MIke Piazza

Mets Running Out Of Time To Extend Marcus Stroman

We can all reasonably debate whether Marcus Stroman or Trevor Bauer is better. There are arguments to be made for either pitcher, and on that front, we should all be able to agree to disagree while waiting for the next few years to play out.

However, one area where Mets fans should be unanimous is extending Stroman before he hits the free agent market.

Looking at the Mets 2021 rotation, only Jacob deGrom is a sure thing. After him, David Peterson earned a spot. From there, your guess is as good as anyone, especially with the Mets having to make a critical decision on Steven Matz.

That’s 2-3/5 of a rotation to fill. Beyond Stroman and Bauer, the market has a lot of question marks. It’s one thing to take a shot on Rick Porcello again or signing a Kevin Gausman. It’s a whole other thing to sign both and count on them leading you back to the postseason.

No, if you’re the Mets, you need another top flight starter to pair with deGrom. We know Stroman has been that in his career. We also know he can handle New York.

Getting Stroman signed now allows the Mets to have less uncertainty entering the postseason. It ensures a strong rotation for the 2021 season. It allows them to focus on other areas of their team which needs upgrades and improvements. It’s also gives the Mets a chance to be a little creative.

The problem is with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers winning last night, they’re one game away from winning the World Series. As it stands, the World Series either ends tomorrow or Wednesday. Five days after that, free agency begins.

This gives the Mets a little less than a week to extend Stroman much in the way the Mets once did with Mike Piazza. That’s not to say Stroman is a future Hall of Famer like Piazza. Rather, it illustrates if you give a player what they want in a deal, they’ll happily agree to stay.

Certainly, Stroman is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed pitching in New York. It’s now time to take advantage of that and Steve Cohen’s deep pockets and keep him in New York.

If they don’t, the Mets rotation in 2021 could look even worse than it did this year. Certainly, that’s not how anyone wants the Cohen era to begin. With that being the case, get to work and sign Stroman.

Mets Need Francisco Lindor

The Mets need to learn their lesson from last offseason. The attitude was let Mookie Betts play out his contract, and then have the Mets sign him as a free agent once Steve Cohen takes over.

The problem with that line of thinking is you risk a player signing an extension, which is exactly what Betts did. We went to a team in the Dodgers who were happy to hand him a blank check.

If you’re a team who does not go out and get Francisco Lindor, you’re assuming the very same risk. The Mets should not be assuming that risk.

The counter-argument is the Mets don’t need Lindor. After all, Andres Gimenez had an impressive rookie season. Amed Rosario, while being lost at the plate this year, was significantly improved defensively. This is all true while also missing the point.

In 2020, the Mets finished in last place with a 26-34 record. During the course of the year, one thing which should have been made abundantly clear was this Mets team isn’t good enough to win right now. In fact, if the last two years are any gauge, they’re not all that close.

What they Mets need is better players across the diamond. It’s not just a catcher, center field, and pitching issue. Really, aside from the first base glut with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith and the two corner outfield spots, the Mets seem desperate for upgrades and shifting of players to new positions.

Yes, the Mets could use an upgrade at shortstop when Lindor is the player available.

Since his MLB debut in 2015, Lindor has been a top three player in the sport. He’s been the best infielder, and he’s the best middle infielder by a healthy margin. He is literally everything you want in a baseball player.

By DRS, he’s been the fourth best defensive SS in the game since 2015. By wRC+, he’s the seventh best hitter. Overall, there’s no one better at short than him.

That includes Gimenez and Rosario, and it’s a wide margin between him and those two. By obtaining Lindor, you’re making a significant push towards closing the talent gap in the NL East.

Let’s look at it another way. Since his breakout season in 2017, Lindor has been a .276/.341/.503 hitter. In the three previous seasons, he’s averaged 42 doubles, three triples, and 34 homers.

No shortstop in the history of the New York Mets have ever put up these kinds of numbers. They’ve never done it on a one year career year, and they’ve certainly never come close putting up these numbers on an annual basis. When you think about it, over the 58 year history of the Mets, it’s takes their shortstops 2-3 years to put up the extra base hits Lindor can do in one year.

