Since Brodie Van Wagenen began assembling his team, the overture was this was a team well built for the DH. In 2020, because of a pandemic, the Mets actually did get that DH. After all that hypothesizing about how much it would help the Mets, the end result was a last place finish.
There are many reasons why, and assuredly many would point to the pitching. However, it went much deeper than that. One of the big issues was team defense.
Again, the Mets team defense was atrocious with a -22 DRS. That was good for fifth worst in the majors. Over the past three seasons, the Mets -171 DRS is the worst in the National League and second worst in all of the majors.
This is in large part to an organizational philosophy which pre-dated Van Wagenen. The thought was to acquire as many bats as possible and to find a position for them. The Mets have been all too happy to get players and just stick them somewhere on the diamond.
This has led to J.D. Davis at third and left. Dominic Smith in left field. Brandon Nimmo in center. Michael Conforto playing all three outfield positions. Jeff McNeil playing four different positions. This goes on and on, and in some ways you can trace this tomfoolery all the way back to Lucas Duda playing the outfield.
Perhaps part of this has been the result of Jeff Wilpon running the baseball operations. That said, there has been a prevailing thought process with the Mets to not make the difficult decisions and to hold onto all of their good players. They have found it more prudent to play players out of position resulting in horrible defense, and as a result, the team failing to live up to their sometimes lofty expectations.
Now, taking a look at the Mets current roster, you can say Smith at first base and Pete Alonso at DH is an embarrassment of riches. In Alonso and Smith, the Mets have two cornerstone cost controlled players. As an organization, this is quite an enviable position. When you have those two spots with such high caliber and ceiling players, you don’t want to move on from them. That goes double when you can play them each everyday at first base and DH.
However, that is part of the problem.
While the Mets are set at first and DH, they are a disaster at other important positions. They don’t have a starting catcher, and really, their depth at the position is a question mark. They have no one really capable of playing third base on an everyday basis. They lack anyone in the organization truly capable of playing center everyday. The Mets desperately need at least 2/5 of a starting rotation filled, and they also need to build a bullpen.
Beyond that, the Mets have zero depth at Triple-A, and their Double-A depth is questionable. Put another way, the Mets are a mess, and even with Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, not every one of these areas can be addressed in free agency. It just can’t.
No, the Mets need to be put in a difficult position to have to make hard decisions. Frankly, the trade market sets up extraordinarily well for that right now. At the moment, we know Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, and Blake Snell on the trade bloc. There are very likely other high profile players there for the taking as well.
Given how Van Wagenen ravaged the Mets farm system, there really isn’t the prospect capital to make those trades. Sure, you can trade a Brett Baty or a Mark Vientos, but if you do that, you take the paper thin depth you have and tear through it leaving you with next to no hope for the future. No, if the Mets are going to take that next step, they are going to have to take the surplus they have at positions like first, and they are going to have to make hard choices and make shrewd trades for top end talent at areas they have significant deficiencies.
If there is no DH, the Mets would almost be forced to move at least one of Alonso or Smith to get that top end player. However, with the DH, the impetus is not there. In fact, you could argue it irresponsible to not go into next season with both Alonso and Smith if there was a DH. As noted, therein lies the problem.
The Mets aren’t really in a position to trade top end talent for top end talent in a world where there is a DH. But, if they want real baseball in the National League in 2021, the Mets would be in prime position to do it, and teams would likely line up to grab one of Alonso or Smith thereby driving up the return the Mets could receive.
So yes, given the roster construct, you could argue the Mets are better with the DH. However, in terms of building the roster, the DH stagnates growth and creativity. The impetus to make a trade is gone, and with that, you likely lose out on the ability to make the Mets the best possible team they could be in 2021.
And besides all of that, the DH is bad for the Mets because it is bad for baseball. The short-sighted hope for 2021 needs to be counter-balanced against the next 10-100 years. When you look at it that way, pushing for a completely ineffective gimmick is just plain bad for baseball, and as a result, bad for the Mets.
The Mets had real issues regarding roster construction and much of it was related to Robinson Cano. His presence was a complication forcing a number of bad decisions.
