Michael Conforto

16 Beats a 1, Cubs Win World Series, Mets Are The Mets

Last night was one of those nights. You were forever going to tell people where you were. For me, I was sitting on my couch with a cranky baby and four year old. Why were they so cranky?

Well, because I’m me, an avid sports fan and idiot, I woke them up to watch the final few minutes of the Virginia-UMBC game. History was being made, and I wanted them to see something that never happened before – a 16 beating a 1. The final score was as startling as the upset itself with UMBC winning 74-54.

As an aside, Ralph Sampson and his UVA teammates can rest assured they are no longer the Cavalier team who is mentioned as the biggest upset of all time in college basketball. No, that 1982 loss by number one ranked Viriginia to Division III Chaminade will fall by the wayside – even if that was the much bigger upset.

But I digress.

Last night was one of those great moments in sports history, and you didn’t want to miss it. I know I didn’t want my boys to miss it.

It’s not too dissimilar when I woke up my oldest to watch the end of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. What’s funny about that game was instead of tuning in for the ninth, he was tuned into all the hysteria which included a miracle game tying three run homer by Rajai Davis off Aroldis Chapman, a rain delay, and Ben Zobrist‘s game and World Series RBI double.

For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs won the World Series. My son was watching it much like he was last night when a 16 seed beat a 1 seed for the first time in 136 tries (34 years).

It once again shows that the impossible can happen in sports. As a proud parent, it’s just proof positive that everything has been amazing since my son was born.

Speaking of amazing, the one thing he hasn’t seen is the Mets win the World Series.

Who knows? With Mickey Callaway at the helm, maybe things will be different. Maybe Michael Conforto being ahead of schedule is a good thing instead of the typical Mets unnecessarily pushing an injured player to play (see Beltran, Carlos).

Maybe, just maybe that’ll be the case instead of this being the typical Mets. After all, the Cubs have won the World Series and a 16 has beat a 1.

This could be the Mets years. Probably not.

Mets Fans Should Monitor Jason Kipnis’ Production

During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen.  As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”

The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.

This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching.  Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.

That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis.  Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare.  He had shoulder and hamstring issues.  While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.

At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade.  The Mets killed that deal over physicals.  The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years.  That’s really interesting.

In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI.  It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.

The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR.  The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.

The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce.  However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.

With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too.  Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons.  For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career.  For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.

For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again.  Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers.  If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.

We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy.  However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis.  In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.

If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.

Ten Apples Pop On Up!


In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, this Mets story has been adapted from “Ten Apples Up On Top!”

One apple pops on up!

Two apples pop on up!

Look, Nimmo.
I can do it, also.

Plawecki can hit three!

Three . . .
Three . . .
‘ll see.

He can do three
but d’Arnaud can do more.
Kevin has three
but TdA has four.

Look! Watch! Now!
Amed can bop
watch four homers
put the Mets on top.

Amed can bop
he’s swinging free
with four long
homers you can’t see.

Look here, you four.
Watch here, you four.
Wilmer can get five
home runs.
Who hits more?

Bruce is so good
He will not stop
Now six!
Now seven apples pop on up!

Seven apples
pop on up!

Mets are
so good
No pitcher can stop.

Five, six, seven!
Home Run, Home Run, Home Run!
Seven, six, five
four, three, two, one!

But wait!
Frazier is as good as Bruuuce.
Wow! He has also let seven loose.

And Yo!, Cespedes!.
Eight!  Eight pop up!
Eight apples up!
No ball will drop.

Eight!  Eight!
Trotting to home plate.
Watch now!
A bat flip and slow trot
to home plate.

But Wright can do nine.
It’s gone
in a blink!
No other team can do this,
I think.

Yo hits!  Bruce hits!
Wright hits one too.
It’s outta here!
For the orange and blue!

The Mets are so good,
Pitcher’s on the brink.
With nine, he’s gone
and he needs a drink.

Nine is very good.
But then . . .
Conforto will make it ten!

The Mets Home Run Apple
will not drop!

Look out!
Look out!
It’s not going to drop.

The Mets hit another
long ball.
Get out.  Get out.  You!
It’s a curtain call!

Home Run!  Home Run!
Another long ball
The Mets will not let
that apple fall!

Another on the way!
The Mets will not stop.
They will not let
the Home Run Apple drop.

