Neil Walker

Thank You Asdrubal Cabrera

When looking at Sandy Alderson’s tenure as the Mets General Manager, you would have to say one of the best moves he made was signing Asdrubal Cabrera in the offseason immediately after the Mets pennant.

When you look at Cabrera’s Mets career, the one thing that immediately comes to mind is how he almost single-handedly carried the Mets to the 2016 postseason.

At that time, the Mets were down Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Jacob deGrom in the rotation.  The team had no third baseman for most of the season.  Lucas Duda was essentially done for the year, and James Loney was doing a bad job offensively and defensively at first.  Neil Walker would go down with a season ending back surgery.  The prior year’s hero, Yoenis Cespedes, was in and out of the lineup with quad issues, and when he did play, he wasn’t the same guy he was in 2015.

After what was a largely disappointing injury plagued year, Cabrera came off the DL on August 19th, and he went on an absolute tear.  From that point until the end of the season, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, a triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.

To put it in perspective just how great a run that was, Cabrera had the seventh best wRC+ over that stretch.  His 179 wRC+ was better than players like Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, NL MVP Kris Bryant.

In that insane stretch, the Mets went from two games under .500 to finishing the year 87-75 with the top National League Wild Card.  Not only did Cabrera fuel that run, but he might have also given us one of the greatest bat flips in Mets history:

From there, things haven’t been so great with the Mets.  Unfortunately, it did lead to Cabrera demanding a trade when the team wanted to move him off of shortstop.  With the Mets unable to move him, the team did pick up his option, and he returned.

It is a good thing he returned because Cabrera has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.  His 122 wRC+ is sixth best among Major League second basemen, and it is second best among players on the Mets Opening Day roster.

Whatever issues Cabrera may have caused with his demands, he is a guy who came to play each and every day.  No matter what the injury or issue, he wanted in the lineup.  More often that not, he contributed.

Part of the reason why is Cabrera is that rare breed of player who actually raises his game in New York.  His 116 OPS+ with the Mets is better than any of his previous stops.  He averaged a higher WAR with the Mets than at any other stop.  It’s impressive he did this as a player towards the end of his prime as opposed to one entering his prime.

Overall, the New York Mets organization has been better for Cabrera having been a part of it.  He was a player born to play in New York, and he had the opportunity to show it with a great pennant run in 2016.  For that run alone, Mets fans should be thankful.

In the end, we should all wish Cabrera good luck in Philadelphia, and yes, given his play here, there Mets should consider bringing him back next year.

Mets Are Good With Cespedes, Thor, and No Reyes

With all the injuries, Mets fans were left to wonder how this team would have been if they had Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes. Right off the bat, we’d find out the answer is very good.

Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a walk against Yankee starter Domingo German. After that leadoff walk, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, and third baseman Jose Bautista hit RBI doubles giving the Mets a quick 3-0 lead.

That lead would grow to 4-0 when Cespedes had a Yankee Stadium special ding off the foul pole:

That 4-0 lead was good for Syndergaard who had another five inning effort where he could not get that 1-2-3 inning.

Fortunately, Syndergaard, who was popping off at the mouth before the game, was able to navigate through the jams effectively. The only damage against him was a Giancarlo Stanton third inning sacrifice fly.

In the fifth, Cespedes led off the inning with a walk, advance to second on a Wilmer Flores one out walk, and he’d score on a Conforto RBI single.

Bautista walked to load the bases, and they’d come away with just one more run. With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, you knew it was a tight margin for the Mets pen.

Amed Rosario didn’t help matters playing poor defense and going 0-4 at the plate.

Seth Lugo dealt with poor defense, but he gutted through two innings. Still, the margin tightened with Neil Walker hitting a two run RBI double.

After Lugo, Robert Gsellman would have a rough eighth. As alluded to earlier, Rosario’s poor defense was a factor allowing the quick Brett Gardner on base.

Didi Gregorious doubled home one run, and Giancarlo Stanton knocker another one home with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-5.

The game was teetering. Fortunately, Gary Sanchez and Miguel Andujar were terrible in big spots on the night. Each had a chance to get the big hit, and they fizzled.

With that, the Mets carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth. With the team producing a run with Cabrera getting on, Flores going the opposite way to get him over, and a Conforto sacrifice fly would get him in.

This seemed like the perfect shot for Jeurys Familia to shut the door, but with the trade speculation, Mickey Callaway opted for Gsellman for the six out save instead.

Game Notes: Conforto had a terrific night going 2-4 with a run, double, and three RBI. Bautista has a nice barehanded play. Bautista started at third over Jose Reyes.

