With reports the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to entertain trades for Blake Snell, this would seemingly be the perfect time for the New York Mets to act. When you look at it, Snell would presumably fill a short and long term fit for the franchise.
Even with Marcus Stroman in the fold, the Mets need to find at least one more starting pitcher. Ideally, they would want two more. Snell would not only fill that need, but he could help make the Mets rotation once again the envy of all of baseball.
Snell also would fill another starting pitching need. After the 2021 season, Steven Matz, Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard will be free agents. That will leave the Mets looking to fill at least 2/5 of their 2022 starting rotation. If you have Snell in the fold that will lessen that burden. The question for the Mets is how much Snell would be worth pursuing.
When many look at Snell, they see the pitcher who won the 2018 Cy Young Award. Our lasting impression of him was his dominant performance in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series before he was inexplicably lifted early. When you look at him from that lens, Snell is an ace level pitcher. When an ace level pitcher available, you need to pursue that pitcher heavily.
However, there are real questions if that is what Snell truly is. Really, when you break it down, Snell’s 2018 Cy Young award winning season has been a complete outlier in his career.
In Snell’s first two seasons, he had a 108 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.9 K/9 while averaging 5.0 innings per start. In the two seasons since winning his Cy Young, Snell had a 111 ERA+, 3.65 FIP, 3.3 BB/9, and a 12.0 K/9 while averaging 4.2 innings per start. Certainly, these past two years have been a significant improvement over what he was over his first two years, but those stats are not remotely indicative of an ace level pitcher.
Of course, this is the Rays, so the analysis is not that simple. Remember, the Rays focus on not allowing their pitchers to go through the rotation a certain amount of times, and they are very strong believers in bullpenning. As a result, it is very arguable their handling of Snell has stunted his ability to again be what he was in 2018.
Taking a deeper look, Snell does have good stuff. Looking at his Baseball Savant page, Snell has elite to near elite fastball velocity and spin, and he has terrific whiff numbers. However, that is only part of the picture. When you dig deeper, you see his spin rates on his change and curve have significantly worsened since his Cy Young season. That said, after struggling with his slider in 2019, he was able to regain his slider spin rate in 2020.
All told, it is really difficult to ascertain what Snell’s trajectory will be. You could argue this is a pitcher who needs to get away from Tampa Bay to permit him to really focus on being able to become the ace level pitcher he can be instead of a five inning starter. You could also argue the Rays know his limitations and that their handling of him allows him to put up such high strikeout numbers, and as a result, with another organization, he may truly suffer.
In some ways, when you see the Rays dangling Snell, you can’t help but be gun shy due to the Chris Archer trade. For many, Archer was a pitcher who could thrive away from Tampa Bay. He was a pitcher with a similarly team friendly contract, and as a result, the Rays were able to extract a kings ransom for him. Now, Archer had his option declined due to TOS issues, and the Pirates are routinely chided for giving up Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz.
That’s not to say or suggest the Rays knowingly traded damaged goods. That is an unfair and unsubstantiated claim. Rather, this just highlights how well the Rays self scout their team, and it shows their ability to extract a significant price in return for their players. Assuredly, if the Rays do in fact trade Snell, they are likely going to try to command an Archer like return, and really, they should do that.
If you are a team like the Mets, and you want Snell, you better be right. You need the utmost confidence in Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and Phil Regan in their ability to not only return Snell to his 2018 form but to keep him there for the ensuing three seasons. If you are not, the Mets as an organization should not be pursuing Snell. Instead, they can look towards a very interesting starting pitching market which still has Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Jose Quintana, and others available.
Better yet, they could be using their financial capital to give Stroman and Syndergaard extensions while keeping their player capital in place to swing deals for other areas of need. That said, adding Snell to those two starters and Jacob deGrom is awfully enticing . . . .
With Marcus Stroman accepting the qualifying offer, the Mets have another top of the line starting pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom. Arguably, their rotation is fine as is, especially with Noah Syndergaard due to return after the All Star Break. That said, ideally, the Mets want Seth Lugo in the bullpen meaning the team needs to sign one more starter.
