Michael Conforto

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Toss Out Rotten Fish

From the rumors, the New York Mets are being threatened for National League East supremacy, but then again the Mets dispatched with another opponent. This time it was the Miami Marlins.

1.  It might’ve been Father’s Day Weekend, but Francisco Lindor proved it’s always Mother’s Day. His mom came to the game on Friday, and he hit his first of two homers in the series. After breaking his finger, he seemed understandably off, but this weekend, we saw the real Lindor again.

2.  Taijuan Walker has pitched like an ace since Max Scherzer went down. Over his last six starts,  he’s averaging 6.0 starts with an increasing strikeout rate. This could be one of the best two year deals in Mets history.

3.  The Mets DH situation was a disaster before J.D. Davis got hit on the hand. That could effectively end his season (it did last year), which is going to rob the Mets of a right-handed bat off the bench. And before people start, he wasn’t hitting for power before this hand injury.

4.  It seems the DH spot will now fall to Dominic Smith, who faltered earlier, and/or Daniel Palka, who hasn’t played in the majors since 2019. With respect to Smith, the only hope is he begins hitting again with regular at-bats.

5.  While Mark Vientos continues to be the best possible DH option, from a purely crazy standpoint, you do wonder if Michael Conforto would be available on a minor league deal. After all, Scott Boras has hinted Conforto may be able to hit this season. It would seem a mutually beneficial arrangement even if there’s a 99% chance Conforto doesn’t play this year.

6.  The biggest concern right now is Jeff McNeil‘s hamstring. As Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez pointed out, he tried to play through a similar injury last year and struggled. Hernandez also noted the flight to Houston won’t help matters. Ideally, the Mets can give him a day or two to get healthy.

7.  David Peterson had a much needed good start. That was much needed for him and for the Mets.

8.  The fact Seth Lugo was pitching after his two year old just had surgery and his wife is expecting any day now is just remarkable. Given that context and how great he has been as a Met, we can afford him one bad pitch before freaking out.

9.  Where is it written in stone the Marlins play their very best against the Mets at all times?

10.  Chris Bassitt had a strong start but hit a bump. He is still a part of the solution this season and in the ensuing years.

11. Sandy Alcantara is just that good, and the Marlins have him effectively locked up until 2027. That would be very bad news for the Mets except you know the Marlins will get rid of him well before that.

12. The cavalry seems to be on their way with reports Scherzer could be a week away and James McCann on a rehab assignment.

13. The Mets have effectively shelved Patrick Mazeika, and you have to wonder just how much longer he will be a Met. With every homer from Francisco Alvarez, the chances of his getting designated for assignment increase exponentially because next time there is an injury, Alvarez may very well be called up to stay.

14. The Mets continue to do Josh Lewin dirty. First, he’s replaced by an inexperienced and poor announcer, and then, his podcast is replaced with amateur hour. He and Mets fans deserve much better.

15. Drew Smith is back to being Drew Smith, and as a result, the Mets bullpen is again a strength. That goes double with Adam Ottavino pitching well.

16. Very quietly, Starling Marte keeps getting better and better all season.

17. It’s obvious why we’re not talking about it much, but Pete Alonso‘s defense has really regressed. With the Mets DH options being what they are, you could move Alonso there, but the Mets obviously don’t want to interrupt his Silver Slugger caliber season.

18. Luis Guillorme is just a guy who gets on base and plays great defense. If the Mets cared about that in the past, perhaps they make the postseason prior to this year.

19. On this date last year, the Mets had a 5.5 lead game on the Atlanta Braves. The key differences is that Mets team had a +20 run differential, and this one has a +72. The other key difference is that team lost deGrom, and this one will be getting him back. These are not remotely the same seasons.

20. Interesting to think about, but this upcoming series against the Houston Astros might actually be a World Series preview.

Mets Have A DH Problem

So much for that J.D. Davis hot streak. Just as it seemed like he was going to run away with the DH job, the New York Mets sat him against good Milwaukee Brewers starting pitching, and he is currently in a five games stretch where he is 3-for-13 (.231) with zero extra base hits over his last five games.

Again, looking at the season as a whole, he’s at a 108 wRC+, 1.87 GB/FB, and he rates among the worst players in the majors in Whiff%. In total, he swings and misses a lot, he’s hitting for no power, and the Mets believe they need to shield him from good pitching. All told, this cannot be your DH.

