someone who loved being a Mets player, and he came back to be a part of another winning team. Hopefully, that will be next year.

Chris Flexen – reinvented himself as a reliever who showed potential with the ability to strike out batters.

Wilmer Font – showed the Mets real value as a reliever before he was inexplicably designated for assignment.

Todd Frazier – provided this team with real leadership and defense, and he had a number of hot stretches which helped the Mets get back into it.

Drew Gagnon – for a month stretch from late April to late May he was an extremely reliable reliever.

Carlos Gomez – came back to the Mets and started the fun “Ye! Ye! Ye!” rallying cry.

Robert Gsellman – before he began to breakdown due to overuse, he was putting together a really good season out of the bullpen.

Luis Guillorme – when he finally got his chance, he proved himself showing this team he needs to be a part of the future. His pinch hit homer was one of the biggest hits of the season.

Sam Haggerty – like Eric Young in 2015, he was a weapon as a pinch runner.

Donnie Hart – albeit in just one appearance, he’s one of the few pitchers in Mets history who has never allowed a run.

Adeiny Hechavarria – showed surprising power and helped keep the Mets going in May.

Juan Lagares – at the end, he reminded us of how great a fielder he can be, and he had one last hurrah with his first two home rungame.

Walker Lockett – his start in San Francisco was the lone win in what was otherwise a lost series.

Jed Lowrie – despite suffering significant injuries, he pushed onward to make himself a viable pinch hitting option.

Seth Lugo – he has been absolutely great, and he has kept an otherwise struggling bullpen afloat.

Steven Matz – for the second straight year, Matz made 30 starts, and he made huge strides forward with a big second half and being dominant at home.

Chris Mazza – a 29 year old rookie is a feel good story, and he had quite the debut against a very good Braves lineup.

Jeff McNeil – proved last year was no fluke, and his versatility allowed the team to get the most out of the roster.

Tomas Nido – was a terrific defensive catcher and framer who helped get the most out of the starters and help them get their minds straight.

Brandon Nimmo – came back from a bulging disc in his neck to pick up where he left off last year. His enthusiasm and love of baseball is always a breath of fresh air.

Stephen Nogosek – put together a great year in the minors to get to the majors.

Ryan O’Rourke – in his low moment, he gave us real human insight into what it was like being cut from a team.

Corey Oswalt – strong year in Triple-A giving the Mets real rotation depth going forward.

Joe Panik – came back home to New York to help keep the team afloat at the time the Mets were in desperate need for a second baseman, and he performed quite well.

Tim Peterson – earned his way onto the Opening Day roster,and he’d pitch fairly well in his limited opportunities.

Brooks Pounders – six of his seven outings were really good.

Wilson Ramos – turned what was going to be an awful year around with a great August, and his ability to frame the high pitch proved to be a real help to deGrom.

Jacob Rhame – before landing on the IL to end the year, he was showing glimpses of being the type of arm who could be a useful part of the bullpen going forward.

Rene Rivera – brought back warm memories from the 2016 season with him combining with Syndergaard to dominate the Nationals.

Amed Rosario – he made a fools out of people who didn’t believe in his work ethic and talent by showing he is going to be an impact player on both sides of the ball in the future.

Hector Santiago – picked up a big win in extra innings against the Tigers.

Paul Sewald – despite being an afterthought, he once again proved he was a Major League caliber reliever, and he would finally get that first win which proved to be so elusive for him.

Dominic Smith – despite his being maligned and dropped down the depth chart, he would get healthy, and he would show everyone just how good a player he is, and he showed himself to be a great teammate more interested in how he could help the team than his role.

Marcus Stroman – the man was born to pitch on the biggest stage, and he would show it to us. A full year of him is going to be a thrill.

Noah Syndergaard – with Nido and Rivera, he showed he’s a Cy Young caliber pitcher, and he has time and again said he wants to be a real part of this team going forward.

Ruben Tejada – there’s a poetic justice in his playing in 2019 and Chase Utley not.

