As frustrated as Mets fans have been this season, imagine being Jacob deGrom. Short of his pitching a complete game shut out and hitting a homer, he’s not getting the win.
In fact, deGrom has made four straight seven inning starts, and in each start, he has allowed one earned or less. He has gone just 1-0 with three no decisions. That makes eight no decisions on the season.
With the way the Mets offense has been, it begs the question over just how many wins will deGrom have with the Mets this season. The Mets Blogger Roundtable attempts to answer:
Zero. The Mets are aware of this and have stopped using the word “wins” entirely to keep morale up, so that’s good. Jacob will be traded to, I dunno, the Barves at the deadline for five relief pitching prospects and $10 million, after the Yankees offer Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres knowing full well Fred Wilpon will agree to it before saying “psyche” and hanging up his rotary phone. deGrom will go 8-0 with a 6.00 ERA in Atlanta and then completely dominate in all of his postseason appearances. I will remark “neat” to nobody in particular as he accepts his World Series MVP trophy while my cat continues to clean himself.
Fear not, Mets fans, for deGrom will actually do something to knock Oliver Perez out of the Mets’ record books.
In 2008, Perez went 10-7 in 34 starts to set a franchise record with 17 no-decisions. DeGrom will shatter that mark by going 9-3 with 20 no-decisions. Jacob already has eight NDs in his first 12 starts. Ollie didn’t pick up his eighth no decision in his record-setting campaign until his 19th start on July 11.
deGrom will probably get his next win at the end of July, in another uniform. Getting traded in itself will be a win for him.
DeGrom will win 9 games, matching Craig Swan‘s total from 40 years ago when he won the NL ERA title. Who says the Mets don’t honor their history?
Right now, Felix Hernandez and Fernando Valenzuela share the MLB record for fewest wins by a starter in the season they won the Cy Young Award. Valenzuela’s came in the strike shortened 1981 season whereas King Felix accomplished his feat over the course of a full 162 game schedule.
Through King Felix’s first 12 starts, he had three wins, which is one fewer than where deGrom is now, so being optimistic, let’s say deGrom gets to that 13 number with far fewer losses.
When deGrom finally gets to win number five, please make sure to see what each one of these writers say about it. It’s sure to be better than watching the Mets offense.
When determining which team to root for this postseason, the general rule of thumb is to root against the Mets rivals. With the Mets making a number of trades this season, you could also root for teams according to their Mets connections:
East – Boston Red Sox
Assistant Pitching Coach – Brian Bannister (2006)
Bannister made the Mets out if Spring Training in 2006. His tenure was short lived as he injured his hamstring, and Omar Minaya rebuilt the rotation in-season pushing a healthy Bannister out. He’d be moved that offseason in an ill-fated trade for Ambiorix Burgos.
RHP Blaine Boyer (2011)
Boyer pitched just five games for the Mets before leaving via free agency. He would not pitch in the majors again until 2014.
RHP Addison Reed (2015 – 2017)
Acquired on the eve of September, Reed quickly became an important seventh inning reliever on the Mets pennant winning team. He was even better the next season helping pitch the Mets back to the postseason. With Jeurys Familia‘s suspension and injury, Reed became an effective closer before being traded for a trio of Red Sox relief prospects at the trade deadline.
OF Chris Young (2014)
After a few down years, the Mets took a one year gamble on Young. He struggled all year, and he was released with the Mets eight games under .500 and 10.5 games back in the division. Since that time, Young has been a much more effective player.
Central – Cleveland Indians
First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. (2007 – 2009)
Alomar ended his playing career playing eight games with the Mets in 2007. He would then begin his coaching career with the Mets serving two years as a special catching instructor.
RF Jay Bruce (2016-2017)
Bruce went from bust who struggled mightily after being acquired at the trade deadline last year to fan favorite this year. Fortunately for the Indians, Bruce wouldn’t repeat his struggles helping propel the Indians to 102 wins.
RHP Joe Smith (2007 – 2008)
Smith went straight from being a third round draft pick in 2006 to being a very good reliever for the Mets in two seasons. Ironically, he moved as part the three team J.J. Putz trade intended to improve the Mets bullpen.
West – Houston Astros
DH Carlos Beltran (2005 – 2011)
Seeing him in the postseason again will certainly evoke memories of Adam Wainwright, but he was so much more than that in a Mets uniform. Beltran was the best center fielder in Mets history and perhaps their best outfielder ever.