It’s not just a Davis problem. Lately, the Mets have gone with Nick Plummer as the left-handed compliment to Davis. As bad as Davis has been, Plummer has been worse as he’s mired in an 0-for-20 streak.

We have seen Eduardo Escobar DH often this season. Well, he was recently dealing with medical issues, and he’s in his own 0-for-18 streak.

Overall, when you look at the DH position, the Mets as a team have a 83 wRC+. In every way, shape, and form, this is completely unacceptable. A position whose only responsibility is to hit is below average at the plate. It’s just insane.

Yes, there’s also some Robinson Cano in there and some of Dominic Smith‘s troubles. That all said, the Mets DH position still has players who just do not hit enough to justify playing at the position on a daily basis.

Now, you could argue Pete Alonso should DH, especially with his defense slipping entirely. Really, he has been the worst he’s been in his career. However, making that move is a double edged sword because Alonso has been completely locked-in at the plate, and the Mets can ill afford to lose that in the lineup.

This is honestly where Smith was supposed to help. When he wasn’t playing, he could be late inning defense and a credible bat in the lineup in the event of a disaster. He’s hitting in Syracuse (111 wRC+), but short of having a spot to play everyday, the Mets may be ill advised to call him up to languish on the bench again.

So again, what is there to do?

You can call-up Smith to see if he can grab the job again, but he may not be hitting enough yet to do it. You can roll with Davis despite all of his faults and Mets justifiable unwillingness to play him against good pitching. They could give Escobar an extended look, but he can’t hit now, and forget about Plummer.

Maybe Michael Conforto becomes available. As Scott Boras has said Conforto may not be able to play the field this year, but he might be able to hit. It may be worth a minor league deal for the end of the season to see if he can get back to being Conforto. Then again, for many reasons, this ship has probably sailed.

All told, it seems as if Mark Vientos remains the best option for now. If he falters, well, then maybe the Mets return to Smith again (assuming you don’t forever lose him calling up Vientos over him), or they made a trade deadline move. Whatever the case, they can’t keep doing this. Sooner or later, the Mets need to do something.

Mets Trading Jarred Kelenic Remains A Disaster

With Jarred Kelenic and the Seattle Mariners coming to town, many will attempt to re-litigate the shocking trade which sent Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners organization as a part of a trade package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Of course, 2022 performances invite revisionist history here.

This season, Diaz has clearly been the top performer from this trade. Through 14 appearances, he is 1-0 with seven saves, a 1.93 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and a 15.4 K/9. He looks like he’s having a career year, but it’s important to note much of that is due to Jeremy Hefner.

Hefner has diligently worked with Diaz on his mechanics making sure his delivery has been repeatable, and he’s landing with his foot pointed towards home plate. He’s also helped Diaz create more break and spin leading to a 55. Whiff%. Really, it took four years for Diaz to be what the Mets expected him to be.

In many ways, Diaz is not the same pitcher he was in his first three years with the Mets. That’s very good to a certain extent because that Diaz was not the difference maker he was advertised to be.

On that point, it is important to remember the trade to obtain him was a win-now deal for the Wilpons who were nearing being forced to sell the New York Mets to the highest bidder. Really, the deal smelled like a one last shot to try to win a World Series, and ironically, it was the trade that prevented the Mets from winning that World Series.

In 2019, Diaz was dreadful with a career worst 5.59 ERA, 74 ERA+, and 4.51 FIP. He blew seven saves and lost seven games for a Mets team which missed the postseason by three games. Really, Diaz was a big reason why the Mets missed the postseason that year.

Cano might’ve been a bigger reason. Cano was the target as Brodie Van Wagenen sought to bring his former client back to New York as Cano wanted. Cano responded with a career worst season with a 0.6 WAR and a 94 wRC+. This was supposed to be a key bat in the lineup, and Cano was terrible while Van Wagenen ensured Mickey Callaway batted his former client third.

With Cano, it is the gift which keeps on giving. Yes, he had a bounce-back 2020 season, but as we learned, he was using PEDs again. That cost him the 2021 season, and with him able to physically return, it was $40.5 million the Mets did not get to spend.

Instead of keeping Aaron Loup or further addressing the bullpen, the Mets were restricted to Adam Ottavino and Chasen Shreve. Instead of a Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, or Seiya Suzuki, the Mets obtained Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, who have so far underwhelmed this season.

Really, that has been the theme of Cano’s time on the Mets. It’s been the organization wasting resources on him that could have been better spent. The biggest example of that is Zack Wheeler desperately wanted to stay with the Mets, but they couldn’t keep him because the money was going to Cano.

