Matt Reynolds

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should Beltran’s Number Have Been Re-Issued?

The New York Mets organization has been quite reticent to retire their best player’s jersey numbers.  From a player perspective, hat is an honor which has been bestowed upon just Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, two players who just so happen to be Hall of Famers who have worn a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.

With respect to Piazza, once he departed via free agency, the team did not reissue his No. 31.  Instead, like what we now see with Gary Carter‘s No. 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s No. 17, the number was taken out of circulation.  Unlike Carter and Hernandez, the Mets retired Piazza’s number.

What is interesting is Carlos Beltran is seen by most as a sure fire Hall of Famer, and it is eminently possible he enters the Hall wearing a Mets cap.  Given precedent, you would think the number would be reserved for future retirement.  Instead, it has been reissued to Val Pascucci, Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, Matt Reynolds, and finally Luis Guillorme.

In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we ask the question about whether the Mets should have treated Beltran’s number like the Mets greats before him, or whether there is no issue with 15 being given to other players:

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

I could go either way about retiring Beltran’s number but have to agree with Metstradamus’ excellent point. Let’s wait for 8.

Michael Baron (MLB)

I’m wishy washy on this subject regarding Beltran. He is the best center fielder they ever had, and easily among the top 10 players they’ve ever had. But he doesn’t identify with the base that way – people connect Beltran with that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. So if the Mets were to unofficially retire Beltran’s number by no longer issuing it, that could generate a negative discussion which, to be honest is avoidable and unnecessary. The team knows that and is obviously very sensitive to negative press and discussions, so it might actually be best to remain at a status quo on this. But ask me tomorrow and I might feel a bit different.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

As great as Beltran was as a Met, the only way it’ll be taken out of circulation is if he goes into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque. Keith Hernandez was a team captain and, like Beltran, was a top hitter and fielder. But his No. 17 was given to the likes of Graeme Lloyd and Jose Lima. If Hernandez, who was more beloved as a Met than Beltran ever was, can’t get his number out of circulation, then Beltran won’t either.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Let’s keep getting some use out of 15. Maybe Luis Guillorme will make us want to retire it twice.

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

As much as I loved watching Beltran with the Mets and the countless times I’ve defended him for looking at strike one, two, and three in Game 7 (three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen to this day), I personally do not retire his 15 or even take it out of circulation. When he gets into Cooperstown, which he will, if they stick a Mets hat on his head, I think at that point they have to retire it. Until then, if it were up to me, I say no.. He was successful everywhere else he went. That’s hallowed ground for this organization. Until David Wright‘s #5 gets a spot up there, no one else from that era should.

Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)

Yes. Carlos Beltran is very deserving of this honor. Beltran from 2005-2011 hit .282/.369/.508 with a 130 OPS+. To put this into perspective, Mike Piazza hit .289/.367/.534 with a 133 OPS+ from 1999-2005. Also add on that Beltran was an elite defensive CF during most of his Mets career. Beltran seems quite likely to enter the Hall-of-Fame as a Met. Beltran is an all-time Met and deserves the respect that the others before him have received. The Mets retire very few numbers and there is no reason Carlos Beltran shouldn’t be next along with David Wright. There has been some tension with the Mets and their fans against Carlos Beltran the few years. But fans have started to realize how great and impactful of a player he was and hopefully the Mets do too.

Mets Daddy

The biggest issue with the Mets not taking out of circulation is like many things with the Wilpon family, it has the stench of being personal.  It’s why we saw the team have a patch for Rusty Staub but not former owner Nelson Doubleday, a man who owned the team during the franchise’s greatest run.

The decision reeks of pettiness related to Beltran striking out in the 2006 NLCS and for his going against team advice to have career saving knee surgery.

Honestly, I’m not sure the team ever considered taking his number out of circulation, and if the topic was raised, it was quickly dismissed.

When Beltran does get inducted ino the Hall of Fame, I seriously doubt we see the Mets replicate the Yankees efforts to heal old wounds like we saw when Dave Winfield was inducted, and in the event Beltran does opt to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, part of me doubts the Mets take the next step in deciding to retire his number.

One thing I don’t doubt is the terrific writing from the people who participate in this Roundtable.  I encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve written about Beltran, Carter, and a host of all other Mets topics.

 

 

Mickey Callaway’s Eighth Inning

Look, it was bound to happen.  The revamped and praised bullpen was finally going to have a meltdown.  Mickey Callaway was going to have a game leaving fans scratching their heads a bit leading up to him getting criticized.  The fact it came against the Nationals was tough.  The fact it was a blown 6-1 lead was tougher.  The combination of the two left a really sour taste in your mouth despite the Mets 12-3 start.