The pitcher doesn’t feel good.
What can he do?
When apples start popping
for the orange and blue.

The Mets will hit them
once they see them.
Home run!  We can not
stop watching them.

It has a chance!
Home Run!
Home Run!
Home Run!

No pitcher can stop
Mets apple fun.
That apple will not drop.
Here’s another one!

Another one!  Another one!
Another one! Home runs all!
That Home Run apple will not fall.

They cannot get
that apple down.
Home runs!  Home runs!
Flying out of town!

Apples pop on up!
What an incredible

No pitcher can
make Mets fun stop!
Our Home Run Apple
is never going to drop.

Ten apples
Another curtain call!

What fun!
When Mets fans watch
those homers go over the wall.

2018 Mets Promotion Ideas

If you go to the Mets website, you will see their Promotion Schedule for the 2018 season.  If you look, there are some popular promotions like the Noah SyndergaardThor Bobblehead, the Yoenis Cespedes Garden Gnomes, and the Free T-Shirt Fridays.  Those are fun and all, but I think we can do better, especially when we see promotions like a Fanny Pack.

No, I’m not kidding, the Mets are giving away Fanny Packs this year.

When you are giving away Fanny Packs and you are recycling old giveaways, it is time for some fresh ideas.  Here is a look at a promotional idea for each player on the Mets expected Opening Day Roster:

Jerry Blevins 7 Line Subway Set – a man this thin deserves to have a rail in his honor.

Jay Bruce Ruby Cleats – click them together, and poof!  You’re right back at Citi Field

Asdrubal Cabrera Flip Flops– I want to be a Met; I don’t want to be a Met.  I’ll only play shortstop; I’ll play second.  I’ll play third, but I want to be at second.  Definitely, second base, but . . . .

Yoenis Cespedes Yo-ga Mats – he has undertaken yoga to make this finally be his healthy season

Michael Conforto Muppet – The man is Scooter.

Travis d’Arnaud Potato Head – you get the chance to put him together after he falls apart again

Jacob deGrom Hat Hair – in some ways this seems like a recycled idea, but with his hair cut, it’s now just a hat that will get many more people than ever expected to the ballpark.

Jeurys Familia iTunes Gift Card – Look, Danza Kuduro is a catchy song, but sometimes we all wish we listened to it at home rather than right before a Conor Gillaspie at-bat.

Wilmer Flores Hanky Night – at some point or another, we have all cried watching this team play

Todd FrazierJersey Night – no, not jersey as uniform, just a celebration of New Jersey with Taylor Ham concession stands and Springsteen playing in the park all night long because in case you didn’t know Frazier grew up in Toms River, New Jersey.

Robert Gsellman Lollipop – if you’re always sticking your tongue out, might as well use it

Adrian Gonzalez Alarm Clock – Apparently, his works better than Dominic Smith‘s

Matt Harvey Hockey Jersey – Between the Winter Classic being played at Citi Field, Harvey’s notoriety as a Rangers fan, and his pitching arm looking like he was slammed with a Tie Domi cross-check, this seems like a natural fit.

Juan Lagares Foam Thumbs-Up – after all of his thumb injuries, his thumb must have the structural integrity of a piece of foam at this point.

Seth Lugo Wiffleball – With the wiffleball, you too can throw a curveball as a crazy as Lugo’s.

Steven Matz Take Your Grandfather to the Park Day – the only time you’ll see a grandfather spending time with their grandson at a game happier is when he’s there watching his grandson play.

Rafael Montero Sneakers – something comfortable for everyone’s feet as we all walk the park

Brandon Nimmo Mets Toothbrush – if you are always smiling, your teeth better be clean and your breath be minty fresh

Kevin Plawecki Dil – Actually no, let’s not do any promotions featuring the contents of player’s lockers

AJ Ramos Odd Couple Bobblehead – As a Subway Series special, the Mets and Yankees will each have a Bobblehead Day featuring roommates Ramos and Giancarlo Stanton with Ramos obviously playing the part of Oscar Madison.   

Jose Reyes Bunting – Fans can get their bunting and leave the park as soon as the Mets are assured of the lead.

Hansel Robles Rocket – You too can point in the sky after watching your Robles Rocket go soaring into the sky

Amed Rosario Daily Planner –  No longer will you be surprised about what is coming down the pike, you will now be ready.