Mets Should Sign Neil Walker

Certainly, when you look at any free agent, there are a number of things you can look to pick apart.  When looking at former Mets second baseman Neil Walker, you need not look at his recent health history.  He needed back surgery in 2016, and last year, he missed a large chunk of time due to a partially torn hamstring.

Even with the injury issues, Walker has been a productive player when on the field.  In 111 games last year, Walker hit .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBI.  The one caution you would have with him is that he showed 2016 was a blip as he returned to struggling against left-handed pitching.

To that end, Walker would be the perfect fit for the current Mets roster.

Based upon their production there last year, the Mets have three players ill-suited to playing second base everyday with Asdrubal Cabrera (-6 DRS), Wilmer Flores (-1 DRS), and Jose Reyes (-5 DRS).  What is interesting about this group is all three of them struggle against right-handed pitching.  Heading into Opening Day, Cabrera is the starter, but based upon recent history, we can count for the Mets playing dozens of players at the position.

Given the defensive issues and platoon splits, it would behoove the Mets to add Walker to the mix.  He’d be another body who can give them games, and he’s a well suited platoon candidate with any of the aforementioned incumbent second baseman.

Realistically speaking, that will never happen.  The Mets are paying Cabrera $8.5 million, and based upon how the Mets operate, they are not likely going to put that on the bench.  The organization also has a soft spot for both Flores and Reyes.  So no, the Mets are not going to bring a player to play second base over them; not even Walker, who was productive as a Met when he was on the field.

However, the team does not owe the same loyalties to Adrian Gonzalez.

The soon to be 36 year old first baseman is coming off an injury riddled year himself where he hit just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and 30 RBI in 71 games.  With him starting off the Spring going 2-15, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence he will bounce back.

With the Mets being a month away from Spring Training, you have to really question if he’s ever going to rediscover who he was three years ago.  With him looking more and more like a player who is closer to retirement and Dominic Smith having a Spring which has combined being late and injured, the Mets should at least investigate the free agent market.

If he wants to pull a Todd Zeile, Walker could sign on with the Mets to play first base.  If not, Todd Frazier has experience there, which would allow the Mets to put Walker at third base.  When Dom is ready, or when injuries inevitably befall the Mets, the team would have some versatility with Walker.  He likely could slot in at any infield position but short.

With Walker still on the market and likely available for a discount, this is something the Mets should definitely be considering.  Ultimately, it may prove to be a better option that rolling the dice on Gonzalez and the three internal second basemen.

Editor’s Note: Hat tip to Rob Piersall whose tweet inspired this post

Mets Should Investigate Trading Asdrubal Cabrera For Starlin Castro

Considering how the offseason has moved at a glacial pace, the Mets remain uncertain about what they are going to do at both second and third base.  Largely, that decision rests on exactly what the Mets elect to do with Asdrubal Cabrera.

Given his injuries and his age, both the Mets and Cabrera know he is no longer suited for shortstop.  Even if he were, Amed Rosario is going to be the Mets shortstop for the next decade.  That leaves either second or third for Cabrera.

Based upon the numbers last season, Cabrera belongs at third.  In 350.1 innings at third last year, Cabrera had a 1 DRS.  Conversely, in 274.1 innings at second, Cabrera had a -6 DRS.  Based upon this information, this would lead you to believe the Mets should leave him at third, and the team should pursue a second baseman.

The problem there is the top talent remaining on the free agent market are third baseman: Todd Frazier, Mike Moustakas, and Eduardo Nunez.  With his history of back injuries and his -5 DRS in 796.2 innings at second last year, former Met Neil Walker also belongs at third base.

Ideally, you don’t want Cabrera to play second, but you don’t want to enter the season with Jose Reyes as the team’s top second base option.  Sooner or later push is going to have to come to shove.  With that being the case, why not at least investigate a less than desirable option?

After being traded to the Miami Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, Starlin Castro has voiced his displeasure, and he has requested a trade.  Certainly, those calls will only be heightened after the Marlins recently traded away Christian Yelich.  While you understand the demand, there does not appear to be a real market for him.

There are a few reasons for that with the main one being Castro has not yet developed into the player many believed he would one day be.

The main issue is he has not proven to be a good second baseman.  Over the past two years, he has posted a -6 and a -8 DRS in successive seasons.  Typically speaking teams would accept a lesser fielder at a position if they were a good hitter.  The jury still remains out on Castro.

