You’d be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who’d even contemplate a Yankees-Nationals World Series. After a horrible season, certainly one of the five most disappointing in Mets history, a Yankees-Nationals World Series is about the last thing Mets fans need.
Or is it?
The Mets entered the 2017 season with a $155 million payroll, which was ranked twelfth in the majors. That number was a bit deceptive as it included David Wright‘ insured contract. After the 75% reimbursement for Wright’s contract, the Mets Opening Day payroll was $140 million. That would’ve bumped them down to 15th.
Really, a Mets team who had designs on winning a World Series had a middle tier payroll. A Mets team located in the largest media market in the world was middle of the pack in spending.
That’s fine if the Mets were well constructed, but as we knew at the time, they weren’t.
Now, with the Mets facing even bigger holes this offseason, the Mets are planning to . . . wait for it . . . cut payroll. Instead of the $155 (or $140) million mark, the Mets plan to cut payroll by $135 million. They’re doing this despite having even more holes to address this offseason.
The Mets need a second baseman, third baseman, and a rebuilt bullpen. They should also consider adding a fifth starter, center fielder, backup catcher, and a capable bench. How the Mets can do all of this with less money is anyone’s guess.
Based on how the Mets have been run during the Sandy Alderson era, it seems as if the bullpen and bench will be the two poorest constructed areas. The Mets have been able to address both in the past by making in-season trades. Those trades have helped deplete the farm system.
Overall, if the Mets are going to return to being World Series contenders, they’ll have to spend. That’s hard to do unless Sandy is given more money this offseason.
That brings us back to the original Yankees-Nationals World Series point.
As much as Mets fans do not want to see it, the Wilpons want to see it even less. Remember Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports noted the Mets were “not eager” to trade Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, or really anyone to the Yankees. They didn’t want to have those players being the Mets. More than that, they don’t want to see the Yankees in the spotlight.
Likely, they don’t want to see Daniel Murphy leading the Nationals to the World Series. With everything Murphy has done since leaving the Mets, he makes the Mets look worse and worse. Seeing Murphy having a third straight terrific postseason may be too much for this franchise to bear. That goes double when you consider the Mets have a gaping hole at second base – one that could have been filled by Murphy if the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of him.
If the Yankees and Nationals make the World Series, it would just rub salt in the Mets wounds. On the American League side, you have a team the Mets cannot bear to see successful. On the National League side, you have the Mets biggest competition in the division going to the World Series led by a former fan favorite. That’s a lot for an image conscious ownership group to bear.
Who knows? If that happens, maybe it will spurn the Mets to action. We could actually see the Mets open up their pocketbooks to address the needs of this team. Adding some players to a solid foundation of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto could very well propel this team back to where they were in 2015.
Then again, maybe the Mets don’t spend the money they need to fix this team. If they’re not going to spend the money, then they deserve the indignity of seeing the Nationals and Yankees in the World Series. They deserve to get their own personal worst case scenario. The hope for Mets fans is it will be too much for them to bear that they will finally do something about it.
Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting. He will not be returning as Mets manager. While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring. The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.
In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started. The Mets were bad and injured. It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag. What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.
Part of being human is being emotional. We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences. And yes, we’ve seen him cry. Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality. In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory. In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.
He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title. He left Santana in for that no-hitter. He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult. Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.
Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players. It would be the source of much consternation among fans. This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto. What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.
In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed. You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop. Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.
But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers. It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players. Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner. It wasn’t just those players. Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.
With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets. Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets. Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.
Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see. A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young. A Mets player won a batting title. There was actually a Mets no-hitter. Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.
Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that. Collins got the best out of his players. It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.
And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans. More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect. He returned their affection. That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:
— Matt Dunn (@MattDunnSNY) October 22, 2015
It was more than the celebrating. Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants. At his core, Collins is a good and decent man. It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.
Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake. Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers. This was just one aspect of his poor managing. There were many times where he left you scratching your head. It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.
However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins. To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season. We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.
He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history. When he was hired no one expected him to last that long. Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure. In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.
I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him. My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man. Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled. Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.
Is anyone surprised the Mets decided to smear Terry Collins before parting ways with him this offseason? Well, you shouldn’t be because it follows a pattern from this organization since the Wilpons have taken control of the team. While full ownership did not fully transfer until 2002, the Wilpons had gradually gained control throughout the years and were really front in center with an already hands-off Doubleday suffering health issues.