As a result, the Mets dead weight became the Phillies ace. The Wilpons didn’t have any money to spend in the ensuing offseasons, and Steve Cohen has $20.25 million per year he can’t spend on better talent through next season.

There’s also the matter of this season. The Mets completely wasted plate appearances over the first month of the season trying to see what they had in Cano. The answer was nothing, and they were happy to part with him and his onerous contract. However, that came with a consequence with Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis not getting the playing time they needed to succeed this season.

There were some who wanted to defend the trade because the Mets moved “untradeable contracts.” The Mariners had no problem trading Jay Bruce whatsoever. They also traded Anthony Swarzak, who helped the Atlanta Braves win the division.

Also, keep in mind the Mets parted with two Top 100 prospects in Kelenic and Justin Dunn. Certainly, Kelenic has struggled early in his career, and Dunn is dealing with a shoulder injury. Certainly, that is part of a very suspect Mariners player development system where we constantly ask why their prospects never seem to pan out.

However, this is also very much besides the point. Back in the 2018 offseason, that duo could have gotten the Mets anything they wanted. Teams would have been literally lining topping one another to get Kelenic and Dunn.

Remember, this deal came in the same offseason the Miami Marlins traded J.T. Realmuto. Instead, the Mets hastily accepted a closer and an albatross.

That deal cost the Mets the 2019 postseason. It cost them the opportunity to compete in 2020. It cost them the ability to make deadline deals in 2021 because that trade and all of Van Wagenen’s trades cost them valuable prospect depth needed to swing the trades the Mets needed. It was also $40.5 million the Mets did not have to spend on free agents.

It will again impact the Mets at the trade deadline and this ensuring offseason. All told, this deal remains an unmitigated disaster no matter how great Diaz is or how much Kelenic struggles.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Win Fifth Straight Series

Another series and another series win for the New York Mets. That’s five in a row to start the season.

1.  As Starling Marte said, Brandon Nimmo‘s hustle rubs off on other people. That’s what makes this team great. They’re making each other play better and harder.

2.  While the extra inning rule stinks, with Marte’s infield single and Pete Alonso‘s stretch, you can get used to extra inning replays for the Mets.

3.  Marte gave the Mets two wins with his speed. It was the infield single, and then, it was the go-ahead run with the double, stolen base, and error on the throw. We’re seeing he can have an impact while still struggling at the plate.

4.  Seth Lugo is back. He’s throwing strikes, getting spin on his curve, and dominating again.

5.  As we saw with the homer, so is Edwin Diaz. He’s always a mixed bag, so we just have to ride the wave this season.

6.  Tylor Megill shook off a rough start to have a very good start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He may very well be a special pitcher.

7.  David Peterson did not deserve the demotion. He showed he is a Major League caliber pitcher right now, but he’s still seventh on the depth chart with Taijuan Walker set to return. This is a good problem to have for the Mets.

8.  With the rosters shrinking May 1, Trevor Williams is putting himself on the bubble with his struggles. Part of that is Buck Showalter‘s usage of him not allowing him to get into the flow of the season.

9.  In some ways, the Mets biggest hit of the season was the James McCann homer. If he gets going at the plate, this is a truly elite team with the way he has framed this season.

10. There aren’t a lot of positives with Trevor May‘s performance so far, but much of that is explainable. He dealt with arms issues, and Showalter is just asking him to do things he has never been comfortable doing in his career.

11. Showalter needs to stop shoehorning Robinson Cano into the lineup. While he can still contribute some, he is just not an everyday player or semi-regular right now. Other players deserve the playing time.

12. Luis Guillorme has earned his playing time, and he should be getting more. The DH allows to get his bat into the lineup and get rest for the outfielders who have been injury prone in their careers.

13. Mark Canha has cooled off, and he still doesn’t have an extra base hit. His hard hit rates are also concerning as is his poor defense to start the season.

14. While he’s had his moments, Alonso has been mostly poor to start the season. His defense has slipped completely, and he’s swinging at a lot of the zone. In some ways, this is very promising because once he gets going, watch out!

15. The Mets are beating bad teams, which is the key to making the postseason. In fact, that’s basically all they did in 2015, and they came within Terry Collins of winning the World Series that year.

16. It is a real shame Michael Conforto is done for the year. Not only is this costing him a year of his prime, but it is also costing the Mets a draft pick and pool money because Conforto had turned down the qualifying offer.