With Cano at second, Jeff McNeil was displaced from the position he played best. That meant he moved to third where his arm didn’t translate well or left field.
If he was in left field, that meant Brandon Nimmo moved to center where he was ill suited. Really, every permutation of the lineup necessitated Nimmo in CF.
That moved the Mets best defensive first baseman in Smith to left where he’s not particularly good. That was exacerbated by Alonso being a poor defensive first baseman.
Really, when you look at it, the necessity to play Cano and his $20.25 million salary just forces a series of terrible decisions. That’s a large reason why the Mets never hit their supposed ceiling – the defense was that bad and held the team back.
Now, with Cano gone for the 2021 season much of the Mets problems have been solved.
McNeil can now be the everyday second baseman. Nimmo can then go back to a corner outfield position where he belongs. Assuming the return of the DH, Alonso can DH with Smith at first.
As if this wasn’t good enough, the Mets have an additional $20.25 million to allocate towards their holes at catcher, third, center, and the pitching staff.
Every way you look at this, Cano testing positive is good news for the Mets, and that’s even before you account for any regression you should’ve expected from the now 38 year old. If this invites a buy out, this could make the situation even better.
With one incredibly poor decision by Cano, the Mets defense has been substantially improved, and they have enough resources to sign up to two additional impact players they may not have been otherwise able to sign. That’s why Cano’s positive test is great news for the Mets.
Simply put, it makes zero sense for the Mets to trade Jeff McNeil even in a deal for a Lindor.
The need for Lindor is obvious, and the Mets would match-up very well with the Cleveland Indians. One reason why is the Mets have logjams at different positions with cost controlled players. Those players could fulfill a reciprocal need for the Indians.
At catcher, the Mets have defensive specialists in Tomas Nido and Ali Sanchez. That would at least seem to be of interest to an Indians team who puts a priority on catcher defense and framing. Notably, Roberto Perez will be a free agent after this year, and Austin Hedges will be one the ensuing season.
With the caveat of not knowing how the Indians value these players, or whether they’d take J.D. Davis off the Mets hands, it would seem mixing and matching from these groups could largely get a deal done.
Honestly, this is trading at its best. The Mets have a surplus of quality Major Leaguers at different positions. Those players would fulfill very specific needs the Indians have. This is why the Mets and Indians match up so well.
Of course, this assumes this isn’t an Indians fire-sale. Considering the Indians aren’t looking to trade Jose Ramirez, even with his being a free agent after the 2021 season, this appears to be a very safe assumption. That assumption would be bolstered by a presumed pursuit of McNeil.
The reasons why the Indians would want McNeil are obvious. He’s as versatile a player as there is in the game. He plays well defensively at second and both corner outfield spots. With work on his throws, he could be a very good third baseman.
In addition to his defense and versatility, he’s a good hitter. Since his MLB debut, McNeil has a 139 OPS+. Over the past three years, that ranks him as the 13th best hitter in all of baseball.
If the Mets are going to be bold and add players like Lindor, they need McNeil. They need his versatility, defense, and bat. Moreover, any deals the Mets make need to clear surplus and not detract from other areas.
In the end, the Mets have more than enough pieces to make a very good trade for both teams without including McNeil. With that being the case, there is absolutely no reason for the Mets to include McNeil in a trade for Lindor.
In what has been the complete polar opposite of Wilpon driven offseasons, the New York Mets are getting linked to nearly every free agent. The latest name to surface is Marcell Ozuna.
This is one which should stay a rumor because Ozuna is a very poor fit for the Mets.
That’s not to say Ozuna isn’t a good player. In his career, Ozuna has shown himself to be a good baseball player who has shown flashes of brilliance. That includes this past season with the Atlanta Braves where he led the league in homers while having the third best OPS+.
This was his best ever season at the plate. There are reasons to buy in on him producing at this level next year. Those reasons include his barrel percentage as well as his hard hit and whiff rates.
There are also reasons to believe he’ll regress. That includes this being a shortened season as well as his .396 BABIP, which was higher than his .319 career mark.
Regardless of which direction he’ll trend, the ultimate question for the Mets is how can they use him.
