Mickey Callaway

Cecchini’s Injury Cost Him More Than The Season

With Jeff McNeil hitting .300/.417/.500 in his first 14 games in the Major Leagues, Mickey Callaway said of evaluating the second baseman, “Is this guy going to be a kid we might not have to go find a second baseman over the winter? That’s where we’re at right now.”  Seeing how McNeil was coming off three straight injury riddled seasons and how the team made every excuse to keep him in the minors this season, McNeil’s even being considered for the 2019 second base job is quite startling.

It’s all the more startling when you consider if things had been different, McNeil may never have received this opportunity.

Coming off a terrible 2017 season, former first round draft pick Gavin Cecchini set out to rededicate himself and to improve himself in each and every aspect of his game.  Overall, the goal was for the Mets to give him more than just a cup of coffee in the majors.  The next time, he wanted to stick.

As Cecchini noted in an interview with Abbey Mastracco of nj.com, he sought out to improve every aspect of his game.  This meant doing work with Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler to not only change his stance and bat angle, but he would begin studying video.  Cecchini also spent time improving his physique, and he began talking about trying to steal more bases.  Really, he was turning over every stone to become a better baseball player.  Cecchini would describe the result of those efforts:

It feels so strong, like the ball is just exploding off my bat. I never felt the type of pop and power that I have no before. Yeah, I’ve gotten stronger, I gained 15 pounds, but still, the ball is just, I can really tell that my body is always in a good position to hit and the ball is just exploding off my bat.

His efforts paid immediate dividends with him getting noticed during Spring Training, but given the Mets infield depth already set, he would begin the season in Triple-A.  With his Spring, and the health issues on the Mets roster, Cecchini looked to be on the verge of getting a shot at a call-up in the event his new and improved approach translated to regular season success.

It did.

Through 30 games, Cecchini was hitting .294/.342/.468 with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, and nine RBI.  His .174 ISO was the best of his minor league career.  While stats can admittedly be inflated in the Pacific Coast League, his 110 wRC+ indicates he was an above average hitter for the league.

All told, Cecchini was doing everything he needed to do to earn another call-up.  All he needed was a chance.

Ironically, while he was waiting for a member of the Major League roster to get injured for him to get a chance, it would be Cecchini who would be the one to get injured.

On May 9, Cecchini would foul a ball off his foot, fall to the ground, and he would need assistance to get off of the field.  Initially, he sat out some games while he did some work on the side.  The hope he would have a quick return quickly faded as Cecchini was sent to New York to have his foot evaluated by a specialist, who fitted him with the dreaded walking boot.

While the walking boot has been removed, Cecchini remains unable to resume baseball activities.  Last month, Las Vegas manager Tony DeFrancesco indicated Cecchini is feeling a tear in his foot.

Ultimately, this likely means Cecchini is done for the year.  After that is anyone’s guess.

While Cecchini has been unable to play, the Mets have seen Todd Frazier make multiple trips to the disabled list.  Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Phillies.  Amed Rosario has struggled leading the team to sit him multiple days a week.  Long story short, the opportunities for Cecchini to prove himself would have been present.

Instead, those chances went to Luis Guillorme and McNeil.  As noted by Callaway, McNeil has at least played well enough to merit consideration for being the Mets 2019 second baseman.  Where Cecchini will be at that point is anyone’s guess.

Reyes Should Make Mets Fans Reevaluate Their Fandom

When you go team-by-team across Major League Baseball, players who were supposedly signed to be the proverbial 25th man do not serve as a constant distraction.  In the occasions that player becomes a distraction, they are cut.  However, most teams are not the New York Mets, and most players are not Jose Reyes.

It was just two days ago, Mickey Callaway finally had to answer the question about how much ownership’s interference has led to Callaway playing Reyes as frequently as he has.  Naturally, no one believed Callaway when he said there wasn’t any interference.  Of course, no one believes that because Reyes’ play was precipitated by his going public with his complaints.

When speaking to Matt Ehalt of nj.com, Reyes had the audacity to say, “”I believe in what I can do.  But it’s hard for me if there isn’t opportunity out there.”

