Paul Sewald

Mets May Have Best Bullpen In Baseball

Last week, the Mets added Justin Wilson to a bullpen who already had Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. With Wilson previously serving as the Tigers closer in 2017, the Mets can now run out three straight closers in the seventh, eighth, and ninth. If Mickey Callaway wants to be imaginative, it allows him to slot these three pitchers as needed to close out a game.

For instance, if the Braves have Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman due up, he can go with Wilson that inning and deploy Familia and Diaz in the others. That could be mean Wilson in the seventh, eighth, or possibly even the ninth. When you build that type of versatility in the bullpen, your bullpen is even better.

Then again, you don’t even have to go that far as all three of those pitchers are fairly platoon neutral meaning you can just run them out there and let them get batters out. Of course, this means you also get the chance to rest some of your better arms as needed. The fresher the arms are in your bullpen the better your bullpen is.

While we can assume that trio are the three main guys who are set to close out games, it is very possible the best pitcher in the Mets bullpen is actually Seth Lugo, a pitcher who truly emerged as the Mets answer to Andrew Miller last year.

Last year, Lugo was 3-4 with three saves, a 2.66 ERA, 1.076 WHIP, and a 9.1 K/9. Behind those numbers, he emerged as a guy who you could trust in any situation. If you needed a guy to come in and strike a batter out? Bring in Lugo. The starting pitcher knocked out in the first?  Bring in Lugo. Middle of the order due up in the late innings? Bring in Lugo. No matter what the situation, if you need big outs, you bring in Lugo.

Right there, the Mets have four top end pitchers in their bullpen. With Familia and Lugo, you know you can trust two of them to go multiple innings. This means when you have the really important games, at most, you really need just five solid innings from your starters. That’s important to note when Jason Vargas is starting games.

When it is Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, you take your terrific six innings, and you don’t need to push them further. Then again, you will because they’re great pitchers. Keep in mind, when they are great for six, seven, or even eight innings, your bullpen looks all the better because you only need one or two of your great relievers.

That’s the key. Few, if any teams, can pair the type of rotation the Mets have with the type of bullpen they have built. Breaking it down and examining it, you realize a strong rotation and a strong bullpen buttresses each other, and it makes them both stronger.

It also allows you to not overuse relievers like Robert Gsellman, Luis Avilan, Daniel Zamora, Kyle Dowdy, Hector Santiago, Drew Smith, Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, Tyler Bashlor, or whoever else the Mets run out there with the aforementioned top four relievers. It’s not just overuse, it’s overexposing. Being able to diligently use these arms makes them stronger, and it makes the bullpen better.

That’s the key here. Building a bullpen or pitching staff is not just about the arms you have. It is about where you are opting to deploy them. The Mets have three closers set for the final three innings. They have a pitcher like Lugo who can be used as a weapon who can not just be unleashed at any time but at the most opportune times. You can then have three guys you can match-up as needed. With the Mets starting rotation, they probably will not be needed anywhere as often as other teams need their fifth, sixth, seventh, or even eighth best reliever.

In the end, that is how you truly build a great bullpen. You get the guys, and you put them in the right spots to maximize their skill set. Overall, this is why the Mets have the makings of the best bullpen in baseball.

Mets Have Insufficient Depth

With the signing on Jed Lowrie, the Mets have been talking about just how deep this roster is. To a certain extent, they are right. Having infield options which include Peter Alonso, Robinson Cano, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, and Amed Rosario in conjunction with Lowrie is incredible depth. However, that does not mean the Mets are a deep team.

First and foremost is the outfield. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are the only two healthy everyday outfielders on the roster. Juan Lagares has the glove to justify playing everyday, but he has hasn’t played more than 94 games since 2015, and in that season the Mets were desperate for an upgrade as they were making a postseason push.

Keon Broxton has hit .213/.296/.419 with an 85 OPS+ over the past two seasons indicating he has no business playing everyday. As bad as that is, Broxton is the last MLB outfielder on the 40 man roster.

After Broxton, the Mets are gambling on McNeil successfully transitioning to the outfield. It’s not an unreasonable gamble, and it is one we can expect to pay off. However, McNeil being an outfielder means the infield depth has taken a hit, which is a real issue should Alonso not be able to play first at the MLB level, or there are multiple injuries.