For his career, he is a below average hitter with a 97 wRC+ and a 98 OPS+.  While these stats are league and park adjusted, people will still likely lament his putting up those stats in hitter’s parks like Wrigley and Yankee Stadium. If you dig deeper, you see Castro profiles similar to Wilmer Flores offensively in that he beats up on left-handed pitching, and he struggles against right-handed pitching.

Considering the Mets already have Flores for much cheaper, it does make you question why you would even consider targeting Castro.  The answer to that question could be because it would help the Mets improve their 2018 ballclub at little cost to them.

While Castro has struggled defensively at second, he still promises to be much better than Flores, Reyes, or Cabrera at second.  While he has proven to be a platoon bat, so has the Mets internal trio.

However, unlike the Mets trio, Castro was an All Star next year, and unlike Reyes and Cabrera, at 27, he’s entering his prime.  And remember, Castro hit .323/.363/.516 in the first half last year.  Much of that fall off could be attributed to a leg injury that plagued him throughout the second half of the season.

Point is, there’s reason to believe there is room for improvement for Cabrera.  With him only making $2.4 million than Cabrera next season, it is worth investigating a trade that is centered around Cabrera for Castro.  Considering the relatively meager returns the Marlins have accepted for their big time outfielders, it may not be as ridiculous as it may seem.  That goes double when you consider Castro is due $11.8 million next year with a $1 million buy out if his team does not pick up his $16 million 2020 option.

Overall, for just $2.4 million next year, the Mets could really improve their second base situation, and they could still have room to add a Frazier in free agency.  More than that, with his working with Pat Roessler, they may obtain something reasonably close to the 2017 first half Castro.  Considering the position the Mets are in at the moment, it is certainly worth a risk.

Trivia Friday – Mets Second Baseman Since 2015

Despite Daniel Murphy winning the 2015 NLCS MVP, the Mets seemed all too happy to let him depart via free agency.  Instead of Murphy, the Mets first sought after Ben Zobrist, who spurned them for the Cubs, before trading Jon Niese for Neil Walker.

Walker was supposed to stabilize the position, and there was hopes he would be a Met for the long haul with the team offering him the qualifying offer.  Instead, Walker had two injury riddled years before he was traded to the Brewers for minor league right-hand relief prospect Eric Hanhold.

Now, the Mets are once again in the position of finding out who their next second baseman will be.  That task becomes all the more difficult when Ian Kinsler rejected a trade to the Mets, upper management rejected a trade for Jason Kipnis, and the Mets are reportedly not entertaining trading Brandon Nimmo for Josh Harrison.

The end result likely is the second base quagmire will continue.  That quagmire has seen the Mets play 12 different players at second base over the past two seasons.  Can you name them all?  Good luck!


Kelly Johnson T.J. Rivera Wilmer Flores Matt Reynolds Ty Kelly Eric Campbell Jose Reyes Gavin Cecchini Phillip Evans Asdrubal Cabrera Travis d’Arnaud

Mets, Cespedes, And The Difference Between Being Patient And Being Idle

If you look around the free agent landscape, you will see that most Major League teams have yet to make any significant moves.  Even those who have, like the Cardinals, who have obtained Marcell Ozuna, or the Yankees, who obtained Giancarlo Stanton, are still looking to make additional moves to complete their 2018 rosters.

And there are still plenty of real difference makers on the free agent market.  That goes for all positions.  Really, you could build an All Star roster over the players still available:

With all of these players still available, we have begun to hear from different sources how Sandy Alderson has made yet another master stroke.  He is successfully waiting out the market, and as a result, the Mets are bound to get a bargain in free agency.  For proof, we need not look any further than how Alderson signed Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason after the 2015 pennant.

For those that remember, early in that offseason, the Mets had moved on from Cespedes instead signing Alejandro De Aza to take part in a center field platoon with Juan Lagares.  The plan was to go with Curtis GrandersonMichael Cuddyer, and Michael Conforto in the outfield.  From there, things changed rather dramatically.

First, Cuddyer unexpectedly retired.  Perhaps more unexpected than that was no one wanting to give Cespedes a big contract after his terrific run after his getting traded to the Mets.   Part of that was some questions marks that began with his time in Boston.  Another issue was Cespedes being just one huge free agent in a loaded free agent class that included Chris DavisAlex GordonJason Heyward, Justin Upton, and many more.  The other Major League teams chose the other players.

This had left Cespedes as the last major free agent on the board.  While many credited the Mets with sticking it out and getting Cespedes on what was effectively a one year deal, the truth of the matter the team was lucky.  If the Nationals had not deferred much of the money in the 5 year roughly $100 million contract offer they made to Cespedes, it is likely Cespedes would have joined Daniel Murphy on the Nationals.

