It is a slow going offseason, but it seems even slower for the Mets. With so many teams with more money than the Mets still interested in many of the same free agents, it is hard to believe the Mets will make significant additions before the end of the offseason. If they don’t, here is what the 2018 Mets Opening Day roster will look like:
C – Travis d’Arnaud
1B – Dominic Smith
2B – Wilmer Flores
3B – Asdrubal Cabrera
SS – Amed Rosario
LF – Yoenis Cespedes
CF – Juan Lagares
RF – Michael Conforto
Bench – Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, T.J. Rivera, Matt Reynolds, Phillip Evans
This should only highlight about how much work the Mets actually have to do this offseason.
Sure, we can buy the pitching staff as a whole as is because they have viable depth. In the rotation, Lugo could get transition back much like how he did in 2016. After that, they have Robert Gsellman, Chris Flexen, Corey Oswalt, and Mickey Jannis. And that is before the Mets go deeper with pitchers like P.J. Conlon. Suffice it to say, the Mets do have sufficient rotation depth.
However, that offense. You can’t sell anyone that is going to be alright. Mostly, that is because the Mets don’t believe themselves that it will be. And that is before you take into account the injury issues Conforto and Rivera are currently rehabbing from this offseason.
For example, the team has all but given up on Gavin Cecchini, who should be in a position to at least compete for a spot on the 25 man roster. He won’t. What’s scary is there is no real Major League ready talent behind him . . . at least no immediately as players like Luis Guillorme and David Thompson need at least some time in Triple-A. By the way, there’s no real outfield depth in this system.
Looking over this roster, you’d be hard pressed to believe the Mets will be better than the 70-92 team they were last season no matter how much they sell us Mickey Callaway as the solution to all that ails the Mets.
So, it really should not come as a surprise to no one the Mets have a lot of work to do, and it goes well beyond just adding one or two players. That applies just to the starting lineup. After that, they really need to build a Major League caliber bench.
Again, the good news is there are still many free agents available. However, it’s still hard to believe the Mets will be able to add the players they need to become a postseason contender.
If you’ve been paying attention, the Mets seem to be interested in everyone this offseason. If you take those players they’re interested in, you’d have an amazing roster:
1B Todd Frazier
2B Neil Walker
SS Amed Rosario
CF Lorenzo Cain
Wait, you don’t believe any of this is going to happen?
After the purported hand-wringing Sandy Alderson was doing over the free agent reliever market, the Mets finally pulled the trigger, and they signed Anthony Swarzak to a two year $14 million deal.
There is a lot to like about Swarzak. Last year, the 32 year old had his best ever season going 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA, 1.034 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, and a 10.6 K/9. As noted by D.J. Short of Rotoworld, Swarzak had a higher swinging strike percentage than old friend Addison Reed. Part of that could be attributed to the fact he added about two MPH on his fastball.
He’s also been a platoon neutral pitcher his entire career with his best season being in 2017. While limiting right-handed batters to a .218/.259/.346 batting line, left-handed batters were worse against him hitting .198/.294/.281.
These stats are all the more incredible and important when you consider he predominantly worked in the 7th and 8th innings. The Mets needed another set-up man to work with AJ Ramos to hand the ball to Jeurys Familia in the 9th.
Overall, this is all important, and the signing helps the Mets. However it isn’t enough, especially because this is all but a shapshot of Swarzak’s career.
It was just in 2015 Swarzak had a 5.26 ERA and 1.516 WHIP in the Korean Leagues. In 2016, his first season back from Korea, he was 1-2 with a 5.52 ERA for the Yankees.
While he was obviously improved since then, it was mostly on the strength of some outliers. Prior to last season, he yielded a .304 BABIP. In 2017, that number was .272.
Prior to 2017, Swarzak left 69.8% of runners on base, which is right around league average. Last season, his LOB% was a career best 82.9%.