After McNeil is Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco, both of them are over 35 years old, and neither of them have had a good season since 2015. Having just two starting outfielders with a couple of has beens and never will bes is not outfield depth.

And no, Yoenis Cespedes cannot be relied upon. He underwent double heel surgery, and no one can reasonably pinpoint when he is returning to the lineup, nor can anyone have any indication of what he will be when he is able to return.

With respect to the catching situation, the Mets are undoubtedly better with the signing of Wilson Ramos. However, that does not mean there is sufficient depth. Both Ramos and Travis d’Arnaud are injury prone putting more emphasis on Tomas Nido, who has hit .181/.210/.255 in limited Major League duty on top of hitting .272/.300/.431 between Double-A and Triple-A last year.

There is a real chance at least two of those catchers are injured as the same time leaving the Mets to depend on Patrick Mazeika and/or Ali Sanchez. Basiscally, this isn’t much different than during the 2015 season where the team grasped at straws cycling through Kevin Plawecki, Anthony Recker, and Johnny Monell while they pieced together the catching situation in d’Arnaud’s absence.

Then there is the rotation. All five of the Mets starters have significant injury histories. Jacob deGrom is the only starter to have consecutive seasons with at least 30 starts. Jason Vargas is the only other starter with 20 plus starts in each of the last two seasons. Behind this thin rotation, with Vargas having a 64 ERA+ and a 5.02 FIP last year, is very questionable starting pitching depth.

Looking at the roster, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, Drew Gagnon, and P.J. Conlon. all posted an ERA over 5.00 in the majors last year. Hector Santiago was moved to the bullpen partially because he has had a 4.06 ERA since 2016. Kyle Dowdy, the Mets Rule 5 pick, had a 5.15 ERA between Double and Triple-A last year, and with the team being forced to keep him on the roster or return him to the Rays, he is going to be a bullpen option.

Now, to be fair, the Mets do have bullpen depth. The back-end with Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia is as good as it gets. You can also say the Mets swing men, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, are the best combination in the Majors. From a left-handed relief option, Daniel Zamora has exception spin rates, and former White Sox Luis Avilan and Santiago have pitched well out of the bullpen.

Beyond that group, the Mets have promising young right-handed power arms in Tyler Bashlor, Eric Hanhold, Ryder Ryan, and Drew Smith. Combine that with Paul Sewald and Jacob Rhame, the Mets have sufficient numbers and depth in the bullpen, albeit not the big seventh inning reliever you would want.

In the end, yes, the Mets have admirable infield depth, and there are enough arms here to at least figure out a good bullpen. However, past that, this is a paper thin roster at outfield, catcher, and starting pitcher. If the Mets face a number of injuries, and based on their history, they will, the 2019 Mets are going to be in real trouble.

Mets New Years Resolutions

After an unplanned hiatus, it is time to start the New Year off fresh and to look at everything anew. It is time for change and resolutions to carry us through 2019. Here are the resolutions for each of the Mets players:

Robinson Cano – don’t get caught using PEDs this time

Yoenis Cespedes – find a way to DH in at least two games this year

Michael Conforto – don’t let Chili Davis anywhere near his perfect swing

Jacob deGrom – learn how to hit better so he can finally win some games next year.

Travis d’Arnaud – get the same surgery Wolverine got

Rajai Davis – just remind Callaway he was his center fielder in Cleveland because as we saw with Austin Jackson, it is a guarantee for a significant amount of playing time

Edwin Diaz – seek out Armando Benitez, get his advice, and ignore everything he has to say.

Jeurys Familia – convince Callaway Diaz needs to be used in higher leverage situations so he can get his closer job back

Todd Frazier – find a way to sell move boxes of unsold Mets salt and pepper grinders while not falling into the same trap this year.

Drew Gagnon – keep those incriminating photos which have allowed you to survive roster cut after roster cut.

Robert Gsellman – learn how to pitch well for more than just one month out of the season

Juan Lagares – find a way to play at least half a season

Seth Lugo – when he is not given an opportunity to start and is an All Star snub, channel his inner Margot Martindale from BoJack Horseman

Steven Matz – pitch better so his grandfather will begin cheering for him again.