Anthony Swarzak Scrabble Tile No other Mets player has as many high point Scrabble tiles in his name.

Noah Syndergaard Marvel Baby Metif he’s going to keep up the gimmick of hitting on Mrs. Met, he should get to see what a Thor-Mrs. Met child would look like.

Jason Vargas Left Handed Kitchen Tools For that left-handed innings eater in you.

David Wright Night – No gimmick or anything.  There just needs to be a night to honor David Wright this season.  He deserves that much from the team and from the fans.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Who We Are Watching This Spring

After the positive feedback we received after our first Mets Blogger Roundtable, the Mets Bloggers have decided to come back for at least a second week.  This week, we tackle the question “Which Mets player are we most excited about watching this Spring Training?”

Michael Baron (MLB.com)

Dominic Smith is the first player that comes to my mind, although there are several interesting stories to watch this spring. Here’s a guy who has spent a number of years now battling weight issues, and therefore reputation issues, and it’s no secret the organization has concerns with him. And, obviously, signing Adrian González clearly indicates that as well. I am looking for him to step up and look like the player and prospect everyone expects him to be, similar to howMichael Conforto performed last spring. If Dom does that, he’ll make for a tough decision a month from now, which is always a good internal conversation for Mets brass to have.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Do we all remember when Bret Booneabruptly retired a few days into Mets spring training camp in 2006? He admitted Jose Reyes “just kind of stared” at him “with that smile on his face” and realized the joy of playing baseball in himself was long gone. Well, I’m hoping Adrian Gonzalez looks at Dominic Smith, smiling and loving life with his old and new svelte physique, and realizes his future as a full-time top sub sandwich enterprise ambassador should be his present. Smith did not earn the full-time first baseman gig last season, but he’s already earned it before the first ST game. He wasn’t even in this good of shape last spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing the Dom Smith everybody warned with a smile was about to enter our lives last summer.

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

The player I am most excited to watch at Spring Training might surprise a few people. It’s Brandon Nimmo. I am by no means trying to say he’s an all-star, but I think he is often overlook for the value he brings to a team. First of all, his defense in center field (while not as good as Juan Lagares) is good. For me, I am more impressed with his approach at the plate. He’s one of the more disciplined hitters on the team, especially when it comes to his knowledge of the strike zone. Sure, his .260 batting average last year is not too impressive, but his on-base percentage was more than 100 points higher at .379. Despite not looking like he’s going to have a starting spot out of the gate, Nimmo is going to be an important piece on this team coming off of the bench. And knowing how hard he works, if there’s an injury, he’ll be ready to go in a pinch. It’s hard not to root for the kid.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Player I am most excited about? Great question. I know if the Mets had been smart enough to sign Joe Smith, he’d have been my answer. I guess I have to let that one go, though. Steven Matz is the other. There are certain guys I love to watch pitch, and Matz is the latest version of that.

I have been a vocal critic of how Terry Collins and Dan Warthen handled the pitching staff for the last several years, and think the staff’s effectiveness in 2015 was despite their best efforts. I think how Matz was handled has been an organizational failure, but with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, they finally have people who truly understand how to get him to the next level. A healthy consistent Matz would be a huge assist to this rotation, so that’s what I am most excited to see.

Agree with Michael on Smith. I’m not sure excited is the word, but I am really interested to see how Matt Harvey starts off this spring. Reports are he can feel the ball again and, in my opinion, this will probably be his last season with the Mets. If he dominates, Mets won’t pay him. If he stinks, bye bye.

The Mets player I’m most interested in seeing this spring is Yoenis Cespedes. The slugger is coming off a season that saw injuries limit him to only 81 games. He’s trained differently this offseason including doing yoga to make sure he is more agile and not simply bulked up like in 2017. It will be interesting to see if his offseason training can help him regain his decencies prowess that helped him win a gold glove in 2015. Also have to see if he can make it through all spring without a muscle injury which seemed to be a weekly occurrence for him last season.

When healthy, Cespedes has been everything the Mets hoped for when they traded for him and signed him to a four-year deal. The Mets are not going to be contenders in 2018 if Cespedes plays only 81 games and spring will be a good time to see if anything has changed for Yo.