Maybe these numbers were all the result of improved stuff. Maybe it was him becoming more comfortable in the bullpen. It’s just as possible the increased velocity and some of the BABIP and LOB% will regress to league and career norms.
Overall, the Mets did acquire a quality reliever who should prove to better than internal options like Hansel Robles, Paul Sewald, and Josh Smoker. Moreover, Swarzak is getting the opportunity to work with Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. If there’s a tandem you trust to help Swarzak make 2017 the new norm instead of an outlier, it’s them.
Still, with the stark contrast between the 2017 and career numbers, the Mets need to hedge their bets that Swarzak may very well regress. In the end, this means that while Swarzak may very well prove to be a nice addition, he’s far from being the final piece of the puzzle.
On Thanksgiving, it’s time to go around the Mets 2017 roster and name something each player should be thankful for:
Nori Aoki – He looked so much better in September than he did in all of 2017 by being competent while playing on a dysfunctional team.
Jerry Blevins – Throughout all the stress of the season and his extreme workload, the man didn’t even put on one pound.
Chasen Bradford – With his call-up to the majors, he’s now on the short list for best beards in Mets history.
Jay Bruce – He learned from his experience last year, and he played well for a team that acquired him in a trade.
Asdrubal Cabrera – As we found out this season, all he wanted the Mets to do was to pick up his option so he could provide for him family. With the Mets having done that, he can now rest easy.
Jamie Callahan – One day when bards tell the tale of the six right-handed relievers the Mets acquired at the 2017 deadline, they will regale us all with stories of how Callahan was the first of them to finish out a game the Mets won.
Gavin Cecchini – He made the switch from short to second where it will be easier for him to make it to the majors. That goes double if the Mets who are tightening payroll off a poor season don’t bring in a free agent to play the position.
Yoenis Cespedes – With Cespedes missing half the season, that left a lot of time for him to hit the course.
Michael Conforto – Collins is gone meaning no one is standing in his way from being a superstar anymore.
Travis d’Arnaud – He became the greatest defensive second baseman in Mets history by posting a 1.000 fielding percentage at the position.
Jacob deGrom – With him pitching so well this year, he knows he will finally be able to cash in in arbitration thereby allowing him to afford a haircut.
Phillip Evans – After winning a batting title in 2016, having a good Spring Training, and a good second half for Vegas, the Mets finally decided to let him post similarly good numbers for them in September.
Jeurys Familia – Blood clots in his shoulder costing him most of the season made most people forget why he missed the beginning of the season.
Wilmer Flores – He fouled a ball off his face, and he lived to tell about it.
Sean Gilmartin – With his going from the Mets to the Cardinals, he was able to prove he wasn’t bad. It was just the Mets as an organization did not employ anyone capable of knowing he was actually injured.
Erik Goeddel – No matter how much he struggled this season, he will never be the most hated person in pro sports with the last name pronounced GO-dell\n
Curtis Granderson – He had a front row seat to seeing Chase Utley fail in the postseason.
Robert Gsellman – He has so much self confidence he doesn’t care what anyone things of him.
Matt Harvey – Between the Tommy John, TOS, and the Mets rushing him into the rotation with atrophied muscles in his throwing arm knowing he wouldn’t really be ready until a month into the season, he should be thankful for getting out of the season with his right arm still attached.
Ty Kelly – He got out of here after one game thereby preventing Nurse Ratched from getting to him and ending his season.
Juan Lagares – With all the injuries and the Mets looking to cut payroll, he is once again the center fielder of the future.
Steven Matz – With him suffering the same injury deGrom suffered last year, we all know he can come back from this to be the same exact injury prone pitcher he was before the surgery.
Kevin McGowan – He will always have a special place in Mets fans hearts as it was his call-up that forced Ramirez off the roster.
Tommy Milone – He was able to find a team that was okay with him having an ERA over 8.00.
Rafael Montero – For the first time in his life, he wasn’t a complete abomination as a pitcher.
