Mickey Callaway

There’s No Getting Rid of Rafael Montero

Perhaps no one in the history of the New York Mets has gotten more chances to prove themselves than Rafael Montero.  The fact that is true has continued to baffle and irritate Mets fans who have watched him pitch to a 5.38 ERA and 1.705 WHIP in his Major League career.

But it’s more than that.  The Mets have questioned his competitiveness and his toughness.  They have even had him suffer the indignity to being demoted to Double-A.  Nothing seems to work, and yet he remains on the Mets roster.  Worse yet, he remains while talented pitchers who have produced are sent packing.

If we are being fair, we should pinpoint the 2016 season as the breaking point.  In 2014, Montero acquitted himself well in his limited time, and in 2015, Montero suffered an injury, albeit one the Mets doubted truly existed.  Montero would get a chance again in 2016.  There’s no sugar coating just how poorly he pitched.  About the only place he pitched well was Binghamton, and he wasn’t exactly stellar there going 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA.

And yet, Montero remained a Met.

After the 2016 season, the Mets traded both Gabriel Ynoa and Logan Verrett to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations to help clear up space on the 40 man roster.  The team would lose Matthew Bowman in the Rule 5 Draft. An injured Sean Gilmartinwas designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Because of these moves and because of all the injuries, Montero got another chance in 2017.  He would reward the Mets faith and patience by going 5-11 with a 5.52 ERA, 1.748 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9, and an 8.6 K/9.

In an effort to be as fair as possible to Montero, he did get his first real extended chance to prove he belongs in the majors.  From June 15th until the end of the season, he was on the Major League roster, and he would make 21 appearances and 16 starts.  In that stretch, he was 5-7 with a 4.98 ERA, 1.591 WHIP, 4.5 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9.

Certainly, that was better, but it was not significantly different than his career numbers, which just have not been the caliber of a Major League starting pitcher.  While you may not feel as if the Mets lost much of value in the aforementioned pitchers lost, the healthy pitchers in the group undoubtedly pitched better than Montero last year.

Now, the Mets are repeating their same mistakes.  After the conclusion of the 2017 season, the team drafted Burch Smithin the Rule 5 Draft and sold him to the Kansas City Royals.  To make room for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez on the 40 man roster, Kevin McGowan and Chasen Bradford were designated for assignment.

While McGowan struggled in his time in the majors last year, Bradford certainly did not.  In fact, Bradford was one of the few pleasant surprises last season.  In 28 major league appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 3.5 BB/9, and a 7.2 K/9.  Montero would have to significantly improve to match those numbers, and yet, he is the one that remains on the 40 man roster.

At some point, push is finally going to come to shove, and Montero will no longer be a part of the Mets organization.  With Montero being out of options, maybe this year is the year.  Maybe not.  After all, the Mets do have spots open for competition in the Opening Day bullpen, and by now I’m sure the Mets have talked themselves into believing Mickey Callawayand Dave Eiland will turn Montero into the next Dennis Eckersley.

Editor’s Note: This was first published on MMO

Curtis Granderson A Blue Jay While Mets Sign His Polar Opposite

In an offseason where the Mets have been consistently linked to all of their former players, and actually signed Jay Bruce, the team was never truly linked to Curtis Granderson.

Well, they won’t anymore as Granderson has signed a one year $5 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As we learned from his four years in Queens, any team that adds Granderson has done well for themselves. He’s a tremendous person and mentor in the clubhouse. More than that, he’s a good and durable baseball player.

Considering these qualities, it really is surprising the Mets showed no interest in a Granderson reunion. Last year, Granderson was a 1.5 WAR player, who played all three outfield positions. That’s important because the team doesn’t know when Michael Conforto will be able to return.  On top of that, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares cannot stay healthy.

Instead of looking for a versatile outfielder, the Mets opted to focus on 1B/OF due to the rookie season of Dominic Smith.  In looking to sure that up, the Mets signed both Bruce and eventually Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez is the more interesting signing of the two because he is the anti-Granderson.

For his part, Gonzalez is not a healthy player, has not played well on the East Coast, and he has not been seen as a good clubhouse presence.  Considering the purported issues in the clubhouse late last year, Mickey Callaway managing for the first time in his career, and no one on the coaching staff having any MLB managerial experience this situation seems less than ideal.  Actually, it seems like it could be an impending disaster.

The reason no one is really questioning the Mets thought process here is because we all know why the Mets made the decisions they made.  Mostly, the team would rather have Gonzalez making the minimum than having Granderson for $5 million.  They would also rather bet on a 31 year outfielder for three years instead of a 37 year old one for one year.

On the converse, the Mets opted to try to resurrect the career of an injured soon to be 36 year old first baseman rather than have Bruce at first and Granderson in right.

Whether this proves to be the correct decision remains to be seen.  However, we do know one thing – you are always better off having a player and person like Granderson in your clubhouse.  For that, the Blue Jays are better today, and the Mets aren’t.