In that eighth inning, the Mets would use five pitchers who allowed six runs on five hits, three walks, and a hit batter.  Two of those walks were bases loaded walks.  With the exception of Jacob deGrom, each and every pitcher who appeared that inning has some explaining to do.

Naturally, when you have a complete bullpen meltdown like that, much like we saw cause the 2008 Mets collapse, there are going to be some questions about how Callaway handled the inning.  Let’s take a look.

Questionable Decision No. 1 – Lifting deGrom

At the time Callaway lifted deGrom, the Mets had a 6-1 lead in the top of the eighth.  A Michael Taylor strikeout was book-ended by a pair of singles by Moises Sierra and Trea Turner.  At that point, deGrom had thrown 103 pitches, and he was about to go to the Nationals lineup a fourth time.

Before moving on, some key stats should be considered.  In his career, batters hit .277/.300/.447 when facing deGrom for a fourth time.  However, that stat should be mitigated by the batter Howie Kendrick.

For his career, Kendrick is hitting .087 with no walks or extra base hits against deGrom.  Last night, Kendrick was 0-3 with three strikeouts against deGrom.

Considering Bryce Harper is hitting behind him, and you have Jerry Blevins warming in the pen to face him, there’s no way you second guess Callaway for leaving deGrom in the game.

By removing deGrom, Callaway opened himself up to second guessing.  That second guessing grew louder when Seth Lugo, who had been excellent this year, walked Kendrick on four straight pitches.

Question Decision No. 2 – Using Lugo for One Batter

As noted above, with Harper on deck and Blevins warming, whoever you brought into the game to face Kendrick was only going to be in for one batter, so why Lugo?

There is a time to experiment with your bullpen guys to give them a different taste of different moments, but a game against the Nationals just isn’t that moment.  Not when there was something brewing that caused you to go out there and bring in a reliever to nip a potential rally in the bud.

Since you are bringing Blevins into the game to face Harper anyway, you could have used him to pitch to Kendrick.  After all, Kendrick is just 1-8 off Blevins.  Even if Kendrick hits an unlikely homer, you are still up 6-4 at that point, and you have Blevins to face Harper.

Instead, Lugo was put in an unfamiliar situation, and he struggled.  That doesn’t excuse Lugo’s performance in the least.  He should have gone out there and recorded the out, or at least forced Kendrick to put the ball in play.  Really, this at-bat was a seminal moment as this is where the rally really began to build momentum and begin to spiral out of control.

Questionable Decision No. 3 – Using Ramos

Iseemed odd Callaway would go to AJ Ramos over getting Jeurys Familia into the game at that spot.  Heading into this season, Callaway spoke about getting his best relievers into the biggest spots of the game regardless of whether there was a save situation or not.  That’s not what happened.

Instead of using Familia to nip the rally in the bud and let Ramos start a clean ninth, Callaway took a page out of Terry Collins book and saved his closer.  He also used Ramos, who has allowed 24.5% of inherited runners to score in his career.  Now, to be fair, Callaway may have wanted to shy away from Familia who has had a fairly high workload this season. Still, you have to wonder why Ramos there.

Out of anyone in the Mets bullpen, Ramos has the highest walk rate with a scary 4.9 BB/9 for his career.  That included his walking six batters in the 6.1 innings he had pitched entering last night’s game.  Bringing Ramos into this game into a powder keg of a situation could potentially light a fuse and blow the game.

It started out well with Ramos over powering Ryan Zimmerman to get the second out, and the Nationals sent up Matt Reynolds to the plate.  Right here was why the Mets should have never lost this game.  It’s also why using a walk prone Ramos is dangerous.

Reynolds, who is a career .224/.294/.393 hitter with an 8.1% walk rate, walked on four straight pitches to make it 6-4.

Questionable Decision No. 4 – Double Switching Flores into the Game

When Callaway brought Familia into the game, he obviously had the intention of using him for the four out save.  With the pitcher’s spot due up second in the bottom of the inning, Callaway understandably double switched him into the game.

What is interesting is Juan Lagares had made the last out of the bottom of the seventh.  By the book, you swap him out.  Being smarter than that, Callaway didn’t do that instead opting to keep his best fielder in the game in a crucial spot.  Instead, he went back and pulled Adrian Gonzalez.

Now, Gonzalez isn’t the four Gold Glove Gonzalez anymore.  In 92.1 innings this season, he has a -1 DRS and 0.1 UZR.  It’s a small sample size, but it is in line with what he’s been the past few seasons.  His dimished skill and range were prevalent when Harper had hit an RBI single earlier that inning between him and Asdrubal Cabrera.  That was more on Cabrera’s range, but it did speak to the limited range on the right side of the Mets infield.

