MIke Piazza

Mets Should Retire Davey Johnson’s Number

With the scare of Davey Johnson being sick in the hospital with COVID19, the Mets were in danger of losing their second franchise great in less than a year. Tom Seaver will never be around to see his statue, but Johnson could be around to see his number retired.

The Mets standards for retiring numbers is all over the place. Casey Stengel was the first for, well, it wasn’t his performance as manager. That’s for sure.

Then, it was Gil Hodges. His number was posthumously retired a little more than a year after his tragic death. His guiding the Miracle Mets certainly factored into this decision.

After that, for the longest time, only Hall of Famers had their number retired. Yes, Seaver’s number was retired before his induction, but his induction was a fait accompli. For his part, Mike Piazza had to wait for his induction.

Things have changed with Jerry Koosman now getting his number retired. With that happening, it’s hard to ascertain where the line now is. Wherever it is, one thing should be clear – Davey Johnson should have his number retired.

Johnson is arguably the best manager in Mets history. In fact, in the 59 year history of the Mets, he remains the only manager to win two division titles. That’s a record which will stand for at least two more years.

That’s not the only records Johnson has. He’s the only manager to have never finished below second place. His .588 winning percentage still rates first. The same for his 595 wins.

He’s the only Mets manager to have five consecutive 90+ win seasons.He’s the only manager to have multiple 100 win seasons.

In fact, his 1986 Mets are one of the best teams of all-time. In fact, since World War II, no National League team has won more games than that Mets team won that season. As we all know, the Mets won the World Series that year.

With that, he joined Grote as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series.

The way Johnson did it was truly unique. He was one of the first managers noted for what we now deem an analytical approach. Before games, he used to scour over computer printouts to not only try to maximize his lineup, but also to try to find an edge. As his record indicates, he was very successful.

He also was unique in that he was not always beholden to veterans. In fact, one of the reasons the Mets were so successful early on is Johnson went with the talented Mets core. That included his pushing Frank Cashen to call Dwight Gooden up for the 1984 season.

That was a very bold decision which helped deliver the Mets a World Series title three years later.

Johnson did his part getting the most out of those young Mets on the field. Although, there will forever be the question if his laidback style managing personal lives had a negative impact. To be fair, it’s hard to pin substance abuse issues on just a manager. That’s an unfair criticism.

Overall, Johnson wasn’t just the winningest manager in Mets history, he’s also a revolutionary figure in the game. He’s as important a figure in team history, and in many ways, he’s the best manager in Mets history.

Really, it’s hard to imagine anyone can do what he did. The winning. Changing the way the game is managed. All of it. And that is exactly why the Mets should retire his number.

Mets Need To Extend More Than Francisco Lindor

Now that Francisco Lindor is a member of the New York Mets, the team now has to try to find a way to sign the 27 year old superstar to a contract extension. This is the move the Los Angeles Dodgers made with Mookie Betts just last year.

Its also what the Mets once did with Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza. Those moves resulted in a World Series, two pennants, two NL East titles, and four postseason appearances. Keeping Lindor can very well have the same impact on the Mets going forward.

However, it’s more than just Lindor. The Mets have key pieces of their core ready to hit free agency after this year.

First and foremost is Michael Conforto. In 2020, Conforto emerged as a true leader for this team and a potential future captain. Since moving past his shoulder injury, he’s re-established himself at the plate with a 135 OPS+ over the past two seasons.

Another homegrown Mets player who will be up for free agency is Noah Syndergaard, who will be returning from Tommy John at some point in 2021. Before suffering that injury, he was arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.

From his debut in 2015 – 2019, Syndergaard was 10th best in the majors in FIP and WAR while having the second best hard hit rate. He’s also a pitcher who thrives on the big stage. He was the last Mets pitcher to win a postseason game, and in the last Mets postseason game he arguably out-pitched Madison Bumgarner over seven innings.

At 28, he’s still young and in his prime. This is the type of pitcher teams usually move to make a part of their franchise for as long as they possibly can.

Joining Syndergaard near the top of the Mets rotation and free agency is Marcus Stroman. Like Syndergaard, the 2017 World Baseball Classic MVP was born to pitch in the big game and on the biggest stage.