C Juan Ceteno (2013 – 2014)
Ceteno is a strong defensive catcher who played just 14 games over two years before he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bench Coach Alex Cora (2009 – 2010)
Cora joined the Mets in the hopes of being an important utility player on a playoff caliber team. Unfortunately, injuries and a ballpark ill-suited for the talents of the players on the roster brought that run to an end.
Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens (2011 – 2014)
Hudgens was the Mets hitting coach who was entrusted with helping the Mets adapt to a new ballpark. While he was much embattled in the position, Mets offensive highlights during his tenure included Ike Davis hitting 30 homers and the last great season from David Wright.
Pitching Coach Brent Strom (1972)
Strom was the Mets 1970 first round draft pick. He appeared in just one season with the team going 0-3 with a 6.82 ERA and a 1.615 WHIP.
Third Base Coach Gary Pettis (2003 – 2004)
Pettis served as the first base and outfield coach during the Art Howe Era.
Wild Card – New York Yankees
RHP Luis Cessa
Cessa was the other pitching prospect the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade.
Wild Card – Minnesota Twins
Pitching Coach Neil Allen (1979 – 1983)
While Allen had a noteworthy Mets career of his own, he will forever be known as one of the two players traded by the Mets in exchange for Keith Hernandez.
RHP Bartolo Colon (2014 – 2016)
“Big Sexy” became a fan favorite and a mentor to the young pitchers in the clubhouse. There are a number of highlights you can choose from his Mets career, but the one that keeps coming to mind was the unbelievable home run he hit in San Diego last year.
RHP Dillon Gee (2010 – 2015)
Gee is an example of a pitcher who has gotten everything out of his ability. He has been resilient overcoming a number of injuries in his career with his career highlight possibly being his named the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter.
East – Washington Nationals
OF Alejandro De Aza (2016)
De Aza had an interesting year with the Mets. He was terrible to begin the year, and he then had a great July helping propel the Mets second half run to the Wild Card.
Pitching Coach Mike Maddux (1993 – 1994)
Maddux pitched two years for the Mets pitching to a 4.16 ERA as a reliever before departing via free agency.
2B Daniel Murphy (2008 – 2015)
Somehow Murphy has become one of the most divisive players among the Mets fanbase. Many still fondly remember his for his time witht he Mets, especially his incredible NLDS and NLCS propelling the Mets to the pennant. Others see a player who annihilates the Mets since leaving the team.
LHP Oliver Perez (2006 – 2010)
Believe it or not, there was a time where Perez was beloved for his Game 7 performance and his start the final game of the 2008 season. He then fell off a cliff upon receiving a huge contract. Things got so bad, he refused a minor league assignment, and his last appearance as a Met would be the team throwing him into the 14th inning on the last game of the season just to get the game over with.
Central – Cubs
Quality Control Coach Henry Blanco (2010)
“Hank White” was brought on as a defensive back-up, and he excelled in the role throwing out 50% of base stealers.
C Rene Rivera (2016 – 2017)
Rivera was a defensive specialist who helped Noah Syndergaard overcome his issues holding on base runners. It was more than Syndergaard, Rivera served as a mentor for young starters Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman who helped pitch the Mets to the Wild Card.
West – Dodgers
Bench Coach Bob Geren (2012 – 2015)
Geren served as the bench coach for the Mets serving as a mentor for the Mets catchers. Since his departure, we have seen Mets catchers regress in their pitch framing, and we have certainly seen Travis d’Arnaud regress in nearly every aspect of his game.
OF Curtis Granderson (2014 – 2017)
Granderson is one of the finest men to ever put on a Mets uniform. He also came up biggest when the Mets needed him most. Granderson kept the Mets afloat in 2015, and if not for some blown leads, he was in line to be the MVP of that series. His big outburst to end the 2016 season helped lead the Mets back to the postseason.
3B Justin Turner (2010 – 2013)
Turner was an effective utility player in his years with the Mets who was really non-tendered because he was arbitration eligible. Turner would find himself a home in Los Angeles where he has become a terrific player.
Third Base Coach Chris Woodward (2005 – 2006)
Woodward was a valuable utility player for the Mets for two seasons having the second best season of his entire career in 2005.
Wild Card – Diamondbacks
RHP Matt Koch (2012 – 2015)
Koch was one of the two minor league pitchers traded by the Mets for Addison Reed. While Koch is on the 40 man roster, it is not expected he will be on the postseason roster.
