Back in 2015, Hansel Robles was a revelation for a Mets bullpen needing an additional arm.
He made some further strides in 2016. After that, he was much worse. What made it so frustrating was his stretches of just absolute dominance.
As we all know, he’d follow that with a complete and utter inability to get an out. Inevitably, he’d be there pointing to the sky again and again and again.
It was the finger point that was the most frustrating. In his mind, that 500 foot blast was a pop up to second.
Part of the frustration really was how despite his talent, he just couldn’t get the results. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying.
Maybe it was too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe it was him ignoring all four and doing his own thing. Who knows with him?
As always with Robles, no one quite knew the answer.
Robles being designated for assignment makes the second time this season the famed pitching gurus failed to get through to a pitcher. The other time was Matt Harvey.
At the moment, the Mets decision to designate Harvey for assignment does not seem to have come back to haunt them even with Harvey showing flashes. It also helps Devin Mesoraco has been much better than the Mets could have ever imagined.
That doesn’t mean it was the right decision to designate Harvey for assignment. It wasn’t.
For proof of that, look no further than Jason Vargas, who is 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP while averaging just over four innings per start. Really, when he takes the mound, the only people he’s fooling is the Mets front office and coaching staff.
This same coaching staff and front office are once again fooling themselves by replacing one of their guys with another AL Central pitcher.
Heading into this season, Chris Beck had a career 6.38 ERA, 1.760 WHIP, and a 5.2 BB/9. To that end, this year is his career year with him posting a 4.18 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, and a 4.2 BB/9.
Despite these being career bests, they’re poor numbers, which is why a very bad White Sox team released him. For some reason, despite trusting their internal talent, the Mets picked him up, and he’s been worse.
And yet, it’s Robles, a guy who has actually performed well in his career and had some glimpses this year, who would be designated for assignment.
It should also be noted Marcos Molina still keeps his spot on the 40 man roster despite his losing his velocity and pitching very poorly this year. In fact, his last start for Binghamton lasted just 3.1 innings. In that start, he allowed 13 runs (10 earned) on 11 hits.
How do you look at either Molina or Beck and decide Robles is the real problem?
Sure, you can be frustrated with Robles and believe he has done more than enough to be designated for assignment. What he hasn’t been is worse than Beck or Molina.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this at all as this front office constantly makes just plain decisions like this all the time. After all, Jose Reyes and Rafael Montero continue to be members of this organization while a score of more talented players have left this organization in their stead.
Much of the game was deja vu back to the previous game.
That really put the Mets behind the right ball despite their breaking out for three runs in the first.
Still, despite falling behind 6-4, the Mets would take the lead with a four run fifth.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two RBI single to give the Mets a 8-6 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, right after the Mets retook the lead, the Rockies took it back with Ryan McMahon hitting a three run homer to give the Rockies a 9-8 lead.
At this point in time, it appeared like this was going to be a classic back-and-forth Coors Field game. It certainly felt that way in the sixth as the Mets loaded the bases with one out and Rockies reliever Harrison Musgrave having lost the strike zone.
In a surprise decision, Callaway tabbed Kevin Plawecki to pinch hit instead of Amed Rosario. Perhaps it was the reliever having lost the strike zone and Callaway wanting a hitter who has a better read of the strike zone.
In any event, the choice was Plawecki, who worked a full count, swung at a borderline pitch which was probably ball four, and he hit into the inning ending double play.
That was it from the Mets. After that, there were no more rallies. With the Rockies scoring a run off Anthony Swarzak in the bottom of the sixth, the final score would be 10-8.
Suddenly, a Mets team who appeared poised to make a little run is now just hoping to earn a split.
Last night, despite the Mets being mired in what was become an absurd slump, the entire Mets team was on the top railing. They were almost willing something to happen.
In the postgame, Mickey Callawaytalked about how much closer the Mets team was. It was a sentiment met with derision or eye rolling.
With the Diamondbacks starting the left-handed Patrick Corbin and with the Mets ineptitude against left-handed pitching, it seemed like the Mets offense was going to have to wait another day to finally break out.
Well, baseball is a funny game because this was the day the Mets offense broke out.
Actually, it wasn’t really the Mets offense. It was really Michael Conforto:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 17, 2018
The homer coming off a LHP, which the Mets told us Confurto could turn hit, gave fans all the more reason for optimism.