Mets Second Base Problems Are On Sandy Alderson

After the 2017 season ended, and the Mets set out to build their roster for the 2018 season, the most glaring need was a second baseman.  Given the options in free agency and the state of the Mets farm system, it also proved to be one of the most difficult holes to fill.

Initially, the Mets did act prudently by looking to obtain Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers.  While he was coming off a down year offensively, he was still a very good defender at the position.  If rumors were true, the Mets stepped up and they made the best offer to the Detroit Tigers.

The problem was Kinsler had a no trade clause to the Mets.  He used that clause to force a deal to the Angels.  Very likely, the reason was all of the gaps in the Mets roster and their limited budget this offseason.

Speaking of the limited budget, yes, we can absolutely blame the Wilpons for not fully investing in this team.  While many will defend them on the concept of finances, it should be noted the Wilpons did have money to invest in an eSports team and the Islanders new arena.

With that said, there was money to be spent.  Yes, it wasn’t enough, but if spent properly, there was enough to at least build a credible roster.  The problem is Sandy Alderson isn’t spending the money wisely.

Certainly, you can justify the Anthony Swarzak signing.  If the Mets have any intentions of competing next year, they needed an extra arm to bring to Jeurys Familia in the ninth.  With Swarzak joining AJ Ramos to set up for Familia, the Mets have a good 7-8-9 tandem.  With Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, you can reasonably assume the Mets will be able to find an arm or two to join Jerry Blevins to form a good if not formidable bullpen.

The problem is what Sandy Alderson has done with the money since signing Swarzak at the close of the Winter Meetings.

The first issue was a trade for Jason Kipnis was rejected by someone with the Mets.  The natural culprits are the Wilpons as the reports said someone higher up.  It’s a baffling decision because even if you have your concerns about him, he’s a good fit in the lineup and in the clubhouse.  There’s also the benefit of his knowing Callaway from their days in Cleveland.

But no, someone with enough decision making authority didn’t want him.  So instead, the Mets went out to address the holes in their roster by signing Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez.

Of course, this means three things.  The first is the team is all but done with Dominic Smith, at least for the 2018 season.  The second is Michael Conforto is likely out longer than advertised.  The third is the Mets are effectively punting on second base.

Howie Kendrick, who was a viable second base candidate, is now off the board, and with him went the last reasonable shot at getting a starting second baseman in free agency.  That is, unless, you believe Eduardo Nunez, will now be healthy, capable of playing second, and the Mets have enough to sign him.

If you want someone in a trade, like Josh Harrison, get in line.  Teams with much deeper systems, like the Yankees, have interest in him as well.  As a result, this means the Mets are out on him.

Overall, this means the Mets are going to bring back Jose Reyes to play second alongside Amed Rosario.  This is the same Reyes who was one of the worst regulars in all of baseball last year.  He had a -0.6 WAR, a 94 wRC+, and he accomplished the astounding feat of posting a negative DRS at FOUR positions.  One of those was second where he had a -5 DRS in 207.1 innings.

And remember the last time Reyes played second base full time?  That would be the 2004 season when the Mets big acquisition was Kaz Matsui.  When your offseason plan mirrors the plans of your 2004 plans, you know the Mets are in trouble.

And yes, they are.  They’re in trouble because they don’t have the money to spend and because Sandy Alderson isn’t spending it wisely.  Consider for a second, Matt Adams and Kendrick, two versatile players that would have been immensely helpful to the Mets for depth and/or platoons, signed with the Nationals for a combined $11 million.  That’s less than a million more they are paying Bruce and Gonzalez on a team that already had Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, and Smith.

Overall, the Mets may not have had much money to spend, but whatever money they did have, Sandy Alderson squandered it away on duplicative players.  Remember that when the Mets second base situation holds the team back throughout the 2018 season.

 

What The 2018 Mets Roster Looks Like Right Now

It is a slow going offseason, but it seems even slower for the Mets.  With so many teams with more money than the Mets still interested in many of the same free agents, it is hard to believe the Mets will make significant additions before the end of the offseason.  If they don’t, here is what the 2018 Mets Opening Day roster will look like:

C – Travis d’Arnaud
1B – Dominic Smith
2B – Wilmer Flores
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Michael Conforto
Bench – Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Phillip Evans

Rotation – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
Bullpen – Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, Seth Lugo

This should only highlight about how much work the Mets actually have to do this offseason.

Sure, we can buy the pitching staff as a whole as is because they have viable depth.  In the rotation, Lugo could get transition back much like how he did in 2016.  After that, they have Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt, and Mickey Jannis.  And that is before the Mets go deeper with pitchers like P.J. Conlon.  Suffice it to say, the Mets do have sufficient rotation depth.

Considering many of the aforementioned pitchers could go to the bullpen, the bullpen also has sufficient depth.  And behind them, the Mets also have David Roseboom, Chase Bradford, and Josh Smoker.