Here’s another way to examine it. Lindor has a 118 wRC+ since 2017. Over that time frame, only Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo (Alonso didn’t qualify) have a better offensive production.

Over that time frame, Mets shortstops Gabe a 90 wRC+. Getting Lindor would make the Mets lineup deeper and more dangerous. They’ll also be doing that while having a Gold Glove caliber player at the position.

There is no doubt Lindor makes the Mets a significantly improved team. There also should be no doubt he’ll come at a high price. If he’s willing to sign an extension, nearly any price would be worth it. He’s that good.

Anytime you can get a future Hall of Famer in his prime, you have to do it. It is a game changer for the organization, and it can bring your team to another level.

The Mets are certainly familiar with that concept. Gary Carter helped them win a World Series. Mike Piazza took them to back-to-back postseasons. Carlos Beltran helped lead the Mets to one at-bat from a World Series. Hall of Fame talent significantly improves your team and your postseason chances.

The Piazza and Beltran examples are especially illustrative. With Piazza, the Mets already had Todd Hundley. With Beltran, the Mets already had Mike Cameron. Rather than be happy with the status quo for a team not good enough to win, the Mets improved on a strength, and it led to a better future.

That’s Lindor right now. Yes, the Mets may very well be served to go forward with either Gimenez or Rosario. However, with all due respect to both, neither of them are Lindor, nor are they close.

If the Mets want to truly win now, they should be making every reasonable effort to get Lindor in a New York Mets uniform.

Mike Brosseau Showed Rob Manfred Is A Terrible Commissioner

Last night, Mike Brosseau hit an eighth inning go-ahead homer off of Aroldis Chapman to help send the Tampa Bay Rays to the ALCS. It was an incredible postseason moment:

There were many reasons why it was phenomenal story. The Rays entire payroll makes less than Gerrit Cole. In September, Chapman was suspended for throwing at Brosseau’s head (only for the appeal not to be addressed until next year). Mostly, it was incredible because Brosseau was an undrafted free agent.

Brosseau played for Oakland University in college. Oakland University is a mid-major team playing in the unheralded Horizon Conference. Their home field has at times been in an unplayable condition.

Players like Brosseau aren’t supposed to make it to the Major Leagues, but that’s the beauty of short season baseball.

Short season baseball gives Major League teams the opportunity to identify previously overlooked talent. It gives them a chance to give a player a chance in a much better baseball environment to see if they can blossom. Every team has a story of why this is great.

Take the Mets for example. Mike Piazza wears a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. That never would’ve been possible had the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted the 1B/DH with their 62nd round pick to look to move him to catcher.

In 2016, an injury riddled Mets team probably misses the postseason if T.J. Rivera didn’t get his opportunity to play at second everyday late in the season. Like Brosseau, Rivera was an undrafted free agent.

Now, none of these three players likely get a chance because there’s no longer a place to give them an opportunity. Rob Manfred has eliminated these short season leagues for no other reason than to save money.

The Appalachian League is now the equivalent of a Midwest Cape Cod League. That may be good for scouting, but it does little to nothing to develop players like Brosseau.

No, Brosseau is a player who won’t get a chance starting next year. With that, future postseason series will be effectively be forever altered because Brosseau wouldn’t have even had a chance to develop into a player to take that at-bat against Chapman.

In the end, last night just wasn’t a great moment for the Rays, it was a complete indictment of how terrible a commissioner Rob Manfred is.

You Can Wear 21 But Can’t Wear The First Responder Caps

This week, MLB made the fitting tribute of allowing Puerto Rican players and Neil Walker to wear 21 in tribute of Roberto Clemente. It’s a departure from the norm, but it’s a necessary one because there are people and events so important, we need to honor them.

It’s why Major League Baseball players wear 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. It’s why the Houston Astros wore caps last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It’s why MLB has special caps for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and other days of the year.

Actually no, those are a cash grab. That’s what brings us to the Mets not wearing the first responder caps.

Not since Al Leiter wore a cap for each of the first responders on the one year anniversary of 9/11 have players been permitted to wear the caps. Truth be told, the Mets weren’t allowed to wear them in 2001, but Todd Zeile led his teammates in defying that order.