Right now, the popular choice among Mets fans is Trevor Bauer. For a few reasons, he’s not the ideal choice for this team.
First and foremost is cost. Yes, this is no longer the period of austerity with the Wilpons. Still, even Steve Cohen presumably has his limits.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bauer will sign a deal in the vicinity of four years $128 million ($32 million AAV). That is a lot of money to tie up in a soon to be 30 year old pitcher. That goes double when you consider the Mets other needs.
This offseason, the Mets need to probably add at least one more starter. They also desperately need a real CF and a catcher. Past that, the team needs to build a bullpen again. Bauer at $30+ million a year encumbers the ability to build a complete roster.
When you look past 2021, Bauer further damages the Mets ability to build a complete team.
After the 2021 season, Stroman, Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Steven Matz will be free agents. After that season, deGrom can opt out, and Brandon Nimmo will be a free agent. This is part of the core of this Mets team. It may be difficult to keep all of them as is. With signing Bauer to a mega-deal, it really restricts the Mets ability to do that.
This is especially noteworthy because Brodie Van Wagenen stripped the Mets farm system. The players the Mets could’ve had come through the ranks to replace some of these players are gone. That puts an increased importance on keeping the talent on the roster on the Mets.
Another important note with Bauer’s expected contract is it may very well be a poor investment relative to what’s available on the market. Consider the numbers of the following pitchers over the last four years:
- Bauer – 132 ERA+, 3.52 FIP
- Charlie Morton – 127 ERA+, 3.27 FIP
- Masahiro Tanaka – 103 ERA+, 4.23 FIP
- Jose Quintana – 106 ERA+, 3.86 FIP
- James Paxton – 115 ERA+, 3.30 FIP
That’s just five of the options in a fairly deep middle of the rotation market. Looking at Bauer, he may be better than the group, but he’s not $20 million better. Not even close.
That goes double when you consider his numbers prior to his beating up on HORRENDOUS offenses in a shortened season. From 2017 – 2019, Bauer had a 124 ERA+ and a 3.60 FIP.
Those numbers put Bauer a clear step below Morton who is likely to sign a shorter term deal for roughly 1/3 of the AAV Bauer is going to receive.
Yes, it can be argued Bauer is younger and might’ve unlocked something. However, it’s far from a guarantee, and his expected contract will pay him like his 2020 will be repeated over the next 3-4 seasons.
If you’re the Mets, that’s a bad bet to make with so many areas of the roster to address this year and with their need to lockup their homegrown stars. Taking all that into account, the Mets really need to pass on Bauer and get an equally talented pitcher which would also permit them to truly pursue J.T. Realmuto, George Springer, and the other top free agents.
Mets fans are besides themselves right now. They went from literally the worst owner in all of pro sports to someone who promises to be the best.
Right now, Mets fans are anticipating a whirlwind of an offseason. They’re already putting J.T. Realmuto behind the plate, Trevor Bauer on the mound, and George Springer in center. Oh, and they’re also expecting Marcus Stroman, Charlie Morton, and literally every free agent available.
Mets fans aren’t penciling this in either. No, they’re putting this down in Sharpee. That’s how high their level of expectation is right now.
That right there is going to be the biggest challenge for Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and the soon to be fully assembled Mets front office. Unless Cohen is prepared to start spending like a drunken sailor, there needs to be some leveling of expectation, and they need to do that while not diminishing the level of excitement.
Right there is one of the benefits of bringing back Alderson. With Alderson, the Mets fans already see someone they can trust to build a winner in New York. Agree or disagree with his moves, the fanbase is well aware he can do this job in this market.
If it’s James McCann instead of Realmuto, the fans can trust it’s not purely a cost savings driven decision. If the Mets opt for Jackie Bradley Jr in center instead of Springer, we can believe that is part of a larger plan to improve the defense to help the pitching.
However, there’s going to be a point where fans are going to want to see THE big name. The fans haven’t seen that happen since Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez signed with the Mets entering the 2005 season.