Wild Card – Rockies
Based on the sheer volume of Mets affiliations, it would appear Mets fans would be pulling for the Astros in the American League and either the Nationals or Dodgers in the National League. Considering the presence of Chase Utley on the Dodgers and the recent rivalry with the Nationals, most Mets fans will understandably choose rooting interests for different reasons all together.
Today is the last day of the season, well at least for the Mets. With the Mets being 28 games out of first, the only thing left to do is to play this game, hope no one else gets hurt, and not drag things out more than they need.
If there are extras, let’s not hope either manager waits until the 14th inning to put Oliver Perez into the game.
More than any of that, you want to see a great game. You want to have your decision to watch that game and frankly your fandom rewarded. You want David Cone‘s start to end the 1991 season.
The 1991 Mets were officially the end of the line for the best run in Mets history. There would be no finish of second place or better. Instead, the Mets were in fifth place, and they fired their manager Bud Harrelson.
None of that mattered when Cone started the finale of the regular season in Philadelphia.
Cone came out, and he struck out the side in the first. He did it again in the second. He was well on his way to tying Tom Seaver‘s then National League mark of 19 strikeouts in a game.
For those roughly two and a half hours, the Mets weren’t a bad team having their worst season in about a decade. No, they were the best team in baseball, and the baseball world tuned in to see if Cone would achieve baseball immortality.
And that’s why we watch.
You never know what’s going to happen. The 1991 season was a disaster, and Cone had himself a down year. You couldn’t tell that day.
That start there was why you watch. Sure, with Noah Syndergaard pitching 1-2 innings, you’re likely not going to see anyone have a 19 strikeout performance. But that’s just one possibility.
Really, the possibilities are endless. Those endless possibilities are why we watch now. We watch because we’re Mets fans. We watch as baseball fans.
Today, there will be baseball games. As long as there are games being played, there is ever the chance something special will happen.
So, yes, tune in and see the Mets final game. Tune in to see if you can see something you’ve never seen happen in a game. Really, you tune in because you’re a Mets fan.
Hopefully, you’ll be rewarded somehow today with a great performance by the Mets.
You just knew the Mets and Phillies would have an extra inning game in the final series of the season. This is the epitome of a meaningless series, so you knew at least one of these games would get dragged out. That was tonight’s game.
In what was his last appearance of the season, Lugo lasted four innings allowing two runs on six hits. While he left the game on the short side, the Mets rallied to take the lead after he departed.
The big hit was a Brandon Nimmo two run triple in the fifth giving the Mets a 3-2 lead:
We take the lead! @You_Found_Nimmo with his first career triple.
— New York Mets (@Mets) October 1, 2017
The ball Nimmo hit normally would’ve gone out. That goes double when you consider it is Citizens Bank Park. It would be one of two caught in the wind for Nimmo. The Mets certainly could’ve used those runs too even with Asdrubal Cabrera hitting an RBI double in the top of the seventh giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.
The Mets needed the extra run because in his second inning of work, Paul Sewald imploded issuing three consecutive one out walks to load the bases.
Jeurys Familia came on and earned the save preserving the Mets 7-4 win. The win gave the Mets their 70th of the season. The Mets have not had a season under 70 wins since 2003.
Game Notes: On the day before the Mets were supposed to have a bullpen game with Noah Syndergaard scheduled to pitch an inning tomorrow, the Mets used eight relievers.
One of the major reasons for the Mets run in 2015 was the Nationals bullpen. That bullpen had the third most blown saves in the National League.
It was a bullpen those Mets beat up on to win some key games. In the push to win the division, the Mets swept the Nationals twice. The Nationals bullpen blew four of those six games, and the Mets got the win against the Nationals bullpen in five of those six games.
The 2017 Nationals bullpen might even be worse than that bullpen.
After failing to obtain a closer in free agency or to acquire on in a trade, the Nationals went in-house for their closer. This has led to Dusty Baker playing Rusdian Roulette with Koda Glover, Blake Treinen, and Shawn Kelley. The end result has been the Nationals blowing the second most saves in the National League.
But it’s not just the rotating ineffective closers who are poor. It’s the entire Nationals bullpen:
- Koda Glover 5.12 ERA
- Blake Treinen 6.33 ERA
- Shawn Kelley 7.47 ERA
- Enny Romero 4.13 ERA
- Oliver Perez 4.97 ERA
- Jacob Turner 4.30 ERA
- Joe Blanton 8.78 ERA
About the only competent bullpen arm the Nationals have is Matt Albers, who is having an extreme outlier season partially fueled by an unsustainable .220 BABIP. In fact, he just blew a save against the Braves last night.