However, that offense.  You can’t sell anyone that is going to be alright.  Mostly, that is because the Mets don’t believe themselves that it will be.  And that is before you take into account the injury issues Conforto and Rivera are currently rehabbing from this offseason.

For example, the team has all but given up on Gavin Cecchini, who should be in a position to at least compete for a spot on the 25 man roster.  He won’t.  What’s scary is there is no real Major League ready talent behind him . . . at least no immediately as players like Luis Guillorme and David Thompson need at least some time in Triple-A.  By the way, there’s no real outfield depth in this system.

Looking over this roster, you’d be hard pressed to believe the Mets will be better than the 70-92 team they were last season no matter how much they sell us Mickey Callaway as the solution to all that ails the Mets.

So, it really should not come as a surprise to no one the Mets have a lot of work to do, and it goes well beyond just adding one or two players.  That applies just to the starting lineup.  After that, they really need to build a Major League caliber bench.

Again, the good news is there are still many free agents available.  However, it’s still hard to believe the Mets will be able to add the players they need to become a postseason contender.

Five Mets Pitchers Who Could Benefit From Callaway And Eiland

With the Mets hiring both Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland coupled with the team possibly only adding Anthony Swarzak to the pitching staff this offseason, it appears much of the hope for the 2018 Mets are tied to the current Mets pitchers improving.  Fortunately, the team has both the right coaching staff in place as well as a talented group of pitchers who underwhelmed last year.  Here are five different pitchers who may take a step forward next season under Callaway’s and Eiland’s tutelage:

Robert Gsellman

After his 2016 stint in the majors, many believed Gsellman would emerge as one of the front-runners for the Rookie of the Year Award.  Instead, he had about as poor a 2017 season as you could imagine with him being ineffective, suffering an injury, and his being dismissive of Sandy Alderson’s critique of his performance.

Looking over his stats last season, none of his pitchers were really working.  That should come as no surprise when opposing batters hit .280/.345/.462 off of him.  Still, as we saw in 2016, this is a pitcher with talent, and he is now working with a coaching staff that helps get a pitcher maximize his talent.

While much has been discussed about Callaway’s focus on the two seamer, fact is he has also successfully worked with sinkers.  As noted by Let’s Go Tribe, Callaway has gotten his sinker ball pitchers to focus less on pounding the sinker and more in mixing their pitches and throwing a more diverse fastball selection.  From that, we have not only seen Corey Kluber emerge as a perennial Cy Young candidate, but we have also seen pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Carlos Correa maximize their talent.

A similar handling of Gsellman, who threw his fastball and sinker 63% of the time last year, could well yield similar results to those pitchers in Cleveland.

Seth Lugo

One thing that was clear from Lugo last year was he struggles the third time through the lineup.  In his brief Major League career, batters have hit .299/.352/.425 during his third time through the lineup.  In that sense, Lugo is not unique as we have seen that happen to other quality pitchers.

However, if utilized properly, Lugo could very well be a very good Major League pitcher.  All that is needed is someone to be forward thinking in how he is handled.

One example of this is Kyle Hendricks.  He historically struggled the third time through the lineup, so his manager Joe Maddon limited the times Hendricks did this, and the result was Hendricks finishing third in Cy Young voting in 2016.

Another avenue to pursue is to make Lugo a reliever.  We have seen Eiland have success converting starters into relievers with his work with pitchers like Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis.  Also, given Callaway’s influence on how the Indians utlizied Andrew Miller, Lugo could become a real weapon in that bullpen.

Hansel Robles

Robles is prone to stretches of both complete dominance and complete ineptitude.  For example, from Opening Day to May 18th, Robles had made 18 appearances going 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9.  During that stretch, opposing batters hit just .169/.295/.277.   After that, he had a three appearance stretch that saw him give up at least four earned in each appearances leading to his demotion to Triple-A where he continued to struggle.

One of the reasons why we see those stretches of dominance from Robles is his stuff. He throws a mid to high 90s fastball with a good mid 80s slider.  What he needs is to learn how to become more consistent.  That could be accomplished with a more defined role, conservative usage, and really, better coaching.

Josh Smoker

Smoker has great stuff.  He combines a mid to high 90s fastball with a devastating split. It’s a large reason why even when things go wrong, the left-handed pitcher struck out 10.9 batters per nine at the major league level.  Aside from the stuff and the good strikeout rate, there were many problems with Smoker.

Smoker had shoulder issues again, likely related to his being overused, and he struggled with left-handed batters, at least until September.  Perhaps most alarming, and possibly a reason for his struggles, Smoker walked 5.6 batters per nine last year.

At this point in his career, Smoker needs someone who can help him better command his stuff.  With Callaway being an exceptional teacher and proponent of the curveball, he could get Smoker to make that pitch a that could be a weapon against left-handed batters.  If so, Smoker can get back to the point where he was entering the 2017 season – a hard throwing reliever with real upside.