Jeff McNeil – find a way to hit .400 because short of that the Mets are probably not putting him in the lineup

Tomas Nidosign up for the best travel rewards program there is because by the time 2019 is over he will be able to fly first class to Australia and back at least 10 times a month

Brandon Nimmo – life isn’t that bad, maybe he should smile every once in a while

Kevin Plawecki – hit the occasional ground ball to the left side just to shake things up.

Jacob Rhame – find a new look because the Jason Phillips thing just isn’t working for him or his career.

Amed Rosario – take some mommy/baby classes so he can learn how to walk

Paul Sewald – have a print out of his game logs from Baseball Reference to remind the Mets he pitches well in shorter spurts, and that he is not superhuman and cannot handle onerous workloads. Cry when the attempts fail and he finds himself back in Triple-A

Dominic Smithlend Peter Alonso his alarm clock in Spring Training

Noah Syndergaard find an open mic somewhere to discover no one actually believes he or his Mr. Met feud is funny.

Jason Vargas – leave the Jeff Goldblum impressions in the clubhouse and stop pitching like him when he takes the mound.

Bobby Wahl – make sure the comparisons to Matt Harvey stay with both pitchers having TOS and not because fans are questioning why your manager would put you on the mound to start the ninth inning

Zack Wheeler – don’t even let a Mets team doctor near his arm in his free agent walk year.

Daniel Zamora – be able to spin his bad outings the way he can spin his slider

Mickey Callaway – take a deep breath and relax. Now that Jay Bruce is gone, he’s going to be able to hand in the right lineup.

Mets Outlast Nationals

Like two nights ago, the Mets had the opportunity to take out one of the leading Cy Young candidates to help Jacob deGrom‘s Cy Young case. Like with the game against Aaron Nola, the Mets dealt a small blow but could not deliver the knockout punch.

The Mets did try. In the third, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce went back-to-back to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The one weakness in Max Scherzer‘s game this year was the long ball, and the Mets took full advantage. Conversely, the major strength in Scherzer’s game was the strikeout, and he mowed down the Mets.

After the Bruce homer, the Mets had just one hit and one walk, which did allow Scherzer to go seven. In total, Scherzer increased his lead over deGrom in innings and strikeouts, but his ERA rose .04.

For a while, it seemed as if the Mets were going to hit Scherzer with a loss because somehow someway Jason Vargas was out-pitching Scherzer.

The only damage against Vargas was an Anthony Rendon two run homer in the sixth. Seth Lugo, as part of his 1.1 innings, got the final out of the inning to preserve the 3-2 lead.

After Scherzer was pulled, the Mets immediately went to work against left-handed reliever Matt Grace.

Jeff McNeil hit a leadoff triple, and he’d come home on a Bruce single past the drawn-in infield to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. It wasn’t enough for this Mets bullpen.

Anthony Swarzak allowed the first two to reach in the bottom of the eighth, and Daniel Zamora would come on to face Bryce Harper. In the lengthy at-bat. Zamora would get the best of Harper who just missed out as he flew out to deep right field.

Maybe because it was because he opted to take the bullpen cart, but Robert Gsellman would surrender the lead. He first run came on a Rendon groundout, and the second scored on a Juan Soto RBI double.

With that, Scherzer was off the hook. With us living in a world where deGrom may win the Cy Young with a losing record, the loss was probably inconsequential.

The game would go extras, and the Mets seemed poised to end it early with them loading the bases in the 10th with just one out.

However, even with Greg Holland losing the strike zone having thrown seven straight balls, Jack Reinheimer swung at a 1-0 pitch and hit a soft tapper to Holland, who started the inning ending 1-2-3 double play.

In that 10th inning, McNeil was surprisingly sent up to bunt. In that at-bat, home plate umpire made a few very questionable strike calls, including ruling McNeil bunted at a pitch. This led Mickey Callaway to flip and earn his second career ejection.

In the 11th, Brandon Nimmo hit a leadoff double, and he would be stranded there.