What truly stands out with Stroman is not just his positivity, but his tireless pursuit to improve as a pitcher. That is exactly the type of pitcher who not only tends to improve as years progress, but he’s the type of pitcher who has a positive impact on teammates.

In terms of advanced stats like FIP and WAR, he lines up as a number two starter. However, he’s someone who you trust against another team’s ace. He’s not good, and he’s not getting outworked by anyone.

Right there, the Mets have four extremely important pieces due for an extension. After 2020, their two best position players, and two of their best three starters hit the free agent market. If the Mets truly want to rival the Dodgers, they need to move to lock these pitchers up long term.

That’s easier said than done. Some of these players may want to test the free agent market. Steve Cohen’s pockets aren’t bottomless. There’s also the matter of other players on the team.

Steven Matz will also be a free agent. After the 2022 season, Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo will be free agents. Jacob deGrom can opt out of his contract after 2022, and the Mets have a team option on Carlos Carrasco.

Overall, the Mets have to make a number of extraordinarily important decisions on players on their roster over the ensuing two seasons. They need to balancing being able to extend those players with adding another huge contract.

By the looks of it, obtaining Lindor hasn’t completed the big moves for this Mets offseason. Rather, it means their work really has just begun.

Path Clear For Francisco Lindor To Become Best Mets Shortstop

With all due respect to Bud Harrelson and Rey Ordoñez, Jose Reyes is easily the best shortstop in Mets history. He’s the franchise leader in triples and stolen bases, and his name is scattered across the top ten rankings in team history.

Looking at WAR, he’s well ahead of the other shortstops, and he’s the 10th best player in Mets history. While it may take time to catch him, Francisco Lindor is well poised to surpass Reyes’ 27.9 WAR with the Mets.

Aside from the shortened 2020 season, Lindor is a player who never had below a 4.0 WAR. In fact, Lindor has never been below a 5.0 WAR when he’s been on the Opening Day roster in a 162 game season.

Keep in mind, that’s before Lindor even entered his prime. As he entered his prime, Lindor has been a 40+ double and 30+ homer player. That is in addition to playing Gold Glove caliber defense.

Assuming he holds true to that 5.0+ WAR level player, it’ll take Lindor approximately five seasons to surpass Reyes’ 27.9 WAR. At Lindor’s 30+ homer pace, he’ll surpass Reyes’ record for homers by a shortstop within four seasons.

That’s incredible to think. As a player, Reyes was one of the most exciting and dynamic players to ever wear the Mets uniform. He was a four time All-Star and to date the only Mets player to win a batting title.

The fact it could take Lindor approximately five seasons to surpass what Reyes did in 12 speaks to how phenomenal of a baseball player he is. In getting Lindor, the Mets are getting a future Hall of Famer. They are quite possibly getting the best player not named Tom Seaver or Mike Piazza to ever don a Mets uniform.

That’s the level of player Lindor is. If the Mets agree to an extension with him, Lindor should become the greatest shortstop in team history. He may also very well become the next Mets Hall of Famer, and we could see his 12 hanging next to Seaver’s 41 and Piazza’s 31.

The path is clear for Lindor to accomplish this and much more in a Mets uniform. The only thing standing in the way is a contract extension.

Mets Make Themselves Real World Series Contenders With Francisco Lindor And Carlos Carrasco

In case you were skeptical this was indeed a new era of New York Mets baseball, the Mets just acquired Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from the Cleveland Indians. With that, the Mets added a top five player in the game at short, and they added a top of the rotation caliber pitcher to pair with Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.

When you add these players to a core with Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, James McCann, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith. Whether or not the Mets add another starter, bullpen arm, third baseman, or center fielder, the Mets already have the pieces in place to be a true World Series contender.

Just think about it for a moment. Assuming Noah Syndergaard returns this season, this is currently the Mets rotation:

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Marcus Stroman
  4. Carlos Carrasco
  5. Steven Matz/David Peterson

Even if the Mets don’t go out there and sign a George Springer or add a third baseman, this is what the Mets lineup could look like during the course of the 2021 season:

  1. Brandon Nimmo, CF
  2. Michael Conforto, RF
  3. Pete Alonso, 1B
  4. Dominic Smith, LF
  5. Francisco Lindor, SS
  6. Jeff McNeil, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Luis Guillorme 2B

Sure, this Mets team could definitively stand to get better defensively in the outfield. That said, that infield defensive alignment is quite good, especially up the middle, and that lineup is as strong and deep as they come. This is a team who can go toe-to-toe with the defending division champion Atlanta Braves and the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Right now, this is a great baseball team.

