Peter Alonso

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Somehow Still Alive

Well, the Mets took two out of three from the Phillies. As a result, the Mets next series actually matters. So there’s that. Here’s some more:

1. This is just the third series the Mets have won all year and the first against a team other than the Miami Marlins.

2. The fact they did it with Jacob deGrom leaving due to injury and Seth Lugo being terrible is a near miracle.

3. The deGrom start was a tough one because it probably cost him the Cy Young, which will also hinder his Hall of Fame chances.

4. Raise your hand if you had Erasmo Ramirez and Chasen Shreve as the Mets two best relievers this year.

5. As far as the starting pitching, we haven’t seen much of a tangible impact from new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, but we have seen him help relievers with pitch utilization and locations.

6. That’s not to say the bullpen has been good because it hasn’t. However, they came up big in a series when deGrom and Lugo didn’t pitch five innings combined.

7. There’s a lot to unwrap from Lugo’s start including how the Phillies hit four homers off of him and his decreased velocity as a starter. While this bears mentioning, we need to see more before drawing any conclusions.

8. Lugo even being in the rotation is another indication of just how awful a job Brodie Van Wagenen has done and just how much he has stripped the Mets of quality rotation depth.

9. Jed Lowrie and Jarred Kelenic finished their Mets careers with the same amount of hits and innings in the field.

10. Articles trying to explain why Steve Cohen’s money may not matter and why he won’t spend right away are trying to be a little too cute and are very disingenuous in their premises.

11. Also, Cohen is getting approved because he’s going to be the wealthiest owner in the game, and he bought the Mets for more than any North American sports team has ever sold. People telling you his approval is because of the respect Fred Wilpon has in the game are embarrassing themselves.

12. Wilson Ramos has seemingly struggled more than anyone being separated from his family. It’s a real shame he has dealt with these issues.

13. Its a good thing J.D. Davis had that big game on Wednesday because he’s been basically terrible since August 1 costing the Mets games with his ground balls and glove.

14. Over the last month, Davis is hitting .253/.360/.411, and Jeff McNeil is hitting .360/.442/.584. Naturally, McNeil bats seventh and Davis third. It’s because it’s not about winning, but rather about Van Wagenen.

15. With Davis and Pete Alonso struggling, at some point the uncomfortable conversation needs to happen about how much the juiced ball impacted their 2019 production.

16. Anyone calling Brandon Nimmo a fourth outfielder doesn’t know anything about baseball.

17. With Dellin Betances likely exercising his $6 million player option, and the Mets having to buy out Ramos for $1.5 million and Robinson Chirinos for $2.5, the Wilpons have left a nice $10 million tab for Cohen.

18. The extra postseason spots made sense in a 60 game season, but it will be a disaster going forward. So naturally, Rob Manfred wants it.

19. Looking through the years, under this new proposed format, you’re going to get under .500 teams in the postseason on a routine basis. That’s bad for the sport.

20. The Mets have to play the best baseball they possibly can to even have a chance. Given the matchups against the Braves and Rays, their chances aren’t good, but we’re Mets fans, so we’re going to watch and hold out hope.

Game Recaps

Mets Lose But Are A Day Closer To Steve Cohen

Jacob deGrom Hurt Completely Overshadows Win

Mets Second Straight Big Comeback

Mets Second Straight Big Comeback

For a second straight game, a Mets starter didn’t see the third inning, and for the second straight game, the Mets made an improbable comeback.

After being staked to a 3-0 first inning lead thanks to Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano, Seth Lugo had a terrible first inning. Flat out terrible.

After Lugo allowed three straight homers to Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, and Didi Gregorius, he allowed another run in the inning turning a 3-0 lead into a 4-3 deficit.

At least for tonight, Harper owned Lugo homering off of him again in the second inning. Gregorius then knocked out Lugo with an RBI single.

It was 6-3 Phillies, and it was in the hands of the Mets bullpen. Starting with Erasmo Ramirez, they were brilliant. He and Chasen Shreve would each pitch 2.1 scoreless before handing the ball to Jeurys Familia who pitched 1.1 scoreless.

Their pitching kept the Mets in the game, and it gave them a chance to comeback against what has been a terrible Phillies bullpen.

While the Mets weren’t able to put up more runs off Aaron Nola from the second through fifth, they made him work. He ran out of gas in the sixth, and that Mets took advantage starting with a Pete Alonso one out homer:

Jeff McNeil walked leading to the Phillies going to their bullpen. Andres Gimenez walked, and after Luis Guillorme lined out, it was up to Brandon Nimmo. He tied the score on what is arguably the biggest hit of his career . . . up until that point.