What was surprising was how Jacob Rhame returned serve. After allowing a leadoff double to Ryan Zimmerman, who tagged up and moved to third on a Matt Wieters line out, Rhame would strike out Mark Reynolds and Victor Robles to end the inning.

Finally, in the 12th, the Mets retook the lead.

Amed Rosario led off the inning with a single off Jefry Rodriguez, and this time, McNeil would get the bunt down.

The bases were loaded after Conforto was intentionally walked, and Bruce walked after him. Jose Lobaton pinch hit for Rhame, and he delivered with a go-ahead sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 5-4 lead.

Paul Sewald was given the 12th, and he delivered his second career save with a 1-2-3 inning. Just because it was a 1-2-3 inning, it doesn’t mean it was uneventful.

After Heyward was called out on a pitch outside the strike zone, he argued the call, and he was tossed by Home Plate Umpire D.J. Reyburn. Heyward didn’t even bother going to the clubhouse. Instead, he watched the final out from the bench.

Come next week, Harper will join the Mets in watching games from the bench as the Nationals will soon be eliminated from the postseason.

Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was shut down for the rest of the year after being diagnosed with arthritis in his knees.

Vargas Gets Run Support deGrom Never Had

The Mets had one of those odd not quite a doubleheader type of days with the Mets and Cubs needing to complete yesterday’s suspended game. The Mets would pick up where they left off by shouting themselves in the foot.

The 10th inning ended on a strike ’em out – throw ’em out double play. Jay Bruce struck out, and Michael Conforto was caught stealing.

In the 11th, Wilmer Flores lined into a double play.

As bad as that was Paul Sewald imploded in the 11th. He first walked Javier Baez and then threw away a sacrifice bunt attempt. That left no choice but to walk Kyle Schwarber to load the bases.

After he struck out Albert Almora, Jr., Mickey Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get Ben Zobrist. He didn’t, and the Cubs won the suspended game 2-1.

After two close and heart wrenching losses in a row, the Mets set out to ensure there would be no room for late game heroics. They immediately put up a four spot courtesy of a Todd Frazier grand slam:

Of course, the Mets gave this type of run support to Jason Vargas and not Jacob deGrom.

What was interesting was Vargas actually let those four runs hold up even if he was a little shaky.

He escaped a first inning jam with runners at the corners by striking out David Bote. He allowed just run in the second after Willson Contreras led off with a double.

From there, Vargas really settled in, and he was surprisingly keeping the Cubs at bay. Vargas’ final line would be 5.1 innings, four hits, run, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.

With his four straight good start in a row, he’s lowered his ERA from 8.75 to 6.56. Perhaps more impressive than that was his retiring a batter the third time through the lineup for the first time all season.

Vargas got the win because not only did the bullpen make those runs hold up, but the Mets offense exploded in the seventh. Amazingly, it was all with two outs.

Wilmer Flores hit a single, advanced on a passed ball, and scored on an Amed Rosario bloop single.

Rosario scored after a Jeff McNeil walk and Austin Jackson RBI single. Both McNeil and Jackson scored on a Just Release Him Already RBI triple.

The Mets plated two more runs in the ninth on a rally started when Tomas Nido reached on a fielding error by Cubs reliever James Norwood. The rally culminated with Frazier and Brandon Nimmo hitting RBI singles to make it 10-1 Mets.

In the bottom of the ninth, 26th man Jacob Rhame who was called up for the ninth time this season allowed two runs before finally closing the door on the Mets 10-3 victory.

Overall, the Mets played 11 innings, scored 10 runs, and went 1-1. It’s been one of those seasons.

Game Notes: With the loss, Sewald is now 0-11 in his career with one save.

Nationals Take Frustrations Out on Mets

The Nationals scoreless streak had reached 32 innings, and with the way Steven Matz was pitching, it seemed like that streak may reach all the way to 36 innings with the Mets completing a sweep where they allowed no runs.

For a second in the sixth inning, Trea Turner looked to snap that streak with a lead off home run, but the umpires on the field ruled it was a double. It was a call upheld on replay:

While it didn’t go out, it was just a matter of time before the Nationals scored.  Anthony Rendon singled Turner to third, and Turner would score on a Juan Soto ground out.  Matz would get out of the inning without allowing another run, but the damage was done.