Now, Flores arguably has more range than Gonzalez with a 0.2 UZR at first this year and a 2.3 UZR over the past three seasons.  However, he’s not yet good enough to consider using him for defense late in games at any position.  In fact, he also has a -1 DRS at first this year but in just 45.2 innings.  Flores’ poor defense and relative inexperience MIGHT have been at play when Wilmer Difo hit a single by him.  Whether Gonzalez gets to that or not, we’ll never know.

Another important point here is with Flores being double switched into the game, you do not get to deploy him against a left-handed pitcher.  Instead, you have to use him against a right-handed one.  Flores has improved against right-handed pitching, but not to the point where he’s your first option over Yoenis Cespedes or Jay Bruce.

As an aside, what would have been so wrong if Familia batted?  If he immediately gets out of the inning, you have a two run lead.  Let him go up there and take his strikeout, and you have your optimal defense for the eighth and ninth innings.  Instead, you weakened your infield defense with a power sinker pitcher, and you didn’t try to get a platoon advantage with Flores coming off the bench.

Questionable Decision No. 5 – No Gsellman At All

Arguably, Robert Gsellman has either been the Mets best or second best reliever this season.  In a pressure filled spot, you would think you would’ve found a spot for him, especially at a time when you were looking to get a ground ball double play to get out of the inning.  Instead, Callaway decided to go with Ramos and an obviously fatigued Familia.

Synopsis

When you have a complete meltdown like the Mets had, there is little a manager can do but pray.  Really, Callaway is getting second guessed because the Mets lost a game where they had a five run lead with one out in the eighth inning.  You should never lose those games.

Lugo can’t walk Kendrick on four pitches.  Blevins has to get Harper out in that situation.  Ramos can’t walk and hit batters.  Familia needs to dig just a little deeper and not hit a batter or walk in the go-ahead run.

Also, someone needed to make a play.  Two balls where hit between the first and second baseman.  Cabrera couldn’t make a play on either.  Certainly, you could argue an infielder with even average range gets to the Harper single.  Cabrera would then exacerbate his inability to make a play in the field by getting bizarrely aggressive on the base paths getting thrown out at third with one out in the ninth inning.  That was inexcusable.

Really, this game was your typical Callaway game.  When it comes to his bullpen, he’s going to be a little more aggressive than most in what is typically his attempt to put his players in the best position to succeed.  In his first 15 games, it seems he’d rather put players in a position to succeed than leave them out there and let them  make a play.

Until last night, that made Callaway look like a genius.  Last night?  Well, it made him look like a meddling over-manager.  Ultimately, that’s the way it goes with not just managing, but managing in New York.

Whatever the case, after that brutal loss, we are really going to find out something about both Callaway and this Mets team.  Do they get off the mat and show the Nationals they’re the better team?  Do they come out shell-shocked and lose this game?

Right now, we don’t know, but we are soon going to find out just how special both this team and this manager is and can be.

 

 

 

Mets Lose On Ugly Eighth Inning Meltdown

With two outs in the top of the first inning, Bryce Harper would hit one of the most incredible home runs you will ever see off of Jacob deGrom:

Harper was sawed off, and he still hit a no doubt home run.  Because of who the Mets are this season, they would immediately respond.

In the bottom of the first, Michael Conforto hit an opposite field double off of Jeremy Hellickson that Matt Adams just could not corral. After that, Todd Frazier, who is suddenly the hottest bat in the Mets lineup followed with a two out RBI single tying the game at one.

In the third, it was Frazier again.  After an Asdrubal Cabrera single and Conforto walk, Frazier ripped a go-ahead RBI double giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.  It could have been more but the Nationals nailed Conforto at home.

 

Juan Lagares would create the first rally after drawing a walk off of Matt Grace.  During Jose Lobatons at-bat, he would steal both second and third base. That led to Mickey Callaway surprising everyone by calling a squeeze:

With the ball scooting away, this allowed Lobaton, who had reached earlier by walk, to get to third.  This put him in perfect position to score on an Amed Rosario fielder’s choice giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.

The Mets would quickly make that a 6-1 lead in the seventh.  Brandon Nimmo began the inning with a triple off the outstretched glove of Michael Taylor, and he’d score when Cabrera hit a two run homer off A.J. Cole.

At 6-1, the Mets looked to be in great shape. deGrom was pitching like the ace he is being the first Mets starter to pitch into the eighth inning.  His final line would be 7.1 innings, six hits, three runs, three earned, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.

At the time the Mets added four tack on runs, it didn’t look like deGrom needed them.  While he might not have a suddenly imploding Mets bullpen would actually need more than a five run cushion.