Note, Reyes was signed to be a utility infielder, one who refused to get reps in the outfield during Spring Training which could have opened the door for more at-bats during the season.

And just so Reyes is aware, the last guy on the bench plays very sparingly, especially on good teams.  In 1999, Luis Lopez played 68 games, and in 2000, he would play in 78.  His former teammate, Julio Franco, started just 25 games for the 2006 Mets.

The difference between Reyes and those and many other players have been they learned how to handle the role, and they did it gracefully. More than that, they were productive.

Once again, Reyes has been just about one of the worst players in baseball.  Really, you have to spend a significant amount of time to find what he does well.

Reyes has a -0.8 WAR, 52 wRC+, and a -4 DRS in the field.  Over the last two years, Reyes has hit .231/.301/.380 with an 83 wRC+, and -1.2 WAR.  The Mets are actually paying $2 million for this.

By contrast, the Mets opted to nontender Eric Campbell a contract.  With respect to Campbell, he was a .221/.312/.311 hitter in three years with the Mets with an 80 wRC+ and -0.5 WAR.  Defensively, he was a 0 DRS, and he was willing to play every position in the field.

Bascially, Reyes has been no better than Campbell, a guy who struggled in Japan last year and is playing in Triple-A this season.  By contrast, Reyes is not only takingHea up a spot on a Major League roster, he is demanding and receiving playing time.

One of the reasons why is his ties to ownership.  Yes, Ehalt’s article noted Reyes didn’t speak with Jeff Wilpon or Sandy Alderson.  Of course, that made the failure to mention Fred Wilpon all the more glaring.  It is something Howard Megdal addressed in his Deadspin article about how often the Wilpons are around:

Oh yeah, this year, all the time,” Reyes said, when asked how often owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon are in the clubhouse and around the team. “They come here a lot. Jeff was here yesterday. Fred is here all the time.

That’s no small thing especially in light of how Reyes has seen increasing playing time he has not merited.  It isn’t just fans who feel that way, it’s people within the Mets organization.  As Megdal reported, “Pro scouting advised his removal from the roster a long time ago.”

Ultimately, that leaves us with the question, why is Reyes here?

In 2016, we knew the answer was because the Wilpons didn’t care enough about how severely Reyes beat his wife.  David Wright was done for the year, and his replacements weren’t cutting it.  The team wanted to win, so they sold their soul to host the Wild Card Game.

In 2017, the selling point was Reyes performed admirably done the stretch, and the team needed insurance for Wright’s back.

In 2017, Reyes was absolutely terrible, and the team insisting on trying to get him going was one of the more prominent reasons why that season fell apart.  Really, Reyes did not hit well until September where he went on a tear.  Of course, that was too little way too late.

Despite Reyes being terrible, he was back this season.  With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, he was going to be a bench piece.  With his September, he was supposed to be much better this year.  More than anything, he was purportedly brought back to mentor Amed Rosario.

On the Rosario front, he has been much worse this year than he was last year.  In 2017, he was a -0.2 WAR player with a 74 wRC+ and a -1 DRS.  This season, Rosario is a -1.0 WAR with a 68 wRC+ and a -16 DRS.  Seeing his play this year, the Mets are now contemplating him being a center fielder.

Seeing Rosario’s play, it leads you to ask the question, “How exactly is Reyes mentoring Rosario?”

On that front, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post said, “He’s not mentoring as much as you think.”

If we sum this all up, with Jose Reyes, the Mets have a player, who:

  1. Can’t hit
  2. Can’t field
  3. Gripes publicly
  4. Is not mentoring younger players
  5. Is not worthy of a spot on an MLB roster

That’s what we definitively know.  Based upon reports, we can also surmise he’s undermining a manager by using his influence with ownership.

That last point is important because Reyes has now gone public in saying he wants to come back.  For some reason his draw to ownership is such that coming off a horrid 2017 season, the team not only brought him back, but they gave him $2 million when most teams wouldn’t even give him a minor league contract.

In all seriousness, if Reyes is back with the Mets in 2019, even on a minor league deal, it is time for everyone to reevaluate their support for this Mets franchise.