Coming off the heels of the 2000 World Series, Alex Rodriguez made it well known he wanted to play for the Mets, the team he’s always loved. Instead of the team letting themselves get outbid, they declared him to be a 24 and one player.
Instead of thanking managers like Bobby Valentine and Art Howe for their service, they talked about how their teams quit on them, which is as damning a statement you can make against a manager. Things went further for Howe calling him soft, weak, boring, and out of touch.
As poorly as Howe was treated on the way out, it pales in comparison to how Willie Randolph was treated. This went beyond the accusations he was out of touch and couldn’t get through to his players. No, they had to fly him out to California and fire him at 3:00 A.M. after a win! They then replaced him with Jerry Manuel, who was the person bad mouthing Randolph behind his back with, you guessed it, Jeff Wilpon.
It wasn’t just managers that received this treatment. Remember what happened with Yoenis Cespedes in the 2015 offseason? When the team made it clear they had wanted to pass on re-signing him? First, he was a round peg in a square hole that couldn’t handle center. It wasn’t just that, we heard whispers about whether a team could trust Cespedes on a long-term deal.
Now, the Mets have turned their attention to Collins. Reading Marc Carig’s Newsday article on the subject, the team couldn’t help but tear him down before parting ways with him this offseason. Reading the column, you can see the Mets have gotten much better at this detailing all of his faults:
- Constant tactical blunders;
- Resisted input;
- Poor relationship with players;
- Shielded by Fred Wilpon from firing;
- Front office had no confidence in him;
- Abused relief pitchers;
- No interest in playing young guys;
- Played players like Jeurys Familia into injuries;
- Inmates ran the asylum; and
- Team was miserable.
Any Mets fans who has paid attention to the team could tell you any of the above was true. We saw Collins staple Michael Conforto to the bench for under-performing veterans. He pressured Steven Matz to pitch through the pain. There was the drama surrounding Asdrubal Cabrera‘s position switch. There have been a wake of injured relievers during his career. All of the above has proven to be true.
Through all of it, the Mets kept Collins. They dismissed these concerns and even put forth the illusion he was great handling the clubhouse. However, now that Collins is on his way out, those positive narratives are gone; replaced by the truth or something close to it.
The sad part is this is completely unnecessary. Collins dutifully serves this organization since 2010 and managed them since 2011. He led the team to consecutive postseasons and delivered a pennant. Despite all of this, we all knew this was the end, and really, there was no one asking for him to return to the Mets. Most agreed it was time for the Mets to select a new manager, a new direction.
For some reason, the Mets couldn’t leave well enough alone. They had to tear the guy down on his way out. Sadly, this is not a new low for the organization because you can’t get any lower than how they treated Randolph. Rather, the team has become better and more efficient at doing it.
With the way Collins has been treated it makes you question what type of manager would be willing to accept a job from the Mets considering how they are treated and smeared on their way out the door.
In what is likely Terry Collins last game as the Mets manager at Citi Field, he went out the way he would’ve wanted to go out. No, not batting Jose Reyes lead-off while sitting Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto against the left-handed Braves starter Sean Newcomb. Although, we can be sure he was happy to do that. No, Collins went out a winner.
The main reason the Mets won this game was Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman would allow just one run over six innings while allowing six hits. That sole run came off an Ozzie Albies two out RBI single in the third. That wouldn’t be the Braves last threat.
In the fifth, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs with Mets killer Freddie Freeman striding to the plate. Gsellman would get out of the jam striking out Freeman: one of his four on the night.
Gsellman would depart in the sixth due to the bat of Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud would have all three Mets RBI on the night.
Gsellman led off the fifth with a walk, and Reyes followed with a single. After a Lagares strikeout, an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout moved Gsellman and Reyes to second and third for d’Arnaud, who delivered a two RBI single under the diving Swanson for a 3-1 lead.
The game would stay tight until the seventh when the Mets would blow the doors open with the help of a Freeman error.
That error proved costly as Smith would snap out of a 3-35 streak with a three run homer into the Coke Den.
