Last night, Travis d’Arnaud had the best game of his career. As noted by Mathew Brownstein of MMO, d’Arnaud became the fourth catcher since 1970 to homer three times and reach base safely five times in a game. His three home run game would culminate with a three run game winning homer off of Aroldis Chapman to give the Rays a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees:
THE TRAVIS d'ARNAUD GAME. pic.twitter.com/k24AVWKJ8f
— MLB (@MLB) July 16, 2019
Like anytime we see a former Met excel in a new place, we see people say any number of things. One of the prevailing things we see is this would never have happened with the Mets. It’s what we heard with Justin Turner even though he fixed his launch angle and had a big finish to the 2013 season before the Mets non-tendered him. We hear it with Hansel Robles despite his having flashes of brilliance with the Mets only to see him wilt under being over and inconsistently worked.
The basis for applying that narrative to d’Arnaud was how terrible he was with the Mets this year. Yes, he was absolutely terrible. In his 10 games with the Mets, he was 2-for-23 (.087), and in his last game with the team, he had just about as bad a game as you will ever see from a catcher. It was mortifying to watch, and the Mets responded to it by designating him for assignment.
Of course, the reasons for his struggles needs closer examination. First and foremost, d’Arnaud was a year removed from Tommy John surgery. As we have seen with position players, there is no real book for when a player can actually return from it. Those we have seen return in less than a year have struggled.
T.J. Rivera couldn’t get it back together after surgery in September 2017. He would be released, and he is now attempting his comeback with the Long Island Ducks. Didi Gregorius has struggled since returning from his own surgery hitting just .252/.274/.388 with the Yankees.
With respect to d’Arnaud, he had two rehab games after getting a late start to Spring Training. That’s right. After a major surgery on his elbow, the Mets gave him just two rehab games. They then rushed him up to the majors despite the Mets starting the season 5-2 and only needing their back-up catcher twice in that span.
After d’Arnaud was rushed back, he would start just five times in over a three week span. In that time frame, the Mets would play 18 games. There is absolutely no reason why d’Arnaud was rushed back to be a back-up when Tomas Nido could have handled those duties well. There is even less of a reason when you consider d’Arnaud NEEDED those games to rehab from his surgery and get back up to game speed after playing all of four games since the start of the 2018 season.
What d’Arnaud needed from the Mets, or really any team, was a legitimate opportunity to get sufficient playing time to get back up to speed. After a P.J. Conlon like stop in Los Angeles, d’Arnaud has gotten that in Tampa Bay. In 39 games for the Rays, he is hitting .282/.342/.542 with seven doubles, nine homers, and 26 RBI. For all those hysterically focused on his throwing arm, he has thrown out 33 percent of base stealers, which is above league average.
Before people start with the he could have never done this with the Mets talk, focus back on his career. In 2015, he played 67 games hitting .268/.340/.485 with 14 doubles, a triple, 12 homers, and 41 RBI. From 2015 to 2017, he was the 10th best catcher in all of baseball with a 6.3 fWAR, and he ranked 11th with a 98 wRC+. His 68.3 dWAR (as rated by Fangraphs) ranked ninth over that timeframe.
So, with the Mets, d’Arnaud was a top 10 catcher in the game. That gets lost because he was never quite what he was advertised to be. He also didn’t build off of that 2015 season like we all hoped. He was also injury prone. Overall, he was as frustrating a player as you could have experienced. However, that does not mean he was bad and never was going to succeed with the Mets. In fact, we did see him succeed with the Mets.
Like many before him, d’Arnaud’s success isn’t because he needed a change of scenery. No, this is because his rehab was mishandled, the Mets overreacted to one bad game, and because the team did not sufficiently self scout their players. If given an opportunity, and with Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard no longer wanting to throw to Wilson Ramos there was one coming, d’Arnaud absolutely would have performed well for the Mets. If you want any proof of that just consider the fact he had already performed well in his Mets career.
Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Mets have a real opportunity to get on a run at least get near being a contender for the first time since 2016. So far, well, they did the bare minimum:
1. Brodie Van Wagenen had a press conference with beat reporters where he accepted no personal responsibility, made attempts at self deprecation (saying they got us), and offered no apologies for his throwing a chair in a meeting with his coaching staff.