I’d actually like to see what Wilmer Flores and Gavin Cecchini do this spring. For Flores, I’d like to see if he takes to the outfield. I kinda hope he doesn’t, only because I’d rather he be placed at one position instead of some utility player who is bad at five positions. As for Cecchini, the Mets are going to need a second baseman next year. This is his last shot to prove he deserves a longer look. Because hey … Daniel Murphy is a free agent next year!

I’m looking forward to seeing uniformly healthy Mets in Spring Training and Mickey Callaway overwhelmed by a plethora of great options as he fills out his roster.

To me, the question comes down to, who has the most potential to be a complete game-changer for the season, with a good spring? So for that reason, while both of those guys will be important, I’m going with Amed Rosario. Obviously, people are excited about Amed – he was one of the top prospects in baseball before he came up – but I don’t think people have really let themselves imagine what kind of difference he could make if he lives up to the hype. Imagine if our starting shortstop suddenly hits .285/.350/.450, or around there, or even better, with great speed and defense, and solid power. I’d say that instantly makes our lineup significantly more dangerous than we expect right now. And even more than that, if Amed is for real, it’s a sign; it’s a message to every Mets fan that whatever happens, we’ve got a present and a future to look forward to. We’ve all seen the effect that one player can have on a season, no matter how badly the season goes: we all got excited every fifth day in 2013, even while we were losing 88 games, because of Matt Harvey. So, if Amed starts the season, and hits for power, plays great defense, steals bases, makes contact, gets on base…he could very quickly become a defining part of the Mets’ season. Unfortunately, if he falls apart and gets demoted, that will probably be a defining moment too, for a season that probably won’t end nearly as well. But being an optimist, a Mets fan, and an Amed believer, I think he’s got everything he needs, and I’m hoping he shows it this Spring.

Mets Daddy

While I didn’t initially feel this way, my opinion changed when I saw the Mets had put T.J. Rivera on the 60 day Disabled List to make room for Jason Vargas on the 40 man roster.  As a result, I am really interested to follow what is happening with David Wright this Spring Training.

With the signing of Todd Frazier and Wright’s comments to the press, it seems like everyone is getting closer to admitting the truth – Wright’s days as a baseball player are all but done.  However, I also get the sense Wright sees just one more chapter for himself.  That chapter may just be one random inning in September with expanded rosters, or maybe, just maybe Wright thinks he can help this team as a bench player.  If any of that is true, we are eventually going to see Wright doing something in terms of baseball activities.

Until that point, it is important to note Callaway does see value in Wright, and he seems to want him around the team.  As a Mets fan, I want him to forever be around this team.  I just hope Wright is able to do something this Spring that will allow him to actually appear on the field – even if it is just for one more game.

Again, I want to thank the various writers for coming onto the site to participate in this roundtable. Please return the favor by visiting their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).  I hope you will enjoy their work as much as I have.

Mets Blogger Round Table: Our Favorite Hometown Mets

With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, the organization has yet again went out and brought home a local boy to play for the hometown team.  It is something we have seen from the organization throughout their history starting with Ed Kranepool, and it is a new focus we have seen with this organization with them drafting Long Islanders Steven Matz, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Kay.

With the Mets illustrious, and in the case of Bobby Bonilla, infamous hometown players coming home to play for the Mets, in a new feature on Mets Daddy, Mets bloggers have come together to answer the question about who is their favorite hometown Mets players:

Michael Baron (MLB.com)

I’ve actually come to really admire T.J. Rivera. He’s a guy who has had to work very hard every minute of every day to be relevant, and his journey to-date has really been inspiring. He has a positive, workman-like attitude from which a lot of people can learn from in any realm of business and society. He is fearless and likable; that combined with his New York roots make him easy to root for.

There is a village in Michigan named Brooklyn. I know this because the Michigan International Speedway is there, even though the 2010 census claimed the population of Brooklyn, Mich. was 1,206. I’m from the Brooklyn in New York though. It feels like 25 percent of all professional athletes are from Brooklyn (the one in New York), yet I had to make a brief stop at Google (Mountain View, Calif.) to remember Johnny Franco. Of course. I met him at Gil Hodges Lanes once when I was a youth. There is a picture of us that I am pretty sure I lost over the years because I am an awful person. I did bring it once with me to show some friends in high school. One person thought Franco was my father. I thought it was weird she would think I would just walk into school, as a teenager, to show people a picture of me and my father, and she thought it was weird I would bring in an old picture of me with some baseball player, and we were both right to think these things. (But I was more right.)