.@TheRealSmith22's 3-run homer highlights the 4 run 7th. 😀
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 28, 2017
Surprisingly, the rally would continue. Matt Reynolds singled, and Nori Aoki walked chasing Johnson. The Braves substituted Ian Krol for Johnson. In what may prove to be Reyes’ last at-bat at Citi Field in a Mets uniform, he doubled home Reynolds and Aoki giving the Mets a 7-1 lead.
Jamie Callahan, Chasen Bradford, and Paul Sewald combined to pitch the final three scoreless innings preserving the 7-1 win.
This game closed a chapter in the legacy of Collins and perhaps Reyes. It’s very likely neither one of them will be Mets next year. For Collins part, he deserved to go out this way.
Through it all, he gave his all to the Mets and treated Mets fans better than any other Mets manager. Whoever takes over for him will have big shoes to fill on that front.
Yesterday, Wilmer Flores actually fouled a ball off his face:
That is the most Mets injury this season.
Adding to the absurdity of the injury, Flores had to be taken to a Houston area hospital.
Could you just imagine that hospital? “Everyone! Dropwhat you’re doing. We will get to all those affected by the hurricane and subsequent flooding later. A New York Mets player fouled a ball off his face. We need to address this STAT before Ray Ramirez can get to him.”
Throw in the fact this was the second time this season a Mets player hurt himself while swinging. With Flores and Michael Conforto, it really makes you question what activities a Mets player can undertake without hurting themself.
Michael Taylor nailing a slower than molasses Cabrera at home by a healthy margin:
From Downtown! pic.twitter.com/nTifaslvLw
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 26, 2017
Robert Gsellman certainly didn’t look like a guy who cared whether his manager thought he needed to improve.
The first inning rally got started on an error from him, and he threw a wild pitch allowing a run to score. Before the inning ended it was 4-0 Nationals.
It was a gorgeous sunny day outside, and my son wanted to go play baseball outside with me.
No, not even with Wilmer Flores going 4-4 with a run, double, home run, and three RBI.
Judging from the 9-4 final score, I made the raise decision.
Game Notes: Travis Taijeron made his Major League debut going 0-4. Jeurys Familia made his first appearance since returning from the disabled list. He pitched one inning allowing three runs on four hits and two walks.
With the Nationals getting in at 6:00 A.M., Dusty Baker put out a lineup that looked like the Nationals Triple-A affiliate with Daniel Murphy. For their part the Mets put out a similar looking lineup because, well, the Mets are bad and injured.
If you think it couldn’t get worse for the Mets, it did. In the top of that first, Yoenis Cespedes pulled up lame running to third base. Once again, Cespedes left the game with a leg injury.
The shame of the play was the Dominic Smith single hit the second base umpire. It was a dead ball costing him an RBI, and it helped kill a Mets first inning rally.
Speaking of short, the Mets had an insanely short bench tonight. The team had just a three man bench with one of those players being backup catcher Kevin Plawecki.
This was mostly the result of the soul crushing Michael Conforto injury, and the Mets having no viable options on the 40 man roster. With Jeurys Familia being ready to return after his rehab stint, the Mets chose to activate him instead.
The end result was the Mets having a two man bench when Matt Reynolds came in to pinch run for Cespedes.
Fortunately, it wouldn’t matter as Jacob deGrom was his deGrominant self. For a while, it seemed like he could get a no-hitter tonight. He certainly had the stuff, and the Nationals had the lineup.
Still, your heart was in your throat during the game with deGrom. First, he is a Mets pitcher. Second, the Mets luck somehow got worse. Third, he was fouling balls off his leg, and he seemed to pull up lame legging out an infield single in the second.
By some miracle, deGrom was healthy, and he was able to get the win. His final line was 7.2 innings, five hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 10 strikeouts.
In Matt Grace‘s second inning of work, the Mets went to work. It started with a Juan Lagares lead-off double. While many were contemplating the bunt, Terry Collins let Reynolds swing away, and Reynolds rewarded Collins’ faith with an RBI single.
Cabrera followed with a double setting up second and third with no out. Collins again showed a young player some faith, and he was again rewarded. Collins left Smith in to face the left-handed Grace, and Smith delivered with a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
With Murphy coming to the plate as the tying run, Collins went to Jerry Blevins, who got a huge strikeout to end the inning.