It was more than just the three run homer from Conforto. In the sixth, he would also double home Devin Mesoraco.
That increased the Mets lead to 5-1 with the five runs scored being the most amount of runs scored by this Mets team since the McKinley administration.
The fourth run was scored on a Corbin wild pitch in the third. Just so you know the Mets are still the Mets, that wild pitch also put Todd Frazier at second with just one out. The Mets could not get him home.
The five run lead held up because Steven Matz was terrific. He kept the Diamondbacks at bat limiting them to just one run on six hits and one walk through 6.2 innings.
He would get into a bit of trouble in the seventh with Deven Marrero and Daniel Descalso hitting back-to-back one out singles. The second of which was deflected by a diving Dominic Smith, who could not make the play.
The Nick Ahmed grounder up the middle looked like trouble, but Asdrubal Cabrera showed more range than he has in over a fortnight. Cabrera got the ball and flipped it to Amed Rosario out raced Jay to the bag for the final out of the inning.
Believe it or not, it was smooth sailing from there with the Mets pulling out a 5-1 victory.
Game Notes: Gsellman became the first Met to use the Diamondbacks bullpen cart
While any game where the Mets are trying to snap out of this horrendous June skid has its own level of interest, this game had some extra intrigue because the Mets were facing one of the two pitchers they traded in 2015 to obtain Addison Reed.
Well, on this night, it seemed as if the Diamondbacks got a much better return for Reed than the Jamie Callahan, Gerson Bautista, Stephen Nogosek triumvirate the Mets received from the Red Sox at last year’s trade deadline.
Things look good real early for the Mets as Brandon Nimmo hit a first inning homer off of Matt Koch. After that, Koch allowed just a fifth inning single to Dominic Smith that went nowhere before he allowed a Michael Conforto solo shot in the sixth inning.
All told, Koch pitched six innings allowing the two homers while walking one and striking out five. To be fair, with the way the Mets offense is going, we can’t tell if Koch is the one who got away or if a pitcher with a 4.20 ERA entering the game looked good because any semi-competent pitcher can shut down the Mets right now.
Now, the aforementioned Conforto homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2. They were behind because Jason Vargas wasn’t great . . . again.
After getting a lead, he surrendered it almost immediately in the second on a rally started by his first issuing a leadoff walk to John Ryan Murphy and then hitting David Peralta. Now, Peralta made no effort to get out of the way of the ball, a point Mickey Callaway seemed to be chirping about from the dugout, but there’s not point being bitter, right?
Anyway, Murphy came around and scored on an ensuing Ketel Marte single.
Vargas got out of that jam, but he allowed solo shots to Paul Goldschmidt and Peralta in consecutive innings to put the Mets down 3-1.
After his five innings, you could honestly say Vargas kept the Mets in the game. That’s a real accomplishment from where he was to start the season.
By the seventh, the Mets were down a run, and they were still in this game. After 1.2 fine innings from Hansel Robles, Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face a stretch of left-handed Diamondback batters starting with Daniel Descalso.
With two outs and an inherited runner from Robles, Blevins first allowed Descalso to single, and then he hit the left-handed hitting Jon Jay to load the bases.This led to Callaway bringing in Sewald, who is struggling every bit as much as Vargas and Blevins. He proceeded to walk Nick Ahmed to force home a run.
Think about that. Robles was the Mets best reliever of the night, and he is the one charged with a run after Blevins’ and Sewald’s inept performances.
Speaking of poor performances, after Amed Rosario hit a solo shot in the eighth inning to pull the Mets within 4-3, Jacob Rhame came in and allowed solo homers to Peralta and Jake Lamb. At that point, the Mets were down 6-3, and they were well past their quota for runs in a game.
Ultimately, this game amounted to the pitchers Sandy Alderson brought in to help this team completely failing, but sure, let’s all blame Callaway for this team’s performance.
Things got interesting for the Mets in the sixth inning. Very interesting.
After five shutout innings, the Braves pulled Mike Foltynewicz in favor of LHP Jesse Biddle. The Mets got to work with Todd Frazierearning a one out walk. The ensuing batter, Brandon Nimmo, stuck out his elbow, and he was hit by a pitch.
Except, he wasn’t awarded a base because the home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater ruled Nimmo didn’t try to get out of the way of that pitch. Upon review, he was correct.
That didn’t stop Mickey Callawayfrom going absolutely ballistic leading to his first ejection in his managerial career.