Things would get really dicey in the eighth. With two outs, Familia walked Andrew McCutcheon. Luis Rojas brought in Justin Wilson to face the left-handed Harper to get the Mets out of the inning.

Instead, Wilson walked the bases loaded. Due to the three batter rule, the Mets couldn’t even contemplate lifting him. Fortunately for the Mets, Wilson retired Gregorius to end the inning.

After escalating the jam, it was time for Nimmo to come up huge again. This time, it was a go-ahead homer with a rare pimping of the homer from Nimmo:

That ninth inning leadoff homer off Brandon Workman sparked the Mets offense like Alonso’s did in the sixth. It was a four run ninth with Smith tripling in Michael Conforto, and Cano hitting a two run homer.

While not a save situation, the Mets went to Edwin Diaz. Diaz would make it interesting by loading the bases and bringing the tying run to the plate. Diaz, who was pitching three days in a row, got McCutheon to ground out to end the game.

With that, the Mets have won a series against a team other than the Marlins this year. They’re alive and ready to fight another day as the schedule gets insanely difficult now.

Game Notes: Wilson earned the win.

Mets Have A Pete Alonso Problem

Looking back at 2019, Pete Alonso was the Mets best player. He was setting franchise and rookie home run records while quickly becoming one of the most popular players in team history.

With Alonso at the forefront, the Mets seemed to have a superstar in the making. He was a foundation for the Mets next big run. Looking at 2020, it hasn’t happened that way.

Through 46 games, he’s hitting .216/.318/.433 with a pedestrian 105 OPS+. Heading into the season, he talked about wanting to win a Gold Glove in his career, but with a -3 DRS and a -3 OAA, he’s showing no improvement from when he was the worst defensive first baseman in baseball last year.

Now, there are many reasons to explain why he’s struggling. First and foremost, this pandemic and shutdown hit everyone hard. There’s no telling the emotional toll it took on Alonso and his ability to prepare for the season.

Other factors include the fact the league might’ve caught up to him, and he hasn’t had time to adjust what they’re now doing to him. As a possible correlation, Alonso’s whiff rate has increased while his exit velocity, launch angles, and barrels have dropped.

Teams seem to be shifting more against him, which explains a drop in BABIP. To that point, his BABIP being at .245 does indicate some bad luck is involved.

The elephant in the room is the ball has changed from last year. Yes, we continue to see Alonso has tremendous power, but part of his success (and everyone else’s) was due to the juiced ball. Without that juiced ball, we are seeing some hitters struggle.

All told, Alonso is at a -0.4 WAR. Right now, that stands as the worst mark amongst Mets regulars. That just shows how much he has struggled all season long.

As we saw last night, he came up in multiple spots where we saw him deliver in all of 2019. Much like most of this year, he didn’t get the job done.

While this has been happening, Dominic Smith, who is younger than Alonso, has emerged as a star. In fact, Smith is the fifth best hitter in all of baseball this year with a 174 wRC+. He’s also been a superior defensive first baseman than Alonso even if his numbers are pedestrian (-1 DRS, 0 OAA).

Smith is also entering arbitration. To a certain extent, that means the Mets are closer to having make a decision on him. By natural extension, making a decision on him means making a decision on Alonso as both play the same position.

While this is occurring, the Mets will be entering an offseason looking to add up to four starters to their rotation, adding a center fielder, and completely rebuilding their bullpen . . . again.

Making Alonso available in a trade puts the Mets in the conversation for the top players on the trade market. That includes Francisco Lindor and any other Indians who may hit the trade block.

By the same token, how can you trade as popular a player as Alonso is? More importantly, how can you trade a player knowing what Alonso did last year? Still, with all that, we have his 2020 performance, which can’t be ignored.

Therein lies the problem. The Mets have a lot of needs, and they have two young first basemen who appear to be stars. Realistically speaking, the Mets can only go forward with one of them, and they have to choose right both in terms of the player and the deal.

Fortunately, the Mets will soon have Steve Cohen in charge and what should be a revamped front office without Brodie Van Wagenen at the helm. That should give us some confidence the Mets can and will make the right decision.

Mets Wear Caps, We All Win

Ever since Al Leiter wore all of the caps in a complete game victory of the anniversary of 9/11, Mets players haven’t been permitted to wear the First Responders caps again. That was until last night.