However, credit is due to the Alderson taking advantage of the situation and getting his man.

If we are being honest with ourselves, that was a bit of a miracle.  It was not a plan that can be emulated.  That goes double for this offseason with so many teams left looking to make moves this offseason.  There are many teams with more money who are looking to fill the same exact holes the Mets are.  The difference between those teams and the Mets is money.

By many accounts, the Mets only have roughly $10 million to spend this offseason.  That is unless they are able to move a contract like Lagares’.  For what it’s worth, if you are a Major League team looking for a center fielder, Cain, Jarrod DysonAustin JacksonCarlos Gomez, and Jon Jay are still available.  Why would you take on Lagares, when you can just sign one of these free agents?

So no, the Mets are not going to free up payroll.  Ultimately, this does not mean the Mets have been patient this offseason.  Instead, the team is being idle.  The key difference between the two is that when you’re patient you’re waiting for something to happen whereas an idle team moves along the offseason hoping for something to happen.

When you have $10 million to spend, are desperately attempting to attach yourselves to a number of rumors to keep the fans happy, and need to add at least five more key players this offseason to be relevant in 2018, you are idle.

I’m Why The Wilpons Get Away With This

Like many Mets fans, I was irritated about how last offseason was handled. 

They brought back a team who was not good enough to win the Wild Card Game expecting them to both stay healthy and win a World Series. 

As we know, it all fell apart. That’s what happens when Jacob deGrom and Jerry Blevins were the only two players to last the full season on the roster without hitting the Disabled List. 

The Mets postseason chances ended in injuries culminating in a 70-92 record. 

Even better, Sandy Alderson completely botched the fire sale. The Mets traded Jay Bruce, Lucas DudaCurtis Granderson, Addison Reed, and Neil Walker for a group of Minor League right-handed relieves. Oh, and sweet, sweet salary relief. 

The plan of action would’ve been acceptable had the team opted to reinvest that money in the team. Well, not only did the Mets opt not to reinvest that money, they decided to hold onto more of it. 

That’s right. Despite a good core that includes Noah SyndergaardMichael Conforto, and Amed Rosario, the Mets are refusing to spend what is needed to get this team to .500 let alone the postseason. 

How do I respond to this?


Yup, I got a knit Mets hat for my newborn son. Apparently, despite everything, I want him to be a Mets fan just like my entire family. 

I know why. It’s because if the shared experiences. I want to be able to enjoy the rare times the Mets are relevant with my sons. 

I want to go to games with them and tell them I got to see players like Mike PiazzaDavid Wright, and Carlos Beltran. I want to celebrate the Mets next World Series title with them. 

Hell, I’d love to do that with my Dad as well. However, with the way this team is being operated from a financial and personnel standpoint, it seems like that’s becoming less and less of a possibility. 

Sadly, the Wilpons don’t care about my story or other fans stories. They don’t have to because they’re making money anyway. They don’t have to because fans like me keep coming back for more, and even worse, we begin the process of indoctrinating our children at a young age. 

So yes, I’m to blame why the Wilpons get away with operating the Mets this way. However, only the Wilpons themselves are to blame for choosing to operate the team this way. 

Mets Interested In Having A Great Team

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

C Travis d’Arnaud

1B Todd Frazier

2B Neil Walker

3B Mike Moustakas

SS Amed Rosario

LF Yoenis Cespedes

CF Lorenzo Cain

RF Michael Conforto

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Sports Year Ending

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

Mets

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

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

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

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

Giants

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

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

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

Rangers

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

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

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

Knicks

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

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

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

Did Santa Visit Citi Field?

Let’s all gather round and see what Santa left under the Mets Christmas tree:

Jake ArrietaMets have enough SP, don’t they?

Jay Bruce – His heart is in San Francisco

Yu DarvishNot in this lifetime 

Lorenzo Cain – Nope

Bartolo Colon – Rejected 

Howie KendrickNowhere to be seen or heard from

Jonathan LucroyMets already have Lobaton

Todd FrazierIn Toms River 

Curtis GrandersonCan’t be naughty and expect to get someone so nice 

Austin JacksonWould need to trade Lagares and about 10 more people 

Jason Kipnis – Hot In Cleveland

J.D. MartinezHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 

Mike NapoliSomewhere over Minneapolis

Eduardo NunezProbably too broken . . . even for the Mets

Addison ReedNot home for the holidays 

Neil WalkerDoesn’t want to come back 

Really, there’s nothing there except for what I really hope is a piece of coal.