This bullpen is horrendous, and they’re killing the Nationals. Their 11 blown saves are the second most in the National League, and their 5.11 bullpen ERA is the worst in the National League.
The bullpen has played a major role in the Nationals losing four straight and five of six. In that timeframe, the Nationals lead over the Mets has shrunk from 12.5 games to 8.5 games in less than o r week.
Despite all that has happened to the Mets this year, they’re still in the National League East race thanks in large part to the Nationals bullpen. Who knows? Maybe a few months from now, we may be saying the Mets won the division because of that Nationals bullpen.
When Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam in the first inning with no outs against Zack Wheeler, it seemed like the game was over. The Mets have shown nothing of late to suggest they could score four runs, let alone the five it would take to take the lead. With Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals, the loss appeared to be a near certainty.
At least the Mets made this one interesting.
Michael Conforto, who is cementing his spot as this team’s lead-off hitter, hit Scherzer’s second pitch of the game for an opposite field home run:
4-1 Washington | End-1 pic.twitter.com/kv0Uz8GjlF
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 24, 2017
He also made a nice play in the field:
4-3 Washington | Mid-6 pic.twitter.com/M0QQ7MIYSr
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 24, 2017
The Mets would narrow the gap to 4-3 on a Neil Walker third inning two run home run.
The game remains close because Wheeler was great after the first inning. After the first inning, Wheeler allowed just one hit and issued just two walks. He had a manageable pitch count, and he was able to pitch seven innings throwing just 101 pitches.
Wheeler’s final line was seven innings, four hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
It’s hard to say a guy who gave up a first inning grand slam deserved a better fate, but Wheeler probably did. At a minimum, you could argue that one day the hitters need to bail out a starter. With this offense, that’s wishful thinking.
The first showdown with the Nationals led to a sweep. Regardless of the Mets health, that’s a bad sign for the 2017 season.
Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera is injured, and he stumbles after each play he makes. He looks more injured than he did last year. Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t catch again, but he pinch hit yet again. Kevin Plawecki got his first start of the year.
As if the Mets weren’t injured enough, the team had a new rash of injuries heading into tonight’s game.
Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda went on the disabled list. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes didn’t, but they couldn’t start. At least d’Arnaud was available to pinch hit. To make matters worse, Asdrubal Cabrera is now dealing with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the lineup, and Jacob deGrom woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
With deGrom waking up with a stiff neck, he missed tonight’s start, and he probably needs someone to start for him tomorrow.
With so many people out of the lineup, the Mets needed someone to step up. The Mets had people stepping up all over the place tonight.
First was Matt Harvey who was the surprise starter. Harvey gave his team a chance to win pitching seven innings. His final line was seven innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Harvey pitched well, but he was tripped up by the long ball. In the first inning, he grooved one to Bryce Harper who launched it for a two run homer. It was a strange site to see when you consider Harper couldn’t get a hit off pre-TOS Harvey. The third run off Harvey came off a Jose Lobaton solo shot in the fifth.
Despite the two homers and the makeshift lineup, Harvey had a no decision.
.@mconforto8 stays 🔥!
2-1 Washington | End-1 pic.twitter.com/RK74WLFI9C
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 21, 2017
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 22, 2017
It was a terrific night for Granderson. Coming into the night, he was hitting .143/.197/.214. Just like he’s done in his entire Mets career, Granderson stepped up when the Mets needed him most going 2-4 with a run, two RBI, one walk, and the home run.
The Mets nearly took the lead in the seventh. Zack Wheeler hit for Harvey and hit a pinch hit double. The Mets would load the bases, and the Nationals would go to Oliver Perez, who got Bruce to line out to end the inning.
Cabrera then pinch hit for Addison Reed and drew a walk. Given his hamstring issues, Collins sent out Kevin Plawecki to pinch run for him. No, it didn’t make sense to do this and force the pitcher’s spot to come up earlier in the lineup, but nothing in this inning made much sense.
In the long run, Blanton worked his way out of the inning. Another side effect of the inning, Collins’ mechanations led to the pitcher’s spot coming up three spots earlier in the lineup. He did that in a game where the Mets had a short bench. Just an inexcusable move.