The Mets need to identify which player is the big name they need to pursue at all costs. That can be a free agent, and it could also come in the trade market with Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado available.
Right now, the excitement level surrounding the Mets is at the highest it’s been since Matt Harvey stepped on the field to pitch the ninth. Cohen needs to find a way to keep the excitement level there instead of having fans watch on in horror as their chances of winning a World Series fade away.
We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.
However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.
Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.
That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.
No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.
Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.
The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.
This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.
Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.
If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.
Make no mistake, Steven Matz was an unmitigated disaster in 2020. He had a very good start on the second day of the season, but he just kept getting worse and worse.
He had a 44 ERA+ and a 7.76 FIP. He allowed 4.1 homers per nine. His 9.68 ERA was unseemly.
Under no circumstances would you tender a pitcher like him a contract. You non-tender him and make decisions from there. However, the Mets are not really in a position to non-tender him, and aside from that, it would be unwise to non-tender him.
For starters, the free agent starting pitching market is a mess. Beyond Marcus Stroman and Trevor Bauer, the pitchers available are really not guaranteed to be any better than what Matz could give you on what will essentially be a one year deal.
As an organization, you’re in a better position to take a pitcher you know and work with him than go with another pitcher and start from square one. On that note, the Mets should be better equipped to get Matz right.
Entering next season, Steve Cohen has promised to beef up the Mets analytics departments and to upgrade the Mets technology. This means Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, and even Phil Regan have more at their disposal to get Matz pitching to how we know he can.
We’ve seen that Matz not too long ago. In the second half of the 2019 season, he seemingly turned the corner.
While working with Regan and Accardo, Matz finished the season going 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA over his final 13 starts. This wasn’t a complete anomaly for Matz. At different points of his career, he’s shown this ability.
Matz was this good in 2015 through the first half of 2017. Again, he had a strong first half in 2018.
There’s a lot you can take away from this. It’s certainly possible injuries took their toll. Maybe, even to this point, he’s battling inconsistency. It’s also possible the Mets increasingly worse defense have had an impact on him. There’s many possible theories and explanations which can be proffered.
Lost in any of them is Matz is a good pitcher who has shown the ability to be a quality Major League starter. For a brief moment, it did appear as if 2020 was going to be the year he took his game to the next level.
During Spring Training, there were reports of his having increased velocity and being ahead of where he’s been in previous seasons.
The first thing Luis Rojas mentioned about Steven Matz's performance in Camp: his increased velocity.
Said he's been mid-to-upper 90s with really good velo differential on his curveball.
"I was pumped," Rojas said.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 21, 2020
The best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, was impressed with Matz before the 2020 started saying Matz was pitching “maybe the best I’ve seen him in a long time.” (William Bradford Davis, New York Daily News). He also said of Matz, “I think the upside’s unbelievable.”
That’s the real issue with Matz – the upside is there. It’s incumbent on them to unlock it.
Again, based on the free agent market, there’s not a definitive better option. Also, due to Brodie Van Wagenen’s stripping the Mets pitching depth for no good reason, there’s no one coming through the Mets pipeline to help in 2021.
That leaves keeping Matz as a necessity. They need to figure him out, or possibly, make him a left-handed Seth Lugo in the bullpen. With the state Van Wagenen will be leaving the Mets, that’s it.
Matz is a real asset. With Cohen, they’ll have the people and technology in place to help Matz take his game to the next level. With Sandy Alderson, they have the people in place who were able to help get consistent performances from Matz.
In the end, the Mets need Matz. They should be preparing to tender him a deal and set him up for his best season yet. If for no other reason, there’s really no better option available.
Right now, the Mets two starters are Jacob deGrom and David Peterson. With Peterson, the Mets have a promising pitcher who is a sinkerball pitcher. In terms of Peterson, the question is what do you do to help him take the next step forward in his career.