What’s even better is the Mets are not done with their offseason. They are still going to add more pieces. That could include Springer, and it could be a reliever like Brad Hand. There are are likely going to be depth pieces added beyond this group. When all is said and done, the Mets with Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Jared Porter have already done and will continue to do what Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen could never even dream of doing.

Today is a great day in Mets history. Today is just like the day the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza. The Mets got a future Hall of Famer in his prime, and they completely changed the trajectory of the franchise both this year and in the years to come.

Lets Go Mets!

Indians Should Be Renamed Cleveland Rock Stars

With the Cleveland Indians announcing they’re getting rid of the Indians team name and with it the final vestiges of the insanely racist Chief Wahoo, there is now a debate as to what the new name should be. There have been many fine suggestions.

One of the early front runners was the Cleveland Spiders. It makes sense because that’s a former team name and because there has already been some terrific mock-ups of what the new logo could be.

There have been other suggestions tying the new team name to baseball history or the rock-and-roll roots of the area. Of all the ideas proposed, Mike Piazza perhaps had the best idea:

That’s a great way to turn the page forward on the teams racist past and move forward to a new, better future. It’s also a great way to honor Larry Doby who broke the AL color barrier in the same year Jackie Robinson did.

Going through Negro League history, there were a number of different teams who played in Cleveland. The team names were the Bears, Browns, Buckeyes, Cubs, Elites, Giants, Hornets, Red Sox, Tigers, Tate Stars, and Stars.

Off the bat, you know the team couldn’t be the Cubs, Giants, Red Sox, or Tigers. There are also probably issues with the Browns and Buckeyes. There are already pro sports teams named the Bears, Hornets, and Stars.

Basically, that leaves the Elites and the Tate Stars, neither of which would really work. While Tate Stars may not work, some version of the Stars might.

That’s where you could marry the idea of honoring the Negro Leagues and celebrating the city, specifically their part in the history of Rock & Roll. It’s something the team already embraces.

We saw that with the 2019 All Star Game. Cleveland was the host city, and they incorporated that history in the logo and practice jerseys.

It’s not just for special events. The McCoys hit “Hang On Sloopy” is played in the middle of the eighth. There’s also the Rock and Roll fireworks during the summers.

This is one of many directions the organization could go. Perhaps, this is the best one.

The name Cleveland Rock Stars embraces the city’s history, and it honors the Negro Leagues. To wit, it also honors Doby, who is arguably the most important figure in team history.

There are other interesting options. Whatever the organization picks, we can only hope it honors the past and the city in the way the Cleveland Rock Stars would.

Remember Mookie Betts Signed An Extension

In an ideal world, the New York Mets would be looking to sign Mookie Betts this offseason. It would’ve been an absolutely perfect signing for the team.

The second best player in the sport helping the Steve Cohen era get off on the right foot. The right-handed bat to compliment a heavy left-handed hitting lineup. A player gifted enough to play center for the next decade.

However, it’s not happening because the Los Angeles Dodgers went all out to not only obtain him from the Boston Red Sox, but they also gave him the extension he wanted. As such, he’ll spend 13 years with the Dodgers and none with the Mets.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a future Hall of Famer eschew free agency by signing an extension with his new team. In fact, the Mets once benefitted from this by trading for and signing Mike Piazza.

That’s one of the benefits a team receives by obtaining that player. They get the exclusive window to negotiate with and sign the player. They also have that opportunity if they make the player signing an extension a condition precedent to making a trade.

That’s something to be mindful of with Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado on the trade bloc. These are quite possibly two future Hall of Famers the Mets can go out and obtain right now.

There is a need for both players. With Arenado, he’s arguably the best third baseman in baseball, and the Mets are in desperate need of one.

Lindor may not be as obvious when the Mets have Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario. With Lindor, it boils down to this team is not good enough as it, and they need premium talent to push them over the top. The best shortstop in the game goes a long way in accomplishing that.

