The Mets went into Philadelphia with a chance to make a statement. On the bright side, they made that statement. On the downside, it wasn’t the statement we wanted them to make.
1. This series only further cemented Brodie Van Wagenen as the worst GM in baseball.
3. Remember when Van Wagenen said the Mets had the deepest rotation in baseball? With Jacob deGrom dealing with a neck injury, Porcello and his 5.76 is now the Mets staff ace.
5. Steven Matz had three good enough starts to begin the season before pitching terribly in his last three starts. Fortunately for him, the Mets don’t have other options to replace him in the rotation.
6. It’s easy to point fingers at Jeremy Hefner but even a pitching coach with a magic lamp would still be stuck with two incapable starters.
7. On the topic of Van Wagenen’s incompetence, Wilson Ramos has been beyond terrible this year. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, he completely whiffed on a tag allowing the game winning run to score.
8. Van Wagenen preached accountability and media access when he took the job. The Mets made Ramos unavailable after that lame tag attempt, and the Mets made every player who would rebut their fabricated version of events when Yoenis Cespedes opted out.
9. There’s a lot wrong with the Mets, but Luis Rojas isn’t one of them. The Mets are not losing games because of him. They’re losing because the GM is horrendous.
10. Knowing that and seeing all that has transpired since, everyone owes Mickey Callaway an apology for how he was maligned.
12. Way too much was made of Drew Smith being optioned. The Mets bullpen has depth at the MLB level, and there were legitimate options in Brooklyn.
13. No, Smith didn’t deserve to be optioned as he pitched well, and yes, Brian Dozier had been terrible, but the Mets have nothing in reserve on terms of MLB caliber hitters.
14. Speaking of the Brooklyn site, the Mets added Francisco Alvarez and Matthew Allan which means they can now be traded.
15. We should be afraid they’ll be traded for pennies on the dollar with that being the defining characteristic of Van Wagenen’s tenure.
16. On the bright side, Van Wagenen is getting exposed, and the Wilpons will sell the team without winning a World Series as majority owners.
17. Mets fans deserve better. Hopefully, we’ll get that instead of getting Alex Rodriguez.
18. The St. Louis Cardinals have played eight games. The Miami Marlins are playing catch-up and have only played 15 games. The Cincinnati Reds aren’t playing games. Naturally, MLB’s response is to loosen COVID19 return to play restrictions.
19. Good for the Cleveland Indians for optioning Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger to the alternate site after breaking COVID19 protocols. It’s good to see someone in baseball take this pandemic seriously.
20. It’s the centennial of the Negro Leagues, and MLB did not do nearly enough to honor it. That goes double in a year where COVID19 prevented them from honoring Jackie Robinson. Shame on MLB.
If you blinked, you missed a 1-0 deficit turning into an insurmountable 6-0 hole. Things would’ve been worse had Jeurys Familia got two big outs to get the Mets out of the inning.
It was insurmountable partially because Aaron Nola was really good. It was mostly insurmountable because the Mets can’t hit with runners on. Today, they were 0-for-3 with RISP.
One important note here is the Phillies bullpen is a train wreck. That’s the nice way of putting it. Citizen’s Bank Park is a launching pad. Yet, for the season straight night, the Mets did next nothing against them.
If not for Dominic Smith‘s two run homer in the ninth, the Mets would’ve been shut out. It was the fourth straight game Smith homered.
Some good news: Dom Smith is still very good and has homered for the fourth (4th) straight game 💪 pic.twitter.com/KBRjejxgDV
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 16, 2020
While talking about Mets prospects the team cheated of a real chance, Luis Guillorme was good again going 1-for-3.
But we’ve known for a while now, it’s not about what gives the Mets the best chance to win. It’s about Brodie Van Wagenen. It was last night, and it was tonight with the Mets losing 6-2. We’ll probably see it again tomorrow.
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as the Mets General Manager, he was gifted an organization with great pitching depth. It was more than just reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. It was a rotation so deep, Steven Matz was a fifth starter.
Behind them was an upcoming group of starters at or near top 100 rankings. Of note, Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay were first round picks putting it together and putting themselves in a position to be Major League ready starters sooner rather than later. Notably, both made their Major League debuts last year.