The Mets certainly could’ve benefitted from better managing as the pitcher’s spot did come up in the bottom of the 11th with the Mets down 4-3.
The Mets were down 4-3 because Jeurys Familia is still rusty. Keep in mind, he only made two relief appearances in the minors before his suspension was over.
After Josh Smoker allowed a lead-off double to Harper, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Familia entered the game. He threw a wild pitch allowing Harper to go to third. It didn’t matter much as he issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to force in a run. Familia settled down after that, but it was too late. The Nationals took the lead.
Shawn Kelley came on in the 11th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. With that, the Mets fought valiantly, but still lost. They’re now under .500, and who knows who will be healthy enough to play tomorrow.
Game Notes: Daniel Murphy‘s 19 game hitting streak came to an end. He was 0-4, and he was intentionally walked in the 11th. Apparently, Reed wore the wrong hat during his appearance.
With the USA beating a Puerto Rico team with deep Mets ties, a thrilling World Baseball Classic has come to an end. Now, we look forward to Opening Day with the hope that the Mets could make a great run just like the USA and win the World Series this year. IF that were to happen, the Mets will need contributions from the Mets players who played in the World Baseball Classic.
Looking over the players, it is clear some of these players are ready for Opening Day while others may need some more time to get ready for the season.
RHP Nabil Crismatt G, 3.0 IP,
Despite never having pitched above A ball, or having one full season as a starter, Colombia turned to Crismatt to beat a Dominican Republic team with a lineup featuring Manny Machado, Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, Carlos Santana, Nelson Cruz, and Gregory Polanco. The 22 year old hurler more than held his own relying on locating his fastball and using his terrific change to keep Colombia in the game. He kept the Colombian hopes alive while giving the Mets real hope he could be a major leaguer one day.
RHP Jeurys Familia 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 G, 2 SV, 3.1 IP, 5 K, 0.60 WHIP
Familia was primed and ready for the WBC throwing fastballs up to 100 MPH. After the Wild Card Game, he reminded everyone why he is a dominant MLB closer. The only issue for him in the WBC was the Mets complaining about how he was used, which was a surprise to everyone including Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena.
RHP Hansel Robles 0-0, 2.45 ERA, 4 G, 3.2 IP, 4 K, 0.82 WHIP
Like Familia, Robles showed he’s ready to go for Opening Day with the lone run scored against him coming in the opener against Canada. Robles had all of his pitches working, and he showed better command of the strike zone than he has typically shown in his Mets career.
SS Jose Reyes 4 G, 18 AB, 2 R, 5 H, 2 2B, SB, .278/.316/.389
Reyes split time at shortstop with Machado and Jean Segura, but ultimately Reyes was the country’s top choice for both shortstop and a lead off hitter. Reyes was that spark plug at the time of the lineup that helped power the Dominican Republic team to an undefeated record in Pool C play and had the Dominicans ever so close to advancing to the semis. The only issues with Reyes were the same ones he has shown over the past few years. He is no longer suited to being an everyday shortstop, and he doesn’t get on base as much as he did in his prime. With that said, Reyes seems ready for Opening Day.
UTIL Ty Kelly 6 G, 24 AB, 6 R, 5 H, 2B, .208/.321/.250
Kelly served as the number two hitter and third baseman for an Israeli team that was the biggest surprise of the WBC. Kelly said of the team’s upset of the Netherlands, “Definitely the most stressful game I’ve been a part of. But it was worth it.” That was surprising considering Kelly had a pinch hitting appearance in what was then a scoreless Wild Card Game against Madison Bumgarner. Kelly’s statements only go to show how important the WBC was to the players. As for Kelly, he did not have as strong as he would have liked, but he certainly did his heritage proud.
SS Gavin Cecchini 4 G, 15 AB, 2 H, 2B, RBI, .133/.333/.200
The highlight for Cecchini in the World Baseball Classic was a game tying single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth sending the game against Venezuela into extra innings. Aside from that single, the WBC was a mixed bag for Cecchini. He showed discipline at the plate, and he showed his extra base power. He also struggled defensively at short, which will only further justify the Mets decision to transition him to second base.
CF Brandon Nimmo 3 G, 11 AB, 3 R, 2 H, HR, 2 RBI, .182/.308/.455
Nimmo had a good WBC as the leadoff hitter for Italy. He had an RBI single off left-handed reliever Oliver Perez to help Italy’s furious five run ninth inning to shock Mexico. In the surprising effort against Venezuela, Nimmo hit a home run off Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon. Unfortunately, Nimmo also injured his hamstring which could have effected Italy’s chances of advancing in the WBC, and it also might have impacted his chances of making the Opening Day roster.