Matt Harvey

Look, 2015 is a long way away, and 2013 is even further away than that.  During the last season, we not only saw Harvey broken down physically (again), but we finally saw some cracks in his self confidence.  This wasn’t the Dark Knight anymore.  This was just plain old Matt Harvey.  And we don’t know if Matt Harvey can be an effective Major League pitcher.

What we do know is that he was completely mishandled from the get-go last year.  By Dan Warthen‘s own admission, Harvey was not going to be 100% until May.  Despite that, Harvey was in the Opening Day rotation, and he pitched and pitched until he could pitch no more.  His results were blamed on poor mechanics.

The truth was the muscles in Harvey’s pitching shoulder had atrophied, and he was suffering a stress reaction.  Fact is, he wasn’t ready to go.  Harvey may very well have pushed to pitch, but the Mets never did stand in the way to protect Matt from himself.  Moreover, they never did fix the mechanical issues all parties purported him to have.

With Eiland, the Mets have a pitching coach whose bread and butter is mechanics.  Both Callaway and Eiland pushed the Mets to keep Harvey rather than trade him because they believed in him.  They believed in him because they see something in him that perhaps no one else sees anymore.  With them in place, there are coaches who believe in his talent and know how to get the most out of it.  Whether that happens remains to be seen.

Mets Interested In Having A Great Team

If you’ve been paying attention, the Mets seem to be interested in everyone this offseason. If you take those players they’re interested in, you’d have an amazing roster:

C Travis d’Arnaud

1B Todd Frazier

2B Neil Walker

3B Mike Moustakas

SS Amed Rosario

LF Yoenis Cespedes

CF Lorenzo Cain

RF Michael Conforto

Bench Kevin Plawecki, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo

Rotation: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler

Bullpen: Jeurys Familia, Anthony Swarzak, AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles, Seth Lugo, Paul Sewald

Sure, we are all disappointed the Mets lost out on that bidding war for Carlos Santana and Bryan Shaw, but this is still a terrific roster that required the Mets to open up their pockets to build. 

Throw in Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, and you can believe in that pitching staff. And as we saw in 2015, if the pitching is up to snuff, this team can go to the World Series. 

Wait, you don’t believe any of this is going to happen?

Bad Sports Year Ending

For me, I’m a Mets, Giants, Rangers, and Knicks fans.  As you can tell, 2017 was not the best of years for me.

Mets

The season unofficially ended when Noah Syndergaard refused to get an MRI.  Along with Thor, we saw Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler go on extended disabled list stints.  It came to a point where Rafael Montero was a feasible rotation option.  By the way, that speaks more about the rotation than Montero.

On the offensive side, we saw Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson go for pennies on the dollar.  Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker missed a ton of time, which meant Walker joined the aforementioned players and Addison Reed in fetching a group of minor league right-handed relievers that didn’t bowl anyone over.

Worst of all, Michael Conforto suffered a season ending and possibly career altering shoulder injury.  He suffered that injury on a swing and a miss.  If that isn’t the perfect euphemism for the Mets season, I don’t know what is.

But don’t worry.  The Mets are cutting payroll, so we wont have to face the Mets failing to meet expectations again.

Giants

The year started with the wide receiving core not showing up after they all made sure to attend a boat party.  The end result was the Giants missing a big opportunity to make a deep postseason run.

Expectations were high after that with the Giants being labeled Super Bowl contenders.  As it turns out, you can’t be that without an offensive line and an over-matched head coach.  The season slowly became a 2-13 embarasment that saw McAdoo sit Eli so he could find out if Geno Smith was his starter for next season, and the Giants to fire McAdoo for mishandling that and everything else.

To make matters worse, Eli Apple has gone from being a guy who was supposed to take the next leap to being benched to being called a cancer to announcing to reporters he had to go to the bathroom.  Much like the Apple, the Giants season went from promising and quickly down the drain.

Rangers

The Rangers were lucky and got to face the Atlantic side of the draw for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Rangers beat the Canadiens, and then they blew a golden opportunity against the Ottawa Senators.

Due to salary cup constraints, the Rangers then traded away Stepan and Raanta for what was perceived to be an underwhelming return.  The team overdrafted Anderson, and they got lucky with Chytil.  They were also able to nab a promising young defenseman in Antony DeAngelo.

Well, Vingeault has once again done his best Terry Collins impersonation by benching the younger players, not letting them play, and giving the veterans enough rope to hang the entire Rangers season.  The Rangers are currently in playoff contention, but they would likely be in better position if their head coach showed a modicum of interest in developing younger players.

Knicks

Well, last season was a disaster leading to the team trading Melo for much less than they ever thought he could fetch in a trade.  Still, the return has been palatable because Enes Kanter is a leader who gives the Knicks toughness.  This would all be better except for the fact that KP still has issues staying on the floor, the Hardaway signing ate up a ton of cap space, and a favorable early schedule will likely lead to the Knicks falling apart in January.

So yeah, hopefully, 2018 will go much better because how could it not with Mickey Callaway and a new Giants head coach in place.  Hopefully, the Rangers will as well.  There’s also the hope Seton Hall rebounds from a March exit last year on an egregious intentional fall call.  Hopefully, their making a deep run will be the start of a great 2018.