Reyes beating his wife wasn’t enough to keep him away.  Reyes being a bad player wasn’t enough to keep him away.  Reyes not mentoring the player he was supposed to be mentoring while playing terribly has not been enough to keep him away.

Really, the only thing that ever separated the Mets and Reyes was money because back in 2010, when it came time to pay him, the Wilpons didn’t so much as speak with Reyes.

However, now that he’s a bad, cheap, and wife beating baseball player, this organization cannot have enough of him. Really, it is past the breaking point of how ridiculous this all is.  If he is back, how can anyone logically support this franchise?

Unfortunately, fandom isn’t logical, and for that reason, I know I will still be a Mets fans in 2019.  That said, my enthusiasm for the team will take another significant hit much like it took a significant hit in 2016.  At some point, there is going to be one hit too many, and at that point, who knows?

Really, Reyes is exactly how you lose a passionate fan base.  You turn people off because you tell people you have no issue with domestic violence.  You turn people off because you build a team on the cheap instead of properly investing in a winning core and have a payroll commensurate with your market size.  You turn people off because despite this player dragging your franchise down, you feel some devotion to him  you didn’t have back when he was a good player.

So yes, I’ll still be there in 2019 even if Reyes is.  I just won’t be as invested.  To that end, I really hope Reyes is worth turning away passionate fans for over 30 years for this player.  Something tells me it isn’t, and worse yet, the Wilpons don’t really care.

Mets Bullpen Holds On

With the Mets continue to struggle, Homer Bailey, who entered the game with a 7.22 ERA against the Mets, was a sight for sore eyes.

The Mets quickly went to work against Bailey with three first inning runs highlighted by birthday boy Wilmer Flores opening the scoring with an RBI single.

Overall, it was a really good birthday for Wilmer. He would go 3-for-4 with a run, two RBI, and a HBP. As noted during the telecast, Flores was one of 14 players with three singles and a HBP on his birthday. Two of the other players were Lou Gehrig and Shoeless Joe.

That 3-0 first inning Mets lead grew to 6-0 in the strength of another Flores RBI single, and homers by Kevin Plawecki and Jeff McNeil.

That McNeil homer was absolutely crushed going way up the Pepsi Porch:

(Yes, it’s the Coke Corner now, but the Pepsi Porch sounds better).

That 6-0 lead was looking very safe with Noah Syndergaard dominating the Reds. That was until the seventh.

With one out, Syndergaard plunked consecutive batters. The Preston Tucker one really must’ve been bad as he was checked on by the trainers multiple times, and he could score from second on a Billy Hamilton single, and that’s even with Brandon Nimmo overrunning the ball in right.

Tucker would score on a Jose Peraza single which chase Syndergaard.

In a pleasant surprise, Mickey Callaway initially went to Bobby Wahl in the bases loaded one out situation. Given the Mets record, this is exactly what the team needs to be doing.

Wahl started by throwing three straight balls to Joey Votto. To his credit, Wahl battled back into the count getting two quick strikes. After Votto fouled off two, Wahl walked in a run making it 6-2 Mets.

Wahl rebounded by striking out Scooter Gennett on a 3-2 pitch.

After a tough couple of at-bats, and with Plawecki saving Wahl’s bacon a few times by blocking balls in the dirt, Callaway went to Robert Gsellman.

Gsellman would allow a two RBI single to Eugenio Suarez before getting out of that inning and pitching a perfect eighth.

In a surprise, Jerry Blevins pitched the ninth, and he recorded his first save of the season. In what has simply been a goofy year, Blevins has a start and a save this year.

Overall, the Mets won 6-4 in a game where we saw some good things from youngish players who could be pieces next year. That’s a pretty good day for the 2018 Mets.

Game Notes: Mets had a tribute video for Matt Harvey before the game. Luis Guillorme had an infield single in the eighth. With that hit, Guillorme extended his MLB best 50 at-bats without a strikeout.