17. Given the year he had, Conforto probably should’ve accepted the qualifying offer and built back his value. That said, the talk around him rejecting the extension is plain wrong. That was a severely discounted offer anyone would’ve rejected.

18. Noah Syndergaard has been excellent to start the season, and Marcus Stroman has been quite bad. This hasn’t been discussed much because the Mets have been excellent with a very good rotation. That’s something the Wilpons never figured out. Make those decisions but make other ones to justify it.

19. In some ways, the Mets are about to get their real first test of the season with a long flight to play the St. Louis Cardinals on the road. This is a true measuring stick of where they are, especially with the Mets having Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt pitching in the series.

20. The Mets are the only team in baseball with 12 wins. It is a really good time to be a Mets fan right now.

Bold 2022 Mets Predictions

The New York Mets will be led by Buck Showalter as the team sets to try to win their first World Series since 1986. Since this is their 60th season, here are 60 bold predictions for the season.

1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.

2.  Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.

3.  Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.

4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied the award.

5.  Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.

6.  Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.

7.  The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.

8.  Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.

9.  Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.

10.  Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.

11.  Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.

12.  Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.

13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.

14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.

15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.

16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.

17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.

18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.

19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.

20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.

21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.

22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.

23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.

24. So will Eric Chavez.

25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.

26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.

27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.

28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.

29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil Lee.

30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.

31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.

32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.

33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.

34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.

35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.

36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.

37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.

38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.

39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.

40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.

41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.

42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.

43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.

44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.

45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.

46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.

47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.

48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.

49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.

50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.

51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.

52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.

53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).

54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.

55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.

56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.

57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.

58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.

59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.

60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.

Mets Depth Being Tested Before They Play A Game

Well, it didnt’ take long for the New York Mets depth to be tested. Jacob deGrom is out for about half of the season with a stress reaction in his right scapula. Max Scherzer has a hamstring issue. Taijuan Walker has issues with his surgically repaired knee. Brandon Nimmo needs cortisone shots in the neck he injured last season.

Buck Showalter is talking about the Opening Day starter being one of Tylor Megill, David Peterson, or Trevor Williams. Travis Jankowski, Peterson, and Nick Plummer have been put on the taxi squad awaiting the call-up. Without even playing a game, this is far from the situation the Mets thought they would be.

However, this does underscore the job the Mets did this offseason to address their overall depth.

In years past, at least one of Megill or Peterson (;ikely both) would have been guaranteed a rotation spot, and Williams would have been non-tendered. Instead, all three are there to provide innings if needed. More than that, the team still has Jose Butto in the minors. There is depth here allowing the Mets to throw credible Major League starters even in the absence of at least three starting pitchers.

In terms of the outfield, the depth is there to sustain a Nimmo injury. The question is whether the Mets do what needs to be done on that front.

In all honesty, the Mets fourth best outfielder is Jeff McNeil. If Nimmo’s injury is serious enough to necessitate an IL stint, McNeil should shift out to left field allowing the team to see just how much Robinson Cano has in the tank. In some ways, this would be the best test for the team to see what Cano can actually provide to this team.

However, in all likelihood, they will play Dominic Smith in left. On one hand, this underscores just how much the Mets needed Smith and why they were smart not to trade him. On the other hand, Smith isn’t a good left fielder underscoring why the Mets should go out and re-sign Michael Conforto.

Whatever the case, the Mets have versatile players, and they have credible Major League players to plug into the lineup even without 3/5 of their rotation and their starting center fielder. This underscores the good work the team did in the offseason. However, the proof is in the pudding, and we won’t find out just how good of a job the Mets did until we see how it translates on the field.

Michael Conforto Shouldering Difficult Free Agency

The Michael Conforto free agency was always going to be an odd one. There is plenty there with him to say he is ready to resume his All-Star form, but then again, he’s had injury issues, and he did not perform in 2021 as a result of COVID and his ensuing injuries.

Typically speaking, we see players like Conforto either accept the qualifying offer, or we see him signing a one year deal for a good chunk of money. Sometimes, there is just that one team who jumps and gives an offer a player like Conforto can’t turn down.

What is odd is none of that has happened with Conforto. In fact, it would seem as if Conforto has no no market whatsoever this offseason. That is just beyond bizarre for a player who is just 29, has been an All-Star, and appears set to thrive with the impending rules removing the shift.