Tomas Nido – Even with his struggles at the plate in Binghamton, he can rest easy knowing the Mets don’t expect an OBP over .300 from their catchers.
Brandon Nimmo – No one, not matter what, has been able to wipe that smile off of his face.
Tyler Pill – In a year of embarrassing pitching performances by Mets pitchers, Pill actually acquitted himself quite well before suffering his season ending injury.
Kevin Plawecki – He’s so well liked by his teammates that someone left him a present in his locker, which apparently has inspired him to hit the ball harder and longer thereby resurrecting his career.
Neil Ramirez – Somehow, someway, he was not the absolute worst pitcher on a team’s pitching staff.
AJ Ramos – To him, getting traded to the Mets meant he was traded to a team that actually spends money in the offseason.
Addison Reed – He was so good this year he was worth not just one but three right-handed relievers.
Jose Reyes – The Mets didn’t cut him or his playing time no matter how horrible he played during the 2017 season.
Matt Reynolds – He got that long look in September Sandy Alderson promised him. Unfortunately, that only amounted to him getting 10 games to show what he could do at the MLB level.
Jacob Rhame – He’s with an organization that has had success getting flame throwing right-handed pitchers who have slimmed down since getting drafted reach their full potential.
Rene Rivera – After failing to whisper loud enough to help the Mets pitchers pitch better, he was able to go to the Cubs to help their pitchers lead them to an NLCS berth.
Hansel Robles – In his mind every ball hit in the air is an inning ending pop up.
Amed Rosario – He didn’t have to have his development hampered by being expected to be the savior when he was called-up to the majors as the Mets were well out of contention on August 1st.
Fernando Salas – Despite his rough stint with the Mets, he was able to land with the Angels to end the season thereby proving it was the Mets handling of pitchers and not him that was terrible.
Paul Sewald – As a reward for all of his hard work in Vegas, he got the privilege of being the arm Collins loved to abuse during the season.
Dominic Smith – He finally got his call-up in August in Philadelphia of all places allowing him to celebrate the accomplishment and the win with a cheesesteak from Pat’s. (NOTE: not a cheapshot at his weight, this actually happened)
Josh Smoker – After the Mets finally gave up on using a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues as the long man in the pen, he showed the team in September that he could be as a lefty out of the pen to get lefties out.
Noah Syndergaard – Mr. Met flipped off someone this year other than him.
Neil Walker – The Mets moved him to the Brewers where he was able to re-establish his free agency value by being productive and by staying healthy, which was coincidentally was when he was away from the Mets medical team.
Adam Wilk – Because Harvey was at home one day in his pajamas, he set off on a path where he would become eligible to earn a share of the postseason money awarded to the Twins for claiming the second Wild Card.
Zack Wheeler – Instead of missing two years due to injury, he missed two months.
David Wright – Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mets still have not given up on him.
Terry Collins – At the end of the day, he was able to make a friend of Fred Wilpon who had his back no matter what. We should all be so lucky.
Dan Warthen – He found a new group of pitchers in Texas who have elbows waiting to learn how to throw that Warthen Slider.
Sandy Alderson – Collins was so poor at managing, he was able to convince ownership it was all Collins’ fault and not his for poorly constructing a roster.
Mets Fans – Well, even if it wasn’t at this post, we all still have a sense of humor, and we can still laugh at what we put up with from this team on a daily basis.
With free agency beginning last night, the Mets now have the opportunity to fill-in many of the holes the team has in free agency. In no particular order, those holes are second, third, center, bullpen, fifth starter, and maybe even catcher. In addition to that, the Mets have to build a bench, which is something they overlook in the offseason year-in and year-out.
During Sandy Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he predominantly makes his big moves in free agency, and he stays away from the big trades. That is something he tends to do more during the season to address problems with the roster. To that end, we will likely see the team’s needs addressed through a combination of free agency and the team’s internal options.
One of the issues in building the roster is the payroll seems to be limited. That’s not limited by recent standards. Rather, there are indications the payroll will be going down. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Mets payroll could drop by $20 million to the $135 million range.