Jason Vargas – he really helped the Mets Wild Card hopes by bombing with the Phillies.

Zack Wheeler – he desperately wanted to be a part of a Mets postseason push, and he not only got that chance, but he would be great down the stretch.

Justin Wilson – he put the elbow problems aside, and he had just a terrific year out of the bullpen.

Daniel Zamora – 13 of his 16 appearances were scoreless, and with his splits, he showed the Mets he could be a modern LOOGY with the changing bullpen rules.

Overall, while you may hate what Brodie Van Wagenen has done as the General Manager, and you can hate the Wilpons for not being invested in this team, you simply have to love each and every one of these players for all they gave this team. We should appreciate them for fighting to the finish and giving us hope for next year.

Mickey Callaway Screwed Up, Brodie Van Wagenen Screwed Up More

The New York Mets completely blew it last night. Behind that loss was a a number of players failing. Todd Frazier couldn’t get a hit in two key RBI situations. Steven Matz allowed a grand slam. Brad Brach failed to cover first in time. There’s obviously more.

Behind the players failing was a number of questionable to flat out indefensible decisions from Mickey Callaway.

Callaway should not have let Matz face Jorge Alfaro. With the team having zero margin for error, you cannot use Walker Lockett under any circumstance. There’s no saving the top arms in the bullpen to fight for another day because if you lose, there isn’t going to be another day.

There were other decisions like not starting Brandon Nimmo or allowing Michael Conforto to bat against Brian Moran. You could also question using Rajai Davis as a pinch hitter in the sixth over Nimmo. To be fair, these decisions were mitigated by Juan Lagares going 1-for-3 with a run and a walk, and Amed Rosario hitting a grand slam.

The pinch hitting decisions were mitigated by the actual options available. Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera are not good hitters. Jed Lowrie hasn’t had a hit in his limited pinch hitting appearances, and he has just one right-handed at-bat all year. That’s it for the right-handed bench options against the left-handed pitching the Marlins had out there in the form of Caleb Smith and Moran.

It certainly makes you question why the Mets never made a roster move to add Dilson Herrera to the roster. After all, they lost Eric Hanhold so they can have Chris Mazza and Donnie Hart on the roster, neither of whom have pitched one meaningful inning in September.

Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the bullpen again. Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson are the only reliable arms down there. You can trust Brach against right-handed batters but not left, and vice versa for Luis Avilan. After that, it’s a straight roll of the dice. Sadly, it’s a heavily weighted pair of dice putting the odds stacked against the Mets.

Reliever ERA
Jeurys Familia 6.00
Drew Gagnon 8.74
Walker Lockett 7.66
Tyler Bashlor 7.65
Paul Sewald 4.67
Chris Mazza 6.43
Brad Brach 3.95
Daniel Zamora 5.63
Donnie Hart 0.00

Look at those ERAs again. Lockett wasn’t even the worst ERA available in the bullpen last night. He wasn’t the only one with an ERA over 5.00. In fact, taking away the top two relievers, there were only three relievers with an ERA under that mark, and one of those, Hart, has only pitched 1.0 innings.

Put aside for a moment the Mets entered the season with Tim Peterson in the bullpen putting the team 1-2 relievers short to start the season. At the trade deadline, the Mets went out and got Marcus Stroman, and they didn’t back it up with another move. Sure, they got Brach, but he fell into their laps. It wasn’t a proactive move on the Mets part.

The bench has always been an issue too. We have seen the Mets cycle through Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, Carlos Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Ruben Tejada while rage cutting Travis d’Arnaud. Again, the Mets did little to address this at the trade deadline with Joe Panik falling into their laps like Brach did.

This team was ill constructed from the get-go, and for some reason when the Mets doubled down at the trade deadline, they did nothing to fix their two biggest problems – the bench and the bullpen.

Now, it’s possible a very good manager like Terry Francona or Bruce Bochy could’ve navigated their way around these problems, but we know Callaway couldn’t. The Mets knowing that and handing him a roster which feeds into his deficiencies as a manager makes what Brodie Van Wagenen did all the worse.