2. If both Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom prefer throwing to Tomas Nido, why wouldn’t the Mets split them up in the rotation? By not doing that, the Mets had Wilson Ramos catching deGrom on Sunday because it was a day game after a night game. It makes zero sense.
3. It also made sense to come out of the break in a very crucial stretch with Jason Vargas. Since his threatening to assault a reporter, Vargas is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA. At what point do the Mets really question whether he is worth all the drama and under-performing?
4. Syndergaard looked like the Syndergaard of old. He had much more confidence not only on the mound but also in his slider. He struck out nine and walked none. Historically, he’s pitched well at Marlins Park, so let’s see him be able to replicate this start again.
5. It doesn’t matter that it came against the Mets. It was awesome to see Curtis Granderson homer and steal a homer in the series. Granderson was a good Met, and he is one of the best people to ever don a Major League uniform.
6. There were signs of life from Robinson Cano who had two homers and a four hit game in the series. With the Mets ability to make a miracle run this second half and really just to compete for the postseason in the ensuing four years, the Mets need him to look like the Cano of old and not just an old Cano.
7. One thing Cano pointed to was his getting hit on the hand twice earlier in the year. It’s a fair statement as we have seen this impact many players. On that note, Cano is hitting .344/.364/.563 in July.
8. On the topic of Cano, it is interesting to see Amed Rosario benched for failing to run out a ball that is caught 99.99% of the time while Cano was defended time and again by Mickey Callaway. This certainly sends a mixed message to everyone.
9. On the topic of mixed messages, it is beyond bizarre Callaway would tell beat reporters this was a planned day off for Rosario while also telling SNY this was a punishment. There really has to be something wrong here when Callaway is clearly giving different messages to everyone. Is this just a Mets thing, or is this a Callaway thing? You just never know with this organization.
10. The Rosario ordeal overshadows just how well he has played of late. In July, Rosario is hitting .385/.429/.462. Over his last 22 games, he is hitting .347/.370/.467. In this series, he also looked as good as he has ever looked in a Mets uniform.
11. On Rosario’s defense, it’s noteworthy Van Wagenen is tweeting out how Rosario is being worked out by the team on areas where his is deficient just days after Van Wagenen once again outright refused to accept any personal responsibility for his role in assembling what has been a bad team.
12. On that front, good for Mike Francesa for letting Van Wagenen know he has been terrible and that the fans have no trust in him. If only Francesa would do the same to Jeff Wilpon who is the biggest source of problems with this organization.
13. As Matt Ehalt of Yahoo pointed out, Jeff McNeil has moved towards being more reckless than aggressive on the basepaths. We saw that manifest with him over sliding a base to end an inning during this series.
14. With McNeil doing so many things well this year like playing multiple positions more than adequately, leading the league in hitting, and getting a hit in three straight coming out of the break, we shouldn’t over dwell on the base running. In fact, in some ways, it’s nice to know he is human.
15. With Pete Alonso going 1-for-10 in the series, lets not start this nonsense saying the Home Run Derby ruined him. Lost in those stats, Alonso drew two walks, and he did have a homer robbed by Granderson.
16. If you want caution with Alonso, it’s the fact he is not quite as good the second or third time against a team. For example, in his first series against the Marlins, he was 3-for-10 with a double, homer, and four RBI. In the ensuing eight games, he is 4-for-26 with three homers, and four RBI. We have seen something similar with the Phillies and Nationals.
17. This is the second time this year Dominic Smith has slumped, but it is the first time he has done so as a starter. Given all he has overcome just to become the team’s starting left fielder, there is hope he can once again figure things out and start hitting again.
18. Of all the positive developments of the year, one of the most amazing has been Smith’s play in left field. At times, he looked clueless out there last year. This year, he has actually played to a 1 DRS. That is a small sample size, but it sure does seem miraculous.
19. Before Michael Conforto sustained a concussion in his collision with Cano, he was hitting .271/.406/.521, and he seemed to be a pretty good bet to be an All Star. Since his concussion, he is hitting .213/.307/.419. While he may have been cleared to play, it is very possible he needed more time to recover.
20. This was the Mets first road series win since they ripped off two straight to begin the year. As a result, they have the worst road record in the National League. If they want to perform a miracle this year, they are going to have to start playing much better on the road. Winning the series against the Marlins was a start. Winning a series in Minnesota would be an actual reason for hope. We’ll see.
For the second time this year, I was privileged to be invited to be a guest on A Metsian Podcast. What made this appearance all the more entertaining was I was on at the same time as The Coop and Metstradamus.
Off the top of my head, players I specifically mentioned included Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Edwin Diaz, Noah Syndergaard, J.D. Davis, Anthony Kay, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, Craig Kimbrel, Jason Vargas, Tomas Nido, Scott Kazmir, Victor Zambrano, and more.
I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed participating.
The Mets begin the second half of the season 10 games under .500 and 13.5 games back of the Braves for the division. They are only six games ahead of the Marlins for the worst record in the National League and seven games behind the second Wild Card with nine teams ahead of them. Suffice it to say, things are bleak, and the Mets are going to be in a position to sell rentals like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas.
Still, being Mets fans, we have examples in team history where they have overcome long odds like these to reach the postseason. The 1973 Mets entered the All Star Break nine games under .500 and six games out of first place. Even more recently, the 2016 Mets entered the All Star Break six games out of first place. That team would be two games under .500 and 5.5 games out of a postseason spot on August 19th. They would finish the season on a tear and claim the top Wild Card.
Based on history, we can see there is always a chance. The question now is do the 2019 Mets actually have a chance. Looking at everything, you could paint a scenario where they do.
The first thing to look at is the Mets schedule. Right now, the Mets have six games against the Phillies and three against the Nationals. With both teams currently having a Wild Card spot, this gives the Mets a chance to get closer in the Wild Card race by beating their direct competition.
Beyond the head-to-head match-ups, the Mets do have a weak second half schedule. Right off the bat is a 10 game road trip featuring three against the last place Marlins and four against the last place Giants. In fact, the Mets have 18 games remaining against teams who are currently in last place.
Looking further, 36 of the Mets remaining 72 games are against teams with a .500 record or worse. That’s half of their games. So far this year, the Mets have fared well in those games. In their 21 games against second division clubs, they are 13-8 (.619). Now, to make up the deficits, the Mets are going to have to play at a higher clip than that. It’s certainly possible, especially with 11 of those 36 games coming against teams currently 20+ games under .500.
The Mets also have six more games at home than they do on the road. This is an important point because the Mets have actually played over .500 at home with a .548 winning percentage.
That schedule certainly lines up well for the Mets to have a big second half for a second year in a row. Remember, last year, the Mets were eight games over .500 in the second half last year, and as Noah Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team.
That is partially the result of how their players perform. Syndergaard’s career second half ERA is 38 points lower, Jacob deGrom‘s K/BB improves considerably in the second half, and Steven Matz strikes out 1.4 batters more per nine. Michael Conforto‘s second half career OPS is 65 points higher, and Robinson Cano‘s is 55 points higher.
Speaking of Cano, the Mets have had a number of under-performing players who had an opportunity to clear their heads and fix things for the second half. The Mets will be a significantly better team with Cano returning or coming much closer to career averages. The same can be said of Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia.
There is also the chance the Mets finally get that Amed Rosario breakout. The Mets could also potentially get help from a rookie like Anthony Kay. Overall, for the Mets to have any shot, they need players like this to raise their games with the veterans stepping up their performances. With that schedule, maybe, must maybe, the Mets could contend in the second half.
However, this is asking a lot. In addition to everyone stepping up, the Mets need Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith to keep up a very high level of performance. If they want to contend, they will have to hang onto Wheeler, which given their place in the standings is flat out irresponsible.
All things considered it is fun to imagine, but the chances of it all happening are remote. Really, the best we can hope for is Brodie Van Wagenen executing smart deadline deals with Jed Lowrie and Brandon Nimmo healing and being ready to put forth strong 2020 campaigns.
After discussing it most of the offseason, the Mets are once again in a position where they are talking with teams about Noah Syndergaard. There are smart teams with interesting farm systems interested in the Mets starter. Depending on the packages offered, the Mets could be very tempted to move Syndergaard.
One of the arguments you hear from some circles is you shouldn’t trade him because his value is at a nadir. With Syndergaard having a career worst ERA, ERA+, FIP, HR/9, BB/9, K/9, and K/BB, this is absolutely true. Seeing studies and Syndergaard’s comments, it is possible these results are reflective of the new ball. The Mets having a National League worst defense doesn’t help either.
Reasonably speaking, you could anticipate Syndergaard to rebound and led the Mets back to contention in 2020. If you trade him, it’s difficult to imagine the Mets contending anytime soon.
Looking at 2020 first, it’s hard to imagine the Mets having that one year turnaround. With Syndergaard traded and Zack Wheeler gone either via trade or free agency, the Mets have two spots to fill in the rotation. That becomes three when Jason Vargas‘ option is declined. Even assuming Anthony Kay is ready to begin the year in the rotation, the Mets still have two spots to fill in the rotation.
Given the Mets budget and historical unwillingness to spend big on starting pitchers on the free agent market, it is difficult to believe the team could build a starting rotation good enough to win in 2020. Theoretically, the Mets could fill in the rotation by making Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo starters again. However, this makes an already terrible bullpen worse, and you will likely be dealing with innings limits.
Long story short, if the Mets trade Syndergaard they will not be able to build the type of pitching staff which would let them compete in 2020. This means the Mets will have to look towards 2021. Notably, Michael Conforto and Steven Matz will be free agents after the completion of that season.
Given the uncertainty of the readiness of David Peterson and/or Franklyn Kilome to join the rotation by then, there is doubt whether the Mets pitching staff would be ready to compete by then. While this is happening, the Mets will be in year three of Robinson Cano‘s contract. That’s a consideration which needs to be accounted for when analyzing the Mets ability to compete in 2020 or 2021.
Realistically speaking, depending on the return the Mets receive for Syndergaard, the team will not be in a position to really compete again until 2022 at the earliest. With that being the scenario, the Mets should also be looking to trade Conforto for a big return as well because the team is not going to win before he becomes a free agent.
By that 2022 season, you will have wasted the first three years of Pete Alonso‘s and Jeff McNeil‘s careers, and they will be arbitration eligible. It will be the same situation for other cost controlled assets like Lugo and Edwin Diaz. This coupled with Cano’s big contract will once again infringe on the Mets payroll flexibility.
Therefore, the Mets ability to win in 2022 will hinge on what the Mets bring aboard in moving Syndergaard and maybe Conforto. It will depend on how quickly players like Mark Vientos, Shervyen Newton, Ronny Mauricio, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty can develop to help the team. While you can be high on them now, it is a completely different situation to count on them to develop in time to make you a winner.
That is the situation you are in if you trade Syndergaard now. You are beginning the dismantling the core to try to compete three years from now. If the prospects don’t develop the way you intended, or players get hurt, everything falls apart. As an organization, you have to ask yourself if that is really worth it when the team is really just a center fielder and 1-2 bullpen arms away from contending next year.
When you look at it through the prism of when the Mets could actually be in a window to contend again, the team cannot trade Syndergaard now. That is, unless, the team either starts spending now, or Brodie Van Wagenen proves himself to be much more adept at trades than he did last offseason. We shouldn’t be hopeful on either development happening.
When the signing happened, it seemed like the Mets made the right decision in signing Wilson Ramos to a two year deal. Ramos was coming off a year with a 131 wRC+, and he was comfortable in the National League East. With the state of catching in the majors, Ramos was that rare impact bat behind the plate, and the Mets were getting him on a short-term deal.
If we are being honest, the Ramos signing has not worked out well for the Mets.
At the time Dave Eiland and Chuck Hernandez were fired, Matt Ehalt of Yahoo reported Ramos was “causing frustration.” It should be noted at the time of this report, Tomas Nido had already become Jacob deGrom‘s de facto personal catcher. Ramos has caught deGrom since, but for the most part, it has predominantly been Nido catching deGrom.
As reported by Joel Sherman and Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets have also opted to make Nido the personal catcher for Noah Syndergaard. Unlike with deGrom, the Mets admitted this was the case when Mickey Callaway saying, “With what we’re trying to do with Syndergaard, keeping the ball down, [Nido] is a good complementary catcher for him. He receives the ball down better, so it’s something we have to continue to do.”
With the Mets top two starters having Nido as their personal catcher, the Mets have gone from having Ramos as their starter to creating a time share behind the plate. This has been the result of a number of factors.
First and foremost, Nido is the superior defensive catcher. For example, Ramos leads the Majors in passed balls, and Mets pitchers have 17 wild pitches with him behind the plate. On more than one occasion, you were left wondering about Ramos’ effort level or technique on balls in the dirt.
From a pitch framing perspective, Baseball Prospectus rates Nido as the 27th best pitch framer. Of the top 30, he has the second fewest chances. Ramos is ranked 85th. This is something Callaway had eluded to when speaking about Nido becoming Syndergaard’s personal catcher.
The main issue with Ramos isn’t his catching, it’s his bat. On the surface, he seems fine with a 103 wRC+ which ranks as the fourth best among qualified catchers. That’s even above J.T. Realmuto, who was a top Mets trade target this offseason. When you expand the search to catchers with 150 plate appearances, Ramos’ wRC+ ranks 14th.
While ranking well among catchers, this is not the 130 wRC+ catcher the Mets signed this offseason. It’s not a bat sufficient enough to carry his poor defense behind the plate. There are some warning signs this can get worse with the 31 year old having a career worst GB% and GB/FB ratio with his worst ISO in four years.
Fact is the Ramos signing has not panned out, and the signs indicate there may not be any improvement next year. If the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should push to move him at the trade deadline. Of course, that is easier said than done with many of the postseason contenders being either fairly set at catcher, being near their luxury tax thresholds, or both.
Still, if the opportunity presents itself, the Mets should make the move. It will give the team an extended look at Nido behind the plate while also possibly getting a look at Ali Sanchez, who is Rule 5 eligible, as a defensive backup. It would also given them an opportunity to pursue Yasmani Grandal in the offseason.
Grandal appears to be the one who got away. So far this season, Grandal has been the top catcher in baseball as rated by fWAR, and he is second according to wRC+. As Grandal recently said, “You never know, you have another offseason in which it could happen. Everything happens for a reason. I believe in that. I am here because that didn’t happen. It was crazy. [The Mets] were definitely the front-runner. They were pushing really hard. We were just too far apart.” (Joel Sherman, New York Post).
If the Mets can move Ramos at the trade deadline, that’s $11.75 million off next year’s budget. With Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, and Zack Wheeler being impending free agents, and presuming Jason Vargas‘ option is declined, along with other expiring deals, there will be an approximately $21 million more coming off the books. That is more than enough payroll room to push the reset button on the Ramos decision to bring in Grandal this coming offseason.
Overall, there were many things which went wrong this past offseason, but the more you look at it, Ramos has been one of the bigger missteps, especially when you consider how the Mets best pitchers no longer want to pitch to him. Based upon his track record, they will like pitching to Grandal, and the Mets will enjoy his bat in the lineup. As a result, the Mets need to push to trade Ramos at the deadline.
There is no doubt there is something up with the baseball this year. Home runs are up across the board, and pitchers everywhere have been frustrated. It is at a point where no one is denying anything. In fact, Major League Baseball readily admits to the baseball being different in years past.
In his All Star Game first half review, Rob Manfred addressed the topic saying, “Baseball has done nothing, given no direction for an alteration in the baseball.” He would also go on to say the owners are not happy with the proliferation of homers or how the game is played.
During All Star Weekend, players have spoken out about it with Justin Verlander being the most vocal outright accusing Major League Baseball of juicing the baseballs to create more home runs. For his part, Manfred tried to make Verlander and others who think like him sound like crazy conspiracy theorists saying, “How you manipulate a human-dominated handmade manufacturing process in any consistent way, it’s a smarter human being than I.”
Before going further, we should revisit Major League Baseball’s purchase of Rawlings, who is the manufacturer of baseballs. When the deal was consummated and announced to the public, Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation, said:
MLB is excited to take an ownership position in one of the most iconic brands in sports and further build on the Rawlings legacy, which dates back to 1887. We are particularly interested in providing even more input and direction on the production of the official ball of Major League Baseball, one of the most important on-field products to the play of our great game.
(Fox Business) [empahsis added].
Marinak’s statements about the acquisition of Rawlings fly in the face of what Manfred is currently saying about the baseball. In essence, Marinak is saying Major League Baseball acquired Rawlings to “manipulate a human-dominated handmade manufacturing process” in a way to conform the baseball to act the way Major League Baseball wants it to act.
This is nothing new. As noted by The Atlantic in 2010 Major League Baseball has long resisted using automated machines or stitching, which would arguably create a more uniform baseball. Between the resistance and the inability to actually produce a machine fully capable of meeting Major League Baseball’s needs, they remain in charge of the instruction as to how a baseball is supposed to be stitched.
But it is more than stitching. As noted by The History Channel, throughout baseball history Major League Baseball has experimented with changing the composition and structure of the core of the baseball.One interesting antidote from the article was an experiment conducted in 1943 due to a drop in offense:
Cincinnati Reds general manager Warren Giles, who complained the ball was filled with “ground baloney,” conducted his own experiment by dropping 12 of the new balls and a dozen of the prior year’s from the roof of Crosley Field and found the old balls bounced considerably higher. A more scientific study at Cooper Union found similar results.
While the results of these tests were initially dismissed, like how Manfred is dismissing some of the allegations now, A.G. Spalding did eventually have to admit there was a change in the composition of the core of the baseball.
There have long been complaints about the baseball from year-to-year. Those complaints just don’t go towards it increasing or decreasing offense. As noted by The Ringer, the Astros and Dodgers were complaining of a slick baseball during the 2017 World Series. The end result was not just a difficulty throwing sliders but also an increase in the amount of homers. In fact, one of the things that series was known for was the all or nothing offensive approach of both teams.
In some ways, the current baseball sounds like the baseball we saw during the 2017 World Series. Of note, Noah Syndergaard has described the current baseball as being like a cue ball, and he has had difficulty throwing his slider. The end result was him having a career worst HR/9, BB/9, and K/BB while having to scrap his slider in favor of his curve and four seamer.
With respect to the current baseball, Dr. Meredity Willis, a Harvard educated astrophysicist, described how it has changed in an article for The Athletic. She found the shape and size of the ball has changed, and it has lower seams with smoother leather. There were other noted changes as well, but the main takeaway was this is “a more aerodynamic ball” leading to more homers.
The overriding point here is baseball has long sought to control the manufacturing process even when they did not have actual control over the process. Over time, baseball has sought to change the core of the baseball and make other changes to the ball in an effort to either increase or decrease offense. While not specifically denoting this as the reason for the acquisition of Rawlings, Major League Baseball has admitted they want to direct the production of baseballs.
With respect to Manfred, it’s entirely possible Major League Baseball did not want this proliferation of homers, and it’s even more possible they did not want to see high priced pitchers struggle throwing the baseball. Still, baseball did want something to change because they did in fact change the baseball. Manfred can say he didn’t, but they and the company they own did in fact change it. It’s an undisputed fact.
Overall, it is clear the baseball was changed, and it is very likely not something Rawlings did independently. In fact, it can’t be done independently as Major League Baseball owns it. Overall, what we do not know is if this was the result of unintended consequences or whether baseball wanted this and now just regrets their decisions.
What we should note however is this baseball is very similar to the baseball used during the 2017 World Series. That World Series drew very good ratings, and it featured many homers. Taking everything into account, it is possible what we are seeing has been intentional. If it’s not, baseball can always just go back to the baseball it was using last year. Notably, it hasn’t.
The New York Mets came into this season with bravado declaring they were the best team in baseball, and they challenged baseball to “Come get us.” Well, the Mets are 10 games under .500 with the second worst record in the National League:
1. As previously noted, Sandy Alderson left behind a solid young core, a farm system loaded with talent, and payroll flexibility. It’s been less than one year into his tenure, and Brodie Van Wagenen has completely botched all of it.
2. The Mets also continued to completely botch handling injuries. The team never gave Brandon Nimmo the requisite time to heal, and now he’s seeing David Wright‘s doctor. Michael Conforto‘s recent struggles have been at the same time he has been dealing with a back issue. Of course, he’s not on the IL.
3. Pete Alonso has been better than anyone could have ever expected. His winning the Home Run Derby is probably the best moment from this season.
4. Jeff McNeil is proving his rookie year was no fluke, and he’s much more than just a second baseman. He’s been able to be a good defender across the infield, and he is showing an Ichiro Suzuki like ability to hit it where they ain’t. That makes him a rare and exceptionally skilled player.
5. One of the best surprises to the season has been Dominic Smith getting treatment for his sleep apnea and becoming the player he was expected to be. His 152 OPS+ is the second best on the team. More than that, his friendship with Alonso has been endearing.
6. The bad defense is killing this team. Notably, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are in the top 20 in FIP, and Noah Syndergaard is 35th. They are pitching like top of the rotation starters with only deGrom having results near that.
7. Another issue on that front is Wilson Ramos, who with each passing day is frustrating Mets pitchers. We are already at the point were deGrom and Syndergaard want to pitch to Tomas Nido instead. This would make you think the team should push to trade Ramos and push reset on their decision not to go the extra mile on Yasmani Grandal.
8. The bullpen has been beyond terrible, and it is the result of poor pitching, bad framing, awful defense, and just having bad players. To put it in perspective, among Mets relievers with more than two appearances, Paul Sewald has the second best ERA among relievers on the team.
9. You know things are really bad defensively when Juan Lagares has a -6 DRS. In addition to his struggles, Amed Rosario has been the worst defender in the majors. With J.D. Davis having a -9 DRS, the Mets are the National League team with multiple players in the bottom 15 in DRS.
10. Once healthy, Todd Frazier has been everything the Mets could have hoped. He’s a plus defender at third base, and he is hitting well while serving as a good veteran presence in the clubhouse. You have to move him at the deadline, but that doesn’t mean he wont’ be missed from this team.
11. The Mets could and probably should replace Mickey Callaway with Joe Girardi if for no other reason than Girardi being an exceptional manager. That said, Callaway has done well here to keep things stable and his players playing hard despite an inept front office and a bullpen melting down nearly daily.
12. It’s bizarre to think about but so much has gone right for the Mets. Conforto picked up where he left off last year. Alonso, McNeil, and Smith have been great. Nido has been an exceptional defensive catcher. Frazier has been resurgent. The top of the rotation has good peripherals. All in all, this tells you just what a bad job Van Wagenen has done.
13. There are no good answers on what to do with Steven Matz. He struggled in the rotation, and he is not well suited to the bullpen. The hope is he figures it out because the Mets have no other choice with Wheeler as good as gone, and Jason Vargas‘ inability to consistently go five meaning they have to decline his option.
14. Other than Mets games, SNY has become completely unwatchable. Of course, many Mets games delve into the point of being unwatchable, so . . . .
15. In many ways, Alonso is too good to be true. He’s a hard worker, great teammate, an All-Star, and he’s playing at an MVP level in the first half of the season. If nothing else, Sandy Alderson left behind a very likeable group of players who are easy to root for even if the ownership and front office are horrible.
16. The Mets being willing to sell tickets for the rest of the year at 80% off shows you that a boycott will never work. Ticket revenues are just not a big line item for teams, and that’s why even if you stay away the Mets are going to earn a lot of money.
17. It’s difficult to imagine a time when Mets fans have been angrier than this. The Wilpons do need to be careful here because angry quickly becomes apathy, which means people staying away from the ballpark. If nothing else, that makes the Mets irrelevant, and it’s embarrassing to them.
18. When you look around baseball, there are players like Hansel Robles, Travis d’Arnaud, Justin Turner, and Daniel Murphy; players who this franchise needlessly gave up on. This screams to an internal scouting problem which has been around for far too long.
19. Andy Martino is just the worst. He champions Chase Utley. He doesn’t want Alonso, a player he wanted to begin the year in the minors, to get $1 million for winning the Home Run Derby, and because of optics, he wants it all to go to charity. The charities Alonso selected weren’t enough for him. He constantly trolls the fanbase while carrying water for the Wilpons. There is nothing redeemable about him as a reporter/analyst. In an ideal world, Martino would not longer be with SNY, and he will be left to once again stalk Richard Simmons.
20. Being Mets fans, there is always hope for a second half run like we saw in 1973. If it happened once, it can happen again. With the Mets second half schedule, it’s possible. Just don’t count on it.
Say what you want about these Mets, but they have fight.
The Mets were down 3-1 and responded with a McNeil RBI single in the second. They’d fall behind 4-2, and Dominic Smith would hit an RBI double in the third.
It would be 4-3 with one out in the bottom of the fifth. That’s when Jake Arrieta would hit Todd Frazier. Frazier was hopping mad over it to the point he’d get tossed and the umpires would issue warnings.
After Smith hit his second double, Arrieta plunked Amed Rosario to load the bases. When Arrieta wasn’t ejected, Mickey Callaway argued and was then ejected. Of note here, Arrieta had hit three batters all year entering tonight, and he would double that total.
It wasn’t easy. In the seventh, Gsellman hit Jean Segura and wasn’t tossed. This led to Matz coming into the game. He allowed two hits scoring an inherited run before getting Bruce out to end the inning.
Although the Phillies hit the ball hard off Edwin Diaz, he still recorded the save. It’s a positive step, and finally, it’s a win. Even better, the Mets can enter the Break with a series win if they can pull it out tomorrow.
Game Notes: Speaking of having fight, reports indicate Van Wagenen threw a chair while berating Callaway and the rest of the Mets coaching staff after yesterday’s loss.
The Subway Series is over, and the big moments remaining in the Mets season appear to be over as well:
1. Mets fans who cheered Brodie Van Wagenen and chanted his name for attending a game he committed to attend deserve this season.
2. It’s funny, Mets fans will boo Robinson Cano when he’s 400 feet away, but they won’t when Van Wagenen is there.
4. On Vargas, the nonsense calling him an ace needs to stop. First, the Mets still have Jacob deGrom. Second, he’s failed to go five innings in 42.3% of his starts. Finally, he has just three quality starts in 14 starts (21.4%).
5. This is the time of the year Wheeler gets going. He limited the Yankees to two earned on one walk and five hits over 6.1 innings while striking out eight.
6. Over Wheeler’s last three starts, he has three quality starts and a 1.86 ERA. The team who gets him at the trade deadline is going to be very happy.
7. Wheeler was a bit snake bit by bad defense. J.D. Davis doesn’t have the range or instincts for LF as evidenced by balls dropping in front of him and his throwing to the wrong base. Also, Wilson Ramos has to look the runner back.
8. Honestly, no one could have predicted the Ramos signing going this poorly. Not only is he experiencing a power outage, but we also see deGrom and now Noah Syndergaard wanting to pitch to Tomas Nido.
9. While you couldn’t have imagined things going that poorly, many did say the Mets needed to go the extra mile for Yasmani Grandal, a catcher who just so happens to be the best in the game right now.
11. Just like when they activated Yoenis Cespedes to DH last year, it was just predictable the team would activate all of their relievers before the Subway Series.
12. Wilmer Font getting knocked around a bit putting the game out of reach is a reminder the bullpen is/was an arm or two short even when everyone is healthy.
13. That arm can’t be Steven Matz. As previously noted, the Mets don’t have anywhere near the organizational depth or financial wherewithal to make him a reliever
14. All players have slumps, but some, like Michael Conforto, are treated more harshly by fans than others. Then, when he delivers a go-ahead double, everyone remembers how great he is.
15. There is way too much talent for the Mets to have the second worst record in the NL, but they do thanks to an incompetent GM who was cheered.
16. Say all you want about the Knicks whiffing on Durant and calling off a meeting with Kawhi. Dolan is still not a worse owner than the Wilpons. Not even close.
17. It’s going to be fun to see the Pete Alonso in the Home Run Derby.
20. Have a healthy and safe Fourth of July.