In case you were wondering whether this was going to be an offensive breakout, don’t.
Devin Mesoracoripped a ball right at Braves third baseman Johan Camargo, who tagged out the lead footed Cabrera, who was standing next to the bag, before throwing to first to complete the double play.
Considering how Mets starting pitchers haven’t had leads for nearly a week (with the exception of Sunday), you could almost understand Zach Wheelerseemingly not knowing how to handle the situation.
Wheeler’s first pitch in the bottom of the sixth was hit by Freddie Freeman for a game tying solo homer.
What was odd after that was even after Tyler Flowersbarely beat the throw on what was almost a double play grounder, Bruce would nail him at third on a Camargo single. On the play, Frazier fielded the throw and dove back to tag Flowers out.
In a what was impressive base running, Camargo moved to second on the Flowers gaffe.
With two outs and a runner at second, Wheeler couldn’t get out of the inning. Like most of the night, it was a soft single which did him in.
Now, before reflecting on the final score and Wheeler’s final line, consider this – the Mets should have gotten out of that inning down 3-2.
Inciarte took off for second, and Mesoraco made a perfect throw to second. Only problem was Cabrera flat out dropped the ball. What appeared to be a gassed Wheeler walked the next two batters.
What is odd was with the pitcher’s spot due up third that inning, Disarcina didn’t bother double switching Sewald into the game. Considering it was a one run game, at a minimum, it was a curious decision.
It wound up not mattering as Sewald surrendered a grand slam to Ozzie Albies. With the Mets down 7-2, Sewald hit for himself in the top of the seventh because at that point, why not?
Sewald allowed another run in the seventh to make it an 8-2 game. That was the final score of a game the Mets had a lead and were in decent position of winning. Things are getting real bad.
Game Notes: The Mets have scored 14 runs in nine games this month.
In the final game of the Subway Series, Asdrubal Cabrera tweaked one of the myriad of leg injuries he’s been dealing with for over a month now.
Sandy Alderson lauds Cabrera for playing through the injuries saying, “Cabrera! There’s a guy who’s playing. He’s not 100 percent. He’s playing. ‘Oh my god, he needs a day off, he needs a week off.’…He’s playing. Will we lose him at some point? Maybe. Right now, we want to keep putting a winning team on the field.” (Tim Healey, Newsday).
Here’s the thing, playing Cabrera through the injuries and putting a winning team on the field are two things inapposite of one another.
Back on April 25th, Mickey Callaway held Cabrera out of the lineup because the second baseman was experiencing hamstring issues.
At that time, Cabrera was hitting .349/.391/.590, and he looked like an early season MVP candidate for a 15-7 first place Mets team.
After skipping a game, Cabrera would go 0-for-6 in a 13 inning loss to the Cardinals. That was the beginning of a stretch from April 26th to the present where he has hit .247/.287/.448.
It’s not just hit bat. Over the course of the season, Cabrera has been the worst defensive second baseman in baseball with a -10 DRS. While Cabrera has historically been poor at second, it’s also fair to say his leg injuries further hinder his ability to play the field.
Over this stretch, the Mets have gone 13-27. That’s a 109 loss pace.
Now, Cabrera is not the sole cause for this record. Far from it. However, his ability to hit and field is a big reason why.
Playing Cabrera everyday isn’t helping him, and it’s not helping the Mets. It’s time the team calls up Jeff McNeil and let him play second.
Seriously, the worst McNeil can do is not hit and be a butcher in the field. That’s what the Mets are already getting from Cabrera, and we know that’s what Jose Reyes would provide. After all, in the Mets last game, Reyes both failed to step on second and threw the ball away allowing both runners to be safe.
If the Mets are serious about winning and fielding their best team, they need to have Cabrera healthy and playing. At this point, he’s not healthy, and he’s hurting the Mets. It’s time to put him in the disabled list.
With the Mets blowing two games to the Yankees as part of an eight game losing streak, there wasn’t much reason to be optimistic the Mets would pull out a win tonight.
The Yankees were throwing their ace, Luis Severino, and, after a setback, the Mets were without Noah Syndergaard. Making matters worse, during the game, Asdrubal Cabrera tweaked one of the myriad of leg injuries he’s currently suffering leading to Jose Reyes taking over for him at second.
Well, a funny thing happened.
Seth Lugo, who has been terrific all year, not only matched Severino pitch-for-pitch, he was also better.