Now, Matz has gone from fifth starter to the Mets second starter, and the Mets rotation currently goes just three deep. How the Mets got here is purely on Van Wagenen’s shoulders.
Some of this was Van Wagenen’s hubris. He was all too willing to trade top prospects close to the Majors and continue with thin pitching depth. It was something the Mets got away with last year with Mickey Callaway who seemed to have a knack for keeping starters healthy. Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to fire him.
On the top prospects Van Wagenen traded away, he was all too cavalier about it. In fact, he said he was comfortable doing so because he was confident he’d draft well.
Brodie Van Wagenen said he had this aggressive draft strategy in mind when he traded away prospects.
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) June 30, 2020
Speaking of win-now, the Mets just let Zack Wheeler go to the Phillies even though Wheeler wanted to stay and would’ve signed at a discount. Instead, he signed that discounted deal with the Phillies. To make matters worse, Van Wagenen went out of his way to slight and further motivate Wheeler.
Van Wagenen’s master plan was to instead sign Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha. Porcello is coming off a year where he had the worst ERA in the AL. Wacha has a bum shoulder and a three year decline in FIP, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB.
Again, Van Wagenen’s plan was to dismantle the Mets group of aces and near aces with Major League ready first round picks and replace that with well below average starters in the name of . . . depth. While it’s a sick joke, it wasn’t intended to be funny.
Sure, you can argue injuries hit this rotation. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John couldn’t be foreseen. Marcus Stroman tearing his hamstring was bad luck. Conversely, that’s exactly why you hold onto your starting pitching depth, and it’s why you hold onto your top end starters instead of letting them go to a division rival.
These problems have been compounded by the bullpen injuries. This means the Mets are down to three viable starters and no one to fill-in those middle innings when the dubious fourth and fifth starters can’t go deep into games.
However, Van Wagenen will tell us it’s alright because he built depth (he didn’t), and he had a draft strategy (leaving the team with no real MLB ready starters in the minors). Suddenly, the Mets went from a team so needed a couple of tweaks to be a true World Series contender to a team who may now just be the fourth best in the division.
If the Mets fall short this year, make no mistake, it’s all on Van Wagenen and his complete and utter short-sightedness on how he has handled the Mets pitching depth.
Between the hiring and firing of Carlos Beltran, throwing chairs at Mickey Callaway, and his ducking the media, you really have to wonder if Van Wagenen has the judgment, temperament, or even the ability to be a General Manager.
But then, there are the drafts.
Van Wagenen has been bold and daring. He’s taken full advantage of Sandy Anderson holdovers like Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta to both scout and draft real high end talent in the draft.
In 2019, the Mets drafted two first round talents in Brett Baty and Matthew Allan. With respect to Allan, he had dropped in the draft due to signability concerns. Not only did the Mets get Allan in the third round, but they were also able to sign him for a bonus lower than many expected.
This year, the Mets did it again, which is an even more impressive feat. It’s more impressive because this draft was only five rounds giving the Mets a tighter margin of error.
That didn’t matter as not only did the Mets draft Pete Crow-Armstrong in the first round, but they also drafted J.T. Ginn in the second round. Ginn is a first round talent who was actually a Dodgers first round pick two years ago. Ginn wouldn’t sign with the Dodgers, but he did with the Mets. Adding Isaiah Greene to this draft class was a coup.
If Van Wagenen did nothing but manage the draft, he’d arguably be the best General Manager in the game. For that matter, if Van Wagenen did nothing but draft, the Mets would have the top farm system in the game, and they’d be primed for another 1980s like run, only this time with two Wild Cards essentially insuring the Mets would be a perennial postseason team.
That said, give credit where credit is due. Van Wagenen has been bold, daring, and more than able to get the job done when it comes to the draft. If he could somehow harness those skills in other aspects of the job, perhaps he could justify sticking around past the eventual Wilpon sale of the team.
Today, the offseason is officially over, and Spring Training officially begins with pitchers and catchers reporting to St. Lucie. Looking at the way the contracts are structured, this could be the last year this rotation reports, and in very short order, this rotation could be almost completely dismantled over the ensuing few years.