If the Mets continue to refuse to spend, maybe it will be the sole highlight of the year.
Mi

2017 Mets Carol

On a cold and blustery Christmas Eve night at Citi Field, new manager Mickey Callaway enters Fred Wilpon’s office.

Mickey: I just wanted to stop on my way out to wish you and your family a happy holiday, and I just wanted to let you know I look forward to working with you and Sandy to help build a Mets team that can go to the World Series again.

Fred: What do you mean build?

Mickey: Well, there are a few areas I was hoping to address.  We need a second baseman, some additional depth, and some bullpen –

Fred: Relievers? I just gave you Anthony Swarzak just last week!

Mickey: And I’m thankful for that.  But while I was in Cleveland, I learned you need more in your bullpen.  You need a couple of guys with interchangeable roles to help you get to where you want to go.  We need at least one more guy.

Fred: I don’t get it. After Madoff, I’ve done all I could do to get my money back, and now everyone wants me to just give it away.

Mickey: Well, I’d love to build a winner for the players and the fans.

Fred: Seriously?

Mickey: Well, I guess not. Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to next season.

Fred: Bah!

Not long after Callaway leaves, Fred Wilpon leaves Citi Field, and he begins his drive to Greenwich. He pulls up to a stately manor that hasn’t been renovated since 2008. He makes his way into the bedroom, and before he can turn on the lights, he hears a ghostly whisper coming from behind him. It sounds like his name, but he initially can’t quite make it out. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere a figure emerges.

Fred: No, it can’t be. Is that really you?

M. Donald Grant: It is.

Fred: But, you’re dead. How? How?

M. Donald Grant: I’ve come here to deliver a message.

Fred: What?

M. Donald Grant: Remember when I was alive, I won a World Series, and then I refused pay raises to everyone. Remember when I shipped Tom Seaver and everyone of value out of town?

Fred: All while keeping the team profitable!

M. Donald Grant: Yup, I mean no. No! I was wrong, and now I have to watch the 1962 Mets over and over again. But worse, I have to give the players raises after each and every game despite no one coming to the ballpark!

Fred: The horror.

M. Donald Grant: And if you don’t change, your fate will be worse than mine.

Fred: No . . . NO! . . . You’ve got to save me.

M. Donald Grant: Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits. Listen to them! Do what they say! Or you will be cursed for eternity.

And with that the apparition of Grant faded away leaving Fred frightened in his room. A few times he splashed cold water on his face and pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Still shaken, Fred made his way to bed. After a while, his fatigue got the better of his anxiety, and he faded to sleep. Then there was a loud noise like the roar of the crowd. It jostled Fred from his sleep. Still groggy, he looked out and couldn’t believe the figure before him.

Fred: No, it can’t be. Is it really you Gary?

Standing before Fred was Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. Back in 1985, when Fred had just a small interest in the team, the Mets traded for Carter in the hopes that he would put the Mets over the top. Eventually, Carter did with the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. Notably, Carter started the game winning two out rally in the bottom of the 10th to allow the Mets to force a Game 7.

Gary: It’s really me Fred. I’m now the Ghost of Baseball Past.

Fred: Am I dead?

Gary: No, you’re not. I’m here to show you what things used to be like before you changed the way you did business with the Mets.

With that Gary, took a swing of the bat creating a cloud of dust and smoke all over the room. As the dust settled, the Mets found themselves back in a sold out Shea Stadium.

Fred: What a dump!

Gary: You didn’t always think so. In fact, you used to love coming here. Back in the 80s, Shea Stadium was the place to be. Those Mets teams were stacked with players like me, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, and tonight’s starter Dwight Gooden.

Fred: Those Gooden starts were something special. No one could beat us then, and we knew it. We never could quite capture the magic from those teams again, but that was something special.

Gary: This is how things used to be. It was always this way. You did it again when you signed Mike Piazza, except you didn’t just sign him. You surrounded him with good players like Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo. That team came close. You did it again with Carlos Beltran. You spent the extra dollar to get a truly great player. You then added players like Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana to try to get it done. It didn’t work, but the fans came. More importantly, everyone respected you for it.

Fred: But they don’t understand.

Gary: Let’s see what happened next.

With a blink of Fred’s eye, Shea Stadium is just a memory. As he reopens his eyes, he is back in Citi Field as it was before it was fully renovated. The fans were angry with the team. It was one thing that the ballpark didn’t fully honor Mets history; it was another that the Mets let Jose Reyes walk in the offseason without so much as an offer. It was an uninspiring 88 loss win team that was seemingly going nowhere.

Fred: When did we put the Great Wall of Flushing back in? Where are all the fans?

Gary: You didn’t. It’s 2012.

Fred: That was an ugly time. Fans constantly complaining and booing. The team and I were personally cash strapped. I had no idea what our future was or could be. Worse yet, no one seemed to understand. The fans, the players, the press. No one. The whole thought of this time is just too much to bear. I can’t . . .