Matz was destined to lose this game as the Mets mustered only three hits in the entire game against Jefry Rodriguez and the Nationals bullpen.  Jeff McNeil was one of the three Mets who got a hit, and he would leave the game in the seventh with a strained quad.

Entering the eighth, Paul Sewald took the mound to try to keep the game to one run hoping beyond hope the Mets could run into one and tie the score.  Instead, Sewald imploded.

Sewald loaded the bases and walked in a run.  Then Bryce Harper entered the game as a pinch hitter, and he unloaded the bases with a three RBI double.  On that play, Jose Reyes took the relay throw and spiked the throw home.  With Tomas Nido unable to field the throw, Soto would score easily.

Tyler Bashlor would come on for Sewald, and he really wasn’t any better allowing homers to both Wilmer Difo and Eaton.

All told, it was an eight run inning with five runs charged to Sewald and three charged to Bashlor.

In the ninth, Corey Oswalt, a starting pitcher, was asked to come in and pitch an inning.  On the bright side, he accomplished that task by recording three outs in the top of the ninth.  On the downside, he pitched terribly.

The Nationals were were clearly not running up the score going station-to-station instead of taking the extra base.  This led to them loading the bases.  Difo first singled home a run, and Spencer Kieboom walked to force home a run.  Mark Reynolds would then unload the bases with a grand slam.

That would make the score 15-0.  To put in perspective how poorly this Mets season has gone, this wasn’t even the Mets worst loss to the Nationals.  On July 31st, the Mets would lose 25-4 against the Nationals, which was the worst loss in franchise history.  So to that extent, today’s game wasn’t so bad.

Game Notes: Jay Bruce played all nine innings at first base.

Dom Played First And Homered In Mets Win

Since the All Star Break, the Mets are playing much better baseball. In fact, the team is actually two games over .500, and they have won 12 of their last 19 games.

One of the major reasons for the improved play is the Mets are finally playing their talented younger players, and they’re taking advantage of their opportunity.

Last night, that included Dominic Smith, who not only played first base, but he also homered off Casey Kelly:

That second inning homer did not end the rally.

Jack Reinheimer hit a two out single, and Jose Bautista, who leadoff for some reason, reached on a Brandon Crawford error.

Jeff McNeil then drove home Reinheimer with an RBI single. With that single and his first inning triple, McNeil reached base safely in seven consecutive at-bats.

What’s amazing about that first inning triple is McNeil didn’t score even with Todd Frazier reaching on a Crawford throwing error.

Speaking of Frazier, he would drive home the third run of the inning on a ground rule double.

In this 2016 Wild Card Game rematch, Noah Syndergaard would give back two of the runs right away.

After consecutive singles and Kelly’s sacrifice bunt, Syndergaard got Steven Duggar to hit an RBI groundout. Joe Panik then hit a two out RBI single to pull the Giants to within a run.

Syndergaard would shut the Giants down from there. In six innings, he would throw 101 pitches limiting the Giants to two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out five.

With Bautista hitting a solo homer in the fourth, he’d depart with a 4-2 lead.

Mickey Callaway then put in Drew Smith for what seemed like his first high leverage situation.

First batter he faced, Austin Slater, hit a homer.

With one out in the inning, he’d hit Chase d’Arnaud with a pitch before Duggar popped out on a bunt attempt.

Callaway then went to Jerry Blevins, who retired Panik to get out of the jam.

Frazier got that run back with a homer in the bottom of the seventh,

Robert Gsellman was dominant in the bottom of the eight striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Callaway tabbed Daniel Zamora to get Crawford to start the ninth before giving the ball to Paul Sewald, who got the final two outs to earn his first career save.

With that, the Mets won 5-3. Who knew that this team could win young players getting playing time and a chance to succeed?

Game Recap: With the win, the Mets have ensured at least a series split. The Mets have now either won or split their past five series.

Orioles Beat Mets In Game No One Should’ve Watched

This was a matchup not even Gary Cohen to bring himself to watch.

The Mets and Orioles entered the night a combined 65 games out of first place, and the pitching matchup was Andrew Cashner against Jason Vargas.