So, yes, Callaway screwed up yesterday, and he has screwed up in other spots. But make no mistake, this was largely the result of the roster he was given. For that, Brodie Van Wagenen should shoulder the blame he was absolutely unwilling to accept earlier in the year.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Fans Left Rooting For Phillies And Reds

The Mets went into Cincinnati looking for a sweep, but they didn’t get it. It was close, but they didn’t get there. As a result, their chances of grabbing a Wild Card became all the more difficult:

1. The Pittsburgh Pirates are an absolute embarrassment. It’s one thing to get swept like they did, it’s another thing to not even present even a minor impediment to the Brewers. Between this, Felipe Vazquez, Jung Ho Kang, all of their beanball nonsense, and the litany of other things, they are an absolute embarrassment.

2. The Pirates have all but given the Brewers one of the two Wild Card spots putting the Mets in an even more difficult situation in their attempts to make the postseason.

3. Of course, the Mets are in this position because of their first half and their loss on Saturday.

4. Todd Frazier had a difficult first inning on Saturday making an error and playing a ball which was foul leading to two first inning runs. Of course, it is difficult to completely get on him for that loss as he was the only one who actually hit the ball that day.

5. That is what makes this Mets team and offense so maddening. They can explode for eight runs in a blink on Friday night, and they can barely muster three hits the next day. That’s fine in June, but they can’t afford to be doing this right now.

6. Lost in that loss was just how great Zack Wheeler was. He had yet again another seven inning outing allowing just one earned. To be doing this with everything on the line, we are really learning something about him. If the Mets were smart, they’d be doing all they could do to lock him up because it is very doubtful they can replace him in the rotation next year.

7. Wheeler and Jacob deGrom dominating in the late season is reminiscent of what happened last year when deGrom won the Cy Young. After his pitching seven scoreless innings against the Reds, deGrom has put himself in a position to win his second straight one.

8. The Mets decision to flip Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz in the rotation was an inspired one. This puts Matz in a position to start at home where he is great. Even with Stroman being sick, he gave the Mets a tough effort allowing them to win that game.

9. In that Stroman start, he was bailed out out a bases loaded jam by Brad Brach in the fifth. Suddenly, this Mets bullpen is suddenly looking like it’s more than just Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson. That’s all the more the case with Edwin Diaz somehow having two good outings in pressure spots.

10. Christian Colon getting an RBI single off of a Lugo curveball which might’ve ended the season was just cruel when you consider this was the same Colon who got the hit in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.

11. Michael Conforto appears to be snapping out of his September slump. He got two walks on Friday before hitting an RBI single in the ninth, and he hit a three run homer on Sunday. He appears to be heating up at just the right time because the Mets need everything they can get.

12. With Conforto hitting his 31st homer, he and Pete Alonso have hit a combined 81 homers which surpasses the record for homers by a pair of Mets in a single season when Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado combined to hit 79 homers in 2006.

13. Alonso’s 50 homers is the single season record for a player’s first season. It is surpasses Mark McGwire‘s rookie record for homers by a first baseman. It puts him two homers behind Aaron Judge for the all-time rookie record.

14. With Alonso also having 30 doubles and two triples, his 82 extra base hits surpasses the team single season record held by Beltran (2006) and Howard Johnson (1989). No matter how high you were on him, he has far exceeded everyone’s realistic expectations. It has simply been a joy to watch him do it.

15. It’s also been a joy to watch Brandon Nimmo play the way he has. He’s showing last year was no fluke, and he has shown that the bulging disc in his neck will have no impact on his ability to play.

16. It’s just the Mets luck that when Robinson Cano hits a double to get him out of a funk that he gets hit on the foot. Even with the x-rays being negative, it is questionable how much he can contribute the rest of the year. In that sense, he is just like Cano has been all season long, or how Jed Lowrie has been since he signed with the Mets.