According to Scott Boras, this is because Conforto hurt his right shoulder while working out in January during the lockout. Earlier in his career, he dislocated his left shoulder. That’s not great.

Getting the first issue out of the way, we probably shouldn’t doubt the shoulder injury reports. After all, Boras isn’t in the business of driving down the market or asking prices for his clients. Reporting about a shoulder injury would do just that for Conforto.

While this could explain the cool market for Conforto now (assuming teams knew), this doesn’t explain why there never seemed to be a market for the outfielder. There were rumors the Colorado Rockies were once interested, but they settled on Kris Bryant. Beyond the Rockies, it doesn’t appear anyone was truly interested.

Again, this is just bizarre. Really, Conforto would help all 30 teams. That goes double with the presence of the DH. Conforto remains a good right fielder who can spell left and center when needed. He is a good hitter who appears set to pick up where he left off in 2020. Well, that was at least until he injured his shoulder.

Again, it would appear a Conforto/Mets reunion makes sense for both sides. Conforto has been a good Met, and the team still needs outfield depth. Hopefully, it gets done because if it doesn’t the Mets are going to need to find real depth, and Conforto is just going to have to shoulder on.

Can Francisco Alvarez Be Juan Soto Or Miguel Cabrera

Back in 2015, nearly everyone was begging Sandy Alderson to call-up Michael Conforto to help a floundering New York Mets offense. Alderson was stubborn in his not being aggressive with prospects until he couldn’t be anymore. Alderson’s concerns were proven unfounded as Conforto had a 133 wRC+ and a 9 DRS in left field.

In reality, some prospects are just Major League ready much earlier than others, and they don’t necessarily need the reps at the upper levels of the minors. As we saw with the Mets, just allowing your best talent to play at the Major League level can pay dividends as Conforto was an important piece of a Mets team which won the 2015 National League pennant.

That’s not something unique to the Mets. In 2013, the then Florida Marlins needed offensive help, so they aggressively called-up Miguel Cabrera who had only played 69 games in Double-A. Cabrera immediately showed he was ready posting a 106 wRC+. He would hit four homers that postseason including one off Roger Clemens in Game 4 of the World Series.

In 2018, the Washington Nationals needed an outfielder, so they called up Juan Soto who had played just eight Double-A games. Like Conforto and Cabrera before him, Soto was ready posting a 146 wRC+. The Nationals would miss the postseason that year, but the following year, Soto posted the second highest WAR among position players on a team who would win the World Series.

That brings us to Francisco Alvarez.

When Alvarez arrived at Spring Training, he declared his goal was to make the Majors this season. That certainly seemed aggressive for a 20 year old player who has yet to play at the Double-A level. Then again, Alvarez is not like just any other minor leaguer. That was very clear when Alvarez hit a monster home run in Spring Training which impressed even Buck Showalter, who has been around the game as long as anyone:

That was a 98.7 MPH fastball Alvarez hit 441 feet to the Clover Field scoreboard. As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, since the inception of StatCast, “ only 14 players have hit a HR at least 440 feet off a FB that was 98+ mph with an exit velocity of 108+ mph.” That puts Alvarez in a group of players which include Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper.

With Harper, we should note he moved out from behind the plate when drafted in an attempt to make it to the majors quicker. Harper would make his MLB debut when he was 19, just one year older than Alvarez would be during the 2022 season.

That’s the sticking point with Alvarez. His bat is there, but it is going to be his ability to catch which will be what allows the Mets to decide to bring him to the majors or keep him in the minors for further development. On that point, Alvarez has made significant strides, and his framing has been much improved this Spring:

One other note here with Alvarez is the Mets are not in a great position at catcher. James McCann had a down year at and behind the plate. Tomas Nido is an elite backstop, but his bat is still lacking. Patrick Mazeika is fine depth, but like Nido, he is not much of a hitter.

Should McCann falter or suffer an injury, there is going to be a clear path for Alvarez to get to the majors in short order. Ultimately, his ability to get there is going to be dictated by his continued development as a catcher as well as Alderson and the front office being willing to take the risk like they did in 2015. If everything aligns, we may well see Alvarez become an important piece for a Mets team who can contend for a World Series.

 

Mets Roster Still Feels Very Incomplete

The New York Mets have the rotation which can win them a World Series. That goes double when the top of your rotation is Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. That said, this is a roster which still needs help.

The outfield is more than set with Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, and Mark Canha. However, they are not a trio who historically lasts a season. That is going to leave the team shallow for good chunks of the season just hoping Khalil Lee figures it out or Nick Plummer can prove last season was him making his march to the majors.