Rosario continued to make strong steps forward defensively, and he was a good defender, but he was not on Gimenez’s level. Rosario was a -3 DRS and 2 OAA to Gimenez’s 1 DRS and 5 OAA. At a 5 OAA, Gimenez was actually tied for the second best defensive SS in the game.
At second, Robinson Cano rebounded defensively with a 3 OAA. On that note, Cano was better moving to his left. That’s an important consideration for an aging player who probably needs to move off of second.
It’s not about ability per se, but rather durability. He’s going to be 38 next year, and he’s broken down a bit in each of the last few years while playing second. A switch to a less demanding position like third should help him extend his career.
It also solves a real issue for the Mets as third base is a huge problem. Jeff McNeil was supposed to play third, but he had throwing issues not too dissimilar from what we once saw with Wilmer Flores. That led the Mets to move McNeil off the position and replace him with J.D. Davis.
Davis was a disaster at third. He had a -8 DRS, which is he had enough innings to qualify, would’ve had him as the worst in the position in the majors. His -3 OAA was also the worst in the majors at the position.
By moving Cano to third, you finally take away Davis’ glove (which needs to happen anyway), and second is re-opened for McNeil. At second, McNeil has been a good defender with a career 4 OAA and 1 DRS.
By going with an infield of McNeil, Cano, and Gimenez, they have made it a significantly improved defensive infield. In fact, you can argue it’s a very good one at that.
As an aside, Nolan Arenado is purportedly on the trade bloc, and the Mets have a logjam at first with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Putting Arenado alongside Gimenez would possibly even surpass Robin Ventura and Rey Ordonez.
While Arenado may be considered a pipe dream, that’s the direction the Mets should be angling. That’s not just because of Steve Cohen’s deep pockets. Rather, it’s because the Mets should be maximizing their defense.
Part of that will include moving on from Wilson Ramos. Ramos is a catcher of a different era. That’s not his fault, but rather one of Brodie Van Wagenen’s front office. Moving on from Ramos to another catcher better at framing, whether that be J.T. Realmuto, James McCann, or someone else entirely, the Mets will be much better poised defensively.
They will also be better poised to handle a pitch to contact sinkerball staff. That will help Peterson succeed in his second season.
This will also help Stroman, who for reasons previously detailed, should be the Mets priority right now. The question is who should then round out the Mets rotation with Noah Syndergaard rehabbing from Tommy John.
There is an argument to be made for Rick Porcello to return on another one year deal. Certainly, Porcello will be driven to have a better 2021 after his 2020 was terrible. It’s quite possible he wants that chance to return to the Mets, a team he grew up loving, and prove to them he’s a pitcher who can help them win.
Now, Porcello’s stats were a very mixed bag last year. His ERA+ was a career worst 75. He let up an inordinate amount of barrels last year too.
Behind that was a 3.33 FIP, which is quite good. Porcello was also above average in terms of hard hit percentage, and he posted very good exit velocity rates.
You could argue with a vastly superior infield defense Porcello could very well be a good stopgap for Syndergaard and/or insurance for a Peterson sophomore slump. In the end, if the Mets are moving in the direction of a pitch to contact staff, they should really lean into it and make their team the best suited they can to head into that direction.
As we’ve seen in years like 1999 and 2006 building a superior infield defense can help your team overcome pitching deficiencies. It can help ground ball pitchers be reliable, post strong numbers, and pitch deep into games.
For the Mets, there are many directions they can head towards with a new owner and front office. Given the presence of Peterson and what’s available on the free agent market, this is a direction the Mets should seriously consider pursuing.
Steve Cohen has agreed to purchase the New York Mets and his approval as the new owner is all but a formality. In that vein, Cohen has already set off to work hiring Sandy Alderson, looking to beef up the analytics department, and announcing al employees will receive full pay starting November 1.
This is a great start, but Cohen needs to pay attention to his roster. To that end, Marcus Stroman is a pending free agent, and the Mets have a window for exclusive negotiating rights with him.
Locking up Stroman is of vital importance for a few reasons. Chief among those is the sorry state of this starting rotation.