In the ninth, Nimmo created a run. He reached with a one out single, and he put himself in scoring position with his first career stolen base. He then scored on a Lagares RBI single making it a 4-1 game.
He was greeted with an Adam Lind homer to dead center to make it 4-2.
Things got interesting when Wilmer Difo followed the Lind homer with a double. Ramos then gave us all a heart attack hanging one to Anthony Rendon, who just hit one foul. Instead, he walked Rendon setting up first and second with one out.
Things got really troubling when Ramos walked Matt Wieters to load the bases. For some reason while this was all happening, Collins sat Sewald and had none of his other fifty relievers in his bullpen warming up.
Nimmo came in and would catch a Difo rope, and he made the perfunctory throw home. While that was happening, Rendon strayed too far from second, but Witt the throw home, Rendon had time to get back.
It ultimately didn’t matter as Ramos struck out the final batter of the game to preserve the 4-2 win and deGrom’s 14th win of the year.
Normally, with a game like this, you would leave the game feeling good about the Mets. deGrom was great, and he recorded his 200th strikeout of the season. Nimmo looks like a lead-off hitter reaching base three times, and his stealing his first career base. Lagares’ bat got going. The young Mets beat the Nationals.
However, there is still a hangover with Conforto’s injury and uncertain future. On top of that, Cespedes is once again on the shelf.
Really, this team continues to finds ways to make things more depressing.
Game Notes: For Player’s Weekend, the players were allowed to put nicknames on their jerseys. For the newer call-ups, there apparently wasn’t enough time to get them a nickname jersey. With respect to Nimmo, his choice, “You Found Nimmo” wasn’t permitted due to potential Disney copyright violations.
After learning Michael Conforto is going to need shoulder surgery, there is no longer any doubt he is going to miss the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, Conforto is not going to hit that 30 home run threshold he was ever so close to hitting. He might’ve got there if he entered the season as the starter. As we all remember, he had to wait for his injuries to create an opportunity for him. Now with him being injured, there is going to be an opportunity created for two other players – Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo.
Lagares was once considered the Mets center fielder of the present and the future. After winning the 2014 Gold Glove, he entered the 2015 season as the Opening Day starter and the proud owner of a five year $19 million contract extension. Lagares would regress on the field and at the plate leading to the Mets obtaining Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline.
Since the 2015 season, Lagares’ glove has returned, but he can’t stay on the field. Two years in a row, Lagares has suffered thumb injuries knocking him out for a long duration. But when he is on the field, he has been great. Currently, he is ranked third in the majors with a 12 DRS in center despite playing less than half the innings of anyone else in the top 10. It should come as no surprise he ranks first in the majors with a 30.4 UZR/150.
The question with Lagares is and continues to be his bat. In his 60 games played, he is just hitting .246/.294/.357. He’s also not hitting well against LHP like he typically does. Still, there is a little over left in the season where Lagares can work on his offensive game where he could at least hit enough to justify putting his glove in the lineup everyday. Or at a minimum, find out if he can indeed be part of a platoon.
The perfect choice for a platoon partner for him would be Nimmo.
The Mets 2011 first round draft pick is developing into a prototypical lead-off hitter. In 34 games this season, he has a .391 OBP, and in his brief major league career, he has a .361 OBP. In his nine games hitting in the lead-off spot, Nimmo is hitting .241/.353/.414 with two doubles, a homer, and four RBI. This is a short sample size for sure, but it should be noted he was a good lead-off hitter with the Las Vegas 51s. Over parts of the past three seasons in Triple-A, Nimmo has a .403 OBP, which his having the best OBP in the Pacific Coast League last year.
The question for Nimmo is whether his bat will truly translate to the majors. Yes, his patience and his knowledge of the strike zone has and will translate well. However, the question is whether he would hit enough to justify him playing everyday. This is his chance.
Between Lagares and Nimmo, they needed an opportunity to play everyday to show the Mets they could be considered the team’s center fielder next year. They have it now, and now the Mets can make a better educated decision this offseason as to whether Nimmo and Lagares could be part of the solution or whether the team needs to go out there and obtain a Lorenzo Cain.
Of course, the key to all of this is Terry Collins putting both Lagares and Nimmo in the lineup everyday. There are no excuses now with the team no longer having any more major league quality outfielders on the 40 man roster.
