The Philadelphia Phillies won Game 1 of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres. They’re now three games away from the World Series.
This is as unexpected a run as you could imagine. First and foremost, one year ago, the Phillies would not be in the postseason. However, with the expansion of the postseason under the new CBA, the Phillies made it, and they’ve made the most of their opportunity.
They also took full advantage of the opportunities presented to them by Brodie Van Wagenen’s ineptitude.
When Van Wagenen was hired by the Mets, Bryce Harper was hitting free agency. Due to a multitude of factors, his market wasn’t as bullish as it nearly should’ve been.
Harper was always complimentary of the Mets pitching staff. He was a player who wanted a large market, and he liked what the Mets had. He could have been a missing piece which took them to another level.
Instead, Van Wagenen opted to trade for his former client Robinson Canó. He fulfilled his client’s wishes and brought him back to New York.
Cano came with a $24 million AAV. For the Mets, that was $20.25 million. Harper signed with the Phillies for a $25 million AAV. In terms of overall AAV, Harper was only making one million more per season.
Now, Harper wasn’t a guarantee for the Mets, especially with the Wilpons. However, this illustrates how the Mets opted to allocate their money.
Cano had a second PED suspension last year while Harper was the NL MVP. This year, Harper was an all-star while Cano was playing his way out of the league. Harper homered in Game 1 of the NLCS giving Zack Wheeler all the run support he needed.
He thought Wheeler only had two good halves with the Mets. His player valuation model which said to get Cano determined Wheeler was going to be overpaid.
Wheeler turned down more lucrative offers to stay local. He wanted to be a Met. He settled on the Phillies at a discount. The Mets just walked away from Wheeler to purposefully get worse.
Since that time, Wheeler was a Cy Young runner up last season, and he was in the top 12 a year before that. He was a first time all-star.
He also won Game 1 of the NLCS pitching seven shutout innings. He has a 1.40 ERA this postseason. He’s doing it all for the Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want him.
Harper and Wheeler led the Phillies to the postseason, and they led them to a Game 1 victory. Both are Phillies because Van Wagenen didn’t want them. That goes double for Wheeler
The Mets loss is the Phillies gain. The good news is the Mets have Steve Cohen now instead of the Wilpons and Van Wagenen. This situation will not happen again, and even if it were to happen, the Mets would have a lot more than Porcello and Wacha to show for it.
Before the sale of the New York Mets to Steve Cohen, you could almost be assured the team would have had heavy interest in Jake Arrieta. Really, this was a play out of their playbook. It was a big name, and they could tout adding a Cy Young winner to the rotation.
We saw it just last offseason. They let Zack Wheeler go to the Philadelphia Phillies unchallenged and chastised him as having two half seasons. They would then promote adding former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello and former NLCS MVP Michael Wacha. It didn’t matter neither pitcher was still in that form, they were names the Mets could tout, and so they did.
Looking at Arrieta, it is hard to argue he is anything more than just a name at this point in his career. Like with Porcello and Wacha, he is far removed from the form he once was.
Since signing with the Phillies, Arrieta has seen his ERA rise in each of the last three seasons while seeing his ERA+ drop to a 90. His WHIP has gotten successively worse while seeing his H/9 and K/BB worsen each season. During his time in Philadelphia, he had a 4.36 ERA, 99 ERA+, and a 4.55 FIP. Based upon what we’ve seen of the soon to be 35 year old pitcher, that is only going to get worse.
Over at Baseball Savant, we see Arrieta has ceased getting swing and misses, and the contact against him has gotten increasingly harder. Batters are having an easier time squaring him up, and his velocity is down. When he was throwing 95 MPH with the Chicago Cubs, he was a true ace. At 92, he’s been a fifth starter on the verge of being a pitcher who may be forced into retirement.