The infield is also set, but that could be a problem as well. Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor seem to be well past their issues, and they promise to be an elite double play combination on the field and at the plate. Pete Alonso made strides defensively and has likely dedicated himself to be even better. However, Eduardo Escobar has always been a poor third baseman, and now, he is going to be asked to play there everyday.

The catching situation is a bit of a mess. James McCann regressed in all areas of his game last season. Unless he starts hitting or framing better, the Mets are going to have to try to pivot to Tomas Nido depsite McCann’s big contract. On that note, Nido remains elite defensively, but he still has issues at the plate.

Looking at the bench, Dominic Smith is a first baseman, and J.D. Davis has no position, which admittedly is much less of an issue with the DH. Robinson Cano has the contract and bat to justify playing everyday, but that is only if he is Cano. Really, at this point, no one knows if he can, but you have to assume with the backing of Buck Showalter he just might get the opportunity to prove he still is.

Luis Guillorme is a great defender who will struggle to find playing time. His pinch hitting ability has also been neutralized with the universal DH. Fortunately, he does seem to finally have a believer in what he brings to a team in Showalter.

Honestly, the concerns over the bullpen is muchado about nothing. Edwin Diaz can close even if he’s not the most reliable. Trevor May is a very good late inning reliever. With the injury concerns past him, Seth Lugo can get back to being Lugo. Drew Smith is on the verge of a breakout. Miguel Castro is good against left-handed batters, and Adam Ottavino gives a different look.

With all the pitching the Mets have a great mix and actual depth which goes down to the Triple-A level. It is something they have not had in quite some time. However, as noted, from a position player standpoint, this team needs some real help. It’s another reminder Michael Conforto is still a free agent, and maybe, it’s a call for one of the players in the organization to step forward and claim a spot.

The Mets need that to happen because the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers continue attacking this offseason looking to push towards winning the 2022 World Series. The Mets have the pitching to get there, but now , they really need to make sure they have everything else.

Mets Still Need Michael Conforto

The New York Mets have done a lot of work this offseason, and they have transformed their team. The Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt additions have made the rotation deeper, and with Jacob deGrom atop the rotation, the Mets are going to be extremely tough to beat.

The lineup was retooled with Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, and Starling Marte. Despite that, even with the return of Robinson Cano from his suspension, the Mets likely find themselves one player short from being a real complete team. That player is Michael Conforto.

As detailed first on the Simply Amazin podcast, the Mets outfield really does remain a question mark. We got the first glimpse of that when Marte reporting to Spring Training with a strained oblique. For as good as he is, Marte has played over 132 games in a season once since 2016.

Brandon Nimmo presents a similar problem. Nimmo is arguably the Mets best hitter, and he showed the ability to be a good center fielder in 2021. However, he carries the same injury problems as Marte. In 2018, Nimmo played 140 games. That is his career best with 92 games being his second highest. Like Marte, you can’t trust Nimmo to stay on the field and be healthy for 162 games.

Canha played 141 games last season. That was a career high with his previous career high being 126. Canha is also going to be 33, and he has shown real signs of decline in his career. When healthy, this is a good outfield, but they’re not always healthy, and at their ages, there is some risk with Marte and Canha in decline.

This is where the universal DH can help the Mets. Instead of signing a player like Kyle Schwarber to be the DH, using it for Pete Alonso to get Dominic Smith to play first, trying Cano, or really any other iteration, the Mets could sign Conforto and use the DH to rotate between these outfielders to keep them all fresh and healthy.

With Conforto, you still have a player in his prime, and when healthy, Conforto is a great hitter and defender. Yes, Conforto had a down 2021, but that was in part due to his COVID infection and ensuing injuries. Despite that, Conforto still had a 118 wRC+ in the second half. Again, he showed us he can still hit.

This is also a player who has not only been a leader for the Mets, but he has also shown he can handle New York. That is something which gets lost in the shuffle sometimes. Conforto has seen it all with the Mets, and he has been a player with no controversy, emerged as a leader, and has been an All-Star. He knows what it’s like to play on the biggest stage in the biggest city in the world.

Believe it or not, even with all the moves to move on from Conforto, this roster is likely a left-handed batter short. They’re also an everyday outfielder short. Really, when you break it all down, they are a Michael Conforto short. Luckily for them, he’s still out there giving the Mets the chance to bring him back and let him lead the team to the World Series.