Before the game, Pete Alonso, who had first responders cleats made for his teammates last year, announced on WFAN, the team would once again be permitted to wear the caps. Alonso said Jeff Wilpon was instrumental in getting MLB to permit the Mets to wear them, and to that, it seems the Wilpons did something truly great on their way out.

With that, we all had a significant and important victory. These caps are important to Mets fans and New York. It’s a part of the healing process and remembrance of 9/11.

With Jacob deGrom on the mound, it seemed like the Mets were well poised to get a win on the field. Even with Michael Conforto misplaying a Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. flyball into an RBI double in the first, deGrom was great again.

The issue with a deGrom start is run support. With the way things go when he starts, that one run is liable to be enough to lose. It’s certainly seemed that way in the second when Lourdes Gurriel robbed Andres Gimenez of an RBI.

The Mets wouldn’t be denied in the fourth when Conforto would make up for his earlier misplay with a go-ahead three run homer.

Things would go from bad to worse to abysmal for the Blue Jays. Later that inning, Anthony Kay relieved Chase Anderson, and he should’ve gotten out of the inning. Instead, the Blue Jays lost a Jeff McNeil ball in the lights, and the Mets would have a 4-1 lead.

Things turned from bad to ugly for Kay and Blue Jays in the fourth. Kay would load the bases, but he’d get exactly what he needed – a double play ball off the bat of J.D. Davis.

Blue Jays shortstop Santiago Espinal short hopped the sinking liner. Instead of trying for a double play, he went to cut the run off at home. Apparently, Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen was completely unprepared for the perfect throw as he whiffed on it allowing a run to score. That set the stage for a Dominic Smith grand slam, and it didn’t stop there.

The Mets scored 10 in that inning, and they’d go on to score 18 in the game. In addition to the Conforto and Smith homers, in the game, they’d also get a homer from Wilson Ramos. Ramos would also have an RBI double as would Gimenez. This really was an unprecedented level of support for deGrom.

Due to an interesting quirk with the save rule, Erasmo Ramirez would pick up the save by pitching three scoreless innings and preserving the Mets 17 run lead.

The Mets appear to be playing good baseball again. They certainly will need to keep this up if they’re going to have any shot at the postseason.

Game Notes: The Yankees were also permitted to wear the First Responder caps. Alonso cycled through the caps first wearing a Sanitation cap.

You Can Wear 21 But Can’t Wear The First Responder Caps

This week, MLB made the fitting tribute of allowing Puerto Rican players and Neil Walker to wear 21 in tribute of Roberto Clemente. It’s a departure from the norm, but it’s a necessary one because there are people and events so important, we need to honor them.

It’s why Major League Baseball players wear 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. It’s why the Houston Astros wore caps last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It’s why MLB has special caps for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and other days of the year.

Actually no, those are a cash grab. That’s what brings us to the Mets not wearing the first responder caps.

Not since Al Leiter wore a cap for each of the first responders on the one year anniversary of 9/11 have players been permitted to wear the caps. Truth be told, the Mets weren’t allowed to wear them in 2001, but Todd Zeile led his teammates in defying that order.

We know the great lengths MLB has gone to stop it. That includes sending operatives in to collect the caps pregame. Even when David Wright purportedly tried to hide a cap to wear it on the field, they found it and confiscated it.

The reason this is happening is MLB hasn’t found a way to market the caps for profit. Make no mistake, MLB loves making profits off tragedy and crisis. After all, they’re selling you officially licensed face masks during this pandemic.

That’s well within their rights. No one is going to tell them to not make money. After all, they’re a business.

On that note, doing the right thing here and allowing players to wear caps honoring first responders doesn’t cost anything. If anything, it helps get attention for the sport. That’s not too dissimilar from MLB already does when they and the Mets will promote the Mike Piazza home run today.

As an aside, the Wilpons selling that jersey for a profit is another indication of why they needed to be gone. Fortunately, they will be soon.

Overall, MLB did right by Clemente and Robinson. They honored the moon landing. They need to now allow the first responder caps because Pete Alonso getting everyone cleats doesn’t cut it.

If anything, it highlights how everyone but MLB seems to get the importance of remembering 9/11 and the impact that event has had on New Yorkers to this day.

Mets Complete Comeback

This wasn’t your typical Mets script. This is a team who finds a way to get close enough to just rip your heart out. Tonight, they were doing that to the Orioles instead of their fans.

For a while, it seemed there was no shot for the Mets to win this one as the Orioles were teeing off on Rick Porcello. At one point, they were 9-for-15 off Porcello, and seemingly the only way for the Mets to record an out was to throw out a runner looking to stretch a single into a double as Michael Conforto did to Chance Sisco to lead off the second.