Emerging from the bullpen, Lugo went much deeper into the game than most expected. Through six innings, Lugo limited the Yankees to just two hits with no Yankee even reaching second base. Additionally, he walked none while striking out eight.
Amazingly, he departed with the lead.
Probably because the entire Yankees team fell asleep at the switch, Reyes hit a two out single in the fifth, which put him on base ahead of Todd Frazier‘s homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 11, 2018
It almost came back to bite the Mets because Reyes is terrible.
Not only did Reyes fail to touch second, but, with Andujar nowhere near him, he threw the ball away. Everyone was safe.
With that, the eight game losing streak is over, and the Yankees were shut out for the first time all year. For this game to mean anything, the Mets will have to build off of this and win the ensuing series against the Braves.
Game Notes: For the second straight game, Cabrera led off and Brandon Nimmo by third.
If you looked at the Mets lineup today, it looked like the lineup you put together when you’re: (1) grasping at straws; (2) overthinking things; or (3) trying to do something different for its own sake:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 9, 2018
As bizarre as the lineup looked, it worked . . . at least in the first.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 10, 2018
From there, the Mets offense reverted back to itself throwing away golden opportunities. That gave Steven Matz a decent lead, but not a big one against a dangerous Yankee lineup.
For a while, Matz kept the Yankees at bay. He did what he needed to do to stymie rallies including picking off Aaron Hicks in the first.
Despite Matz pitching well, it didn’t stop Gleyber Torres from hitting a third inning homer to pull the Yankees to within 3-1.
In the sixth, Matz got himself into trouble by walking Gary Sanchez on five pitches, and then he hung a curve to Miguel Andujar. Suddenly, it’s a tie game, and you’re once again wondering just how the Mets are going to score.
Really, from the Cabrera homer through the sixth, the Mets offense did little. Then, against David Robertson, Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with an opposite field double down the third base line.
Guillorme struck out against a reliever who had reverse splits.
In quite fitting fashion, this game ended with Jose Reyes flying out to end the game. Really, on a night where the Mets had no real bench to rely upon, it made sense there was no better option than Reyes, who we all knew would fail.
Game Notes: Cabrera was ejected an inning after he struck out looking for barking from the dugout. Yoenis Cespedes was pulled from his rehab start.
There isn’t much to say about this team right now.
Zach Wheeler was great shutting out the Orioles over seven innings allowing just three hits and a walk striking out five.
The Mets couldn’t get two on until the seventh, and it was due to a Kevin Plawecki two out double.
Despite Wheeler’s .286 batting average, with how horrid the Mets offense has been Callaway had little choice but to try to get that runner home by pinch hitting Jose Bautista.
In a tough at-bat, where Bautista took some borderline pitches, he walked to load the bases.
Then Amed Rosario had a terrible at-bat striking out on three straight pitches ending the inning.
Worse yet, he took it into the field misplaying a Pedro Alvarez hit into an infield single.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, you got to see the epitome of the Mets offensive ineptitude.
After Brandon Nimmo singled to lead-off the bottom of the eighth, Asdrubal Cabrera went to bunt his way on. Typically, this is a smart baseball play, especially for a player in a slump because the only real downside is you move a runner into scoring position.
That is unless you did what Cabrera did, which was pop the bunt up to the pitcher who could throw it quickly to first to complete the easy double play.
So, there you have it. The Mets limited the worst team in baseball to just three runs in two games, and they got swept because they could only muster one run. Just one.
This has to be rock bottom, right?
Game Notes: Mets are contemplating releasing Jose Reyes but want to do so in a way that honors him because anytime you get a chance to honor a player who threw his wife through a glass door, you just have to do it.
In a scathing article from David Lennon of Newsday set to take Mickey Callaway to task for the Mets recent poor play ultimately concluding that under Callaway’s 57 game tenure as a manager, the Mets are, “A lot of talk, accomplishing nothing.”
Really, it was full of quick barbs and cheap shots like this gem:
So after two more losses, one lousy run scored in the last 24 innings and a pair of Little League-quality blunders in Sunday’s sweep-completing 2-0 loss to the Cubs, we’re wondering what Mickey Callaway has planned next for the Mets.
A how-to seminar on the basics of baseball? A weeklong retreat to restore all of this depleted self-esteem? Maybe a clubhouse visit by Tony Robbins?
