The New York Mets rode with their veterans for as long as they could. To a certain extent, you could understand it with Mark Canha being an integral part of a 101 win team. However, even with that in the 8-7 extra inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays, Buck Showalter did what needed to be done, and he hit Brett Baty for Canha.
Given the fact Eduardo Escobar and Tommy Pham were already out of the game, that meant Baty was going to have to play left field. It also meant that was the first time we got to see Francisco Álvarez, Baty, and Mark Vientos in the field for the Mets at the same time.
In many ways, this was the dawn of a new era of Mets baseball. We knew that Álvarez was always going to be the catcher of the future. It seemed Baty surpassed Vientos as the third baseman of the future. The question was what was to happen with Vientos. DH seemed to be the spot, but perhaps, there’s a new roadmap in place.
We got a glimpse of what Álvarez can do. He’s already an excellent defensive catcher, which has been a very pleasant surprise. We also saw him channel his inner Mike Piazza to hit the game tying homer in the ninth.
The Kids Are Alright!
Francisco Álvarez caps a big @Mets comeback! pic.twitter.com/jzSwfRZo7H
— MLB (@MLB) May 18, 2023
That was the second Mets homer of the game. The first came from Vientos. He was called up to the majors because of his power at the plate. We all suspected it was game changing power, and we saw that happen when he homered in the seventh to tie the game at 2-2. It took a Mets team that looked down and out and put a jolt into them,.
WELCOME BACK TO THE BIG LEAGUES MARK VIENTOS!!!!
THIS GAME IS TIED! pic.twitter.com/z8iegpI5pF
— SNY (@SNYtv) May 18, 2023
We also know Pete Alonso hit the walk-off homer in the tenth to give the Mets an unexpected and much needed win. Of course, Alonso homering there only highlights the problem the Mets have. With Alonso at first, the team cannot put Vientos at first to put Baty at third like they did in Syracuse.
No, Vientos either has to play third or DH. Asking a young player to DH is sometimes an issue, and it would be better for him to play third. Looking to the offseason, the Mets also want to keep DH open to try to entice Shohei Ohtani, but that is a discussion for another time.
The discussion for right now is how to get Baty and Vientos onto the field at the same time. Perhaps, Baty having to play left field in an emergency is the roadmap. Perhaps, the Mets could try putting Baty in left with Vientos at third.
For what it is worth, Baty looked good there in 250 innings in the minors. His 27.1 ft/sec sprint speed is quicker than Pham and is sufficient to play left. He’d be one of the slower left fielders, but with his quick reactions formed while training for third. There is also the fact the Mets were preparing for that eventuality when they initially agreed to terms with Carlos Correa.
Vientos is not a great third baseman. It’s one of the reasons he was usurped by Baty. We saw him make a great throw to get Jose Siri, but he also made a rough throw that cost the Mets a chance at a double play. However, he is vastly improved defensively, and he has a game changing bat.
The Mets can and should bring Luis Guillorme back up to fill in for late inning defense. Canha can be available for that as well. They can use Escobar to spell third on occasion. Using key veterans like Canha, Escboar, and Guillorme will help the Mets keep Baty and VIentos in games.
It will also help the Mets get the most out of their young players. It will help them make Álvarez, Baty, and Vientos the core of this team now and for the future.
There is no doubt Francisco Álvarez has struggled this season. Entering the series finale against the San Francisco Giants, Álvarez was 2-for-23 at the plate with no extra base hits, no walks, and seven strikeouts. Those are just ugly numbers.
Part of the reason is Buck Showalter and whoever else in the New York Mets organization froze him out. Despite spring training promises Álvarez was going to catch regularly whenever he was called up, Álvarez took a clear back seat to Tomás Nido.
To some degree, you could understand the rationale. Nido is the far superior defensive catcher. He is a superior defensive catcher as compared to nearly anyone. The idea was his work behind the plate offsets his offensive struggles, and that was all the more important with all of the Mets pitching injuries.
With Nido, he better be great behind the plate to carry that career 57 wRC+. Historically, he has been that. The problem is he has not been remotely good at framing to the start of the season posting 45.8% strike rate and 0 catcher runs (Baseball Savant).
This carries the usual small sample size concerns and caveats. However, when you make a short term decision like playing Nido over the long term decision of playing and developing Álvarez, you have to have all of the stats completely in your favor to justify the decision.