C Xorge Carrillo 2 G, 8 AB, R, 2 H, .250/.333/.250
While he did not start the opener, which was a shocking loss to Italy, Carrillo got the start in Mexico’s final two games. The minor league defensive specialist was fine behind the plate. In an upset over Venezuela, he had a base hit and a run scored. Unfortunately for him and his countrymen, the win was for naught as they were eliminated from the WBC due to tiebreakers. He should be better from this experience as he looks to continue to improve in the minor league next year.
RHP Fernando Salas 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 2 G, 1.0 IP, K, 3.00 WHIP
Due to visa issues, Salas was not able to report to Mets camp prior to the WBC. In Salas’ two games in the WBC, he showed that rust. As Salas continued to have visa issues after the WBC, it was good he was even able to participate in the tournament because it provided him some opportunity to face living pitching.
SP Seth Lugo 2-1, 4.20 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 12 K, 1.07 WHIP
Lugo was the ace of the Puerto Rican staff, and he pitched like it. His three games were against the vaunted Venezuelan and United States lineups. Lugo not only held his own, but in his first two starts he was dominant pitching to a 2.45 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP. In the championship game, he was getting his fastball up to 95 MPH, and he recorded five strikeouts. Unfortunately, the walks caught up to him, and he left the game down 3-0. Overall, Lugo made a good case for him making the Opening Day roster whether as the fifth starter or as a member of the bullpen.
IF T.J. Rivera, 7 G, 24 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .167/.192/.458
In six of the seven games in the WBC, Rivera played first base, and he played a good defensive first base. For a player that is trying to market himself as a versatile infielder for the Mets, Rivera certainly proved he can handle a position he rarely played in the minor leauges. At the plate, he didn’t hit much, but when he did get a hit it counted. His home run in the semi-final gave Puerto Rico a brief 3-2 lead in a tightly fought game that went into extra innings.
C Rene Rivera 2 G, 8 AB, R, 3 H, 2 2B, RBI, .375/.375/.625
Surprisingly, Rivera got into two games in the WBC, and he did not catch in either of them. In Pool D, he entered the game as a DH against Italy. In a meaningless game against Venezuela, Rivera got the start at first base. At the plate, he was as good as can be expected. However, with respect to the 2017 season, it would have been better if he got in some play behind the plate to get ready for the season.
And because everyone is obviously interested, Yoenis Cespedes‘ younger brother Yoelqui had a strong WBC. In five games, the 19 year old Cespedes hit .250/.250/.313 with two runs, a double, and an RBI. He also showed good range and a strong throwing arm in right field. Perhaps, there may come a time in the future when the younger Cespedes gets the opportunity to play in the major leagues like his older brother.
At some point today, Jon Niese is going to hold a workout for teams interested in signing him. Niese needs to do this workout because: (1) he’s coming off knee surgery; and (2) he was terrible last year. Absolutely terrible. And yet, despite that, the Mets should be interested in re-signing him.
Let’s get the obvious reasons why the Mets shouldn’t be interested out of the way first. He’s a malcontent that would likely complain about the weather in San Diego. He always has an excuse for when he fails. He’d blame the pitch the catcher for the pitch he called. He’d blame the designer of the ballpark for the configuration of the outfield walls. He’d blame God for the wind patterns. He’d do all of that before admitting he hung a pitch that was hit into the second deck. More than any of this, Niese was just horrible last year. Typically, you don’t want players like this.
That is unless they are really cheap, and they have something to prove.
Niese should be both. Working in reverse, Niese, perhaps for the first time in his major league career, has something to prove. He’s coming off a year with a 5.50 ERA and a 1.587 WHIP. Quite possibly, he was the worst pitcher in all of baseball, certainly the worst starting pitcher. Because Niese is who he is, he’ll probably give you a million reasons why this happened. I’m sure he’ll say PNC Park was not suited for him, or Ray Searage was not as good a pitching coach as Dan Warthen. The Pirates probably didn’t shift as well as the Mets did. He’ll certainly blame his knee injury. At least with the knee injury, there may be an actual valid excuse, and it could be reason to buy low on Niese.