If the Mets can get either player (preferably both), they need to do it. You don’t run the risk of another organization stepping up ad obtaining that player because if that happens they can be the ones who give Lindor or Arenado an extension ensuring they don’t hit the free agent market.

No, that doesn’t mean you make the trade for its own sake, and by no means should the Mets overpay. That said, when you have Gimenez and Rosario as well as Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso, you have valuable cost controlled depth which can be a big piece in getting a Lindor or Arenado.

Really, the Mets don’t need two shortstops and two first basemen. They need a Lindor and/or an Arenado. They need to get them now to prevent another team from locking them up.

Instead, the Mets need to do what the Dodgers did with Betts. Get the superstar. Use their financial muscle to get that superstar to sign an extension. Then, they can go win the World Series.

Curt Schilling Held To Inconsistently Applied Hall Of Fame Standard

When looking at Curt Schilling‘s career, the consensus seems to be his on-the-field performance merits induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, year-in and year-out he falls short.

The reason Schilling isn’t going to be inducted is Schilling. His post playing career has just been mired in controversy. In the end, it’s become too much for voters as evidenced by Sean Forman of Baseball Reference.

Voters who feel this way are well within their rights, and there is a specific clause in play which permits them to act upon their personal objections to Schilling’s behavior and statements

What’s curious is why Schilling faces the brunt of the character clause in a way others don’t.

Yes, that clause was been weaponized against PED users. That’s a large reason why Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others haven’t been inducted. However, Bonds and Clemens haven’t been subjected to the character clause in the same way Schilling has.

Both Bonds and Clemens were charged with perjury related to their testimony regarding steroid use. While Clemens was initially cleared, it took Bonds two appeals to have his conviction overturned.

During his first marriage, Bonds was accused of abusing his wife, and there was “at least once during the marriage.”

Clemens has never been accused of abuse. However, he has had rumors of affairs. That includes an inappropriate relationship with a minor, which both sides attest did not grow to become physical until she was of age.

Moving in terms of Schilling territory, both Bonds and Clemens have their own issues.

Former MLB player Ron Kittle accused Bonds of saying, “I don’t sign for white people.” Bonds did categorically deny he said that. It must also be noted there have no been similar allegations against Bonds during his career.

On that note, Bonds was not popular with teammates or the media. Going back to college, Bonds was actually voted off his team. Given how many had an axe to grind against Bonds, and how unapologetically outspoken he’s been, if there was more, you’d imagine more people would’ve come forward.

With Bonds, you have unconfirmed accusations. To overlook those is certainly understandable. If a writer wants something more tangible or substantial before acting upon it, it’s understandable.

Clemens doesn’t face hearsay allegations like Bonds. We have statements made by Clemens. Specifically, Clemens made a crack the dry cleaners were all closed in Japan and South Korea during the World Baseball Classic. While some may want to equate that to a misunderstanding, there are other allegations.

Clemens is also a notorious head hunter who injured many players arguably intentionally. It’s something his future Yankees teammates griped about before Clemens joined their team. We know Clemens went so far as to throw a bat at Mike Piazza during the World Series.

There’s more with Clemens as well including his throwing food at a reporter over a story he didn’t appreciate. All in all, on and off the field, Clemens has done things which should invite writers to invoke the character clause against him.

Ultimately, writers are withholding votes from Schilling due to his actions and statements. However, they’re not doing the same with Clemens.

Remember, Clemens has injured players on the field, made racially charged remarks, and has had inappropriate relationships outside of his marriage. For those writers voting for him and not Schilling, they do need to offer an explanation how they find Clemens behavior acceptable and where exactly their line is.

Mets Old Timer’s Day Lineups And Ideas

It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.

It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:

MGR Davey Johnson/Bobby Valentine

P Dwight Gooden/John Franco

C Todd Hundley/Mike Piazza

1B Keith Hernandez/John Olerud

2B Tim Teufel/Edgardo Alfonzo

3B Howard Johnson/David Wright

SS Rey Ordonez/Jose Reyes (I don’t want him there, but he’ll be invited)

LF Cliff Floyd/Endy Chavez

CF Mookie Wilson/Carlos Beltran

RF Darryl Strawberry/Curtis Granderson

Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.

Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.

For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.

If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.

The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.

Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.

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.