In his time with the Marlins, Ozuna was a great defensive outfielder. That includes his winning the 2017 Gold Glove. Since winning that award, it’s been a steep decline.
Ozuna went from a 7 DRS that year to a 0 this year. He had a -8 OAA last year and a -1 this year. This is indicative of a now over 30 outfielder who was primarily used at DH.
Simply put, a -8 OAA is unplayable out there. It’s even worse when shoulder injuries have cost him the ability to make strong or even poor throws. It’s a poor combination. With him having below average spring speed and his turning 30, the days of him being an even semi-regular outfielder have passed.
Of course, that’s not an issue with the Mets. With Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, they are well set at the corner outfield position. They have good depth there with Jeff McNeil able to play out there quite well.
The problem with the Mets is they are also overly stacked at the DH position. That includes their right-handed hitting options.
As we saw last year, if there is going to be a DH, it should be Pete Alonso. Statistically, he’s been just about the worst defender at first, and his moving there allows Dominic Smith and his bat and glove to get into the lineup everyday.
There’s also the Robinson Cano issue. While he was quite good defensively at second last year, his playing second everyday at the age of 38 would be fairly unprecedented.
Ideally, Cano would be the everyday DH. This would keep him and his bat in the lineup everyday. It would also open up second for McNeil which is his best position.
Looking at it, the Mets have two bats in Alonso and Cano who ideally need to DH. They need to DH due to their own skill sets in addition to getting other very talented players in the lineup. Adding Ozuna to this mix only unnecessarily muddies the waters.
When you break it down, the Mets really could use right-handed balance in their lineup. However, with Alonso at DH, Ozuna is not a fit. As such, the Mets are better off pursuing that bat in the form of James McCann/J.T. Realmuto and/or George Springer.
The Cleveland Indians are known to be floating Francisco Lindor, and with this being the Indians, they are looking to probably try to contend while also making any deals. That would make sense given their pitching and their keeping another perennial MVP caliber player in Jose Ramirez.
Still, the Indians want us to believe they are cash strapped and need to move a player like Lindor. Presumably, anyone not named Ramirez or Shane Bieber is available to be traded. If that is the case, the Mets need to push and push hard to get a mega-deal done.
In addition to Lindor, the Indians also have Roberto Perez. He’s a 31 year old catcher who is elite defensively with a still very questionable bat. Perez is a relatively expensive $5.5 million, and he will be a free agent after the season. For a Mets team who needs a starting catcher, Perez would be enticing. He also shouldn’t interfere with the presumed chase for James McCann.
On the pitching front, the Indians have Zach Plesac who was an issue for them in terms of the COVID19 infection. The Indians may be reluctant to move him pre-arbitration, and they should. Still, if there are issues between him and the team, the Mets are in a prime position to grab him.
Looking deeper than Plesac, there are useful bullpen arms like Nick Wittgren and a good fourth outfielder in Delino DeShields. Both players are arbitration eligible and could cost more than the Indians are willing to play them. Depending on a potential deal, the Mets could and should be interested in grabbing them in a potential deal.
In return, well, the Mets have plenty to offer the Indians. Given the glut at first base, the Mets could offer one of Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, or Dominic Smith. With Davis, the Mets could or should offer both. There is also Brandon Nimmo in the outfield as well as Andres Gimenez, Jeff McNeil, and/or Amed Rosario in the middle infield. Certainly, if you can obtain Perez, the Mets should be willing to move Tomas Nido and/or Ali Sanchez.
If you are going to move from a pool of that Major League talent, thereby freeing up logjams, you can then be in a position to hold onto Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, and/or the other Mets top prospects. That said, if the Mets are given a window to extend Lindor, all bets should be off. Looking at Mookie Betts last year, getting a top five player in his prime is a franchise changer, and it could be what the Mets need to get to the World Series.
All told, the Indians have some pieces the Mets desperately need. Between the Mets need to free up their logjams coupled with the Indians purported need to clear payroll and the Mets newfound financial strength, there is real potential here for a mega-deal. Hopefully, the two sides can get together and get it done.