Before being traded to the Pirates, Niese was 61-61 with a 3.91 ERA, a 1.361 WHIP, and a 95 ERA+. Basically, he was a fifth starter who constantly tricked the Mets into thinking he could be more than that. It’s partially why Sandy Alderson gave him a contract extension. It’s why the Pirates traded Neil Walker to get him. Maybe he fulfills that promise one day. Likely, he doesn’t. Still, Niese has already shown he’s a quality major league pitcher.
He’s a major league pitcher that is going to come cheap. With teams seemingly being devoid of interest in him during the offseason, Niese is likely going to garner little more than a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Essentially, Niese is going to go to a team where he has an opportunity to either make the team out of Spring Training or be one of the first call-ups should a pitcher get injured or be ineffective. That being said, signing Niese is theoretically no different than the Mets recent signing of Tom Gorzelanny, or back in 2006, when they signed Darren Oliver.
For the Mets, Niese could be an intriguing bullpen arm who surprisingly showed during the 2015 postseason, he can get the big out. He may have a second act to his career as a reliever much in the same way Oliver Perez has. By focusing on one or two pitches, he could be a reliable bullpen arm like Oliver. Or maybe, he could just be more starting pitching depth for a Mets team relying on three pitchers coming off season ending surgery and two unproven starters behind them.
Maybe just maybe, the Mets should offer Niese a minor league deal to come back to the team. It isn’t the worst idea in the world.
Team Italy is recruiting Michael Conforto to play for them in the World Baseball Classic. They have gone so far as to name Conforto to their preliminary roster, along with fellow Met Brandon Nimmo, despite not having heard back from Conforto regarding his willingness to play in the tournament.
By many accounts, it seems doubtful Conforto will play in the tournament. Earlier, Conforto had listened to his advisers in rebuffing Terry Collins‘ request that Conforto play Winter Ball. The decision was grounded in many factors included risk of injury and level of competition. Arguably, the same concerns would present itself with the WBC leading to Conforto ultimately deciding not to play for Italy.
That would be a mistake.
The first reason why it would be a mistake is Conforto would miss out on an opportunity to work closely with Mike Piazza. In 1998, Piazza struggled with the Mets, and he was booed by the fans. Piazza was able to overcome the booing, and he helped bring the Mets to the precipice of the Wild Card. In subsequent years, Piazza was the superstar who led the Mets to consecutive postseason appearances. He is also the first Mets position player to have his number retired and be inducted in the Hall of Fame.
Considering Conforto’s struggles in 2016, there are few people on this planet who can better help him than Piazza. Piazza understands what is means to struggle with the Mets, and how to overcome those struggles to become one of the best and most beloved players in Mets history. Essentially, Piazza understands what Conforto has gone through, and better yet, he understands what it takes to get to that next level. That next level is where Conforto wants to be as a player.
However, it is more than mental. Piazza has widely credited for Team Italy’s unexpected run in the 2013 WBC. Cubs first baseman, Anthony Rizzo said of Piazza, “In my opinion, he’s a Hall of Famer. When he opens his mouth, you listen. He just makes you so relaxed. He’d be a great hitting coach.” (USA Today).
While Piazza is not the hitting coach for Team Italy anymore, the effect Piazza has on players is well noted.
Speaking of Rizzo, another important factor is Conforto will get to experience being the focal point of an offense as he is bound to be one of the better players on Team Italy. Conforto is likely going to be pitched tough by some of the best pitchers in the world. As it stands, Italy is in Pool D with Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. It’s already been confirmed that Oliver Perez, Roberto Osuna, Felix Hernandez, and Francisco Rodriguez, and Seth Lugo will pitch. As we have seen in year’s past, there will be many more quality pitchers Conforto will have to contend with in real pressure packed situations. That is a good thing for a player still developing into a middle of the order bat. It’s also better thatn getting on a bus to face another team’s AA, AAA, and AAAA pitchers.
Another factor for Conforto is the WBC gives him an opportunity to get out from the pressure of New York for a while and try to improve as a player. It could be helpful to get out from under the constant, and at times difficult, New York media, and go play for Team Italy. With Team Italy, it may be easier to focus on improving as a ballplayer. Furthermore, with coaches like Piazza, it may be helpful to hear another voice that can help him either mechanically or mentally.
Overall, there are many benefits for Conforto playing in the WBC. It is an opportunity that is in front of him, and it is one he should probably take, especially when you consider how much someone like Piazza can help him.