Before Fred could finish the sentence, he was hit in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy. Next thing Fred knew, he was awake, with a headache back in his bed in Greenwich.

Fred: Man, I really have to lay off the Shake Shack late at night. It gives me the strangest dreams. And man, just remembering those days just gives me a headache. I never want to get back to that point . . .

As the words left Fred’s lips, there was a strange noise. Fred looked over, and he sees beloved former announcer and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner in what appears to be old set of Kiner’s Korner.

Fred: Ralph?

Ralph: Well hi everybody it’s Ralph Kiner, the Ghost of Christmas Present, on Kiner’s Korner. Well the Mets are in the middle of the offseason after the team lost over 90 games, missed the postseason for the first time in three years, and is now talking about cutting payroll.  We have Mets owner Fred Wilpon on to talk about it next.

Fred: Ralph?

Ralph: Welcome back to Kiner’s Korners. As you know Kiner’s Koners is sponsored by Rheingold – the Dry Beer!

Ralph: Hi Mr. Wilpon, welcome to Kiner’s Korners.

Fred: I’m not sure what exactly is happening here.

Ralph: Well, Mr. Wilpon, we’re here to talk about your team and what the 2018 roster will look like.

Fred: We’ve given Sandy free reign to do whatever he needs to do to put the best team on the field. We trust in his decision making, and we always demure to him on personnel decisions.

Ralph: Well Mr. Wilpon, there are not many that believe you. In fact, the fans will say that the team isn’t going to spend the money on the players like the Mets should. It reminds me back when I had won another home run title for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I went to Branch Rickey to ask for a raise. During the meeting, Rickey denied me a raise saying, “We finished eighth with you, we can finish eighth without you.” From there of course, I was then traded to the Chicago Cubs. This is the same Chicago Cubs franchise that won their first World Series title since 1908. The Cubs were once defeated –

Fred: Okay, okay. No, we’re no expanding payroll.  The fans didn’t come last year, and I don’t have the money. That’s just the way things work now. This isn’t the old days where Omar gets free reign.

Ralph: Well, the fans are angry the team isn’t spending money, especially since you have the BAM money, bought an Overlook League team, and are part of the new Islanders Belmont Arena. And I remember as a player how much the team wanted to know the owner supported them. When the team had the support of ownership it had an effect in the clubhouse and the play on the field.

Fred: Let’s be honest. With the team we have now, we’re going to fill the seats because we have Yoenis CespedesNoah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom.  We have free t-shirts, garden gnomes, and bobbleheads.  We’re going to turn a profit all while giving the players what they want – money.

Ralph: That’s not true. Here is a videotape of your captain David Wright.

A large screen appears on the set of Kiner’s Korner with an image of Wright at his home talking to Callaway about the upcoming season.

Mickey: I know it may be a little late, but I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. And I wanted to let you know that we’re all pulling for you to get back out on that field.

David: It’s hard skip. I wake up in pain everyday. It was bad enough when it was just the stenosis, but now it is my neck too. I just spend all of my day rehabbing and working out. I do all these special exercises for my back and my neck. It’s almost 24 hours of pure hell. It’s made all the harder by the fact that every minute I spend working out is time away from my wife and daughter. Baseball has always been a sacrifice, and I love it. But it just gets harder and harder.

Mickey: Look, I love you, and I know the team does too. If there is anything you ever need, you just have to ask. And if you feel as if you can’t go on, you’ll always have a place on my staff.

David: I can’t hang ’em up. Not yet. I’ve come so close to the World Series a few times in my career, and I’ve fallen short. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel right hanging it up without winning one.

Fred: This is costing me $20 million a year.

David: And it’s not just about me. I owe a World Series to Mets fans who have supported me my whole career. They’ve gone out and bought my jerseys. They’ve cheered for me. They’ve always been there for me. And more importantly, I owe it to the Wilpon family. I saw what happened with Reyes and the other players who left. They decided to keep me. They made me the face of the franchise and the team captain. I’ve loved being a Met, and the Wilpons made that possible.

Fred: I just never knew how much he cared and how appreciative he was.

Ralph: Time for another commercial break and word from our sponsor the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Everything turns to black like a television screen being turned off. At first, Fred sits there quietly unsure of what is happening. He then finds himself in a strange room with Darryl Hamilton wearing his black Mets jersey. The same jerseys the Wilpons wanted to help drum up fan interest and help increase revenues. At first, Hamilton says nothing. He just looks at Fred before gesturing for Fred to follow him.

Fred follows Darryl down a hallway. Eventually, an image of a badly beaten down Wright emerges. On the walls are different jerseys he wore in his career. A shelf displays all of his awards and his 2015 National League Pennant ring. Wright moves around the room but with great difficulty. Although still relatively young, he moves like an old man. He’s there with another person.

Woman: Look, this is not going to happen overnight. With the beating your body has taken you’re luck you’re even in position to walk.