The Mets don’t have that at the moment. In fact, from a framing perspective, the still very raw Álvarez has been outplaying Nido.
Like Nido, Álvarez has posted 0 catcher runs, but he has done it with a 50.0% strike rate. His pop times and exchange rates are slower than Nido, and we have seen teams have a willingness to run on Álvarez a little more. That said, at least in terms of purely catching the pitch, Álvarez seems to be the better performer.
He also has much more potential in his bat. We saw it when he took Tyler Rogers deep in the series finale against the Giants. Keep in mind, Rogers is a reliever with a 0.5 HR/9 rate You have to really earn it against Rogers, and that goes double in that ballpark.
Francisco Álvarez became the first right-handed hitter (and only second since start of 2022 season) to take Tyler Rogers deep since Manny Machado on 8/9/2022.
— Mike Mayer (@mikemayer22) April 24, 2023
In that moment, we saw the reason why Álvarez has been compared to Mike Piazza. His power is immense, and his offensive potential is off the charts. He just hasn’t gotten it going in the majors in his brief career.
Again, part of the blame lies on Showalter (or whoever is directing him not play Álvarez). It is a decision hurting the team in the short term, and it can hurt the Mets in the long term. They need to let him learn how to be a better catcher, and they need to let him get into a groove at the plate.
Álvarez is the Mets catcher of the future. If they paid any attention, and if they cared about player development, he could be the catcher of the present. After that homer and looking at all of the numbers, it is beyond time to make the switch.
Back in 2015, it seemed like the New York Mets were about to become perennial contenders. It seemed like Matt Harvey was going to be the guy who got the ball in big postseason games, and it was Mike Piazza‘s duty to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
So much has happened since then.
Harvey had TOS as well as his own personal demons. he would be designated for assignment and traded to the Cincinnati Reds. At the moment, after his suspension stemming from the Tyler Skaggs death and subsequent investigation, he seems like he will soon be out of baseball.
With that, we thought we saw the end of Harvey and Piazza being united on the same team and on the same field. That was until the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Piazza represented Italy in the first WBC, and he has worked his way up to become their manager. Due to the relative paucity of options for his team, he found himself turning to Harvey to not only join the team, but also be their ace.
Matt Harvey's return to the mound went about as well as anyone could have hoped, as the 33-year-old threw three scoreless innings this morning for Team Italy vs. Cuba in the WBC.
That included a groundout of former teammate Yoenis Céspedes in their only meeting. pic.twitter.com/8QOnVcom2i
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 9, 2023
Harvey pitched three scoreless innings, and he had a moment with former Mets teammate Yoenis Céspedes. They gave each other a nod, and Harvey would get Céspedes to ground out.
The game went extra innings with Italy pulling out the surprising win. It would also prove to effectively eliminate Cuba from the World Baseball Classic. This isn’t Italy’s biggest or more surprising win in the WBC, but it was an important first step to make noise in this year’s classic.
Credit for this win deserves to go to Piazza for leading Italy the way he did. Credit should also go to Harvey who stepped up and pitching three scoreless.
Seeing Harvey and Piazza out there for big games and coming away with a victory was part of the dream in 2015. We hoped it would continue for the next decade, but it didn’t.
Now, we have this one final glimpse. As Mets fans, we should relish this run for as long as it lasts because in reality, the next time we see these two together will be at an Old Timer’s Day at Citi Field.
Since taking over the New York Mets, Steve Cohen has set out to celebrate Mets history. That hasn’t just included things like Old Timers’ Day and retiring the numbers of Keith Hernandez and Willie Mays. It has been welcoming those players back to the organization.
In this latest effort, the Mets have welcomed back Carlos Beltran to the organization.
Earlier in the offseason, the Mets tried to bring back Beltran to work as a coach for Buck Showalter. After those efforts failed, the Mets were able to hire Beltran in an unnamed front office role.
This comes three years after Beltran was hired and fired as manager for the Mets. That came on the heels of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal coming to light. Rather than stick by Beltran, the Wilpons fired him.
In many ways, Queens is where Beltran belongs. To this day, he remains the best free agent signing the team ever made. More than that, Beltran is the best center fielder in team history.
The Mets needed this partially because to this day they only have Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame. Absent the Astros sign stealing scandal, Beltran would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. Before the scandal, the only question was which hat was going to be on his plaque.