After allowing a pair of singles, deGrom was done with one out in the eighth.  Seth Lugo relieved him and walked Howie Kendrick to load the bases.  This led Callaway to call on Jerry Blevins, who allowed Harper to hit a two RBI single to bring the Nationals to within 6-3.

All three runs were charged to deGrom, but the last two were allowed to score by the Mets bullpen.

With Lugo and Blevins not getting the job done, Callaway summoned AJ Ramos with two on and one out in what was now a ballgame.

Ramos would strike out Ryan Zimmerman before allowing a single to Pedro Severino to load the bases.  That put the game in the hands of former Mets infielder Matt Reynolds, who pinch hit for Cole.  After a four pitch walk. the Nationals were within 6-4 and still with the bases loaded with two outs.  At this point, Callaway had little choice but to go to Jeurys Familia.

Familia would choose a bad time to blow his first save of the year as he allowed Wilmer Difo to tie the score with a two RBI single.  It got worse with him hitting Moises Sierra, a player who has not played in the majors since 2014, before issuing a bases loaded walk, the Mets second of the inning, to Taylor to give the Nationals a 7-6 lead.

In the ugliest inning of the year, the Mets bullpen would allow six runs (two inherited) off three hits, three walks, and a hit by pitch.  That really is embarrassingly bad and reminiscent of last year’s terrible Mets team.

Kendrick would homer off Hansel Robles in the ninth to ensure the entire Mets bullpen would pitch poorly on the evening.

Just to make sure this loss would sting all the more, Cabreara would hit a one out double off Ryan Madson, he would try to get to third on a pitch that got away from the catcher.  The play would be reviewed, Cabrera would appear safe, but the out call was upheld.  In the end, it doesn’t matter, Cabrera made a real bone headed decision.

The Mets came into this series with a chance to maybe bury the 2018 Nationals in April.  Instead, they may have breathed new life into a team which desperately needed a shot in the arm with this 8-6 loss.  This is really the Mets first taste of adversity this year.  Let’s see how they respond.

Game Notes: Yoenis Cespedes did not start the game for the first time this year.  He pinch hit in the eighth and flew out.  Jay Bruce didn’t start again today with his plantar fascittis flaring up again.

Mets Beat Nationals Bullpen Again, Familia Great Again

In the Mets first game against the Nationals, the Mets let the Nationals and all of baseball know that at their best, this Mets team is as good as any in all of baseball.  Now, that’s easy when you have Jacob deGrom on the mound, Michael Conforto returning to the lineup, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting homers.  The next question and perhaps the real question is what happens when these factors weren’t present.

Well, with Steven Matz starting and Mickey Callaway giving Juan Lagares the start, the Mets were going to find out.  As it so happened, those questions started to get answered in the second inning.

Brian Goodwin would draw a two out walk, and he’d quickly steal second base on the duo of Matz and Travis d’Arnaud.  On a 3-2 with a chance to get out of the inning, Pedro Severino singled up the middle, and the speedy Goodwin dared challenge Lagares’ arm:

That’s the Gold Glove Lagares who re-emerged last year.  Whether or not his new swing and approach are for rule almost seems inconsequential when he plays center this way.

Another note here is in this game, you got to see all that d’Arnaud is as a catcher.  When his pitchers aren’t even bothering to hold on base runners, much like Matz didn’t in this game, he’s not going to have a real shot to throw out anyone trying to steal a base.  The Nationals know that better than anyone, and they stole five bases in five attempts off of him.

However, he offsets that deficiency in other ways.  As we see in the Lagares play, he’s exceptional in fielding a throw, blocking the plate, and getting the tag down.  Really, he’s the best catcher in baseball on the front.  He’s also a very good pitch framer.  That came into play on a day when Mets pitchers would record 10 strikeouts while walking just three.

That pitch framing led not to not just a third inning strikeout of Anthony Rendon, it also led to his ejection on what was a horrible overreaction by Home Plate Umpire Marty Foster:

That ejection was the Mets gain because Rendon is a great player who kills the Mets.

Even with Matz pitching well, the Mets still could not get ahead of Gio Gonzalez.  That’s not unusual because he came into this game 14-5 with a 2.93 ERA against the Mets in his career.  That left the Mets with little margin for error. That margin of error went away on two plays centered around Todd Frazier.

The first play was in the fourth inning.  Jay Bruce hit a two out double to right.  The much maligned Glenn Sherlock could have sent Frazier to have him challenge Bryce Harper‘s arm.  It would make sense with two outs and Matz due up next.  Instead, Sherlock stopped Frazier, and Matz struck out.