17. The Mets through Andy Martino can try to push any narratives they want. However, let’s be honest, after decimating the farm system and destroying future payroll flexibility, the Mets not making the postseason would make this year a complete disaster.

18. If they sweep them, they MAY have a chance the final weekend of the season, and they will play a Braves team who officially has nothing to play for that weekend.

19. If the Mets go 7-0, they need the Nationals to 4-5 over their last nine. This makes us all Phillies fans hoping to watch Bryce Harper stick it to his old team. We could also hope the Reds and Rockies play the Brewers as hard as they played the Mets and that the Brewers having played the Pirates gave them a false sense of security.

20. No matter what happens, the Mets are in a position to capitalize on one of the teams ahead of them slipping up. If that should happen, they will have deGrom lined up to start a tie-breaker or Wild Card Game. Considering where things were at the break, that’s a better position than we had anticipated.

What Needs To Happen For The Mets To Get The Wild Card

The New York Mets are somehow just three games out of the loss column for the second Wild Card. For that matter, they are four games out of the top Wild Card spot. With 10 games remaining in the season, that gives the Mets a viable albeit an outside chance to get the Wild Card.

What helps the Mets is the remaining schedules.

Starting tonight, the Mets play a three game set against the Cincinnati Reds. Now, the Reds have proved feisty of late having taken four out of six from the Diamondbacks and Cubs to deliver real damage to their respective Wild Card hopes. They also have ace starter Luis Castillo lined up for this series.

What mitigates against Castillo is the fact he’s facing Jacob deGrom. In fact, it is the Mets rotation which really sets them up for success in this series with Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz to pitch after him. It should also help the Mets that their bullpen is fairly well rested and pitching well of late.

After the Reds, the Mets have a four game set against the Marlins who have been terrible in the second half. That has been the case of late with them losing 10 of their past 13. They’re a bad team, and the Mets should absolutely sweep them. This means at a minimum, the Mets should go 6-1 over this stretch of seven games heading into the final weekend. If the Mets really have designs on claiming a Wild Card spot, they should really go 7-0.

While the Mets are hopefully taking advantage of this opportunity, the Cubs are going to first be playing a four game set against the Cardinals. As we saw last night, that didn’t go so well for them. The Mets need to hope for more of that as the Cubs have the Pirates next, and as we have seen, the Pirates are an unmitigated disaster being almost the equivalent of a forfeit victory right now. Of course, after the Pirates, it is right back to the Cardinals, which puts the Cubs on the brink.

The other NL Central team the Mets are chasing are the Milwaukee Brewers. Even with Christian Yelich done for the year and Lorenzo Cain dealing with an ankle injury, the Brewers schedule is far too easy with their final nine games coming against the Reds, Pirates, and Rockies. Even with the Reds playing well and the Rockies looking game right now, it is hard to imagine they fall back with that schedule.

That brings up the Nationals. They have lost four out of their last six to come back to the pack a bit. However, they have the opportunity to get back on track with a three game set in Miami. After that, things get more difficult.

While they have handled the Phillies well all year, the Phillies are still fighting for a Wild Card spot, and they are sure to give the Nationals all they have. After that, the Nationals finish the season with the Cleveland Indians, who are in a dog fight for one of the two AL Wild Card spots. The way things are shaking up that final series of the season can prove to be an elimination series for one of these two teams.

With respect to Mets, they need to enter the final series of the season putting themselves in a position to capitalize if one of the aforementioned teams should falter, and it’s possible they will.

The Cubs have six remaining against the Cardinals. The Brewers are without their two best players. The Nationals have the Phillies and Indians.

As for the Mets, they really just need to keep out of their own way entering the final series of the season against the Atlanta Braves. Should they do that, the Mets may very well be in a position to claim a Wild Card by beating the Braves. Based upon the season series and past history, Mets fans have reason to shudder and be pessimistic.

Then again, the Braves will have nothing to play for, and the Mets have overcome far worse than a three game set against the Braves. With the Mets having Matz, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard (hopefully with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera), you have to like the Mets chances.