Jacob deGrom has a player option after the 2022 season.
This is what remains from a homegrown group which led the Mets to the 2015 pennant and brought the Mets back to the 2016 postseason. We have already seen Matt Harvey and now Zack Wheeler (on neither team) leave for very different reasons. Now, the Mets have to assess who is next.
Ideally, the Mets would be moving quickly to lock some of these starters up. After all, Syndergaard and Matz are coming off down years, and the Mets have a year of control to use as leverage in negotiations. Seeing how Matz finished the season, Syndergaard’s offseason workouts geared towards pitching better, and Jeremy Hefner already working on getting the most out of both, they may get very expensive very soon.
Like Matz, Stroman and Porcello are local kids who grew up Mets fans. We have already seen Porcello leave some money on the table to pitch for the Mets. Could Stroman do the same knowing he gets to pitch for his hometown team and his being born to pitch on this stage?
Sure, you could argue the Mets should be looking to maximize on the value of some of these pitchers on the trade market. At some point, the team also has to look to the future when pitchers like David Peterson, Thomas Szapucki, Matthew Allan, and others are ready to contribute.
The payroll obligations, along with having to pay players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo have to be balanced. The Mets also have to balance that against building the type of team which would discourage deGrom from exercising his opt out.
Of course, the question is who exactly is negotiating these contracts. Not too long ago, we thought that would be Steve Cohen, and what many assumed were bottomless pockets. Now, with that deal falling apart, we don’t know.
Sure, the Mets say they are going to sell the team, and they are no longer going to insist on having control over the team, but we have seen this show. It has previously ended with deals falling apart, and the Mets moving to sell off minority shares as as short term fundraising scheme.
Long story, short, here, the Mets need to figure out their ownership, and they need to figure it out fast. There is a lot more riding on the sale of the team than the 2020 season and the ability to add payroll, if necessary, at the trade deadline. As noted, the Mets need to figure out the pitching staff for 2021 and beyond.
The sooner they figure it out, the better. Once they have clarity on that issue, they will know who exactly are trade chips, and how exactly the Mets can build the 2020, 2021, 2022, and beyonds World Series contending teams.
Unless you are the Los Angeles Angels with Mike Trout or maybe the Boston Red Sox with Mookie Betts, no baseball team can definitively say they have a better player on their team than Nolan Arenado. Since 2015, he has been a top eight player in the league in terms of fWAR, and he has been a top six player in terms of DRS.
Arenado has won seven straight Gold Gloves, been an All-Star for five straight seasons, and he has won a Silver Slugger in four of the last five seasons. It should come as no surprise he has been a top five finisher in the MVP voting over that five year stretch.
Arenado has proven himself to be the rare player who has the ability to impact the game in the field and at the plate. He is one of the best in the sport, a future Hall of Famer, and at 28 years old, he is in his prime. When players like this are available, you do everything you can do to acquire them.
That should include the Mets.
If Arenado was on the Mets in 2020, his 5.7 WAR would have been the best on the team. To that end, the Mets have not had a position player have a WAR over 5.0 since Juan Lagares in 2014, and they have not had a position player with a WAR better than Arenado’s 5.7 since David Wright had a 5.9 WAR in 2013.
If you think about it, that’s what Arenado is. Both are Gold Glove caliber and Silver Slugger players who are top 10 players in the sport. The key difference is Arenado is healthy and playing now. When players like Wright come along, and Arenado is that level of player, you do what you can to get him.
When you look at the Mets roster as a whole, the only player they have better than Arenado right now is Jacob deGrom. When you consider deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball right now, and he is signed to a very reasonable contract extension, you cannot trade him for Arenado.
Any other pitcher on the Mets roster, Noah Syndergaard included, can and should be considered in a potential Arenado trade.
As for the rest of the Mets team, you can and should consider trading all of them if the price is right.
Yes, that means you should consider trading players like Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo. It would hurt to lose either player, but you will have one entrenched in one of the corner outfield spots, and you can move Jeff McNeil to LF on a permanent basis to accommodate that loss.