This decision was magnified in the fifth when Frazier threw a ball away on a Michael Taylor grounder.  After a Goodwin sacrifice bunt, Severino plated him with an RBI single giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

What made the game interesting and the start of this season interesting was how the Mets immediately responded.  In the sixth, Frazier atoned for his error by hitting an opposite field one out double that nearly went out.  He’d then score on a d’Arnaud RBI single (the other aspect of his being a complete catcher) tying the game at 1-1.  The Mets would have a chance to get the lead, but Jose Reyes could not deliver in a pinch hitting situation.

On came Hansel Robles.

To start the 2018 season, he has been a bit of a revelation.  He went from send down to Triple-A to start the year to getting a big sixth inning opportunity against Harper.  Mets fans expected him to melt down and point to the sky.  Well, in his defense, it was a a really good pitch:

All this proved was Harper is a great player.  What Robles proved from there was he could settle in, limit the damage, and give the Mets a chance.  The Mets took that chance with some exceptional base running in the seventh.

Amed Rosario led off the inning with a single up the middle, and he’d fly around the bases on the ensuing Asdrubal Cabrera RBI double getting just ahead of the Severino tag.  Not to be outdone, Cabrera would go from second to third on a Cespedes grounder to short.  Knowing Ryan Zimmerman can’t throw, the Cabrera, who can’t really run, read the situation perfectly and took the extra base.

After the pinch hitting Conforto was intentionally walked,  Cabrera scored on a Frazier RBI groundout.  The Mets finally had the lead at 3-2, and it was time to see if this so far improved Mes bullpen could hold the lead.

First up was AJ Ramos, who pithced a 1-2-3 seventh.  Surprisingly, the next test went to Jacob Rhame.

Rhame proved up to the task by getting former Met Matt Reynolds to groundout.  What was surprising was where Rhame succeeded, Jerry Blevins didn’t as he issued a one out walk to Harper.  This set the stage for Jeurys Familia.

In what was his biggest moment since he faced Conor Gillaspie in the 2016 Wild Card Game, Familia was in a position to get a big save.  With him needing to get five outs, he was going to be tested.  That should say tested in theory.  The Nationals were no match for him, and as a result, the Mets came away with a 3-2 victory.

It’s April and the season is barely a week old.  However, this is a different Mets team.  They’re getting the most out of every ounce of their ability.  They’re playing smart baseball.  They’re fighting.  They’re special.  They’re showing that to the Nationals, and they may soon show it to the rest of baseball.

Game Notes: Mets pitching has recorded 10 or more strikeouts in six of the seven games they have played.  The one time they did not record 10 strikeouts was in their sole loss of the season.

Mets Should Not Re-Issue Beltran’s 15

Since the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants for Zack Wheeler much has changed for both the Mets and Beltran.  With respect to the Mets, they kicked off a rebuilding effort that year which culminated in a 2015 pennant.  As for Beltran, he would play with the Cardinals, Yankees, Rangers, and Astros winning a World Series and solidifying his spot as a future Hall of Famer.

The latter part is important because with the Hall of Fame rules, Beltran really has three options as to which cap he will don on his Hall of Fame plaque – Royals, Mets, or blank.

The decision should prove to be a difficult one for Beltran for a few reasons.  First and foremost, Beltran grew up in the Royals organization.  He was drafted as a 20 year old out of Puerto Rico, found himself making his Major League debut with the team the following season, and he would win the 1999 Rookie of the Year Award.  In total, he spent eight years with the Royals organization, which is more time than he spent with any other team.

That includes an Astros team where he became a superstar with an epic 2004 postseason.  He would return to the team 13 years later, and he would get that elusive World Series ring with the team before retiring.

That also includes the Yankees who were a team Beltran longed to play for all of his life.  It was with the Yankees Beltran made his last All Star team.  It’s the same Yankees team Beltran has inquired about returning to now that his playing days are over.

It also includes a Cardinals team who took somewhat of a flyer on Beltran after he had knee issues in the later stages of his tenure with the Mets.  With the Cardinals, Beltran really cemented his case as a Hall of Fame player by pushing his WAR to a Hall of Fame caliber 67.7 and by having the third great postseason run of his career in 2012.  Also, in 2013, Beltran would finally get to play in the World Series.

When you bring up Beltran and the Mets, that’s the first thing that is brought up by someone.  We don’t hear about his four All Star teams, three Gold Gloves, 149 homers, or really anything else.  The focus is on his Game 7 strikeout against Adam Wainwright.  Even the Mets owner, Fred Wilpon, discussed it in a wide ranging interview with The New Yorker.

Fact is, this is just part of the tension between Mets ownership and Beltran.