Right now, the Mets two starters are Jacob deGrom and David Peterson. With Peterson, the Mets have a promising pitcher who is a sinkerball pitcher. In terms of Peterson, the question is what do you do to help him take the next step forward in his career.
Rosario continued to make strong steps forward defensively, and he was a good defender, but he was not on Gimenez’s level. Rosario was a -3 DRS and 2 OAA to Gimenez’s 1 DRS and 5 OAA. At a 5 OAA, Gimenez was actually tied for the second best defensive SS in the game.
At second, Robinson Cano rebounded defensively with a 3 OAA. On that note, Cano was better moving to his left. That’s an important consideration for an aging player who probably needs to move off of second.
It’s not about ability per se, but rather durability. He’s going to be 38 next year, and he’s broken down a bit in each of the last few years while playing second. A switch to a less demanding position like third should help him extend his career.
It also solves a real issue for the Mets as third base is a huge problem. Jeff McNeil was supposed to play third, but he had throwing issues not too dissimilar from what we once saw with Wilmer Flores. That led the Mets to move McNeil off the position and replace him with J.D. Davis.
Davis was a disaster at third. He had a -8 DRS, which is he had enough innings to qualify, would’ve had him as the worst in the position in the majors. His -3 OAA was also the worst in the majors at the position.
By moving Cano to third, you finally take away Davis’ glove (which needs to happen anyway), and second is re-opened for McNeil. At second, McNeil has been a good defender with a career 4 OAA and 1 DRS.
By going with an infield of McNeil, Cano, and Gimenez, they have made it a significantly improved defensive infield. In fact, you can argue it’s a very good one at that.
As an aside, Nolan Arenado is purportedly on the trade bloc, and the Mets have a logjam at first with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Putting Arenado alongside Gimenez would possibly even surpass Robin Ventura and Rey Ordonez.
While Arenado may be considered a pipe dream, that’s the direction the Mets should be angling. That’s not just because of Steve Cohen’s deep pockets. Rather, it’s because the Mets should be maximizing their defense.
Part of that will include moving on from Wilson Ramos. Ramos is a catcher of a different era. That’s not his fault, but rather one of Brodie Van Wagenen’s front office. Moving on from Ramos to another catcher better at framing, whether that be J.T. Realmuto, James McCann, or someone else entirely, the Mets will be much better poised defensively.
They will also be better poised to handle a pitch to contact sinkerball staff. That will help Peterson succeed in his second season.
This will also help Stroman, who for reasons previously detailed, should be the Mets priority right now. The question is who should then round out the Mets rotation with Noah Syndergaard rehabbing from Tommy John.
There is an argument to be made for Rick Porcello to return on another one year deal. Certainly, Porcello will be driven to have a better 2021 after his 2020 was terrible. It’s quite possible he wants that chance to return to the Mets, a team he grew up loving, and prove to them he’s a pitcher who can help them win.
Now, Porcello’s stats were a very mixed bag last year. His ERA+ was a career worst 75. He let up an inordinate amount of barrels last year too.
Behind that was a 3.33 FIP, which is quite good. Porcello was also above average in terms of hard hit percentage, and he posted very good exit velocity rates.
You could argue with a vastly superior infield defense Porcello could very well be a good stopgap for Syndergaard and/or insurance for a Peterson sophomore slump. In the end, if the Mets are moving in the direction of a pitch to contact staff, they should really lean into it and make their team the best suited they can to head into that direction.
As we’ve seen in years like 1999 and 2006 building a superior infield defense can help your team overcome pitching deficiencies. It can help ground ball pitchers be reliable, post strong numbers, and pitch deep into games.
For the Mets, there are many directions they can head towards with a new owner and front office. Given the presence of Peterson and what’s available on the free agent market, this is a direction the Mets should seriously consider pursuing.
Could you believe all the things the Mets needed to happen for them to make the postseason actually happened? It literally had a less than 2% chance of happening at one point, but it did happen!
Actually, no, that’s not entirely correct. The Mets making the postseason was contingent on them winning out. The Mets didn’t do that part. In fact, they lost their last three, four of five, and seven of their last 10.