Really, to put how dreadful both this game and the Orioles are, Vargas’ final line was 6.0 innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, three walks, and a strikeout.

Astonishingly, he had a 2-1 lead in the sixth before allowing a homer to Adam Jones.

That eliminated the lead from the Mets fifth inning rally. Up until that inning, the Mets were mostly stymied by Cashner, who retired the first 10 straight and 12 of the 13 batters he faced through four.

That changed with Brandon Nimmo drawing a two out walk and Todd Frazier singling. For a moment, it looked like that rally would sputter out with Austin Jackson hitting into a 6-4-3 double play.

However, Jose Bautista would draw a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and Kevin Plawecki and Amed Rosario would hit consecutive two out RBI singles.

After that rally, it was all Orioles beginning with the aforementioned Jones homer.

Bobby Wahl came on in the seventh, and he struggled mightily starting with a Chris Davis homer. Remember, Davis entered the night hitting .148/.242/.299. That’s not a typo. That’s just how bad a hitter he’s been this year.

After that, he issued a pair of two out walks leading to Mickey Callaway bringing in Paul Sewald, who allowed an RBI single to Renato Nuñez.

On the play, Frazier dove to stop the ball, but he deflected it towards center and past Rosario.

Sewald would get out of the inning without allowing another run, but he would allow a two run homer to Tim Beckham in the eighth giving the hapless Orioles a 6-2 lead.

After a Nimmo triple and Frazier RBI single in the ninth, it was 6-3 Orioles, which was the final score of this nearly unwatchable game.

Game Notes: The Orioles have the worst record in baseball and are 3-0 against the Mets

Mets Problem Isn’t Analytics, It’s The Wilpons

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, Mets owner Fred Wilpon does not want to hire a younger and more analytics driven executive for two reasons.  The first is he feels he will have a harder time connecting with that person.  The second and perhaps all the more baffling is the “thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch . . . .”

Taking the thought at face value, we really need to question which analytics the Mets are using to inform their decisions.

For starters, look at Asdrubal Cabrera.  Everyone knew he was no longer a shortstop, so that left the question over whether he should have been a second or third baseman heading into the 2018 season.

In 2017, Cabrera was a -6 DRS in 274.1 innings at second.  That should have come as no surprise as he was a -10 DRS the last time he saw extensive action at second base (2014).  Conversely, in his 350.1 innings at third last year, he had a 1 DRS.

Naturally, the Mets went with Cabrera at second this season where he has been an MLB worst -20 DRS.  That makes him not just the worst second baseman in all of baseball, it makes him the worst defensive infielder in all of baseball.

Of course, the Mets got there by acquiescing a bit to Cabrera’s preference to play second over third.  This was also the result of the team turning down a Paul Sewald for Jason Kipnis swap.  That deal was nixed over money.

With respect to Sewald, he was strong when the season began.  In April, he had a 1.91 ERA and a 0.805 WHIP.  Since that point, Sewald has a 5.73 ERA, a 1.485 WHIP, and multiple demotions to Triple-A.

As for Kipnis, he has struggled this year hitting .226/.313/.363.  It should be noted this was mostly due to a horrific April which saw him hit .178/.254/.243.  Since that tough start to the season, Kipnis has gotten progressively better.  Still, it is difficult to lose sleep over Kipnis even if the rejected trade put Cabrera at second and it led to the Mets signing Todd Frazier, who is hitting .217/.298/.368.

In addition to bringing Cabrera back into the fold, the Mets also brought back Jay Bruce after having traded the then impending free agent to the Cleveland Indians for Ryder Ryan.

At the time the Mets signed Bruce, they needed a center fielder.  The team already had Yoenis Cespedes in left, and once he returned from the disabled list, the team was going to have Michael Conforto in right.  Until the time Conforto was ready, the team appeared set with Brandon Nimmo in the short-term.

In 69 games in 2017, Nimmo hit .260/.379/.418.  In those games, Nimmo showed himself to be a real candidate for the leadoff spot on a roster without an obvious one, especially in Conforto’s absence.  With him making the league minimum and his having shown he could handle three outfield positions, he seemed like an obvious choice for a short term solution and possible someone who could platoon with Juan Lagares in center.