Calm Down on the Callaway Criticism

In yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves, people had a field day criticizing manager Mickey Callaway for the perceived errors the first time manager made.  Of course, all these criticisms first ignored how the Mets lost because the Braves at that much better, especially over this injury ravaged Mets team.  Moreover, the perceived errors were not really errors in and of themselves:

Error No.1 – The Starting Lineup

Considering how when he had the appearance of autonomy, Callaway buried Jose Reyes on the bench, we can see he lost some of his control, especially after Reyes complained publicly through the press.  Overall, Reyes is in the lineup because ownership wants him there (and fans won’t boo him like he deserves).  As for Brandon Nimmo, he’s been scuffling lately, and he could probably use a day off.

Error No. 2 – Going Too Long with Oswalt

Entering the seventh inning yesterday, Corey Oswalt was dealing.  At that point, he had allowed just one earned on five hits with no walks and four strikeouts.  He was only at 75 pitches, and he had just made fairly quick work of the Braves in the sixth inning.  It was the bottom of the lineup, and he was due up second.

Considering how well he was pitching, how well he has pitched, and this being a period to evaluate players, the mistake would have been pulling Oswalt.  He should have started that inning.  It’s just unfortunate he gave up the two run homer to Ender Inciarte to lose the lead.

Error No. 3 – Double Switching Nimmo into the Game

Looking at the Mets bench, the player you most wanted up in the bottom of the seventh was Nimmo.  If you are going to burn a bench player, you might as well move the pitcher’s spot as far away as possible to at least give yourself the chance to let Paul Sewald pitch more than just the end of the seventh.

Ultimately, do we really care if it mean Austin Jackson and not Jose Bautista came out of that game?  Sure, Jackson is hitting better, but it’s Bautista who you are showcasing in the hopes he snaps out of this funk and once again becomes a trade piece.

Error No. 4 – Not Waiting for the Pinch Hitter to be Announced

Before criticizing Callaway on this one, ask yourself one key question: Who would you rather face?  Ryan Flaherty, a career .218/.288/.350 hitter or Adam Duvall, a former All Star with two 30 home run seasons under his belt?  If you have a brain cell remaining, it’s Flaherty every single day of the week.

Well, Callaway checked to make sure Duvall wasn’t announced, and he went with Sewald over Jerry Blevins, who was warming, to enter the game.  By doing that, Callaway helped pressure Brian Snitker to put up the far worse hitter.

Seriously, how is that a bad thing?

As for the narrative spewed on SNY, it’s false.  Just completely false.

This is the National League.  A manager is not going to burn two hitters in a tie game in the seventh inning.  You don’t have that luxury.  Knowing that, Callaway was proactive and got the matchup he wanted.  Really, Mets fans should be happy he had the foresight to say he wanted to face Flaherty over Duvall.

And with Callaway, we know this is a strategy he likes to utilize.  After all, this is not the first time he has done it, and with this happening two times, we can expect to see this happen again.  That’s a good thing.

As an aside, let’s remember the thoughts each of the people criticizing Callaway have had:

Maybe we should pump the brakes on taking what this group says as gospel and look for them more for entertainment.

Also, it should be noted, doing it that way allowed Callaway let Sewald face the pinch hitter an Ronald Acuna before going to Blevins for the left-handed Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Nick Markakis.

Error No. 5 – Double Switching McNeil out of the Game

The Jeff McNeil decision is a little tricky.  On the one hand, you want him to get as many reps as he possibly can in the field and at the plate.  Yes, his turn in the lineup did come up in the ninth, but it was really unlikely to happen.  To that extent, double switching him out to get some length from Seth Lugo did make sense on paper.

Of course, the real anger here was Reyes stayed in the lineup.  That’s understandable, but remember this is a player being not just forced on the manager, but also into the lineup.  Reyes’ strangehold is such the Mets are challenging plays where he is clearly out because Reyes demands it:

Summation

During the game, Callaway showed he was a guy who was balancing both playing the guys he is told to play while trying to develop young players and winning games.  It’s unfortunate Oswalt couldn’t get an out in the seventh, and it’s a shame Tyler Bashlor gave up the game winning homer in the 10th.