By losing their last three games, they finished in last place in the NL East. To add insult to injury, they got completely blown out in the final game of the season.
While it’s terrible having to watch the Mets lose a game like this, there is solace in the fact this is the last game of the Wilpon era. For all they put this fanbase through for nearly two decades, their lasting memory as majority owners is getting their doors blown off with their team being completely embarrassed.
Yes, the Mets will lose games like this is the future. It’s unavoidable. That said, we’ve just seen the last time the Wilpons get to react to this kind of loss. Actually, that time has already passed. Now, they just have to watch and be powerless to do anything about it.
Now, Mets fans have an owner with actual resources to operate a baseball team. He’s hired someone who knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to show both Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen the door, which will make the Mets infinitely better.
As Brandon Nimmo said before the game, “I’m glad that somebody who is a lifelong Mets fan is going to end up owning the team.” We all feel the same way.
The Wilpons being gone wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Luis Guillorme sports an incredible fu manchu, and he was 2-for-3 with a double, walk, and run.
Pete Alonso was also great hitting two homers. It was fun seeing fan favorites perform this way. It’s even better when it leads to a Mets win. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, we saw the Mets lose just like Jeff Wilpon did. Now, (we ,@6$!@)see him go witwell is as
The Mets had Jacob deGrom on the mound against the Nationals. That meant they had their best chance to stay alive. It didn’t happen.
Well, the answer is Brodie Van Wagenen. He’s a terrible GM who created a highly flawed team who is going to finish under .500, miss the postseason, and may finish in last place.
With two outs in the fourth, Wilson Ramos couldn’t block a ball a Major League catcher should be able to block. That led to the second run of the game for the Nationals.
If you recall, the Mets entered this season with two everyday outfielders. That has led the Mets to play players out of position. Worse yet, with Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith, the Mets continue to put three first baseman in the lineup.
That had Smith in left running hard into a wall. On that play, Andrew Stevenson would circle the bases for an inside the park homer tying the game at 3-3.
Miguel Castro would relieve deGrom to start the sixth. He immediately put two on putting the game in jeopardy. The Mets brought in Edwin Diaz, who is poor with inherited runners, into the game. Diaz allowed the go-ahead sacrifice fly to put the Nationals ahead for good.
In the seventh, Brandon Nimmo gave the Mets a chance by hitting an infield single. That didn’t matter as the -0.2 WAR J.D. Davis, the player who Van Wagenen seems to tout as his proof he’s not completely incompetent, struck out to end the game and the Mets postseason chances.
In the second half of the doubleheader, Rick Porcello struggled, and the Mets lost 5-3.
In the end, it was Van Wagenen’s players who failed this year, and as a result, Van Wagenen is the reason the Mets won’t make the expanded postseason.
No, the Mets have not been eliminated from the postseason . . . yet. Sadly, even with some things breaking their way, they couldn’t take advantage:
2. Again, putting deGrom up against pitchers not pitching in the NL or AL East is absurd as NL Central and West pitchers face completely different competition.
3. On that note, the level of competition the two pitchers have faced is completely different with Bauer dominating some of the absolute worst offensive teams in the game.
4. You do have to wonder how different things would be with deGrom’s campaign and really this entire Mets season of Wilson Ramos was capable of tagging a guy at home plate.
5. Edwin Diaz finally has more saves than blown saves this year.
6. Mets continue to be the Mets first announcing Michael Conforto was getting a day off for a must win game and then finally admitting he had a hamstring issue.
7. Conforto’s chances of signing an extension increased not just with Steve Cohen buying the Mets, but also with Sandy Alderson returning to the organization.
8. Should Conforto sign an extension, he’s going to knock David Wright off the top of the Mets all-time leaderboards.
9. It’s a shame Conforto broke down and Dominic Smith went in a slump for the final last ditch push. It’s a downright shame no one was really able to pick them up like they picked up the team this season.
10. Between J.D. Davis batting second or third despite his not hitting and Michael Wacha making starts despite his having no business pitching another inning for this team, it’s clear Brodie Van Wagenen decided to make this season about showcasing his acquisitions in the hopes of getting a new job.