Even with David Peterson having a solid rookie season, the only starter the Mets can realistically rely upon in 2021 is Jacob deGrom. Ultimately, the Mets have a lot of difficult decisions to make rounding out the rest of the rotation.
At some point, they may get Noah Syndergaard back next year. In looking at that, it’s important to remember Syndergaard is a pending free agent, and the Mets don’t have the best history of getting pitchers back from Tommy John.
That leaves the Mets searching for a number two for next year and the ensuing seasons. Given how Brodie Van Wagenen needlessly ravaged the Mets farm system, that starter isn’t coming through the farm system. That leaves free agency.
Looking at free agency, there are only two starters who fill this need. The first is Stroman, and the other is Trevor Bauer. Now, Bauer is coming off a Cy Young caliber (shortened) season, but you can still make the case Stroman is the better option.
In Bauer’s career, he’s only had two very good seasons. That’s this shortened season and 2018. Sandwiched between them was a very uneven 2019 where he was more good than bad.
Over this three year stretch, Bauer is 28-23 with a 3.18 ERA, 144 ERA+, and a 3.38 FIP. Overall, he has had a 9.6 WAR over this stretch.
Now, Stroman didn’t pitch this year due to family concerns. This makes his most recent three year stretch 2017 – 2019. Over that stretch, Stroman was 27-31 with a 3.65 ERA, 120 ERA+, and a 3.83 FIP. Overall, he had a 10.0 WAR over that stretch.
Looking at the baseline numbers, you might be inclined to surmise Bauer was clearly the better of the two. While an understandable presumption, lost in that was their respective levels of competition.
Stroman pitched in the AL East for the vast majority of his three year stretch whereas Bauer pitched in both Central divisions.
Looking at the 2017 – 2020 time period, Stroman has faced far superior competition.
Over this time span, the Yankees (2), Rays (6), and Red Sox (7) were all in the top 10 in wRC+. He did have an easier time with the Orioles who were 22nd in that time frame.
The problem with that from Bauer’s perspective is when you compare the two, he regularly faced three offenses WORSE than the Orioles. Those offenses were the Pirates (23), Royals (25), and Tigers (28).
Yes, the Twins (5) have had a good offense during this stretch. After them, the next best offense Bauer faced was the Cubs at 10th. The problem there is Bauer got to routinely face them when the Cubs were terrible offensively. In fact, much of his 2020 campaign was spent beating up horrendous offensive teams.
Bauer’s 2020 opponents and their offensive rankings
Tigers (2) – 91 wRC+ (24th)
Brewers (3) – 92 wRC+ (21st)
Royals – 89 wRC+ (25th)
Cubs (2) – 91 wRC+ (23rd)
Pirates (2) – 68 wRC+ (29th)
White Sox – 118 wRC+ (5th)
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 24, 2020
Look, there’s value in the ability to beat bad teams. From what we’ve seen from Bauer, he can also beat good offensive ballclubs. After all he pitched well against the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card Series.
Still, if you’re going to sign a pitcher to a big contract, you want it to be the guy who’s proven to pitch at an All Star level while consistently facing superior offensive teams. That’s clearly Stroman.
There’s another factor too. We have already seen Stroman be able to handle New York and the big stage. He did it as a visitor with the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s done it in the postseason and WBC. He’s also handled it well as a member of the Mets.
Once Stroman inks a deal, you know the pressures of being a Met are not going to get to him. We don’t know that with Bauer. He may thrive here. He may wilt. With his social media presence, he may very well do both.
Taking that and everything into account, Stroman should be the Mets priority, and the team should use their exclusive window to sign him to an extension. It’ll give them a number two starter for years to come. It will also give them a quality pitcher they know can handle this stage.
As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.
Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.
Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.
In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.
Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.
An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.
By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.
The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.
Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.
Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.
You can’t win games that way.
What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.
Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.
Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.
Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.
On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.
Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.
In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.
However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.
That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.
Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.
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.
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!
For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.
Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.
Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.
Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.
As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.
In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.
Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.