David: I don’t care. I need you to get me to the point where I can dance again. There is nothing that is going to stop me from dancing at my daughter’s wedding.

Woman: Ok, but we need to take it slowly. You’ve had a number of injuries in your career, especially those last few. Doing things like dancing is going to come with some difficulty for you. The trick is to build everything up so you can do it again.

Fred: What, what happened to him?

Darryl only nods his head in the direction of the trophy case.

Fred: He never won? But we had Matt Harvey and Syndergaard. We had deGrom and Steven Matz.  Even Zack Wheeler returned.  We had five aces! Of course we won at least one. There is no way we let that core go without winning a World Series. Surely, we made a move to get that final piece at least one of those years.

David: On cold days like this, it really makes me wonder how wise it was sticking to the end of my contract rather than just medically retiring the way Albert Belle and Prince Fielder did. I really wonder if Prince has the same problems I have. Still, I would do it all over again because trying to win that ring was important not just for my career, the fans, and Fred.

Woman: What happened?

David: We were so close, but we shot ourselves in the foot in 2015. After that, we always just seemed one or two players short. We gave it the best we could, but it just wasn’t meant to be . . . .

As David drifts off, Darryl gestures for Fred to re-enter the dark hallway. The two make their way down before standing outside the Rotunda entrance to Citi Field. Nearby is a group of men putting up a few statues. In the parking lot adjacent to 126th Street, there are a number of moving vans.

Worker 1: Honestly, it is about time there was a Tom Seaver statue erected at Citi Field. I think adding the Piazza one as well was a nice touch.

Worker 2: Things have been a lot better around here with the new guys came in.

Worker 1: And ain’t no one going to miss the old group.

Worker 2: How can you? They let the whole thing fall apart.

Worker 1: Good riddance!

Fred: What is happening here? What old group? Who authorized these statues?

With that Fred began a dead sprint towards the entrance to the executive offices, but he was distracted by a commotion happening at McFadden’s. Despite wanting to get back to his office, Fred found himself drawn to the bar where he found a group of people in celebration.

Man: Shhh! It’s about to be on the television.

Reporter: After years of seeing homegrown players sign elsewhere, and the Mets having been inactive on the free agent market, Citi Field has become eerily reminiscent of Grant’s Tomb in the 1970s. With fan interest at a nadir and record low revenues for the team, it became time for a change.

Fred: Darryl! What are they talking about?

Man: This is a dream come true for me. As a little boy sitting int he Upper Deck at Shea Stadium, I never imagined I would be in the position I am here today. And yet, here I am.

Cheers spread through McFaddens making the sound from the televisions inaudible.

Man: Back in 1980, the late Nelson Doubleday purchased the New York Mets from the Payson family. From that day, a new era of Mets prosperity began with ownership investing not just in good baseball people, but also its players and its fans. My pledge to the Mets fans is to operate this club much in the same fashion as Mr. Doubleday, and with that, a new era of Mets prominence will begin.

As cheers fill the room and the bartenders try to keep up with the customers needing drinks, a bewildered Fred turns back to Darryl.

Fred: Darryl, what is happening with my team? Was it . . .

As Fred trails off, he can see a sullen Jeff Wilpon standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a driver to take him home. Before Jeff could get into the car, he is ambushed by a group of reporters. Instinctively, Jeff runs out to assist his son.

Reporter: How do you feel today?

Jeff: How do you expect me to feel? The thing that mattered most to my father is now gone.

Reporter: What message do you have for Mets fans?

Jeff: We just want them to continue supporting the New York Exelsior.  I still believe that sooner or later this investment will pay off.

Fred: Jeff, don’t tell me you did it! Don’t tell me you sold my team!

Reporter: How do you think your father would feel about this moment?

Jeff:  Well, the Dodgers just won another World Series with a payroll triple ours, so –

Fred: Jeff! Jeff! I’m over here! Jeff!

With Jeff being worn down by the questioning, and his being unable to hear his father scream, he enters the car. Initially, Fred heads toward Jeff while repeatedly asking him what happened with the Mets. With Jeff being unresponsive, and with Fred knowing he’s not going to be able to get to the door in time, he runs in front of the car in an attempt to stop it. The car pulls from the curb, makes contact with Fred, and everything goes black.

The sun begins to rise, and it begins to light Fred’s room in Greenwich. The sun shines in Fred’s eyes causing him to initially squint. When he realizes that a new day has begun, Fred eagerly jumps from his bed, and he checks his iPhone.

Fred: It’s December 25, 2017! I still own the team! The spirits have given me another chance!

Fred grabs his phone, and he calls his secretary to immediately set up a conference call with Callaway, Alderson, and Wright.

Fred: I’m sorry to bother you on Christmas morning, but I felt like this couldn’t wait any longer. We have a window here, and we have to take advantage of it. Sandy, the shackles are off. You have everything you need at your disposal. We owe Mickey the best team possible for him to lead the Mets back to the World Series. And we owe it to you David because you stuck by us when times were at their lowest. We can’t let you finish your career without winning a World Series. It wouldn’t be fair, and it wouldn’t be right.