Past: Tim Teufel

Present T.J. Rivera

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Lee Mazzilli hands down. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Maz made his debut in 1976. I was 8 years old. My last name might be Irish, but my mom’s Italian, and so were many of my cousins, so it was pretty cool to have a guy who looked like me (well, sorta) wearing a Mets uniform. I copied his batting stance, wore my sweatbands on my forearms and basically fought every kid who wanted to be Lee Mazzilli when we played wiffle ball.

When he was traded, I was devastated, but when he came back and became a key player for the 1986 Mets, it was a dream come true.

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

Being from Maine, my favorite hometown Met would be Mike Bordick. He played his High School ball and College baseball in Maine before signing with the Oakland A’s in 1986. Few players with Maine ties end up in the big leagues so at the time I was excited that the Mets traded for him in 2000. My dad, brother and I drove down to New York for his first game with the Mets. We got to see him hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Met. Unfortunately, Bordick struggled offensively for the Mets including a bat postseason in the Mets run to the World Series loss to the Yankees. Just a few years after that I met Mike’s dad who was a local umpire and got to know him as player and coach.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Ed Glynn, because he sold hot dogs at Shea Stadium as a kid.

Based on localness, I’d have to go with Brooklyn’s own Lee Mazzilli, who I don’t think would have thrived anywhere else.  Connecticut HS star Rico Brogna and Al Leiter from NJ round out the tri-state circle for me.

Shoutout to Frank Viola of nearby East Meadow for bringing the LI accent.

And tip of the cap to Ed Kranepool, who showed us the Bronx long before Bobby Bo.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

It’s an interesting question, because we’ve got lots of players right now who could qualify as favorites, who have deeply ingrained ties to the Mets besides where they were born. We’ve got lots of players who are not hometown but are home-grown — deGrom, Conforto, Familia, Flores, Reyes (kind of). Travis d’Arnaud has been with a million different teams and was born in California, but he did idolize Mike Piazza growing up. And of course, David Wright grew up a Mets fan because his hometown team was the Norfolk Tides. But much as we all love those guys, they’re not hometown players. There are four hometown guys on our 40-man roster: Matz, Harvey, Frazier, and T.J. Rivera. Frazier hasn’t played a game as a Met yet, and T.J. Rivera, while he’s had his great moments, isn’t a favorite yet. So, it comes down to Matz and Harvey. Matz gets bonus points right away for being from Long Island. If you come from the spiritual home of Mets fandom, and pitch into the eighth inning in your debut while going 3/3 with four RBIs, it’s hard not to become a fan favorite. But nevertheless, I’m going with Matt Harvey. It’s no secret that the Dark Knight hasn’t been a star lately. But his first three seasons in the bigs are enough to make him my clear choice. When Harvey debuted in the summer of 2012, I was away at camp; we were seniors, so we had a TV in our cabin, but we weren’t watching the game. I followed the ESPN Bottom Line that entire night and shouted results to the one other Mets fan in the group each time they came up: “seven strikeouts in three innings…eight through four…ten through five!” I saw those results come in, and literally right in that moment, I felt myself fill with hope, for the first time in a long time, that one day we would be good again. Then, of course, there was 2013 Harvey, who is still the best pitcher I’ve ever seen. I wore my Harvey shirt every day he took the mound that year, and every game, I was convinced, until proven otherwise, that he would throw a perfect game. He got out hopes up a few times, too, even though he could never quite finish it. I was at the game, the night after we’d all learned that Harvey would need Tommy John surgery. “Why does this always happen to us?” the ticket taker asked me. He was genuinely distressed, even angry. “I just don’t get it.” I didn’t have an answer, and I didn’t know then that Harvey would never again pitch as well as we all hoped to see every time out, so I just said “I don’t know,” then I went to my seat and watched us lose 2-1 to the Phillies, which somehow seemed fitting.

Mets Daddy

Ultimately, the answer for me comes down to Harvey or Leiter as I will remember both of them for their respective Game 5 performances which ultimately fell short.  In the end, you knew each was a competitor ready, willing, and able to give whatever they had when they stepped on the mound.