Instead, the Mets went with Bruce for $39 million thereby forcing Conforto to center where he was ill suited.  More than that, Bruce was coming off an outlier year in his free agent walk year.  Before that 2017 rebound season, Bruce had not had a WAR of at least 1.0 since 2013, and he had just one season over a 100 wRC+ in that same stretch.  In response to that one outlier season at the age of 30, the Mets gave Bruce a three year deal.

Still, that may not have been the worst contract handed out by the Mets this past offseason.  That honor goes to Jason Vargas.

The Mets gave a 35 year old pitcher a two year $16 million deal to be the team’s fifth starter despite the fact the team had real starting pitching depth.  At the time of the signing, the Mets had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt as starting pitching depth.

Instead of using five of them and stashing four of them in Triple-A, the Mets opted to go with Vargas as the fifth starter.  Even better, they depleted their starting pitching depth by moving Gsellman and Lugo the to bullpen.  Of course, this had the added benefit of saving them money thereby allowing them to sign Anthony Swarzak, a 32 year old reliever with just one good season under his belt.

The Mets were rewarded with the decision to sign Vargas by his going 2-8 with an 8.75 ERA and a 1.838 WHIP.  He’s also spent three separate stints on the disabled list.

What’s funny about Vargasis he was signed over the objections of the Mets analytics department.  From reports, Vargas was not the only one.  Looking at that, you have to question just how anyone associated with the Mets could claim they have become too analytics driven.  Really, when you ignore the advice of those hired to provide analytical advice and support, how could you point to them as the problem?

They’re not.

In the end, the problem is the same as it always has been.  It’s the Wilpons.

They’re the ones looking for playing time for Jose Reyes at a time when everyone in baseball thinks his career is over.  They’re the ones not reinvesting the proceeds from David Wrights insurance policy into the team.  They’re the ones who have a payroll not commensurate with market size or World Series window.  They’re the ones rejecting qualified people for a job because of an 81 year year old’s inability to connect with his employees.

Really, you’re not going to find an analytical basis to defend making a team older, less versatile, more injury prone, and worse defensively.

What you will find is meddlesome ownership who thinks they know better than everyone.  That’s why they’re 17 games under .500 with declining attendance and ratings while saying the Yankees financial model is unsustainable at a time the Yankees are heading to the postseason again and the team has the highest valuation of any Major League team.

Rains, Reds Drown Mets

Give Jason Vargas credit.  It only took him just 14 pitches to earn the loss in tonight’s game.  That’s a new low for even him.

Sure, there were extenuating circumstances.  Four batters into the game, and the Reds already up 1-0, there was an hour and 45 minute rain delay.  This necessitated Vargas depart after just one-third of an inning, and it meant the Mets were going to use two pitchers before the Reds even used one.

Vargas left behind two baserunners, each of whom Paul Sewald allowed to score.  At that point, the Reds had an impenetrable 3-0 lead.

One of the reasons it was impenetrable was because Reds starter, Sal Romano, who grew up rooting for the Mets, dominated his hometown team.  In six innings pitched, he limited the Mets to one run on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

The Mets lone run off Romano came courtesy of a Jose Bautista two out RBI single which scored Brandon Nimmo, who had doubled earlier that inning.  The Bautista single ended a long 0-fer drought for Bautista.  After that single, he would begin a new one as the Mets offense wouldn’t get another hit until the ninth inning.

Overall, the Mets would use six pitchers to differing results.

Bobby Wahl had his first blemish as a member of the Mets allowing a two run homer to Phil ErvinJacob Rhame allowed a deep bomb to former Met Dilson Herrera.

Other than that, Tyler Bashlor and Drew Smith would combine to pitch four scoreless to both help save the bullpen and to also raise their stock with the organization.  It was a good thing they did because when you lose 6-1 like this, many don’t notice the positives many do actually contribute.

Game Notes: Between pitching changes and pinch hitters, the Mets would have nine different players appear in the ninth spot in the order – Vargas, Sewald, Wahl, Luis Guillorme, Bashlor, Jose Reyes, Smith, Austin Jackson, Rhame.