When it comes to Bashlor, there’s your areas of criticism.  Callaway is still feeling his way through bullpen management, and even now, he’s still leaning on veteran arms like Lugo over ones like Bashlor.

As for the other decisions?  Give him credit for being willing to buck trends and try to dictate match-ups he wants.  Allow him to grow on the job and learn from his mistakes, but admit this wasn’t one of them.  Overall, remember the level of interference he has.

Ultimately, remember this is a guy who gets his guys to play.  In this three game set, the Mets went toe-to-toe with a much better Braves team, and they nearly took the series.  Give credit where it is due.

More importantly, don’t distract from the real problem with the Mets – ownership is not spending and is putting an inferior product on the field.

Game Notes: Once again, Luis Guillorme did not get into the game.  Part of the reason being is the Mets have said they do not see him as more than a pinch hitter or late inning replacement.  Instead, Reyes played the whole game while Todd Frazier, who originally did not start because he was just coming off the disabled list, came on late shifting Reyes to second.

Mets Fans Should Not Want Alonso Called Up

Last night’s starting lineup had Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Austin Jackson, and Devin Mesoraco in it while Wilmer Flores, Luis Guillorme, Jeff McNeil, and Kevin Plawecki sat.

This isn’t really an anomaly as the aforementioned 30+ year old veterans on expiring deals have been getting regular playing time over the younger players.

Earlier this season, Dominic Smith was up with the Mets for a 31 game stretch. The 23 year old former first round pick started in just 16 of those games. During this time, Mickey Callaway described Smith as a bench player.

That’s better than what Guillorme got. Despite his not getting a chance to ever really prove himself, he was described as a pinch hitter and late inning replacement who should not be getting starts the rest of the year. Naturally, this was said on a day Reyes got a start at second.

Seeing how the Mets don’t play the young players when they’re here on how they seemingly go out of their way to disparage those players, as a fan, ask yourself why you would want Peter Alonso called up right now.

Do you want to see him on the bench behind Bautista, or in the event be actually does manage to return this year, Jay Bruce?

Do you want to see him get benched for failing to scoop out a Reyes throw in the dirt leading to his eventual (punishment) benching?

Do you want to see him sit and have the team refer to him as a late inning power threat off the bench?

Judging from what we’ve seen this year and the last, we know that’s what’s going to happen to Alonso.

With that in mind, again ask yourself, do you really want to see the Mets call up Alonso this year?

deGrom Has Off Night By His Standards And Loses

Tonight, Jacob deGrom pitched eight innings allowing just two earned on six hits. He struck out nine and walked one.

Believe it or not, this outing increased his ERA from 1.82 to 1.85. He lowered his K/9 from 10.7 to 10.6.

Put another way, deGrom has been so great this season that this qualifies as an off night for him.

He did his part to offset his “poor” pitching by driving home a run. That would be one of the Mets only two hits on the night.

To make matters worse, it’s not even like the Mets lost with the young players either:

  • You could almost understand playing the veterans to get deGrom a win, but it hasn’t worked so far this season. In fact, deGrom is the only pitcher in MLB history with a sub 2.00 ERA after 20 starts with fewer than seven wins.
  • Well, he doesn’t have seven wins. He’s stuck at five with seven losses.
  • As great as deGrom is is as bad as the Mets are. We are well past the point of ridiculous. This better not cost deGrom the Cy Young.
  • Game Notes: Before the game, Mickey Callaway said the Mets organization views Guillorme, a player they added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, as a pinch hitter and late inning defensive replacement. He said this on a day the Mets started Reyes at second.
  • Wheeler Pitching Like He Wants To Get Traded

    Zack Wheeler took to the mound three years to the date he and Wilmer Flores were almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Carlos Gomez. While we got to see Flores’ reaction to the trade, we never did quite see Wheeler’s reaction.

    At the time, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery; a result of him being diagnosed with a torn UCL on the eve what would be a magical 2015 season.  Wheeler would sit down with Sandy Alderson to tell him he didn’t want to leave.  He wanted to be a part of this team and whatever they could do next.

    Even in this lost season, Wheeler has consistently maintained he wants to be a Met.