Beltran spent seven years with the Mets and Kansas City Royals. He also had notable stops with the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. You could see him wearing a Royals cap or even opting to go the route Greg Maddux, Roy Halladay (family), and Mike Mussina recently opted with a a blank cap.
However, with Beltran back with the Mets, you can see him wearing a Mets cap on his plaque when he is eventually inducted. You can also anticipate the Mets are going to do everything they can to ensure he is enshrined like he should be. We can also expect his 15 to be retired like it should be.
Overall, like in 2005, the Mets and Beltran needed one another. They’re back together, and we should see great things ensue.
There was news recently the New York Mets plan on inviting David Wright to Spring Training to work with Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The Mets interest is obvious because they want the best third baseman in team history to teach two of their best prospects to maximize their potential.
In terms of the Mets, this is something they and every franchise do. They always love bringing back the team greats to work with their young players. Years ago, the Mets had Mike Piazza work with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If not for the World Baseball Classic, maybe Piazza could be there working with Francisco Álvarez and Kevin Parada.
For the Mets, we know they won’t stop at Wright. When looking at it, one Mets legend they should invite to Spring Training is R.A. Dickey because he can have an impact like no other former Mets player could.
We’re all very aware of the Dickey story. He was a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers who was discovered to be born without a UCL in his right arm who threw a forkball which was more akin to a knuckleball. This led him on a long and transient path to the majors and eventually the New York Mets.
With the Mets, he would be named the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner, and he would be the last Mets pitcher to win 20 games. He had taken the mantle from Tim Wakefield as the great knuckleball pitcher of his generation, but unfortunately, there has really been no one to take up that mantle since Dickey retired.
When looking at any farm system, the Mets included, there are pitchers who are never going to make it to the majors. There are various reasons including lack of velocity and/or control. For those prospects, and for the organization, the question is how long you play out the string with them until you change something about them or eventually cut them loose. It’s a sad reality of the minor leagues.
For the Mets, having Dickey in camp could permit him to teach those prospects not just the knuckleball but his knuckleballs. Remember, when Dickey was with the Mets he threw multiple ones which is what made him a unique and dominating pitcher.
R.A. Dickey's Knuckleballs (close up) 🦋 pic.twitter.com/pCi00TYw3U
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 26, 2022
To some degree, this is what we saw happen with Jacob deGrom and Johan Santana. When Santana taught deGrom his change, deGrom’s trajectory as a prospect went to the next level. Taking another ninth round pick and showing them the knuckleball could have a similar impact. Chances are, it won’t, but certainly, it is worth trying.
In the end, Dickey is just one of four Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He was a great Met for the short time he was here, and for that reason alone, he should be invited back for spring training. The fact he could help Mets prospects take their game to the next level makes inviting Dickey a must.
Before the season, there were 60 bold predictions made heading into the New York Mets 60th season. Here is a look back at how those bold predictions worked out:
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
While they won 101 games, they collapsed late in the season, and they would lose in three games to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card round.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
Fortunately, Howie has not announced his retirement.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
4. Francisco Lindor will be the NL MVP. Like Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, he’s going to have a huge second year. Unlike them, he wont’ be denied the award.
Lindor did have a huge second year, but a broken finger cost him any chance of winning the award.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
As it turned out, Smith was not given a real shot to be the DH. Not only did he not force his way into the lineup, but he was demoted to Triple-A, and he was not called up even with the expanded rosters. He was non-tendered after the season.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
Diaz was an All-Star.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
Diaz was the only All-Star from this group. The other Mets All-Stars were Pete Alonso, Starling Marte, and Jeff McNeil.
8. Jacob deGrom will receive some Cy Young votes. Whenever he comes back, he’s going to be deGrom, and he’s going to be so great, he’s going to appear on ballots.
It started that way, but deGrom wasn’t quite as sharp when he returned. He did not receive any votes.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
As it turned out, he finished the season as the right fielder, but he moved back to second when Marte returned from injury for the postseason.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
Wow, this one was way off the mark and couldn’t have been more wrong.
11. Chris Bassitt will have a slow first month frustrating fans, but he will have a terrific stretch starting in the middle of May as he adjusts to working with the new catchers and Jeremy Hefner.