The breaking point came on the eve of the 2010 season when Beltran opted to follow the advice of his own doctor instead of the advice of team physicians.  As a result of the surgery, Beltran would miss over 100 games, anger the Mets organization, and would ultimately save his career.

It turned out to be a Hall of Fame career.  What is interesting about that is Beltran has had the most success with the Mets, and he played more games with the Mets than with any other team.  As noted, he’s not entirely beloved by the team with whom he is most closely identified.

This creates an opportunity where the Mets can heal some wounds and put on a full court press to try to resolve whatever issues remain between the teams.  Certainly, Omar Minaya’s return to the organization will help on that front.

Another thing that will help is by not issuing Beltran’s #15 again.  What is surprising is that since Beltran’s departure, four Mets have worn his number including Val Pascucci, who was assigned the number shortly after Beltran was traded to the Giants.

Now, with Matt Reynolds gone, no one wears the number 15.  If the Mets were smart, no one else would ever wear it again, and hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will all see that number high above Citi Field next to Mike Piazza‘s 31 and Tom Seaver‘s 41 after he joins them in wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Thank You Matt Reynolds

With the Mets needing room on the 40 man roster, they first designated Matt Reynolds for assignment, and then they traded him to the Washington Nationals for cash.  With that, we have seen the end of a short and extremely interesting tenure for the former Mets 2012 second round pick.

After a breakout 2014 season in the minors, Reynolds had put himself in position to capitalize on an unsure shortstop situation.  With the team having moved on from Ruben Tejada as the everyday shortstop, and with them giving the defensively challenged Wilmer Flores a shot, it seemed like Reynolds would be a part of a team who had a shot at the postseason.

As luck would have it, Reynolds would be a part of the Mets 2015 pennant winning team, just not in the way he imagined.  Reynolds “chance” came because Chase Utley tackled (not slid) Tejada breaking his leg.  With Reynolds being the only real shortstop left on the 40 man roster, and arguably the best defensive one, he would get the call up.  In effect, Reynolds got the best seat in the house.  His postseason experience was taking infield, batting practice, appearing for player introductions, and sitting in the dugout.

Like all of us, he sat on the edge of his seat helpless as the Mets squandered away their chances of winning a World Series.  Unlike the rest of us, he would get a chance to prove himself against the Royals.

In arguably his career highlight as a Met, Reynolds was a surprise starter in left field in a day game against the Royals.  In the bottom of the sixth, Reynolds would hit his first career homer breaking a 3-3 tie.  The run would hold, and the Mets would get the win.

From there, Reynolds would have moments of glory and stretches where he struggled.  In reality, this is the life of a player who his shuttled (or in the Mets case flow) between Triple-A and the majors.  In September, he was promised more playing time to permit the Mets a chance to get a better read as to how he fit into the Mets future plans.  The chance never truly materialized.  In that sense, the writing was on the wall.

Now, Reynolds is a member of the Washington Nationals, and it appears he is going to get a better chance to be a Major League contributor than he ever did with the Mets.  As fans, we can only hope he doesn’t replicate his performance against the Royals.  Aside from that Reynolds was a Met, and he was one during one of the more fun rides in Mets history, and for that we should all wish him well.

Mets Insanity At Play With Lagares

Throughout the offseason, we have heard the Mets have been looking to trade Juan Lagares and his bad contract in the hopes of freeing up money to make another move this offseason.  However, after the Mets signed Jay Bruce to a backloaded three year $39 million deal, there was this report:

Just think about that for a second.  Heading into the 2015 season, the Mets gave the starting shortstop job to Wilmer Flores despite everyone knowing he was not defensively capable of handling shortstop for a full season.

With the struggles of Lagares during the 2015 season, the Mets have primarily went with Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson in center, or at least that was the plan in 2015 – 2017.

There are a multitude of other poor defensive choices the Mets have made.  This includes the Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes tandem at shortstop last year over Amed Rosario or even Matt Reynolds.

Now, with the Mets adding Bruce, the likely outfield alignment would place Michael Conforto in center field.

Last season, Conforto posted a -4 DRS in 328.2 innings. That’s dreadful, and it’s not likely to improve with Conforto spending an offseason rehabilitating a major shoulder injury. 

If the outfield is Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce, how can the Mets possibly put up the front they need good defensive players as a justification why they’re keeping Lagares?

If that was the case, the Mets give Lagares another shot to prove he can play everyday, don’t hand an infield position to Cabrera, and they’d focus on adding good defenders like Todd Frazier this offseason. 

The Mets aren’t. Instead, they’re going with the better hitters at all positions while ignoring the defensive ramifications. It’s what Sandy’s always done, and judging from the Bruce signing, it’s what he will always do.