Rafael Montero pitched much better than the score indicated with him getting dinked and dunked for the three runs he did allow. Yoenis Cespedes is hitting for power once again with him hitting a double and a homer in the game. Amed Rosario completed a nifty unassisted double play on a liner up the middle. Kevin Plawecki threw out a base stealer. Gavin Cecchini reached twice and scored a run. In the end none of this happens because this happened to Michael Conforto:
The worst four seconds of my life pic.twitter.com/ihqVrPqkem
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) August 24, 2017
Early returns are Conforto suffered a dislocated shoulder on the play leading Ron Darling to talk about his own history with shoulder dislocations letting us all know they tend to be chronic. It’s a good thing too because watching it happen certainly wasn’t depressing enough.
Just to let you know how bizarre a season it has been for Mets fans, Mets fans were actually relieved this was just a dislocation. They were understandably anticipating an amputation. You could just envision the scene in the clubhouse with the Mets covering Conforto with leeches and getting him drunk on whiskey before giving him a bit to chomp on before Ray Ramirez came over with the saw.
Likely, this was Conforto’s last game of the season meaning he’s not getting to 30 homers this season. We also don’t get to see him finish off what was a brilliant season for him. We can only hope the Mets don’t mess this one up like they have with Matt Harvey time and again.
Overall, the Mets lost this game 3-2, but who cares? The real loss here was Conforto.
Game Notes: With a doubleheader on Sunday, the Mets are hoping Seth Lugo can start in the second game. If his bullpen does not go well tomorrow, the Mets will call Marcos Molina up from Double-A. If he does get called-up, he will join Chris Flexen in getting called straight up from Binghamton to start a game for the Mets.
There are a number of areas the Mets need to address this offseason including both center field and lead-off hitter. Either one of those areas could be addressed through free agency or perhaps the trade market. However, before going down that route, the Mets should take a long look at Brandon Nimmo this season.
The 2011 first round draft pick, the first of the Sandy Alderson Era, just became the fourth rookie in Mets history to reach safely in every plate appearance. That was also the second straight game Nimmo lead off the game for the Mets with a double. Simply put, this is a player with the skills to be a Major League lead-off hitter.
So far this season, Nimmo has a .410 OBP in 62 plate appearances. Dating back to last season, Nimmo has a .369 major league OBP in 142 major league plate appearances. For sure, this is a small sample size, but Nimmo has shown the ability to get on base during his minor league career. In fact, Nimmo’s .410 OBP last year was the best in the Pacific Coast League.
As for his defense, John Sickels of Minor League Ball wrote last year, “his defensive instincts are impressive and he is a quality defender in center field.” Certainly, in the small sample we have seen of him, he has shown he has the tools to be a good center fielder. He has the speed to more than adequately play the position. His arm is strong enough to play out there.
Still, there is a some lingering doubt about the Mets faith in his ability to play there. In his 21 major league starts, Nimmo has only started four of them in center. During that time, the Mets have started Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and Alejandro De Aza over him in center. Even if it is not determinative of how the Mets feel about his skills in center, it is certainly not a glowing review. Still, with his skill set, Nimmo should benefit from the coaching from Tom Goodwin, who has shown himself to be a good Major League outfield coach.
There’s also the matter of his ability to stay on the field. In four of the last five seasons, Nimmo has spent some time on the disabled list. He had knee surgery in 2013, which robbed him of some of his speed. In reality, this isn’t a matter of chronic issues, and the collapsed lung was a bit of a freak injury. Still, if you are concerned about that, you could platoon him with Juan Lagares.
With Lagares, the Mets have an elite defensive center fielder, who cannot hit right-handed pitching. You also have an immovable contract with him making $6.5 million in 2018 and $9 million the next. He also has some of his own injury issues missing time in consecutive seasons with injuries to the same thumb. Even with Nimmo having a platoon neutral bat, platooning the two players would serve to keep both fresh, and it would help the Mets get Lagares’ glove in the lineup.
However, it is more important to get Nimmo’s bat in the lineup and his glove in center field right now. The Mets need to find out if they need to address center field and a lead-off hitter this offseason. The Mets don’t really know if they need to look outside the organization to address those needs until they find out what they have in Nimmo. It’s time to find that out now.