It was the opposite for Bassitt. He was strong all season until the very end.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
Marte was a fan favortite, and Mets fans would not let him be snubbed with their voting him in as a starter.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
For whatever which reason, the Mets were reluctant all year to give him a shot. After the Darin Ruf trade disaster, he finally got a shot in a pennant race and was less then thrilling.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
Baty was not moved, and he would be called up to be the team’s everyday third baseman until his own season ending injury.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
With his ankle injury, Álvarez was only called up to DH late in the season. Tomas Nido did supplant James McCann as the starter.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
Well, the Phillies won the pennant, so this was only true to that extent. However, the Mets missed their every chance to bury the Braves and would eventually collapse.
17. The Atlanta Braves will not challenge the Mets at all for the division. They’ll really miss Freddie Freeman, the bullpen will falter, and they will not get Ronald Acuna Jr. back in time.
This was very true in June. It was not true at all after that.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
Megill had a good run as a starter until he was injured. He returned late in the season and moved to the bullpen. He is likely in the mix for the rotation next season.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
Shockingly, not only did Carrasco rebound, but he also made 29 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
Williams was a vital part of this team all season.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
This did not happen.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
The Mets did not have any winners with only Nido being a finalist. In terms of the voting, there were multiple Mets who were snubbed despite excellent defensive numbers.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
His name has not surfaced as a managerial candidate.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
Neither has him.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
This was very close to being true. J.D. Davis was a DH in 41 games before the team mercifully got rid of him. After the trade deadline, Daniel Vogelbach was the DH in 46 games.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
He did not.
27. The Joely Rodriguez trade will work out as well as the Alex Torres trade did for the Mets.
While Rodriguez had his moments, he had an 87 ERA+ making his largely true.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
To our collective surprise, Brandon Nimmo played a career high 151 games. Mark Canha would play 140.
29. Fans will fall in love with Nick Plummer and get more frustrated by Khalil Lee.
For a one week stretch, when Plummer hit that ninth inning homer against the Phillies, Mets fans did fall in love with him before he stopped hitting as a part time DH. No Mets fan paid any attention to Lee.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
Canha played fewer games than Nimmo, but he did have the lowest WAR among outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
There wasn’t any issues with Stroman during the season, and he did not pitch against the Mets this year.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
That did not happen.
33. Carlos Beltran will not return to Citi Field for Old Timers’ Day. We also will not see Carlos Delgado.
Sadly, this was true.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
It was difficult to ascertain who got the loudest ovation which was a great thing.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
This award probably goes to McNeil for robbing the Oneil Cruz homer, but Guillorme had more than his fair share of highlights.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
Alonso took a big step back defensively, but the Mets hesitated to give him more time at DH even to give him rest late in the season.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
There were some rumblings about Conforto, but he wasn’t tied with the Mets. He also did not sign with any team.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
We heard nothing on that front, but we should give this one time.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
Nope, we didn’t, and it didn’t help that David Cone was saying Mets fans would complain about them not being GKR.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
Whether or not it was the right call, Showalter won, and it was close to being unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
This one was actually true.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
This one should’ve been true. However, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch found the flaw.
43. Drew Smith will take over the eighth inning and will be groomed as the next closer. He will not take over the eighth due to any fault of Trevor May who will have another good year.
Smith was well on his way until injury. May did not have a great year, but that was mostly due to injury. It should be noted he stepped up late in the season and in the postseason.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
With Scherzer dealing with an oblique injury and faltering against the Braves and Padres, this ultimately proved true.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
The Mets did have a monster second half until they faltered against the weakest September schedule. Truth is they should have run away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
The Blue Jays made the postseason. With them and the Mets losing in the Wild Card round, this was not remotely an issue.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
It was a chilly reception.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
So far, fans seems to be unhappy with the postseason changes.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
Peterson did quite well even if he had some struggles, and he stayed in the rotation for the most part.
50. The Mets will not need to add bullpen pieces at the deadline because we will see pitchers like Colin Holderman and Thomas Szapucki emerge as quality relief options at the Major League level.
Holderman emerged as a quality relief option, but he would be traded for Vogelbach. Szapucki was moved to the bullpen with Syracuse with an eye towards using him in that role. He too would be traded for a platoon DH option (Ruf). The Mets only added Mychael Givens at the deadline while espousing they liked what they had.
51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.
This proved true with Nido finally taking over full duties at the very end of the season.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
True, but Diaz was signed before the start of free agency.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
True even as his team collapsed.
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
Walker tied for the second most starts. deGrom would actually make the fewest starts.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
On April 29, the Co-No happened.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
This likely will not happen.