While I believe Leiter should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, and I will always appreciate his 1999 play-in game complete game two hit shut-out, my favorite local Met is Harvey.  When he stepped on the mound in 2013, he not only gave the Mets a bona fide ace, he gave us Mets fans hope.  He then delivered on that hope by helping pitch that 2015 Mets team to a pennant.  If not for Terry Collins, that would have been a World Series title.

Before signing off, I do want to mention Brogna (first autograph) and Bud Anderson (Little League) even if Anderson doesn’t quite count as he was a minor leaguer for the Mets.

Overall, I want to thank the various writers for coming onto the site to participate in what I hope will become a weekly round table.  Please return the favor by visiting their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

Mets Should Be Wary With New Closer Approach

One of the biggest benefits of Mickey Callaway being the new Mets manager is the team and organization has a fresher way of looking at things.  This is a welcome breath of fresh air from the Terry Collins Era when he was almost purposefully against the advanced metrics game, and he was loathe to play young players like Michael Conforto.

With Collins stubbornly played veterans like Jose Reyes, even when it was clear he wasn’t the guy who won a batting title in 2011 anymore, it was clear this change of direction was needed.  However, it should always be questioned just how far a new manager should push the envelope.

Judging from Ken Davidoff’s New York Post piece, Callaway is really looking to push the envelope:

We wouldn’t name Wilmer Flores as our Wednesday infielder and then start him even if we’re playing against Corey Kluber.  So why name a closer and put him in a situation where he doesn’t fit?

On paper, this absolutely makes sense.  Typically speaking, a team’s closer is their best reliever.  They have the best stuff, and more than that, they have the mental toughness required to face these difficult situations and come out on top.

And yes, as fans, we time and time again lament how the best available reliever wasn’t used in a particular situation.  Usually, this is when a game goes into extra innings.  Typically, a backwards thinking manager, like Collins, would go to their third or fourth best reliever, so they can save their closer for the save situation.  The example brought up most often was Buck Showalter not bringing in Zach Britton in the 2016 Wild Card Game.

On the surface, it would seem the Mets are well equipped bullpen-wise for Callaway to implement this plan.

Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, and Paul Sewald have closing experience.  While not a closer, Anthony Swarzak has been used in a variety of roles out of the bullpen.  We did see Jerry Blevins record three saves over the past two seasons.  Finally, while many Mets fans are skeptical, Hansel Robles has shown he can handle a number of different roles in the bullpen, and with his working with Pedro Martinez this offseason and Dave Eiland this season, we may see fewer meltdowns.

That’s not too dissimilar with what Callaway had in his Indians bullpen with Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Bryan Shaw. As we know, this really allowed the Indians to unleash Miller as a weapon.

Now, the main difference between the Indians situation and what Callaway is proposing to do is the Indians stuck with Allen as the closer.  Clearly, that was more in line with Terry Francona‘s thinking than Callaway’s.  What remains to be seen is whether this was the perfect blending of two schools of thought or Francona not going far enough.

Perhaps the reason why Francona not allowing Callaway to fully implement his plan was because we have seen many closers struggle in non-closing roles.  Now, many will point out this is typically in a situation where a closer is just getting work in with their team having a large lead. We have not really seen the situation where a team full of strong relievers with closing experience can come in at any moment and be thrown into a pressure filled situation.

To date, we have seen teams toy with the idea but never truly implement it.  Perhaps, that’s because there’s the theory relievers thrive when they know their role.  Perhaps, that’s because there is value in free agency and arbitration in save totals and relievers are not going to let their manager “steal” money from them.  Perhaps, that’s because managers do not want to put themselves on the line by trying something new.

Whatever the case, the Mets have a manager who is willing to try something different.  It’s a good theory, and he should pursue it.  However, he should not steadfast if it is not working.  And with that, we really have the first true measure of what Callaway can be as a manager.

If nothing else, Callaway will make the 2018 season an interesting one to follow.

Mets Organization Failing Their Prospects

Looking at the different talent evaporators around the sport, many will peg the Mets farm system in the lower third of farm systems. There are a myriad of conflicting and reasonable opinions why this exists.

There is the fact that over the past few seasons, the Mets organization has seen top prospects like Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario graduate from prospect status. Knocking names like these off your lists is going to take a toll on how your farm system is perceived.

There are those like Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, who surmises the Mets have made a series of mistakes in the draft that include drafting Gavin Cecchini over Corey Seager and drafting L.J. Mazzilli over Cody Bellinger.