We know the great lengths MLB has gone to stop it. That includes sending operatives in to collect the caps pregame. Even when David Wright purportedly tried to hide a cap to wear it on the field, they found it and confiscated it.

The reason this is happening is MLB hasn’t found a way to market the caps for profit. Make no mistake, MLB loves making profits off tragedy and crisis. After all, they’re selling you officially licensed face masks during this pandemic.

That’s well within their rights. No one is going to tell them to not make money. After all, they’re a business.

On that note, doing the right thing here and allowing players to wear caps honoring first responders doesn’t cost anything. If anything, it helps get attention for the sport. That’s not too dissimilar from MLB already does when they and the Mets will promote the Mike Piazza home run today.

As an aside, the Wilpons selling that jersey for a profit is another indication of why they needed to be gone. Fortunately, they will be soon.

Overall, MLB did right by Clemente and Robinson. They honored the moon landing. They need to now allow the first responder caps because Pete Alonso getting everyone cleats doesn’t cut it.

If anything, it highlights how everyone but MLB seems to get the importance of remembering 9/11 and the impact that event has had on New Yorkers to this day.

How Long Can Mets Stick With Wilson Ramos

It’s easy to overreact to what Tomas Nido did yesterday. After all, his two homers and six RBI put him in the company of Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza, and Paul Lo Duca. When you’re capable of doing that, you’re a star in the making.

The thing is Nido isn’t that type of player. He entered this season as a career 39 OPS+ hitter. Before he was called up to the majors, he had just one minor league season with an OPS higher than .660.

No, Nido has never been an offensive force. When you look at the Mets catchers, the offensive thread behind the plate is Wilson Ramos. Well, at least he’s supposed to be

So far this year, Ramos is hitting .196/.274/.286 (60 OPS+). While Ramos has typically been a slow starter (April has historically been his the second worst month), this is a new floor for him.

As an example, last year, Ramos hit .320/.393/.340 over the first 16 games. The average and OBP were there, but the power wasn’t. The power wouldn’t come until May. His power would improve in June.

What’s interesting with Ramos was while he had 14 homers last season, he only had one homer through the Mets first 16 games. That’s where he stands now.

If he follows on that power pace, Ramos’ second homer won’t come until the 40th game of the season. Not only would it take him 40 games to catch Nido, but the season would also be 2/3 over.

No one realistically believes Nido will outhit or out-homer over the course of the season. That’s the case even with Nido doing just that 1/3 of the way through the season, and as Justin Toscano of nj.com explains is a retooled swing and refined approach.

What’s odd is it is not even close. Nido has a 225 OPS+ to Ramos’ 59. Yes, Nido’s will drop precipitously, but how soon before Ramos starts hitting like Ramos again?

We don’t know, and the question for the Mets is how long can they wait for it to happen. That issue gets magnified by Nido being VASTLY superior defensively.

Per Baseball Savant, Ramos ranks 44th of all qualified catchers in pitch framing. Of catchers with over 400 chances, he’s the third worst in the league. Put another and simpler way, he’s bad behind the plate.

While Nido hasn’t qualified, his numbers were better than Ramos’ last year, and he has a better reputation as a defensive catcher. Of course, that’s partially because Ramos has never been known for his defensive prowess.

Overall, Nido is giving the Mets a much better chance to win 1/3 of the way through the season. In fact, Nido’s fWAR (which incorporates framing) has him at 0.4 to Ramos’ -0.1.

If you’re the Mets, how much longer do you wait around for Ramos to turn it around? The team is two games under .500, and they’re barely in the playoff picture.

When Nido is the catcher hitting homers and framing the low pitches better for a staff of sinkerball pitchers, you really wonder if Ramos even has a role on this team right now. He and the Mets are running out of time to find out.

Mets With A Nido Win

Bases loaded, no outs, Juan Soto at the plate. Rookie pitcher David Peterson on the mound for the Mets, and the Nationals starting Austin Voth with his 1.80 ERA.

That’s how the Mets day game against the Nationals began. That’s how the game began. Seeing that, you probably didn’t expect the Mets to not just win, but win big.

The reason? Tomas Nido.

Peterson got ahead of Soto 0-2 before getting a REALLY low pitch for a called strike three. Part of that was another day of poor umpiring. To put how bad it was, Stephen Strasburg was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. He was seated in the stands.