57. The Mets will announce their next Hall of Fame class, and it will include Al Leiter and Johan Santana.
There was no such announcment, but there was the announcement of Willie Mays and Keith Hernandez having their numbers retired.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
MLB did not care about the lack of quality with the games, and honestly, while there were complaints, Mets fans didn’t complain nearly as much about the streaming games as you’d anticipate.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
It actually proved to be more than just that. Showalter got Guillorme into the lineup due to his glove.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
To reiterate, I’m an idiot, and I’ll probably make the same prediction next year.
We still do or do not know if Shohei Ohtani will be traded this offseason. The Los Angeles Angels are up for sale, and with a sale process ongoing, we may not see the superstar traded.
As a franchise, now may be the time to trade him. He’s a year away from free agency. He’s voicing his discontent. Even with Ohtani and Mike Trout, this is a team nowhere close to contention. That goes double when you consider what the Houston Astros are doing and the Seattle Mariners young core.
If Ohtani were available for trade, it would behoove the Mets to do everything they can do to get him right now. No, they should not wait around and hope to flex Steve Cohen’s financial muscle in the ensuing offseason.
The biggest reason why is you don’t know if he will even be a free agent. Years ago, Mets fans were awaiting Cohen to purchase the team, and the prevailing “wisdom” was not to go out and get Mookie Betts. because the Mets could just sign him after the offseason. Well, Betts signed a massive extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We did see Cohen act similarly. The Mets went out and traded for Francisco Lindor. Cohen then gave him the biggest contract for a shortstop in Major League history to ensure Lindor would not hit the open market. We can go back over 20 years ago when the Mets obtained Mike Piazza from the Florida Marlins and then gave him a record contract during their exclusive negotiating window before the start of free agency.
When a team trades for and obtains a superstar, they get a chance to put on the full court press to sign that player to an extension with zero competition. Cohen has already once used that tactic for his benefit, and given the right player, he can do that again. Make no mistake, Ohtani is that player.
Heading into the offseason, the Mets likely want a course correction on their DH situation. While Daniel Vogelbach performed, their right-handed platoon options faltered. That leaves the Mets looking to upgrade from Darin Ruf or looking to start anew. Ideally, they would look to start anew.
Certainly, the Mets could look to blow that situation up for the right player. Ohtani is the right player. Since his rookie season in 2018, Ohtani has a 137 wRC+. That is second only to Yordan Alvarez among designated hitters. Really, Ohtani has become the second best DH in all of baseball.
We also see the Mets need to address their starting pitching. Jacob deGrom is going to opt out. Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker have player options. The Mets need to make a decision on how to rebuild their rotation.
Since undergoing Tommy John, the 2022 season was Ohtani’s first real full season as a starter. For a bad Angels team, he was 15-7 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.027 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and an 11.9 K/9. That K/9 figure lead the American League and was second in all of baseball. He also averaged nearly six innings per start.
Revisit the Mets situation for a second. They need to address their DH spot. Ohtani is the second best in the sport. They need to rebuild their rotation. Ohtani has pitched like a number two starter. Ohtani has a good relationship with Mets GM Billy Eppler, and Cohen has the financial might and will to sign Ohtani to an extension. Certainly, the marketing locally, nationally, and abroad makes him all the more enticing to the Mets.
The only thing standing in the Mets way will be the Angels asking price. If there is the opportunity to sign Ohtani to an extension, the Mets should meet whatever price the Angels are asking. Really, there are no untouchables in the Mets organization when it comes to Ohtani.
Francisco Álvarez? Without a doubt. They want Pete Alonso? Well, they can have him. Again, there are no untouchables.
Sure, there may be a limit as to the package you may be willing to offer, but the Mets must keep in mind they are getting TWO players with Ohtani. They’re getting a star DH. They’re getting a top of the rotation caliber pitcher. They’re getting a superstar with immense likeability and marketability. He is going to make the Mets significantly better, and he is going to make them a ton of money.
Ohtani in a Mets uniform would be a dream come true for the Mets. He is everything they want and need. If he’s out there on the trade market, the Mets absolutely must do everything in their power to make him a Met for the rest of his career. That starts in 2022.
On August 2, 2022, the New York Mets traded J.D. Davis along with prospects Carson Seymour, Thomas Szapucki, and Nick Zwack. for then San Francisco Giants 1B/OF/DH Darin Ruf. It was a trade widely panned at the time due to the prospect overpay. However, this is the type of trade where if the Mets won the World Series no one would really care about the overpay.