    Well, if Wheeler really wants to be a Met, then he needs to stop pitching this well as Major League Baseball heads towards the trade deadline.

    Wheeler completed dominated a Pirates team in the thick of the Wild Card race.

    Wheeler would put on a show pitching six scoreless against a Pirates team in the Wild Card race.  He would pitch six scoreless in an all around dominant effort with him walking out just one batter and striking out seven.

    With the Mets giving him Jacob deGrom like run support, Wheeler would take matters into his own hands.

    After a Luis Guillorme two out single, Wheeler would double him home to give him a 1-0 lead. This would make the second straight game he has hit a double, which would make him a much hitter than Jose Reyes:

    In the top of the seventh, Mickey Callaway would have a decision to make.  The Mets had runners on second and third with two outs and Wheeler’s spot coming up.  Even with Wheeler being one of the better hitters in the lineup, Callaway opted to go with Michael Conforto.

    Conforto would not start the game because he jammed his thumb.  Even with the jammed thumb, the Pirates were scared enough to intentionally walk him to face Amed Rosario.  Rosario didn’t come through, but he Mets bullpen would.

    First, Seth Lugo pitched two scoreless before giving the ball to Anthony Swarzak, who converted his second save chance with the Mets.  With respect to Swarzak, he’s been much better since Jeurys Familia was traded.  There may be any number of factors, including his getting fully healthy and his making adjustments.  Whatever the case, he’s looked and been dominant, giving the Mets a real weapon in the ninth inning.

    But the story was Wheeler, who for the first time in his career, has won three consecutive starts.  In those games, he has a 2.61 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, and a 4.25 K/BB ratio.  This has left the Mets with a dilemma.  Do you keep him and have him take a step further forward next year, or do you cash in now?

    Given how he wants to be here, and how he’s pitching, it may just make sense to keep him.

    Game Notes:  With the split, this marks the first time the Mets did not lose consecutive series since May 15 – 20 when they split a two game series with the Blue Jays and swept the Diamondbacks.

    Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

    In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

    As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

    The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

    It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

    Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

    After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

    Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

    While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

    The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

    Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

    He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

    The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

    Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

    Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

    For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

    Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

    And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

    Mets Young Bullpen No Relief

    Heading into this series, Mickey Callaway said how he wanted to get a better look at his younger relievers and put them in higher pressure spots. With Jason Vargas starting for the Mets, you knew today was going to be the day.

    That was even the case with Michael Conforto hitting a first inning three run homer.

    Vargas would get through the first unscathed, but he would allow David Freese to hit a two run homer. This would be the first two of the five runs Freese knocked in on the day.

    While Vargas somehow got out of a fourth inning bases loaded jam, Callaway would lift him after he issued a one out walk to Jordan Luplow. At that point, Vargas had already thrown 84 pitches, and the Pirates were about to go through the lineup a third time.

    First up was Seth Lugo, who wasn’t as sharp as he’s been all season. After loading the bases, he allowed a two out two RBI single to Freese to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead.

    One of the two runs were charged to Vargas, who somehow lowered his ERA after allowing three in 4.1 innings. His season ERA is now 8.13.

    After his two-thirds of an inning, the Mets got him off the hook in the sixth in what was a rally that most fell short.

    After back-to-back walks to Conforto and Jose Bautista, Jeff McNeil laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, which after a Edgar Santana error, loaded the bases with no outs.

    Kevin Plawecki struck out, Jose Reyes lined out, and Phillip Evans grounded out.

    Fortunately, the Mets would inadvertently score on the Reyes line out. On the play, Conforto faked down the line leading to Luplow trying the ball nowhere near home. As it rattled around the backstop, Conforto did score.

    In the bottom of the inning, Tyler Bashlor would get himself into trouble by loading the bases, partially due to him walking two batters. Bashlor got out of the jam by getting Josh Harrison to hit into an inning ending double play.

    After that, Bashlor would pitch a scoreless seventh.

    Jacob Rhame struck out two in a scoreless eighth leaving it up to Tim Peterson to get the Mets into extra innings.