Previously, MMO estimated the Mets current payroll commitments, factoring in likely arbitration raises, will be between $109 – $119 million. That includes the options for Blevins and Cabrera, which the Mets recently picked up. As of the moment, the Mets roster shakes up like this:
Judging from the aforementioned 24 players, the Mets have a lot of work to do, and with few exceptions, no one should feel their job is safe. Still, the Mets really only have somewhere between $15 – $25 million to spend in the offseason. This means the Mets are going to have to spend it wisely.
For starters, this probably means the jobs of d’Arnaud and Plawecki are safe. It also should mean that even with their comparative struggles, Rosario and Smith will begin the season on the Opening Day roster. From there, the Mets are going to have to make some tough choices among the players who could fulfill the Mets needs. It’s an even bigger issue than anticipated considering the MLB Trade Rumors projections:
- Mike Moustakas 5 years, $85 million ($17 million AAV)
- Lorenzo Cain 4 years, $60 million ($15 million AAV)
- Wade Davis 4 years, $60 million ($15 million AAV)
- Lance Lynn 4 years, $56 million ($14 million AAV)
- Greg Holland 4 years, $50 million ($12.5 million AAV)
- Addison Reed 4 years, $36 million ($9 million AAV)
- Todd Frazier 3 years, $33 million ($11 million AAV)
- CC Sabathia 2 years, $24 million ($12 million AAV)
- Neil Walker 2 years, $20 million ($10 million)
- Eduardo Nunez 2 years, $14 million ($7 million AAV)
There are other options, but this seems to be a fair sampling of the types of players the Mets should be targeting to bring them back into the postseason picture in the National League.
Reviewing those options, it seems as if you get one of the top tier players, the Mets are shut out from adding a second impact player. This means unless the Mets expand the budget, signing a Cain to play center means Cabrera at third and a veteran like Howie Kendrick to compete with Flores at second. Considering that, the Mets may feel comfortable that Lagares’ defense and Nimmo’s OBP are good enough to handle the center field position.
Considering the Mets real needs, the team’s best bet is going to be a player like a Frazier for third because that would free up some money to pursue another difference making player whether that be a Reed or Walker reunion, or the addition of a Sabathia to take over the Bartolo Colon sized hole on the roster.
In the end, the roster and the budget are going to make this one of Alderson’s toughest offseasons. Likely, he’s only going to be able to get two bigger named players, and he’s going to have to fill out important roles with internal options that failed last year or veterans who you pray have a Jose Valentin type of season.
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.
Here’s the thing. While you enjoy beating the Nationals, this game didn’t mean much. It’s not that the Mets season is over, and the Nationals have gone into preparing for the offseason mode. No, it’s because the Mets with Terry Collins at the helm aren’t focusing towards next year enough.
His second RBI was the game winning RBI scoring Juan Lagares.
Now, it’s beer. great to see Lagares get regular playing time. There are so few reasons to watch this team, but his defense is certainly one of them. He did it again today.
The reason the Mets were down was because Robert Gsellman wasn’t the same pitcher he was in his last start. Gsellman would only last five innings allowing four hits, six runs, five earned, and three walks with four strikeouts.
The big blow against him was an Adam Lind third inning three run homer.
However, when all was said and done, it wasn’t the Lind homer, but the Travis d’Arnaud homers. Yes, plural.
Déjà vu for d'Arnaud! His second homer of the game evens things at 6. End-5 pic.twitter.com/dCFusNjuM2
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2017
The first homer off Edwin Jackson that gave the Mets a 1-0 second inning lead. Jackson seemed to settle in after that, but the floodgates would open after the aforementioned Lagares bunt single.
His second one off Jackson tied the game setting the stage for the bullpen to keep the Nationals at bay.
At least to start the ninth, it was AJ Ramos. However, Ramos would not finish the inning.