The other reason is Nido is a terrific pitch framer adept at getting the low strike called. That call changed the complexity of that inning and the game. After that strikeout, the only run the Nationals would score that inning was off a Howie Kendrick RBI groundout.

One of the reasons the scoring ended there was Jeff McNeil absolutely robbed Asdrubal Cabrera of an extra base hit. McNeil would hurt himself on the play and would have to be taken off the field via stretcher.

That Nationals lead was very short lived because Dominic Smith hit his fourth homer of the season:

After that it was the Nido show. In successive innings, Nido would homer. In the fourth, it was a two run shot off Voth. In the fifth, it was his first career grand slam off Seth Romero:

That second homer put him in some very exclusive Mets territory with the two homers and six RBI:

When you’re in a group with Mike Piazza and Gary Carter, you know you had an absolutely phenomenal day.

Lost in this insane day was the fact Peterson carried a no hitter into the fifth. His final line was 5.0 IP, H, R, ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He’d leave after 74 pitches due to some shoulder soreness. According to Peterson, it’s not serious.

From there, the teams would score one more run apiece in the Mets 8-2 victory. It was a complete team victory.

With the exception of J.D. Davis, every starter who received a PA had at least one hit. That includes Luis Guillorme who had another strong day at the plate going 2-for-4.

Overall, the Mets split the series with the Nationals. In doing so, they learned how this defense first lineup is their path to victory.

Game Notes: Billy Hamilton replaced McNeil and batted third. He finally got his first hit after going hitless in his first 15 Mets at-bats. Davis is hitless in his last 10 at-bats with six strikeouts. Andres Gimenez is tied for the MLB lead with five stolen bases.

Mets Fan Favorite Tournament: Final Four

After going through each of their brackets, all of the top seeds advanced to the Final Four. Instead of having individual match-ups to create a championship game, instead we’re going to have all four top seeds battle it out at the same time.

(1) Tom Seaver – Seaver is dubbed The Franchise for taking the team from a losing franchise to World Series winners. He holds nearly every pitching record in team history, and he is considered to be, if not the greatest, among the greatest right-handed pitchers in Major League history. He was the first Mets player to have his number retired, and he was the first Mets player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To date, he is the starting pitcher with the highest percent of the vote.

(1) Keith Hernandez – His trade to the Mets was widely credited with bringing the Mets to prominence. Won a team record five Gold Gloves at first base further cementing reputation as best defensive first baseman of all-time. Member of the 1986 World Series team who famously threatened Jesse Orosco and Gary Carter not to throw another fastball to Kevin Bass. Was named the first captain in team history. Has become part of the iconic and loved GKR on SNY broadcasts.

(1) Mike Piazza – greatest offensive catcher in Major League history who decided to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Second player to have his number retired by the Mets. Hit a number of big homers for the franchise including one capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves and the one post 9/11. Mets all-time leader in slugging and second in OPS. All over the single season and career top 10 offensive categories. Took those late 90s Mets teams over the top. Caught final pitch at Shea Stadium and first pitch at Citi Field.

(1) David Wright – The franchise leader in nearly every offensive category and is widely considered to be the best position player in franchise history. Only homegrown Met to be named team captain. Dubbed Captain America for his exploits in the World Baseball Classic. Once named by Bill James as the perfect baseball player. Seven time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, and two time Silver Slugger. Hit the first Mets homer in Citi Field, and he hit the first ever World Series homer in Citi Field. Had perhaps the most emotional good-bye game we have ever seen a player in sports history ever have. A lifetime Met who had a hand in helping ensure Jacob deGrom does the same.

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Mets Fans Want A Winner For An Owner, Not A Celebrity

The Alex Rodriguez ownership group is taking a really odd route to push for buying the New York Mets. It starts with A-Rod, who made the bizarre, hypocritical, and partially retracted push for a salary cap.

It’s not just A-Rod. It’s the rest of his celebrity athlete potential ownership group who are making non-monetary pitches to buy the team.

Beal thinks an ownership group should get it due to racial composition. Then, there’s Mason Plumlee, who took to his blog to try to tell us they have the superior ownership group because they’re cooler.