For what it is worth, the Mets should be willing to trade McNeil for Arenado as well. After all, Arenado is a better baseball player than McNeil, and if you’re going to choose between the two as who you want to be your third baseman for the next five years, you are going to chose Arenado.
Finally, yes, you can also consider trading Pete Alonso. If the Mets traded Alonso for Arenado, they still have Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis (who is really only just a first baseman) to play first. At the end of the day, you hate losing Alonso who has proven to be not just a very good player, but also one who has captured the hearts and minds as Mets fans.
That said, Arenado is a better baseball player than Alonso. More to the point, the Mets are a better team with Smith/Davis at first, Arenado at third, and an outfield of McNeil-Nimmo-Conforto than have a team where they either play Jake Marisnick everyday or have a platoon of first basemen in left field.
They’re also a better team with Alonso and Arenado at the corners. To that end, if you can swing a deal without giving up Alonso, or any of their other core players which include Conforto, McNeil, Nimmo, and Syndergaard, you do it. The problem is the Mets don’t necessarily have that farm system after all the damage Brodie Van Wagenen did last offseason.
To that end, if the Rockies want a player the ilk of Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Andres Gimenez, Matthew Allan, Brett Baty, or whomever else the Rockies inquire, the Mets should be willing to listen. Of course, if the Rockies want to go this route, the caliber of Major League player the Mets should be willing to part in such a trade comes down a significant peg from the aforementioned core.
Now, it should be noted Arenado has an opt out after the 2021 season. If you are the Mets, you don’t disrupt your core without getting him to waive that or renegotiate the contract. That is where Steve Cohen and his money should hopefully come into play.
If the Mets can get Arenado to waive his no trade clause and opt in to his contract, short of Jacob deGrom, there is no one the Mets should not discuss in a trade because at the end of the day, the Mets do not have a player as good as the one Nolan Arenado is.
Edgardo Alfonzo is the greatest second baseman in team history, and he is one of the most beloved Mets players of all-time. To this day, he’s the only Mets second baseman to win a Silver Slugger.
He was a part of the best defensive infield in Major League history. He hit a two run homer in the first inning of the play-in game. Alfonzo hit a grand slam off Bobby Chouinard in Game 1 of the 1999 NLDS.
Alfonzo hit .444/.565/.611 to lead the Mets to their first pennant since 1986. Realistically speaking, either he or Mike Piazza should’ve been the MVP of that series over Mike Hampton. On the topic of Alfonso/Piazza, Alfonzo drew a walk before Piazza’s 9/11 homer.
After retirement, he’d return to the Mets organization to first serve as a coach and then manage the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Alfonzo guided the 2019 Cyclones to their first ever outright New York-Penn League title. On that team was Brett Baty and Matthew Allan. Baty and Allan were not just two of the Mets top three draft picks, but they’re currently two of the Mets top three prospects.
You don’t entrust a manager with those players unless they’re good on the player development side. There’s more evidence Alfonzo developed players well including the positive words Pete Alonso had about him.
Alfonzo is a Mets great. He’s a winner as a player and manager. He was entrusted with the Mets top prospects, and he helped develop him.
Brodie Van Wagenen had no interest in any of that. Despite entrusting Alfonzo with Baty and Allan, Van Wagenen claimed firing Alfonzo was a player development decision to put the prospects “in the best situation.” That forced Alfonzo to respond.
Edgardo Alfonzo isn’t happy about Brodie Van Wagenen saying Alfonzo losing his job as Brooklyn’s manager was “a player development decision.”
Alfonzo writes on Instagram that he has met with Jeff Wilpon & might stay with Mets as an ambassador, but he prefers to work in uniform. pic.twitter.com/LeK8PolrYU
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) November 7, 2019
Long story short, he wants to leave the Mets. He likes coaching/managing, and he wants to continue.
Nothing Alfonzo did was good enough for Van Wagenen. The winning. The player development. The attendance. None of it. In the end, Alfonzo was always going to be fired because he has the wrong agent as a player.
The Mets just let it happen. The chose Van Wagenen over Alfonzo without so much as an explanation to the fanbase. They chose a GM who severely damaged the short and long term ability to contend over someone who belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame.
In the end, they didn’t want Alfonzo anymore. They wanted Van Wagenen.