Through three, the Orioles were up 5-1. That one run came in the second when Jeff McNeil singled home Dominic Smith, who led off the inning with his MLB leading 17th double.

The score would be 6-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth after McNeil and DJ Stewart traded a pair of homers. In the bottom of the fifth, Conforto would ignite the Mets with a solo homer.

The rally didn’t end with the homer. Later in the inning, Cano snapped out of his slump to hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 6-5. That’s when the Mets defense would shine and keep the Mets in the game.

The first came from McNeil who robbed Jose Iglesias of an extra base hit:

Even though that was the second out and there was no one on, Jared Hughes had trouble getting out of that inning. He’d load the bases, and Luis Rojas would bring in the struggling Justin Wilson to face Rio Ruiz. For a moment, it looked like Ruiz hit a bases clearing double:

After those pair of great defensive plays, the Mets would get the big hits they needed. First, it was Andres Gimenez tying the game in the bottom of the sixth with his second career homer:

Then, it was Pete Alonso hitting his 11th homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth to give the Mets a 7-6 lead.

Being the Mets, they weren’t quite out of the woods yet. Edwin Diaz allowed a lead-off single, and for a moment, it looked like the first two would reach. That was until Luis Guillorme, who was brought in for defense, made another great defensive play.

Diaz retired the last two to earn his third save of the year. It was a dramatic and needed win to help keep the Mets postseason hopes alive.

Game Notes: McNeil has homered in four straight. Diaz, Seth Lugo, and bullpen coach Ricky Bones wore 21 today in honor of Roberto Clemente.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Earn Disappointing Split With Phillies

The New York Mets had an opportunity to make some headway in the postseason race with a four game series against the Phillies. They had their chance, but instead, they could only muster a split.

1. Jacob deGrom AGAIN established he’s the best pitcher in baseball by striking out 12 Phillies over seven.

2. deGrom and Zack Wheeler would’ve been the best 1-2 punch in baseball, but unfortunately, Brodie Van Wagenen is a terrible GM.

3. If the Mets had the starting pitching, they’d easily be the top team in the division. It’s weird saying that knowing where the Mets have been, and downright hilarious considering Van Wagenen’s preseason declarations.

4. As we continue to see, Seth Lugo can start. That wasn’t really the issue. The issue always was who takes over his role. The answer so far is nobody.

5. Miguel Castro looks like a modern day Mel Rojas or Guillermo Mota.

6. It was past time for Andres Gimenez to take the starting job from Amed Rosario. Now, it’s time to make Rosario the 2021 center fielder.

7. Obtaining Todd Frazier made sense because he gave the Mets the third baseman they didn’t have, and apparently, he was a great presence for this Mets team.

8. The Mets didn’t obtain Frazier for his bat, but maybe they should’ve because Pete Alonso started hitting again using Frazier’s bats.

9. Speaking of hitting again, it’s nice to see Jeff McNeil raking again.

10. Game-in, game-out, Michael Conforto proves the Mets need to extend him.

11. Somehow, someway, Dominic Smith has emerged as the Mets best hitter so far this year, and he’s leading the league in doubles. He wasn’t given an opportunity. He forced it.

12. Luis Guillorme is batting .395, and he plays good to great defense at three different positions. His not being able to crack this starting lineup is another example of why Van Wagenen has to go.

13. J.D. Davis has proven he can’t play in the field. Without the juiced ball, his GB rate is climbing back up to career norms, and his BABIP is dropping. In total, he’s regressing to the mean. Insisting on playing him everyday is holding this team back.

14. The rally yesterday was great, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot when you see the Mets lose in extras.

15. Right now, the only Mets reliever you might be able to trust is Brad Brach, who has been having a very good year. You’d like to see him more, but that may not be possible when his dealing with the after effects of COVID19.

16. To be fair, Edwin Diaz appears to be returning to form. The Mets just need to find a way to prevent those Armando Benitez like blown saves and to have him have fewer of those incidents.

17. The Tom Seaver patch is nice, but it’s perfunctory. It seems Mets fans want more with renaming Citi Field in his honor as a popular one. Personally, I’d like to see the dirt patch be permanent, and/or a 41 permanently on the pitching rubber at Citi Field.

18. It’s funny to think the Toronto Blue Jays are currently the best team in New York. One of the reasons why is Anthony Kay who has a 176 ERA+. The Mets sure could’ve used him this year.