    Harrison led off with an infield single. Amed Rosario made an incredible play to stop the ball, but he couldn’t get it to first with him on his backside. Gregory Polanco then ripped a line drive through the shift to set up runners at the corners with no outs.

    After walking the bases loaded to set up an out at any base, Freese hit a deep fly to right to end the game 5-4.

    Overall, there as some good work from these young Mets arms, but there was still speed bumps, even from those who pitched scoreless innings. Given where the Mets are, the team starting to get a real look at them made this a good game for the team.

    Game Notes: The Mets played one man short as right before the game Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Phillies.

    Mets Undefeated With McNeil

    Well, it may not have been the prettiest of games, but the Mets came to play, and they beat the Pirates pretty handily.

    Once again, it started with Michael Conforto and his hot hitting. After he would nearly hit one out against Pirates starter Nick Kingham, Wilmer Flores would actually hit one out.

    The homer gave the Mets a 2-0 lead, and the team was off and running.

    For three innings, it was back-and-forth with David Freese and Josh Harrison hitting two run homers off Steven Matz.

    To Matz’s credit, he settled down, despite him apparently not feeling well, he gutted through six innings keeping the Pirates to the four runs. He would also strike out a career high nine batters.

    Because the Mets bats exploded, he would get the win.

    One of the big reasons why was Asdrubal Cabrera putting on a show in what is likely one of his final games in a Mets uniform. Overall, he was 3-5 with two runs, a double. homer, walk, and four RBI.

    The first big inning for the Mets was the fourth, and it was aided by two big Pirates errors.

    After a Cabrera two run homer, Conforto reached on a Harrison fielding error. Later that inning, with bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Freese threw it away allowing Devin Mesoraco to reach safely and Brandon Nimmo to score.

    Jose Bautista would get thrown out at home with him trying to score from second. That would end the inning with the Mets leading 7-4.

    The Mets bats awoke again in the seventh, and it began with a beautiful Jeff McNeil, who was starting his first game, base hit:

    It was an uneven game for McNeil in his first ever start.  He was 1-2 with a run and two walks, and he did help turn two 5-4-3 double plays.  He also made an error and base running mistake in the game.  Fortunately, not only did they not cost the Mets the game, but his positives did outweigh his negatives in this game.  It should come as no surprise the team is 3-0 in games he has played.

    After a Mesoraco single, Jose Reyes predictably failed to deliver the big hit by popping out to Freese.  Where Reyes failed, the player he is supposed to be mentoring (but isn’t) came up a delivered what could have been the final blow in the game.  Rosario’s RBI single gave the Mets an 8-4 lead.

    With Pirates reliever Rich Rodriguez throwing a wild pitch, Mesoraco was able to get to third and Rosario to second.  This would not just allow Mesoraco to score on a Cabrera grounder to the right of the pitcher, but it would put Rosario to score on another wild pitch during Conforto’s at-bat.  At that point, it was 10-4 Mets, which is a rare place for this team to have been lately.

    Things were going so well for this team, Matt den Dekker would even contribute hitting a sacrifice fly in the eighth.  In fact, Flores would hit one as well in the ninth giving the Mets a then 12-5 lead.

    It is remarkable how the Mets had three sacrifice flies in this game.   Those are the sort of small ball runs this team had been leaving on the bases all season long.  While it has been a rough first year for Mickey Callaway, we are seeing this team improve fundamentally by getting bunts down and their starting to take advantage of these run scoring opportunities.

    Surprisingly, Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald would get the first cracks out of the bullpen.  Blevins might’ve helped his trade value with a scoreless inning.  Sewald struggled after two quick outs, but he did get out of his inning having allowed just one run scored.

    It was the same story for Drew Smith.  He got two quick outs before getting into minor trouble, minor because the game was nowhere near jeopardy.  After he allowed one run, the Mets would win the game 12-6.

    Surprisingly, this team is not only on a three game winning streak, but they are also over .500 in the Month of July.  Oh what could have been.

    Game Notes: Corey Oswalt was sent down to Triple-A so Jason Vargas could be activated from the disabled list to start the Mets next game.