This is just emblematic of how Callaway, who is in a no-win situation is now fair game for mocking, ridicule, and blame. What is interesting is these downright insults really overlook what Callaway has accomplished in his brief tenure.
Jacob deGrom has gone to a level we had never seen him pitch. For a Mets organization who looked at Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as enigmas, Callaway has helped turn them into terrific relievers. Speaking of enigmas, the Mets have recently seen Zach Wheeler and Steven Matz turn a corner. It that holds true this rotation will be every bit as formidable as we all hoped it would be.
Offensively, Brandon Nimmo has gone from fourth outfielder to a terrific lead0ff hitter who leads all National League outfielders in OBP and OPS. Amed Rosario has been making continued strides. After beginning his career hitting .245/.275/.371 with a 27.6% strikeout rate, since May 1st, Rosario is an improved .274/.291/.415 with a 16.4% strikeout rate. It may not seem like much, but it’s a stark improvement.
We have also seen the Mets go dumpster diving for players like Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, and Devin Mesoraco. Somehow, these players have been much improved with the Mets than their prior stops, and they have salvaged their MLB careers.
The obvious question from here is if all this is true than why are the Mets 27-30 and in fourth place after such a terrific start?
Much of that answer, i.e. the blame, is attributable to the Mets front office.
Despite time and again facing the same injury issues over and over again, the team AGAIN mishandled a Yoenis Cespedes leg injury, and they are having Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera play poorly through their own injuries. What’s hysterical about this is Sandy Alderson actually utter the words, “Honestly, sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious with how we approach injuries.”
He’s also made a number of blunders with the in-season managing of this roster.
Consider this. After short start, the Mets designated P.J. Conlon in a series of roster moves to help bring up three fresh arms including Scott Copeland. After Copeland pitched 1.1 scoreless in his only appearance, the Mets called up Jose Lobaton and his -0.6 WAR for the intended purpose of allowing Kevin Plawecki and his .198/.282/.288 split against left-handed pitchers at first base to face Mike Montgomery.
Meanwhile, a Mets organization loses Conlon as the Dodgers claimed him, and a Mets organization who has been wringing their hands to find a second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, looked on as Buddy Baumann get lit up for four runs on three hits and two walks in the 14th inning of a game the Cubs had not scored a run in over three hours.
The front office’s decision making gets worse and worse the more you look at it.
For some reason, they insist on keeping Jose Reyes on the roster. This, coupled with the aforementioned Gonzalez and Bautista signings, is emblematic of an organization more willing to trust in done veterans reclaiming their past glory than giving a young player like Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Peter Alonso, or even Gavin Cecchini (before his injury) a chance.
This was one of the reasons why the Mets signed Bruce to a three year deal this offseason. No, this was not insurance against Michael Conforto‘s shoulder. Three year $39 million deals are not that. Rather, this signing showed: (1) the Mets wanted a Cespedes-Conforto-Bruce outfield for the next three years; and (2) the team did not have any faith Nimmo could handle playing everyday at the MLB level on even a limited basis.
Now, the Mets what looks to be an injured $39 million albatross in right, who doesn’t even know to call off a back peddling second baseman with a runner on third.
That’s bad defense, which is something the Mets actively welcome with all of their personnel decisions. Really, the team has spent the past few seasons looking to plug non-center fielders in center while playing players out of position all across the infield.
Despite what the Lennon’s of the world will tell us, the poor defense and lack of basic fundamentals isn’t Callaway’s doing. No, it is the result of an organizational philosophy.
The Bruce signing has such short and long term implications. With his salary, will the Mets bench him instead of Nimmo or Gonzalez when Cespedes comes back healthy. Will the organization let his salaries in future years block Alonso or Dominic Smith at first base? Mostly, will his escalating salaries be another excuse why the team rolls the dice and gives a player like Jason Vargas $8 million instead of just going out and signing the player who really fills a need?
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to attack Callaway. His bullpen management has been suspect at times. Lately, he’s been managing more out of fear than attacking the game to try to get the win. Really, this is part of a learning curve for a first time manager in a new league.
It’s a learning curve that could have been helped by a long time veteran National League manager. Instead, Sandy Alderson thought it best to hire a Gary Disarcina to be the bench coach because who better to help a young first time manager in a new league than a player who has spent his entire playing, front office, and minor league managerial career in the American League?
Really, that’s just one of several examples of how Alderson has set up both Callaway and this entire Mets team to fail in 2018.