So no, they’re not keeping Lagares to keep good defensive players. They’re keeping him because they can’t move him. 

What The 2018 Mets Roster Looks Like Right Now

It is a slow going offseason, but it seems even slower for the Mets.  With so many teams with more money than the Mets still interested in many of the same free agents, it is hard to believe the Mets will make significant additions before the end of the offseason.  If they don’t, here is what the 2018 Mets Opening Day roster will look like:

C – Travis d’Arnaud
1B – Dominic Smith
2B – Wilmer Flores
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Michael Conforto
Bench – Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Phillip Evans

Rotation – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
Bullpen – Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Seth Lugo

This should only highlight about how much work the Mets actually have to do this offseason.

Sure, we can buy the pitching staff as a whole as is because they have viable depth.  In the rotation, Lugo could get transition back much like how he did in 2016.  After that, they have Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt, and Mickey Jannis.  And that is before the Mets go deeper with pitchers like P.J. Conlon.  Suffice it to say, the Mets do have sufficient rotation depth.

Considering many of the aforementioned pitchers could go to the bullpen, the bullpen also has sufficient depth.  And behind them, the Mets also have David Roseboom, Chase Bradford, and Josh Smoker.

However, that offense.  You can’t sell anyone that is going to be alright.  Mostly, that is because the Mets don’t believe themselves that it will be.  And that is before you take into account the injury issues Conforto and Rivera are currently rehabbing from this offseason.

For example, the team has all but given up on Gavin Cecchini, who should be in a position to at least compete for a spot on the 25 man roster.  He won’t.  What’s scary is there is no real Major League ready talent behind him . . . at least no immediately as players like Luis Guillorme and David Thompson need at least some time in Triple-A.  By the way, there’s no real outfield depth in this system.

Looking over this roster, you’d be hard pressed to believe the Mets will be better than the 70-92 team they were last season no matter how much they sell us Mickey Callaway as the solution to all that ails the Mets.

So, it really should not come as a surprise to no one the Mets have a lot of work to do, and it goes well beyond just adding one or two players.  That applies just to the starting lineup.  After that, they really need to build a Major League caliber bench.

Again, the good news is there are still many free agents available.  However, it’s still hard to believe the Mets will be able to add the players they need to become a postseason contender.

For Thanksgiving, What Each Met Should Be Thankful For

On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:

Nori AokiHe looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.

Jerry BlevinsThroughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.

Chasen BradfordWith his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.

Jay BruceHe learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.

Asdrubal CabreraAs we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family.  With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.

Jamie CallahanOne day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.

Gavin CecchiniHe made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors.  That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.

Yoenis CespedesWith Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.

Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.

Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.

Jacob deGromWith him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.

Lucas Duda – The slugger was the first Mets player traded at the deadline, and he temporarily got to avoid the We Follow Lucas Duda filming.

Josh EdginHe could be the only pitcher in the history of the Mets organization who is capable of getting both Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy out.

Phillip EvansAfter winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.

Jeurys FamiliaBlood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.

Chris FlexenAs we learned with Mike Pelfrey, being a Mets pitcher who struggled in the majors after completely skipping Triple-A will get you career earnings of roughly $47 million.

Wilmer FloresHe fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.

Sean GilmartinWith his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad.  It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.

Erik GoeddelNo matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis GrandersonHe had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.

Robert GsellmanHe has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.

Matt HarveyBetween the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.

Ty Kelly He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.

Juan LagaresWith all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.

Seth LugoAs we learned in the WBC and regular season, when he’s blonde, he’s Cy Young the first two times through the order.

Steven MatzWith him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.

Kevin McGowanHe will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.

Tommy MiloneHe was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.

Rafael Montero For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.

Tomas NidoEven with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.

Brandon NimmoNo one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.

Tyler PillIn a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.

Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.

Neil RamirezSomehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.

AJ RamosTo him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.

Addison ReedHe was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.

Jose ReyesThe Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.

Matt ReynoldsHe got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him.  Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.

Jacob RhameHe’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.

Rene RiveraAfter failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.

T.J. Rivera – With Warthen and Ramirez gone, he’s not going to have to worry about anyone mishandling his return from Tommy John.

Hansel RoblesIn his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.

Amed RosarioHe didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.

Fernando SalasDespite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.

Paul SewaldAs a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.

Dominic SmithHe finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s.  (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)

Josh SmokerAfter the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.

Noah SyndergaardMr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.

Travis TaijeronWith the Dodgers just signing him to a minor league deal, he is now all but assured of becoming the next Justin Turner.

Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.

Adam WilkBecause Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.