Josh Smoker, who has reverse splits in his career, was brought to face Lind. He rose to the challenge getting him to line out for the second out of the inning.
Next, just like Collins went back to Jeurys Familia to close it out. For the first time since returning from surgery. It was just like old times with Familia striking out Victor Robles to end the rally and the game.
Game Notes: Amed Rosario came back after missing three
This season has mostly been a lost season at the plate for Travis d’Arnaud. Well, that is for everywhere he plays except Marlins Park.
At Marlins Park, which was designed to be a pitcher’s park, d’Arnaud entered the game hitting .421/.500/.895 with a double, triple, two homers, and eight RBI.
Tonight, d’Arnaud would continue raking in Miami going 2-5 with a run, homer, and two RBI. Essentially, he was once again Will Smith circa 1997:
Like he was that one glorious game in April, back when we thought this was going to be a special Mets season, d’Arnaud was the difference in this one. In addition to his bat, he did a good job behind the plate catching Seth Lugo.
Lugo pitched well with the Marlins only getting to him in the bottom of the fourth on a Christian Yelich opposite field homer. That’s all the Marlins would get with Lugo settling down after a J.T. Realmuto two out double, which put him in scoring position as the go-ahead run.
Surprisingly, Terry Collins would lift Lugo after five with Lugo having only thrown 83 pitches. It may just be a sign Collins is finally paying attention to the data. With the Mets rumored to replace him, it’s probably too little too late.
One thing of note. Even with Familia coming back from surgery and the Mets now hesitant to use him on back-to-back days, it at least appeared Collins was going to test his limits.
After a scoreless seventh, Familia began warming up to pitch the eighth. Once the Marlins announced the switch hitting Tomas Telis as a pinch hitter, Collins went to Blevins.
It makes you question whether Collins was buying Blevins more time, or if he was trying to get the matchup he wanted. However, considering Giancarlo Stanton was on deck, it’s hard to believe Collins wanted Blevins for him. Then again with Collins, who knows?
One significant note was that with d’Arnaud’s two run homer and homers by Yelich, Justin Bour, and Jose Reyes, all but one run in this game were scored via the home run. It was significant in a season where seemingly every team is hitting homers.
It was on a night where Alex Gordon hit the 5,694th homer in the majors this season – a new record:
A new record for most homers hit in a season – EVER.
— MLB (@MLB) September 20, 2017
The lone run not scored via the homer was a Reyes RBI single in the ninth scoring Phillip Evans. Evans had led off the inning with a single, and he moved to third after a Matt Reynolds sacrifice bunt and a Nori Aoki groundout.
The 4-1 lead meant AJ Ramos would get a save opportunity in his first appearance against his former team. He was greeted by a Bour homer.
Because Ramos likes the high wire act, Realmuto followed the Bour homer with an infield single thereby allowing the tying run to the plate with no outs.
Even with a couple of strikeouts, you still felt uneasy. Things got worse after an A.J. Ellis pinch hit RBI single. Then, finally, after walking a tight rope for so long with the Mets, Ramos blew a save.
Ichiro Suzuki lined one just out of the reach of a leaping Reyes. With the ball skimming off Reyes’ glove, the run scored fairly easily.
If things weren’t bad enough, Stanton and his 55 homers came to the plate. Ramos wanted no part of him, and he walked him. This led to Collins pulling him and bringing in Paul Sewald.
Even with Sewald being an accomplished minor league closer this was a difficult situation. Anytime the bases are loaded, there’s no margin of error. Factor in Yelich being the batter, and Sewald not having been used in these spots, it was a tough ask.
As if things weren’t difficult enough, Sewald went 3-2 with Yelich. Sewald then reached back and found something within himself, and he threw a slider that Yelich swung and missed to send the game to extras.
It was a temporary stay of execution. Realmuto would hit a walk off homer off Sewald in the 10th giving the Marlins a 5-4 win.
Normally, this would’ve been a gut wrenching loss. The way the season has gone, this just seemed to be a quick and merciful end.