11. Steven Matz went from breaking out in the second half last year to a great Spring Training to maybe pitching his way to a non-tender.
12. Matz is a clear example of a guy Jeff Wilpon would instruct dropped from his team with him being shocked the player succeeded away from the team. For some reason, despite this having happened continuously, there is still a contingent of Mets fans who still defend the team on this type of dumb decisions.
13. Ultimately, the juiced ball last year and the abbreviated 60 game season have made it near impossible to have a real evaluation and analysis of players.
14. Speaking of which, it was great to see Pete Alonso remind us how great he can be. The question is if he can be that over a 162 game season without the juiced ball. There are many indicators which suggest he can, but we still don’t know.
15. The Rays showed the Mets all the things this organization has flat out ignored with defense and good base running actually matter, and the end game isn’t to collect a bunch of bats to plug and play regardless of fit.
16. Again, we see in this series Seth Lugo can be a starter. However, the bullpen is a flat out mess without him.
17. Fortunately, the Mets have the deep pockets of Steve Cohen, and the beginnings of the right front office to address not only the bullpen, but also catcher, third, center, and the rotation.
18. It looks like Alderson is going to get his chance to do what he wanted to do when he took over the Mets. Essentially, that’s exactly what the Dodgers did.
19. After these last four games, it’s good riddance to the Wilpons. That’s both with the Mets and the horrendous SNY they created.
20. There’s no more fitting end to the Wilpon era than the team finishing below .500 despite having a top offense, the best pitcher in baseball, and an expanded postseason.
Much of the reason why the 2020 Mets are going to miss the postseason is Pete Alonso having a sophomore slump. In fact, it’s been worse than anyone could’ve imagined.
Entering last night’s game, he was teetering at the Mendoza Line, and he was at a -0.7 WAR. During this time, he went from fan proclaimed future captain to people worrying if he could ever return to his 2019 Rookie of the Year record setting form. Last night, we saw a hint he could return to that form.
The key to that was in the fourth when he hit an opposite field home run off of Blake Snell to give the Mets a 2-1 lead:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2020
We haven’t seen much of Alonso driving the ball the other way like he did much of last year. Harkening back to last year, he drove the ball with authority to all fields. That was the essence of his power and production.
Now, the home run numbers have essentially been there with all of Alonso’s struggles. After all, he was 13 homers so far this year which is a near 40 homer pace. With respect to Alonso, the singles and doubles haven’t been.
One did last night when Alonso singled home Dominic Smith to increase the Mets lead to 3-1. Coupled with an RBI groundout in the eighth, he had three RBI on the night. More impressively, he drove in a run in three separate plate appearances.
This was the player Alonso was last year. This is what the Mets need from Alonso the rest of the way this year and in each of the ensuing years. Seeing him do it last night begs the question why he hasn’t previously done it. Alonso has a theory:
Pete Alonso cites his .215 BABIP and 88.5-mph average exit velocity as evidence that he's been more unlucky than anything this season: pic.twitter.com/F1EZ3X6Ijk
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 23, 2020
Alonso definitely has a point. He’s still hitting the ball hard, and his BABIP does indicate an extraordinary amount of bad luck. That’s part of what happens with this 60 game season.
Your failures are magnified. The stats are skewed in polar opposite directions. You didn’t have the normal ebb and flow of a season of sufficient time to ramp up for the reboot.
There’s also the small matter of the 2019 juiced ball which seems to be gone. That could be part of the reason why we see Alonso’s hard hit percentage and barrel rates drop quite a bit with his whiff percentage trending in the wrong direction.
Overall, this has been a rough year for us all, Alonso included. He has five more games to continue to try to remind us why he was great last year and can be in the future. If he goes on the type of tear we know he can, maybe, just maybe, the Mets can win out and shock us all.
Game Notes: Robinson Cano and Guillermo Heredia also homered. Seth Lugo picked up the win after allowed two runs (one earned) off four hits and one walk over 6.1 innings while striking out seven. Edwin Diaz picked up the save and now has more saves than blown saves this year.