Zack WheelerInstead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.

David WrightDespite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.

Terry CollinsAt the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what.  We should all be so lucky.

Dan WarthenHe found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.

Kevin LongAfter departing the Mets, he was able to smuggle the page out of his binders that showed exactly how he turned Daniel Murphy into Babe Ruth.  He can now bring that with him to Washington.

Sandy AldersonCollins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.

Mets FansWell, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Beltran Wearing A Mets Cap On His Hall of Fame Plaque Isn’t a Guarantee

Now that Carlos Beltran has officially retired, the Hall of Fame discussions can now begin.  In the case of Beltran, one of the Top 10 centerfielders of all-time and the best Puerto Rican baseball player not named Roberto Clemente, the discussion for him is not whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Rather, the discussion is what cap he will wear when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.

As we learned from Gary Carter, Beltran is not going to be able to just pick whatever hat he wants.  This means no Astros, despite him winning the World Series there, and no Cardinals, where he cemented his place in Cooperstown.  Unless the Hall of Fame invokes the Reggie Jackson, you can go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee regardless of tenure with them, Beltran is going to have three choices: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) Blank.

Under normal circumstances, the case for the Mets should be quite easy with him playing more games in a Mets uniform than with any other team.  Beltran had his best years in Queens posting 31.3 of his 69.8 career WAR with the team.  He won all of his Gold Gloves with the Mets, and five of his nine All Star appearances came as a member of the Mets.  Some of his greatest highlights (and lowlights) came with the Mets.  In many ways, his entire career is defined by what he did with the Mets.

With this being the Mets, this isn’t normal circumstances.  There are indications this was and continues to be a very strained relationship.

The biggest indication of this was the fight over Beltran’s 2010 knee surgery.  It created a he said – she said situation where Boras insisted the Mets were informed, and the Mets acted as if they were blindsided.  For younger fans, the perfect analogy to this was the hysteria surrounding Matt Harvey and his innings limits during the 2015 season.

Beltran had knee problems for two seasons, and when push came to shove, he had the surgery upon the recommendation of a world class knee surgeon.  The Mets position was Beltran needed to clear medical decisions through them.  As the New York Post reported, “the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action.”

Action never came, but the bad feelings persisted.  Much of that can be directly attributed to Fred Wilpon’s interview with the New Yorker:

At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, “You mean”—and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.

********************************

When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”

Wilpon reportedly apologized, and Beltran being the man he was accepted said apology.

After that, the Mets did give him the perfunctory video montage his first game back at Citi Field.  However, that was about it from the team.

Immediately after being traded from the Mets, Beltran’s number 15 was immediately assigned to Val Pascucci, and it has been assigned to Fred Lewis, Travis d’ArnaudBob Geren, and Matt Reynolds.  This was not done with Mike Piazza‘s 31 or Tom Seaver‘s 41.  In sum, the Mets not taking the number out of circulation indicates the team had no intentions of retiring the number.  That’s odd considering Beltran’s Hall of Fame resume and tenure with the Mets.

It’s also odd how long it took the Mets to acknowledge Beltran’s retirement and to provide well wishes to one of the best players in their history:

In that time frame, the Mets wished Hasdrubal Cabrera a Happy Birthday, corrected the tweet to say Asdrubal Cabrera, and tweeted the April 15 glove promotion.  The silence on Beltran was almost deafening.

It seems to be symbolic on a frost between both sides as evidenced in Beltran’s Players’ Tribune piece.  Beltran talked about getting called up and breaking into the majors with the Royals.  He waxed poetic about tips he received from Reggie Jackson during his time with the Yankees.  He spoke about the championship run with the Astros.  As for the Mets, he mentioned getting traded in 2011.  Overall, there wasn’t any quip about something positive that happened to him during his time in Flushing.

There could be many reasons for that, but given the history between the two sides, it doesn’t seem accidental.

Overall, there seems to be some chasm between the Mets and Beltran.  It’s a real shame too because Beltran’s Hall of Fame case was built during his time with the Mets.  For the Mets, they have not had many players as great as Beltran in their history.  Beltran is definitively their best center fielder, and quite possibly, the best outfielder in their history.

Five years from now, when Beltran is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should be talking about wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and the Mets should be planning a number retirement ceremony.  Based upon what we’ve seen over the past few years, that doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it should.

The good news is that there’s still time for the Mets to sell Beltran on wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.  That starts with the easiest decision imaginable with the team inducting him into their own Hall of Fame.  It would also behoove them to take 15 out of circulation.  This is just a step, but an important one – one the Mets need to do if they want to add a third Hall of Famer to the legacy of the New York Mets organization.