It should be noted that post was taken down because he incorrectly asserted Nets owner Joseph Tsai would be part of the ownership group. He won’t.

Going back to the deleted post, Plumlee pitched the ownership group as passionate fans, and from the player standpoint, Plumlee talked about things like having a good locker room and how they hate to lose. Note, he didn’t say spend what it takes to win.

He then made part of his pitch to the fan base on his group. Aside from this group of athletes (without much of a pedigree), he alluded to how much cooler and sexier his group is:

To be fair, he made a direct appeal to people who cheered Brodie Van Wagenen when the Mets were a complete failure at that point in the season. As for the rest of us, we just want ownership fully dedicated to winning, ownership who has the full capacity and willingness to build that winner.

To Mets fans, a really cool owner is the owner who delivers a World Series. It’s the owner who will stop at nothing to win. That’s why Nelson Doubleday, a literal book nerd, is the coolest owner in Mets history.

Doubleday bought the Mets, and he handed the keys to Frank Cashen. He was the man who basically told the Wilpons to shut up as he pushed Steve Phillips to trade for Mike Piazza. For fans, there’s nothing cooler than that.

A real Mets fan would rather sit next to a parent, spouse, child, sibling, and/or friend at a World Series game than sit next to an owner or GM for a bad Mets team.

They also want one who can get guys like Piazza. For his part, Plumlee isn’t off to a good start taking pot shots at Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Ike Davis, and Matt Harvey. If you’ll notice, he also took a shot at Steve Cohen with his SEC troubles.

Of course, if we wanted, we could focus on A-Rod’s PED history, lying about it, and suing everyone to avoid culpability. We could focus on Mike Repole’s willingness to enter into business with people with a troubling racist and misogynistic track record.

We could dig deeper into this group to see all the positive or negative things they do, but that completely misses the point. The point is the Mets need ownership whose sole focus is winning. They need ownership who has the financial might and ability to make that happen.

With every utterance from A-Rod’s group, it becomes increasingly clear it’s not them. In fact, they only seem to confirm Steve Cohen is much better suited to leading the Mets to glory than they ever can be. In the end, that makes Cohen the right and cool choice.

Mojo Rising Bracket Final: (1) Mike Piazza vs. (2) Edgardo Alfonzo

(1) Mike Piazza – greatest offensive catcher in Major League history who decided to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Second player to have his number retired by the Mets. Hit a number of big homers for the franchise including one capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves and the one post 9/11. Mets all-time leader in slugging and second in OPS. All over the single season and career top 10 offensive categories. Took those late 90s Mets teams over the top. Caught final pitch at Shea Stadium and first pitch at Citi Field.

(2) Edgardo Alfonzo – Best second baseman in Mets history in addition to being one of the best third baseman. Part of the best defensive infield in history. First Mets player to ever go 6-for-6. Homered in the first inning of the Mets first ever NLDS game, and he hit a grand slam off Bobby Chouinard in that game to give the Mets the victory. All-Star in 2000. Hit .444/.565/.611 in the 2000 NLCS. Last Mets player to ever record a World Series base hit in Shea Stadium. Led the 2019 Brooklyn Cyclones to their first ever outright New York-Penn League title.

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Mojo Rising Bracket: (1) Mike Piazza vs. (4) John Olerud

(1) Mike Piazza – greatest offensive catcher in Major League history who decided to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Second player to have his number retired by the Mets. Hit a number of big homers for the franchise including one capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves and the one post 9/11. Mets all-time leader in slugging and second in OPS. All over the single season and career top 10 offensive categories. Took those late 90s Mets teams over the top. Caught final pitch at Shea Stadium and first pitch at Citi Field.

(5) John Olerud – Had the Keith Hernandez like effect where is acquisition was what helped turned the franchise around. His .354 batting average in 1998 is the Mets single season record, and his .315 career average is the best in Mets history. That 1998 season stands as the best season a Mets first baseman has ever had. Holds the Mets first and second best single season records for OBP and is Mets all-time OBP leader. By OPS+ second best hitter in Mets history. Name littered all over single season and career top 10 lists. Hit RBI single off John Rocker in Game 4 of NLCS. First baseman for greatest defensive infield in team history.

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