Game Notes: Amed Rosario missed a second straight game with gastroenteritis.
If Rosario played for anyone of the other 29 teams, we'd believe gastroenteritis, but since he's a Met, we all know this is happening: pic.twitter.com/IkMHgsfTaM
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 19, 2017
In case you forgot why the Mets are in the position they’re in right now, Terry Collins and the bullpen were more than happy to oblige in another classic Sunday afternoon debacle.
Keep in mind, the Mets are so bad on Sundays that not even the Day Man, Jacob deGrom, can get a win on a Sunday day game.
After a rough first when he allowed two runs, it looked like deGrom may not get that win. After walking Tucker Barnhart to start the second, deGrom had issued three walks in one plus innings. There was legitimate issue how much longer he would last in the game.
As it turned out, it was his last walk of the game, and he would be much better from that point forward. In fact, he’d only allows just one more hit, and he’d strike out eight batters.
His final line was six innings, three hits, two runs, two earned, three walks, and 10 strikeouts. He was in line for a career best 15th win of the season.
He was in line thanks to some help from his offense. That includes Dominic Smith. Smith was 2-5 with a run, homer, and two RBI. His third inning RBI single tied the score at 2-2. His lead-off homer in the sixth gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.
After the Smith homer, the Mets would go ahead 5-2 off a Jose Reyes two RBI double. Reyes would give those runs away in the field.
Paul Sewald was first in line to protect the lead. After allowing that first two to get on, he seemed to reblund striking out Patrick Kivlehan and getting Jose Peraza to ground into what could’ve been an inning ending double play.
Amed Rosario, who was in his first game back in about a week after suffering a finger injury, made the flip to Reyes to get the out at second. However, Reyes made an errant throw allowing Peraza to reach safely. After that, Zack Cozart tied it.
How Cozy started the comeback. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/sdjsIVh6KH
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 10, 2017
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) September 10, 2017
Still, even if that tag does get down, the Reds still take the lead on the play. It was a lead they were not giving up.
Throw in a Burnhart three run homer off Hansel Robles in the ninth, and you have a 10-5 final score, and a Jacob deGrom no decision.
Of course with competent defense and manager, this could all turn around. That’s not happening this year.
Game Recap: Reyes continues to pack the back of his baseball.
With Rhame being the return for Curtis Granderson and Callahan being one of the three prospects netted in exchange for Addison Reed, we get a glimpse of how well Sandy Alderson did at the trade deadline. We also get a glimpse into what exactly the 2018 bullpen could look like.
So far, it’s safe to say Jerry Blevins, Jeurys Familia, and AJ Ramos will be in the Mets bullpen next year. Most likely, but not as definitely, Hansel Robles will be in the bullpen as well. Assuming no moves, and based on Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, it’s a fairly safe assumption, there are three open spots in the bullpen.
Sewald has shown versatility in the pen coming on for multiple innings and being a late inning reliever brought on to get the Mets out of a jam. He’s pitched 57.0 innings in 47 appearances. Overall, he’s 0-5 with a 4.11 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, and a 9.8 K/9.
Bradford has terrific in his first 17 appearances before his clunker against the Reds. Even with that poor performance, he’s still 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, and a 7.9 K/9.
With they way they’ve pitched, you could certainly envision Sewald and/or Bradford being on the Opening Day roster. However, digging deeper, neither pitcher really fits the mold of what Alderson envisions from this bullpen.
It’s clear Alderson now wants to see power arm after power arm after power arm coming out of the Mets bullpen.
Clearly, these big arms are a sign of what Alderson wants in this Mets bullpen. The first wave will be Rhame and Callahan. More will certainly follow.
Hopefully, now, Alderson had found that right formula. Each and every year he’s been the Mets GM he’s started the year with bad bullpens, and he had to fix them on the fly.
Hopefully, now, he has the arms in place. If he does, the Mets chances of returning to the postseason are much better.