Mickey: Thank you, and God bless you Mr. Wilpon!

David: God bless us everyone!

Please No More Jose Reyes

Look, back in 2016, there were plenty of reasons to not want the Mets to reunite with Jose Reyes.  Most of those dealt with his off the field issues.

No matter what you thought of the signing then, on a personal level or otherwise, Reyes did perform on the field in 2016.  On a pure player analysis decision, the Mets were right about bringing Reyes back in 2017, especially when Reyes was slated to return to the Mets for the Major League minimum.

Now, the Mets are in a position to decide whether they want Reyes to be a part of the 2018 plans.  There have been rumors the Mets are still interested in bringing Reyes back, and depending on what happens this offseason, they are inclined to bring him back as the team’s second baseman.

On a pure analysis of his 2017 season, the Mets should not be interested in bringing back Reyes as an everyday player.  In fact, there’s legitimate reason to believe the team shouldn’t even bring him back as a utility player.

There is no doubt Reyes had the worst season of his career last year.  It is difficult to expect him to turn things around when he is going to turn 35 next season.

Even if you are likely to buy into some short sample split from last season, it needs to be noted Reyes has been gradually declining since he left the Mets.  In his two last full seasons, 2015 and 2017, Reyes has had a wRC+ and OPS+ below 100.  He hasn’t been particularly good in the field either with his not having posted a positive DRS season at any position since 2007.  That was a decade ago.

Last season, Reyes had a negative DRS at four different positions.  Specifically, at second base, the position the Mets are considering playing him next season, Reyes had a -5 DRS in just 207.0 innings there.  For those who complained about Daniel Murphy‘s defense at second base, Reyes had a statistically worse DRS per innings played than Murphy did last year.  By the way, last year was Murphy’s worst year defensively.

Taking everything into account, it should be no surprise that Reyes had a -0.6 WAR.  It was the first time in his entire career he had a negative WAR.

Realistically speaking, even if you believe Reyes can’t be as bad as he was last year, can you really argue he’s going to be a good baseball player?  Based upon the decline, and the team not surrounding him with strong players on the field or in the lineup, it’s even more difficult to make a case for Reyes.

In the end, you’re left with emotional reasons for keeping Reyes.  This includes his place in Mets history, and his relationship with Amed Rosario.  To that end, it should be noted that relationship did not produce on-the-field results for the über prospect.

Overall, it’s time to admit Reyes can no longer be counted on to be an everyday player.  There is a real question about his viability as a bench player for a team with at least purported designs on being competitive next year.  At most, Reyes deserves a minor league deal, with an invitation to Spring Training and real competition to make the team.

In reality, much like with the Mets switching from Terry Collins to Mickey Callaway, it’s time to allow someone younger and better to have their chance to prove themselves.

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (Mets Version)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the clubhouse
Not a player was stirring, not even a mouse;
The pennants were hung in left field with care,
In hopes that another World Series soon would be there;

The players were nestled all snug in their homes,
While visions of being the next player to have their very own garden gnome;
And Fred in his ‘kerchief, and Jeff in his cap,
Counted their pennises after a postseason streak was snapped,

When out on the field there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the concourse to see if there was a batter.
Away to the my seat I flew like a flash,
Opened up my scorebook and awaited a great clash.

The moon on the breast of the re-sodded field
Gave the lustre of outfield lights to bases below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should coming this way,
But a bullpen cart carrying Mickey Callaway,

With a an effervescent young man, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be the new skip.
More rapid than fastballs his pitchers do flame,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, HARVEY! now, JAKE! now, MATZ and FLEXEN!
On, THOR! on LUGO! on, WHEELER and GSELLMAN!
To the top of the mound! fire that ball!
Strike ’em out! strike ’em out! strike ’em out all!”

As dry leaves that before the curve balls fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, dropping from the sky,
So up the dugout steps the hurlers they knew,
With powerful arms, the count would soon be 0-2.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard in the stands
The rhythmic clapping of each set of hands
As I drew up my hands, waiting for something profound,
Up the dugout steps Callaway came to the mound.

He was dressed all in blue and orange, from his cap to his cleat,
And his beard was well groomed and really quite neat;
A bundle of arms he had awaiting on in the pen;
And he looked like a old pro just handling his men.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his smile quite charming!
His cheeks were like roses, his expression disarming!
His droll little mouth was drawn up as if to say something profound,
A man so handsome SNY just felt the need to expound;

A decision to be made, he bit his lip with his teeth,
 As the fans encircled him and his players like a wreath;
He had a blue windbreaker drapped over his belly,
That shook, when a plane flew over, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was slender and earnest, a whole injured team on the shelf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave the fans to know there was nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And motioned to the bullpen; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, out of the bullpen the closer arose;

He sprang to his dugout, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew around the field like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, with Mets victory in sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!