The converse to this is naturally the overpay is highlighted when the player struggles. This is why teams typically will not admit a mistake and do everything they can to try to make the trade work. If they can get just one big hit or a small hitting streak, they can point to that to say they didn’t completely mess up. What most teams don’t realize is that player struggling mightily only makes the trade worse because the player not only struggles, but they also inhibit a team’s chances of winning.
Things with Ruf actually started great. In his first Mets plate appearance, he hit a pinch hit double. The problem is Ruf has done absolutely nothing after that. In 28 games, he is hitting .152/.216/.197 with three doubles and seven RBI. It is not hyperbole to say the Mets have gotten more from him as a pitcher (two scoreless innings in a blowout loss) than they have as a position player.
DARIN RUF HITS A TWO-RUN DOUBLE IN HIS METS DEBUT! pic.twitter.com/xsR9dvTGXS
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 6, 2022
Part of this was probably the Mets fault. They took a player who played semi-regularly, and they asked him to be a pure bench/platoon option. Unfortunately, Ruf was not suited for the role. Make no mistake, this was an unforced error and a complete gaffe by the Mets. They gave it a little less than two months before admitting defeat and investigating their other options.
Mets teams of old play and lose with Ruf. This Mets team doesn’t care about how their image and competency are adjudged. They know that will solely be defined by winning the World Series. The Mets saw Ruf would’ve hindered those chances. Instead, the Mets needed to pursue other options who would give them a better chance to win.
First, it was Mark Vientos. In Oakland, it did seem like he was figuring things out. We would even see him hit his first Major League homer. He was cutting down on the strikeouts and taking better at-bats. The thing is he had chances in his last game in big spots, and he didn’t deliver.
Mark Vientos showed off his sweet swing on his first MLB homer for the @Mets! pic.twitter.com/EHZ917VXGK
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 24, 2022
We have seen enough from Vientos to see he is going to be a power hitter at the Major League level. In his minor league career, he has shown the ability to make adjustments and thrive at the plate. However, with the Mets waiting so long before calling him up to the majors, he might not have that time he needs to get comfortable, adjust, and thrive before playing in the postseason.
With that in mind, the Mets called up Francisco Álvarez, the player Keith Law dropped a Mike Piazza comp on before the season. Certainly, with the 27 homers, Álvarez has backed that up. Mets fans have been waiting for this since Álvarez said in Spring Training his goal was to make it to the majors this season. He probably would’ve made it sooner if not for that ankle injury.
Francisco Álvarez against left-handed pitching this season:
— Michael Mayer (@michaelmayer22) September 30, 2022
Right now, it seems Álvarez is here to DH in one game and be available as a pinch hitting option. While Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer were complimentary of his work behind the plate, a team that is going to win and lose the World Series based on their pitching cannot sit James McCann and Tomas Nido, who are exceptional framers.
No, for now, this is a one shot deal. Álvarez is here to DH. He is here because Ruf couldn’t do the job. He is here because the Mets are still unsure if Vientos can do the job. Mostly, he is here because this Mets team will not be defined by their mistakes. Instead, they will be defined by winning.
For the 10th time in New York Mets history, the team is going to the postseason. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and it is a credit to Steve Cohen for his ability to quickly turnaround this franchise after the Wilpon disaster. Mostly, it is a credit to each and every one of the players on the field.
For a franchise who has double the amount of 90+ loss seasons than postseason appearances, this is a historic time in Mets history. It was worthy of celebration, and thankfully, the players were able to appreciate what they accomplished.
The job is not done but enjoy the hard work. #TheseMets | #LGM pic.twitter.com/GF0u6Im0SJ
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 20, 2022
Unfortunately, the work is not done. Not by a long shot. At the moment, the Mets are still a game up in the division and tied in the loss column with the Atlanta Braves. That leaves this Mets team in a position where they have to do what no Mets team has done before – beat the Braves.
Yes, the Mets have actually beat the Braves en route to a World Series. Back in 1969, in the inaugural NLCS, the Amazin’s swept the NL West Champion Braves who featured future Hall of Famers in Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, and Phil Niekro. However, since the Wild Card format, which put the Braves in the NL East, the Mets have never been able to overcome the Braves as an obstacle.
It really first began in 1998. We talk about the collapse of 2007, but this one might have been worse. All the Mets had to do was just win one of their final five games to force a one game playoff for the Wild Card. The Braves swept them the final series of the season despite not having anything to play for.