Really, when you look at Arrieta, you have to wonder why the Mets would have interest. Arrieta hasn’t been all that good the past two seasons, and he has been trending downward since that Cy Young season in 2015. Of course, with all of these reasons, you could also understand the Mets may pursue him because they feel like they could build on something.
On that note, Arrieta’ GB/FB rate was back to the levels it was when he won the Cy Young in 2015. He was also unlucky last year with a .333 BABIP. Certainly, if you are the Mets, you can look at the addition of Francisco Lindor and their attempts to build an infield in 2021, and you could certainly talk yourself into it working.
If nothing else, it is a plan which would allow David Peterson to begin the year in Triple-A Syracuse. It allows the team to have to only look to rely on one of Joey Lucchesi or Jordan Yamamoto in the rotation. It is a bridge to when Noah Syndergaard is ready. Based on the likely commitment required to sign him, it is entirely possible it will be easy to cut bait with him should he falter.
On those grounds, you can certainly understand the Mets line of thinking. That said, when there are better and higher upside options available like James Paxton, you do wonder why the Mets would push for Arrieta right now. If the team was still operated by Jeff Wilpon, you would understand, and you could see this coming a mile away.
However, now, this move at this time seems odd. Perhaps, the Mets won’t go this route until the rest of the free agent starting pitching market shakes out. Maybe, they know something we don’t. At this point, it is anyone’s guess. We can only hope they know better and their hedging their bets here will pay off in a way it typically didn’t under Jeff Wilpon.
With reports the sale of the New York Mets being finalized, and with free agency having already begun, Steve Cohen has to hit the ground running. In light of that, here’s a helpful first day to-do list:
1. Have security escort Jeff Wilpon from the building.
2. Officially announce Sandy Alderson re-joining the Mets.
4. Fire Van Wagenen.
6. Call Indians and ask for initial asking price on Francisco Lindor and what pitchers they’d be willing to trade.
7. Have security do a sweep of the building up ensure Wilpon and Van Wagenen have vacated the premises.
8. Give a big raise to all the scouts and front office personnel who handle the draft.
9. Talk with media about plans going forward and to send message out to fans about this being a new era of competitiveness in all areas and accountability.
10. Order Shake Shack and enjoy a first day well done.
As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.
Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.
Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.
In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.
Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.
An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.
By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.
The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.
Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.
Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.
You can’t win games that way.
What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.
Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.
Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.
Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.
The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.
On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.
Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.
In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.
However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.
That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.
Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.
No, the Mets have not been eliminated from the postseason . . . yet. Sadly, even with some things breaking their way, they couldn’t take advantage:
2. Again, putting deGrom up against pitchers not pitching in the NL or AL East is absurd as NL Central and West pitchers face completely different competition.
3. On that note, the level of competition the two pitchers have faced is completely different with Bauer dominating some of the absolute worst offensive teams in the game.
4. You do have to wonder how different things would be with deGrom’s campaign and really this entire Mets season of Wilson Ramos was capable of tagging a guy at home plate.
5. Edwin Diaz finally has more saves than blown saves this year.
6. Mets continue to be the Mets first announcing Michael Conforto was getting a day off for a must win game and then finally admitting he had a hamstring issue.
7. Conforto’s chances of signing an extension increased not just with Steve Cohen buying the Mets, but also with Sandy Alderson returning to the organization.
8. Should Conforto sign an extension, he’s going to knock David Wright off the top of the Mets all-time leaderboards.
9. It’s a shame Conforto broke down and Dominic Smith went in a slump for the final last ditch push. It’s a downright shame no one was really able to pick them up like they picked up the team this season.
10. Between J.D. Davis batting second or third despite his not hitting and Michael Wacha making starts despite his having no business pitching another inning for this team, it’s clear Brodie Van Wagenen decided to make this season about showcasing his acquisitions in the hopes of getting a new job.
11. Steven Matz went from breaking out in the second half last year to a great Spring Training to maybe pitching his way to a non-tender.