While either or both of these may be true, there may be an alternate explanation. What if, the Mets are actually drafting the right players, but they are failing their prospects by failing to do what is needed to help cultivate each prospect’s talents to get them to reach their full potential?

Consider for a moment, the difference between Keith Law’s 2017 and 2018 prospect lists. In Law’s 2017 rankings, he had listed Mets prospects Rosario (1), Dominic Smith (29), Thomas Szapucki (60), Robert Gsellman (76), and Justin Dunn(84) in his Top 100. (ESPN Insider). This year? Well, only 2017 first round pick David Peterson made the list. (ESPN Insider).

Now, it is true Rosario, Smith, and Gsellman are no longer considered prospects. It is also true Szapucki and Dunn have dropped off the list. Their dropping off the list does seem to answer the question why the Mets prospects are not developing with way many believed they would.

With respect to Dunn, Law comes close to, but does not quite say the Mets handling of him was a complete disaster. In a conference call discussing his Top 100 prospect list, Law had this to say about Dunn:

They probably pushed him too far to high A just speaking in hindsight, but also there were a lot of issues with his fields of pitch, with his fastball command, with lack of life on the fastball that you almost look — and again, this is all hindsight, but you look and say, nobody caught that? Nobody on the player development side looked and said, well, hey, wait a minute, here are two things we’re going to have to work on in instructional league last year in spring training this year, before sending you out to high A, which is normal for a typical college draftee, but maybe not for him.

Really, it is quite an indictment on the Mets organization to say they completely missed something on a top prospect during the Instructional Leagues, and the team also failed to address the issue during a season in which Dunn would go 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA.

As we saw with Law’s rankings, seasons like this tend to cause evaluators and organizations to begin re-assessing their opinions of certain players. This is not something unique to Dunn.

Certainly, we saw something similar happen with former first round draft pick Kevin Plawecki. Entering the 2015 season, the Mets were excited about him, and when Travis d’Arnaud got hurt in April, they rushed Plawecki to the majors. Over the next few seasons, he would bounce between Triple-A and the majors. In that time, he would never quite progress. That was until last year, when he finally had a prolonged stretch in Triple-A. Judging from his performance last year, that helped him figure things out and help him enter the Mets plans for the 2018 season.

Certainly, the mismanagement of the development of prospects goes further than Dunn and Plawecki. The same could be said for someone like Cecchini, who after two very good years in 2015 and 2016, completely regressed last season, and his status on the 40 man roster is now teetering.

While the Mets handling of prospects like Dunn and Plawecki are instructive. The situation with Szapucki is equally as enlightening.

After dominating opposing batters in his first two professional seasons, Szapucki first appeared to take small step back with Low-A Columbia. Eventually, it was discovered Szapucki had a torn UCL requiring season ending Tommy John surgery.

With that Szapucki joined other promising Mets prospects Jordan Humphreys, who was having a break-out season on the mound, and position player Blake Tiberi in needing the surgery. If only, those were the only season ending surgeries and injuries the Mets suffered in their minor league system last year. Frankly, it has become a pattern, and it’s hindering development, and it is one that has not escaped Law’s attention:

They have had a ton of injuries on the farm, too. I’ve written the Mets’ org report already. I think it goes up on Monday. And I’m struck by how many guys were hurt, are coming back from getting hurt, guys who haven’t come all the way back. Luis Carpiois a good example of a guy who I thought was going to be a pretty good prospect at least, threw out his shoulder, had surgery, and has just not been the same player since he returned. So some of this is health, and I don’t know if that’s player development, the training staff, or just rotten luck.

Really, it goes much further than Szapucki, Humphreys, Tiberi, and Carpio.

Catcher Ali Sanchez has had hand injuries in successive seasons. Desmond Lindsay has had issues staying on the field, and he needed major surgery last year. Jhoan Urena effectively lost two seasons of development time to injuries. Even rising star Peter Alonso has suffered broken bone injuries the last two seasons, which given the Mets current track record, should give everyone pause. It should surprise no one the list goes on and on from there.

Looking at everything, maybe you still conclude the main issue is the graduation of prospects. It’s still possible many believe the real issue is the inability to select the right player. Regardless of your point of view, the one thing that cannot be discounted is this Mets organization is having difficulty keeping players healthy, keeping them on the field, and surrounding them with the things they need to succeed.