In 1999, the Braves appeared to leave the Mets in the dust taking two out of three putting the Mets behind the Cincinnati Reds heading into the final series of the season. The Braves truly thought they left the Mets in the dust with Chipper Jones boasting that the Mets fans could now go into their closets and get their New York Yankees gear.
The Mets survived, and they fought back from an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. John Olerud had the RBI single in the eighth inning in Game Four. Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single ending Game Five. In Game Six, Mike Piazza hit the game tying homer off John Smoltz in the seventh capping a comeback from 7-0.
After Melvin Mora singled home Benny Agbayani in the eighth, it looked like there was going to be a Game Seven. However, John Franco blew it in the eighth. After Todd Pratt‘s sacrifice fly in the 10th, again, it looked like a Game Seven before Armando Benitez blew the save (this was before we knew Benitez couldn’t handle these spots). Finally, in the 11th, Kenny Rogers just blew it.
In 2000, the Mets could not beat the Braves for the division title. They did win the pennant, but the Braves had already been taken out by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2001, the Mets seemed poised to do the impossible. They were a team who was playing out the string, but they appeared galvanized fighting for their city after 9/11. The dreams of the Mets returning to the postseason were dashed when again Benitez and Franco couldn’t get the job done. A Mets 5-1 ninth inning lead went by the wayside as Brian Jordan hit a walk-off grand slam.
From there, the Mets and Braves were never good again at the same time. Yes, the Mets would end the Braves tyranny atop the division in 2006, but the Braves were a distant third that season.
It would not be until 2021 until the Mets and Braves would clash for the division again. The Mets had spent 103 days in first place. The Braves charged, and they tied the Mets atop the division on August 6. The following day, they took control of the division and never relinquished it as the Mets went in MLB infamy for being the team with the most days in first place to finish the season with a losing record.
This Mets team has squandered a 10.5 game lead and a 3.0 game lead to start the month. Yes, the Braves have been playing incredible baseball. That certainly explains the lead shrinking by 6.5 games entering September. However, if the Mets had only taken care of business at the beginning of this month, they would be on firmer footing.
Right now, none of that matters. What matters is that there is the division. The Mets have 13 games remaining to prove they are the best team in the division. So long as they don’t get swept in Atlanta, they will own the tiebreakers. Really, all the Mets have to do is win games.
Put another way, this Mets team has to do what no other Mets team has done. They have to beat the Braves. If this happens, they will have accomplished what no Mets team has ever done. They will prove this team is different. They will show this team has what it takes to win the World Series.
For some reason, it just seems players need a year to get acclimated before taking off with the New York Mets. Just ask Carlos Beltran.
We’re again seeing it with Francisco Lindor.
Lindor’s first year with the Mets did not go well at all. He was booed, and there was controversy over the thumbs down bit.
Sure, the numbers weren’t bad. However, they weren’t quite Lindor. Not the future Hall of Famer who commanded the biggest contract ever handed out by the Mets or any shortstop in Major League history.
This season has been different. Even with the injures, Lindor has been as advertised. He’s playing near Gold Glove caliber defense, and he’s had a number of key hits.
That includes the grand slam against Taylor Rogers. Lindor just does so many things to help the Mets win.
The grand slam proved necessary. That’s not just because the Atlanta Braves won again, but it’s also because the Brewers would score again. Ultimately, the Mets won 7-5 and remain in first place.
For Lindor, he’s been exactly as advertised this season. He has a 13 OAA. That’s tied for second best among shortstops and the top seven (out of any position) in the majors.
At the plate, Lindor has a 129 wRC+, the second best of his career. That’s fourth among Major League shortstops.
What’s notable is Xander Bogaerts comes closest to Lindor with a 5 OAA, which is a wide disparity. The other two shortstops ahead of Lindor have a negative OAA.
Lindor is a truly unique player. He’s a power hitting shortstop who plays Gold Glove defense. He’s already the best shortstop the Mets have ever had, and he’s on his way to being among the best ever.
Mostly, when Lindor was acquired and extended, fans were promised things were different. The Mets had a superstar in the vein of a Beltran or Mike Piazza. Only this time, the Mets were not going to stop short of doing what was necessary to build a true World Series contender around their star player.
The Mets have shown the willingness to do all in their power to build a roster befitting their superstar. However, sometimes, it’s up to the superstar to be the difference maker, and once again, Lindor was just that.