19. We’re counting down the days until the Wilpons are gone. Hopefully, Van Wagenen, who turned a great core and minor league depth into a team four games under .500 f outside looking in on an expanded postseason, follows them out the door.

20. Despite everything, the Mets are just two games out of a postseason spot (five in the loss column). They’re better than the Marlins, Giants, Rockies, and Brewers (or should be). There’s still a chance.

Phillies Plan Working Better Than Brodie Van Wagenen’s

The second place Philadelphia Phillies are red hot. With their win tonight against the New York Mets, they’ve now won 10 out of their last 11.

Tonight, the former Cy Young winners, Rick Porcello and Jake Arrieta, who aren’t that anymore, pitched well and to a 2-2 stalemate through six. The Mets two runs coming off an opposite field two run homer by Michael Conforto.

But the Mets couldn’t pull out the win because the Phillies are a better. You see they go to the top of the free agent market, and they use their top prospects to get players who merit it. They built real rotation depth, and they also kept prospects in reserve to address their bullpen issues.

The Mets go searching for discounts. They throw away prospects needlessly. They never address the bullpen by trade.

This left Jared Hughes in a bad spot. He’s just not a two inning reliever. He shouldn’t be going 40+ pitches. In his career, batters have a .900 OPS against him.

After allowing a run in the seventh, he stayed in for the eighth. He ran out of gas allowing two more runs putting the Mets down 5-2.

The Mets had their chance in the eighth. Dominic Smith hit an RBI single to pull the Mets to within 5-3. There were runners on first and second with one out.

Robinson Cano, Van Wagenen’s biggest trade acquisition, lined out. Pete Alonso then popped out to end the inning.

Meanwhile, new Phillies closer, Brandon Workman, recently obtained from the Red Sox, earned the save for the Phillies. Instead of being dismayed by this, just remember Steve Cohen is buying the team, and he can hire a good GM to turn things around.

Game Notes: The Mets DFA’d Billy Hamilton to make room for Erasmo Ramirez. Hamilton is the players the Mets obtained for Jordan Humphreys.

Mets Win Reminder Why We Love This Team

Tom Seaver‘s 41 hung in the dugout, and the Mets players honored Seaver by rubbing dirt on their right knee. Considering the marks Seaver would have on his own knee from his drop and drive style, there really was no better tribute.

As for the game, it wasn’t pretty by any means. There was poor pitching, base running gaffes, and just sloppy play.

Still, the Mets fought in this game. They battled back from deficits of 4-0 and 7-4. They forced extra innings, and it was Pete Alonso up with a runner on second to lead off the inning. He would hit the first Mets walk-off lead-off two run homer.

With that homer, Edwin Diaz picked up a win. The Mets won a needed game. The fans got a much needed win.

It’s been an emotional day in an emotionally draining year. We all needed this one. We needed a reason to cheer. It also helped to have a reminder why we love this team.

As fans, we love these players. They’re resilient. They battle. They don’t give up. They didn’t tonight, and they earned a victory, and in doing so, they won one for Seaver.

Another Depressing Mets Day

Not even Jacob deGrom would stem the losing streak. Not even in the day time against the Marlins with a lead.

Jeff McNeil broke out of a slump in a big way with a second inning RBI double. Later in that second, Dominic Smith hit a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.

After that, the Mets again forgot how to hit in RISP going 2-for-10 in the game. However, you would’ve thought that wouldn’t matter. After all, deGrom was on the mound.

Well, the near impossible happened. He would have a near Steven Matz moment in the sixth.

Garrett Cooper led off the inning with a homer. Then, Pete Alonso couldn’t field a somewhat tough hop allowing Matt Joyce to reach. That’s usually when deGrom bears down, but he just didn’t seem to have it in this inning.

He was up 1-2 on Lewin Diaz who then hit an RBI double. deGrom was up 0-2 on Miguel Rojas, who then hit a go-ahead RBI single. He was then up 1-2 on Jorge Alfaro, who hit an RBI to put the Marlins up 4-2.

The odd part was deGrom was his normal self over the first five innings, and he struck out nine. Of the four runs he allowed, only one was earned. Still, you have some to expect much more from deGrom.

The Mets didn’t get him off the hook. Robinson Cano homered in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Mets to within 4-3. The Marlins got that run back when Brian Anderson homered off Brad Brach in the eighth.

This 5-3 loss was yet another bad loss for this team. The Mets can fool themselves they’re still in the race, but nothing we have seen recently suggests they’ll stay in it.

Game Notes: deGrom became the first pitcher to face an opponent four times in a row since Freddie Fitzsimmons did it in 1929.