What The 2018 Mets Roster Should’ve Looked Like

When Sandy Alderson took over as the Mets General Manager, one of the areas of emphasis was supposed to be building a sustainable farm system that would give the Mets continued success throughout the years.  This, in turn, would prevent the Mets from having to give out those proverbial second generation contracts Alderson purportedly despises giving to players.

Now, in order for that to happen, the team was going to have to not only draft well, but they were going to have to identify international talent.  If the Mets had indeed done well in those efforts, the Mets Opening Day roster would have looked something like this:

C – Travis d’Arnaud; Kevin Plawecki
1B – Dominic Smith
2B – Gavin Cecchini
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Juan Lagares/Brandon Nimmo
RF – Michael Conforto

But as we know it doesn’t.  One of the reasons why is the team has not developed position players as well as the organization, or really anyone would have liked.  If you are not being so understanding, you would say the Mets whiffed on high draft picks by drafting players who are either backups or career minor leaguers.

Look, no one has a perfect draft record, and we should remember this regime did draft Conforto and Michael Fulmer.  The problem there is they traded Fulmer away.  That is something they are reportedly not willing to do with Nimmo despite the fact he is blocked by Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce for the next three years.

With respect to Cecchini and Smith, the Mets have decided at a minimum, neither are ready to start next season in the majors.  This would be easier to swallow had either received a real shot of proving their abilities.  Instead, the Mets will go with broken Adrian Gonzalez and who knows what at second.

Overall, the 2017 Mets are not what Sandy Alderson envisioned what they would be when these players were first drafted.  That’s fair to a certain extent because no one imagined that the Mets would look this way when the team won the pennant in 2015.

Jeff Wilpon Ducked The Media At The Jay Bruce Introductory Press Conference

Look, when a team is introducing a player to the media in a press conference, by its very nature it is a promotional event.  The organization is showing off their player to the fans thereby building excitement among the fan base with the hopes this eventually entices the fans to buy tickets for the season.

However, this is supposed to be a quid pro quo of sorts.  A team like the Mets gets to have more publicity surrounding their acquisition of a player like Jay Bruce, and in turn, the reporters are given an opportunity to ask questions about the team.

We did see that as reporters asked Sandy Alderson an array of questions covering topics like Michael Conforto‘s timetable, the first base situation with Adrian Gonzalez and Dominic Smith, the status of the bullpen, the second base situation, and whether the Mets could add another contract this offseason.

That last topic.  That’s one that could have partially been addressed by ownership, specifically Jeff Wilpon.  As the COO of the Mets, Wilpon would have intimate knowledge of that information.  He also possesses the answer to several other burning questions both reporters and Mets fans want to see answered.

The interesting thing was Jeff Wilpon was at that press conference . . .

. . . but not really,  Right after this photo, Jeff Wilpon got off the stage, and he sat in the front row effectively removing himself from the press conference just as the floor was going to be opened to reporters.

Once again, the Mets deftly controlled the press conference with the questions being granted to the following reporters:

  • Garry Apple, SNY
  • Pete McCarthy, WOR
  • Anthony DiComo, mlb.com
  • Lloyd Carroll, Queens ChronicleNot one question from a major media outlet or newspaper that covers the Mets.  Instead, the Mets directed questions to their television network, the “Radio Home of the Mets,” an MLB reporter, and finally a small local Queens newspaper.  If you have watched enough of these, this has become standard operating procedure for the Mets.

Here’s the best part.  When reviewing the SNY video feed, all reporters are directed to the left of the stage to continue asking questions.  If you pay close enough attention to the video, right at the 20:50 mark, you will see this:

That’s right.  Just as the reporters are told to go left, Jeff heads right.  There is really no other way to describe Jeff’s behavior and the Mets control of the press conference as ownership yet again ducking the media. You are almost left in complete awe of the lengths to which the Wilpons will ensure they do not have to interact with the media.  If they put even a tenth of that effort into the Mets, they would be perennial contenders.

Overall, we as Mets fans can get frustrated about both the lack of transparency from the organization, and how the reporters don’t ask the Wilpons the hard questions that need to be asked.  In reviewing this press conference, we see just how much the Wilpons stonewall the media and the lengths they will go to not be accountable to anyone.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO