To a certain extent, the New York Mets and Houston Astros are tied together. Their respective stories began in 1962 when both teams broke through as expansion teams. Up until a point they had some parallels in their history.
In 1969, while Tom Seaver and the Mets we’re making a miracle run in Flushing, the Astros were surprisingly game. They got as close as 2.0 games back in late August before fizzling. Like the Mets, 1969 would be the first year the Astros didn’t have a losing record or a 90 loss season for that matter.
The Mets next World Series run would come in 1986, and they’d have to go through Houston to do it. Interestingly enough, that Astros team would have two former Mets maddening young hurlers, Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott, standing in their way.
When the Wild Card Era was ushered in, the story of the two teams diverged, and their tenuous link splintered. If that splintered it, the Astros move to the AL almost fractured it.
Still, there were some links through the years. Mike Hampton was the 2000 NLCS MVP. There was falling short of the pennant due to Albert Pujols led Cardinals teams ripping your heart out. There was also Carlos Beltran.
Beltran was a future Hall of Famer who played for both franchises. Initially, he fell short of going to the World Series with both teams losing in seven games to the Cardinals. Jeff Suppan was the Game 7 starter in both series.
Finally, Beltran broke through and won the World Series with the 2017 Astros. With that, his return proved fortuitous. The Mets were hoping they’d have a similar experience when they hired him to succeed Mickey Callaway as their manager. That isn’t going to happen.
With the release of MLB’s findings on the Astros sign stealing scandal, the Mets fired Beltran, and the Astros are dealing with the knowledge their World Series title is now tainted.
For Mets fans, we have to accept the role Beltran played. More than that, we know the ties between the Mets and Beltran are probably forever severed, and his Hall of Fame inevitability is now in question. To put it succinctly, we have to deal with the fall of an all-time Mets great.
It’s worse for Astros fans. MUCH worse.
Those fans had to wait 55 years for a World Series. They finally got one, and it was all the sweeter because of home-grown and back-then very well regarded players like Jose Altuve and George Springer.
This is a complete and utter nightmare for any fanbase, and the Astros fans are left to somehow process something which brought them so much joy. This is a sport and team they love, and this was a championship they waited a lifetime to see.
This is likely why we’ll see lashing out and rationalizing of what their team did. That doesn’t make them remotely unique.
Look at Yankees fans glossing over Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and other players. The Red Sox do the same with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. There are others, but this also shows whether you’ve won 27 times or had to wait 86 years, your fans are going to be protective of those titles and players.
The same is going to be the case with the Astros. Don’t blame them. This is the circumstance they were put in by their favorite team.
They’re left rationalizing and trying to hold onto their only title. That’s the absolute worst position to be in as a fan. As a fanbase, they deserve our sympathy. Of course, it’s difficult to give them that if they choose to be obnoxious about it.
Still, no one wants to be in their shoes, and the fans of the other 29 teams should be happy they’re not them. They should also hope to the extent the Astros weren’t the only ones doing it, their team isn’t found out thereby leaving them to have to do the same rationalizing.
The entire list of pitchers in Major League history who have won a Rookie of the Year award and two Cy Young Awards are Tom Seaver, Jacob deGrom, and Justin Verlander. That’s the entire list, and of the three deGrom is the only pitcher in Major League history to win a Rookie of the Year and consecutive Cy Young Awards.
On the topic of consecutive Cy Young Awards, that is a feat which has been accomplished by just 11 pitchers. Of those 10, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, and Jim Palmer are in the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens likely would’ve been but for the steroids implications, and we reasonably expect Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer to be inducted when they are eligible.
Ultimately, that means seven of the 11 pitchers who have accomplished this feat are in the Hall of Fame. Looking forward, the question is whether deGrom can be the eighth.
When looking at deGrom’s Hall of Fame chances, the biggest obstacle at the moment is his not having made his Major League debut until his age 26 season. As noted by Beyond the Box Score, Old Hoss Radbourn, Mordecai Brown, Joe McGinnity, and Hoyt Wilhelm are the only four pitchers who debuted in or after their age 26 season inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of those four three of them were starting pitchers.
Looking at the aforementioned three older starting pitchers, they averaged a 54.4 JAWS and a 58.9 WAR7. Even if deGrom were to repeat his 10.1 WAR from 2018, his subsequent 45.0 JAWS/WAR7 would fall short of the mean. However, it would put him in line with Brown.
But that is an important point. The one thing to take a look at is deGrom has only pitched six years in the majors. Even with his hitting the 200 inning mark in each of the past three years, he doesn’t have much mileage on his arm. This has him in the prime of his career with an opportunity to build off of these past two years.
Essentially, what deGrom needs to do is repeat the success Max Scherzer has had.
Entering his age 32 season Scherzer had accumulated a 37.0 WAR in 10 years. Over that time frame, he had two Cy Young awards with two other top five finishes. In the ensuing three years, Scherzer had accumulated a 21.7 WAR with another Cy Young and two more top three Cy Young finishes. At this moment in time, Scherzer is rightfully seen as a future Hall of Famer.
Assuming for a moment, deGrom has similar success over the next three years, he would have a 56.6 career WAR. That number would definitively put him in the conversation with the aforementioned starters, and it would start putting him in the larger conversation as well with his approaching his opt out year in his contract.
If deGrom does pitch that way, he is going to earn another Cy Young award. Winning that award would be of vital importance. While Denny McLain and Tim Lincecum have not and will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Clemens remains the only pitcher with more than three Cy Youngs not in the Hall of Fame, and again, we know there are extenuating circumstances there.
Now, we know the Hall of Fame is not just a WAR exercise. When looking at any position, especially pitcher, we need to dig a little deeper. When doing that, right now, deGrom’s case looks great.
So far, deGrom has the fifth best ERA+ in baseball history putting him ahead of pitchers like Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. His K/9 is 15th best ahead of hurlers like Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan. It’s not his strikeout rate, but his control which stands out. His 4.72 K/BB is eighth best in Major League history putting him ahead of pitchers like Greg Maddux and Roy Halladay.
As you break it down, deGrom stands right there among all the greats, and he has the awards to prove it. He also has the postseason success. When looking at deGrom, we are seeing a Hall of Fame career. All deGrom has to do from this point forward is stay healthy and maintain his greatness.
Whether he can do it is anyone’s guess. Whether he gets there or not, it is going to be fun watching him prove his greatness every fifth day in a New York Mets uniform.
On Thursday, I had the honor and the privilege of being a guest on A Metsian Podcast. It was a lot of fun and cathartic, and I would hope you would all take a listen by clicking on the link provided.
I’m not sure if this is a reason to entice you to listen, but during the course of the podcast, I personally mentioned or discussed the following Mets players: Tom Seaver, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Cliff Floyd, Nolan Ryan, Aaron Sele, Jason Vargas, Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, Jim Fregosi, Bret Saberhagen, Vince Coleman, Noah Syndergaard, Chris Flexen, Paul Sewald, Sean Gilmartin, Darren Oliver, Pat Mahomes, Eric Hanhold, Steve Villines, Corey Oswalt, Jacob Rhame, Hansel Robles, Stephen Nogosek, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Darryl Strawberry, and others. This list is off the top of my head.
Looking at that list, maybe that’s why they haven’t brought me back after my last appearance three years ago when I went on a Daniel Murphy rant.
There are many ways to describe how great Jacob deGrom has been since the start of the 2018 season. There are not enough superlatives, and there is almost no such thing as hyperbole. And yet, we are all running out of ways to describe him.
With his slider ramping up to 95 MPH, he set a career high with 14 strikeouts. That made him the first Mets pitcher to start a season with back-to-back 10+ strikeout games.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 4, 2019
With his home run off Marlins starter Trevor Richards, he’s knocked in more runs than he’s allowed all year.
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 3, 2019
His final line was 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, BB, 14 K. That’s his 31st consecutive start allowing three earned or fewer extending his own MLB record. With this quality start, he tied Bob Gibson‘s MLB record of 26 consecutive quality starts.
When you break it all down, it’s hard to quantify or explain just how great deGrom has been. Perhaps the best way to put it is what Pedro Martinez said tonight about deGrom, “He reminds me a lot of myself.”
Remember this is the same Pedro who had one of the greatest seasons and stretches in MLB history with his 1999 and 2000 seasons.
In many ways, this comparison could be the best way to describe just how great deGrom is right now. With Pedro being Pedro, he added deGrom is a taller and better looking version.
That’s all for some other time. Tonight was about how great deGrom is.
With Jacob deGrom receiving his contract extension, it appears he is going to be a Mets pitcher during his prime, and it sets the stage for him to join David Wright and Ed Kranepool as Mets for life. With that being the bulk of the list, there is a host of Mets players who got away. The most famous of which was Tom Seaver who headlined the Midnight Massacre. Putting Seaver aside, the Mets bloggers discussed those players who got away:
Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)
Honestly in recent memory John Olerud comes to mind. He had one of the best pure swings I can remember. Other than that I guess you have to bring up Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner, but who saw those coming?
Daniel Murphy is the most recent Met to have gotten away. And, I’ve heard there are people in the front office who would like a mulligan on that one as well. Having him in 2016 and 2017 would’ve been huge, and not having him kill the Mets in DC would have been huge too.
Allison McCague (Amazin’ Avenue)
To me the most egregious example of a Met getting away is Justin Turner, simply by virtue of how little it would have cost to keep him. Of course, it was impossible to know that he would put up the numbers he did after leaving the Mets, but unlike the Murphy situation where it was a choice not to sign the player as a free agent, they non-tendered a perfectly serviceable utility man just because they didn’t want to pay him and trashed his character on the way out for good measure. I think a dark horse candidate in this conversation, however, would be Collin McHugh, who changed his approach after joining the Astros by throwing his fastball less often and his off-speed pitches more often to much greater success than he ever had as a Met. And now he remains a key piece in the Astros bullpen as they head into another season where they will likely make a push for the postseason.
I’ll give you Justin Turner for sure. What irks me is he’s a good guy and even in the form he was in when he was here, was a valuable piece for the solution. That he evolved thanks to the tutelage of Marlon Byrd while he was here makes it even worse, since this version of Justin Turner would‘ve unquestionably transformed the Mets.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Olerud; he was a far superior player to Todd Zeile. Just look at his seasons 2000-02; think he would have helped? In my opinion, if Mets have Olerud, they win 2000 World Series. My God, remember the Zeile farewell tour? Infamnia!
Tim Ryder (MMO)
I’m gonna hesitantly go with Melvin Mora. The guy he got traded away for, Mike Bordick, was a fine pickup and helped that 2000 team get over the hump, no doubt. But Mora went on to have a solid little career and Bordick was back in Baltimore via free agency the following season.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
The Mets let 18-year-old Paul Blair go to the Orioles in the minor league draft of 1962. Blair played 18 seasons in the majors, winning eight Gold Gloves as the premier AL center fielder of his generation.
Then again, had the Mets kept Blair, they wouldn’t have needed to trade for Tommie Agee prior to 1968, and Agee robbed Blair in the 1969 Series, so all’s well that ended well, perhaps.
Pete McCarthy (OABT)
I thought Nolan Ryan was the only answer to this question, but there are some fun ones in here. Yay Mets!
Far be it from me to disagree with you Pete but Ryan wanted out as much as the Mets were frustrated with him. It wasn’t so much that they traded Ryan and he became a Hall of Famer after it’s what they traded him for.
Scott Kazmir would like a word.
There is always going to be a part of me who wonders what would have happened if the Mets kept Darryl Strawberry. He would have one good year in Los Angeles before everything fell apart for both him and the Mets. For those who forget, the Mets opted to replace him with Vince Coleman, who was detestable as a Met, and it lead to a series of poor decisions which built as bad and unlikable a Mets team as we have ever seen. For Strawberry, his personal problems were far worse than anything the Mets encountered.
Looking at everything, there are a number of mistakes like trading Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga, but that at least indirectly led to the team signing Robin Ventura. Murphy leaving transferred the balance of power back to the Nationals.
But overall, the one which comes to mind right now is Matt Harvey. For Harvey, it was more than trading him for Devin Mesoraco. It was everything. The 2013 version looked like future Hall of Fame. The 2015 version looked like a staff ace. The ramifications of that 2015 season were far reaching, and we never saw Harvey return, literally and figuratively.
Before you go away from this piece, please sure you click on the links and visit the sites of those who have taken their time to contribute to this roundtable.
Also, a very special congratulations to Pete McCarthy and his wife on the birth of their baby girl!
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.
There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.
To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .
Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.
That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.
Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:
- Amos Otis for Joe Foy
- Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel
- Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga
- Jason Isrinhausen for Billy Taylor
- Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.
With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.
Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.
Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.
So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.
Tonight was about one thing and one thing only – David Wright.
While we always anticipated he could be shut down at any time without warning, after he homered in his third straight game, no one truly expected May 27, 2016 to be his final game as a Met.
In a pleasant surprise,Mickey Callaway said pregame that Wright was going to pinch hit tonight. To ensure he got in, Callaway assured us Wright was going to be the first pinch hitter of the game.
For a brief moment, it appeared that would be the bottom of the fourth. A noticeably nervous Wright emerged from the dugout and the fans erupted.
While Wright began a routine both familiar from his 13 year career and yet new from this being an all too different experience all together, he dropped the bat.
He picked it up and continued that routine etched in our memories. Alas, with Kevin Plawecki grounding out to end the inning, the process would have to begin anew in the fifth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2018
As I saw this, I knew it was time. My oldest was up next to me in eager anticipation of the moment. We had been talking about it all night, and he was telling me how cool each of the highlights of him was.
I went and I got the baby out of his crib. I had each of my boys on my lap to watch a baseball game. It wasn’t the first time it’s ever happened, but it was the first big Mets moment since my youngest was born.
There was no option other than sharing this important moment with my sons. One day when they are older, they can each honestly say they saw David Wright play.
So while my phone was abuzz with texts from my brother and dad, I sat there with my boys on my lap, and we watched Wright eagerly swing at Jose Urena‘s first pitch:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2018
Even with all that Jacob deGrom has done, that groundout to third was the top moment of 2018 because for a brief moment David Wright was once again a Met.
Game Notes: In case you were wondering, the Mets lost 8-1.
It all began with Orel Hershiser. On the eve of the NLCS, he shared the information with Eddie Coleman. He was there and Steve Somers was here on our radios discussing it. In the pre-Twitter era, this was how you conveyed messages to Mets fans.
Mets fans would get that message loud and clear, and they would then deliver that message beginning with player introductions before Game 3 of the NLCS, and they delivered it every time he stood at the plate:
It was the only way Mets fans could try to torture Chipper Jones; the man who built a Hall of Fame resume by and large by his performance against the Mets.
Jones revealed in tweaking the Mets fans. He chided them one time saying, “Now all the Mets’ fans can go home and put their Yankees stuff on,” after he and the Braves had once again left the Mets for dead.
He named his first child Shea.
More than that, he hit .309/.406/.543 with 49 homers and 159 RBI against the Mets in his career.
In response, well, Mets fans had their beloved “LAAAAAARRRRRRYYYYYY!” chant. Whether or not, it worked didn’t matter. What mattered was the name got under Chipper’s skin.
Undoubtedly, Chipper got the best of the Mets in his playing days. The Braves knocked the Mets out of Wild Card position in 1998, and they won the 1999 NLCS. The Braves won the NL East from 1995 – 2005.
And now, he’s a Hall of Famer. Coincidentally, that may be where Mets fans win the war.
If you’ve ever seen a Hall of Fame plaque, it lists your given named with the nickname underneath in quotes.
It’s not Tom Seaver. It’s George Thomas Seaver.
It’s not Nolan Ryan. It’s Lynn Nolan Ryan.
It’s not Yogi Berra. It’s Lawrence Peter Berra.
It won’t be Chipper Jones. It will be Larry Wayne Jones.
That’s right. For all time, he will be Larry. It’s a warm reminder for Mets fans who loved to chide him with the name.
Hopefully, Chipper Jones gets a chuckle about that fact. Honestly, I hope it doesn’t detract from the moment from a great baseball player who was truly a worthy advisory.
Enjoy your moment Larry.
Pitchers are built differently. We need not look any further than R.A. Dickey who was born without a UCL. With that in mind, why do teams and pitching coaches implement similar routines for everyone? What works for Nolan Ryan could lead to him being able to pitch a record 27 major league seasons whereas Sandy Koufax couldn’t lift his arm after 12 years in the majors.
For a Mets rotation that has battled both season ending injuries and under-performing, the rotation has received advice from sources outside of the coaching staff to help them improve as pitchers.
Last year, Noah Syndergaard was going through a period of a dead arm where his issues with bone spurs might have been overblown. In a four start stretch, he was 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.548 WHIP. The last start was particularly awful with him lasting just 4.2 inning. The stretch would cause the Mets to hold him out of the AllStar Game.
Looking for answers, Syndergaard looked no further than Bartolo Colon for guidance. The answer was to change how he was throwing bullpens. As Syndergaard said, “I think I am going to take a page out of Bartolo’s playbook, he doesn’t throw bullpens, he takes it really light on his arm where every fifth day he feels as fresh as can be.” (Kevin Kernan, New York Post).
With the new bullpen routine, Syndergaard returned to form. He finished the season going 8-5 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP. He would pitch for the Mets in the Wild Card Game, and he would be great pitching seven brilliant shut out innings.
Like Syndergaard last year, Jacob deGrom was looking for answers. He had consecutive outings where he couldn’t even pitch into the fifth inning. He allowed 15 runs on 18 hits. His respectable 3.23 ERA turned to a worrisome 4.75 ERA. That’s when he began texting with John Smoltz.
The Mets ace came up with the idea to text Smoltz because he had overheard Smoltz talking about throwing two bullpens between starts. The end result was a change in his routine with deGrom saying, “I talked to John Smoltz about it and he said he threw two bullpens for 10 years. It helps me feel comfortable on the mound, keep a feel for my command.”
The routine paid immediate dividends with deGrom throwing the second complete game of his career. He followed that up with two eight inning gems making him the first Mets pitcher since Johan Santana in 2010 to pitch eight plus innings in three consecutive games. In the three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs on 12 hits. He’s lowered his ERA over a full run. He’s back to being Jacob deGrom.
Looking at it, both Syndergaard and deGrom are different pitchers with different issues. Syndergaard found less bullpen sessions helped him whereas deGrom needed more. It makes sense that different routines would work for different pitchers . . . for different people. This should be a guiding principle for pitching coaches and Mets pitchers going forward. It’s not the team’s plan that is best. It’s the plan that fits you individually that is the way to go.