12. Matz is a clear example of a guy Jeff Wilpon would instruct dropped from his team with him being shocked the player succeeded away from the team. For some reason, despite this having happened continuously, there is still a contingent of Mets fans who still defend the team on this type of dumb decisions.
13. Ultimately, the juiced ball last year and the abbreviated 60 game season have made it near impossible to have a real evaluation and analysis of players.
14. Speaking of which, it was great to see Pete Alonso remind us how great he can be. The question is if he can be that over a 162 game season without the juiced ball. There are many indicators which suggest he can, but we still don’t know.
15. The Rays showed the Mets all the things this organization has flat out ignored with defense and good base running actually matter, and the end game isn’t to collect a bunch of bats to plug and play regardless of fit.
16. Again, we see in this series Seth Lugo can be a starter. However, the bullpen is a flat out mess without him.
17. Fortunately, the Mets have the deep pockets of Steve Cohen, and the beginnings of the right front office to address not only the bullpen, but also catcher, third, center, and the rotation.
18. It looks like Alderson is going to get his chance to do what he wanted to do when he took over the Mets. Essentially, that’s exactly what the Dodgers did.
19. After these last four games, it’s good riddance to the Wilpons. That’s both with the Mets and the horrendous SNY they created.
20. There’s no more fitting end to the Wilpon era than the team finishing below .500 despite having a top offense, the best pitcher in baseball, and an expanded postseason.
It’s important to remember Michael Wacha was not good in 2019. He had an 89 ERA+ and a 5.61 FIP. Despite this and his shoulder problems, Brodie Van Wagenen went out and brought in this CAA client.
With Wacha having a 63 ERA+ and a 5.03 FIP this year, you’d think it would be an easy decision to keep him in the pen. Instead, he got the ball over better pitchers or pitchers more deserving of an opportunity.
Wacha was incapable of keeping the game tied or getting his first quality start of the season. Those hopes went away when he allowed a two run homer to Randy Arozarena.
Things went from bad do worse when Chasen Shreve, another CAA client , entered the game. He allowed three in the eighth putting the game out of reach, and as a result, putting the Mets outside postseason hopes out of reach.
The Mets rallied for three in the ninth, but all it did was make the 8-2 game look much closer and competitive.
In the end, the Mets lost 8-5. They’re against endured a losing record, and they’re moving closer to having absolutely zero chance to making the postseason.
But hey, Van Wagenen used the opportunity to boost up the value of the players who are former clients and pending free agents. Hopefully for him, it was well worth missing the postseason.
The Mets were blown out by the Orioles 11-2. It happens. The way this happened is not always how these things happen, and someone probably should be fired for this game.
Michael Wacha was terrible again. After allowing four earned over 4.0 innings. That raised his season ERA to 7.50.
This is just the latest example of how bad the Mets rotation is. Including Wacha’s ERA, the Mets starting rotation is now 5.21.
That’s impossibly bad. It’s even worse when you consider Jacob deGrom has been great again with a 1.69 ERA. Despite deGrom’s greatness, the Mets are on pace to have their worst ever starter ERA.
Through 43 games this season, the Mets’ starting ERA is 5.21. That is more than two runs higher than it was during their second-half surge last season, and it would be the highest full-season rotation ERA in club history, sneaking past the 5.18 mark of the ‘62 Mets.
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) September 9, 2020
Remember, this is the same rotation Van Wagenen said was the deepest in baseball. What they’re deep in is anyone’s guess.
To make hatters worse, Robert Gsellman was bad. He was then forced to wear it until he broke.
After a four run fifth, the Mets kept running him back out there. He was out there throwing 76 pitches which was nearly 20 more pitches than his season high. His pitch count would’ve gone higher, but he had to be helped off the field due to an injury.
Just when you thought the Mets couldn’t make things worse, they did. Over this season, Brad Brach has arguably been their best reliever, but he’s been somewhat limited due to the after effects of COVID19.
So, naturally, the Mets wasted him in what was then an 11-1 game. That’s just making a bad situation even worse. We shouldn’t be surprised by this because this is the Mets after all.
Anyway, the Mets were destroyed, and they got a player hurt in the process. Their starting pitching was again exposed. But hey, Jake Marisnick homered, so we’ll probably hear what a great job Van Wagenen has done from all the sycophants.
Game Notes: Jeff McNeil has now homered in three straight games. It’s the second time in his career he’s done that.
When Brodie Van Wagenen took over as GM, the Mets organization had an embarrassment of starting pitching depth. He was gifted a starting rotation which had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Now, the Mets rotation this week was literally posted as deGrom followed by a bunch of TBAs. The reason? The starting pitching depth is gone. Kaput!
For some reason, Van Wagenen thought the old adage you could never have enough pitching didn’t apply to him. For some reason, he actually thought he improved the Mets rotation and depth with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
Someone will undoubtedly argue the Mets pitching staff suffered a number of injuries, and Marcus Stroman opted out. But that completely misses the point. That’s exactly why you need quality depth. That quality depth is long gone.
Now, at the trade deadline, Van Wagenen could’ve looked at this and pursued another starter. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What we do know is not only did he not obtain a starting pitcher, but he would also get rid of one.
Van Wagenen traded Kevin Smith for Baltimore Orioles reliever Miguel Castro. He traded a promising left-handed starting pitcher who continues to improve and defy scouting reports for a reliever with a career 4.94 FIP and 1.409 WHIP.
Yes, Castro is talented reliever for sure, but his skills have yet to translate to tangible Major League success. This is the guy you take a flier on in the offseason. He’s not the player you overpay to get as your big time late inning reliever to help get your over the hump. Castro has not been and is not that guy.
As for Smith, he’s the latest starting pitching prospect Van Wagenen needlessly traded away for pennies on the dollar. Van Wagenen explained it away like Smith was a future fifth starter. That’s not too different from how he was dismissive of Dunn’s and Kay’s abilities before being shown how embarrassingly wrong he was.
In what should hopefully be Van Wagenen’s last trade deadline, he traded away his fourth starting pitching prospect. You could form what would’ve been a good Major League rotation with what Van Wagenen traded.
Instead, the Mets will gave zero starting pitching depth and next to nothing in return for all of these trades.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
That homer got Robert Gsellman off the hook. It’s a good thing because Gsellman didn’t deserve to lose this one.
After allowing the second batter of the game, Luke Voit, to homer, he turned in his best work since returning to the rotation. After that homer, he allowed just three more hits while walking none and striking out four.
The plan was to have Steven Matz piggyback his start, but Matz left the game after one inning with a shoulder injury and may very well land on the IL.
That meant to the Mets bullpen needed to step up again. It really wasn’t quite up to the task.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 29, 2020
Ramos really had no chance to catch Betances’ wild pitch. With that wild pitch, the Mets wouldn’t have another big come from behind win. Instead, they’d be walk-off losers.
On the bright side, Steve Cohen agreed to buy the Mets . . . again. This time it’s for $200 million cheaper. That should allow him to fix all the mistakes Brodie Van Wagenen made which led to losses like this.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 28, 2020
Again, in the second end of the doubleheader, the Mets fell behind the Yankees. However, while David Peterson did struggle in his first start off the IL.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2020
With that, Rosario hit a walk-off homer in Yankee Stadium giving the Mets a 4-3 win and doubleheader sweep, and Jared Hughes picked up his first Mets win. The Mets batted last in this game (but were still technically the away team) due to this game being rescheduled from last week.
As if the doubleheader sweep with both wins coming in dramatic fashion wasn’t enough, it appears Steve Cohen will be buying the Mets. All in all, this is about as good a day as it gets for Mets fans.
Game Notes: Juan Lagares was DFAd to make room for Marisnick. In the doubleheader, Smith was an incredible 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, and RBI.